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Why has the king chosen to protect Cranmer, while he let Buckingham, his wife, Katharine, and his right-hand man Wolsey go to their ends? Perhaps Cranmer's apparent innocence that people are plotting against him is a sign that Cranmer really is a good man, not a player in the royal power game. The king may be finally energized to save one of his men from the mysterious ups and downs of the court for the simple reason that this time that man is genuinely good.
Elizabeth is born in this scene--yet another female born to one of Henry's wives. The Old Lady says that the baby is a boy at first merely because the king demands it. But saying Elizabeth is a boy child also refers historically to her eventual role of leader of England, which she held as firmly and wisely as any man.
In reading all of Shakespeare by his 450th birthday, I just finished Henry VIII. It was my least favorite of the Bard's plays, seeming to be more a platform to praise Elizabeth I than entertain audiences. In case you're interested in my take, I've blogged about it at:
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