Greed, Lust, and Murder: King Henry VIII, the Tudor Court, and How It Changed England Forever

The Tudor dynasty, one of the most dramatic and troubled of all English royal families, was founded by Henry VII, who usurped the throne in 1485. Henry’s son, the infamous Henry VIII, changed England forever when his desire for a divorce led him to create the Church of England. From his brutal and greedy seizure of the monasteries, to his gargantuan appetites for food and women, Henry didn’t believe anything should be denied him.

Ironically, Henry’s grotesque behavior placed England on the course toward the Protestant enlightenment, thus laying the groundwork for today’s United Kingdom. Henry’s daughters, Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I, were the first women to sit on the English throne. Though Mary’s reign was an unmitigated disaster (her attempt to bring England back to the Roman Church earned her the sobriquet “Blood Mary” because of the almost 300 Protestants she had burned at the stake), Elizabeth stands as one of the greatest of all European monarchs.

This lecture will provide a broad sweep of all five Tudor monarchs, encompassing their loves, personalities, art, architecture, and literature, all of which has come down to us today in many and surprising ways. In spite of their extreme shortcomings, there wouldn’t be an England today without the Tudors.

Thank you to our co-sponsors: The Union League Legacy Foundation, The American Scottish Foundation; Oxford & Cambridge Society of Philadelphia; The English-Speaking Union, Philadelphia Branch

The Family of Henry VIII, c. 1545. Hampton Court Palace

The Family of Henry VIII, c. 1545. Hampton Court Palace

Curt DiCamillo

Historian and Author

Curt DiCamillo is an architectural historian and authority on the British country house. He has taught classes in Boston at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and the School of the MFA. Mr. DiCamillo leads tours on the architectural and artistic heritage of Britain. Since 1999 he has maintained an award-winning website, The DiCamillo Companion to British & Irish Country Houses (, which seeks to document every country house, standing or demolished. In recognition of his work, he has been presented to the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and The Prince of Wales.

He is a member of The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and is an alumnus of the Royal Collection Studies program and The Attingham Summer School. He is currently Curator for Special Collections at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. From 2004 to 2012 he served as Executive Director of The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA (today he serves as Executive Director Emeritus). Previously, he worked for 13 years for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.



Tuesday, June 9 | 6:30 p.m.
There will be a cash bar reception at 6:00 p.m.


The Union League of Philadelphia
140 South Broad Street