Characters in the 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
’Tis ten to one this play can never please
All that are here. Some come to take their ease
And sleep an act or two—but those, we fear,
We’ve frighted with our trumpets; so, ’tis clear,
5 They’ll say ’tis naught—others, to hear the city
Abused extremely and to cry “That’s witty!”—
Which we have not done neither—that I fear
All the expected good we’re like to hear
For this play at this time is only in
10 The merciful construction of good women,
For such a one we showed ’em. If they smile
And say ’twill do, I know within a while
All the best men are ours; for ’tis ill hap
If they hold when their ladies bid ’em clap.