Writing

The documents from Henry’s reign are a mixture of old English and Latin, with the occasional use of French as well. The study of old handwriting, or palaeography, is essential in helping us to read and understand these documents.

We have several documents which contain examples of Henry VIII's handwriting. We also have examples of his signature, some of which he signed himself and some of which would have been applied by stamp.

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The document shown here is from letters patent dated 10 June 1509 (SP 9/242), with Henry granting a jointure (the legal provision for a wife after the death of her husband) to Catherine of Aragon. Catherine was the widow of Henry’s older brother Arthur, who died in 1502. Henry and Catherine were married the day after this letter was written, with Henry’s coronation taking place less than two weeks later.