Two readers have detected what they feel is anti-Catholic bias in my review of the Folger Shakespeare Library‘s Vivat Rex exhibition, devoted to Henry VIII (who came to the throne 501 years ago). I think there’s an important difference between being critical of the Church as an institution which played a huge role in history, and being crudely anti-Catholic in a Know Nothing sort of way. My argument, in this piece, is that Henry’s initial breach with the Catholic Church plays an important role in determining the fractious, free-wheeling, English attitude to religion that was eventually implanted on our own shores. The images in this post, taken from the rich trove of material assembled by curator Arthur Schwarz, include a view of Nonsuch palace, Henry’s intended pleasure dome, eventually pulled down; and Henry, the big man himself, in a painting by Holbein.
Images: Nonsuch, courtesy the Folger Shakespeare Library; Henry, courtesy the Morgan Library