England’s most tyrannical monarch had many things: power, wives, lots of rolling heads, and food. The latter became the primary source for the Tudor monarch’s early death. One item that the King did not enjoy was many years added to his life because during the last ten he ate massive amounts of food every day.
Before Henry became bloated, he would have been a model customer at Weight Watchers. However, after being severely wounded after a jousting accident, dear old athletic Henry became a vegetative ruler, sitting around his throne in London at his palace at Whitehall. In just one day the king consumed a shopping cart full of every kind of meat available which made the chefs in the royal kitchen constantly busy cooking his food. In addition, Henry ate two more shopping carts which included a lot of bread, strawberries and many bottles of wine. He consumed roughly 5000 calories or more of food, eating eighteen times a day. Multiply the staggering number of calories by 365 days over 10 years.
Although the king became extremely ill, nothing could stop his body from deteriorating. It came as no surprise that he died on January 1547 at the age of 55 – a relatively young age. Nobody at the court had heard of the terms “diabetes” and “high blood pressure” but modern doctors have overwhelmingly confirmed that these illnesses caused his death.
The next task involved highly envied courtiers who cleaned and anointed Henry’s massive 400-pound body before being placed in a lead coffin. The “big” question became how anybody could lift the corpse into a coffin. Perhaps the fact it took two weeks for his coffin to begin its 22-mile procession from Westminster Abbey to Windsor Castle can give us a clue.
As the journey began most everyone that the entourage passed hated the king. They watched the tyrant’s coffin and hesitantly gave it semi honorable pomp. After eight miles of carrying the coffin, the procession stopped for the night at Syon House, a country home. Although he was unwelcome there, those carrying the coffin stayed the night. The next morning, as the entourage came to get Henry’s coffin, they immediately noticed a foul smell and the coffin’s sides extended. Underneath it was a large pool of blood and pus. Henry’s corpse had exploded.
A plumber was called to repair the coffin that reeked of the rotting smell of Henry’s rapidly decaying corpse. As the coffin was raised, a dog wandered into the room and began to lick up the blood. Even when they tried to chase it away, it continued to stay.
What is hair-raising is not the stench of Henry’s body, but the presence of the dog. Years earlier while Henry and one of his previous wives – Ann Boleyn attended mass, a preacher named William Peto boldly gave a sermon, that compared Henry to “King Ahab” who had married “Jezebel” (Ann Boleyn) who replaced worshipping God with “Baal” (the devil). Peto prophesied that since Henry continued in his ways, his corpse would suffer the same fate as Ahab’s and “wild dogs licked up his blood” (1 Kings 22:38).
Henry and Ann should have paid careful attention to Peto’s sermon very carefully. When Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon couldn’t give him a male heir, he lusted after Ann Boleyn. Henry divorced Catherine who was Roman Catholic and married Ann Boleyn, who seductively persuaded him to convert and force England to convert to Protestantism.
Henry was probably the worst monarch who ever lived. He was hated by his subjects due to the legal and political ramifications of divorcing five of his wives who could not give him a male heir to take his place as king. Ultimately he was reduced to a 400-pound corpse which exploded and the only thing that loved him was a dog.