Study Guide

Henry VIII Act 1, Scene 4

By William Shakespeare

Act 1, Scene 4

Read the full text of Henry VIII Act 1 Scene 4 with a side-by-side translation HERE.


  • Over in the dinner hall at Wolsey's pad, Guildford welcomes everyone. Lord Chamberlain, Sands, and Lovell are late, but Sands makes up for it by complimenting the gathering.
  • Chamberlain tells Sands to sit between Anne Bullen and another lady. You don't need to tell him twice: in fact, he's so happy to be sitting next to Anne that he flirts with her and even kisses her.
  • Wolsey enters and greets everyone. There's lots of brownnosing with Wolsey and lots more flirting between Anne and Sands.
  • Chamberlain notices a group of party crashers. He's never seen them before and asks the servant who they are. Wolsey instructs Chamberlain to greet them since he can speak French (and that's what they speak).
  • Shhh… one of them is Henry, but he and his buddies are dressed as shepherds so no one will recognize them.
  • Chamberlain comes back with a report on the mystery guests. They've heard about how awesome Wolsey's parties are, they say, and they just had to see for themselves. Wolsey takes that as a compliment and invites them in.
  • Everyone dances. Henry chooses Anne as a dance partner because, well, she's hot. (His exact words are "O beauty, till now I never knew thee.")
  • Wolsey hears the king say this and figures out that he's not really a shepherd.
  • Wolsey tells Chamberlain to ask the shepherd if there is one among them that is of higher status; if so, Wolsey will give up his home to the lad. (This is one big game of brownnosing for Wolsey, who wants to pump up the king's ego.)
  • The response: there is—in fact—a man of high class there. Now Wolsey has to choose which person it is.
  • Wolsey picks Henry. Henry takes off his mask, and everyone has a laugh.
  • Then Henry asks about that chick he just danced with. Who was that?
  • Chamberlain tells Henry it was Anne, Thomas Bullen's daughter, and Henry is pleased. He thinks he should have kissed her when they were dancing, so he does so right then and there.
  • A banquet is ready in a secret room, and Henry gets up to go—but not before promising to never forget Anne.
  • We're pretty sure this won't be the last time we see Anne.