Mastodon The Writing Desk: Book Launch Guest Post by Judith Arnopp, Author of A Matter of Time: Henry VIII, The Dying of the Light (The Henrician Chronicle Book 3)

2 February 2024

Book Launch Guest Post by Judith Arnopp, Author of A Matter of Time: Henry VIII, The Dying of the Light (The Henrician Chronicle Book 3)

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

With youth now far behind him, King Henry VIII has only produced one infant son and two bastard daughters. More sons are essential to secure the Tudor line and with his third wife, Jane Seymour dead, Henry hunts for a suitable replacement.

In Defence of Henry

Most people are aware of Henry VIII’s story but when I began writing The Henrician Chronicle few authors had addressed the events of the reign from the king’s point of view. I have spent four years in Henry’s company. When I wrote the first few pages in the king’s voice, I had no idea how the final books would turn out, but I quickly realised it would be substantially different to other books on the subject.
The Henrician Chronicle tells the story of his reign as the king himself would have told it. Of course, it is biased in his favour but as the narrator, he is as honest as he can bring himself to be. He makes excuses, he skims over the parts he can’t bear to examine too closely but essentially he gives as honest an account of himself as someone in denial can.

I first encountered him around 1971, as an eleven-year-old and since then I have read almost everything ever written about him, the good and the bad. I constantly see him described as a ‘monster’, usually an ‘obese monster’ but his accusers seldom look deeper or consider the events that made him the man he was. I don’t believe in monsters; I believe in ‘monstrous behaviour’ but that is always carried out by human beings. Sadly, every one of Henry’s failings were very human. He was in search of love, admiration and success, as we all are and when things went awry, he struck out, as we all do – the difference was, Henry had greater power and stronger weapons.
As for being ‘fat’, when did obesity become a crime? The suits of armour that survive were certainly made for a tall man, those from the early part of his reign intended for an athlete to wear. After his activity was restricted due to a jousting injury, and he passed into middle age his girth expanded. Many of us are guilty of that.

Just a few years before he died, he donned his armour and sailed off in search of glory, not just for himself but for England. His intent was to win back areas of France, to repeat the glories of Agincourt. Had he won, we might even be hailing him as a hero today.
The armour he wore in 1544, three years before his death, is certainly larger than that he wore in his youth, but it still doesn’t suggest he was grossly overweight. He was much closer to death before his weight became debilitating, necessitating him to be carried from room to room in a chair. 

It astonishes me in this day and age when we are supposed to be ‘kind’ and accepting of disability that he is negatively judged for growing old, ill and fat. Obesity is not the sign of a bad character, it is a physical condition, something to be pitied. Obesity does not equate to gluttony – there are many skinny gluttons.

I am not one moment suggesting we excuse his many crimes and, hate him if you will for them but please stop with the weight shaming! Perhaps even spare a thought for the golden prince who ascended the throne of England with a huge weight of expectation on his shoulders, expectations that he strove very hard but failed to achieve in almost every instance.

Judith Arnopp

Judith’s trilogy The Henrician Chronicle, comprising of A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, the Aragon Years. A Matter of Faith: Henry VIII, the days of the Phoenix, and A Matter of Time: the Dying of the Light, is available now on Amazon Kindle and paperback.

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About the Author 

Judith Arnopp is a lifelong history enthusiast and avid reader with a BA in English/Creative writing and an MA in Medieval Studies. She lives on the coast of West Wales where she writes both fiction and non-fiction. She is best known for her novels set in the Medieval and Tudor period, focussing on the perspective of historical women but recently she has completed a trilogy from the perspective of Henry VIII himself.  Judith is also a founder member of a re-enactment group called The Fyne Companye of Cambria which is when she began to experiment with sewing historical garments. She now makes clothes and accessories both for the group and others. She is not a professionally trained sewer but through trial, error and determination has learned how to make authentic looking, if not strictly historically accurate clothing. Her non-fiction book, How to Dress like a Tudor was published by Pen and Sword in 2023. Find out more at Judith's website and find her on Facebook, Bluesky and Twitter @JudithArnopp

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