Wednesday, July 28, 2010

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July 28, 1540 was a big day in the life of King Henry VIII.  Early on his list of to-do's that day was the beheading of his former minister Thomas Cromwell, guilty of treason for recommending Henry marry Anne of Cleves.  Henry could not bring himself to consumate his marriage with Anne.

Next on his list that day was his marriage to Catherine Howard.  This one he would consumate; it was Catherine who was repulsed.  Catherine lasted until February 13, 1542, when she was executed for failing to disclose a marriage contract that predated her marriage to Henry.  There were also many stories of Catherine's indiscretions that reached Henry's ear.

Walter Scott includes Henry VIII, or the circumstances of his times in more than one work.  In his poem Marmion, the title character is a favorite of Henry's.  Marmion had marital troubles of his own:

'XXIX



"Still was false Marmion's bridal staid;
To Whitby's convent fled the maid,
The hated match to shun.
'Ho! shifts she thus?' king Henry cried,
'Sir Marmion, she shall be thy bride,
If she were sworn a nun.'
One way remained—the King's command
Sent Marmion to the Scottish land:
I linger'd here, and rescue plann'd
For Clara and for me:
This caitiff Monk for gold did swear
He would to Whitby's shrine repair,
And by his drugs my rival fair
A saint in heaven should be.
is But ill the dastard kept his oath,
Whose cowardice has undone us both.

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