The Six Wives of Henry VIII (TV series)

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The Six Wives of Henry VIII is a series of six television plays produced by the BBC and first transmitted between 1 January and 5 February 1970.

Each of the six plays focuses on a single wife, often from their perspective and was written by a different dramatist. The series was produced by Mark Shivas and Ronald Travers.



Plot by episode

Catherine of Aragon

Catherine's marriage to Arthur ends with his early death. Over the next few years, Catherine faces money trouble and arrangements for her to marry Prince Henry are unclear. When Henry VII dies, Henry VIII chooses Catherine as his wife, as his dying father requested. After a short scene of Catherine's son's death (her second pregnancy, after a stillbirth), and her weeping in Henry's arms, the programme cuts to her older days where Henry falls in love with Anne Boleyn. Henry wants a male heir and after several pregnancies only one child of Catherine's and Henry's has survived, the princess Mary (the future Queen Mary I). Catherine is heartbroken when Henry tells her he wants a divorce. There are several court scenes discussing the annulment. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey does all he can to accomplish Henry's desire for a divorce from Catherine, but ultimately fails (and later dies en-route to the Tower of London). Henry attempts to have a Papal Trial in England, to call into question the validity of his marriage to Catherine. But when Rome and the Pope revoke this attempt; Henry begins his break with the Catholic Church and starts to sow the seeds of the eventual Protestant Reformation in England. Catherine is eventually told her marriage to Henry has been annulled, and that Henry has married Anne. Catherine is moved to Wolsey's house until she dies, with Maria de Salinas (her most faithful servant) by her side. While there, they receive the news that Anne has had her child, the future queen Elizabeth I. The episode ends with Catherine dying in her bed, Maria de Salinas beside her and Henry reading a loving final letter from Catherine. Henry crushes the letter callously, and walks dominatingly towards the camera, resembling the Hans Holbein portrait.

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