Henry VIII was born in Greenwich in 1491, and died in Whitehall at the age of 55. But Greenwich wasn't just the place of the king's birth: find out how an infamous jousting accident here resulted in a wound that would plague him for the rest of his life.
Where was Henry VIII born?
Henry VIII was born at Greenwich Palace on 28 June 1491.
His father and the first Tudor king, Henry VII, had built large developments on the site, and had covered the whole palace with a new facing of red brick. It became a favourite palace of the Tudors, partly because it was close to the royal shipyards on the River Thames.
Both of Henry’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, were also born at Greenwich. It was also the location for two of Henry’s marriages: to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and his fourth, Anne of Cleves.
Greenwich Palace was Henry VIII’s principal London base until the Palace of Whitehall was built in the 1530s.
Where did Henry VIII live?
Henry VIII lived in many castles and palaces during his life. These included Hampton Court, the Tower of London and Windsor Castle.
When did Henry VIII die and how old was he?
Henry VIII died on 28 January 1547 when he was 55 years old - a death many believe was hastened by his obesity.
How did Henry VIII die?
For much of the King’s life, Henry was a fit man. As a young prince, he was both cultured and supremely athletic.
He loved martial sports and was a keen jouster, which is why Greenwich suited his lifestyle. In 1515 he stocked Greenwich Park with deer which have remained part of the site to this day. For his entertainment, he built kennels, stables, tennis courts and a cockpit. He even built two towers for mock assaults connected to a gallery where the Greenwich armour was kept.
In 1516 he built a tiltyard tournament ground at Greenwich. You can see the tower of the tiltyard in the painting below.
Two bouts of jousting severely impacted Henry’s health, one of which happened in a famous incident in Greenwich in 1536. At this point, he was in his 40s. Clad in armour, Henry came off his horse. The horse, also clad in armour, then fell on top of him. Henry was knocked unconscious for two hours.
According to legend, when the King awoke the injuries suffered caused a dramatic change in personality, leading to his reputation now as a bullying tyrant. This incident also marked the end of his sporting life - Henry never jousted again.
Where did Henry VIII die?
Henry VIII died in Whitehall Palace, London. Though he died from natural causes, his health was poor: he had become obese and the leg wound from his jousting accident had become ulcerated.
Where is Henry VIII buried?
Henry VIII’s body rests in a vault under the Quire in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle near his third wife, Jane Seymour. Intriguingly, the sarcophagus that was originally intended to form part of Henry's final resting place was eventually used for the tomb of Lord Nelson in St Paul's Cathedral.