Henry VIII died on 28 January 1547, but the time needed to have his body lavishly embalmed and his funeral procession planned meant that the king was not actually buried in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor until almost three weeks later.
On 14 February the king’s funeral procession began its journey from Whitehall, where the body had lain in state, to Windsor for burial. An ornate hearse bore his coffin, which was topped with a wax effigy of the king. The effigy was painted and dressed to look as lifelike as possible, including being bejeweled and crowned. The procession stopped for the night at Syon Abbey, then continued the journey to Windsor on the following day. The body was placed in St. George’s chapel for the night, and on 16 February, at:
about four o’clock, began the communion of the Trinity; when ‘after an offering of gold by the chief mourner, of the Knights of the Garter to St. George, and of the king’s hatchments, bannerols and banners, and other trophies, as also of the king’s horse richly trapped, came four gentleman ushers, and took away the pall of cloth of tissue (the picture being conveyed away before by six knights into the vestry); after which, sixteen strong yeomen of the guard took the coffin, and with five strong linen towels, which they had for their fees, let it into the vault (near unto the body of Queen Jane Seymour, his third wife), the grate being first taken away; then the Lord Chamberlain, the Lord Great Master, Mr. Treasurer, Mr. Comptroller, and the Sergeant Porter breaking their white staves upon their heads in three parts, as did likewise all the gentleman ushers, threw them into the grave, when Garter, assisted by the Bishops of Canterbury and Durham, declared the state and the name of the most godly prince their master, King Edward VI. Thus the funeral ending, the trumpet sounded in the rood-loft and the company departed.
There is a story about the dogs licking his blood after his coffin burst the night before his funeral, as they had with the Biblical King Ahab, but that was merely a rumor that gained traction because a vengeful divine judgment on the king was very appealing to think about. After all, for the last decades of Henry’s life he was a tyrant and a domestic monster who murdered two of his wives. Who could pity him?
Well, I can … if the either the theory regarding McLeod’s syndrome making him mentally unbalanced or the theory that he had brain damage from repeated concussions (or he had both conditions?!?) is true. If he had McLeod’s syndrome, brain damage, or a mixture of the two, then he literally wasn’t in his right mind when he became a slaughtering despot; he was ill, and not evil. I wish they’d allow his remains to be exhumed and tested, just to find out if he was sick rather than a psycho. It seems dreadfully unfair to let him continue to be remembered as a ogre if he was actually a good man whose mental faculties were impaired beyond his control.