Henry The Eighth

 

"Henry VIII" was printed for the first time in the First Folio of 1623. This play shows that the author was indebted for some of his materials to Cavendish's Life of Wolsey, which, although written in 1557, was not published until 1641--eighteen years after the appearance of the play and twenty-five years after the death of Will Shaksper.[1616] It is impossible that the actor could have had access to this manuscript, but it would have been available to Bacon as one of Wolsey's successors in office. It is quite certain that in 1622-23 Bacon was engaged upon a work pertaining to the reign of Henry VIII, for in January, 1623, he had applied to the proper authorities for the loan of such documents as might be in the public archives relating to that monarch's reign. On February 21st, 1623, Bacon wrote to Buckingham, who had gone to Spain with Prince Charles, asking to be remembered to the Prince

"Who, I hope ere long, will make me leave King Henry VIII and set me on work in relation to His Majesty's heroical adventures."
On June 26th, 1623, Bacon wrote to his friend Sir Tobie Matthew:
"Since you say the Prince hath not forgot his commandment touching my history of Henry VIII."

Where is this History of Henry VIII? It never appeared, but six months afterwards the play of "Henry VIII" is published in the First Folio of the "Shakespeare" Plays.

In this play of "Henry VIII"there is a scene where four peers are sent to relieve Cardinal Wolsey of the Great Seal. Is it a coincidence that the playwright should have selected as two of these peers the names of two of the peers who were actually sent to take the great seal from Francis Bacon on the occasion of his fall from power?[1621] Why should any man other than Francis Bacon himself mention the names of two peers who did not attend on Cardinal Wolsey but who did attend upon himself?

***

return to the directory