By Bob Swain In November 1541, roughly three years before the Siege of Boulogne, King Henry VIII of England suffered one of the most severe shocks of his life when he was shown a report alleging that his plumpish 19-year-old queen, Catherine Howard, had been intimate with other men before their marriage. Even more upsetting, it seemed that she was still being unfaithful to the king under his very nose. At first disbelieving and then stunned, Henry became unhinged by the unfolding reality of Catherine’s unfaithfulness. He called for a sword and bellowed out his intention to kill her, but was he restrained by his worried courtiers. Visibly diminished by the experience, Henry withdrew from London to nurse his bruised ego in near seclusion, while his government prosecuted Catherine for treasonous behavior. Always a heavy drinker, King Henry VIII drank even more than usual during his self-imposed exile, and in the process he aggravated the pain from a chronic ulcer on one of his legs. The king’s once-handsome physique sagged ominously, and by the start of the New Year he was nearly immobilized by his aching leg, accompanying fever, and profound depression. The dismal winter weather did nothing to help the situation. Henry sat alone, listening to his harp player or talking with Will Somers, his fool, while his unfaithful former wife was duly beheaded before a small group of witnesses on the grounds of the Tower of London. A New Foreign War and the Siege of Boulogne As the w


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