Starring: Jonathan Rhys-Meyers , Natalie Dormer , Henry Cavill , Peter O'Toole
Directed by: Ciaran Donnelly , Jon Amiel , Colm McCarthy , Jeremy Podeswa
Produced by: Sheila Hockin
Written by: Michael Hirst
Passions erupt and powers clash when Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) tries to end his first marriage in order to wed the pregnant Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer).
As Seen on Showtime
Item Number: 15001
Passions erupt and powers clash when Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) tries to end his first marriage in order to wed the pregnant Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer). Legendary Peter O'Toole co- stars as the Pope, an immovable obstacle between the king and his dream of a male heir. Recommended for mature viewers. As seen on Showtime
Episode 1 - Divorce, Tudor style. As the Catholic Church struggles in vain to control Henry VIII's demands for an annulment, the King appoints himself head of the Church of England. A cook is blackmailed into poisoning a high-ranking bishop; then boiled alive for his crime. When Anne Boleyn insists Henry break all contacts with Katherine, the noble Queen is banished from court. The Reformation has begun.
Episode 2 - Christmas at the Tudor court is a time for ringing in the new. Mistress Anne Boleyn has replaced the banished Queen Katherine. The King's chaplin, Thomas Cranmer, makes a fact-finding visit to Lutheran Germany while Henry withdraws both the authority and taxes of the Catholic Church at home. And a royal visit to France finally convinces Anne to consummate her relationship with Henry, even as his best friend Charles Brandon suggests that she is no virgin.
Episode 3 - Henry destroys all ties with authority and the past. After many failed attempts to have his marriage to Katherine annulled by the Catholic Church, Henry runs out of patience and marries Anne Boleyn in secret. He appoints the young Lutheran Thomas Cranmer to the head of the Church of England and strips Queen Katherine of her title and status.
Episode 4 - Questions of faith dominate the court. As the infant Princess Elizabeth is baptised, the 'Act of Succession' is unveiled declaring that only children of Henry and Anne are legitimate successors to the English throne. A law is passed where every Royal subject must take an oath, on pain of death, recognising the validity of the King's new marriage and the supremacy of Henry VIII in all matters.
Episode 5 - Attempts to legitimise the King's marriage and increase his power hit unmovable obstacles as Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher insist that only God can be head of the church. Imprisoned in the Tower of London they face likely execution unless they take the Oath of Allegiance. Meanwhile Henry's wandering eye continues to roam.
Episode 6 - As the Reformation gathers pace Sir Thomas Cromwell becomes ever more powerful as propagandist-in-chief of a new moral order. Royal confidence has given way to doubt. Henry is haunted by the memory of the executed Thomas More while Queen Anne Boleyn's insecurities border on paranoia. Her husband's affairs continue and an effort to have her daughter Elizabeth betrothed to a French royal is disappointed when the French King refuses to recognise that the infant Princess is of legitimate birth.
Episode 7 - As Thomas Cromwell's increasingly ruthless 'reforms' spread terror through an ever more vulnerable Catholic Church, Anne Boleyn has nightmares that her position at the King's side is under threat from the continued existence of former Queen Katherine and her daughter Mary. Meanwhile Henry is occupied by sad news and a happy encounter.
Episode 8 - At Henry's command Jane Seymour is made a lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn, to the discomfort and suspicion of the Queen. When Henry is seriously injured in a jousting match all thoughts turn to who might succeed him. There will be far-reaching consequences if Anne's pregnancy does not deliver a healthy son.
Episode 9 - Anne has lost a son and with it her last chance at a lasting marriage with Henry. The King's affections are shifting anyway: the Seymour family are awarded rooms at court and seem likely to replace the Boleyns as royal favourites. Several in the court begin to move against Anne who is accused of adultery. Arrests are made of suspected lovers and of Anne herself. All, including the Queen, are sentenced to death.
Episode 10 - Endings and beginnings. As Anne Boleyn awaits her death, painfully delayed by the executioner's late arrival, Henry visits Jane Seymour and asks for her hand in marriage. Declaring his marriage to Anne null and void means that their daughter Elizabeth becomes illegitimate and is no longer in line to the throne - clearing the way for a legitimate heir to come from his marriage with Jane. Henry begins this momentous event with a magnificent breakfast at which is served a dish reserved for the English King alone: an exquisite roasted swan.
|King Henry VIII||---||Jonathan Rhys Meyers|
|Charles Brandon||---||Henry Cavill|
|Anne Boleyn||---||Natalie Dormer|
|Thomas Boleyn||---||Nick Dunning|
|Queen Catherine of Aragon||---||Maria Doyle Kennedy|
|Thomas Cromwell||---||James Frain|
|George Boleyn||---||Padraic Delaney|
|Sir Thomas More||---||Jeremy Northam|
|Thomas Wyatt||---||Jamie Thomas King|
|Cardinal Campeggio||---||John Kavanagh|
|Thomas Cranmer||---||Hans Matheson|
|Lady Anne Clifford||---||Myia Elliott|
|William Brereton||---||James Gilbert|
|Mark Smeaton||---||David Alpay|
|Bishop Fisher||---||Bosco Hogan|
|Pope Paul III||---||Peter O'Toole|
|Alice More||---||Catherine Byrne|
|Mary Boleyn||---||Perdita Weeks|
|Margaret 'Madge' Sheldon||---||Laura Jane Laughlin|
|King Francis I||---||Emmanuel Leconte|
|Mary Tudor||---||Sarah Bolger|
|French Ambassador||---||Jonathan Ryan|
|Nan Saville||---||Serena Brabazon|
|John Seymour||---||Stephen Brennan|
|Sir Henry Norris||---||Stephen Hogan|
|Jane Parker||---||Joanne King|
|Bishop Wanham||---||Philip O'Sullivan|
|Dr. Linacre||---||Clive Geraghty|
|Jane Seymour||---||Anita Briem|
|Edward Seymour||---||Max Brown|
|Margaret Moore||---||Gemma Reeves|
|Cromwell's Servant||---||Charlie Bonner|
|Stonemason 2||---||Arthur Brown|
|Anne's Maid||---||Michelle Hartman|
|Lady Margaret Bryan||---||Jane Brennan|
|Princess Elizabeth||---||Kate Duggan|
|Sir William Kingston||---||George Irving|
|Cromwell's clerk||---||Phil Kingston|
|Lady Eleanor Luke||---||Andrea Lowe|
|Katharina Prue||---||Julia Wakeham|
Written by Michael Hirst
Directed by Ciaran Donnelly, Jon Amiel, Colm McCarthy, Jeremy Podeswa, Dearbhla Walsh
Executive Produced by Sheila Hockin
Original Music by Trevor Morris
Cinematography by Ousama Rawi
Film Editing by Lisa Grootenboer, Wendy Hallam Martin
Costume Design by Joan Bergin
King Henry VIII - (Jonathan Rhys-Myers)
Henry was never intended for the throne of England. However, the death of his older brother Arthur at the age of 15 and his taking of his dead brother's bride, propelled the young prince into the limelight and laid the foundations for one of the most spectacular reigns in English history. The young Henry VIII was an artist, musician, theologian and sportsman - the perfect Renaissance prince - but the failure of his first wife Katherine of Aragon to produce a male heir brought out his darker side. Henry could be cruel and capricious, using arbitrary execution as an instrument of Royal policy. In his bid to produce an heir he would dismantle the established church in England, loot its possessions, and set himself up as an absolute monarch. By the time of his death, his desire to maintain his own magnificent dynasty had seen him marry six times, deplete the nation's coffers, and cut a swath through the English nobility. Yet a new age had been born in the fires of change and though the years had transformed a Renaissance prince into a sickly, overweight tyrant, his rule marked a sea-change in the fortunes of England.
Thomas More - (Jeremy Northam)
Sir Thomas More was a scholar, author and a statesman. During his political career he was secretary and personal advisor to Henry VIII, Speaker of the House of Commons, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Lord Chancellor. He refused to sign a letter asking the Pope to annul Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragon and did not accept Henry's claim to be head of the Church of England. In 1535 he was tried for high treason and was beheaded. His body was buried in the Tower of London while his head was hung over London Bridge for a month from where it was rescued by his daughter Margaret. He was canonised in the Catholic Church in 1935.
Charles Brandon - (Henry Cavill)
Charles Brandon was the third son of Sir William Brandon who, as Henry VII's standard bearer, had been killed by Richard III in person at the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was brought up at the court of Henry VII and became a favourite of Henry VIII. He held several posts in the royal household and distinguished himself in the French campaign of 1513. In 1515 he privately married Mary Tudor, Louis XII's (king of France) widow and Henry VIII's sister, to avoid the political difficulties surrounding the marriage - Henry was keen to acquire the gold plate and jewels which Louis had promised Mary before his death and he made it clear he would only sanction Suffolk's marriage to her if he did indeed get them. Wolsey brokered a deal, however and the couple were able to have a public wedding some months later. Suffolk supported Henry's divorce from Katherine of Aragon, in direct opposition to Wolsey, and after the latter's disgrace, his influence increased rapidly to the point where he acted as High Steward at the coronation of Anne Boleyn. He died in 1545, a year after commanding an English army invading France. Through his daughter by Mary, Frances, he was grandfather to Lady Jane Grey who would reign for nine days in 1553.
Anne Boleyn - (Natalie Dormer)
Anne Boleyn began her court life as one of Katherine of Aragon's ladies in waiting, and went on to become Henry VIII's second wife, bearing him one child, Elizabeth. She was a very powerful figure at court and found herself actively promoting the cause of Church reform; Henry's divorce from Katherine had been "legalised" through the Act of Supremacy which placed the King at the head of the Church in England, freed from Papal authority. In 1532 Henry made Anne the Marchioness of Pembroke, making her the first English female commoner to become a noble in her own right by creation rather than through inheritance. However, her relationship with Henry was volatile: she was upset by his string of mistresses and he felt betrayed by her apparent inability to produce a son. On May 17th, 1536 she was accused of adultery, incest (with her brother who was also tried and found guilty), witchcraft and high treason and two days later she was executed in the French style, with a sword.
Queen Katherine of Aragon - (Maria Kennedy Doyle)
Katherine was the youngest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. She was betrothed to Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII when she was three years old. The couple married 13 years later, but he died after only six months. She married his younger, but more vigourous brother, Henry, in 1509, when he acceded to the throne. Henry was keen for a male heir, but Katherine's babies were either stillborn, miscarried or short lived until 1516 when she gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Mary (later to become Mary I Tudor). By the time Katherine was 42, her husband's frustration at a lack of a male heir and his interest in one of her ladies in waiting, Anne Boleyn, was common knowledge. Henry began to petition the Pope for an annulment of his marriage, but the Pope stalled and eventually Henry married Anne anyway and had Parliament pass the Act of Supremacy which put him at he head of the English church and therefore outside the control of Rome. Katherine never acknowledged the divorce and was forced to leave the court. She died at Kimbolton Castle in 1536.
Thomas Boleyn - (Nick Dunning)
Thomas Boleyn was a Tudor diplomat and politician. He married Lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and was the father of three children, Mary, Anne and George. He became one of Henry's leading ambassadors and was sent on numerous missions in Europe. His ambition was such that he was content to allow his elder daughter, Mary, to have an adulterous affair with Henry and his younger daughter, Anne, to marry him. He had little choice but to acquiesce in the trial and execution of both Anne and George in 1536.
Thomas Cromwell - (James Frain)
Thomas Cromwell was not of noble descent, but, having studied law and been employed by Cardinal Wolsey, he became a member of the English Parliament in 1523. Just nine years later, having gained the King's confidence, he was Henry VIII's chief minister. Under his leadership of Parliament the English Reformation proceeded apace and acts were passed which freed Henry from the control of Rome, establishing him as head of the English church and enabling him to divorce his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. Cromwell also presided over the dissolution of the monasteries, and in 1540 he was created Earl of Essex. He had supported Henry in disposing of Anne Boleyn and replacing her with Jane Seymour, his son's wife's sister. However, after her death, his advice to Henry to marry Anne of Cleves, a disastrous alliance, gave his political enemies (most notably Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk) the ammunition they needed to remove him from office. He was arrested, imprisoned and executed privately at the Tower of London in 1540 after which his head was boiled and set upon a spike on London Bridge.
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