The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970) mini-series
Director: Naomi Capon, John Glenister.
Starring: Keith Michell (Henry VIII), Annette Crosbie (Catherine of Aragon), Dorothy Tutin (Anne Boleyn), Anne Stallybrass (Jane Seymour), Elvi Hale (Anne of Cleves), Angela Pleasence (Catherine Howard), Rosalie Crutchley (Catherine Parr), Anthony Quayle (Narrator voice).
William Abney (Sir Frances Bryan), Melanie Ackland (Lady Margaret), Ronald Adam (Cardinal Campeggio), Raymond Adamson (Duke of Suffolk), Edward Atienza (Eustache Chapuys), Norman Atkyns (Henry's Gentleman), Gillian Bailey (Dorothy Seymour), John Baskcomb (Cardinal Wolsey), Ralph Bates (Thomas Culpepper), Christopher Beeching (Earl of Surrey), Elizabeth Bell (Anne Askew), Peter Bennett (Nobleman), Sue Bishop (Lady-in-Waiting, episode "Catherine Howard"), Donald Bisset (Earl of Surrey), Dorothy Black (Lady Margaret Seymour), Richard Burnett (Usher, episode "Catherine of Aragon"), Sheila Burrell (Lady Rochford), David Butler (Christopher Mont), Robert Cawdron (Sir William Kingston), Peter Cellier (Sir Christopher Hales), Alberto Colzi (Ambassador), Julia Cornelius (Anne Carey), Michael Cullen (Servant), Ina De La Haye (Inez de Venegas), Basil Dignam (Bishop Gardiner), Karen Ford (Lady Lane), Margaret Ford (Maria de Salinas), Alison Frazer (Princess Mary), Patrick Godfrey (Thomas Wriothesley), Howard Goorney (Will Somers), Verina Greenlaw (Princess Mary), Christopher Hancock (Sir Henry Norreys), Robert Hartley (Bishop Fox), Louis Haslar (Sir Nicholas Carew), Patricia Heneghan (Lady Kingston), Bernard Hepton (Archbishop Thomas Cranmer), Robert James (Robert Barnes), Jo Kendall (Anne Stanhope), Jim Kennedy (Anthony Knevet), Catherine Lacey (Dowager Duchess of Norfolk), Stephanie Lacey (Lady Frances), Howard Lang (Sir John Seymour, episode "Jane Seymour"), Will Leighton (Tutor), Geoffrey Lewis (Bishop Fisher), Carol MacReady (Amalie), Joyce Mandre (Francesca de Carceres), Hilary Mason (Lady Boleyn), Marion Mathie (Lady Exeter), William Maxwell (Duke Wilhelm), James Mellor (Holbein), Zienia Merton (Annette), Wolfe Morris (Thomas Cromwell), Daniel Moynihan (Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford), Jonathan Newth (George, Viscount Rochford), Michael Osborne (Mark Smeaton), Valentine Palmer (Lord Willoughby), Arnold Peters (Armourer), Simon Prebble (Francis Dereham), Martin Ratcliffe (Prince Arthur), Peter Reeves (Philip of Hesse), John Richmond (Surgeon), Bill Riley (Stanton), John Ronane (Thomas Seymour), Jody Schaller (Princess Elizabeth), Peter Stephens (Don Gutierre), Mollie Sugden (Lotte), Sally Travers (Dona Elvira Manuel), Patrick Troughton (Duke of Norfolk), Norman Tyrrell (Chancellor of Cleves), John Woodnutt (Henry VII), Charles Workman (Archbishop Warham), Ken Wynne (Dr. de Puebla).
Catherine of Aragon.
King Henry VII and the Prince of Wales Arthur come riding up to a tent to see Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile. Dr. De Puebla comes out to greet the King and the Prince of Wales. Puebla is the Spanish Ambassador and he tells the King that his instructions, by the laws of Spain, are that a royal bride may not be seen before her wedding, even by her bridegroom. Henry ignores the man, saying this is England. He insists on seeing the future bride. Catherine of Aragon is brought out to meet the King and his son. The King welcomes Catherine to England. He then introduces Arthur, her future husband, to her. Arthur has a very bad cough.
After Arthur dies in 1502, and now Catherine is in a bit of a difficult situation.
The Lord of Surrey asks Dr. De Puebla if Catherine understands her position? De Puebla says she prefers not to know her situation. Surrey says that the Spanish princess is a pauper, a widow, an unsuccessful suitor for the hand of her late husband's brother. De Puebla says that Henry and Catherine are betrothed. Surrey says betrothed is a long way from being married.
Catherine insists that the ambassador sspeak with the king and get her some money. They have so little to eat that Catherine has to sell her plates in order to buy some food. She wonders what will become of her, unless she does marry Prince Henry. She says she can't go back to Spain unmarried. Her aide Dona Elvira says that maybe her sister would help her if Catherine invited her to visit Catherine in England.
The political situation has changed recently. Queen Isabella is dead; her daughter Juana is Queen of Castile; and she and her husband are plotting to seize Aragon. King Henry VII asks the Spanish ambassador so what benefit would there be for his Henry to marry Catherine?
King Henry VII tells the Spanish ambassador that he should write to King Ferdinand and say that his daughter is in need of money.
The ambassador speaks with Catherine. She tells him that she's going to send a letter to her sister Queen Juana of Castile to invite her to visit Catherine in England. The ambassador says that's not a very good idea. King Henry is thinking about the possibility of his son Henry marrying Juanna's daughter Eleanor. And Dona Elvira's brother is in Flanders plotting with her sister against her father. So now Catherine decides to get rid of Dona Elvira as her duenna and she asks the ambassador to ask King Henry for a new duenna. She calls Dona Elvira over to her and hands her the letter which she has torn into four pieces. Dona Elvira does not like this at all.
King Henry now decides that Catherine can live in the Court all the time. That way, she can save herself the expense of her own household. That will save King Henry some money and he won't have to get Catherine a new duenna.
Catherine is very upset over the news. She will have no duenna and she will live at Court like a pensioner, but a pensioner without a pension. How can she pay her Spanish servants? Now she thinks that King Henry and the Spanish ambassador are in cahoots to save King Henry money by robbing her of her household. She says she will write her father and ask for a new Spanish ambassador.
The new ambassador arrives in England. His name is Don Gutierre Gomez de Fuensalida. The ambassador says he has brought 65,000 ducats. And he demands the fulfillment of the marriage contract between young Henry and Catherine. The English also want that, but there is a third part of the dowry that Catherine has still not paid.
The new ambassador is outraged at the way the English have been treating Catherine. He says he won't stand for this and will change the situation. A lady-in-waiting says maybe now Catherine will have a champion of her cause.
The new ambassador insults the King calling him stingy with his money. So now the English walk out on the talks with the ambassador. The ambassador goes to see De Puebla to ask for suggestions. De Puebla says that now King Henry VII is not well.
The new ambassador goes to see King Henry VII and ends up fighting with him. So now the king refuses to see the Spanish ambassador.
Prince Henry and others come down the hall and Catherine stands in the hall quietly. Henry nods to her, but he doesn't say anything to her. He just keeps walking down the hall. Now Catherine's ladies-in-waiting tell her that she must go back to Spain. Prince Arthur has been dead for six years and still there is no movement on the marriage question for Catherine. Catherine speaks harshly to Francesca for speaking this way to her. Francesca gets upset and rushes away. Catherine tells Maria that she would rather die than go back to Spain unmarried.
1509. King Henry VII dies.
King Henry VIII comes to see Catherine. He tells her that his father's dying wish was for Henry to marry Catherine. And, he says, it is his wish too.
After marriage, Catherine is now happy. Henry tells her that he wants to create a Golden Age in England. They seem to make a good team at this point in time.
Surrey talks with Lord Willoughby about the birth of Henry's child. The church bells have been ringing for two months. The people are happy about the child, especially because Catherine first had a stillborn child. Willoughby himself will soon marry one of Catherine's ladies-in-waiting. News comes, however, that the prince child has died.
Henry tries to console Catherine in her grief over the child.
Anne Boleyn listens to the king singing. She says that all Catherine has to show after 18 years of marriage is a handful of stillborn sons. An older woman says that Catherine did give birth to the Princess Mary. [Born 1516.]
The king no longer has sex with his queen. Anne Boleyn has been flirting with the king, but she will not have sex before marriage with him. She figures that this keeps the king interested in her.
Cardinal Wolsey tells the king that the queen must be told at once, now that the ecclesiastical court has found in his favor. It found that the marriage was open to question, and now, the Pope's dispensation must be annulled.
Mary is a young girl now and she reads from the book Utopia by Thomas More to her mother. Henry comes into the room to a warm greetings from Mary and Catherine. The king asks to speak alone to Catherine. Mary leaves. Henry reads from the Bible: "And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing. They shall be childless." He says very learned men have told him because Catherine was first married to his brother. their marriage is unlawful in the sight of God. And now that they have learned the truth, they must separate. She can live away from the court and go wherever she wants to. Catherine bursts out in a very loud, almost a screaming, crying. Her crying drives Henry from the room.
Catherine writes to her nephew the Emperor and to the Pope telling them about Wolsey's plots against them. Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio, the papal legate, comes to speak to Henry. The pope wants the husband and wife to be reconciled.
The papal legate now speaks with Catherine. She says she and the king have never quarreled. It's wicked men who have been putting doubts into the king's mind. The legate says that the inevitable scandal can be avoided. The queen could enter a religious life. The king has told the legate that Mary will have the right of succession to rule England immediately following any male heirs.
A trial begins to see if the papal dispensation for Catherine's marriage is legitimate or not. When the trial starts Catherine walks over to Henry and says: "My Lord, since I can expect no impartial judgment in this court, I appeal to you as the head of all justice in the land. How have I offended you? I have always been your true and loving wife and have borne you many children, though it pleased God to take them from me for no fault of mine." Then she walks out of the court, saying: "I have nothing to do with this court." The court continues in her absence.
News arrives that the French army has been defeated in Italy.
The trial falls through and so now it has to be a papal trial.
Henry is going to Woodstock with all the court. Wolsey died on his way to the tower. His fate was sealed as soon as Campeggio transferred the trial to Rome.
Now the queen learns that she is to go at once to More House in Hertfordshire. That was Wolsey's old house. And Mary has been send to Richmond. She may see Mary if she cooperates with the king.
Catherine learns that Anne Boleyn is now pregnant. The king and Anne were secretly married in January 1533. Anne soon becomes the queen. Catherine says she is not the Princess Dowager but the Queen. She is then told that Sir Thomas More and John Fisher have gone to the tower for refusing to recognize the king's new marriage. In September, the future Queen Elizabeth is born. It's said they asked the Princess Mary to wait on the baby, but Mary refused. The Queen is soon pregnant again.
Catherine becomes very ill. She dies in January, 1536.
The king and queen are quarreling more these days. Henry still wants to have a male heir. Anne accuses him of having affairs with other women. He has an I don't care manner about the subject. Then he tells her that there are no other women, but she doesn't believe him. He gets irritated with her and now starts to leave. She mentions that she is pregnant with his son. That gets Henry's attention, and his mood is now more cheery.
Anne talks with her brother George, who is unhappily married. The queen says that his wife is jealous of him. George says his wife is jealous of his sister. Anne thinks that's very odd. She says every sister loves her brother.
A man named Thomas Cromwell comes to George's wife and asks for the names of men who are the Queen's favorites. She tells him: Mark Smeaton the musician, Sir Francis Weston, Master Norreys and her brother George, Lord Rochford.
The king and queen argue about Henry's claim that the child she carries may be the child of another man. She is righteously indignant and fights back hard at him. He tells her to remember to whom she speaks for he has the power to humble her.
Anne returns to her ladies-in-waiting. She tells George that his wife told her that the king has been with Jane Seymour. Anne says she needs her brother. She remembers that when George was sent to France the towns people would call her the Great Whore.
Thomas speaks with Henry and belittles the Queen. Henry tells him to tread softly on the subject. He warns Thomas that if Anne should bear him a son, the queen must be above reproach and that means that Thomas would be silenced. Thomas now leaves.
Anne tells Cranmer that they all turn against her. She adds that she's filled with fear and all alone. She works herself up into such a state the she starts having pains. She tells Cranmer to get her help.
The king walks with Jane Seymour. A messenger says that the queen has given birth to a child too early. And it's a boy. The king goes rushing into see his son. Anne explains that she was so frightened recently that she gave birth too early. Henry just wants to know where is his son? Anne says her son was born dead. He becomes furious at Anne and tells her that she killed his son! "You bewitched him as you have bewitched me these last years!" Anne begs Henry not to leave her, but he, still furious, walks out of the room.
Thomas says that the queen has been unfaithful. They start bringing men in and charging them with having sex with the queen. If the person won't sign the confession, then that person will be tortured until he does sign.
Anne is placed in the tower, along with the five men accused of laying with her. Four of the men are tried and found guilty. Cromwell says that the queen will be found guilty and she will die. Henry has an expression on his face as if he had never considered that the queen would die, but that is the punishment for treason. Henry says they will have his daughter Elizabeth declared a bastard. Cromwell will see to all the tasks at hand, along with Norfolk.
The queen is put on trial. She tells the court and Cromwell off. Her final statement is very good and very true, but the trial is not a just trial and, as she said when she first appeared before the court, the decision was already made before she came in.
The verdict is she's guilty. She will be burned to death or have her head cut off, depending on which method of death her husband decides. Anne wants to have her head cut off because it's a quicker way to death.
Henry says he doesn't care which way Anne is executed. But if she will divorce him, he will have her head lopped off as the preferred method.
Cromwell tells Cranmer that he must get Anne to confess and sign the divorce agreement. Cranmer leaves the table quickly.
Anne laughs at Cranmer's attempts to get her to confess and sign the divorce papers. She stands fast. Cranmer gives up and leaves.
Anne learned from Cranmer that all those involved in the treason will be killed tomorrow. Her brother will be executed too.
Anne wants Cranmer to hear her last confession. He doesn't want to do it, but Cromwell tells him that he must. Cranmer listens to her confession. It upsets him.
The ladies-in-waiting fix Anne's hair so it won't be in the way of the French swordsman who will perform the decapitation.
May 19, 1536. The time has come. Anne says a prayer. Later she walks to the scaffold for the beheading. She says only nice things about the King.
She puts her head on the chopping block and it is chopped off.
October 24, 1537. Jane Seymour's baby is baptized, while Jane dies.
Flashback. Edward comes to see his mother, and the king is on his way here. Jane Seymour rushes over to greet her brother. Then father comes out. He says he's happy to hear that his son is to marry again. Edward tells Jane that she knows the woman, Anne Stanhope. They were at court together.
King Henry VIII is busy playing cards with some of his staff. Later he invites Jane over to join them in a new game designed by Sir Francis. When he is alone with John Seymour, the father, he makes mentions of John's "dancing" with his son's Edward's wife. He switches to the topic of bad crops. The King says many of the farmers blame their king for their bad crops. "They hated me. My people."
In the morning Henry and the men go wild boar hunting. They kill some wild boars. On the ride back, Henry stops to talk with Jane. He asks her why did she leave her post as a lady-in-waiting? She says she left when the Dowager Princess Catherine retired. A messenger rushes over to tell the king that the French envoy has arrived in London. Henry says he has to leave now. He says goodbye to his "Little Nun". Henry is told that a match has been made between Jane and William Dormers. He replies: "Break it!"
Jane comes to court. There she sees her brother Edward and his wife Anne Stanhope. Cranmer gives Jane the oath of allegiance to King Henry VIII. She has a hard time agreeing with all parts of the oath and Cranmer argues with her. The king intervenes asking Jane she surely can be loyal to her king? Jane says yes. He explains the difficult relationship with the enemies of England: the Pope, the Holy Roman Emperor and the French. This explains why so many questions of loyalty were recited to Jane. So now Jane can agree with all the parts of the loyalty oath.
Later he sits with Jane and kisses her neck. She is shocked and pulls away from him. She asks for some respect from the king. Henry says he has plain feelings, but how can he speak with a cold frost? She says she is betrothed to William Dormers, a man she has never met. The king gives Jane a necklace holding a small portrait of King Henry.
A passing woman pulls the necklace off Jane's neck and lets it fall to the ground. It was probably Anne Boleyn who pulled off the necklace. Anne's sister-in-law, Lady Rochford, warns her that the queen's jealousy could mean Jane's ruin. She suggests that Jane run back to Wiltshire. If Anne has a boy child, she will ride the world again. If not, then Jane can return to court.
Henry is going to tax the abbeys. As the matter is discussed, Henry complains of the pain in his right leg stemming from a jousting accident in 1536, that aggravated a previous wound to his leg. [The wound festered for the remainder of his life and became ulcerated.]
Henry gets mad about his daughter Mary wanting to see the French Catholic envoy. There is talk of a plot to spirit Mary away to a Catholic country to make sure she is safe from her father. Henry says he doesn't want to have another Catherine on his hands. Cranmer speaks up for Mary saying she's a fine girl. Henry tells Norfolk to go to Mary and tell her that she must agree to the oath of allegiance and admit that she's a bastard. If she does not do this, then her father will take actions against her.
Henry gets so mad at Cromwell that he literally shakes the man for criticizing him and his policies. He warns Cromwell that no man is indispensable in England. Later he hugs Jane to help soothe his anger. He tells Jane that she understands him. Jane asks permission to leave the court. She says she will not come between the king and his wife. Henry kneels down with Jane and they both recite a prayer to God.
Norfolk and Sir Nicholas, along with others, speak about the fact that no one has seen Cromwell for five days. Lady Rochford says Cromwell is clever and he'll find his way back somehow. Norfolk talks of the need to rid themselves of Anne Boleyn. The meeting is interrupted by the arrival of Lord Cromwell. Norfolk tries to leave, but Cromwell asks him to sit back down. He says they will charge Anne Boleyn with treason. The others at the table are shocked. They ask surely there must be some lighter sentence. Cromwell says no. And he says that he will see to it that Jane Seymour will be crowned queen.
The day after Anne's execution Henry became engaged to Seymour, and ten days later they were married.. Later, Anne asks if the king's daughter Mary could be invited back to the court for she has lived so isolated for ten years now. The problem is that Henry doesn't trust Mary or the people around her. They are interrupted by the arrival of Cromwell. The king leaves the room and tells Cromwell to have a chat with Jane. Cromwell says he has a feeling that Jane is upset with him. She denies it, but he says he has noticed her displeasure. He finally hits on the subject of the recent small revolt in London. Jane says the revolt was probably out of concern for the Catholic priests, monks and friars who have been evicted from their houses of worship. Cromwell asks if Jane is going to defend these strongholds of popery? She says that she was taught that church property is sacred.
Jane asks Cromwell to persuade the king to let his daughter Mary come back to court. Cromwell replies that it will not be easy. When Henry returns to the room, he tells Jane and Cromwell that if Mary proves amenable to his desires, he will bring her back to court. That makes Jane very happy.
The Lady Mary comes to court. The Queen and King greet her warmly. Then Henry says to the court that some of them wanted Mary put to death. At this Mary faints and falls on the floor.
Alone Mary prays for forgiveness for betraying her late mother Catherine.
Henry is very upset at the news that there were 30,000 people lighting beacons across the hills. He says he will send the Lord of Norfolk after Master Robert Aske and his followers. Jane begs Henry to restore the abbeys. Henry becomes so furious, that he threatens her with what happened to Anne Boleyn. He really balls her out. He screams: "So curb your enthusiasm with a bridle of reason, madam, because Christianity and not Monkery is to be the religion of this land!" Jane goes to her knees with her head bowed, crying over her husband's anger. Now Henry asks for her forgiveness. He says: "Don't cry. I'm a rough man, rough tempered."
Jane's father has died. She is very sad.
The king calls for Jane, who now is very pregnant. She waves down to Henry who is out in the garden. Jane asks her brother if the trial of the rebels is over now? Yes. All the rebels are condemned, including Lord D'Arcy and Robert Aske.
Edward notices that Jane is very fearful and he asks her why. She doesn't blame anyone, but no matter what she does she has no waking or sleeping moment when she is at peace. Then she says it's because of the late queen. She was innocent. Jane says the trial was one of false witnesses. Jane says it's she who is the one who should be punished, but instead she is rewarded.
Jane gives birth to a son, named Edward. Henry puts his wife in her regular bed. She dies.
Cromwell says what the king needs now is a new wife. He tells the king himself he needs a new wife. At first, Henry just says that Cromwell mocks him. But a little later he discusses different women with Cromwell.
Anne of Cleves.
A man at court named Wriothesley says it's been two years since Jane Seymour died and the king's still making pretense of being dainty about a wife. So they must change their plans.
Henry talks about forming a military alliance with Germany and, therefore, he should have a German bride. Cromwell says the Duke of Cleves has two dauthters, and now the Duke of Cleves has died. The king decides to send his painter, Master Holbein, to paint the portrait of the elder sister Anne of Cleves.
Holbein goes with another man, the negotiator for the hand of Anne. The two sisters are rather plain in appearance. Holbein compliments Anne a great deal and that pleases her.
Henry calls out for Norfolk. He has to open the door and call out to him. Then he tells Norfolk: don't make me call out a third time! Norfolk pulls away from the young lady he was speaking to and tells the king that he was just instructing his niece, Catherine Howard, because this is her first day here. [Catherine Howard will be the fifth wife of Henry VIII.]
Cranmer tells Cromwell that Norfolk troubles him. He is pushing forward his niece Catherine Howard. Cranmer is also worried for Robert Barnes, because many think him a heretic. Cromwell says Barnes is safe enough for he's a king's man.
Anne of Cleves gets delayed in Calais, France because of the bad weather over the English Channel.
Cromwell reports to Henry that Anne of Cleaves is now in England. Henry decides to ride the 30 miles to Rochester to see Anne. He will at first pretend that he is but a messenger and later will reveal himself.
The "messenger" is brought in to see Anne. The two of them talk for awhile. The talk goes okay, but then Henry starts to talk about sex. Anne is shocked at the messenger and asks what would the king say if he was only here right now? Henry says: "But he is!" Anne says: "Oh, where." Henry replies: "Sweetheart!" He stands up and takes his coat off and says: "Behold him!" Anne is absolutely shocked at the size of the king and his looks. She is not a happy bride-to-be.
Soon Henry comes out of the room. He tells his staff: "I am ashamed that men have so praised the princess. I like her not."
He tells Cromwell: "I've not been well-handled." He's definitely mad at Cromwell for getting him into this fix.
The bride certainly does not want to marry Henry. Cranmer tells her that she has to do her duty for peace and the Protestant religion. She thinks about it and then says she's ready.
After the wedding and alone in their bedroom, Anne tries to avoid having sex with the king. This exacerbates the king. She finally finds a way to distract him. She tells him that there is bad news from Germany. The League of the Protestant princes is about to break up. Hesse is going over to the Empire. If the German League breaks up, it will mean trouble for England. Anne says their marriage is a political one. Yet the marriage has not yet been consummated. The king looks at Anne and tells her: "That would fox them. Keep them guessing as to my intensions. . . . Am I married to the German League or am I not?" He laughs about this and so does Anne.
Anne teaches Elizabeth Tudor how to cross-stitch.
Norfolk and his cronies want to break any ties of England with the German League. To do this they must bring town the German princess, the German Alliance and Thomas Cromwell. Their first move will be to attack Robert Barnes.
Anne is expecting a message from her brother in Germany. A man is seen outside the Queen's apartments. Anne and her aide Lotte expect that this is the messenger they are expecting. They invite the outsider in, but he has no message for Anne from her brother. Now the ladies realize that this man is definitely not the messenger. They ask his name. His name is Robert Barnes. A little later, Cromwell comes in. Anne complains that Cromwell is trying to set all the Protestant countries against all the Catholic countries. Cromwell says that in this endeavor he needs the queen's help. He says if she falls, he will fall. And if he falls, she will fall. He goes on to tell Anne that she is married to a monster. The people do not care for him. He goes on to say that he knows he has been speaking treason.
Cromwell says that Anne is the only solution for the peace of England. He tells her that she could be the king's salvation. Anne says the men must give her time. Cromwell and Barnes leave when there is a disturbance at the door. The messenger has arrived from Cleves on behalf of Anne's brother. Henry happens in on Anne and the messenger. She explains the situation but Henry thinks that by meeting alone with a foreign envoy is a sign of treason on the part of the queen. Cromwell reappears to says that Anne did not meet with the messenger. He just stepped out of the room for less than a minute. The foreign messenger turns out to be none other than His Highness the Landgraf of Hesse.
Henry is not amused. He says he wants to know why the Landgraf of Hesse would come in disguise to his wife' apartment, unannounced, and in secret conference with his wife. And he wants to know why his wife would try to hide the man's true identity from her husband. The Landgraf of Hesse says he did not come here in secret. He came to speak to the King of England. He wants to divorce his wife and he wants Henry to tell him how to do it. But before he would go to see the king he wanted to have the support of his German compatriot, the queen. He says he cannot stand up to the Empire as long as he is married to his wife.
Henry tells the man to get himself a mistress. The man from Hesse says he already has taken a mistress, but he can't go on with this because it's a mortal sin. So he consulted Martin Luther, who told him to commit bigamy. So he did commit bigamy, but now with two wives his life is hell and damnation. His situation leaked out and bigamy in the Empire is punishable by death. So, he says: "Either I abandon the Protestant Alliance, or I am executed for bigamy." And now he asks Henry for a way out of this situation. Henry, however, tells the man that he cannot think of a way out for him.
The queen now dismisses Cromwell. Cromwell leaves. He goes to speak with Cranmer. Cromwell feels that Henry will give the order to execute him [Cromwell]. He asks Cranmer to stay until the king leaves the queen tonight. There will be a lady in dire need of comfort from the archbishop.
Henry dines with Anne. She tells the king that they could have their marriage annulled, if they both agree that the marriage was never consummated. She says that the Protestant League will fall apart, so there is no reason for England to have an alliance with the Germans. She says the reasons of their marriage no longer exiss. "Our marriage may be as though it had never been." Henry seems very happy about the annulment of the marriage. But then he throws a wrench into the works. He tells Anne that the problem is that he needs a wife. He says he needs peace and quiet. And he wants Anne to provide him with that peace. He does not want ambitious, greedy men constantly parading beautiful women before him to benefit themselves by hooking the king up with the man's candidate for Henry's wife. He says Anne must save him from this. He calls her his beauty, his queen, his wife. Now Henry falls to sleep.
Now Anne goes out to her patio, sits down and cries. Cranmer is there and tells her not to cry. Anne regains her composure and tells Cranmer to tell Cromwell that his cause is lost. "Tell him to save himself." Cranmer says that Cromwell knows that his death is coming. Anne says Barnes too will die. Cranmer now tells her to go back to Henry.
At the Howard family house at Horsham. At night in the girls' room, Catherine tells her cousin of her love affair with a beautiful, young man. The younger cousin loves hearing about what the couple would do together. They are interrupted by Lady Rochford who has news that Norfolk is headed their way and she will meet the man. Catherine is Norfolk's brother Edmund's daughter. Catherine appears before Norfolk and his mother. Norfolk is very happy with her saying that the young lady has exceeded his hopes and expectations. Norfolk wants to marry Catherine Howard to King Henry, because that would make the Norfolk family the most lpowerful family in all of England. Catherine is very enthused to help her uncle to marry Catherine to the king.
Catherine remembers that her cousin Anne Boleyn was once married to the king. Norfolk says Anne would not take any of their advice and deserved to die. Don't think of her anymore.
Norfolk asks if Catherine would be ruled by him? Yes. Now and after? Yes. Norfolk says he will send for her tomorrow. He speaks of Catherine to his mother: "Poor innocent."
The king tells Norfolk that his leg is as bad as ever, and he is just sick with boredom. Norfolk tells the king that the best remedy is a woman. At first, the king says no, but Norfolk works on him praising beautiful, young women. And Norfolk has just the young woman for him: his niece Catherine Howard. Henry gives in and tells Norfolk to bring Catherine back to court.
Norfolk picks up Catherine and brings her in just as Henry is having his leg wound drained. It seems an inopportune moment for Catherine, but she flatters the king as not being old and then she takes over the wrapping of his wound from the doctors. She is much gentler that the surgeon and really catches the king's interest.
Lady Rochford says that tomorrow Catherine will be the queen of England. And Cromwell will have his head cut off while the king marries Catherine.
Waiting for the wedding, Henry is just delighted and he showers gifts and titles on Norfolk and his cronies and, of course, on Catherine.
On the wedding night, Henry praises Catherine's beauty. He takes off her clothes and is delighted at what he sees.
Master Culpepper is a young man with Norfolk. He has noticed the beauty of Catherine and is in love with her. Catherine noticed him too.
Catherine wakes up. Henry says he wants to apologize to her for last night. He's afraid that he disappointed her. She says she's just a simple, country girl and she knows not what occurs between a man and a woman in bed. Catherine also says that Henry is making a mountain out of a molehill. Nevertheless, Henry asks her to forgive him. That Catherine is one skillful flatterer. And doesn't the king love to be flattered.
When Henry goes away, Catherine starts crying. Lady Rochford urges Catherine to tell her everything that happened last night. Catherine says that she got a close look at the king. She says: "And I was appalled. I had not realized how old he was. . . . His very skin is old, yellowing, scarred, loose and course. He is ugly! His breath is stale! He has no grace anymore! . . . There's only the hulk of an old, fat man."
Culpepper comes into the room and starts gawking at Catherine. Lady Rochford stands in front of him to stop his staring, but Culpepper merely walks around the bed corner to see Catherine clearly.
Francis Dereham waits for Catherine in her bedroom. He was the young man who Catherine had a wild affair with. Dereham says that he is wildly in love with her. But what Dereham wants is to blackmail the queen. He wants a job as her private secretary in exchange for his silence about the summer affair they had.
Henry's horse slipped in the mud and fell on His Majesty's leg. Now he is in terrific pain. Catherine comes in to look after him. Then she tells Henry that she wants Henry's court jester thrown out of the room. She even says she would have him whipped and banished.
That foolish Dereham starts bragging to Culpepper that before Catherine was queen, he knew her very well, indeed. Culpepper says he doesn't believe Dereham, but Dereham insists he is telling the truth. Then Dereham gets a little too specific and Culpepper threatens the man with his sword. Dereham is now very angry with Culpepper. He says that the young man is in love and there's no cure for that. "You will have to burn, Master Culpepper."
Culpepper tells Norfolk about Dereham's bragging. Norfolk now tells Catherine about Dereham's bragging. Catherine denies all of it. Norfolk tells Catherine to keep her private secretary from court completely for half a year or so. Catherine, however, wants Dereham killed. This now makes Norfolk wonder if Dereham has been telling the truth, and he wants an answer from Catherine. He becomes very stern with Catherine and asks if Catherine and Dereham were lovers? She says, yes.
Norfolk says that Catherine must give Henry a son as the only sure-way to protect her. Catherine tells Norfolk that Henry can't give her a son. He is useless in that regard. So Norfolk says she must get pregnant by one of her suitors, and she must do this immediately, because it's either victory or the axe.
Catherine lets Culpepper stay alone with her in her bedroom. Lady Rochford comes in while the two are hugging and kissing. Catherine does not seem afraid of Lady Rochford knowing about the affair. And Lady Rochford acts as if it was all just a little bit of fun for Catherine.
Norfolk gives Stanton the job of tailing Culpepper. He wants to know every place the young man goes between now and when Culpepper leaves tomorrow to takes messages and documents to King Henry.
At night, Lady Rochford bring Culpepper to Catherine. They lay down on the bed. Lady Rochford hangs outside the closed bedroom door and listens to the young lovers laughing together. The Lady leaves and Stanton stands right outside the door.
It's been three months since the king returned to London, and there is no sign that Catherine is pregnant. And yet, the two lovers are becoming more and more reckless and obvious about their love affair. Norfolk tells his mother that if the queen should fall through her own rash behavior, then she must not bring the Howard family down with her. Stanton comes in and says that a priest and two gentlemen, servants of the archbishop, have taken depositions from witnesses among the servants of the Howards at Horsham. And now the archbishop's men are out looking for Dereham. Norfolk looks very uneasy now. He says that he will speak to the king tonight.
The king starts crying after hearing Norfolk's tale about Catherine and her lovers. Henry asks Norfolk what should he do about Catherine? Norfolk says she must go to the block. The other actors in the affairs have been or are being arrested and thrown into the tower. Henry now leaves everything in the hands of Norfolk. When Norfolk leaves, Henry cries out with a big wailing sound.
Norfolk comes to Catherine, telling her that the king has ordered him to arrest her and Lady Rochford and take them to Syon House at once on a charge of high treason.
Culpepper and Dereham have been beaten severely and now await to be executed. Both men are fearing the death to come.
Norfolk warns Catherine that she may see the heads of Dereham and Culpepper impaled upon London Bridge. After the death of Catherine, Norfolk says he will give up some of his offices and responsibilities, leave London for awhile and visit some of his properties in the country.
Henry reads a letter to him from Catherine. He says of her: "Poor innocent." Norfolk says she was corrupt, but Henry says no: "Those around her corrupted her." And now Henry turns his wrath on Norfolk, saying it was he that was the source of the corruption. He gives Norfolk permission to leave immediately with the threat that he better never return to London or the king will be looking at Norfolk's decapitated head. Norfolk leaves as fast as he can.
My Lady Latimer, Cate, comes to see the king. The king tells her she's beautiful, but she does not believe him. The king confirms with the lady that she has no children, but had two husbands. And both husbands were old men. The king knew her father, Thomas Parr of Kendal. Lady Latimer is so serious that she doesn't laugh at the king's jokes. The court jester, however, does laugh, and the king sends him out of the room. Outside Thomas Seymour grabs the court jester and holds a knife to his throat. He wants to know how it went for Lady Latimer and the king? His brother Arthur tells Thomas to release the fool. Thomas releases him. Lady Latimer is their sister. After the fool leaves, Thomas tells Arthur that their sister must marry the king.
Henry bullies the widow asking her dangerous questions like is he old, is he fat, is he ugly? She keeps saying no and he raises his voice at her saying she has no stomach for the truth. She kneels and starts crying because of the badgering. Then the king tries to soothe her. He kneels down to be at her level. He tells her that she must not wear the "weeds" like she has on now. He suggests that she wear colors like gold and scarlet. King Henry says that he feels very alone.
Finally the king asks Lady Latimer to marry him. She hesitates. The king asks her why? She says that she might due better as the king's mistress, rather than his wife.
Gardiner, the Bishop of Winchester, has his men Wriothesley and Chapuys. Winchester likes Lady Latimer as the next queen. He says she's a good and pious woman. Chapuys says he can see Hertford's ambition behind her piety and Cranmer's heresy. Winchester says Chapuys sees all, but understands nothing.
Winchester and his followers speak with the king who is thinking of making an alliance with the Empire against France.
Thomas Seymour comes to see Cate. She knows that Thomas loves her because after she was widowed for a second time, he courted Cate. Nevertheless, Thomas says that if Cate loves him, she will marry the king. He does admit he loves Cate. Now Cate tells him to relax. because she has told the king that she will wed him.
The king marries. And he wants to have sex with Cate. He has to work on her to cooperate with him.
The King, Cate and the Seymour brothers go hunting with the king's falcon. When they come back, Thomas tells Cate that she has certainly put the life back into the king. Cate says that she will not plot for the Seymours. Thomas asks her if she has forgotten that she stands between the Seymours and the Pope-Catholic? Or will she see them burn and do nothing? The Seymours want Edward to take the throne and not Mary, for Mary would bring back Catholicism. Thomas gets down on his one knee to encourage Cate to do their bidding. The king sees this and asks Thomas what form of dalliance is this? Cate intervenes to make an excuse for Thomas. She says Thomas came to her to ask her to speak for him to the king for some post abroad. So Henry now sends Thomas to the Holy Roman Emperor to arrange for sleeping quarters for the English troops going there.
With pulleys and levers the armored king is now placed gently on the saddle on his horse. Henry is going to Flanders [the Dutch-speaking northern section of Belgium]. He urges Cate to take council with Cranmer in the king's absence. He tells the crowd around him that Cate will be in charge in England.
It's been two years that the king has been away. Thomas comes back from the continent saying he has a message from the king for the queen. When he is alone with, he admits he has no real message from the king. He just wanted to see Cate. But he really does have news for Cate. The king will be here the day after tomorrow. Cate is very happy about the news.
Henry comes into the palace yelling for Cate. He hugs his wife, then climbs up on his bed and almost immediately goes to sleep.
At dinner Henry tells Cate that the Emperor cheated him. He has now made an alliance with France so the Emperor can deal with the Lutherans in his lands.
Cate complains that Gardiner (Winchester) burns heretics and with this method strikes at both Cranmer and her. Gardiner has brought several of her ladies-in-waiting before his councils and accused them of keeping forbidden books. And he asked her ladies what books does the queen read? Gardiner now comes to see the king. He says that the Pope is not pleased with what Hertford did to subdue Scotland. The Pope, the Emperor and France may come after England now. The king says he knows this already. Gardiner also wants to examine Cranmer for heresy. The king tells Gardiner to go ahead, but Gardiner better be right about Cranmer.
Cate says she's afraid of Gardiner. And she's afraid that the king will abandon Cramer. The king tells her he's not abandoning Cranmer. In fact, if an allianace of Catholics will come against England, then Henry will need the help of the German Lutherans and Cranmer would be the man best suited to talk to the Lutherans.
Gardiner tortures one of Cate's ladies to get her to confess her sins to him. The woman would rather die than confess. So Gardiner says the woman will burn. Gardiner encourages one of the torturers to tell what has happened to one of Cate's ladies. The man does so and Cate is upset even more.
Cate confronts Gardiner as a real bastard, but that distances her more from Henry, who obviously believes in torture. The king seems a bit paranoid and will tolerate the death of many innocent men and women to satisfy his need for purges of what he sees as his enemies. Cate sounds like Jesus, and Gardiner and the king speak more in league with some type of devil spirit. The king tells Cate to stop arguing with her king. He says that even her pious face offends him. Cate runs off as fast as she can.
Gardiner now goes for the gold ring. He builds a case against the heresy of the queen. He softens the blow by saying the queen has made many "innocent" errors and because of her "innocent" foolishness. The king is merciful. He doesn't want his queen to be questioned by the council, but he believes the poison that Gardiner feeds him. And the king feels so sorry for himself: "Am I ever to be betrayed by those I love?" Poor baby.
Wriothesley tells Gardiner that he goes too far and he doesn't like it. If the king should die, Cranmer and the Seymours will have their heads cut off. Wriothesley wants out, but now Gardiner threatens to have him arrested and burned. Wriothesley has to do what Gardiner commands, namely, to have the queen arrested and taken to the tower.
Wriothesley tells one of Cate's ladies-in-waiting to tell the queen that her life is in danger. The lady tells the queen who doesn't believe it at first. Cranmer comes to see the queen. She has fallen apart with fear. She weeps. He tells her that he and the others who back Cate are depending upon her to be strong and not abandon them. If she does not try to save them, then surely she will be damned for all eternity.
Cate goes to speak with the king, but he just keeps accusing her of doing all kinds of heretical acts, including her trying to instruct her husband and her king. It looks like the queen is going to faint, so Henry instructs the court jester to get her a stool.
Wriothesley is on his way to arrest the queen. Cate, however, just keeps saying to the king that she was totally in the wrong, she never should have contradicted him, etc., etc. So now the king forgives her sand says that she makes him so happy. Wriothesley and his men arrive. The king sees the warrant, takes it out of Wriothesley's hand and tears it up. He then pushes Wriothesley to the ground and starts beating him with his cane. The men run away from the angered king. Now Henry collapses to the floor.
Thomas Seymour comes to see his clique at court. He asks if the king is dead? No. He has been hanging on for three weeks now. Thomas says they control London now. The king has condemned Norfolk to the tower and named Edward his heir. Arthur tells Thomas that the king wants to be buried next to their sister Jane Seymour. Gardiner goes into see the king on his death bed. Always plotting, he tells the king the queen is plotting against him. Henry thinks he's talking about Jane Seymour. Gardiner corrects him with the name of Catherine Parr. The king tells Gardiner to be gone. He then starts chuckling saying: "They'll burn you."
Gardiner doesn't give up easily. He asks to bring in Mary so the king will make her and not Edward the king's successor.
Mary comes in expecting to be made queen, but her father tells her to act toward Edward as his mother and honor him as king. Mary gasps in shock and starts crying. Henry wants his fool to take Mary out of the room for he wants no crying. The king asks God to release him.
Cranmer and Cate come into the room. Henry is still thinking about Jane Seymour. He repeats that the queen is dead. Cate says that she's his wife. She's Cate. He asks Cate to protect his children. He tells everyone in the room to honor this sweet lady as if he still lived. He then asks Cate to kiss him. She does so. She kisses him twice.
The morning dawns. Henry dies with Cranmer as the last man to speak to him. Edward waits with the Seymours. The Seymours say that Edward is the king now. Gardiner very reluctantly bows before Edward along with the other men in the hall. Edward is just a small boy still.
Cate prays. Thomas comes into the room to tell her that the king is dead. Cate says he died five hours ago. Thomas adds that Edward will be under the care of Arthur Seymour. Cate says all the children are afraid of the Seymours. Thomas asks if she is afraid of the Seymours? She says, no, not now.
Thomas says he will wed Cate, but Cate asks if first she might be able to bury her husband, the king? Yes, at her discretion. Cate seems tired, saying: "I've been crucified on duty." She wants to pay some attention now to the duty to herself. Thomas reminds her of her duty to Henry's children, and she knows, that the children fear the Seymours. Cate must take charge over the children and set their fears to rest. Finally, Cate says she will marry Thomas Seymour.
Good movie with lots of historical details about King Henry VIII and each of his six wives. Three of the wives were named Catherine (of Aragon, Howard and Parr), two were named Anne (Boleyn and of Cleves) and one was named Jean (Seymour). As far as his wives were concerned, Henry VIII was often manipulated by desperate, but powerful, men and their women candidates. He is painted as a big sap, not really knowing he was being deliberately manipulated by powerful men and their females. The King seems that without a wife, he cannot really be happy, and everyone knows that the King can easily be manipulated on the marriage question. He had two of his wives have their heads lopped off. No wonder, Queen Elizabeth never married. He never wanted a man to gain so much power over her that he could have her head cut off. In the areas of love and marriage, Henry was pretty bad and unsuccessful. Keith Michell (as Henry VIII) was very good. And man did Keith look ugly under plenty of padding and makeup.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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