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Secrets Of The Six Wives

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A place to discuss particular episodes, arcs and moments from the show's run. Please remember this isn't a complete catch-all topic -- check out the forum for character topics and other places for show-related talk.

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I love the way that the show is put together - it smartly combines the modern moments with the flashbacks. I've always been fascinated with the story of HVIII and the wives, and have read a lot of books, but this is such a fresh take. Enjoying it immensely! (Would not complain if there were six episodes, each one dedicated to a separate wife, but... c'est la vie.)

Edited by AnnieBananie · Reason: ooh, another thought
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I am really enjoying this too.  Have seen Ms. Worsley on other like topics such as Tales from the Royal Wardrobe and others.  Here is her website and she has written modern fiction and nonfiction.

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4 hours ago, Miss Chevious said:

Yes I agree with above. I also like how they put the shows narrator, Ms. Worsley, into the background of the recreated scene as a maid or whatever.

I've gone back and forth about whether I like this or not.  It sometimes seems a little too cute, but overall, breaking the 4th wall and turning this into a docu-drama does work for me.   I really wish it was more than 3 episodes.

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I caught this in Philadelphia on Sunday night.  I hope to be able to catch the remaining two episodes.  I read a lot about this in a series of paperbacks that were issues in the 70s.  Enjoying it quite a bit.

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I like the way this was put together, but I'm finding that neither the information presented nor Ms. Worsley's conclusions to be anything new.  But I'll watch the last episode nonetheless.  Maybe she has a different take on Catherine Howard, whom I think was not particularly bright given what she'd already seen happen to her cousin.

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I have such a girl crush on Lucy Worsley! I have watched every show of hers that I can get my hands on. She is doing one airing now in the UK called British History's Biggest Fibs that is really good as well. (youtube)

I like how she is a background character in the scenes and that the costumes are accurate. I get so tired of the ladies with their hair showing. They would have never had their hair down normally.

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3 minutes ago, Arynm said:

I like how she is a background character in the scenes and that the costumes are accurate. I get so tired of the ladies with their hair showing. They would have never had their hair down normally.

Yes, I have enjoyed the accuracy of the costuming.  Such a change from that previous show about Henry and his wives.  (You know the one I mean.)

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I must've been absent from history class the day they covered Henry keeping Princess Mary from Catherine. What a callous unfeeling creep he was to separate mother and child.

And I agree the costumes and  scenery are gorgeous. The lighting is so well done, certain scenes look like a painting.

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I saw this on British time, but I'm watching it again (I am a huge Lucy fan.) Henry V111 was an awful human being, but typical of some powerful men who dump the old wife when she is no longer of "service."  

Edited by LiveenLetLive
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4 hours ago, Miss Chevious said:

What a callous unfeeling creep he was to separate mother and child.

Catherine was a staunch Catholic, and Mary was heir to the Protestant throne.  He had to mitigate Catherine's influence, although a lot of good that did once "Bloody Mary" was Queen.

Edited by ItCouldBeWorse
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I always thought he could have married Elizabeth and Mary off, then they would be out of the way of the throne if he really wanted to. He decided to close his eyes and pretend they didn't exist instead. Who knows what would have happened then, maybe Jane Grey(Gray?) would have stayed Queen longer.

Edited by Arynm · Reason: spelling
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I'm not learning any new information from this series, although to be fair I've pretty much seen every series, documentary and movie about Henry and his six wives. I think PBS is running out of material, or history. Sort of like airing "Victoria" even though her story has been told about ten bazillion times already. I think  the narrator inserting herself into the reenactments is pretty cheesy. One thing I do like, however, is who they cast as Henry. Generally you either see fat, older Henry or someone who doesn't even remotely resemble him like Jonathan Rhys Meyers or Eric Bana. I don't know who this guy is but he's believable as someone women would have been attracted to in his youth but could still fill out in old age and look like the historical Henry. I'm looking forward to seeing who they cast as Anne of Cleves.

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2 hours ago, Arynm said:

I always thought he could have married Elizabeth and Mary off, then they would be out of the way of the throne if he really wanted to. He decided to close his eyes and pretend they didn't exist instead. Who knows what would have happened then, maybe Jane Grey(Gray?) would have stayed Queen longer.

Or depending upon whom they married, they might have had sons whose supporters, even in infancy, would be jockeying to get them on the throne.

Edited by ItCouldBeWorse
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22 hours ago, Arynm said:

I always thought he could have married Elizabeth and Mary off, then they would be out of the way of the throne if he really wanted to. He decided to close his eyes and pretend they didn't exist instead. Who knows what would have happened then, maybe Jane Grey(Gray?) would have stayed Queen longer.

He was involved in marriage negotiations for Mary a couple times while she was still his legitimate heir.  However, once Mary and Elizabeth were disinherited they became less "marketable," so to speak.  Also I don't believe marrying them off would have gotten them out of the way of the throne.  Once Elizabeth and Mary were delegitimized, they didn't have a right to the throne.  The reason they were able to succeed to the throne was because of Henry VIII's Act of Succession which gave them rights to the throne after Edward and any legitimate heirs of his body.  Marriage wouldn't have changed their access to the throne unless Henry decided to change his Act of Succession.  In my opinion, Jane Grey never stood a chance at retaining her position as Queen.  Most people saw it for what it was, a power grab by her husband's father and if Mary and/or Elizabeth had been married at the time, they probably would have raised an army to fight for their wives' rights to the throne.  Who knows, marrying them off may have caused things to be even worse.  As it was, Mary was able to raise a bloodless coup against those who tried to take her throne. 

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I have really enjoyed the first two episodes.  Most of the information is not new to me, but I am really enjoying how this show is presented.  The presentation by Worsley as a narrator allows us to see things that we normally wouldn't see in a typical drama.  For example, I loved how she was at Hever Castle, the home of the Boleyns, and how we jumped to the St George Chapel at Windsor Castle.  The usual Henry VIII drama would probably not get us there.

If I had one complaint, it's that I think there is a tad too much "modern" filler.  The scenes of her trucking from one place to another in a car, with a portrait of the current queen in the seat beside her, or walking along a bridge, etc., aren't needed.

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1 hour ago, blackwing said:

I have really enjoyed the first two episodes.  Most of the information is not new to me, but I am really enjoying how this show is presented.  The presentation by Worsley as a narrator allows us to see things that we normally wouldn't see in a typical drama.  For example, I loved how she was at Hever Castle, the home of the Boleyns, and how we jumped to the St George Chapel at Windsor Castle.  The usual Henry VIII drama would probably not get us there.

If I had one complaint, it's that I think there is a tad too much "modern" filler.  The scenes of her trucking from one place to another in a car, with a portrait of the current queen in the seat beside her, or walking along a bridge, etc., aren't needed.

I must say though, I COVET that cherry mini-bus!

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I'm enjoying this series and hope it will compel people to search out further information about Henry and his Queens.   As interesting as this series is, lets face it, they don't have enough time to really get below the very surface.  

For example, there was much more to Anne Boleyn's downfall than Henry just being tired of her and unhappy about the lack of a male heir.   The Boleyn's were a very ambitious family and they made enemies.  Anne herself didn't know when to keep her mouth shut and her doom was sealed when she made an enemy of Thomas Cromwell.   This was a time in English history where being too close to the crown could be a very dangerous thing.   And unfortunately for the women in these powerful and ambitious English families, they were used as the pawns in the power game.  And of course, some of them were very ambitious themselves and went along gladly.  

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The show/narrator also erred in calling Jane Seymour Henry's Queen. Seymour was never crowned Queen; Henry wanted to wait until she produced a male heir. Then, of course, it was too late. 

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1 hour ago, jumper sage said:

Who wants to get in a time machine with me and go back to yell at King Henry VIII that the sex of the child is father driven?

Besides the short-lived Henry whom Catherine gave birth to, and her 2 still-born sons with him, Henry had an illegitimate son whom he recognized and allowed to use "FitzRoy" as surname, indicating his parentage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_FitzRoy,_1st_Duke_of_Richmond_and_Somerset

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Who wants to get in a time machine with me and go back to yell at King Henry VIII that the sex of the child is father driven?

You'd be burned as a witch! They didn't know such things back in the sixteenth century. I think context is often lost in history. It's important to remember Henry genuinely believed God was punishing him for marrying his sister-in-law by refusing to give him a male heir. He  fully embraced the idea of the Divine Right of Kings and that God had anointed him and so forth. Marrying your brother's widow was forbidden by the Catholic church, and even though Henry VII had gotten a waiver from the Pope, Henry VIII probably saw it as politically expedient on his father's part but an effrontery to God, hence his lack of a son. His treatment of Catherine after the divorce reflects the bitterness he felt in his belief she had lied in her oath that her marriage to his brother had never been consummated, which cost him 19 years of his own life and the many sons he felt he should have had by then.

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On 2/2/2017 at 9:54 AM, 12catcrazy said:

I'm enjoying this series and hope it will compel people to search out further information about Henry and his Queens.   As interesting as this series is, lets face it, they don't have enough time to really get below the very surface.  

For example, there was much more to Anne Boleyn's downfall than Henry just being tired of her and unhappy about the lack of a male heir.   The Boleyn's were a very ambitious family and they made enemies.  Anne herself didn't know when to keep her mouth shut and her doom was sealed when she made an enemy of Thomas Cromwell.   This was a time in English history where being too close to the crown could be a very dangerous thing.   And unfortunately for the women in these powerful and ambitious English families, they were used as the pawns in the power game.  And of course, some of them were very ambitious themselves and went along gladly.  

I agree.  Would have been nice if this series was a little longer, say one episode for each queen.  As it is, they had to rush through things.  The show made the entire thing out to be poor Anne Boleyn, she couldn't bear a male child so they made up lies about her and Henry killed her.  Worsley is clearly sympathetic to her  But I agree that it was more complicated than that.  Other recent depictions of Anne Boleyn, such as that of Natalie Dormer in "The Tudors" and Claire Foy in "Wolf Hall", have shown her as an extremely ambitious woman who would stop at nothing to gain power for herself and her family.  Her father also used her to advance his own interests.  But I found these other two portrayals to be very unlikeable.  The one in this show, Worsley was all "oh she must be innocent, she confessed to a priest!"  

Would have been nice to have had a more balanced depiction, they at least could have discussed some of the evidence against her besides "she flirted with Henry's drinking bro".

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How did Henry go from being a young, normal sized, relatively good looking guy with lots of red hair when Jane Seymour died (he was 46), to a fat old bald greying man (aged 50) who apparently needed Viagra when he married Anne of Cleves?  I call a big fail in the casting of Henry.  When he came into the room to meet Anne of Cleves, and she backed up and asked who he was, I was wondering the same thing.

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2 hours ago, CarpeDiem54 said:

How did Henry go from being a young, normal sized, relatively good looking guy with lots of red hair when Jane Seymour died (he was 46), to a fat old bald greying man (aged 50) who apparently needed Viagra when he married Anne of Cleves?  I call a big fail in the casting of Henry.  When he came into the room to meet Anne of Cleves, and she backed up and asked who he was, I was wondering the same thing.

Wikipedia is my friend (though I learned this years ago from an actual hardcover book!). In 1536, the year he married Jane Seymour, Henry had an accident while jousting, badly injuring his leg and possibly causing a traumatic brain injury as well. The injury kept him from many physical activities, leading to the massive weight gain. So the years between Jane and Anne of Cleves would lead to a great difference in Henry's appearance.

The gray hair . . . I don't know the filmmaker's justification for that.

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I do understand that and have read about his declining health and weight gain  after the accident.  However, my main gripe is with the casting of the actors portraying Henry.  The Henry of Jane Seymour's era should have been a bit older and the Anne of Cleves' era Henry should have looked at least remotely like the younger man instead of like a drunken Santa Claus.

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I wish the end of the Katherine Parr segment had included the fact that Thomas Seymour, the guy she waited so long to marry, was a douchebag and a sexual predator.

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1 hour ago, CarpeDiem54 said:

I do understand that and have read about his declining health and weight gain  after the accident.  However, my main gripe is with the casting of the actors portraying Henry.  The Henry of Jane Seymour's era should have been a bit older and the Anne of Cleves' era Henry should have looked at least remotely like the younger man instead of like a drunken Santa Claus.

Aging in the 16th century was much faster.  If one just looks at how our grandparents aged vs. how we are aging, one can see a huge difference.  I don't look a thing like my mother at age 60 and certainly nothing like my grandmothers at the same age.  The casting was a bit jarring, but given the medical history after the jousting accident, it probably wasn't all that much off-base.  What portraits we have of the King sort of reflect that.

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I'm glad I wasn't the only one shocked by the change in casting of Henry. I didn't realize there wasn't that much of a time difference between wives 3 and 4. 

I was pleasantly surprised by this series. I wasn't too familiar with Ms. Worsley, so I didn't know what to expect. I might have to rewatch her series about the Tsars of Russia on Netflix and see what my local library has by her. 

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On 2017-02-03 at 2:25 PM, blackwing said:

Worsley is clearly sympathetic to her  But I agree that it was more complicated than that.  Other recent depictions of Anne Boleyn, such as that of Natalie Dormer in "The Tudors" and Claire Foy in "Wolf Hall", have shown her as an extremely ambitious woman who would stop at nothing to gain power for herself and her family.  Her father also used her to advance his own interests.  But I found these other two portrayals to be very unlikeable.

Worse still, if you ask me, is the depiction in The Other Boleyn Girl (at least the movie version; I haven't read Gregory's novel): Anne Boleyn manages to come across as both voraciously ambitious and unforgivably stupid; a soulless, vacuous ninny. (Even The Phantom Menace didn't make me feel quite so bad for Natalie Portman. Jeebus, but that was awful!)

Then again, Henry doesn't fare all that well in this telling, either: egotistical, rage-filled, and likewise startlingly dumb, Eric Bana's Henry seems like he ought to be riding to Richmond on the Royal Short Bus.

Edited by Sandman · Reason: Henry: also idiotic
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On 2/3/2017 at 9:02 AM, jumper sage said:

Who wants to get in a time machine with me and go back to yell at King Henry VIII that the sex of the child is father driven?  Asshole!

I have always wanted to go back in time to tell Henry VIII that it was his youngest daughter, Queen Elizabeth, daughter of Anne, who became the greatest monarch in English history.  It was she who defeated the Spanish and lead England into it's Golden Age.  

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How did Henry go from being a young, normal sized, relatively good looking guy with lots of red hair when Jane Seymour died (he was 46), to a fat old bald greying man (aged 50) who apparently needed Viagra when he married Anne of Cleves?  I call a big fail in the casting of Henry.  

Yeah - the change was too abrupt. They would have done better to stick with the same actor who played him in the first two parts and just used aging makeup and padding. Henry simply wouldn't have looked that drastically different between Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves.

I liked their depiction of Anne of Cleves. The version of the story where she rejected him (as opposed to the other way around) is seldom told. I doubt if any of Henry's wives were as pretty as the actresses who play them today,  but I think Anne of Cleves probably looked very much like her portrait: plain, but not altogether unattractive for the time. 

As for Worsley inserting herself into history, playing various servants toiling away in the background of important conversations, it got to the point where it started to really crack me up. You have to believe that at some point, someone is going to notice this one servant who always seems to be in the same room whenever something important is happening . . . and that she never seems to age. 

Overall, I'd say the best part of the series was all the location shots in present day - even going so far as to visit Cleves. Nice framing. The narrative, however, was somewhat compromised by little historical inaccuracies here and there, such as referring to Jane Seymour as Queen or to Elizabeth as a Princess. (Elizabeth and Mary were both demoted to "Lady" after Henry VIII divorced/beheaded their mothers.)

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On 2/3/2017 at 1:25 PM, blackwing said:

 The show made the entire thing out to be poor Anne Boleyn, she couldn't bear a male child so they made up lies about her and Henry killed her.  Worsley is clearly sympathetic to her  But I agree that it was more complicated than that.  Other recent depictions of Anne Boleyn, such as that of Natalie Dormer in "The Tudors" and Claire Foy in "Wolf Hall", have shown her as an extremely ambitious woman who would stop at nothing to gain power for herself and her family.  Her father also used her to advance his own interests.  But I found these other two portrayals to be very unlikeable.  The one in this show, Worsley was all "oh she must be innocent, she confessed to a priest!"  

I think Anne Boleyn was unfairly vilified to some extent, and her execution has been described by many historians as a great miscarriage of justice. Henry wanted her out of the way and to divorce again would have been bad form. Trumping up charges of adultery and incest against her made it look like it was her fault and he was an aggrieved husband, rather than the petulant malcontent that he really was.  

Because she was from an aristocratic English family, he had to send a message to them...since he also executed her brother, this caused Hever Castle to be forfeited to the Crown. After all, ambitious aristocrats sometimes needed reminding. They should have learned their lesson with Anne's sister Mary as his mistress, then the ill fated Anne and later her unfortunate cousin, Catherine.

He could not have Anne of Cleves executed without involving  and international diplomatic scandal.  Though she may have had no idea what went on in the bedroom, she was a card sharp, and she played her hand beautifully. In favor for her giving the king what he wanted with no trouble or resistance on her part, she became lifelong friends with Henry and he kept her in a lavish lifestyle in return. She has been portrayed by English historians as "the Flanders Mare" and Henry complained that 'she smelt horribly", even though it was his own festering leg wound that did. Her portrait showed her to be more beautiful than most of Henry's wives.

Henry aged from a handsome, slender redheaded gent to a grizzled lecherous Santa Claus...between wives 3 and 4  His grief over the death of his beloved Jane aged him as well as he was believed to have suffered from gout and diabetes.  They didn't have insulin or meds to relieve gout symptoms or diabetic neuropathy or antibiotics to speed healing. I can only imagine the misery, mood swings, and exacerbation of symptoms brought on by immobility and a diet rich in suet, cakes, and breads. Diabetes and other disease can cause aging to accelerate.

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15 hours ago, maraleia said:

I am from the U.K., and I never for an instant thought  Lucy had any sort of a speech impediment, but just more of an upper crusty sort of inflection and projection to her voice., reminiscent of Jean Marsh from the early days of Masterpiece Theatre.

I find her storytelling very engaging and she did a great job of this series. Glad she handled the hater with such class that he promised to never do it again to anyone.

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Check out Lucy Worsley's Empire of the Tsars. She journey's to Russia to explore the Romanov dynasty. It's on Netflix.

I could tell she had something going on with her speech because we have some notable American's with Spasmodic dysphonia which is a voice disorder characterized by involuntary movements or spasms of one or more muscles of the larynx (vocal folds or voice box) during speech. They are Sen Susan Collins of Maine, Robert Kennedy Jr and NPR's Diane Rehm among others.

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Yes, Diane Rehm seemed to have something going on with her voice and I knew she'd had surgery on her vocal chords or some such, but I didn't realize it was rhotacism. So enjoyed her thoughtful conversations on NPR. Classy lady and so engaging.

Apparently after decades of speech therapy, Lucy says she's gotten as far as she can with it. She's got plenty of fans who think she's adorbs and wonderful just how she is. From the posters that sided with her and sent her all sorts of love..

 I am so used to accents and speech impediments that I've almost tuned out to them even when it was obvious, because I'm more interested in what people have to say than whether or not they say it perfectly. 

Lucy is great, so thanks @maraleia for recommending more programs, as I'd definitely love to see more of her. And, I learned a new word today too.

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1 minute ago, Arwen Evenstar said:

Yes, Diane Rehm seemed to have something going on with her voice and I knew she'd had surgery on her vocal chords or some such, but I didn't realize it was rhotacism. So enjoyed her thoughtful conversations on NPR. Classy lady and so engaging.

Apparently after decades of speech therapy, Lucy says she's gotten as far as she can with it. She's got plenty of fans who think she's adorbs and wonderful just how she is. From the posters that sided with her and sent her all sorts of love..

 I am so used to accents and speech impediments that I've almost tuned out to them even when it was obvious, because I'm more interested in what people have to say than whether or not they say it perfectly. 

Lucy is great, so thanks @maraleia for recommending more programs, as I'd definitely love to see more of her. And, I learned a new word today too.

Diane has Spasmodic dysphonia which is different.

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I can tell you from personal experience unfortunately that diabetes is indeed extremely aging and in Henry's case, probably led to impotency.

As much as I love LW (I am a big fan) I do take issue with some of Lucy's inferences about Anne Boleyn--for example, insisting that Anne's flirtation with Henry Norris was part of her acting out the chivalrous ideology so popular in the Tudor times instead of wanting to feel attractive and wanted (which is what I happen to believe, at the time, she knew that the King had a growing interest in Jane Seymour, surely, like most women, she probably wanted proof of her own attractiveness.)

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2 minutes ago, maraleia said:

Diane has Spasmodic dysphonia which is different.

Yes....I remembered reading that....they are different. Glad both ladies got the therapy they needed and have been able to enjoy successful careers in media.

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12 minutes ago, LiveenLetLive said:

I can tell you from personal experience unfortunately that diabetes is indeed extremely aging and in Henry's case, probably led to impotency.

As much as I love LW (I am a big fan) I do take issue with some of Lucy's inferences about Anne Boleyn--for example, insisting that Anne's flirtation with Henry Norris was part of her acting out the chivalrous ideology so popular in the Tudor times instead of wanting to feel attractive and wanted (which is what I happen to believe, at the time, she knew that the King had a growing interest in Jane Seymour, surely, like most women, she probably wanted proof of her own attractiveness.)

Agree...women by nature are competitive with other females. She ended up getting him hung, drawn, and quartered for chatting with her to stroke her ego.

 He was probably tortured in the Tower and would gave likely confessed to anything at that point.

Chivalry and courtly love were definitely in practice at those times, but this seems more like it  was just a scorned wife wanting to feel pretty.

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With Catherine Howard it seems !ike the question is what was she thinking. Well, what about Calpeper? He had to know the fare of Anne's "lovers", why take that risk?

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12 minutes ago, nx74defiant said:

With Catherine Howard it seems !ike the question is what was she thinking. Well, what about Calpeper? He had to know the fare of Anne's "lovers", why take that risk?

I know, right? Everyone at court knew what was regarded as treason and what was deemed appropriate behavior at court.

Nobility could not be tortured or burned at the stake (woman) or hung, drawn, and quartered (male), but rather beheaded. Beheading wouldn't have been anything anyone who had half the sense God gave a goose would have wanted to risk.

Even the appearance of impropriety could risk a death sentence.

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4 hours ago, Arwen Evenstar said:

He could not have Anne of Cleves executed without involving  and international diplomatic scandal.  Though she may have had no idea what went on in the bedroom, she was a card sharp, and she played her hand beautifully.

Do you mean a sharp card or literally a card sharp?  As in an hustler?  Is that why Lucy put down 7 or 8 Anne of Cleves cards when she was talking about the marriage contract?

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