List iconHenry VIII:
Act 5, scene 2
List icon

Henry VIII
Act 5, scene 2



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 2
Enter Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. (Pages,
Footboys, Grooms, and other servants attend at the
Council door.)

 I hope I am not too late, and yet the gentleman
 That was sent to me from the Council prayed me
 To make great haste.He tries the door.
 All fast? What means this? Ho!
5 Who waits there?

Enter Keeper.

 Sure you know me!
KEEPER  Yes, my lord,
 But yet I cannot help you.
10 Your Grace must wait till you be called for.

Henry VIII
ACT 5. SC. 2

Enter Doctor Butts.

BUTTS, aside 
 This is a piece of malice. I am glad
 I came this way so happily. The King
 Shall understand it presently.Butts exits.
CRANMER, aside 15 ’Tis Butts,
 The King’s physician. As he passed along
 How earnestly he cast his eyes upon me!
 Pray heaven he sound not my disgrace. For certain
 This is of purpose laid by some that hate me—
20 God turn their hearts! I never sought their malice—
 To quench mine honor. They would shame to make me
 Wait else at door, a fellow councillor,
 ’Mong boys, grooms, and lackeys. But their pleasures
 Must be fulfilled, and I attend with patience.

Enter the King and Butts at a window above.

25 I’ll show your Grace the strangest sight.
KING  What’s that,
 I think your Highness saw this many a day.
 Body o’ me, where is it?
BUTTS 30 There, my lord:
 The high promotion of his Grace of Canterbury,
 Who holds his state at door, ’mongst pursuivants,
 Pages, and footboys.
KING  Ha! ’Tis he indeed.
35 Is this the honor they do one another?
 ’Tis well there’s one above ’em yet. I had thought
 They had parted so much honesty among ’em—
 At least good manners—as not thus to suffer

Henry VIII
ACT 5. SC. 2

 A man of his place, and so near our favor,
40 To dance attendance on their Lordships’ pleasures,
 And at the door, too, like a post with packets.
 By holy Mary, Butts, there’s knavery!
 Let ’em alone, and draw the curtain close.
 We shall hear more anon.They draw the curtain.

A council table brought in with chairs and stools and
placed under the state. Enter Lord Chancellor, places
himself at the upper end of the table on the left hand, a
seat being left void above him, as for Canterbury’s seat.
Duke of Suffolk, Duke of Norfolk, Surrey, Lord
Chamberlain, Gardiner seat themselves in order on each
side, Cromwell at lower end as secretary.

45 Speak to the business, Master Secretary.
 Why are we met in council?
CROMWELL  Please your honors,
 The chief cause concerns his Grace of Canterbury.
 Has he had knowledge of it?
NORFOLK, to Keeper  Who waits there?
 Without, my noble lords?
KEEPER  My lord Archbishop,
55 And has done half an hour, to know your pleasures.
 Let him come in.
KEEPER, at door  Your Grace may enter now.
Cranmer approaches the council table.
 My good lord Archbishop, I’m very sorry
 To sit here at this present and behold
60 That chair stand empty. But we all are men,

Henry VIII
ACT 5. SC. 2

 In our own natures frail, and capable
 Of our flesh—few are angels—out of which frailty
 And want of wisdom you, that best should teach us,
 Have misdemeaned yourself, and not a little,
65 Toward the King first, then his laws, in filling
 The whole realm, by your teaching and your
 For so we are informed—with new opinions,
 Divers and dangerous, which are heresies
70 And, not reformed, may prove pernicious.
 Which reformation must be sudden too,
 My noble lords; for those that tame wild horses
 Pace ’em not in their hands to make ’em gentle,
 But stop their mouths with stubborn bits, and spur ’em
75 Till they obey the manage. If we suffer,
 Out of our easiness and childish pity
 To one man’s honor, this contagious sickness,
 Farewell, all physic. And what follows then?
 Commotions, uproars, with a general taint
80 Of the whole state, as of late days our neighbors,
 The upper Germany, can dearly witness,
 Yet freshly pitied in our memories.
 My good lords, hitherto, in all the progress
 Both of my life and office, I have labored,
85 And with no little study, that my teaching
 And the strong course of my authority
 Might go one way and safely; and the end
 Was ever to do well. Nor is there living—
 I speak it with a single heart, my lords—
90 A man that more detests, more stirs against,
 Both in his private conscience and his place,
 Defacers of a public peace than I do.
 Pray heaven the King may never find a heart

Henry VIII
ACT 5. SC. 2

 With less allegiance in it! Men that make
95 Envy and crookèd malice nourishment
 Dare bite the best. I do beseech your Lordships
 That, in this case of justice, my accusers,
 Be what they will, may stand forth face to face
 And freely urge against me.
SUFFOLK 100 Nay, my lord,
 That cannot be. You are a councillor,
 And by that virtue no man dare accuse you.
 My lord, because we have business of more moment,
 We will be short with you. ’Tis his Highness’ pleasure,
105 And our consent, for better trial of you
 From hence you be committed to the Tower,
 Where, being but a private man again,
 You shall know many dare accuse you boldly—
 More than, I fear, you are provided for.
110 Ah, my good Lord of Winchester, I thank you.
 You are always my good friend. If your will pass,
 I shall both find your Lordship judge and juror,
 You are so merciful. I see your end:
 ’Tis my undoing. Love and meekness, lord,
115 Become a churchman better than ambition.
 Win straying souls with modesty again;
 Cast none away. That I shall clear myself,
 Lay all the weight you can upon my patience,
 I make as little doubt as you do conscience
120 In doing daily wrongs. I could say more,
 But reverence to your calling makes me modest.
 My lord, my lord, you are a sectary.
 That’s the plain truth. Your painted gloss discovers,
 To men that understand you, words and weakness.

Henry VIII
ACT 5. SC. 2

125 My Lord of Winchester, you’re a little,
 By your good favor, too sharp. Men so noble,
 However faulty, yet should find respect
 For what they have been. ’Tis a cruelty
 To load a falling man.
GARDINER 130 Good Master Secretary—
 I cry your Honor mercy—you may worst
 Of all this table say so.
CROMWELL  Why, my lord?
 Do not I know you for a favorer
135 Of this new sect? You are not sound.
CROMWELL  Not sound?
 Not sound, I say.
CROMWELL  Would you were half so honest!
 Men’s prayers then would seek you, not their fears.
140 I shall remember this bold language.
 Remember your bold life too.
CHANCELLOR  This is too much!
 Forbear, for shame, my lords.
GARDINER 145 I have done.
CHANCELLOR, to Cranmer 
 Then thus for you, my lord: it stands agreed,
 I take it, by all voices, that forthwith
 You be conveyed to th’ Tower a prisoner,
150 There to remain till the King’s further pleasure
 Be known unto us.—Are you all agreed, lords?
 We are.
CRANMER  Is there no other way of mercy
 But I must needs to th’ Tower, my lords?

Henry VIII
ACT 5. SC. 2

GARDINER 155 What other
 Would you expect? You are strangely troublesome.
 Let some o’ th’ guard be ready there.

Enter the Guard.

CRANMER  For me?
 Must I go like a traitor thither?
GARDINER 160 Receive him,
 And see him safe i’ th’ Tower.
CRANMER  Stay, good my lords,
 I have a little yet to say. Look there, my lords.
He holds out the ring.
 By virtue of that ring, I take my cause
165 Out of the grips of cruel men and give it
 To a most noble judge, the King my master.
 This is the King’s ring.
SURREY  ’Tis no counterfeit.
 ’Tis the right ring, by heaven! I told you all,
170 When we first put this dangerous stone a-rolling,
 ’Twould fall upon ourselves.
NORFOLK  Do you think, my lords,
 The King will suffer but the little finger
 Of this man to be vexed?
CHAMBERLAIN 175 ’Tis now too certain.
 How much more is his life in value with him!
 Would I were fairly out on ’t!
CROMWELL  My mind gave me,
 In seeking tales and informations
180 Against this man, whose honesty the devil
 And his disciples only envy at,
 You blew the fire that burns you. Now, have at you!

Enter King, frowning on them; takes his seat.

Henry VIII
ACT 5. SC. 2

 Dread sovereign, how much are we bound to heaven
 In daily thanks, that gave us such a prince,
185 Not only good and wise, but most religious;
 One that in all obedience makes the Church
 The chief aim of his honor, and to strengthen
 That holy duty out of dear respect,
 His royal self in judgment comes to hear
190 The cause betwixt her and this great offender.
 You were ever good at sudden commendations,
 Bishop of Winchester. But know I come not
 To hear such flattery now, and in my presence
 They are too thin and base to hide offenses.
195 To me you cannot reach. You play the spaniel,
 And think with wagging of your tongue to win me;
 But whatsoe’er thou tak’st me for, I’m sure
 Thou hast a cruel nature and a bloody.—
 Good man, sit down.Cranmer takes his seat.
200 Now let me see the proudest
 He, that dares most, but wag his finger at thee.
 By all that’s holy, he had better starve
 Than but once think this place becomes thee not.
 May it please your Grace—
KING 205 No, sir, it does not please
 I had thought I had had men of some understanding
 And wisdom of my Council, but I find none.
 Was it discretion, lords, to let this man,
210 This good man—few of you deserve that title—
 This honest man, wait like a lousy footboy
 At chamber door? And one as great as you are?
 Why, what a shame was this! Did my commission
 Bid you so far forget yourselves? I gave you
215 Power as he was a councillor to try him,

Henry VIII
ACT 5. SC. 2

 Not as a groom. There’s some of you, I see,
 More out of malice than integrity,
 Would try him to the utmost, had you mean,
 Which you shall never have while I live.
CHANCELLOR 220 Thus far,
 My most dread sovereign, may it like your Grace
 To let my tongue excuse all. What was purposed
 Concerning his imprisonment was rather,
 If there be faith in men, meant for his trial
225 And fair purgation to the world than malice,
 I’m sure, in me.
KING  Well, well, my lords, respect him.
 Take him, and use him well; he’s worthy of it.
 I will say thus much for him: if a prince
230 May be beholding to a subject, I
 Am, for his love and service, so to him.
 Make me no more ado, but all embrace him.
 Be friends, for shame, my lords.
They embrace Cranmer.
 My Lord of Canterbury,
235 I have a suit which you must not deny me:
 That is, a fair young maid that yet wants baptism.
 You must be godfather and answer for her.
 The greatest monarch now alive may glory
 In such an honor. How may I deserve it,
240 That am a poor and humble subject to you?
KING Come, come, my lord, you’d spare your spoons.
 You shall have two noble partners with you: the
 old Duchess of Norfolk and Lady Marquess Dorset.
 Will these please you?—
245 Once more, my lord of Winchester, I charge you,
 Embrace and love this man.
GARDINER  With a true heart
 And brother-love I do it.He embraces Cranmer.

Henry VIII
ACT 5. SC. 3

CRANMER, weeping  And let heaven
250 Witness how dear I hold this confirmation.
 Good man, those joyful tears show thy true heart.
 The common voice, I see, is verified
 Of thee, which says thus: “Do my Lord of Canterbury
 A shrewd turn, and he’s your friend forever.”—
255 Come, lords, we trifle time away. I long
 To have this young one made a Christian.
 As I have made you one, lords, one remain.
 So I grow stronger, you more honor gain.
They exit.