The Two Noble Kinsmen
The Two Noble Kinsmen is a Jacobean tragicomedy, first published in 1634 and attributed to John Fletcher and William Shakespeare. Its plot derives from "The Knight's Tale" in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, dramatised at least twice before. A point of controversy, the dual attribution is now accepted by scholarly consensus. A prologue informs the audience. Three queens come to plead with Theseus and Hippolyta, rulers of Athens, to avenge the deaths of their husbands by the hand of the tyrant Creon of Thebes. Creon refuses to allow them proper burial. Theseus agrees to wage war on Creon. In Thebes and Arcite, cousins and close friends, are bound by duty to fight for Creon, though they are appalled by his tyranny. In a hard-fought battle Palamon and Arcite enact prodigies of courage, but the Thebans are defeated by Theseus. Palamon and Arcite are imprisoned, their stoicism is destroyed when from their prison window they see Princess Emilia, Hippolyta's sister. Both fall in love with her, their friendship turns to bitter rivalry.
Arcite is released after a relative intercedes on his behalf. He is banished from Athens, but he disguises himself, wins a local wrestling match, is appointed as Emilia's bodyguard. Meanwhile, the jailer's daughter helps him escape, she follows him, but he ignores her: still obsessed with Emilia. He lives in the forest half-starved; the two argue, but Arcite offers to bring Palamon food and armaments so that they can meet in an equal fight over Emilia. The jailer's daughter, has gone mad, she babbles in the forest. She meets a troupe of local countrymen who want to perform a Morris dance before the queen. Local schoolmaster Gerald invites the mad daughter to join the performance. Theseus and Hippolyta appear. Gerald hails them, they agree to watch the yokels perform a bizarre act for them, with the jailer's mad daughter dancing; the royal couple reward them. Arcite returns with weapons. After a convivial dinner with reminiscences, the two fight. Theseus and his entourage arrive on the scene, he orders that Arcite be arrested and executed.
Hippolyta and Emilia intervene, so Theseus agrees to a public tournament between the two for Emilia's hand. Each warrior will be allowed three companions to assist them; the loser and his companion knights will be executed. The jailer finds his daughter with the help of friends, he tries to restore her mental health. On the advice of a doctor, he encourages her former suitor to pretend to be Palamon so that she will be accustomed to see him as her true love, his devotion wins her over. Before the tournament, Arcite prays to Mars; each prayer is granted: Arcite wins the combat, but is thrown from his horse and dies, leaving Palamon to wed Emilia. Before the composition of The Two Noble Kinsmen, Chaucer's "Knight's Tale" had been adapted for the stage twice before, although both versions are now lost; the first was by Richard Edwardes in Arcite. This play was commissioned for a one-off performance before Queen Elizabeth in Oxford, it was never published, it is unlikely to have served as a basis for The Two Noble Kinsmen.
Another play on the topic, the authorship of, not known, would have been known to Shakespeare and Fletcher. It was performed by the Admiral's Men in September 1594, which had recently been formed after a split in Shakespeare's own company. Philip Henslowe commissioned the play, which may have influenced Shakespeare's own A Midsummer Night's Dream, considered to have been written around this time; the comic sub-plot involving the jailer's daughter has no direct source, but is similar to scenes in The Masque of the Inner Temple and Gray's Inn, by Francis Beaumont, from which the performance by the yokels is derived. The Schoolmaster who organises it recalls Rombus in Sir Philip Sidney's one-act play The Lady of May. In other respects, he resembles Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Links between The Two Noble Kinsmen and contemporaneous works point to 1613–14 as its date of composition and first performance. A reference to Palamon, one of the protagonists of Kinsmen, is contained in Ben Jonson's play Bartholomew Fair.
In Jonson's work, a passage in Act IV, scene iii, appears to indicate that Kinsmen was known and familiar to audiences at that time. In Francis Beaumont's The Masque of the Inner Temple and Gray's Inn, the second anti-masque features this cast of rural characters: pedant, May Lord and Lady and chambermaid, tavern host and hostess and his wench, two "bavians"; the same cast simplified enacts the Morris dance in Kinsmen, II,v,120-38. A successful "special effect" in Beaumont's masque, designed for a single performance, appears to have been adopted and adapted into Kinsmen, indicating that the play followed the masque at no great interval; the play was entered into the Stationers' Register on 8 April 1634. The play was not included in the First Folio or any of the subsequent Folios of Shakespeare's works, though it was included in the second Beaumont and Fletcher folio of 1679. Researchers have applied a range of tests and techniques to determine the relative shares of Shakespeare and Fletcher in the play—Hallet Smith, i
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world, the second oldest after Cambridge University Press. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the vice-chancellor known as the delegates of the press, they are headed by the secretary to the delegates, who serves as OUP's chief executive and as its major representative on other university bodies. Oxford University has used a similar system to oversee OUP since the 17th century; the Press is located on opposite Somerville College, in the suburb Jericho. The Oxford University Press Museum is located on Oxford. Visits are led by a member of the archive staff. Displays include a 19th-century printing press, the OUP buildings, the printing and history of the Oxford Almanack, Alice in Wonderland and the Oxford English Dictionary; the university became involved in the print trade around 1480, grew into a major printer of Bibles, prayer books, scholarly works. OUP took on the project that became the Oxford English Dictionary in the late 19th century, expanded to meet the ever-rising costs of the work.
As a result, the last hundred years has seen Oxford publish children's books, school text books, journals, the World's Classics series, a range of English language teaching texts. Moves into international markets led to OUP opening its own offices outside the United Kingdom, beginning with New York City in 1896. With the advent of computer technology and harsh trading conditions, the Press's printing house at Oxford was closed in 1989, its former paper mill at Wolvercote was demolished in 2004. By contracting out its printing and binding operations, the modern OUP publishes some 6,000 new titles around the world each year; the first printer associated with Oxford University was Theoderic Rood. A business associate of William Caxton, Rood seems to have brought his own wooden printing press to Oxford from Cologne as a speculative venture, to have worked in the city between around 1480 and 1483; the first book printed in Oxford, in 1478, an edition of Rufinus's Expositio in symbolum apostolorum, was printed by another, printer.
Famously, this was mis-dated in Roman numerals as "1468", thus pre-dating Caxton. Rood's printing included John Ankywyll's Compendium totius grammaticae, which set new standards for teaching of Latin grammar. After Rood, printing connected with the university remained sporadic for over half a century. Records or surviving work are few, Oxford did not put its printing on a firm footing until the 1580s. In response to constraints on printing outside London imposed by the Crown and the Stationers' Company, Oxford petitioned Elizabeth I of England for the formal right to operate a press at the university; the chancellor, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, pleaded Oxford's case. Some royal assent was obtained, since the printer Joseph Barnes began work, a decree of Star Chamber noted the legal existence of a press at "the universitie of Oxforde" in 1586. Oxford's chancellor, Archbishop William Laud, consolidated the legal status of the university's printing in the 1630s. Laud envisaged a unified press of world repute.
Oxford would establish it on university property, govern its operations, employ its staff, determine its printed work, benefit from its proceeds. To that end, he petitioned Charles I for rights that would enable Oxford to compete with the Stationers' Company and the King's Printer, obtained a succession of royal grants to aid it; these were brought together in Oxford's "Great Charter" in 1636, which gave the university the right to print "all manner of books". Laud obtained the "privilege" from the Crown of printing the King James or Authorized Version of Scripture at Oxford; this "privilege" created substantial returns in the next 250 years, although it was held in abeyance. The Stationers' Company was alarmed by the threat to its trade and lost little time in establishing a "Covenant of Forbearance" with Oxford. Under this, the Stationers paid an annual rent for the university not to exercise its full printing rights – money Oxford used to purchase new printing equipment for smaller purposes.
Laud made progress with internal organization of the Press. Besides establishing the system of Delegates, he created the wide-ranging supervisory post of "Architypographus": an academic who would have responsibility for every function of the business, from print shop management to proofreading; the post was more an ideal than a workable reality, but it survived in the loosely structured Press until the 18th century. In practice, Oxford's Warehouse-Keeper dealt with sales and the hiring and firing of print shop staff. Laud's plans, hit terrible obstacles, both personal and political. Falling foul of political intrigue, he was executed in 1645, by which time the English Civil War had broken out. Oxford became a Royalist stronghold during the conflict, many printers in the city concentrated on producing political pamphlets or sermons; some outstanding mathematical and Orientalist works emerged at this time—notably, texts edited by Edward Pococke, the Regius Professor of Hebrew—but no university press on Laud's model was possible before the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.
It was established by the vice-chancellor, John Fell, Dean of Christ Church, Bishop of Oxford, Secretary to the Delegates. Fell regarded Laud as a martyr, was determined to honour his vision of the Press. Using the provisions of the Great Charter, Fell persuaded Oxford to refuse any further payments from the Stationers and drew
Thomas Shelton (translator)
Thomas Shelton was a translator of Don Quixote. Shelton's translation of the first part of the novel into English was published in London in 1612, it was the first translation into any language. Shelton was a Roman Catholic from Dublin, he may have been educated in Spain, where a'Thomas Shelton, Dublinensis' was listed as a student in Salamanca. Shelton's activities in Ireland brought him to the attention of the English intelligence service, he seems to have been employed in carrying letters to persons in England from Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam at Dublin Castle. However, evidence emerged that he was hostile to the English crown: a letter was intercepted in which he offered his services to Florence MacCarthy, seeking to arrange a military intervention by the king of Spain. In 1600 a spy reported that Shelton and one Richard Nugent were at the headquarters of the Irish rebel Tyrone. Shelton and Nugent were reported to be planning to travel to Scotland, but they changed their destination to Spain. Whether they arrived in Spain is not clear as they both ended up in Flanders.
Nugent was to claim he left Ireland because he was neglected in love, publishing Cynthia, containing direfull sonnets and passionate intercourses, describing his repudiate affections expressed in loves owne language. Shelton's dedication of his major literary work to Theophilus Howard has led to speculation as to the connection between them; the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography suggests they could have met in the Low Countries in 1610. Another suggestion is that the connection was via Theophilus' mother. According to Alexander T. Wright, in a paper published in October 1898, Lady Suffolk had three relatives bearing the name Thomas Shelton, the author may therefore have been related. Moreover, Lady Suffolk received money from the King of Spain on the recommendation of the Spanish ambassador, she was of interest to the Spanish because of her perceived influence on the Earl of Salisbury. Shelton at one time hoped to obtain a pardon from the English authorities, but so far as is known spent his final years on the continent where he became a Franciscan.
The life of Thomas Shelton inspired the biographical novel Behind the Tapestry by Lenny McGee, now translated and published in Italian as Dietro l'arazzo by Coazinzola Press. Shelton's first publication was a poem in Cynthia, a book of lyric verse mentioned above in which the author, included several pieces by his friends. Shelton wrote a sonnet prefixed to the Restitution of Decayed Intelligence of Richard Verstegan. In the dedication of The History of the Valorous and Wittie Knight-Errant Don-Quixote of the Mancha he explains to his patron, Lord Howard de Walden, afterwards 2nd Earl of Suffolk", that he "Translated some five or six yeares agoe, The Historie of Don-Quixote, out of the Spanish tongue, into the English... in the space of forty daies: being therunto more than half enforced, through the importunitie of a deere friend, desirous to understand the subject."As source, Shelton did not use either of the authorized 1605 editions of the First Part of Cervantes' masterpiece, but an edition published in Brussels, in the Spanish Netherlands, in 1607.
Shelton's translation of the First Part of the novel was published. On the appearance of the Brussels imprint of the Second Part of Don Quixote in 1616, the year of Cervantes's death, Shelton translated that into English, completing his task in 1620, printing at the same time a revised edition of the First Part, his performance has become a classic among English translations for its racy, spirited rendering of the original, but has been faulted by translators such as John Ormsby, for being so literal that certain words and phrases are mistranslated. Ormsby states, in his introduction to his own 1885 translation, that Shelton failed to recognize that a Spanish word can have more than one shade of meaning, accuses Shelton of not having had a good knowledge of Spanish. In his introduction to the Tudor Translations reprint of Shelton's translations, James Fitzmaurice-Kelly sees the performance otherwise: "Shelton's title to remembrance is based upon the broadest grounds, he had no sympathy for the arid accuracy that juggles with a gerund or toys with the crabbed subjunctive.
From the subtleties of syntax, as from the bonds of prosody he sallies free. And they have sought to avenge themselves, after their manner, by reproaching him with taking a disjunctive for an interjection, with confounding of predicate and subject, they act after their kind. But Shelton's view of his function was nobler than the hidebound grammarian's, he appeals to the pure lover of literature. Shelton's Don Quixote is available online from Project Gutenberg. Acknowledgement This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain
Royal Shakespeare Company
The Royal Shakespeare Company is a major British theatre company, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. The company produces around 20 productions a year; the RSC plays in London, Newcastle upon Tyne and on tour across the UK and internationally. The company's home is in Stratford-upon-Avon, where it has redeveloped its Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres as part of a £112.8-million "Transformation" project. The theatres re-opened in November 2010, having closed in 2007; the new buildings attracted 18,000 visitors within the first week and received a positive media response both upon opening, following the first full Shakespeare performances. Performances in Stratford-upon-Avon continued throughout the Transformation project at the temporary Courtyard Theatre; as well as the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, the RSC produces new work from living artists and develops creative links with theatre-makers from around the world, as well as working with teachers to inspire a lifelong love of William Shakespeare in young people and running events for everyone to explore and participate in its work.
The RSC celebrated its fiftieth birthday season from April–December 2011, with two companies of actors presenting the first productions designed for the new Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatre stages. The 2011-season began with performances of Macbeth and a re-imagined lost play The History of Cardenio; the fiftieth birthday season featured The Merchant of Venice with Sir Patrick Stewart and revivals of some of the RSC's greatest plays, including a new staging of Marat/Sade. For the London 2012 Festival as part of the Cultural Olympiad, the RSC produced the World Shakespeare Festival, featuring artists from across the world performing in venues around the UK. In 2013, the company began live screenings of its Shakespeare productions – called Live from Stratford-upon-Avon – which are screened around the world. In 2016, the company collaborated with Intel and The Imaginarium Studios to stage The Tempest, bringing performance capture to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre for the first time. There have been theatrical performances in Stratford-upon-Avon since at least Shakespeare's day, though the first recorded performance of a play written by Shakespeare himself was in 1746 when Parson Joseph Greene, master of Stratford Grammar School, organised a charitable production to fund the restoration of Shakespeare's funerary monument.
John Ward's Birmingham-based company, the Warwickshire Company of Comedians, agreed to perform it. A surviving copy of the playbill records; the first building erected to commemorate Shakespeare was David Garrick's Jubilee Pavilion in 1769, there have been at least 17 buildings used to perform Shakespeare's plays since. The first permanent commemorative building to Shakespeare's works in the town was a theatre built in 1827, in the gardens of New Place, but has long since been demolished; the RSC's history began with the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, the brainchild of a local brewer, Charles Edward Flower. He donated a two-acre site by the River Avon and in 1875 launched an international campaign to build a theatre in the town of Shakespeare's birth; the theatre, a Victorian-Gothic building seating just over 700 people, opened on 23 April 1879, with a performance of Much Ado About Nothing, a title which gave ammunition to several critics. The Memorial, a red brick Gothic cathedral, designed by Dodgshun and Unsworth of Westminster, was unkindly described by Bernard Shaw as "an admirable building, adaptable to every purpose except that of a theatre."
From 1919, under the direction of William Bridges-Adams and after a slow start, its resident New Shakespeare Company became one of the most prestigious in Britain. The theatre received a Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1925. On the afternoon of 6 March 1926, when a new season was about to commence rehearsals, smoke was seen. Fire broke out, the mass of half-timbering chosen to ornament the interior provided dry tinder. By the following morning the theatre was a blackened shell; the company transferred its Shakespeare festivals to a converted local cinema. Fund-raising began for the rebuilding of the theatre, with generous donations arriving from philanthropists in America. In January 1928, following an open competition, 29-year-old Elisabeth Scott was unanimously appointed architect for the new theatre which became the first important work erected in the United Kingdom from the designs of a woman architect. George Bernard Shaw commented, her modernist plans for an art deco structure came under fire from many directions but the new building was opened triumphantly on William Shakespeare's birthday, 23 April 1932.
It came under the direction of Sir Barry Jackson in 1945, Anthony Quayle from 1948 to 1956 and Glen Byam Shaw 1957–1959, with an impressive roll-call of actors. Scott's building, with some minor adjustments to the stage, remained in constant use until 2007 when it was closed for a major refit of the interior. Timeline: 1932 – new Shakespeare Memorial Theatre opens, abutting the remains of the old. 1961 – chartered name of the corporation and the Stratford theatre becomes ‘Royal Shakespeare.’ 1974 – The Other Place opened, created from a prefabricated former store/rehearsal room in Stratford. 1986 – the Swan Theatre opened, created from the shell of the 1879 Memorial Theatre. 1991 – Purpose-built new Other Place, designed by Michael Reardon, opens. September 2004 – The vision for the renewal of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre transformation is announced. July 2006 – The Courtyard Theatre opens with a staging of Michael Boyd’s Histories. November 2010 – The Royal Shakespeare and Swan T
Roger Chartier, born on December 9, 1945 in Lyon, is a French historian and historiographer, part of the Annales school. He works on the history of books and reading, he teaches at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, the Collège de France, the University of Pennsylvania. From Lyon, he studied at the Ampère lycée. Between 1964 and 1969, he was a student at the École normale supérieure de Saint-Cloud and, at the same time, he pursued a 3-year-degree followed by a master's degree at the Sorbonne. In 1969, he succeeded at his agrégation in history, he taught as an associate professor at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris between 1969 and 1970. In the same year, he became assistant in Modern History at the University of Paris I senior lecturer at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, he became a lecturer and director of studies at the EHESS until 2006. In 2006 he was appointed professor at the Collège de France, holder of the "Written Culture in Modern Europe" chair.
He hosts the show Les lundis de l'histoire on France Culture, in which he talks with historians who publish books on modern history. The works of Roger Chartier are described by Dorothea Kraus as follows: "Authors, texts and readers are four poles linked by Roger Chartier's work on the history of written culture; the concept of'appropriation' makes it possible for this perspective not only to give rise to these research topics, but put them in touch with reading practices that determine appropriation, which, in turn, depend on the reading skills of a community of readers, author strategies, text formats."In 2009-10, he was the Weidenfeld Visiting Professor of European Comparative Literature in St Anne's College, Oxford. Winner of the 1990 Annual Award of the American Printing History Association Grand Prix d'histoire of the Académie française in 1992. Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. Honoris Causa Doctor, Universidad Carlos III Cultural History: Between Practices and Representations Translator Lydia G. Cochrane The Cultural Origins of the French Revolution The Order of Books: Readers and Libraries in Europe Between the 14th and 18th Centuries Forms and Meanings: Texts and Audiences from Codex to Computer On the Edge of the Cliff: History and Practices Inscription and Erasure: Literature and Written Culture from the Eleventh to the Eighteenth Century" History of Private Life, Volume III: Passions of the Renaissance Series edited by Phillippe Ariès and Georges Duby.
"Review: Text and Frenchness," Journal of Modern History Vol. 57, No. 4, pp. 682–695 in JSTOR Chartier, Roger. "Le monde comme représentation," Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales 44e Année, No. 6, pp. 1505–1520 in JSTOR Chartier, Roger. "Les arts de mourir, 1450-1600," Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales 31e Année, No. 1, pp. 51–75 in JSTOR Chartier, Roger. "Espace social et imaginaire social: les intellectuels frustrés au XVIIe siècle," Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales 37e Année, No. 2, pp. 389–400 in JSTOR Chartier, Roger. "Review: L'ancien régime typographique: réflexions sur quelques travaux récents," Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales 36e Année, No. 2, pp. 191–209 in JSTOR Hunt, Lynn. "French History in the Last Twenty Years: The Rise and Fall of the Annales Paradigm," Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 21, No. 2, Twentieth Anniversary Issue, pp. 209–224 in JSTOR Département Histoire - Paris VIII-Saint-Denis Stanford Presidential Lectures in the Humanities and Arts: Roger Chartier
Oxford Playhouse is an independent theatre designed by Sir Edward Maufe. It is situated in Beaumont Street, opposite the Ashmolean Museum; the Playhouse was founded as The Red Barn at 12 Woodstock Road, North Oxford, in 1923 by J. B. Fagan; the early history of the theatre is documented by the theatre director, Norman Marshall in his 1947 book, The Other Theatre. Don Chapman has provided a comprehensive study of the theatre in his 2008 book, Oxford Playhouse: High and Low Drama in a University City; the current theatre building on the south side of Beaumont Street was designed by Sir Edward Maufe and was completed in 1938. It is faced in keeping with other early 19th century Regency buildings in the street. Well-known actors who have appeared on the stage at the Playhouse include Rowan Atkinson, Ronnie Barker, Dirk Bogarde, Judi Dench, John Gielgud, Ian McKellen, Dudley Moore, Bill Hicks and Maggie Smith. Susannah York gave her final performance at The Playhouse in August 2010 in Ronald Harwood's Quartet.
The Oxford Playhouse was the crucible from which Prospect Theatre Company was created by Manager Elizabeth Sweeting and Resident Stage Manager Iain Mackintosh in 1961. Prospect Theatre Company became the third major UK theatre company after the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company, between 1963 and 1976 Prospect toured 75 productions to 125 theatres in 21 countries; the Greek theatre director Minos Volanakis was an associate director at the theatre. A charitable trust runs the Playhouse, through a professional management and direction team, as a theatre for the local community. Like much of North Oxford, Oxford Playhouse is owned by St John's College, it was closed for a number of years due to lack of funding, but is now refurbished and thriving, with a 663-seat capacity in the main auditorium. Oxford Playhouse has close relations with Oxford University and is the home stage of the Oxford University Dramatic Society; the Playhouse manages on behalf of the university the nearby Burton Taylor Studio, named in honour of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
"The BT" is a 50-seat studio theatre on Gloucester Street, close to the Oxford Playhouse. It originated in 1966, when Richard Burton donated money towards the creation of a rehearsal space occasionally used for performance, named the Burton Rooms. A couple of decades students from the Oxford University Dramatic Society established the current tradition of the venue as a home for regular student productions; the Burton Taylor Studio programs a mix of student and professional productions throughout the year. New Theatre Oxford Old Fire Station Theatre Anonymous. 1999. Obituary in The New York Times, November 20, 1999. Chapman, Don. 2008. Oxford Playhouse: High and Low Drama in a University City. Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press. ISBN 1-902806-87-5. Marshall, Norman. 1947. The Other Theatre. London: John Lehmann. Parkinson, David. 2003. Oxford at the Movies. P. Ink Books. Oxford Playhouse website
Henry VIII (play)
Henry VIII is a collaborative history play, written by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, based on the life of King Henry VIII of England. An alternative title, All Is True, is recorded in contemporary documents, the title Henry VIII not appearing until the play's publication in the First Folio of 1623. Stylistic evidence indicates that individual scenes were written by either Shakespeare or his collaborator and successor, John Fletcher, it is somewhat characteristic of the late romances in its structure. It is noted for having more stage directions than any of Shakespeare's other plays. During a performance of Henry VIII at the Globe Theatre in 1613, a cannon shot employed for special effects ignited the theatre's thatched roof, burning the original Globe building to the ground; the play opens with a Prologue, who stresses that the audience will see a serious play, appeals to the audience members: "The first and happiest hearers of the town," to "Be sad, as we would make ye." Act I opens with a conversation between the Dukes of Lord Abergavenny.
Their speeches express their mutual resentment over the ruthless power and overweening pride of Cardinal Wolsey. Wolsey passes over the stage with his attendants, expresses his own hostility toward Buckingham. Buckingham is arrested on treason charges—Wolsey's doing; the play's second scene introduces King Henry VIII, shows his reliance on Wolsey as his favourite. Queen Katherine enters to protest about Wolsey's abuse of the tax system for his own purposes. Katherine challenges the arrest of Buckingham, but Wolsey defends the arrest by producing the Duke's Surveyor, the primary accuser. After hearing the Surveyor, the King orders Buckingham's trial to occur. At a banquet thrown by Wolsey, the King and his attendants enter in disguise as masquers; the King dances with Anne Boleyn. Two anonymous Gentlemen open Act one giving the other an account of Buckingham's treason trial. Buckingham himself enters in custody after his conviction, makes his farewells to his followers and to the public. After his exit, the two Gentlemen talk about court gossip Wolsey's hostility toward Katherine.
The next scene shows Wolsey beginning to move against the Queen, while the nobles Norfolk and Suffolk look on critically. Wolsey introduces Cardinal Gardiner to the King. Anne Boleyn is shown conversing with the Old Lady, her attendant. Anne expresses her sympathy at the Queen's troubles. Once the Lord Chamberlain leaves, the Old Lady jokes about Anne's sudden advancement in the King's favour. A lavishly-staged trial scene portrays Katherine's hearing before his courtiers. Katherine reproaches Wolsey for his machinations against her, refuses to stay for the proceedings, but the King defends Wolsey, states that it was his own doubts about the legitimacy of their marriage that led to the trial. Campeius protests that the hearing cannot continue in the Queen's absence, the King grudgingly adjourns the proceeding. Wolsey and Campeius confront Katherine among her ladies-in-waiting. Norfolk, Suffolk and the Lord Chamberlain are shown plotting against Wolsey. A packet of Wolsey's letters to the Pope have been re-directed to the King.
The King shows Wolsey his displeasure, Wolsey for the first time realises that he has lost Henry's favour. The noblemen mock Wolsey, the Cardinal sends his follower Cromwell away so that Cromwell will not be brought down in Wolsey's fall from grace; the two Gentlemen return to observe and comment upon the lavish procession for Anne Boleyn's coronation as Queen, which passes over the stage in their presence. Afterward they are joined by a third Gentleman, who updates them on more court gossip – the rise of Thomas Cromwell in royal favour, plots against Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Katherine is shown, ill. Caputius visits her; the King summons a nervous Cranmer to his presence, expresses his support. Anne Boleyn gives birth to the future Queen Elizabeth. In the play's closing scenes, the Porter and his Man complain about trying to control the massive and enthusiastic crowds that attend the infant Elizabeth's christening; the Epilogue, acknowledging that the play is unlikely to please everyone, asks nonetheless for the audience's approval.
As usual in his history plays, Shakespeare relied on Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles to achieve his dramatic ends and to accommodate official sensitivities over the materials involved. Shakespeare not only telescoped events that occurred over a span of two decades, but jumbled their actual order; the play implies, without stating it directly, that the treason charges against the Duke of Buckingham were false and trumped up. The disgrace and beheading of Anne Boleyn (here spelled Bullen