Date of Award

Spring 2020

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Kimberly Alexander

Second Advisor

Kimberly Alexander

Third Advisor

Kurk Dorsey


This thesis evaluates Hampton Court Palace as King Henry VIII’s cabinet of curiosity while looking at the Christian symbolism Henry associated with the Abraham Tapestries. Henry VIII was an avid collector, as shown in the 1547 Inventory that was completed 18 months after he died. The inventory recorded 2,450 tapestries, with one of the most important sets from that list being the Abraham Tapestries, which depict the relationship God had to Abraham and his son Isaac. Henry had a strong connection to the Abraham tapestries because of their Christian symbolism. Henry viewed himself as an Abraham to his people and felt that his son Edward had a story similar to that of Isaac. Both Abraham and Henry had their children late in life and both felt they were being rewarded by God for their work with their people. Henry VIII hung the magnificent tapestries inside his favorite palace, Hampton Court.

Hampton Court Palace was Henry’s cabinet of curiosity because he was choosing what was displayed to foreign guests and ambassadors and used some of the items as propaganda. Cabinets of curiosity were used to showcase the owner’s treasures and while they were normally seen as single room or cabinet, Henry used his palace as one large cabinet.