On this day in 1547, Henry VIII “dyed at hys most princely howse at Westminster, comenly called Yorkeplace or Whytehall” (Stow).
There is an extraordinary at least broadly contemporary anonymous painting of the scene in the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square. It is entitled “An Allegory of Reformation”, and depicts on the left Henry on his death-bed handing his kingly power, and with it the responsibility for the defence of the Protestant faith, to the central figure of his young son, the future Edward VI – with a defeated Catholic Pope at his feet! Standing to Edward’s left is his uncle, Edward Seymour, First Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector. Seated round a table, under a painting of image-breaking, are: in white vestments, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury; with a grey beard, John Russell, First Earl of Bedford and Lord Privy Seal; and five further gentlemen whose identities are either disputed or altogether unknown.
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