Hours of Henry VIII

MS H.8 - Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)

Alternate Titles:

Libro de Horas de Enrique VIII, Stundenbuch von Heinrich VIII., Libro d'Ore di Enrico VIII, Les Heures d'Henri VIII, Livro de Horas de Henrique VIII

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Alternate Titles

Libro de Horas de Enrique VIII
Stundenbuch von Heinrich VIII.
Libro d'Ore di Enrico VIII
Les Heures d'Henri VIII
Livro de Horas de Henrique VIII

Extent / Format

400 pages / 26.5 x 18.2 cm

Around 1500

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain (1500-1558)

Artist / School

Miniaturist: Jean Poyer


55 full-page miniatures

Former owners

King Henry VIII, George Wade (1673-1748), King George III (1738 - 1820)

Short description

The Hours of Henry VIII was designed by the French illuminator Jean Poyer ca. 1500. It contains 55 breathtaking miniatures, which are reminiscent of large panel paintings in their quality. The work was probably gifted to the famous king by Emperor Charles V.

Facsimile editions available


Hours of Henry VIII

Books of hours are private prayer and devotional books that were widely circulated from the 13th century on. The books of hours enjoyed their golden age in the late 14th and 15th centuries in France and Flanders. One of the most beautiful handwritten codices in the world arose here. Those illuminated manuscripts still amaze their beholders today. The Hours of King Henry VIII is one of the most exciting works of French book art. It was produced by Jean Poyer, who belongs among the most gifted artists of the French Renaissance. The work is adorned with 55 masterful miniatures.

A Book for the English Crown

King Henry VIII, from the House of Tudor was one of the most dazzling personalities in the history of England. The monarch was infamous for his passion and brutality. His dissolute life has been adapted in countless books, films, and television series. The king was highly educated and spoke fluent Latin and French. Early on he discussed the literature of his time. He undertook a years-long correspondence with the famous humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam. The elegant book of hours by Jean Poyer was probably presented to the king by Emperor Charles V as a gift.

A Masterly Performance from France

Jean Poyer was a versatilely gifted artist. He illuminated manuscripts, he was a painter and sculptor. In the 16th century, his work was compared with the great paintings of the Dutch master Jan van Eyck. Poyer was a master of composition and perspective. The miniatures of the book of hours for Henry VIII amaze through their realistically perspectival depictions and exciting variety of colors. The fascinating pictures teem with drama and narrative force. Each miniature of the manuscript is an autonomous, small work of art.

The History of the Codex

The breathtaking manuscript was preserved over the years and still exists today in an astonishingly good state of preservation. Sources verify that after the death of Henry, the document remained in the hands of English monarchs for many years to come. The work found itself in the library of George III at the end of the 18th century. It was furnished with a red velvet binding that showed the monogram of King Henry. Today the splendid document is found in the famous Morgan Library in New York.

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