Which King Henry is this….?

Here is an illustration that perplexed me when I came upon it at  The writing at the top says “Henry, by the grace of God, King of England”…but which Henry? By the clothes, it has to be VI, VII or VIII. I think.

Then it was pointed out to me that there’s a Tudor rose on the canopy, which eliminates Henry VI, leaving Henrys VII and VIII.

I have to say that the chap under the canopy looks miserable enough to only be Henry VII. I mean, did that man ever smile? But I couldn’t be sure. I asked about it on my Facebook page, and opinion seemed to be split. After all, in our minds Henry VIII is always that tall, monstrous figure painted by Hans Holbein the Younger. He was born like that!

Henry VIII – Hans Holbein the Younger

His weasel-faced father, on the other hand, was just plain skin and bone, full stop. Something grim to frighten the horses.

Henry VII – Society of Antiquaries

Then my stalwart daughter came up with the goods. Believe it or not, the picture that started this is of Henry VIII. It’s to be found here, which describes the illustration as “King Henry VIII in Procession from Westminster Abbey for the State Opening of Parliament, 4th February 1512. 17th-century copy of 16th-century original (MS Ash Rolls 45 MRM Bodl lib)”.

So it’s a picture of Bluff King Hal, aged not yet twenty-one, looking like his odious father in a wig!


  1. Dear Viscountessw, kudos to your intrepid daughter for tracking down this most unpleasant portrait! One can only hope that Bluff King Hal himself never saw this thing, it might have altered his otherwise naturally gentle and forgiving nature!

    I am going to assume that the 17thc hack copyist fumbled the actual portrait and left us with this mangled version of what you know (you know you do) was in fact a visage and physique worthy of every BBC actor portrayal that will soon come.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Um, sorry about that blancsanglier. I don’t know where it went, but the gist of the post remains the same. The illustration turns out to be Henry VIII, although I confess I still think it looks more like his old man. Surely Henry VIII was always a burly bloke (as distinct from fat, which he wasn’t when young) more like his grandfather Edward IV than skinny Henry VII?

      Liked by 1 person

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