King Henry VIII

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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King Henry VIII

by Unknown artist
oil on panel, perhaps early 17th century, based on a work of circa 1542
35 in. x 26 1/4 in. (889 mm x 667 mm)
Purchased, 1878
Primary Collection
NPG 496

Sitterback to top

  • King Henry VIII (1491-1547), Reigned 1509-47. Sitter associated with 99 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Unknown artist, Artist. Artist or producer associated with 6583 portraits.

This portraitback to top

With the possible exception of his daughter Elizabeth I, no monarch has matched Henry VIII's ability to control his public image and impose it on posterity. This is a version of a late portrait of the King, showing him towards the end of his life.

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Events of 1542back to top

Current affairs

Catherine Howard is beheaded for committing adultery.
Relations between King Henry VIII and his nephew King James V of Scotland worsen. An English raid is defeated at Hadden Rig in August. The Scottish counter-attack is routed at Solway Moss in November.
Princess Mary Stuart is born to King James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise. She becomes queen of Scotland six days later upon the death of her father.

Art and science

At about this date, the Welsh physician and mathematician Robert Recorde publishes The Grounde of Artes, the first mathematics book to be printed in English.


Pope Paul III establishes the Inquisition in Rome to investigate and prosecute those accused of heresy against Catholic orthodoxy. It is primarily concerned with halting the spread of Protestantism.
The Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier sails arrives in Goa in South India. He will introduce Christianity to India, Southeast Asia and Japan and is considered the most successful Catholic missionary.

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