Sunday 14 July 2013

Henry VIII and his six wives - Complete version

Prince Arthur (died 1502)

Henry was a handsome king,
He liked to dance, he liked to sing,
He liked to read, he liked his sport,
But ate and drank more than he ought.

For reasons more than love or kicks,
He married not one wife but six!
(Henry, sometimes known as "Hal"
Would always note a pretty gal
And, as befits a man of action,
Allowed himself the odd distraction.)

Henry VIII
Kath'rine, his first royal bride,
Had wed before, but hubby died.
And that her first husband was none other
 Than Arthur, Henry's older brother.

(Hal wasn't born to be the heir:
As second son, he'd been the "spare",
On how to rule had never sweated;
With mum had stayed, adored and petted.)

Our Henry and his Spanish wife
To start with had a happy life,
Katherine of Aragon (1485-1536)
Mary Tudor

But Henry wanted just one thing:
A son to follow him as king.

He hoped and prayed but knew no joy,
Their child a girl and not a boy.
(That princess turned out really scary:
Was later known as "Bloody Mary")

Anne Boleyn (1501/1507-1536)
He thought, "My marriage is a sin!"
Then fell in love with Anne Boleyn...
There's just one tiny glitch and this is,
Our king already has a missus.

As for divorce, well not much hope,
Except if granted by the Pope
Who played for time, while Henry waited
Getting more and more frustrated,
Not knowing what he could do next,
(He couldn't email, phone or text).
At last, he said "Enough's enough.
I'll break with Rome! I'll call his bluff!
The man's a joke. The man's a tease.
I'll do exactly as I please.

In this my kingdom, this my realm,
The monarch shall be at the helm.
The English church shall be my onus,
The Young Elizabeth
Its riches, though, an added bonus.

His ageing spouse was then dispatched
And Hal was free to get re-matched.
Dear Anne, he did himself convince,
Would certainly produce a prince.

So many gowns and jewels he bought her,
But baby was another daughter.
(Elizabeth, it will be seen,
Became fair England's greatest queen.)

"Another wretched female child,"
Cried Henry, "I have been beguiled."
Wife number two he sought to ditch,
"She's been untrue. She is a witch."

"I'm tired of her. I'm getting bored."
They cut off her head with a sword.
(She'd been accused of trumped-up crimes:
Jane Seymour
That's how it used to work sometimes.)...

And now, with Anne securely dead,
He turned to gentle Jane instead.
The time flew by. Two summers passed,
Then Henry got his son at last.

But once she'd borne that prince most royal,
Jane shuffled off this mortal coil.
Our Henry all alone was left,
Partner-less and quite bereft...
Prince Edward

England, as oft-times before
Was threatened by impending war.
To make an ally double-quick,
Anne of Cleves
Should Henry seek a foreign chick?

His men searched Europe for a mate,
And found one in a German state.
Hal did not meet her 'ere they wed:
A portrait had to do instead.

Her ugliness caused much despair,
He called his wife "The Flanders Mare",
And this resemblance to a horse
Led to the Anne of Cleves divorce,

To which she readily agreed
And proved herself a friend indeed:
He called his ex beloved sister,
If she had gone, he would have missed her.
Catherine Howard

And therefore Anne in England stayed
For many years. She died a maid.

Next Henry eyed a bit of skirt,
Young and fair and quite the flirt.
Catherine Howard won his heart
But wasn't really all that smart.

Because of all the food he ate,
Our king, by now, had put on weight.
His once-great strength was quickly losing,
Legs all swollen, painful, oozing.

Henry in later life
Wife number five, his brand new queen,
Was quite repulsed, "He's fat, obscene!"
Younger men were her delight
(We've said she wasn't all that bright:
If, on the king, you're going to cheat,
You really can't be too discreet.)
And thus she faced the fate all dreaded,
Despite her pleading, doomed...beheaded...

Katherine Parr
His former energies abated
And, thinking passion overrated,
Hal knows exactly what is sought,
A more mature type at his court,

A woman who'll do as he bids,
Who'll dress his sores, who's good with kids.
He didn't need to look that far,
And wed the widow, Katherine Parr.

She played her part, she nursed, she tended,
Henry's offspring loved, befriended.
But proved more than a homely sort
And had her enemies at court.

Despite her dodgy new faith leaning,
Kate was rather good at queening.
When things got tight, she fudged and bluffed it:
Had kept her head, when Henry snuffed it.

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