The Madness of King Henry VIII: Tudor Stay or Tudor Go?
The Madness of King Henry VIII: Tudor Stay or Tudor Go?
A University degree in Economic and Social History with Psychology thrown in doesn't seem to offer much scope for any synthesis between the two disciplines.
But then it struck me that I could perhaps psychoanalyse Henry the Eighth from a safe distance. Now!, there’s an idea. That's got me thinking of the possibilities.
Definitely no delusions of grandeur on Henry as he had it all in spades, but I do detect a xenophobic, egotistical streak and difficulties in maintaining close relationships since he had half his wives done in. I also suspect a binge-eating disorder due to a Freudian fixation of repressed impulses at the oral stage of childhood development. I wonder how we would get on;
First session for free
"Hello Mr Tudor" I welcome him with a shake of the hand,
"Oh please, call me 'King Henry', he replies
"Or just 'King' for short'
"As you wish"
"As I command!"
"Mmmm", I ponder, "We'll come to that later"
"Well! Get on with it man!" he barks majestically,
"Of course" I reply, "Just lie back on this couch and tell me all ab...."
"No No!" he says, "I've brought my own bed, much more comfortable"
"Oh I see"
"Yes! I'm going to market it you know, the 'King-Size Bed', might make a few bob to get some extra cash to knock the crap out of the Spanish"
"I really don't feel that is appropriate"
"Why? Do you like the dagoes or something?"
"Mmmm", I ponder, "We'll come to that later too"
"This is going to be a long session" he groans
"But I wasn't referring to your institutional racism, although now you mention it your remarks are quite derogatory and could be construed as very offensive”
“I didn’t mention it”
“No I most certainly didn’t” he insists “Do you want to argue about it?”
“Never mind” I say. When I said it wasn’t appropriate I was actually talking about the bed"
"Yes, the bed"
"I'm not asking you to jump in too you know"
"It's not that"
"Well what is it man!" he shouts imperiously,
"It won't fit through my door" I explain
"You bleedin headshrinkers think you’re so smart don’t you”
"Just pointing out the practicalities"
"Oh yeah?, well the bloody thing can be dismantled and put together again in minutes"
"Oh, I see!"
"Yeah! I'm not King for nothing you know"
Piecing it all together
After a fierce three hour struggle I eventually manage to re-assemble the bed in my consulting room while the King sits and polishes off his 14th pork pie.
He then collapses on the horse-hair mattress, scratches his belly and lets out a huge belch.
A slight sound of splintering wood can be heard but not from the stoutly constructed four-poster.
I fear my floor may be giving way. I'll have to have the future counselling sessions with His Majesty downstairs, either next week or in ten seconds. At least the latter would save me the bother of moving the bed again.
"Comfortable?" I enquire,
"Fine thanks" he says, "But I'm knackered now, so hurry it up before I fall asleep"
"Right, now! Tell me about your childhood"
"What's it got to do with you?" he rounds on me
"Erm, Well! It helps the therapeutic process to delve deep into the past"
"Have you visited the Tower of London recently?" he asks
"Can't say I have, no!"
"Well you will mate if you keep asking personal questions like that"
"But I can't see how I can proceed without asking about personal matters", I insist,"That is my job after all" ,
The king kindly reconsiders
He ponders this for a little while in his regal way and being King fully imbued with royal wisdom and executive decision-making he relaxes and co-operates in his analysis;
"I permit thee to ask these questions"
"Thank you kindly sire"
"Your gratitude is duly noted" he nodded, "Right what do you want to know and why?"
"I would just like to ask if you had a happy childhood"
"No, as it so happens, I didn't have a happy childhood, and I'm having a rotten adulthood too"
"Tell me more"
"Well! They made me Viceroy of bloody Ireland when I was just a nipper, can't even remember how young I was"
"And this had a profound effect on you?", I probe
"Damn right it did, the Irish have never liked us"
"Ahh! I see"
"No you bloody don't!" he snarled, "I was a little kid only wanting to be loved and I've got a whole shower of Micks hating my guts"
"I see", I acknowledge,
"You say that again and I'll stiffen you"
Things start to go from worse to worst
"I detect a great deal of hostility"
"You won't have to look too far"
"But it seems this experience has left it's mark"
"You got that right" he says, "The Irish always took the blasted Pope's side"
"And that perhaps explains why you set up your own church"
"Got it in one" he agrees, "I'm the King of England and I can do what I like"
"Supreme Head of the Church?" I confirm,
"Absolutely, it's my ball and I'm playing with it"
"So you enjoy being in power, having control"
"Well, I do now" he says, "But it wasn't easy at first"
"No! of course not" he continues, "How would you feel being made King at only eighteen"
"I mean, I just wanted to go out on the piss with the lads, chase the girls you know"
"And next thing that happens I'm in charge of the greatest nation on God’s Earth"
"A heavy burden indeed"
"You're not kiddin, and I hadn't left home yet" he explains, "I couldn't even roast an ox or work a portcullis and I'm expected to run a bloody country"
"Permit me to move things along a little" I ask, "What about your relationships with women?"
I sit in the Tower, gazing through the bars at the Thames flowing by and wondering where I went wrong.
Maybe I should have taken Sociology instead, it could have been a whole lot easier. Perhaps relaxing in an armchair in a cosy Edinburgh tavern, glass of porter in hand discussing ‘A Treatise of Human Nature’ with the great philosopher David Hume. A convivial chap who lived a relaxed and cheerful existence we could have chatted over the innate goodness and generosity of the human spirit before traipsing home over the cobbles of the Old Town in a splendid sing-song.
Or maybe I just don’t mix well in royal circles.