Henry VIII


Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V

Trumpets, sennet, and cornets. Enter two Vergers,

with short silver wands; next them two Scribes, in

the habit of doctors; after them, the Archbishop of

Canterbury alone; after him, the Bishops of Lincoln,

Ely, Rochester, and Saint Asaph; next them, with

some small distance, follows a Gentleman bearing the

purse, with the great seal, and a cardinal's hat; then

two Priests bearing each a silver cross; then Griffith,

a Gentleman Usher, bare-headed, accompanied with a

Sergeant-at-Arms bearing a silver mace; then two

Gentlemen bearing two great silver pillars; after

them, side by side, the two Cardinals; two noblemen

with the sword and mace. The King takes place under

the cloth of state. The two Cardinals sit under him as

judges. The Queen takes place some distance from the

King. The Bishops place themselves on each side the

court in manner of a consistory; below them, the

Scribes. The Lords sit next the Bishops. The rest of the

attendants stand in convenient order about the stage


Whilst our commission from Rome is read,
consistory (n.) 1 ecclesiastical court
habit (n.) 1 dress, clothing, costume See Topics: Frequency count
purse (n.) 2 bag containing the great seal
state (n.) 9 [also: cloth of state] canopy over a chair of state

Let silence be commanded.


                         What's the need?

It hath already publicly been read,

And on all sides th' authority allowed.

You may then spare that time.


                         Be't so, proceed.


Say, ‘ Henry, King of England, come into the



Henry, King of England, come into the court.




Say ‘ Katherine, Queen of England, come into the



Katherine, Queen of England, come into the court.

The Queen makes no answer, rises out of her chair,

goes about the court, comes to the King, and kneels at

his feet; then speaks


Sir, I desire you do me right and justice,

And to bestow your pity on me; for

I am a most poor woman, and a stranger,
stranger (n.) foreigner, alien, outsider

Born out of your dominions, having here
dominion (n.) land, territory, province

No judge indifferent, nor no more assurance
indifferent (adj.) 1 impartial, unbiased, neutral

Of equal friendship and proceeding. Alas, sir,
equal (adj.) 1 fair, equitable, evenhanded

In what have I offended you? What cause

Hath my behaviour given to your displeasure,

That thus you should proceed to put me off
put off (v.) 1 dismiss, brush aside, spurn

And take your good grace from me? Heaven witness,
grace (n.) 1 honour, favour, recognition, respect

I have been to you a true and humble wife,

At all times to your will conformable,
conformable (adj.) compliant, submissive, tractable

Ever in fear to kindle your dislike,

Yea, subject to your countenance, glad or sorry
countenance (n.) 2 expression, look, face
sorry (adj.) 1 sorrowful, painful, sad, pitiable

As I saw it inclined. When was the hour

I ever contradicted your desire,

Or made it not mine too? Or which of your friends

Have I not strove to love, although I knew

He were mine enemy? What friend of mine

That had to him derived your anger did I
derive (v.) 4 bring down [on], direct [to]

Continue in my liking, nay, gave notice
continue (v.) 2 retain, carry on with, preserve

He was from thence discharged? Sir, call to mind

That I have been your wife in this obedience

Upward of twenty years, and have been blessed

With many children by you. If, in the course

And process of this time, you can report,

And prove it too, against mine honour aught,
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count

My bond to wedlock, or my love and duty

Against your sacred person, in God's name

Turn me away, and let the foul'st contempt

Shut door upon me, and so give me up

To the sharp'st kind of justice. Please you, sir,

The King your father was reputed for

A prince most prudent, of an excellent

And unmatched wit and judgement. Ferdinand
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

My father, King of Spain, was reckoned one

The wisest prince that there had reigned, by many

A year before. It is not to be questioned
question (v.) 1 dispute, quarrel [over], call in question

That they had gathered a wise council to them

Of every realm, that did debate this business,

Who deemed our marriage lawful. Wherefore I humbly

Beseech you, sir, to spare me, till I may

Be by my friends in Spain advised, whose counsel

I will implore. If not, I'th' name of God,

Your pleasure be fulfilled.


                         You have here, lady,

And of your choice, these reverend fathers, men

Of singular integrity and learning,

Yea, the elect o'th' land, who are assembled

To plead your cause. It shall be therefore bootless
bootless (adj.) useless, worthless, fruitless, unavailing

That longer you desire the court, as well

For your own quiet, as to rectify
quiet (n.) calmness, peace of mind, serenity

What is unsettled in the King.
unsettled (adj.) 1 disturbed, troubled; also: unresolved, unfixed


                         His grace

Hath spoken well and justly. Therefore, madam,

It's fit this royal session do proceed,
session, sessions (n.) judicial assembly, trial, court

And that without delay their arguments

Be now produced and heard.


                         Lord Cardinal,

To you I speak.


                         Your pleasure, madam.



I am about to weep; but, thinking that

We are a queen, or long have dreamed so, certain

The daughter of a king, my drops of tears

I'll turn to sparks of fire.


                         Be patient yet.


I will, when you are humble; nay, before,

Or God will punish me. I do believe,

Induced by potent circumstances, that

You are mine enemy, and make my challenge
challenge (n.) 2 legal objection

You shall not be my judge; for it is you

Have blown this coal betwixt my lord and me –

Which God's dew quench! Therefore I say again,

I utterly abhor, yea, from my soul
abhor (v.) 3 reject, protest against, refuse

Refuse you for my judge, whom yet once more

I hold my most malicious foe, and think not

At all a friend to truth.
profess (v.) 1 declare, avow, affirm


                         I do profess

You speak not like yourself, who ever yet

Have stood to charity and displayed th' effects
stand to (v.) 1 maintain, uphold, be steadfast in

Of disposition gentle and of wisdom
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

O'ertopping woman's power. Madam, you do me wrong:
overtop (v.) excel, surpass, go beyond the (normal) level of

I have no spleen against you, nor injustice
spleen (n.) 2 irritability, malice, bad temper

For you or any. How far I have proceeded,

Or how far further shall, is warranted
warrant (v.) 2 authorize, sanction, license

By a commission from the consistory,
consistory (n.) 1 ecclesiastical court

Yea, the whole consistory of Rome. You charge me

That I have blown this coal. I do deny it.

The King is present. If it be known to him

That I gainsay my deed, how may he wound,
gainsay (v.) 3 deny, renounce, disown

And worthily, my falsehood – yea, as much
falsehood (n.) 1 disloyalty, treachery, faithlessness

As you have done my truth. If he know
truth (n.) 1 loyalty, allegiance, faithfulness

That I am free of your report, he knows
free (adj.) 5 innocent, guiltless

I am not of your wrong. Therefore in him
wrong (n.) 1 dishonour, discredit, harm

It lies to cure me, and the cure is to

Remove these thoughts from you; the which before

His highness shall speak in, I do beseech

You, gracious madam, to unthink your speaking
unthink (v.) remove from one's thoughts

And to say so no more.


                         My lord, my lord,

I am a simple woman, much too weak

T' oppose your cunning. You're meek and humble-mouthed;

You sign your place and calling, in full seeming,
full (adj.) 1 whole, entire, complete
seeming (n.) 2 deceptive appearance, two-faced behaviour, pretence
sign (v.) 2 display, signify, advertise

With meekness and humility; but your heart

Is crammed with arrogancy, spleen, and pride.
arrogancy (n.) arrogance
spleen (n.) 2 irritability, malice, bad temper

You have, by fortune and his highness' favours,

Gone slightly o'er low steps, and now are mounted
slightly (adv.) 2 easily, with little effort

Where powers are your retainers, and your words,
power (n.) 5 exercise of power, authoritative action

Domestics to you, serve your will as't please
domestic (n.) servant, slave

Yourself pronounce their office. I must tell you,
office (n.) 2 role, position, place, function

You tender more your person's honour than
tender (v.) 3 rate, esteem, regard

Your high profession spiritual, that again

I do refuse you for my judge, and here,

Before you all, appeal unto the Pope,

To bring my whole cause 'fore his holiness,

And to be judged by him.

She curtsies to the King, and offers to depart
offer (v.) 1 attempt, start, try, make a move


                         The Queen is obstinate,

Stubborn to justice, apt to accuse it, and
accuse (v.) object to, find fault with, impugn
apt (adj.) 2 prompt, quick, ready
stubborn (adj.) 1 resistant, hostile, antagonistic

Disdainful to be tried by't; 'tis not well.

She's going away.


Call her again.


Katherine, Queen of England, come into the court.


Madam, you are called back.


What need you note it? Pray you keep your way;
keep your way keep going, don't stop
note (v.) 1 observe, pay attention [to], take special note [of]

When you are called, return. Now the Lord help!

They vex me past my patience. Pray you, pass on.
pass (v.) 4 advance, move on, proceed

I will not tarry; no, nor ever more
tarry (v.) 1 stay, remain, linger

Upon this business my appearance make

In any of their courts.

Exeunt the Queen and her attendants
ways, go thy / your 2 carry on, go ahead


                         Go thy ways, Kate.

That man i'th' world who shall report he has

A better wife, let him in nought be trusted
false (adv.) 3 wrongly, erroneously, in error

For speaking false in that. Thou art alone –

If thy rare qualities, sweet gentleness,
rare (adj.) 1 marvellous, splendid, excellent

Thy meekness saint-like, wife-like government,
government (n.) 2 self-control, self-discipline, moral conduct

Obeying in commanding, and thy parts
part (n.) 1 quality, attribute, gift, accomplishment [of mind or body]

Sovereign and pious else, could speak thee out –
speak out (v.) declare, manifest, display

The queen of earthly queens. She's noble born,

And like her true nobility she has

Carried herself towards me.
carry (v.) 7 conduct, comport, present


                         Most gracious sir,

In humblest manner I require your highness
require (v.) 1 request, ask, beg

That it shall please you to declare in hearing

Of all these ears – for where I am robbed and bound,

There must I be unloosed, although not there

At once and fully satisfied – whether ever I

Did broach this business to your highness, or
broach (v.) 2 raise, introduce into conversation

Laid any scruple in your way which might
scruple (n.) 4 objection, difficulty, doubt

Induce you to the question on't, or ever

Have to you, but with thanks to God for such

A royal lady, spake one the least word that might

Be to the prejudice of her present state,

Or touch of her good person?
touch (v.) 9 stain, taint, infect


                         My lord Cardinal,

I do excuse you; yea, upon mine honour,

I free you from't. You are not to be taught

That you have many enemies that know not

Why they are so, but, like to village curs,
like to / unto (conj./prep.) similar to, comparable with

Bark when their fellows do. By some of these

The Queen is put in anger. You're excused.

But will you be more justified? You ever

Have wished the sleeping of this business, never desired

It to be stirred, but oft have hindered, oft,
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

The passages made toward it. On my honour,
passage (n.) 1 incident, occurrence, event, happening

I speak my good lord Cardinal to this point,
speak to bear witness to, attest, support

And thus far clear him. Now, what moved me to't,

I will be bold with time and your attention.

Then mark th' inducement. Thus it came – give heed to't:
inducement (n.) 1 influential reason, persuasive cause
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

My conscience first received a tenderness,

Scruple, and prick, on certain speeches uttered
scruple (n.) 2 suspicion, misgiving, doubt

By th' Bishop of Bayonne, then French ambassador,

Who had been hither sent on the debating

A marriage 'twixt the Duke of Orleans and

Our daughter Mary. I'th' progress of this business,

Ere a determinate resolution, he –
determinate (adj.) 2 conclusive, definitive, decisive

I mean the Bishop – did require a respite,
require (v.) 1 request, ask, beg
respite (n.) 1 extent of time, time-scale

Wherein he might the King his lord advertise
advertise, advertize (v.) 1 make aware, inform, notify; warn

Whether our daughter were legitimate,

Respecting this our marriage with the dowager,
respecting (prep.) 2 with regard to, with reference to

Sometimes our brother's wife. This respite shook
sometimes (adv.) formerly, once, at one time, previously

The bosom of my conscience, entered me,
bosom (n.) 1 heart, inner person

Yea, with a spitting power, and made to tremble
spitting (adj.) piercing, penetrating, impaling

The region of my breast; which forced such way

That many mazed considerings did throng
considering (n.) consideration, reflection, brooding
mazed (adj.) bewildered, confused, perplexed

And pressed in with this caution. First, methought
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count
press (v.) 2 push forward, thrust, come / go boldly

I stood not in the smile of heaven, who had

Commanded nature that my lady's womb,

If it conceived a male child by me, should

Do no more offices of life to't than
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count

The grave does to th' dead; for her male issue

Or died where they were made, or shortly after
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

This world had aired them. Hence I took a thought

This was a judgement on me, that my kingdom,

Well worthy the best heir o'th' world, should not

Be gladded in't by me. Then follows that
glad (v.) 1 gladden, brighten, cause to rejoice

I weighed the danger which my realms stood in
weigh (v.) 2 consider, take into account

By this my issue's fail, and that gave to me
fail (n.) 1 failure [to comply with], lack
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

Many a groaning throe. Thus hulling in
hull (v.) lie, float, drift [with sails furled]

The wild sea of my conscience, I did steer

Toward this remedy, whereupon we are

Now present here together; that's to say,

I meant to rectify my conscience, which

I then did feel full sick, and yet not well,
full (adv.) 2 very, exceedingly, extremely

By all the reverend fathers of the land

And doctors learned. First I began in private

With you, my lord of Lincoln. You remember

How under my oppression I did reek
reek (v.) 2 break into a sweat, perspire

When I first moved you.
move (v.) 6 raise an issue [with], mention a matter [to]


                         Very well, my liege.


I have spoke long; be pleased yourself to say

How far you satisfied me.


                         So please your highness,

The question did at first so stagger me –

Bearing a state of mighty moment in't
state (n.) 1 condition, circumstances, situation, state of affairs

And consequence of dread – that I committed

The daring'st counsel which I had to doubt,
doubt (n.) 3 question, difficulty, hesitation [over]

And did entreat your highness to this course
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count

Which you are running here.
move (v.) 6 raise an issue [with], mention a matter [to]


                         I then moved you,

My lord of Canterbury, and got your leave

To make this present summons. Unsolicited

I left no reverend person in this court,

But by particular consent proceeded

Under your hands and seals. Therefore, go on,

For no dislike i'th' world against the person

Of the good Queen, but the sharp thorny points

Of my alleged reasons, drive this forward.
alleged (adj.) cited in court, proposed, offered

Prove but our marriage lawful, by my life

And kingly dignity, we are contented
contented (adj.) 1 willing, ready, agreeable

To wear our mortal state to come with her,
mortal (adj.) 2 human, subject to death, characterized by mortality
state (n.) 6 kingship, majesty, sovereignty

Katherine our Queen, before the primest creature
primest (n./adj.) best, finest, most supreme

That's paragoned o'th' world.
paragon (v.) 1 compare, match, place side by side


                         So please your highness,

The Queen being absent, 'tis a needful fitness
fitness (n.) 1 proper behaviour, appropriate conduct
needful (adj.) 1 necessary, needed, indispensable

That we adjourn this court till further day.

Meanwhile must be an earnest motion

Made to the Queen to call back her appeal

She intends unto his holiness.



                         I may perceive

These Cardinals trifle with me. I abhor

This dilatory sloth and tricks of Rome.

My learned and well-beloved servant, Cranmer,

Prithee return. With thy approach I know

My comfort comes along. (to them) Break up the court;

I say, set on.
set on (v.) 2 go forward, advance, proceed

Exeunt in manner as they entered

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