Alice’s Restaurant

March 25, 2007

Mr. Al’s first Tudor Thingy

Filed under: Guest Blogs, Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 11:20 am

It occurs to me that some of you may not have seen Mr. Al’s first post, which he put in FanLit Forever instead of sending to me, his dear wife who specifically asked for it.  So here it is:


I don’t know what happened, I’ve been possessed by an imp or something. No one is willing to talk movies so now you all are gonna get a history lesson! You brought it on yourselves. Grin

The Henry story went like this. Henry was married to Catherine of Aragon. From Henrys viewpoint, things just weren’t working out. He sought an annulment on the grounds that the marriage wasn’t legal from the get -go because Catherine was the widow of his older brother. The Bible, Henry pointed out, forbade such a union. The fact that this was pointed out to Henry, repeatedly, by influential persons, before he married her only convinced Henry that he was onto a winning strategy.

But there was a hitch.

His problem with Catherine was that she had not, and apparently could not, produce a male heir. This was a pet project of Henry’s that he was, perhaps, a bit more attached too than was wise. They did have a child, a girl, Mary. But that wasn’t good enough for Henry. He wanted a son.
He wanted to put Catherine aside in favor of a woman who could give what he wanted.
Henry was so fixated on a male heir that he had apparently forgotten that girls could become supreme monarchs. There had never before been an English queen as sole monarch, but there was no law against it. As there was in France. A lot of people seemed to have overlooked that legal tidbit. But there was one fellow who hadn’t.

Charles the V had ascended the throne of Holy Roman Emperor. Charles was also Catherine’s nephew. While he bore his aunt no great affection, he WAS rather attached to the idea of her remaining queen. Should Henry choke on his roast beef during one of his legendary food orgies, his cousin Mary would become Supreme Monarch of England. There was a first time for everything, Charles reasoned. And he had English law on his side. Even if the English didn’t realize it. Charles was opposed to a divorce. In a perfect world this would not have mattered because Charles was only an emperor, not the Pope. And the Pope was the fellow Henry had to win over.

But there was a hitch.

Pope Clement the VII was a reasonable man on the issue of royal divorces. Henry also had a legal precedent on his side in the form of the divorce of Louis the XII of France and Margaret of Scotland. With the other issues, Cardinal Wolsey assured Henry, that the whole matter was a done deal. And not a moment too soon for Henry, because he had his eye on a Sweet Young Thing he had met in France.

Anne Boleyn has been portrayed by historians as everything from a complete naïf who got in over her head, to an arch-schemer who seduced Henry and manipulated him to her own ends. Neither is true. She met Henry while serving as a lady in waiting to the queen of France The occasion was the meeting of Henry and King Francis on the Field of Cloth of Gold. The meeting was held in the hope that it would reduce tensions between England and France, so they could concentrate on that pushy emperor, Charles.

She must have had something special to have caught Henry’s attention. Perhaps her witty repartee,
“Oh Henry, you scoundrel, is that a cod in your codpiece, or are you just happy to see me?”
(She didn’t really say that.)
But catch his attention she did! And Henry convinced himself that she was the ticket to the boy babies he wanted so badly. All he had to do was get rid of Cathy. And that’s where the hitch developed. Pope Clement was ready to fix things, but before he could, King Francis and Charles got into a spat. Clement backed Francis, Francis lost. Charles invaded Italy and made his army at home outside the Vatican. OOPS. At this point, Cardinal Wolsey sends a friendly letter to Clement reminding him to take care of the little matter they had discussed earlier. This put Clement in a very uncomfortable position. I imagine the conversation went something like this;

I know you object to Henry divorcing your aunt. I understand completely! Believe me, no one hates divorce like I do! But in this one instance, perhaps you could see your way clear too…


The thing is, we’re all adults here. Let’s be reasonable and admit to certain realities…

(At this point one of Cement’s servants plummets past his office window, screaming the whole way. There is a dull thud. The screaming stops.)

Who knew the Vatican could be such a dangerous place? What were you saying, Pope?


Henry didn’t get what he wanted from the Vatican. This was an unpleasant surprise for Henry. It was even more unpleasant for Cardinal Wolsey, who had staked everything, and I do mean everything, on securing the divorce for Henry. With the divorce off, Wolsey was not only out of a job, he was living on borrowed time. And with Wolsey out of the way, the anti-ecclesiastical party suddenly found itself coming in from the cold. They had a plan, a rather bold plan, that would not only secure Henry the divorce he wanted, but destroy the influence of the Catholic Church in England forever.
These gentlemen were Protestants. What Henry gave them underlines the adage; “Be careful what you wish for.”

I hope you enjoyed this little history lesson. I left rather a lot of detail out, couldn’t be helped. Had I gone into detail it would have taken up more space than anyone would be comfortable with. As a postscript, let me just add, Henry married Anne, She did not produce the boy he wanted, they had a girl, Elizabeth. Henry was not pleased and chopped Anne’s head off so he could try again with another hapless female. And the rest is history.

Thank you Mr. Al



  1. Thanks Mr. Al — now, I’m off to read the sequel!

    Comment by Ericka Scott — March 26, 2007 @ 9:26 am

  2. Indeed. Thank you, Mr. Al (and thanks to you for sharing him with us!)

    Comment by Chris — March 27, 2007 @ 5:59 pm

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