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THE KING IS DEAD by Suzannah Lipscomb


The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII

by Suzannah Lipscomb

Pub Date: Dec. 20th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-68-177254-7
Publisher: Pegasus

Lipscomb (A Journey Through Tudor England: Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London to Stratford-upon-Avon and Thornbury Castle, 2015, etc.) shows Henry VIII’s attempt to continue control over both church and state.

His last will, signed a month before his death, set forth the steps of succession beginning with his son, Edward. After arranging for possible children of his current and any future wives, he pronounced first Mary, then Elizabeth to be the next successors. In naming his son, he also stipulated that Edward’s heirs, or named successors, were primary. In another scenario, instead of naming the heirs of his sister, Margaret, he skipped to the heirs of the daughter of his sister, Mary: Frances Grey—i.e. Lady Jane Grey. In the 1540s, after war with the Scots, Henry arranged with Marie de Guise, James V’s widow, to wed her infant daughter Mary to his son Edward. However, de Guise had bigger plans for her daughter in France and renounced the match. Henry never forgave a slight, so Mary Queen of Scots was left out of the succession plans. Another of Henry’s stipulations was that Masses should be said for his soul. This was particularly artful, as he had dissolved monasteries whose members prayed for souls. Hedging his bets, Henry still left land and revenues for Masses and prayers to ensure his place in heaven. He designated more than a dozen executors and regents in hopes the transfer of power would be smooth. The author, who shows her deep knowledge of the Tudor period throughout the book, rejects the many charges that Henry’s will might have been changed or altered or that undue influence was used. It was treason to even suggest that the king might die. Afterward, the story was completely different, with Edward Seymour and Chief Secretary William Paget seizing control of the Regency and the kingdom.

A delightful story of intrigue and manipulation that shows how Henry really couldn’t control his kingdom.