Thursday, June 7, 2012

Henry VIII: Synopsis

The Famous History of the Life of King Henry VIII -or- All Is True


King Henry’s most powerful advisor is Cardinal Wolsey. The Duke of Buckingham, having spoken too loudly of his hatred for the Cardinal, suddenly finds himself imprisoned, and soon after, executed.

For over twenty years, Henry has been married to Katherine, daughter of the King of Spain. She has performed as advisor, ambassador, and even as ruler when he is abroad. Together they have had one child that survived to childhood, the princess Mary.

Katherine persuades the King to repeal a sales tax that Wolsey had recently imposed without the Kings knowledge. Irritated by the Queen’s interference, Wolsey plays upon the King’s anxiety to sire a male heir by suggesting the possibility of an annulment, to be sanctioned by the Pope in Rome.
Wolsey plans to arrange a politically advantageous marriage between Henry and the sister of the King of France, however, one evening the King and some of his men attend a party in disguise, and Henry meets Anne Bullen (sic), one of the Queen’s assistants.

Divorce proceedings commence, confounding the Queen, who defends her fealty to the King. Henry argues that as Katherine had originally been married to his elder brother, now deceased, their marriage has displeased God and left them childless. (See: Leviticus 20:21) The accusation has even been made that Mary may not be his daughter.

Wolsey and his associate Campeius, sent from Rome to oversee the proceedings, visit the Queen to urge her to consent to the divorce. Defeated, she relents.

Wolsey’s grievous error comes when, hearing that Henry desires to marry Anne and not the woman that he has selected, Wolsey sends a message to Rome expressing his opposition to the divorce, which ends up in the King’s hands. Outraged, the King relieves Wolsey of his responsibilities, and names Cranmer, to serve as head of the new Church of England.

Henry marries Anne Bullen, and she is coronated. Katherine falls into an illness, has a vision of beautiful women, and soon after dies. Certain elements conspire to try the protestant Cranmer as a heretic. Henry comes to his defense, ending the cycle of scheming and betrayal which has infected his office.

Queen Anne gives birth to a girl, Elizabeth, and Cranmer foretells this female monarch’s 40-year reign, one which will transform England from a backwater island to the greatest empire ever known.

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