Henry VIII: The Mind of a Tyrant

Narrated and presented by historian David Starkey

A tyrant is defined as a ruler who exercises absolute power oppressively or brutally. That definition fits Henry VIII, at least by the end of his reign as king of England.

Henry’s ascension to the throne was greeted with much rejoicing in 1509, but by the time he died nearly four decades after taking the throne, he had the reputation of being a tyrannical and ruthless monarch.

Join in as Dr. David Starkey explores Henry VIII’s accession to the throne in 1509 until his death as a tyrant 38 years later, in this epic four-part documentary series.

Episode 1: Prince

Episode 1

This first episode takes a look at Henry’s childhood and youth, prior to his accession in the years 1485–1509. Henry the 8th was born the 28th of June 1491, envisioned by his father as a great king and by Henry himself: A high-ranking church official.

Episode 2: Warrior

Episode 2

Episode 2 focus on Henry’s life between 1509–1525. Here, we’ll see the full extent of the English king’s continental military ambitions.

We follow Henry the VIII into the Battle of the Spurs (1513) where he was allied with his father-in-law, Ferdinand of Spain, the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian and the Swiss. Episode 2 also looks at Henry’s experiences in the battle of Pavia, followed by the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

Episode 3: Lover

Episode 3

Episode 3 follows the king’s infamous love life – specifically that of Henry’s love affair and marriage with Anne Boleyn, his annulment of marriage with Catherine, and Anne’s fall and execution in the years 1526–1536.

Episode 4: Tyrant

Episode 4

The fourth and final episode follows Henry’s remaining life between 1533–1547.

It shows Henry’s totalitarian religious and secular policies, as influenced by Anne and others, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Pilgrimage of Grace, the Device Forts, the foundation of the Royal Navy, the English Reformation, the Great Bible, the Six Articles, his final three wives, and the fate of his tomb effigy (melted down by Oliver Cromwell) and coffin (now containing Horatio Nelson).

Henry VIII: The Mind of a Tyrant
  • Info
  • Release date2009
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)David Sington
  • Production companyDOX Productions