The Age of Henry VIII has some great material to work with – Henry VIII was a force of nature who shook up England and Western Europe. A superb Great Courses series by the Teaching Company.

Professor Dale Hoak does a great job – twenty-four half-hour episodes packed with detail on Henry and the notable characters of the day, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell, Erasmus of Rotterdam etc.

Episode 4 has the stunning description below of what a kick-ass individual Henry VIII.  The calf related facts are amazing.

  • He was 6ft 3in – a giant of a man (average height of Mary Rose seamen 5ft 8in)
  • He like to run and was regarded as very fast
  • He was a trained huntsman spending hours hunting on foot and on horseback
    Foreign ambassadors passed comment on Henry making a martyrdom of the hunt.
  • His equestrian abilities were universally acknowledged. He was fearless in the tournament and dominated all-comers especially running at the ring.
  • He was an avid tennis player and archer.
  •  He was an accomplished musician (lute), composer and singer.
    Check out Past Times with Good Company by Blackmore’s Night this is a cracking tune.
  • Sadly he was a ginge.
  • He had a strong intellect and was fluent in Latin, Greek and French.

My favourite Henry VIII fact – and want this one to be true as it’s a corker. Henry was very muscular. In the Tudor, tight wearing, era muscular calves were much admired. Henry had stunning calves and when meeting foreign dignitaries he had a stool on which he could stand one leg and flex his mighty thews much to the awe of the foreigner – you could not make this stuff up.