The early years of Henry’s reign were occupied with warfare against France and Scotland, worry about a possible invasion of Europe by Muslim forces, and concern for his throne, which was always vulnerable to possible usurpers. Meanwhile, Henry studied the arts of leadership and kingship, drawing inspiration from books by Thomas More, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Desiderius Erasmus.
The volume pictured above, whose title translates as “Familiar Commentary on the ‘Duties’ of Cicero,” is Henry’s own schoolboy text, inscribed “Thys Boke Is Myne Prynce Henry.” In addition to Henry’s assertive ownership claim, the volume contains numerous glosses, annotations, notes, and aphorisms in the hand of Henry and what is thought to be that of his tutor, the poet John Skelton. It is one of the earliest surviving examples of a book containing Henry’s annotations. Learn more by clicking the link at right for the curator's audio commentary on the book.
Pictured to the right is a woodcut image of the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513, where Scotland's James IV stands outside his tent before battle. Henry and James were rivals; the Scottish king was killed in the battle. Also pictured is Henry VIII as a young man from the Trevelyon Miscellany, and an image of his rival, James IV, from Henry Holland's Book of Kings.
Richard Faques. Hereafter ensue the trewe encountre or batayle lately don betwene Englande and Scotlande. London, 1809
Thomas Trevelyon. Miscellany. Manuscript, 1608
Henry Holland. Baziliōlogia. London, 1618
Thys Boke Is Myne