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No one in history has a more eventful career in matrimony than Henry VIII. He took his first bride, Catherine of Aragon, when he was 17. Their 24-year union was relatively stable, but Catherine failed to produce a male heir. Henry then fell in love with Anne Boleyn, a pretty, French educated Protestant who was the mother of Elizabeth I. Their three-year marriage transformed England forever, but Henry had Anne beheaded and married his next wife, Jane Seymour, on the very day of Anne's execution. Seymour bore Henry's longed-for son, Edward VI. What followed was a farcical beauty contest, ending in the short marriage of the now grossly overweight Henry to the "mare of Flanders," Anne of Cleves. Finally, there were the two Catherines -- Catherine Howard, the teenager whose adulteries made a fool of the aging king; and Catherine Parr, the shrewd, religiously radical bluestocking who outlived him.
"Six Wives "examines the rituals of diplomacy, marriage, pregnancy, and religion that were part of daily life for women at the Tudor Court. Weaving new facts and fresh interpretations into a spellbinding account of the emotional drama that attended Henry's six marriages, David Starkey's keen eye for romantic and political intrigue, brilliantly recaptures the story of Henry's wives and the England they ruled.
Read by Patricia Hodge
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