Henry VIII "There Sits A Judge That No King Can Corrupt"
by William Shakespeare

Henry VIII book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download Henry VIII Study Guide

Subscribe Now

"There Sits A Judge That No King Can Corrupt"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: King Henry the Eighth of England has been married to Katharine of Aragon for twenty years. Cardinal Wolsey, who has great power and influence with the king, is working secretly for an alliance with France, and wants the king to divorce Katharine and marry the Duchess of Alençon. But the king falls in love with Katharine's Maid of Honor, Anne Bullen. The king acquiesces in the divorce, and a hearing is held. But Katharine fights. She declares her devotion and fidelity to the king, refuses to be judged by Wolsey, whom she accuses of instigating the divorce, and appeals directly to the pope. Now, upset and unhappy that the king's love is going to a Protestant, Anne, the cardinal sends a message to Rome to delay the divorce, and secretly sides with Katharine. When he and another cardinal, Campeius, offer her their aid, she, angrily, misunderstands their intent.

Put your main cause into the King's protection;
. . .
For if the trial of the law o'ertake ye,
You'll part away disgraced.
He tells you rightly.
Ye tell me what ye wish for both, my ruin.
Is this your Christian counsel? Out upon ye!
Heaven is above all yet; there sits a Judge,
That no king can corrupt.
Your rage mistakes us.