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Henry VIII’s Masturbation Scene

By Madeline | April 10, 2008

We all know that infamous scene on the first season of the Tudors where Henry is whacking off in front of several servants - one unfortunate man, in particular, is set in front of him holding a silver bowl and a towel where Henry proceeds to alleviate himself of his overabundant “seminal” humors (those of you who read my previous articles on Sex and Marriage will get this) into the bowl the man is holding.  The question was posed to me if there was any truth to this. 

Well, I researched it and researched it and researched it, dead set on finding something that could give me better insight to the truth in this.  Let me just say that I ran into some very, very interesting websites in my search, although I figured that considering I was typing in ‘Tudor masturbation’ etc. into the search engine, I was going to get some real winners - I think the worst were the results when I typed ‘medieval masturbation’…  Yeah… 

Anyway, while I was not able to find a lot of supporting information on this bizarre scene, I would like to put in my own two cents based on information I’ve accumulated on previous research for other articles.  I think this is totally 100% feasible for several reasons.  First and foremost, the king was never alone.  He slept with servants in the room, he ate with servants in the room, he even crapped with servants in the room.  In fact, there was one lucky high born noble that was hand selected by the king, as he was to be a very trustworthy man, to actually wipe the king’s rear after a bowel movement - this man was referred to as the Groom of the Stool.  If a king had someone to wipe his butt, don’t you think he’d have a cum catcher too? 

Additionally, during the long and painfully drawn out process of Henry attempting to get his divorce from Katherine, the church banned him from fornicating with Anne.  This was taken very seriously by Henry because, despite his want to break away from the church to he could marry another woman (and the suggestion he gave that he be allowed to wed TWO women if a divorce were not granted), Henry was a very pious man and took God’s law into great consideration with almost all decisions.  This, in addition to Anne’s steadfast determination to not become yet another mistress, meant Henry was not getting any to put it simply.  For those of you who are familiar with this period in history, you will know that Henry and Anne’s fights were notorious as she had a short temper and a sharp tongue.  Anne would certainly have not tolerated it if Henry slept with Katherine, which he would have considered a waste anyway considering Katherine was no longer having her monthly cycle, meaning she could no longer bear him heirs.  I did find some accounts that alluded to a secret affair Henry continued with a woman as he continued forth with his efforts to dismiss one wife to marry another.  I don’t know how much I believe that as I think Anne would have eventually found out about it, which Henry would have figured as well, and leashed an unholy Hell upon him for it. 

I know that in the late medieval times, masturbation was encouraged as it was seen that sexual frustration could cause an imbalance in the humors.  I didn’t find much information on Tudor masturbation - at least not anything helpful - but can only assume that the belief that it is necessary to relieve pent up humors would still be seen as a necessity by doctors and recommended to their patients.  Also, during this time, Henry was a young man who was in the prime of his life and was very active meaning I’m sure his libido was in agony at his celibacy. 

The only reason I can think of that his masturbation would be frowned upon would be the ‘waste’ of his royal seed.  However, with Katherine unable to produce anymore children and Anne being fertile but off limits and considering he already had a son who still lived, I doubt there was really any objection to the king spilling a few to get some relief..  I’m not sure why on the Tudor’s they showed Bessie Blount’s son, Henry Fitzroy dying of the sweating sickness at such a young age when he really actually lived to the age of 17.  Additionally, Bessie Blount was an unwed virgin when she first met Henry and was only married off later when he lost interest in her - just another little misstep on the Tudors series I wanted to point out while I was on the topic.  ;)
If anyone has anything to add on this - perhaps some fact that I may have missed, please feel free to share as I think we are all curious about knowing for sure if this was common practice for the king. 

Topics: Tudor Era |

One Response to “Henry VIII’s Masturbation Scene”

  1. hdsaoirse Says:
    January 14th, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    I don’t know if this is correct, but I saw it as a counterpoint to the final scene in which he’s finally having sex with Anne but she stops him before he reaches climax. I thought that since it seemed they completely *stopped* and disallowed his orgasm instead of him simply pulling out and ejaculating outside of her, it must have been a religious thing–isn’t there something in the Bible against spilling your seed on the ground? So then, it would make sense that ejaculating is acceptable if it’s 1) inside a woman; or 2) collected in some sort of royal manner and properly blessed by a priest and disposed of; but a religious man may not spill his seed carelessly outside a woman for that is a sin. I could be totally off base, but that’s how I saw the masturbation scene.



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