Henry VIII and His Six Wives s01e03 Episode Script

Jane Seymour & Anne of Cleeves

Henry VIII is the most Infamous monarch in English history.
I, Katherine I, Anne, take thee, Henry, to be my husband.
I do.
Famously, over his 38-year reign he married six times.
Divorced, Beheaded, Died Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.
But the women Henry married were more than just six wives.
They were the six queens.
The six queens were formidable individuals.
Some were ambitious, some brave, some ruthless.
All changed history.
They shaped the man who became the monster, and in turn they shaped England itself.
But who were these women? What drove them? And what was it really like to be married to Henry VIII? In this series we'll dissect these marriages from the rival perspectives of Henry and his Queens.
- I will call you Henry.
We'll uncover the passions that created them, the obsessions that darkened them and the betrayals that brought them to an end.
This time Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour, has often been overlooked but Henry called her his true love.
She fought to teach Henry the importance of family.
But Sire, she is your daughter.
Do you not think she should be restored to her former position as heir? I am warning you not to get involved in matters that do not concern you.
She battled to reunite him with his daughter and Jane gave Henry the one thing he desired above all else - a son and heir.
I have a son.
But Henry's greatest love was snapped from him in a cruel twist of fate.
I feel myself growing old.
And injury, death and betrayal transformed the once powerful king into a bitter and angry old tyrant.
Stop this marriage.
And Henry made his most disastrous marriage yet - to Anne of Cleves.
I take thee to be my wedded wife.
In 1536, Henry VIII was 44 years old.
He'd divorced one wife and his second, Anne Boleyn was in the Tower of London, awaiting execution.
Anne had been accused of sleeping with 5 other men including her own brother, George Boleyn.
Guilty! And Henry's best friend, Henry Norris.
Guilty! Anne's infidelity utterly humiliated Henry and cast doubt over his sexual prowess.
While Anne sat in the Tower, Henry immediately set about finding her replacement.
One woman that caught the king's eye was Jane Seymour.
Jane Seymour was around 24 years old.
She'd come to court to serve first Katherine of Aragon and then Anne Boleyn.
She was described by many as being kind and sweet natured she was virtuous and honest and above all unassuming.
In April 1536, Henry had sent Jane a letter.
We think it contained a summons to the royal bed, but Jane sent it back unopened.
And told the messenger that she wanted to make an honourable marriage.
Jane's display of virtue had stirred Henry's chivalrous side and aroused his desire and his recent years and wives had shown, once Henry set his mind on having something he was prepared to do absolutely anything to get it.
Henry began to court Jane in earnest.
It seems even before Anne Boleyn had been executed Henry had her fined up to be wife number 3.
And King Henry didn't have to wait long to make her his queen.
On May 19th, 1536, Anne Boleyn was taken to Tower Green.
As she stood before her executioner.
Anne still hoped Henry would show her mercy.
After all, he'd once sworn his undying love for her.
But Anne was out of luck.
Henry had already switched his affections to Jane Seymour and the two were busy making plans for their future together.
Less than 24 hours after Anne's head hit the cobblestones Henry and Jane were engaged to be married.
We've no record of how Jane reacted to the news that Anne had been beheaded but I don't think it could have concerned her too much for she showed no hesitation in stepping over the body of her rival to get to the throne.
Jane may have looked inoffensive, but I think she had a far steelier streak than anyone realised.
Just 11 days after Anne's beheading.
Henry and Jane married.
The King was deeply in love again.
Not everyone shared Henry's high opinion of Jane.
The Spanish ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, was mystified by the King's choice.
He wrote in a letter of May 1536 that Jane was a woman of middle stature and no great beauty she's over 25 years old, she inclines to be proud and haughty and she's a woman of no great wit.
So why did Henry consider Jane to be good wife material? Especially after he'd previously been married to two attractive, extraordinary and intelligent women.
I think Jane suited Henry precisely because she was the polar opposite of his last two wives.
He didn't need her to be as experienced and intelligent as Katherine or as sophisticated and witty as Anne.
He didn't want her to challenge him.
Instead he saw a woman who'd be compassionate and loyal and above all, who'd do whatever he told her, without question.
In May 1536, 44-year-old Henry VIII took Jane Seymour to be his third wife.
Henry chose Jane because he thought she was sweet natured, mild mannered and above all, she would do what he told her without question.
But Henry was in for a surprise.
Beneath her submissive exterior.
Jane had a core of steel.
There is evidence that Jane planned to use her royal influence to advance a cause that she held very dear.
She wanted Henry to reinstate Mary, his daughter by Katherine of Aragon back into the court and into his affections.
Henry had once loved his daughter Mary but when she was around 17, he divorced her mother, Katherine.
He declared Mary illegitimate and, under the influence of Anne Boleyn he stripped her of the title Princess.
Mary was now 20 years old and a lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn 's daughter, Elizabeth.
Jane Seymour took the risky decision to fight for Mary to be restored as a princess.
No, I will not tell you again.
But Sire, she is your daughter.
Challenging Henry was an incredibly dangerous thing to do - he hated being questioned, especially by a woman.
Do you not think she should be restored to her former position as heir? I am warning you not to get involved in matters that do not concern you.
But Sire, I speak only what is right - Jane, you are a fool.
You should seek the advancement the children we'll have together, not the others.
But by asking for your daughter's restoration, I seek peace and happiness for you, for us and for our future children.
I fear if you don't do this, you will never be happy.
Sire, please.
Get up, Jane! I beg you, restore Mary.
Stop this! Look, I'm warning you the last queen that interfered in matters that were none of her business died as a consequence.
Get up! Get up! Get up! I will hear no more.
Jane knew how risky voicing her opinions could be.
She 'd seen first hand how ruthlessly Henry had dealt with his previous wives.
So why was Jane putting herself in such jeopardy for a child that wash 't even hers? We may never know why Jane did such a selfless act, but I think he shows her true character.
Jane was kind, good natured, and compassionate and she'd been a supporter of Katherine of Aragon so she deeply cared about how cruelly Mary had been treated.
Even though the risks involved were enormous, Jane believed that she was doing the right thing.
On the 6th of July 1536, Henry finally did as Jane had asked.
He agreed to meet Mary.
My daughter.
This was the first time Henry had seen Mary in 5 years.
She who caused you so much harm and prevented me from seeing you for so long has paid the penalty.
Jane also welcomed Mary into the family with open arms.
She treated her as if she were her own daughter.
Jane had brought Henry the greatest gift of all - he had never been so happy.
But Henry's good fortune was not to last.
He'd gained a daughter, but in less than a month.
He lost his only son.
The illegitimate Henry Fitzroy.
Fitzroy's death was a terrible blow.
Although he was illegitimate, the king had begun to think of him as a possible successor but not any more.
27 years and 3 wives into his reign and still Henry had no male heir.
He began to lose hope.
Henry had only been married to Jane for 2 months but he was already convinced his dynasty was doomed to fail.
We know that the depths of Henry's despair because he confided his anxiety to his close friend and most trusted adviser.
Thomas Cromwell.
These are his exact words.
I feel myself growing old.
I doubt if Jane and myself will ever have children.
Cromwell may have caught Henry at a low point but it tell us just how fragile the King was starting to feel.
His health was failing.
His masculinity was increasingly discredited.
In his darkest moments, Henry was starting to sound like a bitter, angry old man.
For Henry all seemed lost.
But 7 months later, the king's fortunes changed.
this was the news Henry had been waiting for.
In September 1537, Jane was moved to Hampton Court Palace to have her baby.
The room were she was brought is in the centre of the Palace.
It's now closed to the public, but I've been given special permission to have a look around.
This is the room in Hampton Court where Jane was confined in late September 1537.
It's now romantically known as apartment 33 and it looks very different to how it must have looked in the 1530s.
But imagine; the walls were hung with precious tapestries, the floors were covered with thick carpets.
One window was probably left partially uncovered to allow in a little light but it would have been dark and suffocating.
Fresh air was considered unnecessary, even dangerous.
Inside the room, Jane had a small army of people to serve her.
Henry made sure she had the best care money could buy.
He would do anything to protect his wife and their unborn child.
The royal doctors and astrologers confidently predicted the child would be a boy but the royal birth was a long way off and there was plenty of danger still to come.
On October 9th 1537.
Jane went into labour but things did not run smoothly.
After 2 days, there was still no sign of a baby.
Henry grew more and more anxious as the days passed.
He and the whole kingdom prayed for Queen Jane and their future monarch.
Henry feared that history was repeating itself.
And once again his child would not survive the birth.
Then on the third day of labour.
At 2 o'clock in the morning, Jane finally gave birth.
And just as the royal doctors predicted.
It was a boy.
Jane must have been elated - she had finally given Henry what he wanted and in return the birth had given her security.
Safety and power.
She could do anything, ask for anything and Henry would almost certainly give it to her.
Henry VIII finally had a legitimate son and heir.
He called Jane his true love and his true wife.
This was what all the upheaval, the trouble, the misery and the slaughter of the last 10 years had been leading up to.
Now at last, he was a King with a male heir.
And if Jane could have one son.
There was no reason why she couldn't have more.
It looked like Henry's Tudor dynasty was finally secure.
Plans were drawn up for Queen Jane to return to London the triumphant mother of a future King of England.
But those plans would have to wait.
On Monday October 15th.
3 days after giving birth, Jane fell seriously iii.
She had caught an infection during labour, probably caused by poor hygiene.
For the next 9 days, Jane fought for her life.
It was a fight she would not win.
Around midnight on October 24th 1537.
Jane Seymour died.
Jane's reign lasted just 17 months.
It was short-lived but incredibly successful.
She proved herself to be a compassionate queen and a loving wife.
The Tudor court underestimated Jane, but she was the queen who gave Henry a son and helped reunite him with his daughter.
Over the course of his reign, Henry had done some terrible things but he'd also had to endure some pretty rotten luck: the deaths of his children, the perceived betrayals of his last wife and now in what should have been his moment of greatest triumph he had to endure another of fate's stabs to the heart.
It's impossible not to feel at least a pang of sympathy for him.
Henry was inconsolable after Jane's death.
He locked himself away from court and mourned.
For 2 years, he did little exercise, he ate, drank and buried himself in religious texts and prayers.
We are by the sufferance of God King of England and Kings of England in time past have never had any superior but God.
For the first time, Henry was alone without a future wife waiting in the wings.
In fact, Henry was reluctant to ever marry again.
Henry's unwillingness to take a new bride was a matter of real concern to his ministers.
His Privy Council had advised him to marry again days after Jane's death but it wasn't just about producing new heirs, England needed an ally.
Marriage was now a political necessity.
When Henry broke Eng/and from Catholic rule, the Pope made him public enemy number one.
Your Majesty And commanded that his kingdom should be invaded.
It fell to Henry's close friend, Thomas Cromwell to convince the king to marry again.
England needed an ally.
My Lord, time is not on our side.
We are vulnerable to our enemies overseas; a marriage could strengthen our position.
With your permission, I can instruct my people to make enquiries.
I am sure I can find a suitable match.
Must it be done? I think so, Sire.
Henry reluctantly agreed to Cromwell's request but finding the old king a new queen wasn't going to be an easy task.
3 years earlier, Henry had a horrific Jousting accident.
The fall nearly killed him and had left him with a deep, open wound on his leg which was now riddled with infection, and stank.
Henry was no longer the great catch he once was.
Henry was 48, he was fat, he was lame and he had a notoriously bad temper and his wives didn't exactly have a great record when it came to staying alive.
But after scouring Europe for possible brides Cromwell settled on the small, but potentially influential Duchy of Cleves in what's now Northern Germany.
The Duke of Cleves had a 24-year-old sister called Anne.
Cromwell believed a marriage to Anne would give England the strong ally it needed but what Henry cared about most was how Anne looked.
If Cromwell was to make a match, he needed to convince Henry that Anne was attractive.
In August 1539, Cromwell wrote to Henry singing Anne's praises.
He described her as beautiful, both the face and body.
Cromwell 's description aroused Henry's interest.
He ordered Court painter, Hans Holbein, to travel to Cleves to paint her portrait.
This is a copy of the painting Holbein made; the original hangs in the Louvre in Paris.
Now, to the modern eye, Anne looks perfectly pleasant.
There were rumours that Holbein chose to paint her from the front because she had rather a large nose but to be honest we have no idea how true that is or what Henry's first reaction was when he saw this.
What we do know is that this painting and the compliments passed by Cromwell to the king convinced Henry that Anne would make a fine bride.
He agreed to marry her.
On October 4th 1539, Cromwell 's agents negotiated Henry's marriage contract.
On New Year's Eve 1539.
Henry VIII 's bride to be, Anne of Cleves arrived here at Rochester Castle in Kent.
The plan was for her to rest for a few days before entering London and marrying Henry.
But Henry was desperate to see his future wife, especially after hearing Cromwell's glowing reports.
So in a fit of passion, he decided to ride to Rochester and surprise her.
It was to be a big mistake.
On New Year's Day, the castle was bustling with life.
Anne stood on her own looking out of the window.
Henry was a die-hard romantic and he planned to surprise Anne by appearing before her in disguise.
Henry lived and breathed chivalry.
Tales and games involving knights, maidens and daring do were incredibly popular entertainment as his Court.
Henry believed if Anne was his true love, then she would see straight through his disguise and a kiss from his lips would make her fall into his arms.
My Lady.
Anne had no clue that the man who stood before her was King Henry VIII.
I have a gift from the king.
My Lady.
All the women of Henry's court would have known instantly how to react to Henry's romantic gesture but Anne wasn't educated in this world of romance.
She was a simple girl who'd led a relatively sheltered life in a parochial court.
Anne had failed Henry's love test and he was furious.
He instantly rejected his bride to be, claiming she was fat and ugly.
He believed he'd been duped into the marriage contract.
He turned on the man he felt responsible - his close friend and advisor, Thomas Cromwell.
Your Majesty.
My Lord.
What did you make of Lady Anne? She is not as well as she was spoken of or as fair as you reported.
My faith Sire, I told the truth, I thought the Lady Anne had queenly manner.
Well, you were wrong! I am shocked that a wise man like yourself would make such claims.
Find me a remedy.
I don't care how you do it - by all means necessary stop this marriage! Leave me.
Leave me! With the royal wedding scheduled to take place in less than a week Cromwell needed to act quickly.
It wasn't going to be easy.
The contract to be married that Cromwell had arranged was a legally binding agreement.
Henry's lawyer would have to use all his cunning to avoid offending Anne's brother.
England didn't need any more enemies.
While Cromwell plotted in private, Anne had no idea how Henry felt about her.
But the kings court loved nothing more than juicy scandal and rumours soon spread.
It wasn't long before the whole court was gossiping about the royal farce.
The only person who wasn't in on the joke was Anne herself.
She didn't speak a word of English, so she was spared the humiliating truth.
While many laughed, one man didn't see the funny side Thomas Cromwell.
He could find no legitimate reason to break the marriage contract.
His master would have to marry Anne, like it or not.
Is there no other remedy other than I just against my will put my neck in the yolk? I am sorry, Sire, there are no legal grounds.
If it were not for the fear of making a ruffle in the world and driving Anne's brother into the hands of my enemies I would not do what I must.
I am sorry, Sire.
Cromwell had failed.
He probably hoped against hope that Henry would change his mind and that the marriage would work out.
On Tuesday January 6th 1540, King Henry stood in a small, private chapel in Greenwich Palace waiting to marry Anne of Cleves.
To add insult to injury, his bride was 2 hours late for the ceremony.
I take thee to be my wedded wife to have and to hold from this day forward As Henry said his vows, his blood must have boiled, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health But the King didn't let on.
- Till death do us part.
And thereto I plight thee my troth.
Anne still didn't have a clue.
I, Anne, take thee, Henry, to be my wedded husband to have and to hold For Anne, this was a moment of great triumph.
Henry may have been fat and old, but he was still one the greatest kings in Europe and Anne would now be queen in one of the most sophisticated courts around a far cry from the provincial court she had left behind.
With this ring, I thee wed.
With my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
I now pronounce you man and wife.
Those whom God has joined, let no man put asunder.
Cromwell must have prayed that now Henry and Anne were married the king would change his mind about his new bride.
Good morning, Your Majesty.
How did you like the queen, Your Majesty? Soberly.
I didn't like it much before and now I like it even less.
Judging by her belly and her breasts, she is no virgin.
After I felt them I had neither the will nor the courage to continue.
I have left her as good a maid as I found her.
Clearly, this marriage was not going to work.
Anne of Cleves had to go.
The question was how to do it.
Just 6 months into his marriage to Anne, a rumour started to circulate court that Henry had recovered his vigour but it wasn't in his wife's bed it was in her maid 's.
Henry had fallen for the beautiful Catherine Howard, Anne's teenage Lady-in-Waiting And now the old king was planning to make Catherine wife number 5.
Henry refused to allow the farce of his marriage to continue a moment longer.
Fortunately, he found a way to end it with the law, rather than the sword.
When Anne of Cleves was 12, she'd been betrothed to the son of the Duke of Lorraine.
Now the wedding had never happened and the agreement had been cancelled but the papers proving it had gone missing so Henry's lawyers were able to argue that his marriage to Anne was invalid and any future children they might have would be illegitimate.
What is the meaning of this? So far Anne was oblivious to Henry's scheme but that changed in July 1540.
What is this? Anne was informed that Henry was concerned about her previous marriage contract to the son of the Duke of Lorraine and for that reason, he intended to have their marriage annulled.
What? What contract? Anne argued that there was no deception and that she had been free to marry Henry but there was little she could do.
At first Anne refused to agree to the annulment but then Henry offered her a very attractive deal.
She would stop being Henry's wife but she would be honoured as his sister.
Being the King's sister meant that she would have precedence over all the ladies of the court except any future queen.
He also gave her a lucrative sum and a clutch of houses.
Importantly this meant that Anne was spared the utter humiliation of returning home the poor rejected wife of a king.
Anne also knew that being the king's sister was a far better fate than that which befell both Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn.
On Sunday 11th of July, Anne wrote to the King "your most Excellent Majesty I've been informed by certain others of Your Grace's council of the doubts and questions which have been moved and found in our marriage.
" and then she says, "but having been ascertained by the same clergy that they have given their judgement and sentence I acknowledge myself hereby to accept and approve the same wholly and entirely And what is their sentence? She states it: "the pretended matrimony between us is void and of null effect".
So what Anne is saying is that she accepts this judgement on her fate she accepts that the marriage is invalid and to make the point really clear she signs off the letter "Your Majesty's most humble sister and servant, Anne".
There's a very sad tone to the letter.
Anne talks of being most sorrowful and of the great love, which she bears to the King - she clearly didn't want the marriage to end.
It brought her purpose and prestige, but Anne was smart enough to figure out that her best possible future lay in accepting Henry's demands.
On July 21st Anne sent Henry the letter along with a small purse containing her wedding ring.
She asked Henry to break the ring into pieces as it was a thing of no force or value.
For Henry, Anne's easy submission must have been a little surprising.
He probably expected her to put up more of a fight.
After all it had taken him nearly 7 years to shake off his first wife, Katherine of Aragon.
He got rid of Anne in less than 3 weeks.
Before Henry put this chapter of his life behind him he sought revenge against the man he felt responsible for this disastrous marriage.
Henry believed his once trusted friend Thomas Cromwell, had failed him and now he must suffer the consequences.
Cromwell was arrested on the 10th of June 1540 and thrown into the Tower of London.
He was found guilty of treason, heresy, taking bribes and appropriating money.
He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
Terrified, Cromwell wrote to Henry pleading for mercy.
Most gracious king and most merciful sovereign.
Never in all my life did I think to displease you.
I have meddled in so many matters, I cannot answer all.
Cromwell begged the man who had been his close friend for the last 7 years to spare him.
Most gracious prince I cry for mercy.
On July 28th 1540, Cromwell was taken to the public scaffold at Tower Hill.
Henry did show Cromwell some mercy.
He commuted his sentence from a stow and painful disembowelling to beheading.
But according to some reports, Cromwell 's death was neither quick nor painless.
It's believed the executioner botched his first attempt.
He had to take a second swing to finish the job.
With Cromwell dead and Anne's settlement paid Henry's fourth marriage came to an end.
Altogether Henry VIII's marriages to Jane Seymour and then to Anne of Cleves had lasted less than 2 years, but both had a profound effect on the king.
Jane Seymour gave Henry VIII the son and heir he'd been searching for.
Anne's queenship brought about the execution of Thomas Cromwell one of the most powerful men in Tudor England.
Henry had gone from utter joy to total humiliation and his reaction to this fiasco drove him to make his worst decision yet.