All About History
The pastimes of an all around talented monarch
Henry VIII was a respected composer and musician during his lifetime. There is a common misconception that he composed ‘Greensleeves’ for Anne Boleyn but in fact it was not created until after his death. However, he did pen a number of different pieces of music, which are compiled in his famous collection, the Henry VIII Songbook, created around 1518. Out of the 20 songs and 13 instrumentals attributed to Henry, ‘Pastime with Good Company’ is arguably his most famous.
Known to have been a keen sportsman for the majority of his reign, Henry was noted for his athleticism from a young age. The king enjoyed partaking in archery, jousting, wrestling and dressage, as well as javelin and other sporting activities on a daily basis. In fact, it was claimed that in his early 20s, Henry could supposedly exhaust up to ten horses a day while out on the hunt, a true testament to his good physicality.
Henry is generally considered as one of England’s most intelligent and well-educated kings. He was widely read, with a collection of thousands of books, and was also a learned linguist. He saw himself as a philosopher and author, most notably writing the treatise Assertio Septem Sacramentorum, or The Defence of the Seven Sacraments in 1521 in response to Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, which were nailed to a church door in modernday Germany. This earned him the title of Defender of the Faith from the pope.
Among his many other talents, Henry was also a good dancer. During his brother’s wedding to Catherine in 1501, a ten-year-old Henry was said to have grabbed his older sister as a partner and delighted onlookers with his dancing. The king allegedly enjoyed dancing daily, often partnering with his younger sister when Catherine’s numerous pregnancies prevented her from taking part.