Channel 5 films ancient document confirming Henry VIII was manipulated by senior counsel

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The work, called Anglia Historia or History of England, will be shown on television for the first time. 

It was written by a 16th-century Italian diplomat, who witnessed the two in court and kept a written record of what he saw.  

The book is kept in the Vatican library but was filmed for the new Channel 5 series, Henry VIII: Rise of the Tyrant, narrated by Harry Potter actor Jason Isaacs.


It reveals that Wolsey, the son of a butcher and hated by courtiers, was constantly preying upon the gullible king who had left him in charge of all matters of state.

It says, “[Wolsey] was always at his side, drumming into Henry’s ears. He would entertain, tell jokes, play the lute”. 

The 16th century diplomat continued: “He was a witty fellow who would cling to the Royal side. He would show him pretty jewellery like a new ring.”


Tudor historian and author Dr Tracy Borman said: “The document does not show Henry in a flattering light. By these methods [Wolsey] would inculcate and instill.”

Historians also draw parallels between Henry and the current Prince Harry.

Said Borman: “You can make a comparison with Harry. Henry was known as Harry for most of his childhood. There are some similarities physically as well. 

“He was also allowed to be a little bit wilder to indulge his pastimes. He didn’t have the pressures of his elder brother.”

Henry’s elder brother Arthur died making way for Henry to take the throne.

Henry VIII: Rise of the Tyrant, Channel 5, Wednesday, 9pm. 

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