Thyssen Collection, Castagnola (Lugano)                Galleria Nazionale, Roma

(1536-37)                                           (1539-1540)


This section is from an unpublished book by the present author :

“The Princes are out of the Tower”


The reader may not be surprised that the next sheet on the flip chart is marked 'THE KING'. By now, we may have come to expect some sort of remarkable Holbenesque comment in certain portraits of his famous sitters. The portrait of Henry VIII in the Galleria Nazionale in Rome is no exception to this new rule. The Court Painter paints the King in his fiftieth year. There is nothing odd about that. But, once again, you may experience a certain feeling of unease when looking at this picture. It is again difficult to decide Why? The jewels, the furs, the cloth-of-gold proclaim the wealth and status of the king of England. They say something about his new elegance. This is what we might expect. But there is still the odd feeling that something is wrong. It is, perhaps, the pose. The king dominates the canvas in a manner not seen before or since. There is something disturbing about it. Suddenly you realise the artist is breaking with a two-thousand-year-old convention in royal portraiture. He positions the king level with himself. There was risk in breaking with this almost sacred rule, no-one’s head is higher than the king’s head in a portrait -- and Holbein knew it. There is more. Holbein and Henry the Eighth are ‘eye-ball to eye-ball’ on each side of the easel. The cautious highborn courtier knew there was just one time and place to “eye-ball” Henry the Eighth -- on tournament day in the lists, by royal invitation, the “eye-balling” hidden by a protective visor. But Holbein had no visor to hide behind. He was not high born nor a supporter of the king over a substantial period of time. His patron and friend was the late Thomas More. This is also slightly troubling. And if we are sensitive to this sort of thing, we also know it. We begin to look for the expected "messages".


It is not at all clear but the shoulders of the surcoat seem unbalanced. The left shoulder is shorter than the right. The number of small slashes in the king’s long cuffs ('maniques' in French) is similarly unequal. Seven white slashes are visible in one band on the left arm. Eight white slashes are seen on a corresponding band on the right arm. We begin to feel, perhaps, slightly more confident.


If we can find just one more oddity, this is no mere 'happenstance' or 'coincidence'. This is Holbein at work and we are on the right track. We see the large gems and pearls on the gold collar draped over the king's shoulders. Now examine the gold "H"-links on the chain around the king's neck and the jewelled gold pendant. Haven't we seen this chain before in an earlier painting of the king? Yes, indeed we have.


A quick glance at Holbein's first portrait of the king in the Thyssen Collection in Lugano, painted some four years earlier, shows the same combination of an "H"-link chain and pendant. Here we see the artist 'looking-up' to the king. He paints him, as one should expect, from a lower position. Henry liked this particular painting, presumably, and decided to include the gold chain in the second portrait. However, there is one slight difference in the new gold pendant. Whereas once there was merely one stone, now there are four. It just so happens that the given dates of the paintings correspond with the death of Katharine of Aragon, Henry's first wife, in 1536, and the short-lived fourth marriage of the king to Anne of Cleves, which ended fortunately in annulment, in 1540. And then we see the most odd, knotted band of red material on the king's loins instead of the expected sword-belt. It is not at all clear but 'noué' in French, in certain context, means 'knotted'. It can also mean 'illegitimate'. It means, in another context, some sort of impediment.


The painting appears to contain several odd messages. We do not include all of them. We merely describe those elements, which suggest an underlying prime cause for Henry the Eighth's extreme behaviour in relation to the re-marriages. The artist offers us certain new options. These relate to the king’s medical problems. If true, in substance and in fact, it means that the breakdown of nearly one thousand years of traditional religious practice in England followed closely the breakdown in the king's mental and physical health from inherent disease over a substantial period of time. It is a disease for which there is no known cure. This medical finding is new. It is astounding. We are obliged to put our witness to the test once more. His cryptic symbols are in the portrait. If we join them, the court artist Holbein appears to say :


'The obsessiveness of the king unbalances him: the central cause is an impediment of the loins.'


We interpret 'an impediment of the loins' to mean some sort of sexual impediment : Possibly, a genetic impediment.


Since two eminent medical writers on Henry VIII (both former royal physicians) have published detailed information on the medical history of the king (Sir Hector McLennan in Medical History 1967, Vol. II, p. 66 ; and, Sir Arthur McNulty in King Henry VIII ; a difficult patient, published by Johnson, London, 1952), we propose, first of all, to compare this data with the Holbein allusions as described and made clear above. We will also compare medical opinion with historical opinion : notably, 'the persistent and fatal sickliness of the Tudor stock' (Sir Geoffrey Elton). We are obliged, therefore, to review certain royal medical matters of fact. This is straightforward and perhaps more simple than it may at first seem. It will not trouble you in any way. We now draw attention to these medical facts.


Henry VIII first married when he was eighteen years of age. Thirty-eight years later Henry died, aged fifty-six years. During this substantial period of time he had multiple wives. Henry was survived at death by three legal offspring. These simple facts demonstrate and make clear if we speak for those facts, which otherwise cannot speak for themselves, that Henry VIII was statistically 'below the average'.


We consider expert opinion that there was, perhaps, a genetic impediment in the Tudor genes of the king. If true, we shall say this was a sexual problem of some consequence. If true, the artist was risking his life. The king spoke French. It was the year 1540. It was a time when the indignation of the king meant death. Today, two medical specialists join the panel of inquiry. The successors of these medical historians may conceivably decide to re-examine this remarkable case history and make recommendations accordingly.



King Henry the Eighth : an interpretation of the medical case history



It is not at all clear, but at a certain level of English society where there were no adverse social conditions, with no recognizable chronic health problem, no contraception, and where ages pre-disposed to natural childbearing -- sampling of the total population shows that most births in these privileged families occurred some seventeen to twenty-two months apart, approximately. The royal charts show that the wife of Edward III, an exceptional case, conceived in eighteen consecutive years. However, in the case of the multiple wives of Henry VIII, allowing for natural wastage and possible psychological and physical factors in the partners, one might expect to see a total of something between ten to twenty royal babies conceived over the long time period. Indeed, the history shows some fourteen foetuses. We will return to this later. For the present, we have to draw attention that most of these foetuses did not survive in the womb and some were born and did not survive to maturity. Merely two survived to full maturity. It follows there were some twelve fatalities. Let us look more closely at these remarkable matters of fact.


One or more historians have attributed the foetal fatalities of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon to natural wastage and lack of obstetric knowledge. Medical opinion slightly differs. The kings and queens had at their disposal the best doctors and midwives of the day. Their practical knowledge was extensive. Expert medical opinion proposes, therefore, a rhesus factor incompatibility between Henry and Katherine in order to account for some eight or nine reported fatalities either miscarried or dead perinatally. The inquiry may be surprised at this large number of deaths in the first marriage. We will return to it again.


For the present, we have to draw attention that we do not have expert opinion on one or perhaps two fatalities with Anne Boleyn, the second wife. Nor do we have a medical explanation of the illness during pregnancy and subsequent death of Jane Seymour, the third wife, soon after giving birth to Edward VI, reported by Holbein, and the absence of any more children with partners number five and six, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr. You may conceivably decide that sexual intercourse probably took place with these ladies. Medical opinion therefore postulates impotence and/or sterility in the king, after 1540, related to physical and psychological factors (Henry was then aged forty-nine years, grossly overweight and much troubled). Since there is a well-known and compelling explanation why intercourse did not take place in the case of Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife, we will return to Anne later.


For the present, we must revert to another three unexplained male fatalities within the family. Henry's elder brother Arthur (1486-1502) went into deep coma and died. Henry's illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy (1519-1536), by Lady Elizabeth Blount, similarly went into coma and died. Edward VI (1537-1553), Henry's son by Jane Seymour, also went into coma and died. Three closely related males died at about the same age, between sixteen to seventeen years. We will say, therefore, there was something wrong in the king -- an incompatible rhesus factor in all of the king's partners statistically ‘improbable’.


In the case of the fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, we have a satisfactory answer. It is generally agreed Henry married Anne in January 1540. The marriage was annulled six months later, in July 1540, on grounds of 'non-consummation of the marriage'. The reported court gossip suggests Henry 'could not stand the sight of her'. And Holbein appears to expand on a more detailed report that Henry spoke disparagingly of Anne as ‘The 'Flanders Mare'. The Holbein decrypt reads on the page and suggests that Anne of Cleves was ‘très gauche’, difficult to translate accurately, perhaps meaning rather ‘awkward’ or 'clumsy’. This certainly might not please a fastidious monarch. Henry was accustomed to grace and charm in a partner. Anne Boleyn had spent time at the French court. Anne of Cleves came from a lesser court. Holbein adds that Anne was 'not very clever'. If true, we have further to draw attention that Anne of Cleves was clever enough to obtain a substantial settlement with the annulment and a magnificent house and grounds in the south of England. The history suggests Anne was docile by nature. She made no extravagant fuss. She also outlived Henry. This was an achievement.


We may now return to the historical opinion that the king had syphilis. In this connection, the inquiry may be surprised that there is no significant difference between the number of live births and fatalities in affected and non-affected parents. Similarly, present knowledge does not show a significant diminution in the life expectancy of a child born to syphilitic parents. There is no compelling evidence of an abnormally high number of non-surviving births. There is no significant disadvantage in the surviving births between syphilitic and non-syphilitic parents. We must draw attention that if the syphilis theory were correct, since it is a contact disease, one might expect to see chancres on the mouth or genitals of the king. There is no such report from any source, medical or otherwise. This suggests that the likelihood of syphilis in the king or any of his partners is very, very low. Henry was indeed treated for a problem wound on the shin of the lower leg, which later became ulcerous, which would not heal. Henry was advised to rest by his doctors. We have to draw attention that Henry indeed broke a vein in his leg when he fell from his horse while out hunting and that no mercury-based ointments were prescribed, the latest Italian treatment for syphilis. He received the above prescribed treatment. It was this fall, said Anne Boleyn, and the great shock at hearing the news that made her miscarry soon after. We merely draw attention that Anne oddly miscarried in the eighth month, a male child, and there were some five male foetuses with Katherine, either born dead, or died within three weeks.


By now, you may decide we are looking at an appalling obstetric history. We have to report to the inquiry that certain centres of genetic studies at home and abroad have offered explanations on small points of interest but there is no comparable case history of foetal fatalities by multiple wives. It means that Henry's recorded history is, perhaps, unique -- leaving the case open to renewed investigation.


According to some historians, the predominant factor throughout the tragic and often turbulent marital life of Henry VIII was an obsessive desire for a male heir to succeed him on the English throne. We shall say it is insufficient to suggest that the absence of a male heir was a prime cause and that the king's desire was the effect. We shall say that the royal re-marriages might be legally justified by the absence of a male heir (which is not true!) but this does not explain the absence of a male heir at the relevant times. The prime cause option remains open. We have to draw attention, therefore, to ‘The case for the detrimental gene'.


Medical opinion postulates some sort of rhesus factor incompatibility between Henry and Katherine in order to explain, causally, the royal obstetric history of one female (Mary, the firstborn) who survived to maturity, and the terrifying case histories of at least five, and possibly more, other foetuses (some male), either miscarried, stillborn, or dead neonatally over a period of some seventeen years (while Henry and Katherine were co-habiting). The absence of medical reports of toxaemia, puerperal fever, or some other complication during the marriage may be regarded as significant. Katherine was fifty-one years of age when she died in 1536. A medical examination was made of her internal organs. There was no report of any abnormality in her reproductive organs. One small black-coloured tumour was found adhering to her heart, later medically conjectured as perhaps some sort of melanotic sarcoma, the most likely cause of death. No other gross abnormality was reported. The post mortem investigation was made, it was reported unofficially, from fear lest the queen had been poisoned. We have to draw attention that any abnormality in the queen's reproductive organs might have had political value at the time. The absence of any official report of reproductive abnormality, by this NIET criterion, is significant.


The case histories of the female survivors in the family show long-term medical problems. The unmarried survivor, Elizabeth I, had on-going problems with skin, teeth and hair. The married survivor, Queen Mary I, had no children. Married to Philip of Spain, it is true Mary did not co-habit for any substantial period of time with the king, who was living mostly abroad. However, there are reports from independent sources, notably in the out-going ambassadors’ reports to their masters, of a remarkable 'phantom pregnancy'. This is unique in the royal history of England. It is also the best-attested day-by-day account in the historical record. However, it is peripheral to our problem, and we do not draw any inference from it.


We have to return to the more pressing point at issue -- the likelihood of syphilis in the king. If true, he would have infected one partner. If true, the children of that union and all his subsequent children would have carried the stigmata -- the syphilitic nose and chin, disease of the eyes and so-called 'saw-teeth'. We have to draw attention that there is no pictorial report from the trained eye of the artist Holbein of the stigmata of syphilis in the children of the king. The profiles drawn by Holbein of Henry's children by different wives, Princess Mary and Edward VI, show a remarkable similarity. If true profiles, it means Henry was indeed the father. You may conceivably decide the syphilis theory does not fit the facts and is readily dismissible. Finally, you may also decide that Holbein's detrimental gene theory might fit those same facts, meriting further investigation.


The seeds of the disastrous second marriage of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn may have been sown long before the birth of either partner. Henry's offspring are reported as one surviving female, Elizabeth I, the first born ; and, one or two dead foetuses, one male stillborn prematurely, one miscarried. There is no evidence of syphilis in the child of the second marriage. The torrid evidence at the preliminary divorce hearing reveals an allegation of impotence in the king (whether true or false!), which was countered presumably with royal and terrible fury by allegations of witchcraft, adultery and incest by the queen (whether true or false!)


Any detrimental psychological factors, which may have affected Henry's potency and sexual performance with Anne Boleyn, appear to have been resolved with his third wife, Jane Seymour. A male foetus survived, Edward VI, but the mother died some twelve days later. Holbein reports her sickly appearance in the third month of pregnancy. Non-medical reports suggest death after Caesarean section. There is no evidence of syphilis in the child of the marriage.


In the case of Edward VI, he was healthy and lively into his teens. This is seen obliquely in certain private royal correspondence. Edward's personal nurse and Nanny wrote to Henry that he must exert his authority with the boy. She cannot get him to go to bed. He insists on hunting the deer in the royal park at night with his bow and arrows. These reports do not include medical matters at this time. Until about the age of puberty all seems more or less normal. We hear then and for the first time a warning note. The child is not growing. He is sleeping too much. There are some slight fevers. The royal doctors are called. They find no gross symptom. There is, possibly, a slightly swollen liver. The doctors prescribe diet. There is no remission. The patient's health steadily declines. He weakens noticeably and makes a Will. Suddenly, there is coma. The boy is unconscious. Still no gross symptom reported. And, finally, he died. We have to draw attention that all three young men, Prince Arthur, Edward VI and Henry Fitzroy, died at about the same age – the cause of death undetermined or unreported.


The inquiry may conceivably conclude that we are obliged to consider the possibility of an underlying and detrimental factor in the genes of the king. This genetic factor resulted in the king's dead children and in turn resulted in the remarriages, and was the prime cause -- a similar detrimental factor in all his partners being statistically improbable. The inquiry may further conceivably decide that where one of the partners provides significant negative evidence of a detrimental gene (by the absence of a reasonable number of surviving births by multiple partners over a substantial period of time) -- the imbalance and obsession in the king assumes recognizable detrimental patterns in human behaviour. If true, it means Holbein has projected an awesome man of power through time and into the present with credible medical problems that are understandable.


It means we must search out and examine the royal genealogies for proof, some of the best-kept records over many generations. We shall say that expert assistance may be called upon, initially, to look for a disease with no gross symptoms, which "by-passes" until puberty, the critical factor. We may then expect to find slow decline in the young adolescent over several years, then coma for about a month and then death. The basic assumption is that we must look for an inherited detrimental gene. Since we know that certain genetic diseases descend down the female side of a family, it follows that there are two possible options -- a female or, perhaps, a male-linked provenance, each unidentified. The new evidence suggests the latter. We merely present both since this is the best-fit option, which fits all the facts.


In this connection we must further draw attention to a progression to extinction of the Tudors seen as an inverted pyramid on the medical/genealogical chart with the tip pointing straight at Elizabeth I. We will revert to it again. For the present, the received history shows that with the accession of Henry VII in 1485 and the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, the Tudor dynasty in England became extinct after 118 years. It means the direct line no longer existed. One female survivor, Henry's elder sister, Margaret, carried the family genes into the reign of the Scottish kings. Their descendants were ancestors of the Stuart dynasty. And so on. The inquiry may decide that conclusive proof of a detrimental gene is possible by modern methods and technology. This means that the DNA is first recovered from a tiny piece of bone or tissue. Since the DNA contains the genetic inheritance, it is this DNA, which is examined and then identified in an on-going method of inquiry. The findings may produce results of substantial benefit to others -- Patient and Practitioner alike. The initial decision to proceed with this investigation rests with the inquiry. We merely repeat our hope that the desired recommendation is accepted and the examination will not be shuffled off into another century.


This means clinical testing of the findings and analysis of those findings in order to present them with a determined degree of confidence. We do not dwell on the considerable extent of the difficulties to be overcome. The entire operation is fraught with difficulty and we know it. Finally, we have to draw attention that if and when the detrimental genetic factor is identified, that the person after whom it might be named, the person who put us to so much trouble, is "our" informant and contemporary witness, Holbein. If findings are indeed positive, this enhances his witness, not conclusively but substantially.



The Princes and the King – Henry VIII


By now, the reader may well be asking himself, or herself, if the medical case history of King Henry VIII relates in some way to "our" case concerning the princes. The answer is 'Yes, it does.' The principals were closely related. Henry was the nephew of Edward V and Richard, Duke of York. These two princes were the brothers of Henry's mother, Elizabeth of York. An inquirer may not be surprised that DNA profiling will show a small percentage of her genes in the profiles of her brothers. A substantially larger percentage of Elizabeth's genes, some fifty percent, will appear in the profile of her son, Henry VIII. Predictably, the remaining fifty percent of Henry's genes derive from his father, Henry VII. The DNA findings will enable differentiation of the York genes and the Tudor genes in Henry VIII. The genes themselves then come under careful scrutiny. Experts may then attempt to identify conclusively the detrimental gene.


We have to draw attention that some fifty percent of the genes of Edward IV will be found in Edward V and Richard, Duke of York. The remaining percentage, again about fifty percent, will be found in the genes of their mother, Elizabeth Woodville. It follows that if the genes of Sir Edward Guildford and Dr. John Clement do not show a precise consanguinity with the genes of their supposed parents, Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, then, the present historical case must fall to the ground. It means the case is flawed. Alternatively, if the genes match as predicted, then, we have strong evidence of the real identities of two notional persons. The solution to this scientific puzzle may provide a hard-core and firm base for further conjecture.


The reader may not be surprised, therefore, that we intend to test the given history. This means that we listen to Holbein and to every other account of the reign of the Tudors, neither believing nor disbelieving, but just remembering all that is said. Then we test it. The conclusive test is with science.


The possibility of a genetic impediment in King Henry the Eighth is merely one case to be tested. Let us conjecture, one last time, upon the outcome. If true, there can be no further condemnation of this king by scholars. Henry was ill. He was stricken with one of the most terrible illnesses known to man. And yet, physically he was an athlete about six feet tall who could wrestle, fight on foot or on horse, carry heavy weapons and not show any obvious sign of inherent disease. When his first wife, Katherine, miscarried time after time this was, of course, nothing to do with "our" Henry. Katherine's family was a bad bet in the breeding stakes. Everyone knew there was madness in her family. There was nothing wrong with Henry’s family. This perhaps over-stated conjecture is implicit in Henry's assumed argument.


The best-fit opinion of the day upon Katherine, and these matters were carefully considered at the time, concerned her prospects of conceiving sons and heirs. Katherine appears to have passed this test satisfactorily and she conceived, perhaps, some five male foetuses. The fact that they died perinatally does not concern us here. What does concern us is that it was not known in the sixteenth century that the sex of a child is determined in Nature by the father, not the mother. Since this was indeed unknown at the time, this does not pertain to our case.


The Neville-Woodville ancestors of Henry's mother, Elizabeth of York, were prolific and long-lived with very few exceptions. Henry had two brothers, Arthur and Edmund, and two sisters, Margaret and Mary. Both boys died young -- Arthur when merely sixteen years of age and Edmund when still an infant. A third female, Catherine, also died in infancy. Margaret and Mary survived to full maturity.


It would be wholly unsafe for us to assume that Henry was unaware that the males in his father's family, descended from the Welsh kings through his paternal grandfather Edmund Tudor, were heavily outnumbered by female survivors. Since Henry was fit and well he was understandably confident, presumably, that sooner or later he would have at least one or two male heirs. The royal genealogical charts of his late mother's family showed this. However, the charts merely recorded facts. They did not show what they did not know. Females, if at all, only slightly out-number males in recorded births. It was also unknown that the female foetus appears only slightly more resistant to miscarriage, if at all, than the male foetus. It means that an abnormally large number of male fatalities and female survivors in a family is genetically significant. It predicts a possible progression to extinction of a family name.


We begin to see what may happen to a man when his wife miscarries again and again. He may start making elaborate justifications, which simply may not be true. Expert opinion shows that when this continues time after time, the frustration may turn to depression. This is sometimes manic, sometimes depressive. There are high phases and low phases. It is born of paranoia, which can affect any one of us, if we are frustrated time and time again in our daily lives. When the factors creating the depression are continually repeated day after day, the problem hardens, becomes entrenched and difficult to deal with. And this medical problem was in a man of power, awesome power.


When his third wife Jane Seymour presented Henry with a son who survived, Edward VI, Henry had proved his case twice over. He now had a son from good breeding stock. When Jane died, twelve days later, this was particularly unfortunate. Two years would pass before Henry married his next wife. Henry later is reported to have said that he had some sort of special regard for Jane Seymour. She was his favourite wife. We shall say these were the words of a sick man from whom the future was hidden by merciful and providential death. For the sake of completeness we have to draw attention to a certain gruesome connection. If this should give offence, then, we must apologize in advance. It is not our intention to offend. And if this is not immediately clear we must apologize again. There is simply no intention whatsoever to give offence.


Following the refusal of Sir Thomas More to attend her coronation, Anne Boleyn was incensed. The given and received history shows an adverse reaction by the queen. It is said that the importuning and on-going clamour of Anne Boleyn in the ears of the king resulted and, perhaps, may have hastened Thomas More's eventual death. The history shows that Henry personally ordered the death by execution of Sir Thomas More to take place on Tower Hill on the sixth of July in the year 1535. Since Richard III was crowned on the sixth of July in 1483, Henry may have wanted to rid himself of the clamour of Anne Boleyn, Thomas More and More's Richard, on one and the same day. However, had Henry lived to see the death of his only son, Edward VI, on the sixth of July 1553, there can be little doubt that the apparent madness which threatened may have resulted in complete breakdown. We are now finished with the medical case history, with additional thanks to Dr. M. Skoblo of Cambridge and Professor Doctor I. Wald of Warsaw for their most kind interest, and we may now return to the courtroom.



Henry VIII: an interpretation of the political history


Finally, we have to draw attention to the given history, which forms the political background to the patient's progressive mental deterioration. Since he was ill, we refer to Henry as 'The patient'. He had changed political alliances with France, Spain, and certain other countries, over a substantial period of time, always remaining on the side of the Pope. The inquiry may be surprised that Henry remained a practising Catholic all his life. And when Henry wanted a papal favour in return, an annulment of his marriage to Katherine, he was refused. It was palpably obvious to the Vatican that Henry wanted to annul his marriage. It was well known that his children were dying. It was also known there had been a precedent in the previous century and that an annulment had indeed been granted. However, powerful families held the Holy Seat in the Vatican and used it for gain to advance themselves and their fortunes. This proved an insurmountable problem to Henry's wishes resulting wholly in frustration.


In this connection, we must draw attention that Giovanni, son of Lorenzo de Medici, patron of the newly-invented "Opera", is reported to have spent three papal treasuries, his predecessor's, his own, and his successor's, on re-building St. Peter's in Rome. This was Pope Leo X, died 1521. Before Pope Leo X there was a Della Rovere family pope, Pope Julius II, known as 'The Warrior Pope' who died in 1513. Before him, a certain Pope Pius III died within one short month of his predecessor, in 1503. Before him, Rodrigo Borgia, who was Pope Alexander VI, died in the year 1503. Before him, Pope Innocent VIII, Giovanni Battista Cybo, died in 1492. Before him another Della Rovere pope, Pope Sixtus IV who died in 1484, occupied the Holy Seat.


We have further to draw attention that the eleven-year pontificate of Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia, nephew of Pope Calixtus III, Alonso Borgia, d. 1458, was factually the most nepotic pontificate and, perhaps, the worst behaved. The impression is that Rodrigo Borgia had three illegitimate children by a certain Vanozza Cattanei : Juan, Cesare and Lucrezia. Rodrigo then fell in love with Giulia Farnese, which was the beginning of the immense fortune of the Farnese family. Giulia Farnese later married Rodrigo's nephew, Orsino, and remained the pope's mistress. Giulia's brother was made a cardinal at the same time as Cesare Borgia. Rodrigo Borgia fathered, perhaps, his daughter Lucrezia's child, Giovanni Borgia, who was indeed made heir to the Borgia family fortune. Cesare Borgia tortured a certain Savanarola, on 23 May 1498, silencing his enemy. And when Cesare Borgia died on 13 March 1507 there are reports of just three mourners at his funeral -- Vanozza, Lucrezia, and a certain Niccolo Machiavelli. We must draw attention that there simply cannot be the slightest comparison between the popes of the sixteenth century and the popes of today. These fifteenth and sixteenth century popes were little more than 'heads of warring principalities'. The inquiry may be surprised that this is the view, not of a Protestant historian, but of a British regius professor and ordained Catholic priest, Dom David Knowles. We are grateful for this heroic, expert opinion.


The inquiry may not be surprised, therefore, that this background history of relations with the Vatican was brought to a head when a Medici pope, Giulio de' Medici, Pope Clement VII (d. 1534), occupied the highest office in Christendom. It was Pope Clement VII who in the year of his death excommunicated Henry for having repudiated his wife Katherine of Aragon. It was this ecclesiastical decision that set in motion the break between Henry and the Church of Rome. Henry's Act of Supremacy of the same year sealed the position. Henry became supreme head of the Church of England. Anglicanism was born.


Against this background, we have to draw attention to yet one more frustration in the life of the king. It is said that the English cardinal, Thomas Wolsey, had ambitions to become Bishop of Rome. If true, it means Wolsey wanted to become the next Pope. Factually, it is not at all clear if Wolsey may indeed have entered into some sort of collusive arrangement with Henry whereby Henry would help Wolsey become the next Holy Father and Wolsey would then grant the annulment. Wolsey's opening gambit, presumably, was made in the courts. Henry claimed that his marriage to Katherine was contrary to the laws of God. He had married his brother's wife. The Pope did not have the right to dispense with this fact. Henry obtained the support of one thousand universities who fiddled around with certain biblical strictures on marriage and countered others with other strictures. This was one part of Henry's claim. We do not propose to go into the detail as it is merely peripheral and does not pertain to the present case. However, there was a second part to the claim.


It is true Prince Arthur had been married for a short period of time to Katharine before Arthur died. In order to succeed in this second part of the claim it meant Henry was obliged to start proceedings to prove that the marriage between Arthur and Katherine had been consummated before Henry married Katherine. This was an expensive and deeply traumatic action before senior judges of England’s High Court. The case rebounded heavily on Henry. Katherine answered to the court that her first marriage to Arthur had not been consummated because Arthur was too ill and that the one person who knew this to be true was the king himself. Henry did not reply to this stunning rebuff. The court accepted Katherine was still a virgin when Henry married her and one thousand universities stood abashed. The tactics had been wrong. Wolsey was thinking of himself and not of his king. 'Ego et rex meus', as Wolsey signed his letters, although good Latin construction, had gone to his head. The Medici pope remained intractable. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, now the recently appointed Lord Chancellor, paid the price for overweening ambition. Once again frustrated, Henry rejected him and Wolsey was obliged to leave the court in disgrace. He was, perhaps, lucky to be alive. Sir Thomas More was appointed the new Lord Chancellor in his place and referred to his predecessor in some of the most scathing language More would ever use in an official speech to parliament. More remained Katherine's most influential supporter. Wolsey died shortly after.


For the sake of completeness, the inquiry may care to consider the remarkable inside information given by "our" witness in the companion portraits of Sir Henry Guildford and Lady Mary Guildford. Official sources indeed report some of the consequences in 1529 when Henry was trying to find witnesses to prove this alleged 'consummation' before the death of his brother in 1502. However, all was not entirely doom and gloom among the courtiers. Holbein records alleged and hitherto unrecorded amusing and yet seriously libellous and scandalous happenings at the English court in or about 1529.


Holbein shows us and the interpretation suggests unmistakably that Sir Henry Guildford, now Comptroller of the Royal Household (following in the footsteps of his late father Sir Richard Guildford), having once lowered his real age in order to accommodate Edward V into the Guildford family, as his elder brother, was once again obliged to alter his age in order to say that at the time of the alleged consummation he was too young to be of any assistance now to the king.


Since Sir Henry Guildford had been called to give evidence under oath in 1529, and since he had sworn to be some sixteen years younger than his real age, Sir Henry Guildford became the laughing stock of the courtiers. Holbein then goes on to say that this man was impotent, a physical giant (we know Guildford was appointed the King's Champion and, from his armour, that he was slightly bigger and taller than Henry VIII) and whether impotent or infertile, this caused his wife, this same Lady Mary Guildford, much embarrassment from the ridicule of the courtiers who knew and understood very well why she had no children. Lady Mary Guildford was 'excited with passions'. We draw no certain inference from this. The given history merely records Sir Henry Guildford had no children by this second marriage and a previous marriage, to a certain Lady Mary Bryant, deceased.


Finally, we return to certain serious matters concerning Sir Thomas More, which concern us directly. The inquiry may not be surprised that Thomas More was closely involved with these events throughout this period until his death in 1535. The given history relates that Henry first broached the subject of the annulment of his marriage to Katherine sometime in late 1527. ‘Near the eleventh hour in 1528’, signals "our" silent witness in the Nostell painting. We have to divert, for just one minute, to draw attention that there is a misconception about Henry VIII, which should be corrected. The king may perhaps have thought he had legally divorced his first wife with the aid of a complaisant English archbishop, Thomas Cranmer. This is a moot point. But Henry did not divorce any one of his other five wives. It is simply not true. The first wife died. The second wife was executed. The third wife died in childbirth. The fourth marriage was annulled. The fifth wife was executed. The sixth wife outlived her husband. We mention this merely to set the record straight. In this, we have now to draw attention to the words of Sir Thomas More when he returned from his embassy to Amiens in late 1527 and reported to the king at Hampton Court. Expert opinion confirms that pressure was at once exerted on him to agree to the policy of 'the king's great matter'. The inquiry is on firm ground for we have Thomas More's own account written down some six years later. This is More writing history in a way, as we should expect, as remote from haphazard writing (as in More's Richard) as we on earth are from the stars :


‘Suddenly his Highness, walking in the gallery, brake with me of his great matter, and showed me that is was now perceived that his marriage was not only against the positive laws of the Church, and the written law of God, but also in such wise against the law of Nature, that it could in no wise by the Church be dispensable.’


We draw attention to More's words : 'but also in such wise against the law of Nature'. Hitherto, says More, it had been merely a question of whether the papal dispensation was sufficient. That the marriage was against the law of Nature was a new point. We shall say More was being careful about this new point. More was aware of the fatalities in the first marriage. We shall say further that lawyer More was obliged to point out the risk to Henry that a subsequent marriage might have similar results. We see what More could not possibly have seen. His reservations were fully justified by the turn of later events, which he did not live to see.


Finally, since we have to move on we merely draw attention for just one minute more to certain claims of the witness concerning the princes, which run parallel at this time. A quick glance at the flowers in the Nostell painting shows a certain selection of flowers by the artist. Since these flowers only bloom once together, in mid-July of each year, it means that the wake held after the death of Edward V, "our" supposed notional person also known as Sir Edward Guildford, one time Royal Standard Bearer and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports financially supported, therefore, by his nephew, Henry VIII, as already explained and made clear, occurred in mid-July of a certain year. Since the received history shows that Thomas More reached the fiftieth anniversary of his birth on 6/7 February 1527, and since we also know that the year "changed" in the sixteenth century on Lady Day, 25th March, it follows that Edward V died some five months later. It means mid-July 1528. If true, it was then that his younger brother, Richard, Duke of York, became the senior pretender in the male line to the throne of England.


The inquiry may not be surprised that "our" witness, Holbein, has something to say on the subject of the new 'rightful heir'. This is new. Once more, it is astounding. If true, it means there were startling objections to the king's great matter made by his senior courtiers. These persons identified by the artist were conspiring to remove Henry from the throne. Their aim was to pass over the claim of the sole remaining female heir of Edward V, "our" Lady Jane Guildford, and to crown the rightful heir, Richard, Duke of York, also known as John Clement, King Richard IV. The Operation Codename was "The Gordian Knot". We will return to it later.



Revised 1976, 2000,

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ã 2000 Holbein Foundation. All rights reserved. See : Terms of Use.







#36 "Is it true that DNA testing the bones of the Princes in the Tower has been blocked by officials at Westminster Abbey acting on behalf of the Queen?"


I have to draw attention to the simple fact that I have not had plans in the past and have no plans today to investigate the supposed bones of the princes in Innocents’ Corner, Westminster Abbey. However, it is true that a column, written by Ephraim Hardcastle, did state (e-mail: ‘I gather the monarch feels there would be no end to the disinterment of historic figures for DNA tests’, but if the report is true, in substance and fact, I do not know. It may be a fishing expedition.


Hardcastle’s story may be a reference to the request by Prince Edward’s TV company ADVENT for permission to make DNA profiles of the supposed remains of the princes resting today in an urn in Westminster Abbey, which was refused by the Dean of Westminster, early in 1999, perhaps after consultation with Buckingham Palace. In this connection, the officials advising the Queen are not without imagination and since it is extremely easy to go from No to Yes, Prince Edward may yet succeed.



#37 "If Her Majesty refuses her son permission to make the DNA investigation in Westminster Abbey, do you really believe the Queen will give you permission for your investigation?"


You may conceivably agree that if Her Majesty decides today to refuse her son permission to make the DNA investigation in Westminster Abbey, as already described and made clear, it does not mean her son may not receive permission tomorrow. I believe Prince Edward may ultimately succeed in receiving permission to make a documentary programme for television on the DNA investigation in Westminster Abbey. I will do my best to ensure his investigation does not have completely barren results.



#38 "Have you received permission to make DNA tests of the Queen's ancestors?"


The simple answer to your question is NO but please allow me to explain the precise position today. When the scientists are satisfied that it is the next correct step in a thorough investigation of the case, I intend to apply for permission to make a DNA profile of the Queen’s ancestor, Edward IV, buried in St George’s Chapel at Windsor. I will also make arrangements for an application to be made in the London Consistory Court for permission to exhume the coffin of Sir Edward Guildford in Old Chelsea Church. Since it is possible today to identify a related grandparent and grandchild from their DNA profiles, the scientists will compare the DNA profile of Winifred Rastell (née Clement) and compare it with the DNA of her supposed grandfather, Edward IV, father of the missing persons, Edward V, also known as Sir Edward Guildford (and Richard, Duke of York, also known as Dr John Clement). The findings are conclusive and, if positive, there is no need to test anyone further and the case of missing persons is closed.



#39 "You will never receive permission to make DNA tests of the Queen's ancestors."


I have listened to this and other opinions over a substantial period of time and must respectfully disagree on the grounds that the Queen is an intellectual who, for better or worse, is unlikely to obstruct an investigation of historic and scientific interest. In this connection there is a precedent and Her Majesty knows it. The coffin of Edward IV was opened in 1789, three hundred and six years after his death in 1483. The establishment explanation suggested that the coffin was opened in order to measure the king’s skeleton. I do not believe this was the reason for opening the coffin, it was a cover story ex post facto and the real purpose was to ascertain the cause of death of the monarch.


I have to draw attention that Edward IV was buried at Windsor before the arrival in London of two of the chief mourners: his brother, Richard of Gloucester, later Richard III, and his eldest son, Edward V.


It is also a matter of record that the late king was suffering from some sort of severe if not acute depression at the time of his death, officially described as a ‘pensivous sickeness’, and if death was from some unnatural cause, from poisoning for instance, the evidence would have been seen around the lips and inside the mouth soon after death and deposited as an identifiable discolouration in the bony remains three hundred years later. If you want a reason for the hurried burial, that will do!


Finally, I cannot find the report of the exhumation, which you may decide was only to be expected, but someone said that Edward IV was 6 feet, 3 inches tall (192cms, approximately), which is recorded in the Dictionary of National Biography.



#40 "You must stop this nonsense. No-one wants to hear you!"


I feel I must congratulate this gentleman on his very great courage. With few words, he manages to antagonize much of the total global population interested in history. What I have to say is not nonsense. Many people want to hear me. Even my greatest enemy listens to what I have to say. For instance, if DNA findings are positive it means the first person who falsely said the bodies of Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, were buried under a staircase in the Tower of London in his famous manuscript book The History of King Richard the Third, Thomas More, implicates himself in knowledge of the burial of two bodies aged about 13 and 10 years at death, obtained from the mortuary of nearby St Bartholomew’s hospital by his good friend Sir Thomas Linacre, presumably, Royal Physician to Henry VIII, later first president of the Royal College of Physicians, who had access to the Tower before 1513, the year More allegedly started to write his book.


If findings are positive, the next best-guess is that the bodies were a plant and the book was a blind nailing down the cover story that the princes were dead and had died a long time ago in 1483. There is a contemporary witness risking his life to confirm this for posterity. OK?


Incidentally, the bony remains were found by workmen 191 years later who kept some for souvenirs, presumably, replacing them with dog and chicken bones. The authentic bones were last examined more than sixty years ago and medical science has progressed since then, which may have been the reason Prince Edward felt he should go ahead and make sure, for better or worse, they were the bony remains of his famous ancestors.



#41 "You're worse than the tabloids..."


This critic may not want to hear anything disturbing and what I have to say, presumably, disturbs him! Factually, truth is disturbing and although my critic may resist what I say, if just one word penetrates it may start to work and sooner or later we may have one more convert to truth and disturbance, for it is the way most of us learn.


The way I see it, a man cannot have a better friend than one who tells the truth and, if we want to remain balanced, we have to learn not to mind being disturbed since we are going to be disturbed many, many times. Now, for just one moment, let’s consider the tabloids and tabloid photographers.


Personally, I do not like what they do but I defend their right to do it. Photographers take pictures of people and, in a mutual usage, both become famous and they know it. We all make use of each other from time to time and, if we are honest, we know it!



#42 "Have you been able to trace descendants of the Princes who are alive today?"


The Guildford family descendants are well known in UK. For instance, the late Lord de L’ Isle and Dudley knew the traditional family history that his ancestor, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, had forced his son, Guildford Dudley, to marry Lady Jane Grey and forced them on to the throne of England during the Anarchic Period. His Lordship felt sure his ancestor had gone mad and paid for it with his head. They cut it off!


His Lordship was not aware that some three weeks later The Paris News Letter printed Dudley’s last words on the scaffold blaming the Divorce for all the ills that had befallen England. John Dudley also said he died a Catholic and had always been a Catholic.


“But that’s impossible,” said His Lordship. “John Dudley was Henry the Eighth’s right hand man. He was responsible, God Save his Soul, for the destruction of some six hundred monasteries!”


Similarly, His Lordship was not aware of the entry in DNB that John Dudley had insisted his son should be known as ‘king’. However, His Lordship immediately understood the implication of what Holbein was saying: that Edward V, also known as Sir Edward Guildford, had married Lady Isobel de la Warr and that Edward’s sole surviving heir was his daughter, Lady Jane Guildford, who married John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and was the mother of 13 children, including Robert Dudley, the famous Earl of Leicester, (whom many Protestants today claim was a fervent protestant, who was courting Elizabeth I, while other Catholic supporters suppose Leicester was trying to get Elizabeth to turn England back to the old religion), and his sister, Mary Dudley, who married Sir Henry Sidney of Penshurst and was the mother of Sir Philip Sidney, his Lordship’s ancestors, whose portraits adorn the long hall at Penshurst, except for a portrait of Sir Edward Guildford. I imagine that Holbein painted a portrait of Sir Edward Guildford and that it may still exist with a wrong identification. But to return, for one minute more, to John Dudley.


Personally, I do not find it surprising that a man forced to carry out the orders of an obsessive monarch (in order to preserve his status, economic rewards and peace of mind) did not find himself in conflict, sooner or later, with his deepest convictions.


Finally, the descendants of the Guildford family across the pond, The Guilford Society of America, is always pleased to hear from anyone who can add to their archive on the Guildford Family.


Please note several variants of the family name, including Gilford and Guldeford and Goldford and Guyldeford, and since the earliest members of the family and extended family crossed to America after 1620, we have one more possibility, that the State of Delaware is named for the de la Warr descendants, requiring assessment in USA.


Since the son of John and Margaret Clement, Thomas Clement M.A., did not marry, there is no descendant in direct line. The research is on-going into the descendants of married daughter, Helen Clement, who married a Thomas Prideaux, a printer in the Lowlands, who came from Devonshire in England. They lived exiled in Flanders for many years. However, there is no record of her death or of her husband’s death in Flanders. Perhaps she and her husband returned to Devon where the Prideaux family happily still exists in large numbers today. Since I lived and went to school in Devon, I met several members of the Prideaux families in North and South Devon, usually on the rugby or cricket field. The oldest members of the family may know where their ancestors were buried. Helen was alive in 1572. I look forward, very much, to renewing the acquaintance. The descendants of Margaret Giggs, whom we are supposing a sixteenth century Duchess of York, still exist to day and this is beyond any possible shadow of doubt. Dr. John Giggs of Nottingham University, who is interested in demography, is a great friend.


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#65 “Is Lord de L’Isle & Dudley the rightful heir to the English Throne?”


We must wait to find out if Lord de L’Isle and Dudley is “rightful” heir to the English throne.


For the record, the Lord St Oswald telephoned Lord de L’Isle & Dudley who invited me to visit him at Penshurst in Kent. We met shortly after. Briefly, His Lordship knew rather more about Sir Philip Sidney (His Lordship’s famous ancestor during the time of Elizabeth I), than Sir Edward Guildford. I had to draw attention that proposed DNA findings may prove conclusively whether or not Sir Philip Sidney was a great-grandson of Edward V, also known as Sir Edward Guildford.


His Lordship, awarded the Victoria Cross at Anzio and later appointed Governor-General of Australia, remarked good-humouredly that he would have something to discuss with Her Majesty the next time they met and we chatted for a substantial period of time.


explained and made clear some of the background to the story. For instance, the Elizabethan courtiers would have known, presumably, that the godparents of Philip Sidney were his widowed grandmother, Lady Jane Guildford (the sole remaining heir of Sir Edward Guildford) and King Philip II of Spain.


Similarly, these courtiers may have heard of a visit by Fulke Greville to the Sidney family home at Penshurst, where, according to Greville, it is reported, he overheard Sir Philip's father, Sir Henry Sidney, describe his son 'lumen familae suae' (‘The light of HIS family’, in Latin).


Personally, if I was Sir Henry Sidney and asked to whose family precisely I was referring (in the event that my words might be repeated to the Elizabethan DDT), I might describe my highly talented son ("The light of MY family"), adding that Greville had not overheard me correctly.


Factually, the edited DDT version of the history allows that Sir Philip Sidney was one of the greatest English poets and writers of his day but fails to comment on certain "lost" Sidney manuscripts that somehow failed to arrive at the printers. In this connexion, since Sidney was hounded to the point that finally he threatened to burn all his manuscripts himself, I conjecture the first head of the British Secret Service, Sir Francis Walsingham, threatened to destroy Philip Sidney’s writings as a barely concealed warning to the writer, lest the rightful heir act as a focus of discontent in a civil war against the legal heirs.


The edited Tudor history alleges that Sidney was a protestant (Sidney indeed dabbled in protestantism) but I will say it was from expedient fear for his life. Philip knew the fate of his uncle, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, his mother's elder brother and Elizabeth I's "favourite". Leicester was poisoned. Philip also knew the fate of his maternal grandfather, John Dudley, and his mother's brother, Guildford, married to Lady Jane Grey. They were beheaded, demonized and trivialized posthumously, by the DDT.


The history shows a dying Englishman, Sir Philip Sidney, refusing to drink water and giving it to a wounded footsoldier at Zutphen: 'Thy necessity is yet greater than mine'.  The French say: ‘noblesse oblige’.


What is perhaps less well-known is that the States General offered to spend half a ton of gold to bury Sir Philip Sidney under a suitable memorial in Burgundian Flanders, which was refused, and that the Tudors sent 1200 English soldiers to bring his body back to England.


The proof of the true nobility of this remarkable man -- who was offered the throne of Catholic France -- lies in his bones and it is now possible to test this.


For the present, His Lordship thanked me for coming, insisting that he had no plans to do anything more than, perhaps, to add something suitable to his family arms in due course, if it might bring more visitors to Penshurst to help pay for the upkeep and running costs of what is perhaps, in my view, the most beautiful Elizabethan house in England.


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