The Six Lives of Henry VIII
The Six Lives of Henry VIII 2022-23
School Of History, Law And Social Sciences
Module - Semester 2
Henry VIII is arguably the most famous – or infamous – of all English kings and queens. He has been the focus of multiple academic biographies and his reign (1509-47) is one of the most intensely studied periods in English history. Additionally, he continues to occupy a prominent position in popular culture; his portrait image by Holbein is instantly recognisable, and he is regularly portrayed through film and literature.
Perhaps best known for his treatment of his six wives (‘divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived’), this module takes a closer look at the ‘lives’ of Henry VIII: his kingship, identity, character, religious policy and the governance of his realm. This includes momentous events in English and Welsh history: The Field of the Cloth of Gold, the Break from Rome, Dissolution of the Monasteries, Pilgrimage of Grace and Act of Union, for example. We will also consider the broader European context framing Henry VIII’s reign, including the Protestant Reformation, the influence of Renaissance humanism and Henry VIII’s relationship with his European rivals, especially Francis I and Charles V. Thus, through the lens of Henry VIII we will be exploring some of the major themes in sixteenth-century history, a period which for many historians signifies the transition from the medieval to the early modern world: the ‘Birth of Modern Europe’.
Alongside the historical focuses of the module, there will be a significant emphasis on study skills, especially referencing, research tips, argument development and essay planning. Many of these elements are reflected in the assessments.
Week 1 - Introduction to Henry VIII and the module
Week 2 - Study skills 1: sources, historiography and referencing
Week 3 - Henry VII: securing the Tudor succession
Week 4 - Kingship and the nature of the state in early modern Europe
Week 5 - The Renaissance
Week 6 - Reading Week
Week 7 - Study skills 2: Essay planning and argument development (Seminar exercise: Charles V on Trial)
Week 8 - Luther’s ideas and the European Reformation
Week 9 - Henry VIII’s Break from Rome
Week 10 - Masculine monarchy and the lives of the six queens: gender identities in early modern Europe
Week 11 - ‘Centre’ and ‘peripheries’ in the Tudor realm: governance, identities and localities
Week 12 - Legacies, summary and end of module quiz
Threshold students (D- to D+) will demonstrate an appropriate range or depth of knowledge and understanding of at least parts of the module, and will make partly-successful attempts to develop skills which correlate with the requirements of History undergraduate work. The structure of the assessment tasks may be rather opaque, and the discussion ambiguous, lacking in clarity and articulacy at times. Assessments may be incomplete, or include one or more elements which lack focus on core themes and issues, or address the problems/questions with imprecision. Assessment submissions may display cursory intellectual engagement and some confusion of source material. Little attempt is made to engage with secondary or primary evidence. One or more elements of the assessments may not be correctly formatted. One or more elements of the assessment tasks may have an unclear structure or may contain insufficient well-presented, well-chosen material.
Good students (C- to C+) will show evidence of solid reading and understanding in assessments, but parts of their work will still remain superficial; cover most of the important aspects of the field, but lack depth or accuracy; have an argument, but only employ limited evidence. There will be lack of engagement with source materials. The assessments may include one or more elements which lack a precise focus on core themes and issues, or address the problems/questions with sketchiness. Submissions may demonstrate some intellectual engagement with relevant primary and secondary evidence. Lines of argument may not be as clear as they could have been. The assessments generally conform to the correct format but may display anomalies. One or more elements of the assessments may have an unclear structure. The assessments overall contain some well-presented, well-chosen material.
(B- to B+) will show a solid level of achievement in all the criteria outlined in the paragraph above, and will exhibit constructive engagement with different types of historical evidence and historiographical controversies. Ideas and arguments will be communicated effectively in assessments. Assessments will always retain a precise focus on the core themes and issues, and address the problems/questions with accurate and relevant material. Submissions will demonstrate good intellectual engagement with relevant primary and secondary evidence. Arguments are presented and almost all lines of argument are supported and illustrated with appropriate evidence. The assessments conform to the correct format and are mostly presented in an accurate fashion, with some engaging elements. All assessments will have a clear structure. Assessments overall contain material which is mostly well-presented and well-chosen.
Excellent students (A- and above) will show depth of achievement across the criteria outlined above, combined with particularly impressive depths of knowledge, sophistication and/or subtlety of analysis. Work will exhibit a sophisticated engagement with core themes and issues, and address the problems/questions with reference to an impressive selection of illuminating material. Submissions will demonstrate in depth and detailed intellectual engagement with relevant evidence. Coherent and convincing arguments are presented, which are comprehensively supported with appropriate evidence. Assessments conform to the correct format and are presented in an accurate and engaging fashion. Assessments will have a clear structure. Assessments overall contain material which is always well-presented and well-chosen.
- Awareness of different historical interpretations and the ability to judge between them
- Knowledge of the contexts for Henry VIII's rule in England and Wales
- Mastery of study skills - particularly the ability to construct and present a bibliography, the ability identify and assess the value of websites as sources for historical research and knowledge, and essay planning.
- The ability to form historical arguments and to back them up with evidence
3,000 word essay on one of the questions provided in the module handbook
Bibliography and website analysis