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Why did Henry VIII prefer spaniels to his wives?

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

The court of Henry VIII, the king who became famous for his six marriages and infamous treatment of his wives, was full of running four-legged dogs. The dogs were so numerous and rambunctious that the king eventually issued a decree banning the animals from the chambers. The decree did, however, include an exception for small breeds such as spaniels. Henry VIII was particularly fond of two four-legged dogs with names: Cut and Ball. The puppies were busy, curious and energetic, so they often got lost. The king became so attached to his pets that he paid the huge sum of nearly 15 shillings at the time to find them and bring them safely to the royal chambers. Happily, made of crimson velvet and gold material and studded with pearls, the collars of the four-legged pets were much wider than today's collars, bore Henry's coat of arms and Tudor badges, so their owner could be easily identified. Henry VIII attached importance to keeping his dogs fed, clean and well-groomed.



The most famous Tudor dog seems to be Anne Boleyn's dog, Pourquoi (or Purkey). Anne rarely parted with her pet and often fed it from her own plate. When the dog allegedly fell out of a window and died in 1534, Anne was heartbroken. Henry VIII's last wife, Katherine Parr, on the other hand, was a strong Protestant. She named her favorite dog "Gardiner" in honor of the conservative Bishop Stephen Gardiner (who later became Lord Chancellor Mary I). As the anecdote goes - once upon a time the aristocrat dressed her dog in church robes, causing rejoicing among the courtiers.





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