Henry VIII: Power, Propaganda and Personality
Lecture by John Cooper
Given online by the Society of Antiquaries of London on June 29, 2021
Overview: Who was King Henry VIII, and why does he continue to fascinate and to provoke us today? This lecture marks the five hundredth anniversary since Henry VIII was awarded the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ by the Pope in 1521. An accompanying online exhibition, drawn from the collections of the Society of Antiquaries, offers a unique perspective on England’s most popular – and controversial – king.
Henry VIII is often depicted as a thoroughly Renaissance ruler, a patron of the latest developments in art and architecture and a determined opponent of traditional religion. In other respects, however, Henry VIII was deeply connected to the past. Drawing on objects presented in the exhibition, including portraits, manuscripts and print, this lecture explores some of the paradoxes inherent in a king who reviled Martin Luther and paid for masses to be celebrated for his soul, while also dissolving the monasteries and opening the floodgates to Protestant reform. Examining the power, the personality and the propaganda of Henry VIII, this lecture also offers some reasons for his enduring fame in our own day.
John Cooper is Reader in Early Modern History at the University of York. Click here to view his university webpage.