Wolf Hall Part 2, Chapter 2 Summary
by Hilary Mantel

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Part 2, Chapter 2 Summary

Anne Boleyn arrived in King Henry’s court in 1521, dancing in a yellow dress. Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell discuss the conflict when her father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, announced that she pledged herself to Harry Percy, the heir of the Earl of Northumberland, instead of Wolsey’s planned suitor, Butler of Ireland. Cardinal Wolsey ordered Boleyn to stop his daughter.

Cromwell tells Wolsey of the gossip that Anne Boleyn’s sister, Mary Boleyn, is currently the king’s mistress. It is also rumored that it was the mother of Anne and Mary with whom young Henry lost his virginity. The scandal of the king sleeping with the entire family intrigues Wolsey, although it also worries him. King Henry already has one illegitimate child by Elizabeth Blount; too many will cause problems.

George Cavendish relates to Cromwell how Wolsey convinced Harry Percy to give up hope of marrying Anne Boleyn, who is only the daughter of a knight, and instead consent to be wed to Mary Talbot, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury. Katherine of Aragon gave birth six times, including to some sons, but only sickly Mary survived. Katherine is now forty two, although Cromwell points out that his own mother was fifty two at his birth.

Katherine of Aragon refuses to blame the king for his desire to divorce her. She says that it is Cardinal Wolsey, who has tried to supplant her from the king’s side ever since he came to court. In Rome, the Emperor Charles has captured Pope Clement. Since Charles is the nephew of Katherine of Aragon, the pope will do nothing in the matter of Henry’s wish to divorce his queen.

Thomas Cromwell’s beloved wife, Liz, dies of the sweating sickness. Because of the fear of contagion, the family does not gather until much later, after the threat of the plague has passed, for the...

(The entire section is 473 words.)