Henry VIII: image of a king

Henry VIII (E 344/22)
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Was appearance everything for a ruler in the 16th century?

This session examines how Henry VIII used symbols and images to display royal power. Students examine an extract from Henry VIII’s entertainment book detailing preparations for a jousting competition, to discover key symbols used during his reign. They are encouraged to read Tudor handwriting and to consider what these symbols meant to people in 16th-century England.

Students then examine further documents from Henry VIII’s government, including an illuminated portrait of Henry VIII as a young king, his Great Seal and a beautifully-illustrated page from Valor Ecclesiasticus. Students develop their observation and analysis skills by searching for symbols within these documents and discussing how they are used. They also consider how Henry VIII is depicted and how this reinforced the message that he was a great monarch.

To conclude the session, students discuss which document most effectively portrayed Henry VIII as a great king. They reflect on what they have learnt about the use of symbols and images in Tudor times, and have the opportunity to ask the Education Officer questions about The National Archives and its collection.

This session is delivered as a workshop. Find out more about the types of session we offer.

I will definitely be booking lots more. Fabulous sessions for the girls. SO much better than any we have done before through other organisations that did not teach the girls much at all.

Key stage 2 teacher


Session options

This session is delivered as a:


at The National Archives

2 hours

Virtual classroom

in your classroom

1 hour


in your classroom

1 hour

Available: All year

Cost: Free to UK schools

Suitability: Key stage 2

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Contact us

All activities must be booked in advance.

Tel: +44 (0)20 8392 5365

Fax: +44 (0)20 8487 9202

Contact the education team