''Henry VIII'' is a play co-written by Creator/WilliamShakespeare and John Fletcher. It tells the story of King UsefulNotes/HenryVIII of England, focusing on the machinations of Cardinal Wolsey surrounding both the trial and execution of the Duke of Buckingham and the annulment of Henry's marriage with Katherine of Aragon. It ends with Henry's marriage to UsefulNotes/AnneBoleyn and the subsequent birth of the future Queen Elizabeth I. In real life these events occurred over a 13-year period; here they happen within (at most) a few months' time.
The play is thought to have first been performed privately as part of the celebrations surrounding the marriage of James I's daughter Elizabeth to Frederick, Elector Palatine.[[note]]Elizabeth's grandson eventually succeeded to the British throne as George I.[[/note]] Its first public performance in June 1613 led to the Globe Theatre burning down. Notwithstanding the disaster, ''Henry [=VIII=]'' was one of the few Shakespearean plays to retain its popularity after the Restoration and into the 18th and 19th centuries. The great Georgian actress Sarah Siddons considered the role of Queen Katherine to be Shakespeare's finest female part.
!!Provides Examples Of:
* BabiesEverAfter: The play ends with the baptism of Princess Elizabeth. Of course it seems to imply that everything works out just great for Anne and Henry.
* CorruptChurch: The Catholic Church, especially as personified by Cardinal Wolsey.
* CoversAlwaysLie: The subtitle for this play is "All is True."
* DemotedToExtra: There is a passing reference to Elizabeth's older half-sister Princess Mary but she is not really a character in the play.
** Anne Boleyn (spelled here "Bullen") is also hardly more than an extra; she and Queen Katherine never meet.[[note]]One suspects that faced with choosing between the Protestant saint beloved by a fervent minority or the whore sneered at by most, the writers wisely shifted her into the background. [[/note]]
* HistoricalHeroUpgrade: Henry. Everything bad that happens is Wolsey's fault; Henry is a poor, misunderstood Nice Guy.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: Wolsey, of course.
* KangarooCourt: Katherine's divorce proceedings.
* OffWithHisHead: So much for Buckingham.
* PoliticallyCorrectHistory: Elizabeth's birth is the happy ending of this play, with everyone talking about how wonderful it will be when she's queen. Never mind that, at the time of her birth, there was no reason to believe that Elizabeth would ever become queen; indeed, the fact that Henry and Katherine already ''had'' a daughter is carefully omitted.
** The play was written (or at least first performed) in honour of the marriage of James's daughter, also named Elizabeth. It's probably not a bad bet that the praise was meant as much for her as for Queen Bess.
* SpellMyNameWithAnS: Cardinal Campeggio is "Campeius" here, while Ambassador Chapuys is "Caputius".
* TruthInTelevision: Queen Katherine's speech is taken directly from the historical record.
* WrittenByTheWinners: Shakespeare is often accused of adding "propaganda" into his historical plays to please the royal family. In reality, the "propaganda" was one remove away; there were no historical reference books in existence that hadn't already been censored to please the royals. Also, although popular opinion had a lot to say about Henry, Anne Boleyn, and Elizabeth that the writers might have used, there was still so much controversy about Henry's reign even among the public that they might have made a conscious choice to toe the party line.