[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 February, 2004, 15:44 GMT
Henry VIII wore football boots
By Sean Coughlan
BBC News Online education staff

Henry VIII
Henry VIII: Did a football injury make him order his kicking boots?
Boozing, womanising, flash with his money - it is no surprise that King Henry VIII was a footballer.

The proof that the Tudor monarch played the beautiful game has been discovered by an academic at Southampton University.

Textile expert Maria Hayward has found what could be the first ever specific reference to football boots.

The pair of boots, costing four shillings, were in an inventory of Henry VIII's clothes when he died.

As part of a wardrobe that would have made Footballers' Wives look understated, Henry VIII possessed a pair of specially made boots for playing football.

'Royal of the Rovers'

In a list of 17,000 pieces of clothing and possessions owned by the king, Dr Hayward found that the royal cordwainer had made shoes for playing football.

As they were more expensive than the type of shoes that the king wore for other sports, such as jousting, Dr Hayward says that they might well have been heavier and used stronger leather.

Football boot
Royal stud: Legacy of a Tudor football lover?

Although it's not likely that the king's boots had studs and a fancy design from a commercial sponsor - it is possible that there was a European connection, as Spanish leather was considered of premium quality at the time.

Dr Hayward says that the way the football boots have been specified among the king's possessions is "really unusual" and suggests that there must been something particularly noteworthy about them.

The shoes have not survived - and it is impossible to be certain - but these could have been among the first purpose-made football boots.

King when you're winning

The football-friendly king, with his jewellery, palaces, personalised carriages and dark side of domestic violence, was also something of a shoe enthusiast - ordering 20 or 30 pairs at a time.

The amount he spent on shoes would also have merited a nod from the Sex and the City generation - as the cost of a single pair of football boots was not far short of what the head of his wardrobe might have earned in a week.

Dr Hayward, who works at the Textile Conservation Centre at Winchester School of Art, says relatively little research has been carried out on what male royals wore - and that there has been much more study of the clothes of Elizabeth I.

Whatever the Tudor boots looked like, they would have needed to be very robust, because football at the time was a no-holds-barred brawl, with few rules and frequent casualties.

What makes the discovery that Henry VIII had his own football boots even more intriguing is that the burly royal with the glamorous wives had himself once banned the game, on the grounds that it incited riots.

The BBC's Emma Howard
"He...banned football in 1548 because it incited riots"

In pictures: New Mary Rose find
18 Aug 03  |  Photo Gallery
Portraits stolen from castle
29 Apr 03  |  Kent

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific