Photographer's Note

In 2009 I was getting ready to give a guest lecture at Yale University. I found out that 18 Nobel Prize Winners were associated with the institution. Then I googled Princeton and Harvard to find that 36 and 45, respectively, had been associated with those two great universities. Finally, I googled Cambridge. The answer was 78. Historically, the most significant academic institution in the sciences is without a doubt Cambridge, and at Cambridge it is Trinity College. This is where Newton, Maxwell, Darwin, and scores of other iconic names in the sciences studied and taught. The portraits hanging on the two facing walls depict some of these great sons of Cambridge.

But how ironic it is! By the time of his death in January 1547, the rapacious psychopath Henry VIII had ruled England for thirty-eight turbulent years. His tactics had involved unrestrained terror, beheadings, and a war against the Catholic Church. In his dissolution of the abbeys, he had destroyed countless religious buildings, mandated the destruction of thousands of books, and at least as many priceless art objects. His modus operandi can be summarized as a variation on one of Kepler’s laws of the planets, “the world revolves around Henry!” While his contemporary monarchs in Europe recycled mistresses, he chose to recycle queens. Of course, he had his own share of mistresses and illegitimate children, but with the queens, he first gave them legitimacy. He honored six ladies, crowning them successively, before discarding five of them with convenient excuses. The last of the six outlived him. The ultimate fates of his six queens — Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr — can be remembered with the simple rhyming mnemonic,

“Divorced, beheaded, died;
Divorced, beheaded, survived!”

By the time Henry died, he owned 50 palaces and immense tracts of land, all testimony to his greed. But the vile aspects of his legacy are partially offset by his association with the founding of two of the most successful colleges of the Oxbridge family — Christ Church at Oxford and Trinity College at Cambridge. The photo shows the Dining Room at Trinity College, and presiding over the scholars of the college is the portrait of Henry VIII hanging on on the distant wall.

Cardinal Woolsey had founded “Cardinal College” at Oxford, and he had built Hampton Court for his own use. Henry VIII confiscated both, renaming the college “Henry VIII College.” After the King’s death the college was renamed, “Christ Church.” It was Henry who launched the change from Catholicism to Protestantism for his country. And although the nation’s official religion would oscillate back and forth for a century under him it would be his Tudor descendants who would finally establish the Anglican Church firmly as the religion of the land. Elizabeth I, his daughter with his second wife, the hapless Anne Boleyn, would become the most significant monarch in the history of the kingdom.

Warm regards to my friends on Trekearth.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6774 W: 470 N: 12149] (41261)
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