Act 1 Scene 1 | Wolf Hall | Royal Shakespeare Company

– The king called me this morning, early. Exceptionally early.
– What did he want?
– A son. – He’s got one – young Richmond.
They say Mary Boleyn’s boy’s his as well. – It might be – it squalls – and it’s ginger.
Forget Mary Boleyn. He needs a son born in wedlock, an heir to sit on his throne when he’s gone.
– His daughter won’t do? – Mary, a girl ruling England? Don’t be absurd.
Now you have a son. Gregory is a fine boy. I, God forgive me, have a boy of my own.
Every lord, every landed gentleman,
every lackey can get boys. Only the king can’t seem to manage it.
Whose fault is that? – God’s?
– Nearer the king than God. – Queen Katherine’s?
– Nearer.
– Yourself, your grace? – Myself, my grace. The king lies awake at night
asking himself why his children die. The fault must be mine.
Henry believes God won’t give him sons because he and Katherine were never truly married.
– He’s just noticed, after 18 years? – He’s reading his Bible, and although the Pope
declared their marriage lawful, gave a dispensation, swept aside all impediment,
in the Book of Leviticus, he’s found the verse which forbids marriage
with a brother’s wife. Katherine was his brother’s widow.
– Well, then show him the contradictory verse. Deuteronomy says marrying
your brother’s widow’s compulsory. – The king doesn’t like Deuteronomy,
he prefers Leviticus. He says if this is God’s Word plainly written,
no Pope has power to set it aside. – He’s right there, isn’t he?
– Is he? – You tell me, you’re the cardinal.
– I’m a divided man: the Pope’s voice in England but first the king’s loyal servant.
Still, if we go to work in the usual way. Offer Pope Clement…um…
– A bribe. – God forgive you, Tom. A loan.
– He may grant the king an annulment.
– There are precedents. – Gold finds its way into the Vatican
and the king gets a new wife, one who can breed.
– And what does Katherine get?
– Oh, Jesu! She doesn’t even suspect. It’ll be me who has to tell her.
The king doesn’t deliver bad news – he delegates it. – You’ll have to pick the right moment.
– There is no right moment. She’ll say, “I am the daughter
of two reigning monarchs and they send a butcher’s boy to tip me off my throne.”
– Yeah, then she’ll threaten you with her nephew, the Emperor.
– Charles wouldn’t go to war over his old aunt, surely? – He doesn’t have to go to war.
They can blockade us, starve us out. When winter comes he’ll hold back the grain ships,
we’ll be at his mercy. If I were you – – Tom Cromwell, Lord Chancellor of England!
Imagine that.
– I’d deal with the king’s case here in London. Get everything settled before Europe
wakes up to what’s happening. – When Europe wakes up,
it may break this country apart.

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