Henry VIII "So May He Rest; His Faults Lie Gently On Him"
by William Shakespeare

Henry VIII book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download Henry VIII Study Guide

Subscribe Now

"So May He Rest; His Faults Lie Gently On Him"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Cardinal Wolsey, ambitious and unscrupulous adviser to King Henry the Eighth of England, urges the king to divorce Katharine of Aragon, his queen for twenty years. Wolsey hopes the king will then marry a French princess, and thus cement a hoped-for alliance between France and England. The king, however, falls in love with Anne Bullen, a Protestant. His plan having failed, Wolsey requests the pope to delay the divorce. A copy of this letter together with an inventory of Wolsey's wealth falls into Henry's hands. An angry king forces Wolsey to relinquish his possessions to the crown and to retire from the court. Full of repentance, and under a charge of treason, Wolsey dies. Now, word of his death is brought to Katharine, living in retirement. She finds it difficult to forgive the dead cardinal.

So may he rest; his faults lie gently on him.
Yet thus far Griffith, give me leave to speak him,
And yet with charity. He was a man
Of an unbounded stomach, ever ranking
Himself with princes; one that by suggestion
Tied all the kingdom. Simony was fair play;
His own opinion was his law.
. . .