The second episode of Lucy Worsley’s three part investigation into the wives of Henry VIII continues on Wednesday 14 December at 9.00pm on BBC One and this week Lucy observes the rise and fall of the infamous Anne Boleyn in Henry’s affections.
Henry is still desperate to marry Anne and be rid of his wife Queen Katherine. The Pope is still refusing to annul the royal marriage, but there is a new revolutionary form of Christianity emerging in Europe (what would become Protestantism) – and Henry begins to see how he could become head of his own church in England in order to marry Anne.
Lucy is a witness at the wedding of Henry and Anne – where the bride is already pregnant. As Anne is crowned Queen in Westminster Abbey, she prepares to go into confinement for the birth of their baby and Lucy watches as Anne dares to ask Henry to remain faithful to her. Henry reacts angrily and Anne discovers what it is really like to be married to Henry VIII. A baby girl is born – Elizabeth.
Meanwhile, Henry has cruelly banned friends and servants of his former Queen Katherine from her deathbed at the damp Kimbolton Castle. As her last wish, Katherine dictates a letter to an illegal visitor, her old lady in waiting. The letter is to Henry – declaring forgiveness and her undying love for him. Despite this last effort, Katherine never receives a reply and Henry does not attend her funeral. Lucy visits Katherine’s tomb at Peterborough Cathedral and places a pomegranate, her royal symbol, on her grave.
Back at the royal court, Lucy attends a masked ball where she eavesdrops on Anne and a courtier, Henry Norris. Lucy overhears Anne suggesting that if anything was to happen to the King, Norris could marry her. Soon all of the court have heard of the conversation. Rumours start to circulate that Anne has been having affairs with several men – including her own brother. Lucy witnesses Anne desperately pleading with Henry, but she is soon arrested and brought to the Tower of London. Lucy listens as Anne makes her final declaration before her execution: she denies all charges brought against her.
As soon as Anne is dead, Henry marries Jane Seymour. Lucy serves at a dinner in which Jane has an argument with Henry about the destruction of the monasteries. Henry reminds Jane of what happened to his last wife and she does not question her King again. Jane fulfils her most important role as Queen: giving birth to a healthy son, baby Edward. Henry’s joy is overshadowed by grief as Jane dies 12 days later from an infection.
By uncovering private moments that were reported by eyewitnesses or recorded in historical documents, this landmark series provides a fresh new perspective on a familiar story.
Our picture shows Dr Lucy Worsley with the teenage Elizabeth I (played by Madeline Power)
Six Wives With Lucy Worsley Episode 2 (of 3) airs on BBC One Wednesday 14 December at 9.00pm.