Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Last week, I was listening to a bit of the commentary for Edward the King, done by the director of the series, Timothy West who plays Edward/Bertie and Annette Crosbie who played Queen Victoria. I had thought she did a good job as Queen Victoria, and knew that she had gotten a BAFTA (British Academy Award) for her role and she mentioned that she had also gotten one for her role as Catherine of Aragon in The Six Wives of Henry VIII. So I decided to see if Netflix had it and indeed they did. It was a series done in 1970, five years before she played Queen Victoria. She was rather good in it as well.

Most of what I know about Henry VIII I have learned from TV shows, reading up on him and the time period and asking my dad (the history buff) questions. I've yet to read Alison Weir's book on the subject, but it is supposed to be good. Suffice it to say that I, like a lot of people, seem to know a lot about the first two queens and almost nothing about the following four. I feel kind of sorry for Catherine because first she is to wed Henry's brother Arthur and she is married to him for a very short period of time and then has to wait a further six years before she marries Henry. Once they are married, they seem to be happy and he loves her and his daughter. But once he sees Anne Bolelyn, everything starts going haywire. I mean how would you feel if the husband you loved and had been with nearly twenty years suddenly decides he doesn't love you anymore and that your marriage isn't valid because you were his brother's wife?! I would be outraged and she was too! I was raised Episcopalian, so I know all about the Anglican Church. I believe that the Catholic Church was corrupt back in Henry's time, but I don't think that wanting to have a public mistress-to-be-queen is the right reason for separating from the Catholic Church and forming your own because you want to have your own way. And then he goes and puts her on trial on made-up charges and has her beheaded.

Since the first episode was so interesting, I decided to watch the rest of the series, minus the Anne Bolelyn episode. I know that Jane Seymour, his third wife, gave him his legal male heir Edward. He really seemed to love Jane and her influence over the king allowed for Lady Mary, his daughter by Catherine, to return to court. He mourned her death for two years after she died. The fourth marriage was very interesting as the only thing I had ever known about Anne of Cleves is what she looked like from the famous portrait of her by Hans Holbein, the court painter. She apparently was well-versed in politics and in the miniseries at least, she seems to want the marriage annulled as much as Henry did, but they stayed on good terms and he gave her property and the title "King's Sister". Kathryn Howard was his fifth wife and this marriage should never have happened. I had no idea that she was cousins with Anne Bolelyn, the other wife of Henry's to be executed. One reason they should not have been married was the age difference, he was 49 and she was between 17-19, and another was he had gained a lot of weight and had an ulcerated leg and was not in the best of health to keep up with a pretty energetic young girl. Kathryn was killed because she had affairs before and after her marriage to the king. In the miniseries at least, he seemed very upset that she would do these things to him. Katherine Parr was his final wife and she was twice-widowed by the age of 31. It seems she married the King because he was "old and lonely," but later grew to love him. She was almost tried for heresy by the Bishop of Winchester, but the king stopped it. After the king's death, she goes on to marry Thomas Seymour, one of Jane Seymour's brothers. Overall, I liked the series despite the sometimes bad/over the top acting.

No comments:

Post a Comment