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Beaufort Book of Hours

This Book of Hours, inherited by Henry’s grandmother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, contains a calendar of Church festivals and saints’ days which Lady Margaret turned into a chronicle of the important political and dynastic events in the foundation of Tudor power – including Henry’s own birth. 

The calendar follows Roman usage and Henry’s birth is entered under ‘IV Kalendae Julii’ 1491. But the entry also shows Henry’s comparative dynastic insignificance at the time. For Henry’s elder brother Arthur, Lady Margaret is scrupulously accurate, giving the exact time and place of birth: on 20 September 1486 ‘in the morning afore one of the clock after midnight was born Prince Arthur at Winchester’; likewise for his elder sister, Margaret, born ‘at Westminster at night after the ninth hour a quarter’ on 28 November 1489. 

In contrast, she merely notes the date of Henry’s birth and, indeed, seems to enter the latter over a correction. After all, second sons did not rank very highly in the scheme of things!

Clips from the Channel 4 series 'Henry VIII: The mind of a tyrant'

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