The Tower of London exhibition marks 500 years since his accession, new research by the Royal Armouries in Leeds reveals the full scale of his gargantuan girth.
The twenty something Henry VIII was tall, muscle-bound and supremely fit - a talented athlete and a courageous jouster at the grand tournaments of the age.
His armour from that period reveals some impressive dimensions: a 32in waist and a 39in chest.
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He was an immense figure in the history of England. Just how immense, however, has finally been revealed after a study of his body armour exposed Henry VIII's extraordinary vital statistics.
It found that by the end of his reign the 6ft 1in Tudor king had a whopping 52in waist and 53in chest - enough to make him severely obese by modern standards.
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Henry VIII (r.1509-1547) was an attractive and charismatic man in his prime, educated and accomplished. He was an author and a composer. He ruled with absolute power. His desire to provide England with a male heir—which stemmed partly from personal vanity and partly because he believed a daughter would be unable to consolidate the Tudor Dynasty and the fragile peace that existed following the Wars of the Roses—led to the two things that Henry is remembered for: his wives, and the English Reformation that made England a mostly Protestant nation. In later life he became morbidly obese and his health suffered; his public image is frequently depicted as one of a lustful, egotistical, harsh and insecure king.
In the last few years of his life, he was affected by ulcerous legs that turned gangrenous, he may have had syphilis and he may have had osteomyelitis possibly caused by a jousting accident.
When Henry died on January 28th, 1547, few mourned his death. He had become highly unpredictable in his final years and this alone made him more and more of a danger to those who were near to him
Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord and later King of Ireland and claimant to the Kingdom of France. Henry was the second monarch of the House of Tudor, succeeding his father, Henry VII.
Besides his six marriages, Henry VIII is known for his role in the separation of the Church of England from the Catholic Church.