Henry VIII was born at Greenwich on 28 June 1491‚ the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. He became heir to the throne on the death of his elder brother‚ Prince Arthur‚ in 1502.
In his youth he was highly intelligent‚ athletic and musically talented. He went on to write both books and music (author David Starkey chose one of Henry's compositions when he appeared on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs)‚ and he was a lavish patron of the arts.
Henry succeeded in April 1509‚ aged just seventeen‚ and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 24 June. His personality‚ sunny‚ gregarious‚ romantic‚ was the opposite of his father's - who had been regarded as a miser and a tyrant in the last years of his reign - and promised a fresh start‚ though no one could have guessed how radical‚ even revolutionary‚ it would prove to be.
Henry's reign turned into a quest for fame as obsessive as that of any modern celebrity. The search for glory eventually led Henry into territory where no English king had dared to venture before...
The significance of Henry's reign is‚ at times‚ overshadowed by his six marriages. David Starkey's Henry VIII‚ however‚ will look beyond the marriages to explore the man‚ his obsessions‚ his life and his legacy.