It’s January 27, 1547, and Henry VIII – grotesquely bloated and racked by gout – is not long for this world. The king speaks with his confessor and, we’re told, acknowledges the gross magnitude of his sins. The next day he dies at the age of just 55. Henry’s sins encompassed the cruel deaths of many thousands – including two of his own wives. According to one source, his putrefying body exploded in its coffin before he was buried. Perhaps it was a fitting end for a man who had become a byword for grotesque cruelty.