Our June meeting was graced with the presence of HRH King Henry VIII who, in full regalia, entertained his awestruck subjects with tales of his marriages.
“King Henry the Eighth to six wives was wedded
One died, one survived
Two divorced , two beheaded”
For the monarch, it was imperative marriage produced a healthy male child, and preferably a second son – an heir and a spare. His first wife Catherine of Aragon in the course of their 24-year marriage, produced Henry, but he died at 60 days. After many unsuccessful pregnancies Catherine had her daughter Mary, and Henry had her ‘demoted ‘citing her previous marriage to his brother Arthur. His second wife Anne Boleyn made the King wait six years, but at their splendid coronation she was pregnant by Henry and promised him a son. The astrologers confirmed this and Elizabeth was born! This would not do either so, after a trial, she pleaded guilty to 27 counts of treason and was beheaded by the sword. Eleven days later a grieving Henry married Jane Seymour who at last provided him with a bright, healthy red-haired boy, Edward. Sadly, Jane died 12 days later from birth complications. Henry grieved for nearly four years until Thomas Cromwell persuaded him to marry again. Anne of Cleaves ticked all the right boxes but he did not like her at all and the marriage was annulled. Catherine Howard was next. At 17 years of age to his 50+ years she made him feel youthful again, but her infidelity was exposed and she and two lovers were executed. Henry’s last marriage to Catherine Parr worked. A beautiful, clever , experienced woman, she both loved and nursed him in equal measure until his death. Henry’s efforts were ultimately successful in that all three children became monarchs but it had been a long hard road.
Tony Harris who played Henry, gave a full-bodied performance and was thanked for a witty, dramatic, and very well informed presentation.
Next month’s Speaker on July 6th will be Ian Cooper who will give an illustrated talk on the subject of Bicycling in Victorian Times.