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Henry VIII | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry VIII | Characters

Character Description
Henry VIII King Henry VIII's relationships with the nobles around him constantly change throughout the play, as much as he constantly demands loyalty from his subjects. Read More
Cardinal Wolsey Wolsey is the slippery and dishonest advisor to the king, who seeks to expand his power by any means necessary. Read More
Katherine Queen Katherine is Henry VIII's clear-headed and assertive first wife, who warns against Wolsey's influence, and who is divorced when Henry VIII falls in love with Anne Bullen. Read More
Buckingham Buckingham is a loyal nobleman who is accused of being a traitor due to Wolsey's poisonous influence over Henry VIII. Read More
Anne Bullen Anne Bullen is an attendant to the queen, whose beauty attracts the attention of Henry VIII, eventually becoming his second wife. Read More
Cranmer Cranmer becomes the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and takes Wolsey's place as the king's favorite. Read More
Abergavenny Abergavenny, Buckingham's son-in-law, is a gentleman of the court who is confined to the tower with Buckingham.
Boy The boy is page to Gardiner.
Brandon Brandon is a man of the court.
Butts Doctor Butts is the king's physician, who alerts him to Cranmer's ill treatment.
Cardinal Campeius Campeius is sent by the pope to help assess the legality of Henry VIII and Katherine's marriage.
Capuchius Capuchius, Katherine's nephew, is an ambassador sent from Emperor Charles, and he is sympathetic to her plight.
John Car John Car is Buckingham's confessor, who is described as testifying against Buckingham during his trial for treason.
Lord Chamberlain The Lord Chamberlain is the head of the king's household, and keeps up-to-date on the latest gossip.
Lord Chancellor The Lord Chancellor oversees the council. Wolsey is the first Lord Chancellor, but Sir Thomas More takes Wolsey's place after his fall from the king's favor.
Chartreux Monk Also called Nicholas Henton and Michael Hopkins, he is the monk who fed Buckingham prophesies that he would become king in Henry VIII's place, for which Buckingham is accused of treason and executed after the monk testifies against him.
Crier The crier is an official of the court.
Cromwell Cromwell is the devoted follower of Wolsey.
Denny Sir Anthony Denny is a man of the court.
Marques Dorset Dorset is a scepter bearer during Queen Anne's coronation.
Elizabeth I The future Queen Elizabeth I, whom Anne Bullen gives birth to near the end of the play.
Epilogue The Epilogue closes the play by encouraging the audience to applaud.
First secretary The first secretary is a secretary in the service of Cardinal Wolsey.
Gardiner Gardiner is a man loyal to Wolsey who is appointed to be King Henry VIII's secretary, and who later becomes Bishop of Winchester.
Garter Garter is the herald of the realm who speaks at Elizabeth I's christening.
Gentleman A gentleman serves Queen Katherine.
First gentleman The first gentleman is a Londoner who attends Buckingham's trial and tells the second gentleman all about it.
Second gentleman The second gentleman is a Londoner who misses Buckingham's trial, but watches the procession, along with the first gentleman.
Third gentleman The third gentleman is a Londoner who saw Anne's coronation, and relates the details to the first and second gentlemen.
Griffith Katherine's gentleman attendant, who persuades her Cardinal Wolsey is deserving of her forgiveness.
Guildford Sir Henry Guildford welcomes everyone to Cardinal Wolsey's banquet.
Keeper The keeper is tasked with making Cranmer wait outside the council chamber.
Lincoln The Bishop of Lincoln attends and speaks at Katherine's trial.
Lovell Sir Thomas Lovell is a knight who particularly despises French fashion and manners.
Messenger A messenger displeases Katherine when he forgets to kneel before her.
Norfolk Norfolk is a careful and diplomatic lord who is against Wolsey.
Duchess of Norfolk The Duchess of Norfolk is a noble lady who is part of the wedding train during Queen Anne's coronation.
Old lady An old lady encourages Anne Bullen to accept the king's favor.
Patience Patience is one of Queen Katherine's women, who attends to her at her death.
Sir Gilbert Peck Peck is Buckingham's own chancellor who testifies against him at the trial, which is only described in the play.
Porter The porter stands at the entrance of the palace the day of Elizabeth I's christening.
Porter's man The porter's man is an assistant to the Porter.
Prologue The Prologue enters at the beginning of the play to tell the audience that the play is going to be unhappy.
Sands Lord Sands flirts with Anne Bullen at Wolsey's banquet.
Scribe The scribe is an official of the court.
Sergeant The sergeant arrests Buckingham early in the play.
Servant A servant of Cardinal Wolsey announces the arrival of the disguised King Henry and his fellow masquers.
Stokely Stokely is the Bishop of London, who attends Queen Anne's coronation.
Suffolk Suffolk is a lord of the court who is friends with Norfolk and the king.
Surrey Surrey is Buckingham's son-in-law, and despises Cardinal Wolsey.
Surveyor The surveyor is a former employee of Buckingham who testifies against him.
Usher The usher is a gentleman who is part of the procession into court, who also helps run the proceedings, during Katherine's trial.
Vaux Vaux is a lord who escorts Buckingham to his execution.
Woman A woman sings to comfort Katherine after she walks out of her trial.
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