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Henry VIII and His Court 6th edition   By:

Henry VIII and His Court 6th edition by Herbert Tree

First Page:

Henry VIII and His Court

[Illustration: HENRY VIII

From the Portrait by Holbein, at Warwick Castle]

HENRY VIII AND HIS COURT

BY HERBERT BEERBOHM TREE

WITH FOUR FULL PAGE PLATES

SIXTH EDITION

CASSELL AND COMPANY, LTD. London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne 1911

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

INTRODUCTORY

In these notes, written as a holiday task, it is not intended to give an exhaustive record of the events of Henry's reign; but rather to offer an impression of the more prominent personages in Shakespeare's play; and perhaps to aid the playgoer in a fuller appreciation of the conditions which governed their actions.

Marienbad, 1910

CONTENTS

PAGE

KING HENRY VIII. 1

WOLSEY 21

KATHARINE 47

ANNE BOLEYN 55

DIVORCE 63

THE REFORMATION 77

MANNERS AND CUSTOMS 83

A NOTE ON THE PRODUCTION OF HENRY VIII. AT HIS MAJESTY'S THEATRE 87

AN APOLOGY AND A FOOTNOTE 103

CHRONOLOGY OF PUBLIC EVENTS DURING THE LIFETIME OF HENRY VIII. 111

SHAKESPEAREAN PLAYS PRODUCED UNDER HERBERT BEERBOHM TREE'S MANAGEMENT AT THE HAYMARKET THEATRE 115

LIST OF PLATES

HENRY VIII. Frontispiece

CARDINAL WOLSEY Facing page 42

KATHARINE OF ARAGON " " 76

ANNE BOLEYN " " 96

KING HENRY VIII

His Character

Holbein has drawn the character and written the history of Henry on the canvas of his great picture. Masterful, cruel, crafty, merciless, courageous, sensual, through seeing, humorous, mean, matter of fact, worldly wise, and of indomitable will, Henry the Eighth is perhaps the most outstanding figure in English history. The reason is not far to seek. The genial adventurer with sporting tendencies and large hearted proclivities is always popular with the mob, and "Bluff King Hal," as he was called, was of the eternal type adored by the people. He had a certain outward and inward affinity with Nero. Like Nero, he was corpulent; like Nero, he was red haired; like Nero, he sang and poetised; like Nero, he was a lover of horsemanship, a master of the arts and the slave of his passions. If his private vices were great, his public virtues were no less considerable. He had the ineffable quality called charm, and the appearance of good nature which captivated all who came within the orbit of his radiant personality. He was the " beau garçon ," endearing himself to all women by his compelling and conquering manhood. Henry was every inch a man, but he was no gentleman. He chucked even Justice under the chin, and Justice winked her blind eye.

It is extraordinary that in spite of his brutality, both Katharine and Anne Boleyn spoke of him as a model of kindness. This cannot be accounted for alone by that divinity which doth hedge a king.

There is, above all, in the face of Henry, as depicted by Holbein, that look of impenetrable mystery which was the background of his character. Many royal men have this strange quality; with some it is inborn, with others it is assumed. Of Henry, Cavendish,[1] a contemporary, records the following saying: "Three may keep counsel, if two be away; and if I thought my cap knew my counsel, I would throw it in the fire and burn it." Referring to this passage, Brewer says, "Never had the King spoke a truer word or described himself more accurately. Few would have thought that, under so careless and splendid an exterior the very ideal of bluff, open hearted good humour and frankness there lay a watchful and secret mind that marked what was going on without seeming to mark it; kept its own counsel until it was time to strike, and then struck as suddenly and remorselessly as a beast of prey... Continue reading book >>




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