Henry VIII: The Mask of Royalty

By Lacey Baldwin Smith | Go to book overview

VII
In Search of a Moral

"I quite agree with you," said the Duchess, "and the
moral of that is--'Be what you would seem to be'
--or, if you'd like it put more simply--'Never im
agine yourself not to be otherwise than what it
might appear to others that what you were or might
have been was not otherwise than what you had
been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.'"

Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

DIPLOMACY: THE WORD SITS like an undigested pudding upon a rebellious stomach; the hypocrisy, monotonous verbiage, deliberate obfuscation and, above all, the monumental triviality engender a sodden feeling in even the most avid enthusiast for the sixteenth century. Yet diplomacy, along with her champion, war, were the paramount preoccupations of kings, and they took the lion's share of their working hours. The kettledrums of war, the staking out of rival dynastic claims, the exchange of royal greetings and, most sacred of all, the defense of honor: these were the proper concerns of sovereigns, not those "ruiners of home life" and muddiers of the mind, the quiddities of theology and the trifles of trade and finance. Crudely but unmistakably, Henry made the point clear: Cromwell, he informed the French Ambassador in May 1538, was "a good household manager, but not fit to intermeddle in the affairs of kings." 1

Ponderously and myopically, Henry looked about the diplomatic board and made his moves, and no one has ever described the results as outstandingly successful. Mistaken or inept are the kindest words to describe the King's diplomatic and military labors during the 1540s, and more often than not the chorus of condemnation includes wanton, extravagant, frivolous, stupid, and even criminal, culminating in a cre

-139-

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Henry VIII: The Mask of Royalty
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Author's Note vii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • I - The Faces of Death 1
  • II - The "Old Man" 15
  • III - The Emperor's New Clothes 40
  • IV - Behind the Mask 66
  • V - The Conscience of a King 91
  • VI - The Moral Commonwealth 111
  • VII - In Search of a Moral 139
  • VIII - Honor Saved 163
  • IX - Youth Renewed 188
  • X - The King Must Die 221
  • XI - Preparing for the Worst 236
  • XII - The "Old Fox" 259
  • Notes 277
  • Bibliography of Printed Books Cited in the Notes 313
  • Index 325
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