Life in Tudor Times – KQ1 part 2 – Great starter on interpretations of Henry VIII

Working closely with academic authors, in this case Catherine Fletcher, always gives a fascinating insight into what historians want to write and publishers want to sell.  This is fertile ground for exploring the question of interpretations with pupils at KS2 and KS3. With this simple example of a book cover, pupils can see how original historical research was significantly changed to focus more on the iconic and familiar.

Start by showing slide 2 which is the cover of Catherine’s recent book, as she intended. It clearly focuses on the life of one of Henry’s diplomats and his relationship with his Italian Ambassador.  Although the book details the diplomatic manoeuvrings leading to the Break with Rome, there is no mention of the divorce itself.  Cut to slide 3 after the publishers have got their hands on the cover.

With slide 4 displayed showing the two versions side by side, can pupils work out three important differences? Not only does the iconic portrait of Henry suddenly loom large but also the title has been changed so that now the word DIVORCE is written in large capitals letters.  To sensationalise we read of the ‘Untold Story’ with just a final nod to the focus of the new scholarship, ‘Inside the Vatican’.

Slide 5 then confirms pupils’ thoughts by showing why the author herself thinks the cover was changed.


We are grateful to Catherine Fletcher for allowing us to draw on her original post which inspired the task.

For more information about Catherine’s work go to

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