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Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)

On his deathbed, King Henry VIII looks back over his eventful life and his six marriages.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Keith Michell ...
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Frances Cuka ...
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Jenny Bos ...
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Bernard Hepton ...
Garfield Morgan ...
John Bryans ...
John Bennett ...
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Storyline

On his deathbed Tudor-king Henry VIII remembers his long reign and especially the crucial part his six marriages played in it, without producing the male heir he desired most to prevent civil wars for the succession as England suffered before his father's ascent. His first queen, Spanish princess Kathryn of Aragon, had one fatal flaw: her children died, except daughter Mary, so he pressed Rome for an annulment, and when that failed out went cardinal Wolsey as chief minister and Henry made himself head of the Church of England instead of the papacy and married Anne Boleyn. When she too failed to produce a male heir, just princess Elisabeth, he had her head roll for 'infidelity'. The third queen, gentle Jane Seymour, died giving birth to sickly prince Edward. For diplomatic reasons Henry married minor princess Anne of Cleves, whose utter lack of female charms causes another annulment and the fall of Thomas Cromwell, who recommended her. Fifth is the lovely Catherine Howard, cousin of ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

1 February 1973 (Netherlands)  »

Also Known As:

As Seis Mulheres de Henrique Oitavo  »

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(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Actress Jane Asher, portrayed a character, Jane Seymour, who had the same first name as her own. See more »

Goofs

No women, not even Queen Catherine Parr were present at Henry's deathbed. See more »

Quotes

Henry VIII: Wait, Anne. Only wait.
Anne Boleyn: Ah, then farewell to my young looks!
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Connections

Version of The Tudors: Matters of State (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Reign Full Of Ironies
2 July 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The recent BBC series The Tudors certainly had nothing on their productions a generation ago of Henry VIII And His Six Wives and Elizabeth R. Henry VIII certainly had his marital problems, but they weren't just his domestic concerns. Other heads rolled when this guy discarded a wife.

Most account of Henry VIII usually start with him trying to get a divorce from Catherine of Aragon in the 1530s so he could begat himself an heir with another. In fact in the first episode which does cover 30+ years of his reign and a bit of Henry VII we meet the young and virile Prince Henry who takes as his bride, Catherine of Aragon intended for his late older brother Prince Arthur. England did in fact come close to having a real King Arthur.

To keep to the format of dealing with his reign wife by wife a lot of history gets crammed into that first episode. Always uppermost in Henry's mind was the previous century and the dynastic struggles with the Houses of Lancaster and York known popularly as the War of the Roses. He wanted and needed a male heir to secure the secession and everything else was subordinated to that.

Subordinate he did because when the Pope under pressure from the occupying Spanish Army in Rome of the Emperor Charles V who happened to be Catherine of Aragon's nephew, Henry just broke from Rome and founded the Anglican Church. No church was going to tell him what to do and mess up the chance of a peaceful succession.

Keith Michell is a wonderful Henry VIII both as a young man and later on as the fat tyrant he's come down in popular culture as. The wives are well suited to their parts with Frances Cuka (Catherine of Aragon), Charlotte Rampling{Anne Boleyn), Jane Asher{Jane Seymour}, Jenny Bos {Anne of Cleves), Lynne Fredericks{Catherine Howard), and Barbara Leigh-Hunt{Catherine Parr}.

Charlotte Rampling is tragic as the young ambitious Anne Boleyn from an even more ambitious family who won the king and then committed the horrible sin of having a girl baby. That baby grew up to be Queen Elizabeth, but her road to the throne was a rocky one also. Anne was essentially framed with an adultery charge in order to get rid of her.

Which leads me to the best of the episodes. Lynne Fredericks as wife five Catherine Howard was a wild child to say the least. No fool like an old fool who really thinks this one wouldn't be straying. With the succession secured by Edward the child of Jane Seymour, Henry just wanted a little frolic. But he was old and fat and Ms. Howard had needs. Which she fulfilled with just about any young male who was around.

Henry VIII's reign was full of ironies and this was one of the biggest ones. He had to frame Boleyn to get rid of her, but Catherine Howard needed no framing. He couldn't execute her fast enough once he found out.

Thomas Cromwell who arranged the Boleyn marriage and later the Anne of Cleves marriage has come down as a sinister and thoroughly unpleasant man. And he's played by a guy and played well by one who's done a lot of sinister and unpleasant people, Donald Pleasance. Look also for a good performance by Bernard Hepton as Thomas Cranmer the first Archbishop of Canterbury under the new Anglican leadership.

I've not seen the new Tudor series, but it will have to go some to beat this excellent mini-series from the BBC.


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