January 2013

‘Finally, if you wake early in the hours of 28th January 2013, then, of your mercy, remember the ghost and soul of Henry VIII who died 466 years ago.’

‘The Last of Days’ has just come back from the publishers for comment. I am certainly looking forward to the publication of this novel later in the year. The story is the journal of Will Somers, a real life character who also happened to be Henry VIII’s jester, though in those mysterious and murderous last days of this despotic king, there was very little to laugh about. In researching this novel I came across two sources of tradition. The first is how Henry VIII died in the early hours of Friday morning, 28th January 1547. According to the Protestant tradition, Henry died peacefully in his sleep pressing the hand of his confessor and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. However, a contemporary Catholic source has Henry screaming at the ghosts gathering around his bed, slurping white wine and moaning that all was lost. wpf785f652_05_06
Henry’s death was certainly mysterious and I discovered one gem, a very interesting nugget of information. According to the Franciscan, Cardinal Peto, Henry VIII on his death bed, expressed deep regret over the death of Anne Boleyn. Now I find this very strange because the name Boleyn was virtually forbidden in Henry’s court, and Henry’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth, was rarely seen or heard. Of course, Cardinal Peto could be a biased source. In a recent lecture on Anne Boleyn, I pointed out how Cardinal Peto, when he was a Franciscan at Greenwich, publicly warned Henry that because of his marriage to Anne Boleyn, he would suffer the same fate as King Ahab in the Old Testament, that dogs would come and lick his blood! As you may already know, Henry was buried in St George’s Chapel Windsor, in February 1547. A funeral cortege bearing his massive body slowly wended its way from London to Windsor. One night the cortege stopped at the Bridgettine Convent of Syon on Thames, where, according to some reports, Henry’s bloated corpse exploded. The putrid mess leaked through both the lead casket and the outer elmwood coffin. More gruesome still, some wandering dogs entered the church and began to lick what had seeped from the royal coffin. Certainly a macabre story and there is some archaeological evidence that it happened, yet it is Anne Boleyn who fascinates me. She always maintained that she had neither been unfaithful nor committed treason, yet there is considerable evidence that something untoward did happen. I hope to resolve this in my next blog! In the meantime, I am pleased to announce that I have a short story available in e-book format, “The Knight’s Confession.” I hope to publish more in the very near future. To conclude, many thanks for your support and I hope you continue to enjoy my work. I wish you all the best for 2013. Finally, if you wake early in the hours of 28th January 2013, then, of your mercy, remember the ghost and soul of Henry VIII who died 466 years ago. If his death was due to natural causes or Henry was helped to join the choir invisible, that is another matter which will also have to wait for the next blog!
Kindest regards,

Dr Paul Doherty OBE