The course

Delve into the fascinating life and deadly preoccupations of one of history's most infamous figures – Henry VIII.

Henry VIII is a king we all think we know. But his psychology has been described as the 'ultimate unresolvable paradox of Tudor history'.

Join Professor Suzannah Lipscomb for an in-depth online course that attempts to unravel the riddle. 

In this four-month course, through video lectures, online reading, and engaging live discussions, we'll examine the events and influences that transformed Henry VIII.

We'll explore the experiences, ideas and people who helped to change Henry from an acclaimed young king into a paranoid and cruel monarch, presiding over an irrevocably changed religious and political landscape.

Above all, we will try to answer: did Henry VIII become a tyrant?

Don't miss this opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the man behind the myths with one of Britain's leading Tudor historians.

What's included:

16-week course + bonus material

  • 8 core modules + 1 bonus module

  • 47 video lectures

  • 8 live 1-hour Q&A sessions with Suzannah

  • online community

  • primary sources introduced throughout

  • closed captions on all videos

  • further reading lists

Your tutor

Professor Suzannah Lipscomb

Suzannah Lipscomb FSA, FRHistS is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster.

She is Professor Emerita at the University of Roehampton and Senior Member at St Cross College, Oxford. She received a Double First, MSt and DPhil in History from Lincoln and Balliol Colleges, Oxford.

Suzannah is a leading Tudor historian. She has written and edited seven books, including 1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII, A Visitor's Companion to Tudor England, and The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII. She is currently writing The Six: A New History of Henry VIII's Queens.

Suzannah is also an established television presenter. She has written and presented history series on the BBC, ITV, More 4 and Channel Five, including Walking Tudor England, Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home  and Henry and Anne: The Lovers Who Changed History 

Suzannah has been a research curator at Hampton Court Palace, royal historian for NBC, columnist for History Today, and is a Trustee of the Mary Rose.

She also hosts the successful Not Just the Tudors podcast from History Hit.


Course curriculum

    1. 1.0 Introduction to the course

    2. 1.1 Welcome to Henry VIII: The Making of a Tyrant?

    3. 1.1a What do you know about the main players in Henry VIII's court?

    4. 1.2 Henry VIII, Katherine and Wolsey: politics and the search for glory

    5. 1.2a Katherine's influence on Henry

    6. 1.2b Katherine's letter of 16 September 1513

    7. 1.3 War, Wolsey and the Field of Cloth of Gold

    8. 1.3a Wolsey's rise

    9. 1.3b George Cavendish on Wolsey

    10. 1.4 Wolsey's pomp

    11. 1.5 The politics of persuasion

    12. 1.5a Foxe or lion?

    13. 1.6 Module 1 Q & A (recorded session)

    14. Module 1: Optional further reading

    15. Feedback for Module 1

    1. 2.0 Divorce and supremacy

    2. 2.1 Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn

    3. 2.2 The love letters

    4. 2.2a Henry VIII's letters to Anne Boleyn

    5. 2.2b Transcriptions of Henry VIII's letters to Anne Boleyn

    6. 2.2c If you want to hear more about the love letters...

    7. 2.2d Anne's voice

    8. 2:3 Seeking an annulment

    9. 2.3a Katherine at Blackfriars, 1529

    10. 2.3b George Cavendish, Katherine's speech

    11. 2.4 Wolsey's fall

    12. 2.5 Supremacy and the break with Rome

    13. 2.6 Bonus Videos: Channel 5's Henry and Anne: The Lovers Who Changed History (externally hosted)

    14. 2.7 Divorce and supremacy quiz: test what you've learnt!

    15. 2.8 Module 2 Q & A (live Zoom session)

    16. Module 2: Optional further reading

    17. Feedback for Module 2

    1. 3.0 Faction and counsel

    2. 3.1 The fall

    3. 3.2 The evidence

    4. 3.2a The dossier

    5. 3.2b Innocent or guilty?

    6. 3.3 The historiography

    7. 3.3a Investigation

    8. 3.4 Henry's reaction

    9. 3.4a Reflection

    10. 3.5 Bonus Video – BBC 2's The Last Days of Anne Boleyn (externally hosted, not subtitled)

    11. 3.6 Module 3 Q & A (live Zoom session)

    12. Module 3: Optional further reading

    13. Feedback for Module 3

    1. 4.0 The Henrician Reformation

    2. 4.1 The six martyrs

    3. 4.1a Reformation theology – what do you know?

    4. 4.2 England and Europe

    5. 4.2a The Ten Articles – question

    6. 4.2b The Ten Articles – text

    7. 4.3 Reform

    8. 4.3a The Six Articles

    9. 4.4 Reaction

    10. 4.5 Henry's faith

    11. 4.5a Stoning the Pope

    12. 4.6 Module 4 Q & A (live Zoom session)

    13. Module 4: Optional further reading

    14. Feedback for Module 4

    1. 5.0 Scars on the landscape

    2. 5.1 The scale of English monasteries before the dissolution

    3. 5.1a The monasteries

    4. 5.1b The purpose of the dissolution – reading primary source evidence

    5. 5.1c Articles of inquiry for the dissolution

    6. 5.2 The Valor Ecclesiasticus and the Pilgrimage of Grace

    7. 5.2a The Pontefract Articles – what do they tell us the rebellion was about?

    8. 5.3 The myth of the just king

    9. 5.4 The eradication of monasticism

    10. 5.5 Module 5 Q & A (live Zoom session)

    11. Module 5: Optional further reading

    12. Feedback for Module 5

    1. 6.0 Magnificence

    2. 6.1 Dress and pageants

    3. 6.2 Portraiture I

    4. 6.3 Portraiture II

    5. 6.3a Representations

    6. 6.4 Other images of Henry

    7. 6.4a Propaganda

    8. 6.5 Architecture

    9. Bonus Video – Nonsuch Palace – (c) University of Roehampton, prepared for our FutureLearn course on The Tudors

    10. 6.6 Module 6 Q & A (live Zoom session)

    11. Module 6: Optional further reading

    12. Feedback for Module 6

About this course

  • £199.00
  • 128 lessons
  • 9 hours of video content

Pricing options

What people thought

of Suzannah's last course...


  • How is this course delivered?

    Every two weeks, a new bundle of video lectures will be released, together with online exercises. And every two weeks, for sixteen weeks, there will be a live Zoom session with Professor Suzannah Lipscomb, where you have the chance to pose questions to her. Every video will be captioned and available to watch in your own time (for as long as you want). The Zoom session will be recorded for later viewing.

  • When does the course begin?

    The first module will drop just after Easter, on Monday 1 April 2024. The first live Zoom session will be on Thursday 11 April at 9pm BST (London time) – that is, 10pm (Central Europe), 4pm EDT (New York), 1pm PDT (Los Angeles), and 6am on Friday 12 April AEST (Sydney). If you cannot make it to participate in the live session, it will be available to watch later.

  • Can I pay in instalments?

    Yes, you can divide the regular price of the course into four monthly payments. In some countries, you also can choose Buy Now Pay Later payment methods through Klarna, Clearpay or Afterpay.

  • What will I learn?

    You'll learn about the preoccupations, ambitions and character of Henry VIII. We'll look at the young Henry, divorce crisis, Reformation, fall of Anne Boleyn, dissolution, court, wars, magnificence, literature about and opposition to the king, and meet some of the most colourful characters of the age.

  • How much material will I get?

    A lot! In total, there are 47 video lectures, 8 live Zoom sessions with Suzannah Lipscomb, a huge number of primary sources, an opportunity to be part of an online community of learners, and lists of further reading.

  • Are there any reduced price places?

    Yes. Those who put their names on the waitlist received a discount code. It is possible to divide the regular price of the course into four monthly payments. And there is a limited number of discounted concessionary price places available for those who are carers or unwaged, who truly need it: click on 'Contact Us' at the foot of the page if this applies to you.

  • Why is this course more expensive than your Restoring Women to History course for HistFest?

    This course is four times as long and has more than eleven times as many videos as the course for HistFest. Every two weeks you'll get a bundle of video lectures + online exercises + community + live Zoom session where you get to discuss the topic with Suzannah. It's an in-depth, fully immersive course for those who want to dig deep.

  • Who is this for?

    This course is for everyone – from those who love the Tudor period to those who know nothing about Henry VIII but want to find out more. Whether you're a student, retired, mother of babes in arms, PhD candidate, or just plain ol' history fan, you're welcome here.

Dig deep into the Tudors

With one of the world's leading Tudor historians