THE author, broadcaster and award-winning historian, Dr Suzannah Lipscomb visited King’s Ely this week to talk to Year 12 students about the turbulent life of Tudor monarch King Henry VIII.
Speaking to the Sixth Form students in King’s Ely’s own Tudor heritage, the newly refurbished Old Palace, Dr Lipscomb provided her own thesis on why such a wise and amiable monarch became one of British history’s most notorious tyrants. She argued that explanations based on political events were inadequate and that we must understand the influence of Henry’s personal life on the change in his personality.
Indeed, the year 1536 contained all the components required to transform Henry: the death of two sons; extreme physical pain following a jousting accident from which the King never fully recovered; Henry’s sense of personal betrayal by Anne Boleyn, leading to her death; and the unease created
by a religious rebellion. Lipscomb also argued that, although Anne was not guilty of the crimes she was accused of, Thomas Cromwell was bound to find or manufacture evidence for her guilt because he was instructed to find her guilty or face death himself. By the end of 1536, it was no wonder that Henry was turning into a different kind of man.
Year 12 student David Bercow commented: “I found Dr Lipscomb’s lecture very inspiring and it was interesting to learn about Henry VIII from a psychological perspective.”
Dr Lipscomb lectures for the New College of the Humanities (NCH), which was founded by Professor AC Grayling. Earlier this year, King’s Ely Sixth Form became one of the
first schools in the UK to be awarded the Grayling Prize for excellence in the Humanities, following the excellent impression left with both Dr Lipscomb and Professor Grayling during recent visits to the school.