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Propaganda and The Round Table

Henry VII's victory at Bosworth in 1485 may have been heaven blessed, or so contemporaries were supposed to believe, but Henry knew he had a lot of hard work to do to make the crown, now sat on his head, from falling off. To create a Tudor Dynasty to permanently replace the Plantagenet line was going to take cunning, persuasion and fabulous story telling. 

Lineage was key! A king needed to be able to trace his ancestry back to a great king of whom everyone knew and revered. 

Who better than King Arthur? The king who's courageous knights made up the Round Table?

The font in Winchester Cathedral

It is for this reason that Henry sent his Queen, Elizabeth of York, to Winchester, with its long associated with King Arthur and the Round Table, to give birth to their first child. 

Elizabeth gave birth to a boy whim they named Arthur (of course) at Winchester Castle. He was christened at Winchester Cathedral, long a place of royal christenings and burials.

The Tudor association with Arthur the Round Table did not end there. 

When Henry VIII visited Winchester Castle early in his reign he found that the castle and the legendary Round Table housed there, had fallen into a state of disrepair.  He ordered for restoration work to be carried out on the castle and the table. It was at this point that the distinctive painting on the table was added.

The Round Table in Winchester Great Hall

The table is about 900 years old but the colours are the distinct green and white of the Tudors. 

Green and white take turns around the large circle and the distinctive Tudor Rose sits in the middle. X-rays of the painting of King Arthur, sitting 'in state' at the top of the table have shown that the original face was that of a young, bearded, Henry VIII

The table was painted in time for a visit by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and nephew of Henry's Queen, Katherine of Aragon. The likeness of King Arthur to Charles' host would not have been lost on Charles and was designed to reinforce this lineage to King Arthur.

I wonder if anyone suspected at the time that King Arthur was merely a legend? If they did I doubt they were going to mention that to Henry!

Thanks for reading :-)


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