Henry VIII was Britain's most powerful monarch, yet he was not born to rule. Thrust into the limelight after the sudden death of his elder brother, Prince Arthur, Henry ascended the throne in 1509, marking the beginning of a reign that altered the course of English history.
In his youth Henry was highly intelligent, athletic and musically talented. He excelled in Latin and Mathematics and was an accomplished musician. On his accession to the throne, aged just seventeen, after the tumultuous rule of his father, he provided England with hope of a new beginning.
Nobody could have foreseen how radical Henry's rule would prove to be. Often overshadowed by the bloody saga of his six marriages, his reign has left a lasting legacy. An absolute monarch, Henry's quest for fame was as obsessive as any modern celebrity. His fierce battles against Papal authority mark one of the most dramatic and defining moments in the history of Britain. Yet his early life was insecure. The Tudor regime was viewed by many as rule by usurpers and the dark shadows of the Wars of the Roses often threatened to tear England apart once more.
The culmination of a lifetime's research, David Starkey gives a radical and unforgettable portrait of the man behind the icon; the Renaissance prince turned tyrant, who continues to tower over history.