Henry VIII's Psalter

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  • Intro

    This is Henry VIII's personal book of psalms, which was written and illuminated in 1540 by an emigré from the court of the French king Francis I. It contains many beautifully decorated initials and illuminations. Several of these link Henry visually to King David and perhaps even to Christ himself, showing that Henry wanted to identify himself with these biblical figures. Small and easy to handle, the Psalter was used by Henry in his private devotions, as the miniature accompanying Psalm 1 shows. The King sits in his Privy Chamber contemplating the Word of God ‘day and night’. 

     

    Henry made many notes in the Psalter and these are evidence of his theological concerns and his identification of himself with Christ. Overweight and increasingly immobile, he regretted the passing of years and read in Psalm 36: 25 that ‘I have been young and now am old’. 

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