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Cardinal Wolsey plays a major part in the series, acting as Henry's trusted advisor.In Episode 1, Wolsey persuades his King to keep the peace with France and the two Kings meet at Calais to agree a pact of friendship, while the pressure of fathering a male heir compels him to question his marriage to his Queen, Katherine of Aragon.It is his long-time friend, Charles Brandon who, with Cromwell, eventually alerts Henry to Anne's apparent indiscretions and her fate is sealed.She is conducted to the Tower of London and her four supposed lovers, one of whom is her own brother, are executed followed eventually by her own — delayed by some hours as a result of the French executioner's late arrival from Calais.
In Episode 8, Henry has Cromwell initiate overtures to the Emperor to make peace with Rome as a bulwark against a hostile France, and the King starts to pay court to Lady Jane Seymour after Anne's two miscarriages following the birth of Princess Elizabeth.
Her shrewd refusal to his open invitation to become his mistress unless he will marry her pushes him to use Cardinal Wolsey to take action against the Queen, the King instructing his trusted advisor to get papal dispensation for his divorce on the grounds that his wife did indeed consummate her marriage to his brother, Arthur.
In Episode 6, Wolsey's increasingly desperate efforts to persuade the Catholic Church to grant a royal divorce, primarily as a result of Emperor Charles V's influence over the Pope as Katherine's nephew, starts to weaken his position.
Bishop Fisher refuses to recognise the validity of Henry's marriage — after Henry issues a decree ordering all his subjects to recognise their new Queen — and is finally joined by Sir Thomas More, who is granted permission by Henry to retire from his public office.
In Episode 5, Fisher and More's refusal to sign an oath of allegiance recognising Henry's supreme authority as head of the English church eventually leads to their executions.