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Title: Henry VIII and His Court - 6th edition
Author: Tree, Herbert
Language: English
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Henry VIII and His Court

[Illustration: HENRY VIII

From the Portrait by Holbein, at Warwick Castle]





  London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne



In these notes, written as a holiday task, it is not intended to give an
exhaustive record of the events of Henry's reign; but rather to offer an
impression of the more prominent personages in Shakespeare's play; and
perhaps to aid the playgoer in a fuller appreciation of the conditions
which governed their actions.

_Marienbad, 1910_



  KING HENRY VIII.                                                    1

  WOLSEY                                                             21

  KATHARINE                                                          47

  ANNE BOLEYN                                                        55

  DIVORCE                                                            63

  THE REFORMATION                                                    77

  MANNERS AND CUSTOMS                                                83


  AN APOLOGY AND A FOOTNOTE                                         103


    MANAGEMENT AT THE HAYMARKET THEATRE                             115


  HENRY VIII.              _Frontispiece_

  CARDINAL WOLSEY          _Facing page_   42

  KATHARINE OF ARAGON         "     "      76

  ANNE BOLEYN                 "     "      96


_His Character_

Holbein has drawn the character and written the history of Henry on the
canvas of his great picture. Masterful, cruel, crafty, merciless,
courageous, sensual, through-seeing, humorous, mean, matter of fact,
worldly-wise, and of indomitable will, Henry the Eighth is perhaps the
most outstanding figure in English history. The reason is not far to seek.
The genial adventurer with sporting tendencies and large-hearted
proclivities is always popular with the mob, and "Bluff King Hal," as he
was called, was of the eternal type adored by the people. He had a certain
outward and inward affinity with Nero. Like Nero, he was corpulent; like
Nero, he was red-haired; like Nero, he sang and poetised; like Nero, he
was a lover of horsemanship, a master of the arts and the slave of his
passions. If his private vices were great, his public virtues were no less
considerable. He had the ineffable quality called charm, and the
appearance of good-nature which captivated all who came within the orbit
of his radiant personality. He was the "_beau garçon_," endearing himself
to all women by his compelling and conquering manhood. Henry was every
inch a man, but he was no gentleman. He chucked even Justice under the
chin, and Justice winked her blind eye.

It is extraordinary that in spite of his brutality, both Katharine and
Anne Boleyn spoke of him as a model of kindness. This cannot be accounted
for alone by that divinity which doth hedge a king.

There is, above all, in the face of Henry, as depicted by Holbein, that
look of impenetrable mystery which was the background of his character.
Many royal men have this strange quality; with some it is inborn, with
others it is assumed. Of Henry, Cavendish,[1] a contemporary, records the
following saying: "Three may keep counsel, if two be away; and if I
thought my cap knew my counsel, I would throw it in the fire and burn
it." Referring to this passage, Brewer says, "Never had the King spoke a
truer word or described himself more accurately. Few would have thought
that, under so careless and splendid an exterior--the very ideal of bluff,
open-hearted good humour and frankness--there lay a watchful and secret
mind that marked what was going on without seeming to mark it; kept its
own counsel until it was time to strike, and then struck as suddenly and
remorselessly as a beast of prey. It was strange to witness so much
subtlety combined with so much strength."

There was something baffling and terrifying in the mysterious bonhomie of
the King. In spite of Cæsar's dictum, it is the fat enemy who is to be
feared; a thin villain is more easily seen through.

_His Ancestry_

Henry's antecedents were far from glorious. The Tudors were a Welsh family
of somewhat humble stock. Henry VII.'s great-grandfather was butler or
steward to the Bishop of Bangor, whose son, Owen Tudor, coming to London,
obtained a clerkship of the Wardrobe to Henry V.'s Queen, Catherine of
France. Within a few years of Henry's death, the widowed Queen and her
clerk of the wardrobe were secretly living together as man and wife. The
two sons of this morganatic match, Edmund and Jasper, were favoured by
their half brother, Henry VI. Edmund, the elder, was knighted, and then
made Earl of Richmond. In 1453 he was formally declared legitimate, and
enrolled a member of the King's Council. Two years later he married the
Lady Margaret Beaufort, a descendant of Edward III. It was this union
between Edmund Tudor and Margaret Beaufort which gave Henry VII. his claim
by descent to the English throne.

The popularity of the Tudors was, no doubt, enhanced by the fact that with
their line, kings of decisively English blood, for the first time since
the Norman Conquest, sat on the English throne.

_His Early Days_

When Henry VIII. ascended the throne in 1509, England regarded him with
almost universal loyalty. The memory of the long years of the Wars of the
Roses and the wars of the Pretenders during the reign of his father, were
fresh in the people's mind. No other than he could have attained to the
throne without civil war.

Within two months he married Katharine of Aragon, his brother's widow, and
a few days afterwards the King and Queen were crowned with great splendour
in Westminster Abbey. He was still in his eighteenth year, of fine
physical development, but of no special mental precocity. For the first
five years of his reign, he was influenced by his Council, and especially
by his father-in-law, Ferdinand the Catholic, giving little indication of
the later mental vigour and power of initiation which made his reign so
memorable in English annals.

The political situation in Europe was a difficult one for Henry to deal
with. France and Spain were the rivals for Imperial dominion. England was
in danger of falling between two stools, such was the eagerness of each
that the other should not support her. Henry, through his marriage with
Katharine, began by being allied to Spain, and this alliance involved
England in the costly burden of war. Henry's resentment at the empty
result of this warfare, broke the Spanish alliance. Wolsey's aim was to
keep the country out of wars, and a long period of peace raised England to
the position of arbiter of Europe in the balanced contest between France
and Spain.

_The Field of the Cloth of Gold_

It was in connection with the meetings and intrigues now with one power,
now with the other, that the famous meeting with the French King at
Guisnes, known as "the Field of the Cloth of Gold," was held in 1520.

That the destinies of kingdoms sometimes hang on trifles is curiously
exemplified by a singular incident which preceded the famous meeting.
Francis I. prided himself on his beard. As a proof of his desire for the
meeting with Francis, and out of compliment to the French King, Henry
announced his resolve to wear his beard uncut until the meeting took
place. But he reckoned without his wife. Some weeks before the meeting
Louise of Savoy, the Queen-Mother of France, taxed Boleyn, the English
Ambassador, with a report that Henry had put off his beard. "I said,"
writes Boleyn, "that, as I suppose, it hath been by the Queen's desire,
for I told my lady that I have hereafore known when the King's grace hath
worn long his beard, that the Queen hath daily made him great instance,
and desired him to put it off for her sake." This incident caused some
resentment on the part of the French King, who was only pacified by
Henry's tact.

So small a matter might have proved a _casus belli_.

The meeting was held amidst scenes of unparalleled splendour. The
temporary palace erected for the occasion was so magnificent that a
chronicler tells us it might have been the work of Leonardo da Vinci.
Henry "the goodliest prince that ever reigned over the realm of England,"
is described as "_honnête, hault et droit_, in manner gentle and gracious,
rather fat, with a red beard, large enough, and very becoming."

On this occasion Wolsey was accompanied by two hundred gentlemen clad in
crimson velvet, and had a body-guard of two hundred archers. He was
clothed in crimson satin from head to foot, his mule was covered with
crimson velvet, and her trappings were all of gold.

There were jousts and many entertainments and rejoicings, many kissings of
Royal cheeks, but the Sovereigns hated each other cordially. While they
were kissing they were plotting against each other. A more unedifying page
of history has not been written. Appalling, indeed, are the shifts and
intrigues which go to make up the records of the time.

The rulers of Europe were playing a game of cards, in which all the
players were in collusion with, and all cheating each other. Temporizing
and intriguing, Henry met the Spanish monarch immediately before and
immediately after his meeting with the French King. Within a few months,
France and Spain were again at war, and England, in a fruitless and costly
struggle, fought on the side of Spain.

It was the divorce from Katharine of Aragon and its momentous
consequences, which finally put an end to the alliance with Spain, and to
the struggle with France succeeded a long struggle with Spain, which
culminated in the great event of The Armada in the reign of Henry's
daughter, Elizabeth.

However, in these pages it is not proposed to enlarge upon the political
aspect of the times, but rather to deal with the dramatic and domestic
side of Henry's being. In the play of _Henry VIII._, the author or authors
(for to another than Shakespeare is ascribed a portion of the drama), have
given us as impartial a view of his character as a due regard for truth on
the one hand, and a respect for the scaffold on the other, permitted.

_His Aspirations_

There can be no doubt that when Henry ascended the throne, he had a
sincere wish to serve God and uphold the right.

In his early years he was really devout and generous in almsgiving.
Erasmus affirmed that his Court was an example to all Christendom for
learning and piety. To the Pope he paid deference as to the representative
of God.

With youthful enthusiasm, the young King, looking round and seeing
corruption on every side, said to Giustinian, the Venetian ambassador:
"Nor do I see any faith in the world save in me, and therefore God
Almighty, who knows this, prosper my affairs."

In Henry's early reign, England was trusted more than any country to keep
faith in her alliances. At a time when all was perfidy and treachery,
promises and alliances were made only to be broken when self-interest
prompted. History, like Nature itself, is ruled by brutal laws, and to
play the round game of politics with single-handed honesty would be to
lose at every turn. Henry was born into an inheritance of blood and
blackmail. Corruption has its vested interests. It is useless to attempt
to stem the recurrent tide of corruption by sprinkling the waves with holy

Then religion was a part of men's daily lives, but the principles of
Christianity were set at naught at the first bidding of expediency.

Men murdered to live--the axe and the sword were the final Court of
Appeal. Nor does the old order change appreciably in the course of a few
hundred years. In international politics, as in public life, when
self-interest steps in, Christianity goes to the wall.

To-day we grind our axe with a difference. A more subtle process of
dealing with our rivals obtains. To-day the pen is mightier than the
sword, the stylograph is more deadly than the stiletto. The bravo still
plies his trade. He no longer takes life, but character. To intrigue, to
combine against those outside the ring is often the swiftest way to
fortune. By such combination do weaker particles make themselves strong.
To "play the game" is necessary to progress. The world was not made for
poets and idealists. To quote an anonymous modern writer:

  "'Act well your part, there all the honour lies';
  Stoop to expediency and honour dies.
  Many there are that in the race for fame,
  Lose the great cause to win the little game,
  Who pandering to the town's decadent taste,
  Barter the precious pearl for gawdy paste,
  And leave upon the virgin page of Time
  The venom'd trail of iridescent slime."

Henry's eyes soon opened. His character, like his body, underwent a
gradual process of expansion.

_His Pastimes_

Soon the lighter side of kingship was not disdained. One authority wrote
in 1515: "He is a youngling, cares for nothing but girls and hunting." He
was an inveterate gambler, and turned the sport of hunting into a
martyrdom, rising at four or five in the morning, and hunting till nine or
ten at night. Another contemporary writes: "He devotes himself to
accomplishments and amusements day and night, is intent on nothing else,
and leaves business to Wolsey, who rules everything."

As a sportsman, Henry was the "_beau idéal_" of his people. In the lists
he especially distinguished himself, "in supernatural feats, changing his
horses, and making them fly or rather leap, to the delight and ecstasy of

He also gave himself to masquerades and charades. We are told: "It was at
the Christmas festivals at Richmond, that Henry VIII. stole from the side
of the Queen during the jousts, and returned in the disguise of a strange
Knight, astonishing all the company with the grace and vigour of his
tilting. At first the King appeared ashamed of taking part in these
gladiatorial exercises, but the applause he received on all sides soon
inclined him openly to appear on every occasion in the tilt-yard.
Katharine humoured the childish taste of her husband for disguisings and
masquings, by pretending great surprise when he presented himself before
her in some assumed character."

He was gifted with enormous energy; he could ride all day, changing his
horses nine or ten times a day; then he would dance all night; even then
his energies were not exhausted; then he would write what the courtiers
described as poetry, or he would compose music, or he would dash off an
attack on Luther, and so earn from the Pope the much-coveted title of
"_Fidei Defensor_."

In shooting at the butt, it is said, Henry excelled, drawing the best bow
in England. At tennis, too, he excelled beyond all others. He was addicted
to games of chance, and his courtiers permitted him to lose as much as
£3,500 in the course of one year--scarcely a tactful proceeding. He
played with taste and execution on the organ, harpsichord and lute. He had
a powerful voice, and sang with great accomplishment.

One of Henry's anthems, "O Lord, the Maker of all thyng," is said to be of
the highest merit, and is still sung in our Cathedrals. In his songs,[2]
he particularly liked to dwell on his constancy as a lover:

  "As the holly groweth green and never changeth hue,
  So I am--ever have been--unto my lady true."

and again:

  "For whoso loveth, should love but one."

An admirable maxim.

_As Statesman_

In spite of all these distractions, Henry was an excellent man of business
in the State--indeed, he threw himself into public affairs with the energy
which characterised all his doings. The autocrat only slumbered in Henry;
and before many years had passed, he threw the enormous energy, which he
had hitherto reserved for his pleasure, into affairs of State.

Under Henry, the Navy was first organised as a permanent force. His power
of detail was prodigious in this direction. Ever loving the picturesque,
even in the most practical affairs of life, Henry "acted as pilot and wore
a sailor's coat and trousers, made of cloth of gold, and a gold chain with
the inscription, '_Dieu est mon droit_,' to which was suspended a whistle
which he blew nearly as loud as a trumpet." A strange picture!

He was a practical architect, and Whitehall Palace and many other great
buildings owed their masonry to his hand.

He spoke French, Spanish, Italian and Latin with great perfection.

He said many wise things. Of the much-debated Divorce, Henry said: "The
law of every man's conscience be but a private Court, yet it is the
highest and supreme Court for judgment or justice." As the most unjust
wars have often produced the greatest heroisms, so the vilest causes have
often produced the profoundest utterances.

He appears to have been at peace with himself and complacent towards God.
In 1541, during his temporary happiness with Catherine Howard, he attended
mass in the chapel, and "receiving his Maker, gave Him most hearty thanks
for the good life he led and trusted to lead with his wife; and also
desired the Bishop of Lincoln to make like prayer, and give like thanks on
All Souls' Day."

Henry confessed his sins every day during the plague. When it abated, his
spirits revived, and he wrote daily love-letters to Anne Boleyn, whom he
had previously banished from the Court.

_As Moralist_

A stern moralist in regard to the conduct of others, he had an indulgence
towards himself which enabled him somewhat freely to interpret the Divine
right of Kings as "_Le droit de seigneur_." But it is human to tolerate in
ourselves the failings which we so rightly deprecate in our inferiors.

So strong was he in his self-assurance, that he made even his conscience
his slave.

Henry sometimes lacked regal taste. The night Anne Boleyn was executed he
supped with Jane Seymour; they were betrothed the next morning, and
married ten days later. It is also recorded that on the day following
Katharine's death, Henry went to a ball, clad all in yellow.

The commendation or condemnation of Henry's public life depends upon our
point of view--upon which side we take in the eternal strife between
Church and State.

In this dilemma we must then judge by results, for the truest expression
of a man is his work; his greatness or his littleness is measured by his
output. Henry produced great results, though he may have been the
unconscious instrument of Fate. The motives which guided him in his
dealings with the Roman Catholic Church may have been only selfish--they
resulted in the emancipation of England from the tyranny of Popedom. A
Catholic estimate of him would, of course, have been wholly condemnatory,
yet it must be remembered that his quarrel was entirely with the supremacy
of the Pope, and that otherwise Henry's Church retained every dogma and
every observance believed in and practised by Roman Catholics.

_His Greatness_

His learning was great, and it was illuminated by his genius. Gradually he
learned to control others--to do this he learned to control his temper,
when control was useful, but he was always able to make diplomatic use of
his rage--a faculty ever helpful in the conduct of one's life! In fact, it
is difficult to determine whose genius was greater--Wolsey's as the
diplomatist and administrator, or Henry's as the man of action, the
figurehead of the State. Around him he gathered the great men of his time,
and their learning he turned to his own account, with that adaptiveness
which is the peculiar attribute of genius. Shakespeare himself was not
more assimilative. In Wolsey, Henry appreciated the mighty minister, and
this is one of his claims to greatness, for graciously to permit others to
be great is a sign of greatness in a King.


_His Early Life_

Wolsey was born at Ipswich, probably in the year 1471. His father, Robert
Wolsey, was a grazier, and perhaps also a butcher in well-to-do
circumstances. Sent to Oxford at the age of 11, at 15 he was made a
Bachelor of Arts. He became a parish priest of St. Mary's, at Lymington,
in 1500. Within a year he was subjected to the indignity of being put into
the public stocks--for what reason is not known. It has been said that he
was concerned in a drunken fray. I prefer to think that, in an unguarded
moment, he had been tempted to speak the truth. No doubt this was his
first lesson in diplomacy.

In 1507 Wolsey entered the service of Henry VII. as chaplain, and seems to
have acted as secretary to Richard Fox, Lord Privy Seal. Thus Wolsey was
trained in the policy of Henry VII., which he never forgot.

_His Growing Power_

When Henry VIII. came to the throne, he soon realised Wolsey's value, and
allowed him full scope for his ambition.

Wolsey thought it desirable to become a Cardinal--a view that was shared
by Henry, whose right hand Wolsey had become. In 1514 Henry wrote to the
Pope asking that the Hat should be conferred on his favourite, who in the
following year was made Lord Chancellor of England. There was some
hesitancy which bribery and threats overcame, and in 1515 Wolsey was
created Cardinal, in spite of the hatred which Leo X. bore him. Having won
this instalment of greatness, Wolsey promptly asked for the Legateship
which should give him precedence over the Archbishop of Canterbury. This
ambition was realised three years later, but only by what practically
amounted to political and ecclesiastical blackmail. In the Church and
State Wolsey now stood second only to the King.


(_a_) _His Retinue_

As an instance of the state he kept, we are told that he had as many as
500 retainers--among them many lords and ladies. Cavendish, his secretary,
describes his pomp when he walked abroad as follows: "First went the
Cardinal's attendants, attired in boddices of crimson velvet with gold
chains, and the inferior officers in coats of scarlet bordered with black
velvet. After these came two gentlemen bearing the great seal and his
Cardinal's hat, then two priests with silver pillars and poleaxes, and
next two great crosses of silver, whereof one of them was for his
Archbishoprick and the other for his legacy borne always before him,
whithersoever he went or rode. Then came the Cardinal himself, very
sumptuously, on a mule trapped with crimson velvet and his stirrup of
copper gilt." Sometimes he preferred to make his progress on the river,
for which purpose he had a magnificent State barge "furnished with yeomen
standing on the bayles and crowded with his Gentlemen within and

His stables were also extensive. His choir far excelled that of the King.
Besides all the officials attendant on the Cardinal, Wolsey had 160
personal attendants, including his High Chamberlain, vice-chamberlain;
twelve gentlemen ushers, daily waiters; eight gentlemen ushers and waiters
of his privy chamber, nine or ten lords, forty persons acting as gentlemen
cupbearers, carvers, servers, etc., six yeomen ushers, eight grooms of the
chamber, forty-six yeomen of his chamber (one daily to attend upon his
person), sixteen doctors and chaplains, two secretaries, three clerks, and
four counsellors learned in the law. As Lord Chancellor, he had an
additional and separate retinue, almost as numerous, including ministers,
armourers, serjeants-at-arms, herald, etc.

(_b_) _Gifts from Foreign Powers_

Nor was he above using the gentle suasion of his office to obtain
sumptuous gifts from the representatives of foreign powers--for
Giustinian, on his return to Venice, reported to the Doge and Senate that
"Cardinal Wolsey is very anxious for the signory to send him a hundred
Damascene carpets for which he has asked several times, and expected to
receive them by the last galleys. This present," continues the diplomat,
"might make him pass a decree in our favour; and, at any rate, it would
render the Cardinal friendly to our nation in other matters." The carpets,
it seems, were duly sent to the Cardinal.

(_c_) _His Drinking Water_

To show his disregard for money, it may be mentioned that in order to
obtain pure water for himself and his household, and not being satisfied
with the drinking water at Hampton Court, Wolsey had the water brought
from the springs at Coombe Hill by means of leaden pipes, at a cost, it is
said, of something like £50,000.

(_d_) _His Table_

Wolsey seems to have been a lover of good food, for Skelton, for whose
verse the Cardinal had perhaps expressed contempt, wrote:

  "To drynke and for to eate
  Swete hypocras[3] and swete meate
  To keep his flesh chast
  In Lent for a repast
  He eateth capon's stew,
  Fesaunt and partriche mewed
  Hennes checkynges and pygges."

(Skelton, it should be explained, was the Poet Laureate.) It appears that
on this score of his delicate digestion, Wolsey procured a dispensation
from the Pope for the Lenten observances.

He had not a robust constitution, and suffered from many ailments. On one
occasion, Henry sent him some pills--it is not recorded, however, that
Wolsey partook of them.

(_e_) _His Orange_

Cavendish speaks of a peculiar habit of the great Cardinal. He tells us
that, "Whenever he was in a crowd or pestered with suitors, he most
commonly held to his nose a very fair orange whereof the meat or
substance within was taken out, and filled up again with the part of a
sponge, wherein was vinegar and other confections against the pestilent
airs!" The habit may have given offence to importunate mayors and
others--the Poet Laureate himself may have been thus affronted by the
imperious Cardinal, when he wrote:

  "He is set so high
  In his hierarchy
  Of frantic phrenesy
  And foolish fantasy
  That in the Chamber of Stars
  All matters there he mars.
  Clapping his rod on the Board
  No man dare speak a word;

   *       *       *       *

  Some say "yes" and some
  Sit still as they were dumb.
  Thus thwarting over them,
  He ruleth all the roast
  With bragging and with boast.
  Borne up on every side
  With pomp and with pride."

As a proof of his sensuous tastes, Cavendish wrote:

  "The subtle perfumes of musk and sweet amber
  There wanted none to perfume all my chamber."

(_f_) _His Fool_

That Wolsey, like Henry, was possessed of a sense of humour we have
abundant evidence in his utterances. Yet he kept a Fool about
him--possibly in order that he might glean the opinions of the courtiers
and common people. After Wolsey's fall, he sent this Fool as a present to
King Henry. But so loth was the Fool to leave his master and to suffer
what he considered a social descent, that six tall yeomen had to conduct
him to the Court; "for," says Cavendish, "the poor fool took on and fired
so in such a rage when he saw that he must needs depart from my lord. Yet,
notwithstanding, they conveyed him with Master Norris to the Court, where
the King received him most gladly."[4]

(_g_) _Hampton Court_

At his Palace of Hampton Court there were 280 beds always ready for
strangers. These beds were of great splendour, being made of red, green
and russet velvet, satin and silk, and all with magnificent canopies. The
counterpanes, of which there were many hundreds, we are told, were of
"tawny damask, lined with blue buckram; blue damask with flowers of gold;
others of red satin with a great rose in the midst, wrought with
needlework and with garters." Another is described as "of blue sarcenet,
with a tree in the midst and beastes with scriptures, all wrought with
needlework." The splendour of these beds beggars all description.

(_h_) _His Plate_

His gold and silver plate at Hampton Court alone, was valued by the
Venetian Ambassador as worth 300,000 golden ducats, which would be the
equivalent in modern coin of a million and a half! The silver was
estimated at a similar amount. It is said that the quality was no less
striking than the quantity, for Wolsey insisted on the most artistic
workmanship. He had also a bowl of gold "with a cover garnished with
rubies, diamonds, pearls and a sapphire set in a goblet." These gorgeous
vessels were decorated with the Cardinal's hat, and sometimes too, less
appropriately perhaps, with images of Christ!

It is said that the decorations and furniture of Wolsey's Palace were on
so splendid a scale that it threw the King's into the shade.

(_i_) _His Prodigal Splendour_

Like a wise minister, Wolsey did not neglect to entertain the King and
keep his mind on trivial things. Hampton Court had become the scene of
unrestrained gaiety. Music was always played on these occasions, and the
King frequently took part in the revels, dancing, masquerading and
singing, accompanying himself on the harpsichord or lute.

The description in Cavendish's "Life of Wolsey" of the famous feast given
by the Cardinal to the French ambassadors gives a graphic account of his
prodigal splendour. As to the delicacies which were furnished at the
supper, Cavendish writes:--

"Anon came up the second course with so many dishes, subtleties and
curious devices, which were above a hundred in number, of so goodly
proportion and costly, that I suppose the Frenchmen never saw the like.
The wonder was no less than it was worthy, indeed. There were castles with
images in the same; Paul's Church and steeple, in proportion for the
quantity as well counterfeited as the painter should have painted it upon
a cloth or wall. There were beasts, birds, fowls of divers kinds, and
personages, most lively made and counterfeit in dishes; some fighting, as
it were, with swords, some with guns and crossbows; some vaulting and
leaping; some dancing with ladies, some in complete harness, justing with
spears, and with many more devices than I am able with my wit to

Giustinian, speaking of one of these banquets, writes: "The like of it was
never given either by Cleopatra or Caligula." We must remember that Wolsey
surrounded himself with such worldly vanities less from any vulgarity in
his nature than from a desire to work upon the common mind, ever ready to
be impressed by pomp and circumstance.

_The Mind of Wolsey_

If the outer man was thus caparisoned, what of Wolsey's mind? Its
furniture, too, beggared all description. Amiable as Wolsey could be, he
could also on occasions be as brusque as his royal master. A contemporary
writer says: "I had rather be commanded to Rome than deliver letters to
him and wait an answer. When he walks in the Park, he will suffer no
suitor to come nigh unto him, but commands him away as far as a man will
shoot an arrow."

Yet to others he could be of sweet and gentle disposition and ready to
listen and to help with advice.

  "Lofty and sour to them that loved him not,
  But to those men that sought him sweet as summer."

To those who regard characters as either black or white, Wolsey's was
indeed a contradiction. Charges of a personal character have been brought
against the great prelate, which need not here be referred to, unless it
be to say that if they were true, by so much the less he was a priest, by
so much more he was a man.

_His Ambition_

There is no doubt that the Cardinal made several attempts to become
Pope--but this enterprise was doomed to failure, although in it he was
supported warmly by the King. To gain this end much bribery was needed,
"especially to the younger men who are generally the most needy," as the
Cardinal said. Wolsey was a sufficiently accomplished social diplomatist
to conciliate the young, for their term of office begins to-morrow, and
gold is the key of consciences. He was hated and feared, flattered,
cajoled and brow-beaten where possible. But as a source of income he was
ever held in high regard by the Pope.

His own annual income from bribes--royal and otherwise--was indeed
stupendous, though these were received with the knowledge of the King.

So great was the power Wolsey attained to that Fox said of him: "We have
to deal with the Cardinal, who is not Cardinal but King." He wrote of
himself, "_Ego et rex meus_," and had the initials, "T. W." and the
Cardinal's hat stamped on the King's coins. These were among the charges
brought against him in his fall.

To his ambitions there was no limit. For the spoils of office he had "an
unbounded stomach." As an instance of his pretensions it is recorded that
during the festivities of the Emperor's visit to England in 1520, "Wolsey
alone sat down to dinner with the royal party, while peers, like the Dukes
of Suffolk and Buckingham, performed menial offices for the Cardinal, as
well as for Emperor, King and Queen."

When he met Charles at Bruges in 1521 "he treated the Emperor of Spain as
an equal. He did not dismount from his mule, but merely doffed his cap,
and embraced as a brother the temporal head of Christendom."

"He never granted audience either to English peers or foreign ambassadors"
(says Guistinian) "until the third or fourth time of asking." Small wonder
that he incurred the hatred of the nobility and the jealousy of the King.
During his embassy to France in 1527, it is said that "his attendants
served cap in hand, and when bringing the dishes knelt before him in the
act of presenting them. Those who waited on the Most Christian King, kept
their caps on their heads, dispensing with such exaggerated ceremonies."
Had Wolsey's insolence been tempered by his sense of humour, his fall
might have been on a softer place, as his Fool is believed to have

_His Policy_

In his policy of the reform of the Church, Wolsey dealt as a giant with
his gigantic task. To quote a passage from Taunton: "Ignorance, he knew,
was the root of most of the mischief of the day; so by education he
endeavoured to give men the means to know better. Falsehood can only be
expelled by Truth.... Had the other prelates of the age realized the true
cause of the religious disputes, and how much they themselves were
responsible for the present Ignorance, the sacred name of religion would
not have had so bloody a record in this country."

Wolsey's idea was, in fact, to bring the clergy in touch with the thought
and conditions of the time. It is wonderful to reflect that this one brain
should have controlled the secular and ecclesiastical destinies of

To reform the Church would seem to have been an almost superhuman
undertaking, but to a man of Wolsey's greatness obstacles are only
incentives to energy. He was "eager to cleanse the Church from the
accumulated evil effects of centuries of human passions." A great man is
stronger than a system, while he lives; but the system often outlives the
man. Wolsey lived in a time whose very atmosphere was charged with
intrigue. Had he not yielded to a Government by slaughter, he would not
have existed.

The Cardinal realised that ignorance was one of the chief causes of the
difficulties in the Church. So with great zeal he devoted himself to the
founding of two colleges, one in Ipswich, the other in Oxford. His scheme
was never entirely carried out, for on Wolsey's fall his works were not
completed. The College at Ipswich fell into abeyance, but his college at
Oxford was spared and refounded. Originally called Cardinal College, it
was renamed Christ Church, so that not even in name was it allowed to be a
memorial of Wolsey's greatness.

_His Genius_

For a long time Wolsey was regarded merely as the type of the ambitious
and arrogant ecclesiastic whom the Reformation had made an impossibility
in the future. It was not till the mass of documents relating to the reign
of Henry VIII. was published that it was possible to estimate the
greatness of the Cardinal's schemes. He took a wider view of the problems
of his time than any statesman had done before. He had a genius for
diplomacy. He was an artist and enthusiast in politics. They were not a
pursuit to him, but a passion. Not perhaps unjustly has he been called the
greatest statesman England ever produced.

England, at the beginning of Henry VIII.'s reign, was weakened after the
struggles of the Civil Wars, and wished to find peace at home at the cost
of obscurity abroad. But it was this England which Wolsey's policy raised
"from a third-rate state of little account into the highest circle of
European politics." Wolsey did not show his genius to the best advantage
in local politics, but in diplomacy. He could only be inspired by the
gigantic things of statecraft. When he was set by Henry to deal with the
sordid matter of the divorce, he felt restricted and cramped. He was
better as a patriot than as a royal servant. It was this feeling of being
sullied and unnerved in the uncongenial skirmishings of the divorce that
jarred on his sensitive nature and made his ambitious hand lose its
cunning. A first-rate man cannot do second-rate things well.

Henry and Wolsey were two giants littered in one day. Wolsey had realised
his possibilities of power before Henry. But when Henry once learned how
easy it was for him to get his own way, Wolsey learned how dependent he
necessarily was on the King's good will. And then, "the nation which had
trembled before Wolsey, learned to tremble before the King who could
destroy Wolsey with a breath."

Had Wolsey been able to fulfil his own ideals, had he been the head of a
Republic and not the servant of a King, his public record would no doubt
have been on a higher ethical plane. That he himself realised this is
shown by his pathetic words to Sir William Kingston, which have been but
slightly paraphrased by Shakespeare: "Well, well, Master Kingston, I see
how the matter against me is framed, but if I had served my God as
diligently as I have done the King, He would not have given me over in my
grey hairs." In this frankness we recognise once again a flicker of
greatness--one might almost say a touch of divine humour.

The lives of great men compose themselves dramatically; Wolsey's end was
indeed a fit theme for the dramatist.

_His Fall_

In his later years, Wolsey began to totter on his throne. The King had
become more and more masterful. It was impossible for two such stormy men
to act permanently in concord. In 1528, Wolsey said that as soon as he had
accomplished his ambition of reconciling England and France, and reforming
the English laws and settling the succession, "he would retire and serve
God for the rest of his days." In 1529 he lost his hold over Parliament
and over Henry. The Great Seal was taken from him.

The end of Wolsey was indeed appalling in its sordid tragedy. The woman
had prevailed--Anne's revenge was sufficiently complete to satisfy even a
woman scorned. The King, too, was probably more inclined to lend a willing
ear to her whisperings, since he had grown jealous of his minister's
greatness. He paid to his superior the tribute of hatred. Henry, who had
treated the Cardinal as his friend and "walked with him in the garden arm
in arm and sometimes with his arm thrown caressingly round his shoulder,"
now felt very differently towards his one-time favourite.

Covetous of Wolsey's splendour, he asked him why he, a subject, should
have so magnificent an abode as Hampton Court, whereupon Wolsey
diplomatically answered (feeling perhaps the twitch of a phantom rope
around his neck), "To show how noble a palace a subject may offer to his
sovereign." The King was not slow to accept this offer, and thenceforth
made Hampton Court Palace his own.

Wolsey, too, was failing in body--the sharks that follow the ship of State
were already scenting their prey. As the King turned his back on Wolsey,
Wolsey turned his face to God. Accused of high treason for having acted
as Legate, Wolsey pleaded guilty of the offence, committed with the
approval of the King. He was deprived of his worldly goods, and retired to
his house at Esher.

[Illustration: CARDINAL WOLSEY

From the Portrait by Holbein, at Christ Church, Oxford]

_Wolsey an Exile from Court_

Cavendish says: "My Lord and his family continued there the space of three
or four weeks without beds, sheets, tablecloths, cups and dishes to eat
our meat, or to lie in." He was forced to borrow the bare necessaries of
life. The mighty had fallen indeed! This was in the year 1529. In his
disgrace, he was without friends. The Pope ignored him. But Queen
Katharine--noble in a kindred sorrow--sent words of sympathy. Death was
approaching, and Wolsey prepared himself for the great event by fasting
and prayer. Ordered to York, he arrived at Peterborough in Easter Week.
There it is said: "Upon Palm Sunday, he went in procession with the monks,
bearing his palm; setting forth God's service right honourably with such
singing men as he then had remaining with him.

_He Washes the Feet of the Poor_

And upon Maundy Thursday he made his Maundy in Our Lady's Chapel, having
fifty-nine poor men, whose feet he washed, wiped and kissed; each of these
poor men had twelve pence in money, three ells of canvas to make them
shirts, a pair of new shoes, a cast of mead, three red herrings, and three
white herrings, and the odd person had two shillings. Upon Easter Day he
rode to the Resurrection,[5] and that morning he went in procession in his
Cardinal's vesture, with his hat and hood on his head, and he himself sang
there the High Mass very devoutly, and granted Clean Remission to all the
hearers, and there continued all the holidays."

Arrived at York, he indulged with a difference in his old love of
hospitality; "he kept a noble house and plenty of both meat and drink for
all comers, both for rich and poor, and much alms given at his gates. He
used much charity and pity among his poor tenants and others." This
caused him to be beloved in the country. Those that hated him owing to his
repute learned to love him--he went among the people and brought them food
and comforted them in their troubles. Now he was loved among the poor as
he had been feared among the great.

_Condemned to the Tower_

On the 4th November, he was arrested on a new charge of high treason and
condemned to the Tower. He left under custody amid the lamentations of the
poor people, who in their thousands crowded round him, crying: "God save
your Grace! God save your Grace! The foul evil take all them that hath
thus taken you from us! We pray God that a very vengeance may light upon
them." He remained at Sheffield Park, the Earl of Shrewsbury's seat, for
eighteen days. Here his health broke down. There arrived, with twenty-four
of the Guard from London, Sir William Kingston with order to conduct him
to the Tower. The next day, in spite of increasing illness, he set out,
but he could hardly ride his mule.

_His End_

Reaching the Abbey at Leicester on the 26th of November, and being
received by the Benedictine monks, he said: "Father Abbot, I am come
hither to leave my bones among you." Here he took to his last bed, and
made ready to meet his God.

The following morning, the 29th of November, he who had trod the ways of
glory and sounded all the depths and shoals of honour, he who had shaped
the destinies of Empires, before whom Popes and Parliaments had trembled,
he who had swathed himself in the purple of kingdom, of power and of
glory, learned the littleness of greatness and entered the Republic of
Death in a hair-shirt.


For purity and steadfastness of devotion and duty, Katharine stands
unsurpassed in the history of the world, and Shakespeare has conceived no
more pathetic figure than that of the patient Queen living in the midst of
an unscrupulous Court.

Daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, she was betrothed at the age
of five to Arthur, Henry VII.'s eldest son. Though known as the Princess
of Wales, it was not till 1501, when only sixteen years old, that she was
married to Prince Arthur. She had scarcely been married six months when
Arthur died, at the early age of fifteen, and she was left a widow. Henry
VII., in his desire to keep her marriage dower of 200,000 crowns, proposed
a marriage between her and Arthur's brother. Katharine wrote to her father
saying she had "no inclination for a second marriage in England." In spite
of her remonstrances and the misgivings of the Pope, who had no wish to
give the necessary dispensation for her to marry her deceased husband's
brother, she was betrothed to Henry after two years of widowhood. But it
was not till a few months after Henry VIII. came to the throne, five years
later, that they were actually married. Henry was five years younger than
Katharine, but their early married life appears to have been very happy.
She wrote to her father, "Our time is ever passed in continual feasts."

The cruel field sports of the time the Queen never could take any delight
in, and avoided them as much as possible. She was pious and ascetic and
most proficient in needlework. Katharine had a number of children, all of
whom died shortly after birth. It was this consideration in the first
instance which weighed in Henry's mind in desiring a divorce. The first
child to survive was Princess Mary, born in February, 1516. Henry
expressed the hope that sons would follow. But Katharine had no further
living children. Henry hoped against hope, and undertook, in the event of
her having an heir, to lead a crusade against the Turks. Even this bribe
to fortune proved unavailing. Henry's conscience, which was at best of the
utilitarian sort, now began to suffer deep pangs, and in 1525, when
Katharine was forty years old and he thirty-four, he gave up hope of the
much-needed heir to the throne. The Queen herself thought her
childlessness was "a judgment of God, for that her former marriage was
made in blood," the innocent Earl of Warwick having been put to death
owing to the demand of Ferdinand of Aragon.

The King began to indulge in the superstition that his marriage with a
brother's widow was marked with the curse of Heaven. It is perhaps a
strange coincidence that Anne Boleyn should have appeared on the scene at
this moment. Katharine seems always to have regarded her rival with
charity and pity. When one of her gentlewomen began to curse Anne as the
cause of the Queen's misery, the Queen stopped her. "Curse her not," she
said, "but rather pray for her; for even now is the time fast coming when
you shall have reason to pity her and lament her case."

Undoubtedly Katharine's most notable quality was her dignity. Even her
enemies regarded her with respect. She was always sustained by the
greatness of her soul, her life of right doing and her feeling of being "a
Queen and daughter of a King." Through all her bitter trials she went, a
pathetic figure, untouched by calumny. If she had any faults they are
certainly not recorded in history. Her farewell letter to the King would
seem to be very characteristic of Katharine's beauty of character. She
knew the hand of death was upon her. She had entreated the King, but Henry
had refused her request for a last interview with her daughter Mary.

With this final cruelty fresh in her mind she still could write: "My lord
and dear husband,--I commend me unto you. The hour of my death draweth
fast on, and my case being such, the tender love I owe you forceth me with
a few words, to put you in remembrance of the health and safeguard of your
soul, which you ought to prefer before all worldly matters, and before the
care and tendering of your own body, for the which you have cast me into
many miseries and yourself into many cares. For my part I do pardon you
all, yea, I do wish and devoutly pray God that He will pardon you."


The estimation of the character of Anne Boleyn would seem to be as varied
as the spelling of her name. She is believed to have been born in 1507.
The Boleyns or Bullens were a Norfolk family of French origin, but her
mother was of noble blood, being daughter of the Earl of Ormonde, and so a
descendant of Edward I. It is a curious fact that all of Henry's wives can
trace their descent from this King. Of Anne's early life little is known
save that she was sent as Maid of Honour to the French Queen Claude. She
was probably about nineteen years old when she was recalled to the English
Court and began her round of revels and love intrigues. Certainly she was
a born leader of men; many have denied her actual beauty, but she had the
greater quality of charm, the power of subjugating, the beckoning eye. An
accomplished dancer, we read of her "as leaping and jumping with infinite
grace and agility." "She dressed with marvellous taste and devised new
robes," but of the ladies who copied her, we read that unfortunately "none
wore them with her gracefulness, in which she rivalled Venus." Music, too,
was added to her accomplishments, and Cavendish tells us how "when she
composed her hands to play and her voice to sing, it was joined with that
sweetness of countenance that three harmonies concurred."

It is difficult to speak with unalloyed admiration of Anne's virtue. At
the most charitable computation, she was an outrageous flirt. It would
seem that she was genuinely in love with Lord Percy, and that Wolsey was
ordered by the then captivated and jealous King to put an end to their
intrigue and their desire to marry. Anne is supposed never to have
forgiven Wolsey for this, and by a dramatic irony it was her former lover,
Percy, then become Earl of Northumberland, who was sent to arrest the
fallen Cardinal at York. It is said that he treated Wolsey in a brutal
manner, having his legs bound to the stirrup of his mule like a common
criminal. When Henry, in his infatuation for the attractive
Lady-in-Waiting to his Queen, as she was then, wished Wolsey to become the
aider and abettor of his love affairs, Wolsey found himself placed in the
double capacity of man of God and man of Kings. In these cases, God is apt
to go to the wall--for the time being. But it was Wolsey's vain attempt to
serve two masters that caused his fall, which the French Ambassador
attributed entirely to the ill offices of Anne Boleyn. This is another
proof that courtiers should always keep on the right side of women.

Nothing could stop Henry's passion for Anne, and she showed her wonderful
cleverness in the way she kept his love alive for years, being first
created Marchioness of Pembroke, and ultimately triumphing over every
obstacle and gaining her wish of being his Queen. This phase of her
character has been nicely touched by Shakespeare's own deft hand. She was
crowned with unparalleled splendour on Whit Sunday of 1533. At the banquet
held after the Coronation of Anne Boleyn, we read that two Countesses
stood on either side of Anne's chair and often held a "fine cloth before
the Queen's face whenever she listed to spit." "And under the table went
two gentlewomen, and sat at the Queen's feet during the dinner." The
courtier's life, like the burglar's does not appear to have been one of
unmixed happiness.

In the same year she bore Henry a child, but to everyone's disappointment,
it proved to be a girl, who was christened Elizabeth, and became the great
Queen of England. Anne's triumph was pathetically brief. Her most
important act was that of getting the publication of the Bible authorised
in England. Two years after her coronation, Sir Thomas More, who had
refused to swear fealty to the King's heir by Anne, who had been thrown
into prison and was awaiting execution, asked "How Queen Anne did?" "There
is nothing else but dancing and sporting," was the answer. "These dances
of hers," he said, "will prove such dances that she will spurn our heads
off like footballs, but it will not be long ere her head dance the like
dance." In a year's time, this prophecy came true. Her Lady-in-Waiting,
the beautiful Jane Seymour, stole the King from her who in her time had
betrayed her royal mistress.

There are two versions with regard to her last feelings towards the King.
Lord Bacon writes that just before her execution she said: "Commend me to
his Majesty and tell him he hath ever been constant in his career of
advancing me. From a private gentlewoman he made me a marchioness, from a
marchioness a Queen; and now he hath left no higher degree of honour, he
gives my innocency the crown of martyrdom." This contains a fine sting of
satire. Another chronicler gives us her words as follows: "I pray God to
save the King, and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler or more
merciful prince was there never." One cannot but think that this latter
version of her dying words may have been edited by his Grace of

If it is difficult to reconcile Anne's heartlessness with her piety, it
should be remembered that cruelty is often the twin-sister of religious

Whatever may have been her failings of character, whatever misfortunes
she may have suffered during her life, Anne will ever live in history as
one of the master mistresses of the world.


As to the divorce, it will be well to clear away the enormous amount of
argument, of vituperation and prevarication by which the whole question is
obscured, and to seek by the magnet of common sense to find the needle of
truth in this vast bundle of hay.

The situation was complicated. In those days it was generally supposed
that no woman could succeed to the throne, and a male successor was
regarded as a political necessity. Charles V., too, was plotting to depose
Henry and to proclaim James V. as ruler of England, or Mary, who was to be
married to an English noble for this purpose.

_The Succession_

The Duke of Buckingham was the most formidable possible heir to the
throne, were the King to die without male heirs. His execution took place
in 1521. Desperate men take desperate remedies. Now, in 1519, Henry had a
natural son by Elizabeth Blount, sister of Lord Mountjoy. This boy Henry
contemplated placing on the throne, so causing considerable uneasiness to
the Queen. In 1525 he was created Duke of Richmond. Shortly after he was
made Lord High Admiral of England and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. It was
suggested that he should marry a royal Princess. Another suggestion was
that he should marry his half-sister, an arrangement which seems to have
commended itself to the Pope, on condition that Henry abandoned his
divorce from Queen Katharine! But this was not to be, and Mary was
betrothed to the French prince. An heir must be obtained somehow, and the
divorce, therefore, took more and more tangible shape. A marriage with
Anne Boleyn was the next move. To attain this object, Henry applied
himself with his accustomed energy. His conscience walked hand in hand
with expediency.

To Rome, Henry sent many embassies and to the Universities of Christendom
much gold, in order to persuade them to yield to the dictates of his
conscience. His passion for marriage lines in his amours was one of
Henry's most distinguishing qualities.

In 1527 an union between Francis I. and the Princess Mary was set on foot.
Here the question of Mary's legitimacy was debated, and this gave Henry
another excuse for regarding the divorce as necessary.

As the modern historian might aptly say: "Here was a pretty kettle of

There can be little doubt that as a man of God, Wolsey strongly
disapproved of the divorce, but as the King's Chancellor he felt himself
bound to urge his case to the best of his ability. He was in fact the
advocate--the devil's advocate--under protest. One cannot imagine a more
terrible position for a man of conscience to be placed in, but once even a
cardinal embarks in politics the working of his conscience is temporarily
suspended. In world politics the Ten Commandments are apt to become a
negligible quantity.

Henry's conscience was becoming more and more tender. Much may be urged in
favour of the divorce from a political point of view, and no doubt Henry
had a powerful faculty of self-persuasion--such men can grow to believe
that whatever they desire is right, that "there is nothing either good or
bad but thinking makes it so." It is a pity, however, that Henry's
scruples did not assert themselves before the marriage with Katharine took
place, for the ethical arguments against such an union were then equally
strong. Indeed, these scruples appear to have been a "family failing," for
Henry's sister Margaret, Queen of Scotland, obtained a dispensation of
divorce from Rome on far slenderer grounds. To make matters worse for
Henry, Rome was sacked--the Pope was a prisoner in the Emperor's hands. In
this state of things, the Pope was naturally disinclined to give offence
to the Emperor by divorcing his aunt (Katharine).

At all costs, the Pope must be set free--on this errand Wolsey now set out
for France. But Charles V. was no less wily than Wolsey, and dispatched
Cardinal Quignon to Rome to frustrate his endeavours, and to deprive
Wolsey of his legatine powers. A schism between Henry and Wolsey was now
asserting itself--Wolsey being opposed to the King's union with Anne
Boleyn. ("We'll no Anne Boleyns for him!") Wolsey desired that the King
should marry the French King's sister, in order to strengthen his
opposition to Charles V. of Spain.

The Cardinal was indeed in an unenviable position. If the divorce
succeeded, then his enemy, Anne Boleyn, would triumph and he would fall.
If the divorce failed, then Henry would thrust from him the agent who had
failed to secure the object of his master. And in his fall the Cardinal
would drag down the Church. It is said that Wolsey secretly opposed the
divorce. This is fully brought out in Shakespeare's play, and is indeed
the main cause of Wolsey's fall.

There was for Henry now only one way out of the dilemma into which the
power of the Pope had thrown him--that was to obtain a dispensation for a
bigamous marriage. It seems that Henry himself cancelled the proposition
before it was made. This scruple was unnecessary, for the Pope himself
secretly made a proposition "that His Majesty might be allowed two

The sanction for the marriage with Anne Boleyn was obtained without great
difficulty--but it was to be subject to the divorce from Katharine being
ratified. Thus the King was faced with another obstacle. At this moment
began the struggle for supremacy at Rome between English and Spanish
influence. The Pope had to choose between the two; Charles V. was the
victor, whereupon Henry cut the Gordian knot by throwing over the
jurisdiction of Rome. Wolsey was in a position of tragic perplexity. He
was torn by his allegiance to the King, and his zeal for the preservation
of the Church. He wrote: "I cannot reflect upon it and close my eye, for I
see ruin, infamy and subversion of the whole dignity and estimation of the
See Apostolic if this course is persisted in." But Pope Clement dared not
offend the Emperor Charles, who was his best, because his most powerful
ally, and had he not proved his power by sacking Rome? The Pope, although
quite ready to grant dispensations for a marriage of Princess Mary and her
half-brother, the Duke of Richmond, though he was ready to grant
Margaret's divorce, could not afford to stultify the whole Papal dignity
by revoking the dispensation he had originally given that Henry should
marry his brother's wife. Truly an edifying embroglio! Henry was desirous
of shifting the responsibility on God through the Pope--the Pope was
sufficiently astute to wish to put the responsibility on the devil through
Henry. There was one other course open--that course the Pope took.

In 1528 he gave a Commission to Wolsey and Cardinal Campeggio to try the
case themselves, and pronounce sentence. Back went the embassy to England.
Wolsey saw through the device, for the Pope was still free to revoke the
Commission. Indeed Clement's attitude towards Henry was dictated entirely
by the fluctuating fortune of Charles V., Emperor of Spain. Meanwhile,
Charles won another battle against the French, and the Pope at once gave
secret instructions to Campeggio to procrastinate, assuring Charles that
nothing would be done which should be to the detriment of Katharine. The
wily Campeggio (emissary of the Pope) at first sought to persuade Henry to
refrain from the divorce. Henry refused. Thereupon he endeavoured to
persuade Katharine voluntarily to enter a nunnery. Among all these
plotters and intriguers, Katharine, adamant in her virtue, maintained her
position as lawful wife and Queen.

When Wolsey and Campeggio visited the Queen she was doing needlework with
her maids. It appears (and this is important as showing the inwardness of
Wolsey's attitude in the matter of the divorce) that "from this interview
the Queen gained over both legates to her cause; indeed, they would never
pronounce against her, and this was the head and front of the King's
enmity to his former favourite Wolsey." In the first instance, Wolsey was
undoubtedly a party, however unwilling, to the separation of the King and
Queen, in order that Henry might marry the brilliant and high-minded
sister of Francis I., Duchess of Alençon. That lady would not listen to
such a proposal, lest it should break the heart of Queen Katharine. Wolsey
was, either from personal enmity towards Anne Boleyn or from his estimate
of her character, or from both, throughout opposed to the union with that

Subsequently the King sent to Katharine a deputation from his Council
announcing that he had, by the advice of Cranmer, obtained the opinions of
the universities of Europe concerning the divorce, and found several which
considered it expedient. He therefore entreated her, for the quieting of
his conscience, that she would refer the matter to the arbitration of four
English prelates and four nobles. The Queen received the message in her
chamber, and replied to it: "God grant my husband a quiet conscience, but
I mean to abide by no decision excepting that of Rome." This infuriated
the King.

After many delays and the appearance of a document which was declared by
one side to be a forgery, and by the other to be genuine, the case began
on May 31, 1529. In the great hall of Blackfriars both the King and Queen
appeared in person to hear the decision of the Court. The trial itself is
very faithfully rendered in Shakespeare's play. Finding the King obdurate,
Katharine protested against the jurisdiction of the Court, and appealing
finally to Rome, withdrew from Blackfriars.

Judgment was to be delivered on the 23rd of July, 1529. Campeggio rose in
the presence of the King and adjourned the Court till October. This was
the last straw, and the last meeting of the Court. Henry had lost. Charles
was once more in the ascendant. England and France had declared war on him
in 1528, but England's heart was not in the enterprise--the feeling of
hatred to Wolsey became widespread. Henry and Charles made terms of peace,
and embraced once more after a bloodless and (for England) somewhat
ignominious war. The French force was utterly defeated in battle. The Pope
and Charles signed a treaty--all was nicely arranged. The Pope's nephew
was to marry the Emperor's natural daughter; certain towns were to be
restored to the Pope, who was to crown Charles with the Imperial crown.
The participators in the sacking of Rome were to be absolved from sin; the
proceedings against the Emperor's aunt, Katharine, were to be null and
void. If Katharine could not obtain justice in England, Henry should not
have his justice in Rome. The Pope and the Emperor kissed again, and Henry
finally cut himself adrift from Rome. It was the failure of the divorce
that made England a Protestant country.

Henry now openly defied the Pope, by whom he was excommunicated, and so
"deprived of the solace of the rites of religion; when he died he must lie
without burial, and in hell suffer torment for ever." The mind shrinks
from contemplating the tortures to which the soul of His Majesty might
have been subjected but for the timely intervention of his Grace the
Archbishop of Canterbury.

So far from Henry suffering in a temporal sense, he continued to defy the
opinion and the power of the world. He showed his greatness by looking
public opinion unflinchingly in the face; by ignoring, he conquered it.
Amid the thunderous roarings of the Papal bull, Henry stood--as we see him
in his picture--smiling and indifferent. "I never saw the King merrier
than now," wrote a contemporary in 1533. Henry always had good cards--now
he held the ace of public opinion up his sleeve.

Wolsey, although averse to the Queen's divorce and the marriage of Anne
Boleyn, expressed himself in terms of the strongest opposition to the
overbearing Pope. A few days before the Papal revocation arrived, the
Cardinal wrote thus: "If the King be cited to appear at Rome in person or
by proxy, and his prerogative be interfered with, none of his subjects
will tolerate it. If he appears in Italy, it will be at the head of a
formidable army." Opposed as they were to the divorce, the English people
were of one mind with Wolsey in this attitude.

Henry was not slow to avail himself of the new development, and he made
the divorce become in the eyes of the people but a secondary consideration
to the pride of England. He drew the red herring of the Reformation across
the trail of the divorce. The King and his Parliament held that the Church
should not meddle with temporal affairs. The Church was the curer of
souls, not the curer of the body politic.

Katharine's cause sank into the background. The voice of justice was
drowned by the birth shrieks of the Reformation.

[Illustration: _Photo: Emery Walker_


From the Portrait in the National Portrait Gallery]


We must remind ourselves that the divorce was merely the irritation which
brought the discontent with Rome to a head. Religious affairs were in a
very turbulent state. The monasteries were corrupt. The rule of Rome had
become political, not spiritual. Luther had worked at shattering the
pretensions of the Pope in Europe. Wolsey had prepared the English to
acquiesce in Henry's religious supremacy by his long tenure of the whole
Papal authority within the realm and the consequent suspension of appeals
to Rome. Translations of the New Testament were being secretly read
throughout the country--a most dangerous innovation--and Anne Boleyn, who
had no cause to love the Pope or his power, held complete sway over the

She and her father were said to be "more Lutheran than Luther himself."
Though Henry was anti-Papal, he was never anti-Catholic, but, as the
representative of God, as head of his own Church, he claimed to take
precedence of the Pope. Moreover, the spoliation of the Church was not an
unprofitable business.

Rome declared the divorce illegal. Henry, with the support of his
Parliament, abolished all forms of tribute to Rome, arranged that the
election of Bishops should take place without the interference of the
Pope, and declared that if he did not consent to the King's wishes within
three months, the whole of his authority in England should be transferred
to the Crown. This conditional abolition of the Papal authority was in due
course made absolute, and the King assumed the title of Head of the

"The breach with Rome" was effected with a cold and calculated cunning,
which the most adept disciple of Machiavelli could not have

With an adroitness amounting to genius, Henry now used the moral suasion
(not to use an uglier word) of threats towards the Church to induce the
Pope to relent and to assent to the divorce. One by one, in this deadly
battle, did the Pope's prerogatives vanish, until the sacerdotal
foundations of Rome, so far as England was concerned, had been levelled to
the ground.

After many further political troubles and intrigues Henry prevailed on
Cranmer, now Archbishop of Canterbury, as head of the Church, to declare
the marriage between himself and Katharine to be null and void, and five
days later Cranmer declared that Henry and Anne Boleyn were lawfully
married. On the 1st of June, 1533, the Archbishop crowned Anne as Queen in
Westminster Abbey. Shortly after she gave birth to a daughter, who was
christened Elizabeth, and became Queen of England.

Beyond this incident, with which the strange eventful history of
Shakespeare's play ends, it is not proposed to travel in these notes,
which are but intended as a brief chronicle that may guide the play-goer
of to-day (sometimes a hasty reader) to realize the conditions of Henry's


In the days of Henry VIII., the ways of society differed from our own more
in observance than in spirit. Though the gay world danced and gambled very
late, they rose very early. Their conversation was coarse and lacked
reserve. The ladies cursed freely. Outward show and ceremony were
considered of the utmost importance. Hats were worn by the men in church
and at meals, and only removed in the presence of the King and Cardinal.
Kissing was far more prevalent as a mode of salutation. The Court society
spent the greater part of their income on clothes. To those in the King's
set, a thousand pounds was nothing out of the way to spend on a suit of
clothes. The predominant colours at Court were crimson and green; the
Tudor colours were green and white. It was an age of magnificent plate,
and the possession and display of masses of gold and silver plate was
considered as a sign of power. Later on in Shakespeare's time, not only
the nobles, but also the better class citizens boasted collections of

A quaint instance of the recognition of distinctions of rank is afforded
by certain "Ordinances" that went forth as the "Bouche of Court." Thus a
Duke or Duchess was allowed in the morning one chet loaf, one manchet and
a gallon of ale; in the afternoon one manchet and one gallon of ale; and
for after supper one chet loaf, one manchet, one gallon of ale and a
pitcher of wine, besides torches, etc. A Countess, however, was allowed
nothing at all after supper, and a gentleman usher had no allowance for
morning or afternoon. These class distinctions must have weighed heavily
upon humbler beings, such as Countesses; but perhaps they consumed more at
table to make up for these after-meal deficiencies.

Table manners were a luxury as yet undreamed of. The use of the fork was a
new fashion just being introduced from France and Spain.


From the descriptions which have appeared in these pages, it will be seen
that the period of Henry VIII. was characterized by great sumptuousness;
indeed, the daily life of the Court consisted largely of revels, masques
and displays of splendour.

Henry VIII. is largely a pageant play. As such it was conceived and
written, as such we shall endeavour to present it to the public. Indeed,
it is obvious that it would be far better not to produce the play at all
than to do so without those adjuncts, by which alone the action of the
play can be illustrated. Of course, it is not possible to do more than
indicate on the stage the sumptuousness of the period of history covered
by the play; but it is hoped that an impression will be conveyed to our
own time of Henry in his habit as he lived, of his people, of the
architecture, and of the manners and customs of that great age.

_The Text_

It has been thought desirable to omit almost in their entirety those
portions of the play which deal with the Reformation, being as they are
practically devoid of dramatic interest and calculated, as they are, to
weary an audience. In taking this course, I feel the less hesitation as
there can be no doubt that all these passages were from the first omitted
in Shakespeare's own representations of the play.

We have incontrovertible evidence that in Shakespeare's time, Henry VIII.
was played in "two short hours."

  "... Those that come to see
  Only a show or two and so agree
  The play may pass. If they be still and willing
  I'll undertake may see away their shilling
  Richly in two short hours."

These words, addressed to the audience in the prologue, make it quite
clear that a considerable portion of the play was considered by the
author to be superfluous to the dramatic action--and so it is. Acted
without any waits whatsoever, Henry VIII., as it is written, would take at
least three hours and a half in the playing. Although we are not able to
compass the performance within the prescribed "two short hours," for we
show a greater respect for the preservation of the text than did
Shakespeare himself, an attempt will be made to confine the absolute
spoken words as nearly as possible within the time prescribed in the

In the dramatic presentation of the play, there are many passages of
intensely moving interest, the action and characters are drawn with a
remarkable fidelity to the actualities. As has been suggested, however,
the play depends more largely than do most of Shakespeare's works on those
outward displays which an attempt will be made to realize on the stage.

_Shakespeare as Stage Manager_

That Shakespeare, as a stage-manager, availed himself as far as possible
of these adjuncts is only too evident from the fact that it was the
firing off the cannon which caused a conflagration and the consequent
burning down of the Globe Theatre. The destruction of the manuscripts of
Shakespeare's plays was probably due to this calamity. The incident shows
a lamentable love of stage-mounting for which some of the critics of the
time no doubt took the poet severely to task. In connection with the love
of pageantry which then prevailed, it is well known that Shakespeare and
Ben Jonson were wont to arrange the Masques which were so much in vogue in
their time.

_The Fire_

The Globe Theatre was burnt on June 29th, 1613. Thomas Lorkins, in a
letter to Sir Thomas Puckering on June 30th, says: "No longer since than
yesterday, while Bourbidge his companie were acting at ye Globe the play
of Henry 8, and there shooting of certayne chambers in way of triumph; the
fire catch and fastened upon the thatch of ye house and there burned so
furiously as it consumed ye whole house all in lesse than two hours, the
people having enough to doe to save themselves."

_Other Productions of the Play_

There are records of many other productions of Henry VIII. existing. In
1663 it was produced at Lincoln's Inn Fields as a pageant play. The
redoubtable Mr. Pepys visited this production, without appearing to have
enjoyed the play. In contrast to him, old Dr. Johnson said that whenever
Mrs. Siddons played the part of Katharine, he would "hobble to the theatre
to see her."

In 1707, Henry VIII. was produced at the Haymarket, with an exceptionally
strong cast; in 1722 it was done at Drury Lane, in which production Booth
played Henry VIII.

In 1727 it was again played at Drury Lane. On this occasion the spectacle
of the Coronation of Anne Boleyn was added, on which one scene, we are
told, £1,000 had been expended. It will come to many as a surprise that so
much splendour and so large an expenditure of money were at that time
lavished on the stage. The play had an exceptional run of forty nights,
largely owing, it is said, to the popularity it obtained through the
Coronation of George II., which had taken place a few weeks before.

The play was a great favourite of George II. and was in consequence
frequently revived during his reign. On being asked by a grave nobleman,
after a performance at Hampton Court, how the King liked it, Sir Richard
Steele replied: "So terribly well, my lord, that I was afraid I should
have lost all my actors, for I was not sure the King would not keep them
to fill the posts at Court that he saw them so fit for in the play."

In 1744, Henry VIII. was given for the first time at Covent Garden, but
was not revived until 1772, when it was announced at Covent Garden as
"'Henry VIII.,' not acted for 20 years." The Coronation was again

Queen Katharine was one of Mrs. Siddons' great parts. She made her first
appearance in this character at Drury Lane in 1788. In 1808 it was again
revived, and Mrs. Siddons once more played the Queen, Kemble appearing as

In 1822, Edmund Kean made his first appearance as Wolsey at Drury Lane,
but the play was only given four times.

In 1832, the play was revived at Covent Garden with extraordinary
splendour, and a magnificent cast. Charles Kemble played King Henry; Mr.
Young, Wolsey; Miss Ellen Tree, Anne Boleyn; and Miss Fanny Kemble
appeared for the first time as Queen Katharine. Her success seems to have
been great. We are told that Miss Ellen Tree, as Anne Boleyn, appeared to
great disadvantage; "her headdress was the most frightful and unbecoming
thing imaginable, though we believe it was taken from one of Holbein's."
In those days correctness of costume was considered most lamentable and
most laughable. In this production, too, the Coronation was substituted
for the procession. The criticism adds that "during the progress of the
play the public seized every opportunity of showing their dislike of the
Bishops, and the moment they came on the stage they were assailed with
hissing and hooting, and one of the prelates, in his haste to escape from
such a reception, fell prostrate, which excited bursts of merriment from
all parts of the house."

In 1855, Charles Kean revived the play with his accustomed care and
sumptuousness. In this famous revival Mrs. Kean appeared as "Queen

_Irving's Production_

Sir Henry Irving's magnificent production will still be fresh in the
memory of many playgoers. It was admitted on all hands to be an artistic
achievement of the highest kind, and Sir Henry Irving was richly rewarded
by the support of the public, the play running 203 nights. Miss Ellen
Terry greatly distinguished herself in the part of Queen Katharine,
contributing in no small degree to the success of the production. Sir
Henry Irving, in the part of Wolsey, made a deep impression. Mr. William
Terriss played the King. Mr. Forbes Robertson made a memorable success in
the part of Buckingham; and it is interesting to note that Miss Violet
Vanbrugh played the part of Anne Boleyn.

[Illustration: ANNE BOLEYN

From the Portrait by Holbein, at Warwick Castle]

_The Music_

An outstanding feature of the Lyceum production was Edward German's music.
I deem myself fortunate that this music was available for the present
production. It may be mentioned that Mr. German has composed some
additional numbers, amongst which is the Anthem sung in the Coronation of
Anne Boleyn.

_Shakespeare's Accuracy of Detail_

I cannot help quoting one passage from Cavendish at length to show how
closely Shakespeare keeps to the chronicles of his time. It will be found
that Scene 3 of Act I. is practically identical with the following

     The banquets were set forth, with masks and mummeries, in so gorgeous
     a sort, and costly manner, that it was a heaven to behold.

     ... I have seen the king suddenly come in thither in a mask, with a
     dozen of other maskers, all in garments like shepherds.

     ... And at his coming and before he came into the hall, ye shall
     understand that he came by water to the water gate, without any
     noise; where, against his coming, were laid charged many chambers,
     and at his landing they were all shot off, which made such a rumble
     in the air, that it was like thunder. It made all the noblemen,
     ladies and gentlewomen to muse what it should mean coming so
     suddenly, they sitting quietly at a solemn banquet. Then immediately
     after this great shot of guns, the cardinal desired the Lord
     Chamberlain, and Comptroller, to look what this sudden shot should
     mean, as though he knew nothing of the matter. They thereupon looking
     out of the windows into Thames, returned again, and showed him, that
     it seemed to them there should be some noblemen and strangers arrived
     at his bridge, as ambassadors from some foreign prince. With that,
     quoth the Cardinal, "I shall desire you, because ye can speak French,
     to take the pains to go down into the hall to encounter and to
     receive them, according to their estates, and to conduct them into
     this chamber, where they shall see us, and all these noble personages
     sitting merrily at our banquet, desiring them to sit down with us and
     to take part of our fare and pastime." Then they went incontinent
     down into the hall, where they received them with twenty new torches,
     and conveyed them up into the chamber, with such a number of drums
     and fifes as I have seldom seen together, at one time in any masque.
     At their arrival into the chamber, two and two together, they went
     directly before the cardinal where he sat, saluting him very
     reverently, to whom the Lord Chamberlain for them said: "Sir,
     forasmuch as they be strangers, and can speak no English, they have
     desired me to declare unto your Grace thus: they, having
     understanding of this your triumphant banquet, where was assembled
     such a number of excellent fair dames, could do no less, under the
     supportation of your good grace, but to repair hither to view as well
     their incomparable beauty, as for to accompany them to mumchance, and
     then after to dance with them, and so to have of them acquaintance.
     And, sir, they furthermore require of your Grace licence to
     accomplish the cause of their repair." To whom the Cardinal answered,
     that he was very well contented they should do so. Then the masquers
     went first and saluted all the dames as they sat, and then returned
     to the most worthiest.

     ... Then quoth the Cardinal to my Lord Chamberlain, "I pray you,"
     quoth he, "show them that it seemeth me that there should be among
     them some noble man, whom I suppose to be much more worthy of honour
     to sit and occupy this room and place than I; to whom I would most
     gladly, if I knew him, surrender my place according to my duty." Then
     spake my Lord Chamberlain, unto them in French, declaring my Lord
     Cardinal's mind, and they rounding him again in the ear, my Lord
     Chamberlain said to my Lord Cardinal, "Sir, they confess," quoth he,
     "that among them there is such a noble personage, whom, if your Grace
     can appoint him from the other, he is contented to disclose himself,
     and to accept your place most worthily." With that the cardinal,
     taking a good advisement among them, at the last, quoth he, "Me
     seemeth the gentleman with the black beard should be even he." And
     with that he arose out of his chair, and offered the same to the
     gentleman in the black beard, with his cap in his hand. The person to
     whom he offered then his chair was Sir Edward Neville, a comely
     knight of goodly personage, that much more resembled the king's
     person in that mask, than any other. The king, hearing and perceiving
     the cardinal so deceived in his estimation and choice, could not
     forbear laughing; but plucked down his visor, and Master Neville's
     also, and dashed out with such a pleasant countenance and cheer, that
     all noble estates there assembled, seeing the king to be there
     amongst them, rejoiced very much.

If Shakespeare could be so true to the actualities, why should not we seek
to realise the scene so vividly described by the chronicler and the

In my notes and conclusions on "Henry VIII. and his Court," I have been
largely indebted to the guidance of the following books:--

Ernest Law's "History of Hampton Court"; Strickland's "Queens of England";
Taunton's "Thomas Wolsey, Legate and Reformer"; and Cavendish's "Life of


Here I am tempted to hark back to the modern manner of producing
Shakespeare, and to say a few words in extenuation of those methods, which
have been assailed in a recent article with almost equal brilliancy and

The writer tells us that there are two different kinds of plays, the
realistic and the symbolic. Shakespeare's plays, we are assured, belong to
the latter category. "The scenery," it is insisted, "not only may, but
should be imperfect." This seems an extraordinary doctrine, for if it be
right that a play should be imperfectly mounted, it follows that it should
be imperfectly acted, and further that it should be imperfectly written.
The modern methods, we are assured, employed in the production of
Shakespeare, do not properly illustrate the play, but are merely made for
vulgar display, with the result of crushing the author and obscuring his
meaning. In this assertion, I venture to think that our critic is
mistaken; I claim that not the least important mission of the modern
theatre is to give to the public representations of history which shall be
at once an education and a delight. To do this, the manager should avail
himself of the best archæological and artistic help his generation can
afford him, while endeavouring to preserve what he believes to be the
spirit and the intention of the author.

It is of course possible for the technically informed reader to imagine
the wonderful and stirring scenes which form part of the play without
visualizing them. It is, I contend, better to reserve Shakespeare for the
study than to see him presented half-heartedly.

The merely archaic presentation of the play can be of interest only to
those epicures who do not pay their shilling to enter the theatre. The
contemporary theatre must make its appeal to the great public, and I hold
that while one should respect every form of art, that art which appeals
only to a coterie is on a lower plane than that which speaks to the world.
Surely, it is not too much to claim that a truer and more vivid
impression of a period of history can be given by its representation on
the stage than by any other means of information. Though the archæologist
with symbolic leanings may cry out, the theatre is primarily for those who
love the drama, who love the joy of life and the true presentation of
history. It is only secondarily for those who fulfil their souls in

I hold that whatever may tend to destroy the illusion and the people's
understanding is to be condemned. Whatever may tend to heighten the
illusion and to help the audience to a better understanding of the play
and the author's meaning, is to be commended. Shakespeare and Burbage,
Betterton, Colley Cibber, the Kembles, the Keans, Phelps, Calvert and
Henry Irving, as artists, recognised that there was but one way to treat
the play of Henry VIII. It is pleasant to sin in such good company.

I contend that Henry VIII. is essentially a realistic and not a symbolic
play. Indeed, probably no English author is less "symbolic" than
Shakespeare. "Hamlet" is a play which, to my mind, does not suffer by the
simplest setting; indeed, a severe simplicity of treatment seems to me to
assist rather than to detract from the imaginative development of that
masterpiece. But I hold that, with the exception of certain scenes in "The
Tempest," no plays of Shakespeare are susceptible to what is called
"symbolic" treatment. To attempt to present Henry VIII. in other than a
realistic manner would be to ensure absolute failure. Let us take an
instance from the text. By what symbolism can Shakespeare's stage
directions in the Trial scene be represented on the stage?

"A Hall in Blackfriars. Enter two vergers with short silver wands; next
them two scribes in the habit of doctors.... Next them with some small
distance, follows a gentleman bearing the purse with the great seal and a
Cardinal's hat; then two priests bearing each a silver cross; then a
gentleman usher bareheaded, accompanied with a sergeant-at-arms bearing a
silver mace; then two gentlemen bearing two great silver pillars; after
them, side by side, the two Cardinals, Wolsey and Campeius; two noblemen
with the sword and mace," etc.

I confess my symbolic imagination was completely gravelled, and in the
absence of any symbolic substitute, I have been compelled to fall back on
the stage directions.

Yet we are gravely told by the writer of a recent article that "all
Shakespeare's plays" lend themselves of course to such symbolic treatment.
We hear, indeed, that the National Theatre is to be run on symbolic lines.
If it be so, then God help the National Theatre--the symbolists will not.
No "ism" ever made a great cause. The National Theatre, to be the
dignified memorial we all hope it may be, will owe its birth, its being
and its preservation to the artists, who alone are the guardians of any
art. It is the painter, not the frame-maker, who upholds the art of
painting; it is the poet, not the book-binder, who carries the torch of
poetry. It was the sculptor, and not the owner of the quarry, who made the
Venus of Milo. It is sometimes necessary to re-assert the obvious.

Now there are plays in which symbolism is appropriate--those of
Maeterlinck, for instance. But if, as has been said, Maeterlinck resembles
Shakespeare, Shakespeare does not resemble Maeterlinck. Let us remember
that Shakespeare was a humanist, not a symbolist.

_The End_

The end of the play of Henry VIII. once more illustrates the pageantry of
realism, as prescribed in the elaborate directions as to the christening
of the new-born princess.

It is this incident of the christening of the future Queen Elizabeth that
brings to an appropriate close the strange eventful history as depicted in
the play of Henry VIII. And thus the injustice of the world is once more
triumphantly vindicated: Wolsey, the devoted servant of the King, has
crept into an ignominious sanctuary; Katharine has been driven to a
martyr's doom; the adulterous union has been blessed by the Court of
Bishops; minor poets have sung their blasphemous pæans in unison. The
offspring of Anne Boleyn, over whose head the Shadow of the Axe is already
hovering, has been christened amid the acclamations of the mob; the King
paces forth to hold the child up to the gaze of a shouting populace,
accompanied by the Court and the Clergy--trumpets blare, drums roll, the
organ thunders, cannons boom, hymns are sung, the joy bells are pealing. A
lonely figure in black enters weeping. It is the Fool!


  1491.  Birth of Henry, second son of Henry VII. and Elizabeth of York.

  1501.  Marriage of Arthur, Prince of Wales, eldest son of Henry VII. and
         Elizabeth of York, to Katharine of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand
         and Isabella of Spain.

  1502.  Death of Arthur, Prince of Wales.

  1509.  Death of King Henry VII.

         Marriage of Henry VIII. at Westminster Abbey with Katharine of
         Aragon, his brother's widow.

         Thomas Wolsey made King's Almoner.

  1511.  Thomas Wolsey called to the King's Council.

         The Holy League established by the Pope.

  1512.  War with France.

  1513.  Battles of the Spurs and of Flodden.

         Wolsey becomes Chief Minister.

  1516.  Wolsey made Legate.

         Dissolution of the Holy League.

  1517.  Luther denounces Indulgences.

  1520.  Henry meets Francis at "Field of Cloth of Gold."

         Luther burns the Pope's Bull.

  1521.  Quarrel of Luther with Henry.

         Henry's book against Luther presented to the Pope.

         Pope Leo confers on Henry the title "_Fidei Defensor_."

  1522.  Renewal of war with France.

  1523.  Wolsey quarrels with the Commons on question of 20 per cent.
         property tax.

  1525.  Benevolences of one-tenth from the laity and of one-fourth from
         clergy demanded.

         Exaction of Benevolences defeated.

         Peace with France.

  1527.  Henry resolves on a Divorce.

         Sack of Rome.

  1528.  Pope Clement VII. issues a commission to the Cardinals Wolsey and
         Campeggio for a trial of the facts on which Henry's application
         for a divorce was based.

  1529.  Trial of Queen Katharine at Blackfriars' Hall.

         Katharine appeals to Rome.

         Fall of Wolsey. Ministry of Norfolk and Sir Thomas More.

         Rise of Thomas Cromwell.

  1530.  Wolsey arrested for treason.

         Wolsey's death at Leicester Abbey.

  1531.  Henry acknowledged as "Supreme Head of the Church of England."

  1533.  Henry secretly marries Anne Boleyn.

         Cranmer, in Archbishop of Canterbury's Court, declares
         Katharine's marriage invalid and the marriage of Henry and Anne
         lawful. Anne Boleyn crowned Queen in Westminster Abbey.

         Birth of Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth).

  1535.  Henry's title as Supreme Head of the Church incorporated in the
         royal style by letters patent.

         Execution of Sir Thomas More.

  1536.  English Bible issued.

         Dissolution of lesser Monasteries.

         Death of Katharine of Aragon.

         Execution of Anne Boleyn.

         Henry's marriage with Jane Seymour.

  1537.  Birth of Edward VI.

         Death of Jane Seymour.

         Dissolution of greater Monasteries.

  1540.  Henry's marriage with Anne of Cleves.

         Execution of Thomas Cromwell.

         Henry divorces Anne of Cleves.

         Henry's marriage with Catherine Howard.

  1542.  Execution of Catherine Howard.

         Completion of the Tudor Conquest of Ireland.

  1543.  War with France.

         Henry's marriage with Catherine Parr.

  1547.  Death of Henry. Age 55 years and 7 months.

         He reigned 37 years and 9 months.



  1889.  "The Merry Wives of Windsor."

  1892.  "Hamlet."

  1896.  "King Henry IV." (Part I.)


  1898.  "Julius Cæsar."

  1899.  "King John."

  1900.  "A Midsummer's Night's Dream."

  1901.  "Twelfth Night."

  1903.  "King Richard II."

  1904.  "The Tempest."

  1905.  "Much Ado About Nothing."

         First Annual Shakespeare Festival:
           "King Richard II."
           "Twelfth Night."
           "The Merry Wives of Windsor."
           "Much Ado About Nothing."
           "Julius Cæsar."

  1906.  "The Winter's Tale."

         "Antony and Cleopatra."

         Second Annual Shakespeare Festival:
           "The Tempest."
           "King Henry IV." (Part I.)
           "Julius Cæsar."
           "The Merry Wives of Windsor."

  1907.  Third Annual Shakespeare Festival:
           "The Tempest."
           "The Winter's Tale."
           "Twelfth Night."
           "Julius Cæsar."
           "The Merry Wives of Windsor."

  1908.  "The Merchant of Venice."

         Fourth Annual Shakespeare Festival:
           "The Merry Wives of Windsor."
           "The Merchant of Venice."
           "Twelfth Night."

  1909.  Fifth Annual Shakespeare Festival:
           "King Richard III."
           "Twelfth Night."
           "The Merry Wives of Windsor."
           "Julius Cæsar."
           "The Merchant of Venice."
           "Macbeth." (Mr. Arthur Bourchier's Company.)
           "Antony and Cleopatra" (Act II., Scene 2).

  1910.  Sixth Annual Shakespeare Festival:
           "The Merry Wives of Windsor."
           "Julius Cæsar."
           "Twelfth Night."
           "Hamlet." (By His Majesty's Theatre Company and by Mr. H. B.
               Irving's Company.)
           "The Merchant of Venice." (By His Majesty's Theatre Company
               and by Mr. Arthur Bourchier's Company.)
           "King Lear." (Mr. Herbert Trench's Company.)
           "The Taming of the Shrew." (Mr. F. R. Benson and Company.)
           "Coriolanus." (Mr. F. R. Benson and Company.)
           "Two Gentlemen of Verona." (The Elizabethan Stage Society's
           "King Henry V." (Mr. Lewis Waller and Company.)
           "King Richard II."
           Scenes from "Macbeth" and "Romeo and Juliet."

  1910.  September 1st, "King Henry VIII."




The Century Shakespeare

  Introductions by the famous Shakespearean
  assisted by JOHN MUNRO


Commencing with the Henry VIII Edition, published on the _eve of His
Majesty's Theatre Revival_, the CENTURY SHAKESPEARE WILL BE ISSUED

Weekly in 40 Volumes at 9{D.} net One Volume per week thus affording every
reader an opportunity of obtaining this famous Edition, with its
unsurpassable scholarship, at a merely nominal weekly cost.

Each volume will contain a beautiful Photogravure Frontispiece, reproduced
from a Painting by a FAMOUS ARTIST.

The Henry VIII Volume bears on its cover a Colour Reproduction of Mr.
Charles Buchel's picture of Sir Herbert Tree as "Cardinal Wolsey."

The next volume is "SHAKESPEARE: LIFE AND WORK," by Dr. FURNIVALL and JOHN
MUNRO. The most human document about the Poet yet published.

_It contains a beautiful Coloured Reproduction of the famous picture,
"ROMEO AND JULIET," by Frank Dicksee, R.A._

Complete Prospectus free on receipt of a Postcard.



[1] Cavendish was Wolsey's faithful secretary, and after his fall wrote
the interesting "Life of Wolsey," one of the manuscript copies of which
evidently fell into Shakespeare's hands before he wrote _Henry VIII._

[2] "Pastime with Good Company," composed and written by Henry, is sung in
the production at His Majesty's Theatre.

[3] Hypocras--"A favourite medicated drink, compound of wine, usually red,
with spices and sugar."

[4] It is Wolsey's fool to whom is given the final note of the play in the
production at His Majesty's Theatre.

[5] The ceremony of bringing the Blessed Sacrament from the sepulchre
where it had lain since the Good Friday. This took place early on Easter

[6] Personally, I have been a sentimental adherent of symbolism since my
first Noah's Ark. Ever since I first beheld the generous curves of Mrs.
Noah, and first tasted the insidious carmine of her lips, have I regarded
the wife of Noah as symbolical of the supreme type of womanhood. I have
learnt that the most exclusive symbolists, when painting a meadow, regard
purple as symbolical of bright green; but we live in a realistic age and
have not yet overtaken the _art nouveau_ of the pale future. It is
difficult to deal seriously with so much earnestness. I am forced into
symbolic parable. Artemus Ward, when delivering a lecture on his great
moral panorama, pointed with his wand to a blur on the horizon, and said:
"Ladies and gentlemen, that is a horse--the artist who painted that
picture called on me yesterday with tears in his eyes, and said he would
disguise that fact from me no longer!" He, too, was a symbolist.

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _underscore_.

The original text contains both "playgoer" and "play-goer" and contains
both "Guistinian" and "Giustinian."

Superscripted letter is shown in {brackets}.

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