5 Things You Didn't Know About King Henry VIII

On February 13, 1542, Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII, was executed for treason after supposedly committing adultery with her cousin. Here are 5 crazy facts you probably didn’t know about the infamous life of Henry VIII...


Henry Ordered as Many as 72,000 Executions During His Reign Henry VIII was by far the bloodiest Tudor ruler, ordering tens of thousands of executions during the tumult of the English Reformation. (Henry’s most famous victims included his former top advisor Sir Thomas More, as well as two of Henry’s six queens—Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard). The infamous Anne Boleyn, his second wife, was executed about three years into her marriage to Henry. Henry VIII's fifth wife, Catherine Howard, didn’t fare well either, being executed after only around two years of married life.

He Ended Up Enormous Due to His Extreme Diet In his younger years, Henry VIII was popular with the ladies because of his striking good looks, his height of 6’3” and his flaming red hair. Of course, all the power and money he had didn’t hurt any either. In later years, however, he became enormously overweight, probably because he regularly ate 13-course meals and downed some 70 pints of ale each week.


Henry VIII Might Have Had McLeod Syndrome Henry VIII was known for his horrible, unpredictable temper, especially as he grew older. He holds the record among British monarchs for beheading people, and many of his victims were relatives and close friends. Theorists suggest he may have had McLeod syndrome, a genetic disorder whose symptoms include behavioral changes and lack of self-restraint.

He Imposed a Beard Tax Henry VIII was famous for his beard, but most people don’t know that he imposed a tax on them in 1535. The king demanded that any man who wore a beard pay a tax on it, with the amount of the tax determined by his social status. Naturally, many wealthy Brits deliberately grew beards to advertise their wealth and high social stature.

He Was The First English King to be Called “Your Majesty” Before Henry VIII, English kings were addressed as “Your Grace” or “Your Highness.” After the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V began being called “Majesty” in 1519, Henry VIII, not to be outdone, adopted the term for himself.