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Henry VIII | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry VIII | Scene Summaries

See Scene Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • 1500s

    Buckingham is arrested for treason.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • The next night

    Henry VIII meets Anne Bullen at Wolsey's party.

    Act 1, Scene 4
  • Short time later

    Buckingham is executed for treason.

    Act 2, Scene 1
  • Around the same time

    Rumors Henry VIII wants a divorce from Queen Katherine spread at court.

    Act 2, Scene 1
  • Short time later

    Henry VIII gives title and wealth to Anne Bullen.

    Act 2, Scene 3
  • Around the same time

    Katherine walks out of her trial and refuses to return or be judged by church officials.

    Act 2, Scene 4
  • Later

    Henry VIII secretly marries Anne Bullen.

    Act 3, Scene 2
  • Short time later

    Henry VIII finds evidence of Wolsey's disloyalty, casts him from court, and confiscates his wealth.

    Act 3, Scene 2
  • Later that day

    Anne Bullen is crowned Queen of England.

    Act 4, Scene 1
  • Short time later

    Anne Bullen gives birth to Elizabeth I.

    Act 5, Scene 1
  • Next day

    The nobles try to remove Cranmer from court, but Henry VIII protects him.

    Act 5, Scene 1
  • Around the same time

    Elizabeth I is christened by Cranmer.

    Act 5, Scene 2

Scene Summaries Chart

Scene Summary
Prologue The Prologue enters and informs the audience this play will not be a happy one. It will be sad and serious, and the nobi... Read More
Act 1, Scene 1 The Duke of Norfolk, the Duke of Buckingham, and Abergavenny meet at court. They discuss the recent meeting of Henry VII... Read More
Act 1, Scene 2 King Henry VIII and his train, including Cardinal Wolsey, enter the council chamber. Henry expresses his gratitude to Wo... Read More
Act 1, Scene 3 Lord Chamberlain and Lord Sands are in an antechamber of the palace, discussing their irritation that English gentlemen ... Read More
Act 1, Scene 4 In a hall at York Palace, everything is ready for Wolsey's dinner party. Guests enter, including Anne Bullen. Sir Henry ... Read More
Act 2, Scene 1 Two gentlemen meet on a street and discuss Buckingham's trial, at which he was found guilty of treason and sentenced to ... Read More
Act 2, Scene 2 Chamberlain enters, reading a letter. He is dismayed to learn some horses he had sent for were taken by one of Wolsey's ... Read More
Act 2, Scene 3 In an antechamber of Queen Katherine's apartments, Anne Bullen and an old lady discuss the divorce. Anne expresses distr... Read More
Act 2, Scene 4 In a hall at Blackfriars, the court is arrayed for Katherine's defense. Katherine pleads her case before the king. She a... Read More
Act 3, Scene 1 In Queen Katherine's apartments, one of her women sings a song to distract her from her sadness. Wolsey and Campeius arr... Read More
Act 3, Scene 2 In an antechamber of Henry's apartments, Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey, and Lord Chamberlain discuss how they can strike agai... Read More
Act 4, Scene 1 The two gentlemen meet again in a street in Westminster. It is the day of Anne's coronation. The first gentleman knows o... Read More
Act 4, Scene 2 At Kymmalton Katherine speaks with her attendants—a gentleman, Griffith, and a gentlewoman, Patience. Katherine is sick,... Read More
Act 5, Scene 1 It is past one in the morning, and Gardiner, who is the Bishop of Winchester, runs into Lovell in a gallery in the palac... Read More
Act 5, Scene 2 Cranmer rushes to arrive promptly for the meeting, but when he reaches the council chamber he is made to wait until call... Read More
Act 5, Scene 3 It is the day of the young princess's christening, and in the palace yard, the Porter and one of his men try to keep a c... Read More
Act 5, Scene 4 At the palace an elaborate procession with the newborn princess Elizabeth takes place. Also in the procession are Cranme... Read More
Epilogue The Epilogue notes many people probably disliked the play. The only people who are going to say nice things about this p... Read More
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