Henry VIII. – Murderer on the throne


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Early morning, 19th of May 1536. A young woman, barely thirty years old, ascends the steps to the scaffold in the courtyard of the Tower of London. She has been accused of adultery and witchcraft: Anne Boleyn, the wife of King Henry VIII. Her execution is a scandal that shocks the whole world. Henry VIII., personally, is responsible for Anne Boleyn’s fate. Legend has it that he played a game of tennis while her head was chopped off. Only a few years before, Henry had written rapturous love letters to Anne. In order to gain a divorce from his previous wife and to be able to marry Anne he had fought with the pope for many years. Because of her, he even split off from Rome and founded his own church, the Anglican Church. Which was, in effect, a revolution comparable to the revolution started by Luther on the continent.


ZDF, arte, 2006
Length: 42/52 minutes
Directed by: Eike Schmitz
Story by: Susanne Utzt, Eike Schmitz
Camera: Manfred Pelz
Set design: Josepha Thiele
Make-up artist: Ingo Dombrowski
Editors: Vincent Assmann, Mathieu Honoré
Music: Brynmor Jones
Narrator: Christian Brückner
Sound design & mix: Sebastian Reuter
Adviser: Giles Milton
Commissioning editor: Hans-Christian Huf
German or French version

Many people know Henry VIII as a tyrant with six wives (two of which, he executed), the destroyer of the monasteries, the executioner of thousands of his subjects. For other people he is the monarch, who led medieval feudal England into modern times. He built up England’s navy, he stood up to the Pope, he made himself the head of his own national church and helped his country to win fame and reputation abroad. The King’s political achievements and his personality have always been heavily contentious. Was he the tyrant that many make him out to be or was he a political visionary, was he a passionate lover or a cynic? Did he suffer from a mysterious illness that might have effected a personality change?

Experts in the history of medicine as well as historians interpreting archival material will try to shed new light on the multi-faceted career of one of England’s most influential monarchs. Lavishly executed re-enactments will try to give the viewer a vivid image of life at the court of Henry VIII.