Henry VIII
Shakescleare Translation

Henry VIII Translation Table of Contents

The Duke of Buckingham and Cardinal Wolsey fall from King Henry VIII’s favor, just as the King himself is falling in love with Anne Bullen. The only problem? Henry is already married, to Queen Katharine. In his history play Henry VIII, Shakespeare explores one of the most scandalous and earth-changing royal affairs, the rise of Anne Bullen, and the birth of the Queen who ruled for the majority of Shakespeare’s lifetime--Elizabeth I. Our modern English translation of Henry VIII will help you decipher some of the play’s most important lines, like “Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water.”

Act 1, Prologue

The Prologue introduces the play, and warns that the play will not make the audience laugh.

Act 1, Scene 1

Two nobles discuss the French alliance and Wolsey's growing power. They are arrested on false charges of treason.

Act 1, Scene 2

The king learns of taxes levied on his subjects. The accusations against Buckingham are revealed.

Act 1, Scene 3

Lords Chamberlain and Sands complain about French fashions, and talk about the grand dinner Wolsey is planning.

Act 1, Scene 4

King Henry VIII comes to Wolsey's party disguised as a shepherd. The king dances with Anne and is charmed by her.

Act 2, Scene 1

Buckingham is led to his execution. There is a rumor of a separation between the king and Katharine.

Act 2, Scene 2

The nobles resent Wolsey's power. The king is troubled. Cardinal Campeius arrives from Rome to judge the divorce case.

Act 2, Scene 3

Anne expresses sympathy for the queen. The Chamberlain presents her with gifts from the king and a new royal title.

Act 2, Scene 4

Katharine refuses to give testimony at the trial. The king explains his reasons for wanting a separation.

Act 3, Scene 1

The cardinals visit Katharine and offer their advice. Katharine resists them but eventually relents.

Act 3, Scene 2

After the king discovers Cardinal Wolsey's plots with Rome, Wolsey falls from power and regrets his ambition.

Act 4, Scene 1

Anne is crowned. Three gentlemen discuss the lavish ceremony, the king's divorce, and those with new titles.

Act 4, Scene 2

Katharine, terminally ill, hears that Wolsey is dead and makes her last wishes known.

Act 5, Scene 1

Cromwell is accused of various crimes and called to trial. Anne has a difficult labor and gives birth to a girl.

Act 5, Scene 2

Cranmer is locked out of the council-chamber. The king hears of this and spies on the proceedings.

Act 5, Scene 3

Ill will between council members surfaces as they debate Cranmer's case. Henry VIII reconciles Cranmer and the council.

Act 5, Scene 4

The porter and his servant attempt to beat back a large crowd gathered to see the princess's baptism.

Act 5, Scene 5

The king and courtiers enter with fanfare. Cranmer prophesies that Elizabeth will have a long and successful reign.

Act 5, Epilogue

The Epilogue admits the play won't please everyone, but predicts good women will like it because it shows a good woman.