jump to navigation

Rose Without A Thorn October 16, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Music & Dance, People.

Wikipedia ~ King Henry VIII (in Public Domain)

Every rose has its thorns . . . except that, if you had asked King Henry VIII, on a good day, he might have referred to his fifth wife, the lovely Catherine Howard, as his rose without a thorn.

Aww . . . how romantic.

Of course, Henry and Catherine’s  marriage lasted only two years before they parted ways and Catherine parted with her head.

What do you know about King Henry VIII (1491-1547)?

Tyrant?  Iron-fisted ruler? Fickle husband? Womanizer? Hearty eater?

Accomplished musician? Talented composer?

Guilty as charged . . . on all counts.

When Henry VIII assumed the throne, his court had six musicians on the payroll.

In the first 20 years of his reign, he multiplied that number ten-fold.

Wikipedia ~ King Henry VIII (in Public Domain)

And, at times, he provided the lively compositions they played:

* It is to me a right good joy
* Pastime with good company
* Adieu! Madame, et ma maistresse
* Taunder Naken
* Departure is my chief pain
* En vray amoure

Henry VIII’s compositions are still performed today by orchestras, symphonies, chamber groups, choirs, recorders, lutes, brass quintets, and even rock musicians.

Pastime with good company, written by Henry in the early years of the 16th century, shortly after being crowned, is also known as “The King’s Ballad.”

Or “The Kynges Balade.”

The oldest known version is part of the Henry VIII Manuscript (c. 1513), a collection of 14 works of his authorship currently preserved at the British Library.

Signed, “By the King’s Hand.”

A popular song during the Renaissance, it has a lovely madrigal flair to it.

Exuberance and extravagance marked the English court in the early years of Henry VIII’s reign, made possible by the political stability of the kingdom and wealth of the state’s finances.

Royal banquets and feasts celebrated the night, while outdoor sports and pastimes (hunting, hawking, jousting and archery tournaments) filled the days.  Young Henry, a skilled sportsman, excelled at riding, archery, wrestling and real tennis.

King Henry’s Madrigal, Pastime with good company, penned during this period, praises all the entertainments, diversions, and leisure activities  prevalent in the royal court at the time.

The lyrics offer a moral justification for all this merriment: company is preferable to idleness, for the latter breeds vice.

Perhaps Henry’s “rose without a thorn” would have kept her head a bit longer had she passed time with “good company.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  The Firework Dragon (Kate Shrewsday) * A Box of Bones (Kate Shrewsday) * The King Who Missed A Bit (Kate Shrewsday) * ‘Enery The Hateth and Greensleeves (Col’s Blog)


1. suzicate - October 16, 2012

Wasn’t Ann the other one beheaded?

nrhatch - October 16, 2012

Yes. Henry was prone to saying, “Off with her head.” He went through wives faster than most people go through a bag of chips.

2. William D'Andrea - October 16, 2012

Several years ago I came up with these few lines of dialogue, for a dramatic scene that takes place just before the trial of Anne Boylen begins. The dialogue is between Henry VIII and Sir Thomas Moore.

Moore: Centuries from now, you’re name will be remembered. The greatest actors of their day will portray you.

King: The greatest actors of their day inevitiably portray the greatest of villians.

Moore: It doesn’t have to be that way for you, your Majesty. One word from you and it stops now.”

nrhatch - October 16, 2012

Terrific dialogue, William. But don’t you think that great actors play “good guys” too? At least sometimes?

William D'Andrea - October 18, 2012

I agree. Sir Lawrence Olivier always gave an outstanding performance, as whatever character he portrayed, whether hero, villian or anything in between. However, he had a way of moving his eyes, that made him look very sinister; which is one reason he got to play so many of those really great roles.

nrhatch - October 18, 2012

Great example.

3. spilledinkguy - October 16, 2012

Did you see any episodes of ‘The Tudors’, Nancy? I got sucked in. Although I don’t recall them mentioning anything about Henry’s musical abilities (I very well could have just missed that, though), and I’m fairly certain I hadn’t heard about them anywhere else, either. Interesting! I don’t think I would have guessed…

nrhatch - October 16, 2012

I came across The Tudors while researching this post, Sig. Like Downton Abbey, it appears well designed, scripted, and cast.

Like you, I had never heard anything about Henry’s musical talents and abilities before. Quite a surprise.

4. colonialist - October 16, 2012

Love this post! In fact, inspired by it and Kate’s, I find one of my own coming on …
That Tull version of the Balade is delightful.

nrhatch - October 16, 2012

Thanks, Col. I had fun with this . . . King Henry is multi-faceted and fascinating. So many directions to take him. Can’t wait to see which direction you choose.

Wonder what Henry VIII would think of the longevity of his compositions, especially of their positive reception in modern day rock concerts. Tull does a fabulous job sharing music history with style.

colonialist - October 16, 2012

My direction is rather predictable – the Greensleeves controversy.

nrhatch - October 16, 2012


5. Pocket Perspectives - October 16, 2012

Guess this shows that those first few years of a relationship can be the toughest…??? I remember a few power struggles “back then”…good thing I learned to mellow out! 😀
And Henry…a man with such talents. One might think he would have develop more patience from developing so many varied talents and skills? guess not!

nrhatch - October 16, 2012

I don’t think his problem was lack of patience . . . it was lack of male heirs and lineage. Edward was sickly. That left only Mary and Elizabeth. Not the legacy that he wished to leave.

nrhatch - October 16, 2012

And, you’re right, about the first few years being the toughest. Especially if we are used to steering our own ship.

6. Andra Watkins - October 16, 2012

One of my favorite periods, Nancy. He was certainly a character. I have always wished someone could portray him as he was during the procession of wives. In movies and tv, he is always young and handsome, but history tells a different tale.

nrhatch - October 16, 2012

I wonder if Season 4 of The Tudors would give you what you’re looking for?

In the fourth and final season of this epic costume drama, King Henry VIII loses his grip on reality while trying to juggle his troubled relationships with his wives Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr, as well as capture the French city of Boulogne.

Or perhaps, The Madness of King Henry VIII?

Experience the intriguing story of one of the world’s most scandalous monarchs in this historical documentary from National Geographic. Expert commentary and historical records bring the Tudor king to life. Best known for his six marriages and “divorce” by execution, as well as for establishing the Church of England and separation of church and state, Henry VIII remains a fascinating figure with a reign mired in sexual and political intrigue.

7. ‘ENERY THE HATETH AND GREENSLEEVES | Colonialist's Blog - October 16, 2012

[…] Henry VIII has come into fashion here just lately, first with Kate Shrewsday and followed up by NR Hatch.  The posts reminded me of one of my favourite songs/melodies, Greensleeves, and the irrational […]

8. Zen and Genki - October 16, 2012

So enjoyed this post! I’m a bit of a royalty nerd, especially where the quirkier histories and characters are concerned (no shortage of those, are there? :))

nrhatch - October 17, 2012

There are, indeed, no shortage of monarchs with quirks and idiosynchroncies.

“It’s good to be King . . . and have your own way.”

9. jannatwrites - October 16, 2012

Interesting post! When I was in junior high, I wrote a report about King Henry VIII and I remember being horrified that he killed wives because he didn’t get a son. I found it ironic, since the sex of the children was all his fault.

nrhatch - October 17, 2012

I recall feeling much the same . . .

But he didn’t kill Catherine Howard for failing to give him an heir. She lost her head because she “lost her head” and started sleeping around.

Instead of Queen Consort . . . she became consorting quean.

I’m not saying that she deserved a death sentence, but she knew what the rules were when she climbed into someone else’s bed.

10. kateshrewsday - October 17, 2012

Nancy, I am late indeed in arriving, but what an exuberant romp round the Tudor royal court! Thank you for your kind links.

I am of the opinion that he was a monster. An arrogant one. But a colourful one. A true villain.

We need to view every fact that comes from Henry’s reign through the lens of his power. He constructed any reality he wanted to, in order to change his women: even a whole new belief system of which he was the head. Did he really compose that music? Who knows. A jaded Henry-watcher, I doubt it.

I for one am glad he ended up exploding post mortem in some minor vault, wedged in with Charles I, instead of celebrated in a fancy gilded monument. Time gets us all in the end.

(Did I say that out loud?)

nrhatch - October 17, 2012

I tend to agree, Kate. Talk about the illusion of reality and the reality of illusion, everyone in his court was a pawn. Of course he could have had a talented musician behind the scenes creating compositions for which he claimed full credit.

Certainly no one who valued having their head about them would have cried “foul!” by claiming infringement of copyright against the Supreme Ruler of the Universe. 😉

11. bluebee - October 17, 2012

I had absolutely no idea! How fascinating. I love Jethro Tull. I believe Ian Anderson and his wife have always lived in separate residences during their marriage. Perhaps the King could have learnt something from the master of Jethro Tull!

nrhatch - October 17, 2012

Now I’ve learned something I didn’t know!

What an interesting concept for a marriage . . . guess they figure absence makes the heart grow fonder. 😉

12. sufilight - October 18, 2012

What a character! I could not get past the king beheading his wife, until I read your comments. 😉

nrhatch - October 18, 2012

Without condoning his actions, it was a different place and time and the royal succession was of paramount importance ~ with no viable means to test paternity in one’s offspring, infidelity was cause for alarm.

13. Jas - October 18, 2012

Simply loved this post 🙂

nrhatch - October 18, 2012

Thanks, Jas! Always nice to hear. 😀

14. Three Well Beings - October 19, 2012

I’m so glad I went back tonight to see what I missed. This was a surprise, Nancy. Good old King Henry. Despite his dastardly deeds defending his ego, he continues to fascinate us and we always come back for more! I love the Jethro Tull! I love reading about the Middle Ages…glad I didn’t live in them, though! 🙂

nrhatch - October 19, 2012

Same here! It’s only romantic from a distance of about 500 years. Seems that King Henry VIII is making the blog rounds of late. Don’s in London and visited Regent’s Park in his last post:

On the dissolution of the monasteries (1536-40), Henry VIII acquired the Manor of Tyburn and created a hunting ground, Marylebone Park, which covered almost the same area as the 400 acres which comprise The Regent’s Park today.


Sorry comments are closed for this entry

%d bloggers like this: