On this day in Tudor history, 30th June 1559, keen sportsman, King Henry II of France, suffered a mortal head wound while jousting. He died on 10th July and was succeeded by his son, Francis II.
Jousting was a dangerous sport and Henry was fatally injured when splinters from his opponent’s lance entered his right eye. Awful!
Find out more about Henry II’s accident and death, and also his reign, in today’s talk.
Many people have heard of the jousting accident Henry VIII suffered in January 1536, but that wasn’t the first accident he suffered while participating in one of his favourite sports. On 10th March 1524, the king was struck on the brow while jousting, something that could have been incredibly serious and even fatal.
In today’s video, I share a contemporary account of Henry VIII’s jousting accident.
Let me tell you all about King Henry VIII’s first joust as king, which happened at Richmond Park on 12th January 1510.
Jousting, much like rugby or American football, was a full-contact, dangerous sport. Severe injuries and even death were quite common. Henry II of France died in 1559 when a lance’s splinter breached Henry’s helmet and entered his brain by way of the eye. More like American football and less like rugby, individuals participating in the joust wore protection.
Most armour was made by smiths in either Germany or Italy, though those smiths would travel to workshops all over the continent and England. One workshop in England boasted of smiths from Flanders, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. The city of Milan was most famous for its skilled armour smiths, though German armourers under the Holy Roman Empire outfitted the likes of Maximilian I and Charles V. Henry VIII established royal workshops at Greenwich, with previous workshops having been located in London. Some French workshops recruited Italians for their workshops in Lyon and Tours. There is not much information about armour workshops in either Spain or the Netherlands, but most of the large Belgian cities had active armourer’s guilds during the Renaissance period.
]During a jousting event on this day in history, 24th January 1536, Henry VIII fell from his horse and in full armour was crushed under the weight of the animal. Eustace Chapuys, ambassador to Charles V wrote:
“On the eve of the Conversion of St. Paul, the King being mounted on a great horse to run at the lists, both fell so heavily that every one thought it a miracle he was not killed.”
Many articles and even whole books have been written about this fateful event and how such a traumatic experience, both physically and psychologically, may have permanently changed the King’s mental stability. This article, however, instead explores a little of the history of the joust and why Henry VIII was such a fervent lover of the sport.
In today’s Claire Chats video I look at Henry VIII the jouster and the records that tell of how he excelled at the sport, and also accounts of his accidents.