King Henry VIII: England’s Victorious Leader and Avid Gambler
King Henry VIII accomplished many great things during his
reign as King of England. With everything that he accomplished,
one might assume that he didn’t have any free time for gambling,
but we will quickly find out just how wrong those assumptions
During the turn of the sixteenth century, when King Henry
VIII took the throne, gambling was becoming quite popular in
England. King Henry VIII, also known as England’s #1 gambler,
enjoyed gambling in its many forms from betting on sporting
events to playing dice and card games against his friends.
King Henry VIII was born on June 28th, 1491 to King Henry VII
of England and Elizabeth of York. He grew up in the palace with
his three siblings: his brother, Arthur, King of Whales and his
two sisters, Mary and Margaret. King Henry VIII had always been
overshadowed by his brother Arthur, who was the true heir to the
Even though he wasn’t going to be King, his duties started
very early in life when at the age of two, Henry was appointed
Constable of Dover Castle and at age three he was appointed Earl
Marshal of England and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
In addition to his new titles, Henry was provided with the
very best education by specialized teachers and professionals.
He quickly became fluent in both Latin and French, also
excelling in math and astronomy as well.
His brother, Arthur, died at age 15 and the cause of death to
this day still remains unknown. Arthur was planning to marry
Catherine of Aragon prior to his death, and to remain in good
standing with Spain, King Henry VIII took her hand in marriage
and later became the new heir to his father’s throne.
Henry’s mother also passed away around the same time as his
brother’s death, leaving the family in a state of distraught.
King Henry VII was in no condition to raise his children on his
own, and he took his anger out on Henry, constantly reminding
him that he never would be the true heir.
Reign as King
Henry’s view of his father became known when he took over as
King and reversed many of his father’s policies and executed
most of his trusted servants. His rash decisions, aggressive
personality, and his desire for change were traits he carried
throughout all aspects of his life.
King Henry VIII reigned for almost four decades over which he
accomplished many great things for the country of England. He
established the Church of England, remodeled England’s
government and taxation laws, and incorporated Wales into
England’s system of local administration.
In addition to that, he was behind the establishment of many
colleges, fortresses, and other palaces. He helped Ireland
establish their kingdom and contributed to a new focus on the
importance of Parliament for England.
Henry became head of the Church of England, breaking away
from the Roman Catholic Church so that he could divorce
Catherine of Aragon and marry Jane Seymour. King Henry VIII
married six different women over the course of his reign,
replacing or killing them if they were unable to bare him a son.
He had his first legitimate son with Jane Seymour in 1537, who
later became known as King Edward VI of England.
King Henry VIII, the Gambler
When he came to the throne, a new game emerged to the streets
of London called, “Bragg,” a three-card game that many people
speculate poker derived from. Along with that, the most popular
games during that time were queek: a checkers based game and Fox
& Geese: a game of pursuit.
King Henry VIII enjoyed those games as well playing an older
version of backgammon called, “Tables.” The King also took part
in many betting and gambling events open to the public. He used
to bet on archery and jousting tournaments, some of which he
also competed in.
King Henry VIII went on a two year losing streak in which he
accumulated a total loss of £3,250, which was a significant
amount of money for that time period. The most surprising risk
he took though was when he bet and lost the Jesus bells of the
old St. Paul Church over a single toss of the dice.
To defend his actions, he gave no merit to the bells,
claiming they were merely a piece of metal that holds little
value. Sir Miles Partridge won the bells, but soon after he
received them, King Henry VIII convicted him of treason, and he
was hanged at Tower Hill for everyone to see.
Although he banned his army from gambling so that they could
focus on reconquering parts of France, he never prosecuted any
of the London bookmakers as he worked closely with them to place
his bets. Also, during court sessions with Parliament, King
Henry VIII was known for disputing any claims against gambling.
Death of a Legend
King Henry VIII died in January of 1547 at age 55. Toward the
end of his life, he lost a desire for physical activity and
continued to indulge himself with all the delicious foods his
palace had to offer. Needless to say, Henry reached a very
His actual cause of death is still left a mystery for many.
Some people speculate that he may have developed type II
diabetes as a result of his poor lifestyle choices, while others
say he suffered from the gout. His body was buried in St.
George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, next to his previous wife
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