Henry VIII

I have always wanted to write something about London since I came back in early September. But there were so many things to say: the history, the art, the architectures, the religions, the science, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, Sherlock Holmes’ imaginary residence on 221b baker street, and Samuel Johnson’s House. So naturally, I don’t know where to start, and haven’t written anything yet. Now it seems that my memory is fading, and I have to resort to photos to remember what I have seen in London.

I still remember there is one piece of advice in the Lonely Planet Travel Book: if you have to pay for one ticket during your stay in London, make it the Tower of London. Even though it is called the Tower of London, it is more of a castle than just a tower. When I visited it, there was an exhibition on Henry VIII going on. Many of his original manuscripts, weapons he has used, armors he wore, his portraits, clothings and many other things were on display. His biggest contribution, according to the history book, is that he separated England from Roman Catholic Church. And that separation has a lasting effect in the politics and religions of Europe. Besides being a king, he is also a great athlete, a strong warrior, and a master of various languages. Body, mind, courage, he has them all, so he seems to be the right king material.

But there is another side of his marvelous genius, as most talents do: the ego. It was mentioned in the exhibit that he was only concerned about his own glories and care little about others. The separation from Roman Catholic Church freed him from his last constraints. He is effectively the only power in England. He was famous for settling dispute on gallows, disputes in politics, religions, and in personal aspects. Especially astonishing is his disastrous family life. Though the eager to father a son might be a reasonable human desire,  to attain this goal, he has literally destroyed his family: He had 6 wives: two were divorced, two beheaded, one died, and one survived.

It is often said that absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is true for Henry VIII. And it also seems to me that any man, even without power, needs a balancing force just to counter one’s own ego.

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Wendong Wang

A chemist who blogs

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