social media

Henry VIII, the Tudor court, and social media

Written by Philip Hawkes

‘Good evening Madame, are you lost?’

‘I’ve been granted an audience with his majesty,’ the nervous and apprehensive young girl stated.

‘Good evening Madame, are you lost?’

‘I’ve been granted an audience with his majesty,’ the nervous and apprehensive young girl stated.

She had barely graduated from her infancy, from running around the garden with brothers and sisters, and now her uncle the Duke of Norfolk, the King’s seemingly loyal pimp yet secretly power-hungry zealot, grabs hold of her hand and forces her ever closer towards the King’s quarters.

Catherine Howard: The unlucky girl

The ambassadors, Privy Council members and speculative courtiers whisper among themselves, making disparaging remarks about the very slightest imperfections in the girl’s outfit. They all know where she’s going, and they all know King Henry won’t want to play scrabble.

It’s 1540 and King Henry VIII is has established himself beyond all reasonable doubt as England’s first ever fat man, and young Catherine Howard has found herself as England’s unluckiest girl. The stench of the King’s untreatable ulcerated leg hits the nose from many rooms away, his constipation and uncontrollable flatulence doesn’t help the case. As Catherine heads further and further through court, the stench grows and grows, until there he is, sitting by the fire, updating his Twitter and checking his Facebook feed.

‘It’s been a long old reign Lady Howard, we’re 31 years into it now, and you shall be wife no.5. Please sit down Lady Howard, as my next queen you’ll want to know all about the job. You see, I haven’t actually left this room since my coronation in 1509. Social media has made being a King so simple.’

‘I’m so pleased we could Skype earlier Lady Howard. You see, I was assured by former Chancellor Cromwell that wife no.4 Anne of Cleves was a most beautiful of treasures, but he photo-shopped her, the little bugger! He’s in prison now awaiting trial, and now I insist upon skyping all future wives.’

Ruler in a world of social media

‘Let’s Facebook stalk the Duke of Norfolk, ohh check out this YouTube video, it’s hilarious! Have you seen our Tudor Meme page? Oh it’s brilliant—we like to ridicule those numpties over at the French court. We’re winning our Varsity series against the French court, did you know that?’

‘Oh it is wonderful to be a ruler in a world of social media. I got my first divorce from it. Oh yes, I started an online petition entitled ‘Give Henry VIII a divorce or else’, it was so effective. Of course my first wife, Catherine of Aragon, started her own petition. She even had the support of the Pope and Emperor Charles V, until I got my agents to Frape her, changing her relationship status to ‘divorced’ – they soon ceased fighting her cause.’

’Oh and my second wife young Annie B fell victim to my lovely agents too. You see, Mistress Howard, they hacked into her Facebook to check out her inbox, it was filled with flirty messages, I couldn’t possibly tolerate that!’

What is this?!

‘What is this?! It seems the Countess of Salisbury has been bitching about me with the exiled traitor Reginald Pole, she accidently copied me into the email! I’ll see to it that she’s executed.’

‘I’m a busy King you know Lady Howard, I have my fingers in so many pies. I really do. It’s most difficult to explain my job, perhaps this poem may help…’

‘I enjoy keeping my Tumblr blog tidy & neat,

I love using hootsuite to schedule my tweets,

I update my status just after noon,

I change my profile pic around mid-June,

I created a witch-themed board on Pinterest,

When my second wife Anne committed incest,

I sent Martin Luther a flurry of spam,

I ridiculed the Pope’s face on Instagram,

Yes my enemies come from far & wide,

But now I’ll have you by my side.’

A favourable image to the online world

Lady Howard politely laughed, for she knew to do anything else may endanger her head. Yet at the same time she was deeply concerned about her upcoming role as Queen of a country run by a social media-obsessed maniac.

The kingdom merely sees the King through their laptop and television screens, sitting in the same bed chamber since 1509, smothered in make-up and grinning like a Cheshire cat. She couldn’t help but think that the kingdom would be in a far better state if his majesty didn’t spend every minute trying to create ‘a favourable image’ to the online world.

But alas, she would feel far worse in the near future when a suspicious Henry VIII ordered a webcam into her chambers, the night she invited a certain Thomas Culpeper over.

Have your say on what the world of Henry VIII would be like with social media in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.