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The University of Southampton

HIST1094 Henry VIII: Reputation and Reality

Module Overview

This module will provide you with an overview of the key events in the reign of Henry VIII including the Field of the Cloth of Gold, the dissolution of the monasteries and war with France in 1513 and 1544. You will have the opportunity to think about what he was like as a king by comparing him with his contemporaries Francis I of France and Charles V of Spain and how he interacted with the leading figures at court such as Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell and Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. This will be set in context through an evaluation of how Henry VIII has been viewed since his death. You will consider Shakespeare's play Henry VIII or All is True as well as a range of representations of the king in art and film in the 19th to 21st centuries.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the key events which shaped the reign of Henry VIII
  • a variety of primary sources relating to this period
  • how Henry VIII's reputation has been viewed from the late 16th century to the 21st century
  • the historiography of Henry VIII's reign
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse the significant events in Henry VIII's reign
  • explain the significance of a range of primary sources, both written and visual
  • evaluate how Henry VIII's reputation has been perceived over time
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse written and visual sources
  • Create a convincing argument and present it in writing
  • Work independently


An indicative list of seminar topics is as follows: Henry VIII: Court and culture The king’s chief ministers: Wolsey and Cromwell War and foreign policy Competing with Francis I and the Field of the Cloth of Gold The break with Rome The dissolution of the monasteries Political unrest: The Pilgrimage of Grace and beyond Henry VIII: His final years and his legacy Shakespeare's Henry VIII or All is True Henry VIII's posthumous image: Paintings, literature and film

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods will include: • weekly one-hour lecture and one-hour seminar • directed individual and group activities around primary sources • short presentations given by students on the module • group discussions including feedback from the tutor Lectures are designed to introduce you to key themes, historical debates and historians' approaches. Further reading and seminar discussions of primary and secondary source material are designed to consolidate your knowledge and understanding. In seminar discussions you will be expected to engage in critical analysis of primary sources and to formulate and articulate arguments. And you will be encouraged to express your own ideas about a topic. Learning activities will include: • independent study, reading and research in preparation for each seminar • putting together and delivering short presentations as directed by the lecturer • in-depth study of textual and visual primary sources • participation in small group and whole seminar discussions Learning and teaching activities are designed to help you investigate the main themes and issues of the module. These activities will include directed and self-directed study, for example through preparatory reading and library and on-line research. Particular attention will be paid to the different approaches historians have used, and the presentations you give will focus on getting to grips with these approaches, using the reading list of secondary literature provided at the start of the module. You will also study (on your own and in seminars) a wide range of primary written and visual sources. These activities will help you to prepare for the essay and examination exercises. You will receive feedback on your progress via seminar and group discussions and in responses to your presentations.

Completion of assessment task54
Wider reading or practice12
Preparation for scheduled sessions36
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

A. Fox and J. Guy (1986). Reassessing the Henrician Age: Humanism, Politics and Reform, 1500-1550. 

J. Guy (1990). Tudor England. 

A. F. Pollard (1905). Henry VIII. 

G. Bernard (2005). The King's Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church. 

D. R. Starkey (1985). The Reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics. 

R. Strong (1967). Holbein and Henry VIII. 

C. Lloyd and S. Thurley (1990). Henry VIII: Images of a Tudor King. 

J. J. Scarisbrick (1968). Henry VIII. 

G. R. Elton (1977). Reform and Reformation: England 1509-1558. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 50%
Examination  (1 hours) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2200 words) 50%
Exam 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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