Only three of his six siblings survived infancy – and he succeeded his father as king following his death on 22 April, 1509.
Under Henry VIII’s reign, England turned in favour of Protestantism and split from Rome, the Royal Navy built up a fleet of about 50 ships and the country invaded France.
Henry VIII was well known for his six marriages, all of which ended in some sort of tragedy – divorce or death – but the Tudor king was also known for other, stranger things.
He was known to self-medicate, even going as far as making his own medicines.
A record on a prescription for ulcer treatment in the British Museum reads: ‘An Oyntment devised by the kinges Majesty made at Westminster, and devised at Grenwich to take away inflammations and to cease payne and heale ulcers called gray plaster.’
He was also a musician and composer, owning 78 flutes, 78 recorders, five bagpipes, and has since had his songs covered by Jethro Tull.
Many are unaware that he died while heavily in debt, after having such a lavish lifestyle and spending far, far more than taxes would earn him.
He also possessed the largest tapestry collection ever documented, and 6,500 pistols.
While most portraits show him as a slight man, he was actually very large, with one observer calling him ‘an absolute monster’.