List iconHenry VIII:
Act 2, scene 1
List icon

Henry VIII
Act 2, scene 1



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Two stories dominate Henry VIII: the fall of Cardinal Wolsey, Henry’s powerful advisor, and Henry’s quest to divorce Queen Katherine, who…


Act 1, scene 1

The Duke of Buckingham, learning the details of the costly and ultimately fruitless meeting of French and English at the…

Act 1, scene 2

Queen Katherine reveals that Wolsey is heavily taxing the English in the king’s name, and Henry pronounces a pardon to…

Act 1, scene 3

Three courtiers discuss the royal proclamation against young fops who have adopted French manners and dress after returning from France….

Act 1, scene 4

At the supper, Wolsey and his guests are visited by Henry and his courtiers, all disguised as shepherds. Henry dances…

Act 2, scene 1

Buckingham, convicted of treason, is led to execution. He declares his innocence, forgives his enemies, and vows his loyalty to…

Act 2, scene 2

Norfolk, Suffolk, and the Lord Chamberlain join in denouncing Wolsey. They hold him responsible for dividing Henry from Katherine, and…

Act 2, scene 3

Anne Bullen pities Katherine, now threatened with divorce. The Lord Chamberlain enters to announce that Henry has created Anne marchioness…

Act 2, scene 4

At the trial, Katherine refuses to have the validity of her marriage judged by the church court, given Wolsey’s malice…

Act 3, scene 1

Wolsey and Campeius visit Katherine to persuade her to contest the divorce no longer.

Act 3, scene 2

Courtiers assemble to discuss Wolsey’s sudden fall from Henry’s favor, Henry’s marriage to Anne Bullen, and plans for her coronation….

Act 4, scene 1

The procession returns from Anne’s coronation, which is then described by a gentleman who was in attendance.

Act 4, scene 2

The dying Princess Dowager Katherine and her attendant Griffith provide contrasting accounts of the character of the newly dead Wolsey….

Act 5, scene 1

The new archbishop of Canterbury, Cranmer, is under attack because his religious beliefs seem heretical. The king, after receiving news…

Act 5, scene 2

Cranmer suffers the public humiliation of being locked out of a Privy Council meeting. Allowed in, he is then threatened…

Act 5, scene 3

A porter and his assistant fight to control the crowd determined to view the royal daughter’s christening.

Act 5, scene 4

At Princess Elizabeth’s christening, Cranmer prophesies a magnificent reign for the future Queen Elizabeth I and an equally successful one…

Act 5, epilogue

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Scene 1
Enter two Gentlemen at several doors.

 Whither away so fast?
SECOND GENTLEMAN  O, God save you.
 E’en to the Hall to hear what shall become
 Of the great Duke of Buckingham.
FIRST GENTLEMAN 5 I’ll save you
 That labor, sir. All’s now done but the ceremony
 Of bringing back the prisoner.
SECOND GENTLEMAN  Were you there?
 Yes, indeed was I.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 10 Pray speak what has happened.
 You may guess quickly what.
SECOND GENTLEMAN  Is he found guilty?
 Yes, truly, is he, and condemned upon ’t.
 I am sorry for ’t.
FIRST GENTLEMAN 15 So are a number more.
SECOND GENTLEMAN But pray, how passed it?
 I’ll tell you in a little. The great duke
 Came to the bar, where to his accusations

Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 1

 He pleaded still not guilty and alleged
20 Many sharp reasons to defeat the law.
 The King’s attorney on the contrary
 Urged on the examinations, proofs, confessions
 Of divers witnesses, which the Duke desired
 To him brought viva voce to his face;
25 At which appeared against him his surveyor,
 Sir Gilbert Peck his chancellor, and John Car,
 Confessor to him, with that devil monk,
 Hopkins, that made this mischief.
30 That fed him with his prophecies?
 All these accused him strongly, which he fain
 Would have flung from him, but indeed he could not.
 And so his peers upon this evidence
35 Have found him guilty of high treason. Much
 He spoke, and learnèdly, for life, but all
 Was either pitied in him or forgotten.
 After all this, how did he bear himself?
 When he was brought again to th’ bar to hear
40 His knell rung out, his judgment, he was stirred
 With such an agony he sweat extremely
 And something spoke in choler, ill and hasty.
 But he fell to himself again, and sweetly
 In all the rest showed a most noble patience.
45 I do not think he fears death.
FIRST GENTLEMAN  Sure he does not;
 He never was so womanish. The cause
 He may a little grieve at.
50 The Cardinal is the end of this.

Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 1

 By all conjectures; first, Kildare’s attainder,
 Then Deputy of Ireland, who, removed,
 Earl Surrey was sent thither, and in haste too,
55 Lest he should help his father.
SECOND GENTLEMAN  That trick of state
 Was a deep envious one.
FIRST GENTLEMAN  At his return
 No doubt he will requite it. This is noted,
60 And generally: whoever the King favors,
 The Card’nal instantly will find employment,
 And far enough from court too.
SECOND GENTLEMAN  All the commons
 Hate him perniciously and, o’ my conscience,
65 Wish him ten fathom deep. This duke as much
 They love and dote on, call him bounteous
 The mirror of all courtesy.
FIRST GENTLEMAN  Stay there, sir,
70 And see the noble ruined man you speak of.

Enter Buckingham from his arraignment, Tipstaves before
him, the ax with the edge towards him, Halberds on each
side, accompanied with Sir Thomas Lovell, Sir Nicholas
Vaux, Sir Walter Sands, and Common People, etc.

 Let’s stand close and behold him.
BUCKINGHAM  All good people,
 You that thus far have come to pity me,
 Hear what I say, and then go home and lose me.
75 I have this day received a traitor’s judgment,
 And by that name must die. Yet heaven bear witness,
 And if I have a conscience, let it sink me
 Even as the ax falls, if I be not faithful!
 The law I bear no malice for my death;
80 ’T has done, upon the premises, but justice.
 But those that sought it I could wish more Christian.

Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Be what they will, I heartily forgive ’em.
 Yet let ’em look they glory not in mischief,
 Nor build their evils on the graves of great men,
85 For then my guiltless blood must cry against ’em.
 For further life in this world I ne’er hope,
 Nor will I sue, although the King have mercies
 More than I dare make faults. You few that loved me
 And dare be bold to weep for Buckingham,
90 His noble friends and fellows, whom to leave
 Is only bitter to him, only dying,
 Go with me like good angels to my end,
 And as the long divorce of steel falls on me,
 Make of your prayers one sweet sacrifice,
95 And lift my soul to heaven.—Lead on, a’ God’s name.
 I do beseech your Grace, for charity,
 If ever any malice in your heart
 Were hid against me, now to forgive me frankly.
 Sir Thomas Lovell, I as free forgive you
100 As I would be forgiven. I forgive all.
 There cannot be those numberless offenses
 ’Gainst me that I cannot take peace with. No black
 Shall make my grave. Commend me to his Grace.
105 And if he speak of Buckingham, pray tell him
 You met him half in heaven. My vows and prayers
 Yet are the King’s and, till my soul forsake,
 Shall cry for blessings on him. May he live
 Longer than I have time to tell his years.
110 Ever beloved and loving may his rule be;
 And when old Time shall lead him to his end,
 Goodness and he fill up one monument!
 To th’ waterside I must conduct your Grace,
 Then give my charge up to Sir Nicholas Vaux,
115 Who undertakes you to your end.

Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 1

VAUX, calling as to Officers offstage  Prepare there!
 The Duke is coming. See the barge be ready,
 And fit it with such furniture as suits
 The greatness of his person.
BUCKINGHAM 120 Nay, Sir Nicholas,
 Let it alone. My state now will but mock me.
 When I came hither, I was Lord High Constable
 And Duke of Buckingham; now, poor Edward Bohun.
 Yet I am richer than my base accusers,
125 That never knew what truth meant. I now seal it,
 And with that blood will make ’em one day groan for ’t.
 My noble father, Henry of Buckingham,
 Who first raised head against usurping Richard,
 Flying for succor to his servant Banister,
130 Being distressed, was by that wretch betrayed,
 And, without trial, fell. God’s peace be with him.
 Henry the Seventh, succeeding, truly pitying
 My father’s loss, like a most royal prince
 Restored me to my honors and out of ruins
135 Made my name once more noble. Now his son,
 Henry the Eighth, life, honor, name, and all
 That made me happy at one stroke has taken
 Forever from the world. I had my trial,
 And must needs say a noble one, which makes me
140 A little happier than my wretched father.
 Yet thus far we are one in fortunes: both
 Fell by our servants, by those men we loved most—
 A most unnatural and faithless service.
 Heaven has an end in all; yet, you that hear me,
145 This from a dying man receive as certain:
 Where you are liberal of your loves and counsels
 Be sure you be not loose; for those you make friends
 And give your hearts to, when they once perceive
 The least rub in your fortunes, fall away
150 Like water from you, never found again

Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 1

 But where they mean to sink you. All good people,
 Pray for me. I must now forsake you. The last hour
 Of my long weary life is come upon me.
 Farewell. And when you would say something that
155 is sad,
 Speak how I fell. I have done; and God forgive me.
Duke and train exit.
 O, this is full of pity, sir! It calls,
 I fear, too many curses on their heads
 That were the authors.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 160 If the Duke be guiltless,
 ’Tis full of woe. Yet I can give you inkling
 Of an ensuing evil, if it fall,
 Greater than this.
FIRST GENTLEMAN  Good angels keep it from us!
165 What may it be? You do not doubt my faith, sir?
 This secret is so weighty ’twill require
 A strong faith to conceal it.
FIRST GENTLEMAN  Let me have it.
 I do not talk much.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 170 I am confident;
 You shall, sir. Did you not of late days hear
 A buzzing of a separation
 Between the King and Katherine?
FIRST GENTLEMAN  Yes, but it held not;
175 For when the King once heard it, out of anger
 He sent command to the Lord Mayor straight
 To stop the rumor and allay those tongues
 That durst disperse it.
SECOND GENTLEMAN  But that slander, sir,
180 Is found a truth now, for it grows again
 Fresher than e’er it was, and held for certain
 The King will venture at it. Either the Cardinal,
 Or some about him near, have, out of malice

Henry VIII
ACT 2. SC. 2

 To the good queen, possessed him with a scruple
185 That will undo her. To confirm this too,
 Cardinal Campeius is arrived, and lately,
 As all think, for this business.
FIRST GENTLEMAN  ’Tis the Cardinal;
 And merely to revenge him on the Emperor
190 For not bestowing on him at his asking
 The archbishopric of Toledo this is purposed.
 I think you have hit the mark. But is ’t not cruel
 That she should feel the smart of this? The Cardinal
 Will have his will, and she must fall.
FIRST GENTLEMAN 195 ’Tis woeful.
 We are too open here to argue this.
 Let’s think in private more.
They exit.