Seven year itch Henry VIIIs secret love

The Tudor monarch King Henry VIII is perhaps best known for his prodigious appetite for marriage, famously taking six wives during his lifetime – and now former University lecturer David Baldwin has published a book suggesting that he was close to taking a seventh before getting cold feet and calling the whole thing off.

Henry VIII's Last Love: The Extraordinary Life of Katherine Willoughby, Lady-in-Waiting to the Tudors’, published by Amberley, outlines how Katherine Willoughby, the Duchess of Suffolk became the 'secret' focus of Henry's affections.

A lady-in-waiting to Henry’s last three queens, in February 1546, six months after the death of her husband Charles Brandon, it was rumoured that Henry intended to wed Katherine himself if he could end his present marriage to Catherine Parr. But the king passed away in January 1547 and the proposal was never made.

David based much of his research on more than 40 letters Katherine sent to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, who she relied on for advice. Sometimes, she had to apologise for being rude and short-tempered, which David suggests may be why Henry ultimately decided against marrying her.

David’s examinations of England’s monarchy do not end with the life of Henry VIII. In 1986 he famously made the first serious suggestion that King Richard III’s remains could lie undisturbed beneath the Grey Friars car park in Leicester, where they were eventually discovered by University archaeologists in 2012.

David will be involved in the events surrounding the reinterment of Richard III, giving an expert talk on Saturday 21 March on the subject of ‘Leicester’s Lost King’ at the University of Leicester.

‘Henry VIII's Last Love: The Extraordinary Life of Katherine Willoughby, Lady-in-Waiting to the Tudors’ can be ordered from the University's Bookshop.