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This content is taken from the University of Reading & Historic Royal Palaces's online course, A History of Royal Food and Feasting. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds After the long-awaited birth of his precious son, Henry went on to rule for 10 more momentous years. Just 12 days after Edward’s birth, his beloved Jane Seymour died, and Henry went on to marry three further times. He divorced the first, Anne of Cleves, beheaded the second for adultery, Catherine Howard, and was outlived by the third, Kateryn Parr. Henry’s appetite was always huge. And he continued to eat at the same rate as when he was at his most active. The King expanded. By the end of his life, he had a waistline that was 110 centimetres and a chest that was 145 centimetres. He became so obese he needed extra-big horses, and getting around inside his palaces became a challenge.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds He resorted to the Tudor equivalent of a wheelchair, known as a tramme, and used a rope and pulley system to haul himself upstairs. Henry died aged 55 in 1547. He was buried in St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, next to his third and favourite queen, Jane Seymour. At just 9 years of age, Edward VI was crowned the new king of England. However, Edward’s reign was short-lived. He died in 1553, aged 15, probably from tuberculosis. Edward considered neither of his half-sisters Elizabeth nor Mary to be legitimate. And so he nominated Lady Jane Grey as the next queen. But poor Jane managed to reign for only nine days, before Mary marshalled her armed forces and proclaimed Jane a traitor.

Skip to 1 minute and 39 seconds With public opinion behind her, Mary was crowned queen. Only a year later, Mary suspected her younger sister, Elizabeth, of a plot against her and sent the young princess to the tower. Oh, Lord, Elizabeth was heard to say as she entered the tower. I never thought to come here as a prisoner. Find out what happens to Elizabeth next week, as we explore food from behind prison walls and the expansion of her empire after she becomes queen.

Next week

Next week, we move on to The Tower of London, where we will investigate the food served to some of its high ranking prisoners during the reign of Elizabeth I.

But how did Henry’s second daughter come to sit on the throne? Join Kate in this animated, whistle-stop tour through history, illustrating the events that led to the succession of Elizabeth I.

This animation was created by Louise Jin Yin Lee, Ross Warrington and Benedict Cross, students from the University of Reading’s Typography and Graphic Communication department.

Further reading

For those of you keen to read further about Tudor and Elizabethan cookery, we’ve compiled a list of suggested further reading material, provided by previous Learners in a PDF at the bottom of this Step.

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This video is from the free online course:

A History of Royal Food and Feasting

University of Reading