Armour shows how Henry VIII grew into an 'absolute monster'





Early in Henry VIII’s reign the Venetian Ambassador described him as “the handsomest potentate I ever set eyes on, with an extremely fine calf to his leg . . . and a round face so very beautiful that it would become a pretty woman”.

Six wives, one Reformation and a lot of feasting later, Henry had become, by the time of his death in 1547, larger than life.

Just how large, and when, has long been a source of speculation, but research by the Royal Armouries in Leeds has now provided the nearest thing to a definitive set of vital statistics. The findings will go on show at the Tower of London from April.

Analysis of suits of armour made for Henry and reunited for the first time since the Tudor era proves that the king was 6ft 1in — well above average even today. As a young man he had a sportsman’s physique, with a waist measuring about 32in and a 39in chest. By his late forties, his waist had drifted to nearer 48in and in his final years he appears to have been carrying a 52in waist and 53in chest.



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