Part 6, Chapter 1 Summary

King Henry and Charles Brandon discuss early beliefs concerning the lack of scriptural support for the powers of the Catholic Church in its present state. Christ came as a subject to the ruling authorities and so priests should be subject to the prince, whose power comes from parliament: the people. Henry talks with Cromwell about how to transfer the riches of the church to the kingdom.

Cromwell’s home is becoming a popular place for gentlemen to send their sons to learn statecraft. Henry prepares a bill concerning the succession of Anne’s children. Anne is upset at the mention of the possibility of her own death and of Henry’s power to remarry. The changes in England are also a matter for discussion, with Anne proposing that more Protestants be made bishops. Henry expresses his disappointment in Thomas More.

Bishop Fisher tries to defend the prophetess Elizabeth Barton against the charge of treason based on her foreseeing the death of the king. Cromwell tells Fisher that he knows he has been writing against his majesty. Elizabeth Barton is sentenced to death, and Thomas More is condemned to die as well.

Cromwell, accompanied by his son Gregory, visits Lady Mary, the former Princess of Wales, to see the harsh conditions in which she is kept. He urges her to greet Anne as her father’s wife so that she may return to court.

Thomas More is given a reprieve from his death sentence, although Bishop Fisher is now included in the bill of attainder that has condemned Elizabeth Barton for treason against the king. 

Pope Clement decrees that Henry’s marriage to Katherine is valid. More still holds firm in his belief in the pope’s judgment and refuses to sign an oath concerning the Act of Succession, which states the validity of the king’s marriage to Anne.

Henry makes Cromwell the Master Secretary, replacing Stephen Gardiner. Rafe Sadler reveals that he has been married for six months to Helen Barre, the poor woman to whom Cromwell gave a place as a servant, and has determined that her abusive husband had most likely died. Cromwell thinks that Rafe has wasted his opportunities since he was born a gentleman, but Rafe insists that he is violently in love. The couple is already expecting a baby.

Thomas More’s family takes the oath that More himself will not take. During the summer, Anne Boleyn suffers a miscarriage. The midwives give differing answers as to the gender of the child, since no one knows what is worse: miscarrying another girl or miscarrying a boy and an heir.