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Henry`s Half Dozen

by Mickey 

Posted: 02 November 2017
Word Count: 265
Summary: Hi All My internet connectionís been down for a couple of weeks but Iím now back. I wrote this poem first and added the wivesí names afterwards, so I know the lines/verse breakdown is a bit erratic

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  • Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon thought the
King a paragon, till she learnt about his
fling with maid-in-waiting, Anne Boleyn
who wouldn’t let him pluck her flower
till she was on the throne of power
  • Anne Boleyn
but Anne could not produce an heir      
and Henry said she’d had affairs.
She hadn’t come up trumps in bed
for which she had to lose her head.
  • Jane Seymour
That's how Jane Seymour came to be
Henry’s missus number three.
A son was born, they called him Ed,
but two weeks later Jane was dead.
  • Anne of Cleves
And then, to be as thick as thieves
with France, he married Anne of Cleves.
But Henry’s problems weren’t resolved
and so, the marriage was dissolved.
(the King had wanted Anne to be more
like his lost love, Queen Jane Seymour)
  • Kathryn Howard
Then, once again true love had flowered
when he had married Kathryn Howard
who, thirty years his junior,
found fat King Henry quite a bore
so flirted with the lads at Court
and to the block was duly brought.
  • Katherine Parr
Henry then wed Katherine Parr
remembered in particular
for, unlike all the other five,
when Henry died was still alive
(That last bit isn’t strictly true as
Anne of Cleves outlived him too.
To Hever Castle she’d been sent
to live out her ‘retirement')
  • PS:  Thomas Seymour
Kate didn’t wait with Henry dead
and, pretty soon, she was re-wed
to her late husband’s bro-in-law
her one-time lover Tom Seymour
And this is where we leave the lives
Of Henry’s half a dozen wives

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 22:12 on 04 November 2017  Report this post
Hello Mike – In a curious way, your poems and Michael’s translation of ‘Bothwell’ have both given me a good excuse to bang on about monarchy! ‘Bothwell’ is well on the serious side, and that leads to thoughts about the cruelty of the institution because it consigns someone like Mary Stuart to a life ‘on the run’ and an early death on the block. I don’t suppose it would be very easy to write humorous verses about Mary, but when it comes to Henry, there’s something inherently ludicrous about his shenanigans – even though we know it wasn’t funny for Anne Boleyn or Kathryn Howard in particular.

Anne Boleyn seems to have been an admirable young woman – not easy to refuse to get into bed with the King. The business of divorcing Catherine of Aragon and marrying Anne was known at the time as ‘the King’s great matter’ – well, more like ‘The b***h is nearly 40 and hasn’t produced a son, so I’ll have this young looker instead! What? the Pope won’t allow it? Sod him, I’ll start my own church and make my own rules!’ Then, when Anne couldn’t produce the goods either it was (Alice in Wonderland style) ‘Off with her head!’ Look at it one way it’s all serious stuff, but look at it another (which is easy to do) and it’s a farce – and Henry is a fat clown. All I’m saying is your comic verses spotlight the farcical side of it, which helps us keep a sense of proportion vis-à-vis Henry and monarchy in general.

I like this:
She hadn’t come up trumps in bed
for which she had to lose her head.

It’s an example of what I mean – you think, well, no doubt there was more to it, but that just sums it up. When all’s said and done, that’s more or less what it amounted to. Same applies to your lines about Kathryn Howard, who
found fat King Henry quite a bore
so flirted with the lads at Court
and to the block was duly brought.

Nobody could bring him to the block for flirting, of course, but if any of the women did it they were for the chop.

Well, it’s what I said at the start – an excuse to bang on, seriously or mockingly, about monarchy. These are very entertaining, so much so they spark off ideas for more of the same – which I couldn’t write but you could. One about Henry’s dealings with the Pope, for instance. Pope Clement VII was no fool; he saw through Henry right from the start. Again, it’s quite a complicated story, but I dare say you could sum it up in a few mocking, neatly rhymed lines.


P.S. ‘Henry’s Half-a-Dozen’ would have been a good title.

joanie at 19:10 on 05 November 2017  Report this post
Hi Mike!  I am away, so trying to get on here when I can.   I have always thought that I really ought to 'learn' the Kings and Queens of England! I had a dreadful history teacher who put me off for life!  Perhaps if I had had this brilliant way of accessing it, I would have been better!

I do agree with James's suggestion for a title.

i enjoyed this immensely.  Thank you.



Mickey at 10:25 on 06 November 2017  Report this post
Hi James and Joanie

Yes, I wasn't happy with the title either so I've changed it as James suggested (thank you).  I really have no depth of knowledge of the subject and only offer this as a kind of 'Orrible History'.  James, I am always in awe of Michael's (and your) intellectual understanding of almost everything it seems, and feel somewhat embarrased at the flippancy of my 'work'.  Strangely though, while I was writing this I felt a genuine sympathy for the ladies involved who I had previously just considered as names from a history book.

Thank you both for commenting


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