Wolf Hall Part 5, Chapter 2 Summary
by Hilary Mantel

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Part 5, Chapter 2 Summary

Anne Boleyn gives birth to a girl whom King Henry names Elizabeth. He is jousting when the news of her birth is brought to him. He has no visible reaction in public and does not ask about the health of the mother. Cranmer tries to comfort him by saying that they will be able to make an advantageous marriage for her and that God may have some peculiar blessing planned through her.

Elizabeth Barton, known as the Holy Maid, long has claimed to have visions concerning the future of events in England. She now prophesies Henry’s downfall and imminent death. She is popular with the people, but Henry has grown tired of her negative prophecies about him. Cromwell takes part in her questioning. Eventually, Elizabeth Barton is imprisoned in the Tower of London. She confesses that her visions and miracles are all of her own invention.

After the birth of Elizabeth, Henry and Anne’s passions cool. Cromwell discusses the royal couple with Lady Rochford, the wife of Anne’s brother George. Lady Rochford hints that Anne is able to have as many lovers as the king and that one of them might be her own brother, Lady Rochford’s husband.

Elizabeth Barton does penance along with her supporters. She is taken back into custody. Thomas More observes her penance. Cromwell urges More to make peace with the fact of the king’s marriage to Anne Boleyn, but More remains firm. The Duke of Richmond, King Henry’s illegitimate son, is married to Mary Howard, the Duke of Norfolk’s daughter and Anne Boleyn’s cousin. They are both young and so are not yet allowed to live together as husband and wife. This upsets Richmond, who gives several examples of young brides becoming pregnant. Cromwell warns him that Anne is once again pregnant, so any hopes he may be harboring that he will be made Henry’s heir are unreasonable.

Cranmer is officially installed as the Archbishop of Canterbury, now the head of the Church of England. Margaret Pole, one of the last of the Plantagenets and attendant to Katherine of Aragon’s daughter Mary, objects to being separated from the princess (although she is now known only as Lady Mary and has been declared illegitimate upon the king’s divorce from Katherine). Katherine also says that she will not be moved unless they break down the door and drag her out. During the winter, there is a rumor that a young woman is wandering around the countryside of northern England and saying that she is the Princess Mary.