Courtly Team-Building: Henry VIII’s Misguided Approach


Courtly Team-Building: Henry VIII’s Misguided Approach


I continue to dig and find material about historic team-building techniques. Deep in the bowels of the Palace of Whitehall in Westminster, the following document was recovered. It was written by King Henry VIII in 1532. At that point he was morbidly obese and suffering from gout. He had to be moved by means of a mechanical hoist.

Nevertheless, he took the time to write the following tract which purports to be concerned about the general morale of everyone in his court, though historians suspect that it was really Henry projecting his own longings. Nevertheless, we take the good king at his word and post the tract here. You can decide for yourself.

[The language has been updated slightly so that it is easier to understand].


1. Chat A While With Your Dead Brother’s Wife

If your dead brother left a wife, it might be that she is very lonely, and her loneliness might like a plague spread. Better to go and talk to her, cheer her up. Ask her a nice old question… something like, “Tell me, lonely widow, can you bear male children?…”

Catherine of Aragon, who was married to both Henry and his brother (though not at the same time)

2) Peasant Hunt.

Let us hunt peasants! [Many historians have claimed a medieval typo here, and that he meant to write pheasants. Other historians claim that the Great Peasant Massacre of 1547 in which 57,000 peasants were killed by aristocrats singing “Goode Olde King Henry, Goode Olde King Henry Indeed” implies that he was taken at his word].

3) Let Us Sharpen Knives

It is good for men to be disciplined and engage in a practice that calms the nerves. The sharpening of knives can be such a practice. I have many knives in my chamber, and frankly, they have grown blunt from overuse. Let my court come and sharpen my knives! Yay, ten times yay!

4) Beetroot Throwing Contest

There are still a lot of Catholics in Englande and also a lot of beetroots. I doth hath it when a beetroot besmirches my plate and lends its foul odour to the roasted cow that lies on my platter. Let us indeed roam about the countryside flinging beetroots at Catholics. It’s jolly good fun.


5) Take A Day Trip

Perhaps to the National College Of Executioners. That’s always a nice one! While you’re there, take this bag of florins and give it to the treasurer. I always like to make sure they have plenty of money!