London, Apr 18 (ANI): The date 24 January 1536 changed Henry VIII from a sporty and generous king to the tyrannical monster remembered by history, according to a new historical documentary.
A jousting accident on the fateful day, which occurred at a tournament at Greenwich Palace, happened just before he became estranged from the second of his six wives, Anne Boleyn.
The 44-year-old Henry, in full armour, was thrown from his horse, itself armoured, which then fell on top of him. He was unconscious for two hours and was thought at first to have been fatally injured.
However, although he recovered, the incident aggravated serious leg problems which plagued him for the rest of his life.
This incident may have caused an undetected brain injury which profoundly affected his personality, according to the History Channel documentary Inside the Body of Henry VIII.
The programme focuses on the king's medical problems which grew worse in his later years, especially his ulcerated legs and his obesity: by the time of his death in 1547 at the age of 56, he is likely to have weighed 28 stone.
In 1509, when Henry became king, his accession received a rapturous greeting. He was seen as intelligent, a fine linguist, musician and keen sportsman.
By 1536, he had divorced his first wife Katherine of Aragon and married Anne Boleyn who had given him a daughter and was three month pregnant. But in January of that year, he had the serious jousting accident.
In a matter of weeks, on the day of his first wife's funeral, Anne suffered a miscarriage of Henry's long awaited male heir.
In May 1536, rumours surfaced of Anne's alleged infidelity and she was arrested, tried and executed all within a few weeks.
A few months later, Henry's only son, the illegitimate Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, died aged 17, leaving the king without no male heir at all.
"We posit that his jousting accident of 1536 provides the explanation for his personality change from sporty, promising, generous young prince, to cruel, paranoid and vicious tyrant," The Independent quoted historian Lucy Worsley, the chief curator of Britain's Historic Royal Palaces, as saying.
"From that date the turnover of the wives really speeds up, and people begin to talk about him in quite a new and negative way.
"After the accident he was unconscious for two hours; even five minutes of unconsciousness is considered to be a major trauma today," she added.
Henry may have suffered a brain injury, Worsley said.
Henry, the programme says, "became a comfort-eating paranoid recluse - a 28 stone man-mountain." (ANI)