Home  »  The Oxford Shakespeare  »  The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth

William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act IV. Scene I.

The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth

A Street in Westminster

Enter two Gentlemen, meeting.

First Gen.You’re well met once again.

Sec. Gen.So are you.

First Gen.You come to take your stand here, and behold

The Lady Anne pass from her coronation?

Sec. Gen.’Tis all my business. At our last encounter

The Duke of Buckingham came from his trial.

First Gen.’Tis very true: but that time offer’d sorrow;

This, general joy.

Sec. Gen.’Tis well: the citizens,

I am sure, have shown at full their royal minds,

As, let ’em have their rights, they are ever forward,

In celebration of this day with shows,

Pageants, and sights of honour.

First Gen.Never greater;

Nor, I’ll assure you, better taken, sir.

Sec. Gen.May I be bold to ask what that contains,

That paper in your hand?

First Gen.Yes; ’tis the list

Of those that claim their offices this day

By custom of the coronation.

The Duke of Suffolk is the first, and claims

To be high-steward; next, the Duke of Norfolk,

He to be earl marshal: you may read the rest.

Sec. Gen.I thank you, sir: had I not known those customs,

I should have been beholding to your paper.

But, I beseech you, what’s become of Katharine,

The princess dowager? how goes her business?

First Gen.That I can tell you too. The Archbishop

Of Canterbury, accompanied with other

Learned and reverend fathers of his order,

Held a late court at Dunstable, six miles off

From Ampthill, where the princess lay; to which

She was often cited by them, but appear’d not:

And, to be short, for not appearance and

The king’s late scruple, by the main assent

Of all these learned men she was divorc’d,

And the late marriage made of none effect:

Since which she was remov’d to Kimbolton,

Where she remains now sick.

Sec. Gen.Alas! good lady![Trumpets.

The trumpets sound: stand close, the queen is coming.[Hautboys.


A lively flourish of trumpets.

  1. Two Judges.
  2. Lord Chancellor, with the purse and mace before him.
  3. Choristers, singing.[Music.
  4. Mayor of London, bearing the mace. Then Garter, in his coat of arms, and on his head a gilt copper crown.
  5. MARQUESS DORSET, bearing a sceptre of gold, on his head a demi-coronal of gold. With him, the EARL OF SURREY, bearing the rod of silver with the dove, crowned with an earl’s coronet. Collars of SS.
  6. DUKE OF SUFFOLK, in his robe of estate, his coronet on his head, bearing a long white wand, as high-steward. With him, the DUKE OF NORFOLK, with the rod of marshalship, a coronet on his head. Collars of SS.
  7. A canopy borne by four of the Cinque-ports; under it, the QUEEN in her robe; in her hair richly adorned with pearl, crowned. On each side of her, the BISHOPS OF LONDON and WINCHESTER.
  8. The old DUCHESS OF NORFOLK, in a coronal of gold, wrought with flowers, bearing the QUEEN’S train.
  9. Certain Ladies or Countesses, with plain circlets of gold without flowers.

They pass over the stage in order and state.

Sec. Gen.A royal train, believe me. These I know;

Who’s that that bears the sceptre?

First Gen.Marquess Dorset:

And that the Earl of Surrey with the rod.

Sec. Gen.A bold brave gentleman. That should be

The Duke of Suffolk?

First Gen.’Tis the same; high-steward.

Sec. Gen.And that my Lord of Norfolk?

First Gen.Yes.

Sec. Gen.[Looking on the QUEEN.]Heaven bless thee!

Thou hast the sweetest face I ever look’d on.

Sir, as I have a soul, she is an angel;

Our king has all the Indies in his arms,

And more and richer, when he strains that lady:

I cannot blame his conscience.

First Gen.They that bear

The cloth of honour over her, are four barons

Of the Cinque-ports.

Sec. Gen.Those men are happy; and so are all are near her.

I take it, she that carries up the train

Is that old noble lady, Duchess of Norfolk.

First Gen.It is; and all the rest are countesses.

Sec. Gen.Their coronets say so. These are stars indeed;

And sometimes falling ones.

First Gen.No more of that.[Exit Procession, with a great flourish of trumpets.

Enter a third Gentleman.

God save you, sir! Where have you been broiling?

Third Gen.Among the crowd i’ the Abbey; where a finger

Could not be wedg’d in more: I am stifled

With the mere rankness of their joy.

Sec. Gen.You saw

The ceremony?

Third Gen.That I did.

First Gen.How was it?

Third Gen.Well worth the seeing.

Sec. Gen.Good sir, speak it to us.

Third Gen.As well as I am able. The rich stream

Of lords and ladies, having brought the queen

To a prepar’d place in the choir, fell off

A distance from her; while her Grace sat down

To rest awhile, some half an hour or so,

In a rich chair of state, opposing freely

The beauty of her person to the people.

Believe me, sir, she is the goodliest woman

That ever lay by man: which when the people

Had the full view of, such a noise arose

As the shrouds make at sea in a stiff tempest,

As loud, and to as many tunes: hats, cloaks,—

Doublets, I think,—flew up; and had their faces

Been loose, this day they had been lost. Such joy

I never saw before. Great-bellied women,

That had not half a week to go, like rams

In the old time of war, would shake the press,

And make ’em reel before them. No man living

Could say, ‘This is my wife,’ there; all were woven

So strangely in one piece.

Sec. Gen.But, what follow’d?

Third Gen.At length her Grace rose, and with modest paces

Came to the altar; where she kneel’d, and, saint-like,

Cast her fair eyes to heaven and pray’d devoutly.

Then rose again and bow’d her to the people:

When by the Archbishop of Canterbury

She had all the royal makings of a queen;

As holy oil, Edward Confessor’s crown,

The rod, and bird of peace, and all such emblems

Laid nobly on her: which perform’d, the choir,

With all the choicest music of the kingdom,

Together sung Te Deum. So she parted,

And with the same full state pac’d back again

To York-place, where the feast is held.

First Gen.Sir,

You must no more call it York-place, that’s past;

For, since the cardinal fell, that title’s lost:

’Tis now the king’s, and call’d Whitehall.

Third Gen.I know it;

But ’tis so lately alter’d that the old name

Is fresh about me.

Sec. Gen.What two reverend bishops

Were those that went on each side of the queen?

Third Gen.Stokesly and Gardiner; the one of Winchester,—

Newly preferr’d from the king’s secretary,—

The other, London.

Sec. Gen.He of Winchester

Is held no great good lover of the archbishop’s,

The virtuous Cranmer.

Third Gen.All the land knows that:

However, yet there’s no great breach; when it comes,

Cranmer will find a friend will not shrink from him.

Sec. Gen.Who may that be, I pray you?

Third Gen.Thomas Cromwell:

A man in much esteem with the king, and truly

A worthy friend. The king

Has made him master o’ the jewel house,

And one, already, of the privy-council.

Sec. Gen.He will deserve more.

Third Gen.Yes, without all doubt.

Come, gentlemen, ye shall go my way, which

Is to the court, and there ye shall be my guests:

Something I can command. As I walk thither,

I’ll tell ye more.

Both.You may command us, sir.[Exeunt.