Birth of Henry VII, death of Henry VIII

Originally published January 28 2023.

Two momentous occasions for the Tudor dynasty occurred on this day in history, 28 January, in 1457 and 1547, respectively. 

On 28 January 1457, thirteen-year-old Margaret Beaufort, under the care of her brother-in-law Jasper Tudor, gave birth to a son, Henry Tudor, at Pembroke Castle in Wales. Few would have foreseen that a mere two decades later, Margaret’s son would ascend to the throne of England as King Henry VII, following the momentous defeat of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Henry’s rule signified the epochal end of the Plantagenet dynasty and the dawning of a new ruling family in England.

Several decades later, on what would have been Henry Tudor’s ninetieth birthday, his son, Henry VIII, died at the Palace of Whitehall in London. Though the King’s cause of death was natural causes, hastened in part by obesity, a chronic leg wound (which may have resulted in an infection of the blood), and probable kidney disease.

On the evening of 27 January, Henry was past the point of speech. Lying in his vast, magnificent bed, when asked which priest should attend to him, the King mustered a feeble reply: ‘I would take a little sleep, and then, as I feel myself, I will advise upon the matter.’ These were his last recorded words. He never regained consciousness.

“An Allegory of Reformation,” the death of Henry VIII (left), in the presence of his son Prince Edward (centre)

Henry VIII died around 2 a.m. and was laid to rest in Windsor Castle on 14 February.

His death was not immediately publicized to the court as stealth but swift preparations were made to usher in the reign of his son, young Edward VI, for whom Henry had left copious instructions to in order to establish an efficient and successful regency. For several days after his death, servants continued to bring food to Henry’s chambers to maintain the pretense that the King was alive and well.

It was not until 31 January, several days after his death, that news of Henry’s passing was read out in Parliament.

The quote ‘every ending is the beginning of something else, every exit is an entry somewhere else’ is particularly fitting for Tudors. Henry Tudor’s birth in 1457 gave birth to a new dynasty – one that would rule England for over a century. A dynasty that, through strife, conquest, and division, at last brought peace to England. Henry VIII’s death many decades later gave way to the reigns of his famous children, including Elizabeth I, England’s Gloriana, one of Britain’s most successful and infamous monarchs.

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