The Most Coveted Position In Henry VIII's Court Was Actually Pretty Gross

Human beings have a habit of looking back at history through rose tinted glasses, romanticizing the past and dreaming of a more beautiful age. It's the basis for Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, as well as his more recent work, Midnight in Someplace Where Nobody's Read About That Stuff I Did. With semi-historical, high-budget projects like The Crown and The Tudors shining a gritty, sultry light on the British throne, it might seem tempting to cast your gaze to the past and fantasize about what your life would've looked like if you had lived in, say, the court of King Henry VIII. You might wonder to yourself how it would feel to be Henry's chief advisor, or his loyal confidant.

"Bad." That's how it would feel. Because you'd know that you weren't living up to your full potential. If you wanted power, acclaim, and political gravitas in the court of King Henry VIII, there was one job for you.

And brother, it was disgusting.

You've got to go through some number two to be number one

Consider for a moment the words "Groom of the Stool." Each syllable, on its own, is inoffensive enough, but put them all together and they're a playground of potential nightmare scenarios, possibly describing a guy who combs dookie, or marries a backless chair for the amusement of the aristocracy.

The reality of the situation is so much more dour. The Groom of the Stool was the lucky so-and-so assigned to, among other things, wiping the king's little bottom. According to The Tudor Society, he would bring his highness extra towels and water and generally keep his special guy company during potty time.

Nowadays, there probably aren't a lot of people who look at a picture of Henry VIII and think "man, I'd love to be in close proximity to one of his bowel movements," but at the time, the Tudor king's poop shack was the place to be. Serving as Groom of the Stool gave a person uncut access to royalty. With nobody else around, you'd have his full attention, assuming it wasn't the morning after Enchilada Night at the palace cafeteria. Other perks included in-house lodging, the king's hand-me-down clothes, and control over who was and wasn't allowed into royal chambers.

The position of Groom of the Stool was centuries old when Henry VIII came to power, but it was under his reign that the job became the cherriest gig in christendom. Henry appointed four men to the gig over his lifetime. Each one served for over a decade and was knighted for his service, and only one of them was executed, which is a decent beheaded-to-not-beheaded ratio, considering who their employer was.