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The Private Life of Henry VIII

The Private Life of Henry VIII(1934)


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Preparations are made for the execution of Anne Boleyn, wife of King Henry VIII. She dies like a queen, and only minutes later, Henry marries Jane Seymour, whom he expects will be an ideal wife, as, he boasts, she is not spiteful or ambitious, only stupid. Jane bears the king's long hoped for son and heir, but dies in childbirth. Thomas Culpepper, one of the king's squires, is in love with Katherine Howard, a lady of the court who met Henry on the day of Anne Boleyn's death and is ambitious to be queen herself one day. The royal court urges Henry to marry again, placing him in a foul mood at the dinner table. While others are afraid to speak, Katherine Howard makes him notice her by offering to sing one of his own songs. Squire Thomas Peynell is then sent to arrange a royal marriage to a German, Anne of Cleves, but falls in love with her himself as she sits for court portrait painter Hans Holbein. Meanwhile, Henry has become infatuated with Katherine Howard, but a rendezvous in her apartments that he hopes to keep secret is made noisy by the guards. Word arrives that Anne of Cleves is not far away, and Culpepper must interrupt the royal assignation. To save herself for Peynell, Anne of Cleves offends Henry with her bizarre behavior. However, to send her back would mean war, so he agrees with great reluctance to the marriage, dreading his wedding night by saying "The things I've done for England." As Anne of Cleves pretends naivete, the newlyweds play cards until he agrees to an immediate divorce on her terms. Henry, now fifty, is offended by his barber's suggestion that he is too old to marry again, and weds Katherine Howard. Exuberantly happy, Henry tries to prove his youth to Katherine by engaging in a wrestling match that leaves him exhausted. Katherine realizes she still loves Culpepper, and despite his reluctance, they began an affair. Six months later, royal advisor Wriothesley discovers their relationship, and has Archbishop Cranmer tell Henry. First angry, then tearful, Henry sequesters himself while the crowds again watch a queen be beheaded. In 1543, the aged, lonely Henry meets Anne of Cleves, who suggests he marry Katherine Parr, who takes care of his children. Within three years Katherine Parr has become a nag, depriving her aged husband of his beloved food and drink. Henry remarks, "Six wives--and the best of them was the worst of them."