List iconHenry VIII:
Act 3, scene 1
List icon

Henry VIII
Act 3, 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 Queen and her Women, as at work.

 Take thy lute, wench. My soul grows sad with troubles.
 Sing, and disperse ’em if thou canst. Leave working.
WOMAN sings song. 

 Orpheus with his lute made trees
 And the mountaintops that freeze
5  Bow themselves when he did sing.
 To his music plants and flowers
 Ever sprung, as sun and showers
  There had made a lasting spring.

 Everything that heard him play,
10 Even the billows of the sea,
  Hung their heads and then lay by.
 In sweet music is such art,
 Killing care and grief of heart
  Fall asleep or, hearing, die.

Enter a Gentleman.

 An ’t please your Grace, the two great cardinals
 Wait in the presence.
QUEEN KATHERINE  Would they speak with me?

Henry VIII
ACT 3. SC. 1

 They willed me say so, madam.
QUEEN KATHERINE 20 Pray their Graces
 To come near.Gentleman exits.
 What can be their business
 With me, a poor weak woman, fall’n from favor?
 I do not like their coming, now I think on ’t.
25 They should be good men, their affairs as righteous.
 But all hoods make not monks.

Enter the two Cardinals, Wolsey and Campeius.

WOLSEY  Peace to your Highness.
 Your Graces find me here part of a housewife;
 I would be all, against the worst may happen.
30 What are your pleasures with me, reverend lords?
 May it please you, noble madam, to withdraw
 Into your private chamber, we shall give you
 The full cause of our coming.
QUEEN KATHERINE  Speak it here.
35 There’s nothing I have done yet, o’ my conscience,
 Deserves a corner. Would all other women
 Could speak this with as free a soul as I do.
 My lords, I care not, so much I am happy
 Above a number, if my actions
40 Were tried by ev’ry tongue, ev’ry eye saw ’em,
 Envy and base opinion set against ’em,
 I know my life so even. If your business
 Seek me out, and that way I am wife in,
 Out with it boldly. Truth loves open dealing.
WOLSEY 45Tanta est erga te mentis integritas, regina

QUEEN KATHERINE O, good my lord, no Latin!
 I am not such a truant since my coming

Henry VIII
ACT 3. SC. 1

 As not to know the language I have lived in.
50 A strange tongue makes my cause more strange,
 Pray speak in English. Here are some will thank you,
 If you speak truth, for their poor mistress’ sake.
 Believe me, she has had much wrong. Lord Cardinal,
55 The willing’st sin I ever yet committed
 May be absolved in English.
WOLSEY  Noble lady,
 I am sorry my integrity should breed—
 And service to his Majesty and you—
60 So deep suspicion, where all faith was meant.
 We come not by the way of accusation,
 To taint that honor every good tongue blesses,
 Nor to betray you any way to sorrow—
 You have too much, good lady—but to know
65 How you stand minded in the weighty difference
 Between the King and you, and to deliver,
 Like free and honest men, our just opinions
 And comforts to your cause.
CAMPEIUS  Most honored madam,
70 My Lord of York, out of his noble nature,
 Zeal, and obedience he still bore your Grace,
 Forgetting, like a good man, your late censure
 Both of his truth and him—which was too far—
 Offers, as I do, in a sign of peace,
75 His service and his counsel.
QUEEN KATHERINE, aside  To betray me.—
 My lords, I thank you both for your good wills.
 You speak like honest men; pray God you prove so.
 But how to make you suddenly an answer
80 In such a point of weight, so near mine honor—
 More near my life, I fear—with my weak wit,
 And to such men of gravity and learning,
 In truth I know not. I was set at work

Henry VIII
ACT 3. SC. 1

 Among my maids, full little, God knows, looking
85 Either for such men or such business.
 For her sake that I have been—for I feel
 The last fit of my greatness—good your Graces,
 Let me have time and counsel for my cause.
 Alas, I am a woman friendless, hopeless.
90 Madam, you wrong the King’s love with these fears;
 Your hopes and friends are infinite.
 But little for my profit. Can you think, lords,
 That any Englishman dare give me counsel,
95 Or be a known friend, ’gainst his Highness’ pleasure,
 Though he be grown so desperate to be honest,
 And live a subject? Nay, forsooth. My friends,
 They that must weigh out my afflictions,
 They that my trust must grow to, live not here.
100 They are, as all my other comforts, far hence
 In mine own country, lords.
CAMPEIUS  I would your Grace
 Would leave your griefs and take my counsel.
105 Put your main cause into the King’s protection.
 He’s loving and most gracious. ’Twill be much
 Both for your honor better and your cause,
 For if the trial of the law o’ertake you,
 You’ll part away disgraced.
WOLSEY 110 He tells you rightly.
 You tell me what you wish for both: my ruin.
 Is this your Christian counsel? Out upon you!
 Heaven is above all yet; there sits a judge
 That no king can corrupt.
CAMPEIUS 115 Your rage mistakes us.

Henry VIII
ACT 3. SC. 1

 The more shame for you! Holy men I thought you,
 Upon my soul, two reverend cardinal virtues;
 But cardinal sins and hollow hearts I fear you.
 Mend ’em, for shame, my lords. Is this your comfort?
120 The cordial that you bring a wretched lady,
 A woman lost among you, laughed at, scorned?
 I will not wish you half my miseries;
 I have more charity. But say I warned you:
 Take heed, for heaven’s sake, take heed, lest at once
125 The burden of my sorrows fall upon you.
 Madam, this is a mere distraction.
 You turn the good we offer into envy.
 You turn me into nothing! Woe upon you
 And all such false professors. Would you have me—
130 If you have any justice, any pity,
 If you be anything but churchmen’s habits—
 Put my sick cause into his hands that hates me?
 Alas, has banished me his bed already,
 His love, too, long ago. I am old, my lords,
135 And all the fellowship I hold now with him
 Is only my obedience. What can happen
 To me above this wretchedness? All your studies
 Make me a curse like this.
CAMPEIUS  Your fears are worse.
140 Have I lived thus long—let me speak myself,
 Since virtue finds no friends—a wife, a true one—
 A woman, I dare say without vainglory,
 Never yet branded with suspicion—
 Have I with all my full affections
145 Still met the King, loved him next heav’n, obeyed him,
 Been, out of fondness, superstitious to him,
 Almost forgot my prayers to content him,

Henry VIII
ACT 3. SC. 1

 And am I thus rewarded? ’Tis not well, lords.
 Bring me a constant woman to her husband,
150 One that ne’er dreamed a joy beyond his pleasure,
 And to that woman, when she has done most,
 Yet will I add an honor: a great patience.
 Madam, you wander from the good we aim at.
 My lord, I dare not make myself so guilty
155 To give up willingly that noble title
 Your master wed me to. Nothing but death
 Shall e’er divorce my dignities.
WOLSEY  Pray hear me.
 Would I had never trod this English earth
160 Or felt the flatteries that grow upon it!
 You have angels’ faces, but heaven knows your hearts.
 What will become of me now, wretched lady?
 I am the most unhappy woman living.
 To her Women. Alas, poor wenches, where are now
165 your fortunes?
 Shipwracked upon a kingdom where no pity,
 No friends, no hope, no kindred weep for me,
 Almost no grave allowed me, like the lily
 That once was mistress of the field and flourished,
170 I’ll hang my head and perish.
WOLSEY  If your Grace
 Could but be brought to know our ends are honest,
 You’d feel more comfort. Why should we, good lady,
 Upon what cause, wrong you? Alas, our places,
175 The way of our profession, is against it.
 We are to cure such sorrows, not to sow ’em.
 For goodness’ sake, consider what you do,
 How you may hurt yourself, ay, utterly
 Grow from the King’s acquaintance by this carriage.

Henry VIII
ACT 3. SC. 2

180 The hearts of princes kiss obedience,
 So much they love it. But to stubborn spirits
 They swell and grow as terrible as storms.
 I know you have a gentle, noble temper,
 A soul as even as a calm. Pray think us
185 Those we profess: peacemakers, friends, and servants.
 Madam, you’ll find it so. You wrong your virtues
 With these weak women’s fears. A noble spirit,
 As yours was put into you, ever casts
 Such doubts, as false coin, from it. The King loves
190 you;
 Beware you lose it not. For us, if you please
 To trust us in your business, we are ready
 To use our utmost studies in your service.
 Do what you will, my lords, and pray forgive me
195 If I have used myself unmannerly.
 You know I am a woman, lacking wit
 To make a seemly answer to such persons.
 Pray do my service to his Majesty.
 He has my heart yet and shall have my prayers
200 While I shall have my life. Come, reverend fathers,
 Bestow your counsels on me. She now begs
 That little thought, when she set footing here,
 She should have bought her dignities so dear.
They exit.