The Palaces of Henry VIII and François I

Kings and lord knew the value of art. Medieval monarchs had spent vast amounts supporting the church, giving away huge swathes of land, endowing religious orders and, most spectacularly of all, helping pay for the construction and embellishment of churches and cathedrals. These edifices were the spiritual counterpart of the king’s great castles. But they were also things of beauty, jewels of artistry and extravagance.
Renaissance kings preferred to show off their magnificence by building palaces.
Henry VIII of England owned perhaps 55 palaces, more than any English monarch before or since. Workshop_of_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_Portrait_of_Henry_VIII_-_Google_Art_Project

I’m not sure if he ever visited all of them, certainly he spent most of his reign in the south of England only venturing north once. Many of these great palaces are still standing and can be visited. Others are decayed, in ruins or have disappeared.
The most famous of his palaces are Hampton Court Palace, Greenwich Palace, the Tower of London, Whitehall and Nonsuch Palace. Go here for more information or check out Simon Thurley’s book: The Building of England. How the History of England has shaped our buildings (William Collins, 2013).
The King of France, François 1 was an almost exact contemporary of Henry. They were sometimes allies, more often enemies and the greatest of rivals. But in the grandeur and ambition of his palace building François outdid even Henry.

He embellished his childhood home, Château d’Amboise, and brought Leonardo da Vinci to live there. He renovated Château Royal de Blois for his wife, Queen Claude, rebuilt the Palais du Louvre on the banks of the Seine and, when he got tired of that, built the Château de Boulogne to the west of Paris. He spent prodigious amounts on his favourite palace, the Château de Fontainebleau.
But he is perhaps best remembered for the glorious Château de Chambord. 1200px-Chambord_Castle_Northwest_facade

It’s the largest château in the valley of the Loire and took twenty-seven years to build, although it was never actually completed. What is perhaps even more astonishing is that Chambord’s function was as a hunting lodge and François spent little more than two months there in total.

As Mel Brooks says in History of the World: Part 1 – “It’s good to be the King.” (Whether that King was François 1, Henry VIII or Brooks’s Louis XVI.)


About Martin Lake

Martin Lake lives in the French Riviera with his wife. After studying at the University of East Anglia he worked as a teacher, trainer and company director. A serious accident shattered his arm and meant that he had to rein back his work. He decided to concentrate on writing and is now writing full-time. He writes a wide range of fiction. His main interests are historical fiction, short stories and fiction for young adults. Martin has a series of novels 'The Lost King' which are set in the years following the Norman Invasion of England. They concern Edgar Atheling, last representative of the ancient English royal dynasty and his fight to regain the throne from William the Conqueror. Martin has also published 'Artful' the further adventures of the Dodger and 'Outcasts' a novel about fall of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. His latest novel, 'A Love Most Dangerous' is about a maid of honour who becomes the lover of Henry VIII. Martin’s work has been broadcast on radio. He won first prize in the Kenneth Grahame Society competition to write a story based on 'The Wind in the Willows.' You can get the collection, 'The Wind in the Willows Short Stories' from Amazon.
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