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The Age of Henry VIII

Meet England's most famous monarch; a figure who not only commands our interest on his own terms, but as someone whose life and actions raise larger philosophical questions about what history is and how it is "made."
Age of Henry VIII is rated 4.0 out of 5 by 86.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent scholarly endeavor Professor Hoak does an excellent job integrating biographical narrative with studies of the philosophical, religious, artistic and historical trends of the age. His use of primary source material – particularly the inventories of the royal court – are superb. I also appreciated his integration of artwork as primary source material. Some reviewers ding Professor Hoak for not condemning Henry’s megalomaniacal tendencies. While I find Henry VIII an odious figure, in this regard Professor Hoak assumes the correct approach – explain what happened, provide the context and allow the listener to form his or her own conclusions. That said, when Professor Hoak says of Henry’s actions that “he had no other choice,” he seems to be overstating a view that individuals’ choices are governed by impersonal historical forces, at times seemingly diminishing Henry’s own moral agency. Another quibble, in his chapter on the trial of Thomas More, Hoak misdirects his efforts by his preoccupation with Richard Bolt’s portrayal in A Man for All Seasons. In the course booklet, Hoak writes: “By ‘conscience’ he [More] did not mean his own conscience [as in Bolt’s portrayal], but the recognition of established truth by the corps of Christendom as represented by General Councils of the church.” In Catholic teaching, this distinction isn’t as clear as Hoak believes [cf. Cardinal Newman]. Notwithstanding these quibbles, Hoak’s lectures are excellent.
Date published: 2024-02-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The instructor never looks at camera. That feels so impersonal. He needs to add some pictures of his subject. For example, in lecture 3, he mentions several windows in chapels but there is no picture. Even if these windows are no longer in existence, is there no drawing of them? He keeps saying, "uh, uh, uh". This is 20+ course I have taken and I am so disappointed.
Date published: 2022-10-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Halting vocal style. Good content from professor although he certainly does present it with a particular edge. Seems he was woke before it was popular. Professor leans to each queen of Henry as being in some way sympathetic and even dare I say a victim of the King. I wouldn't buy another course from him although this one did shed a little more light on one of my favorite topics, the life and times of the magnificent King Henry VIII
Date published: 2022-09-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from it was interesting but to me it was more about the people around Henry. I was just expecting to focus more on him
Date published: 2022-06-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I enjoy studying about Henry VIII. However, this professor and his lectures were extremely boring.
Date published: 2022-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Deep Scholarly Dive into Henry VIII's England! I was extremely pleased with this course. Professor Hoak's presentation style is scholarly but understandable. He presents his lectures with appropriate background information and integrates his wealth of knowledge into a total picture of the happenings of the times. This is just not listening to a standard text, but an insightful, detailed look at the reasons things occurred the way they did. In addition to King Henry, one gets unique information about Sir Thomas More, Erasmus and others. Professor Hoak is just one more outstanding professor that I have had the pleasure of listening to and learning from in The Great Courses. I could not be more pleased with this course.
Date published: 2021-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If you love Tudor History, take this course! I am fascinated with Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I, so I have learned a lot about Henry VIII peripherally. I had never done any specific studying about him specifically until this course. Spoiler alert: he was a trash bin of a human being. This course is thorough but not dry or tedious. I loved Dr. Hoak's style and found him very easy to listen to. By the end of the course, I felt like I had a really solid grasp on who Henry was and what his reign was like.
Date published: 2021-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating! Prof. Hoak really updates the story of the early Tudors, citing current research and adding dimensions that simply wouldn't part of your standard history course. I especially appreciate his efforts to elucidate the mindset of the time, thus dismissing many of the stereotypical tropes we "moderns" have of the age.
Date published: 2021-10-08
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Overview

Henry VIII was England’s first great Renaissance prince: dynamic

About

Dale Hoak

Henry VIII was a Renaissance prince who was able to combine such exquisite taste and aesthetic sensibility with a vulgar acquisitiveness.

INSTITUTION

The College of William & Mary

Dr. Dale Hoak is Professor Emeritus of History at The College of William and Mary in Virginia. He earned his bachelor's degree from the College of Wooster, his master's degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and his doctorate from Clare College, University of Cambridge. Dr. Hoak received the prestigious Outstanding Faculty Award from the Commonwealth of Virginia, awarded by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia for 1997. In addition to teaching at William and Mary, Professor Hoak is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and an Associate Fellow of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge. He held fellowships and grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. A nationally recognized authority on Tudor England, Professor Hoak published a variety of articles, papers, and reviews and is the author and editor of four books, including Tudor Political Culture (1995) and The World of William and Mary: Anglo-Dutch Perspectives on the Revolution of 1688-89 (1996).

By This Professor

Henry VIII—Kingship and Revolution

01: Henry VIII—Kingship and Revolution

Henry VIII was England's first Renaissance ruler: dynamic, brilliant, and charming, but also willful, ferocious, and dangerous. Hans Holbein's famous portrait offers us a good place to start getting our arms around the paradoxes of this revolutionary monarch.

31 min
The Wars of the Roses and Henry VII

02: The Wars of the Roses and Henry VII

The Wars of the Roses, more a series of baronial feuds than the devastating internecine strife that some have imagined, provide the crucial backdrop to understanding the Tudor dynasty's rise.

30 min
Majesty and Regality—The Cult of Monarchy

03: Majesty and Regality—The Cult of Monarchy

By emphasizing the majesty of English monarchy in new ways, Henry VII, the tough, shrewd, first Tudor king and father of Henry VIII (but not the cold miser of legend), effectively created a sacred cult of "imperial" kingship.

30 min
Chivalry and War—The Accession of Henry VIII

04: Chivalry and War—The Accession of Henry VIII

Widely hailed as a learned dynamo when he took the throne in 1509, Henry VIII saw himself in chivalric terms, an honorable crusader who would regain the French crown. From 1512 on his wars drained his treasury, causing him to envy Church wealth.

31 min
King and Cardinal—England Under Wolsey

05: King and Cardinal—England Under Wolsey

The planner of Henry's first French war (1512–14) was the brilliant cleric Thomas Cardinal Wolsey. English rule of the occupied parts of France became a test case for Henrician "imperial kingship." Wolsey rose vertiginously in both church and state offices.

30 min
Magnificence, War, and Diplomacy, 1519-29

06: Magnificence, War, and Diplomacy, 1519-29

Henry and Wolsey engaged in much war and diplomacy, but did they pursue a "foreign policy"? Opportunism ruled all, and players of this game risked losing honor and office.

31 min
Anne Boleyn and the King's

07: Anne Boleyn and the King's "Great Matter"

Henry's divorce from his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, played itself out at a troubled crossroads where sex, religion, law, dynastic politics, and sheer stubbornness (Henry's mostly) met and intertwined in sometimes bewildering ways.

31 min
King, Church, and Clergy

08: King, Church, and Clergy

Henry had inherited an England in which the Church had its own law courts with jurisdictions that overlapped those of the royal courts. The divorce case highlighted the resulting jurisdictional tension.

31 min
Church and People—Heresy and Popular Religion

09: Church and People—Heresy and Popular Religion

Was the English Reformation only a "top-down" event? To what extent did Henry and his Parliament tap lay anger at overweening clerics? What was the nature of religious faith and practice on the eve of Henry's Reformation?

31 min

10: "Rex Est Imperator"—The Break With Rome

The years 1527–34 marked the resolution of Henry's divorce case and his break with Rome—each had its own causes but was buttressed and rationalized by secret research of Henry's legal team. From this came the modern doctrine of state sovereignty.

31 min
Parliament, Law, and the Nation

11: Parliament, Law, and the Nation

When he launched his Reformation, Henry did not resort to his own decrees—royal proclamations—but instead used Parliament to secure statutes recognizing him as head of the Church in England. Why did he choose this path and its consequences?

31 min
The Trial and Execution of Thomas More

12: The Trial and Execution of Thomas More

Why was the "man for all seasons" put on trial for his life, how did he understand his own actions, and for which principle did he die? Learn what the real record reveals about the Thomas More not of legend or film, but of history.

31 min
Humanism and Piety

13: Humanism and Piety

To humanists such as Thomas More, the Renaissance was not just about acquiring Greco-Roman culture or reforming school curricula. They hoped that spirituality of learned laymen would point the way to peace and justice.

31 min
Wealth, Class, and Status

14: Wealth, Class, and Status

Though not a nobleman, Thomas More was one of the richest men in England. Precisely where in Tudor society did he and those like him fit? Hans Holbein's masterful portrait of More and his family provides important visual evidence.

31 min
More's

15: More's "Utopia"

More's clever, enigmatic "Utopia," a masterpiece of world literature, addressed the most pressing moral and political issues of the day, and one which touched More's own life and career.

31 min
The Dissolution of the Monasteries

16: The Dissolution of the Monasteries

Acting on falsified charges of monastic vice and corruption, Henry seized more than 800 friaries and nunneries between 1536 and 1540. He sold much of the confiscated wealth to pay for yet more war. Such sales also made him rich.

30 min
Rebellion—The Pilgrimage of Grace

17: Rebellion—The Pilgrimage of Grace

In 1536 in several northern counties the dissolution sparked the largest mass revolt in English history. The rebellion drew in all classes in defense of what we might call regional autonomy. How did the revolt end and what were its long-term consequences?

31 min
A Renaissance Court

18: A Renaissance Court

Henry's wealth and education made his court a magnet for the greatest European artists. This lecture describes the structure, pastimes, and rituals of the court, showing how the king sought to make his household a display of royal magnificence.

31 min
Queen Anne Boleyn

19: Queen Anne Boleyn

Foreigners hailed Queen Anne as a paragon of spirituality and artistic taste. An intelligent, strong-willed woman, she helped make the English Reformation. But her inability to give Henry a son helped to doom the mother of the future Elizabeth I.

31 min
Two Queens—Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves

20: Two Queens—Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves

Henry's top aide, Thomas Cromwell, used Jane to destroy Anne Boleyn and his enemies at court. But Jane's death set in motion events which eventually cost Cromwell his life, for he persuaded the king to marry Anne of Cleves, whom Henry found loathsome.

30 min
Politics, Sex, and Religion—Catherine Howard

21: Politics, Sex, and Religion—Catherine Howard

With the fall of the evangelical Cromwell, a religiously conservative court faction saw an opening and drew Henry's eye to the flirtatious teenager, Catherine Howard. But sexual indiscretions soon cost Catherine her head and wrecked her sponsors' hopes.

31 min
Queen Katherine Parr

22: Queen Katherine Parr

The sixth and last wife of the now bloated and ailing Henry was the sister of one of his evangelical councilors. Katherine managed her husband masterfully; a fervent evangelical herself, she also supervised the education of his daughter Elizabeth and her half-brother Edward—both future monarchs.

31 min
Endgame—Politics and War, 1542-47

23: Endgame—Politics and War, 1542-47

Still obsessed with kingly honor, an aging Henry invaded Scotland and France at ruinous expense, pressing a novel doctrine of royal "necessity" to make Parliament levy more taxes. The making of his will in December 1546 constitutes one of the great forensic puzzles of English history—a riddle this lecture resolves.

31 min
Retrospect—Henry VIII: The King and His Age

24: Retrospect—Henry VIII: The King and His Age

Studying the reign of Henry VIII raises important questions of how we should assess the legacy of such an imposing historical figure. By what criteria—by whose criteria—should we judge?

31 min