Study Guide

Henry VIII Act 5, Scene 3

By William Shakespeare

Act 5, Scene 3

Read the full text of Henry VIII Act 5 Scene 3 with a side-by-side translation HERE.


  • In the Council meeting, the lords finally let Cranmer in—after they've discussed why they're meeting.
  • The Lord Chancellor informs Cranmer that he's heard some nasty rumors around town about the Archbishop. Gardiner joins in on the dog pile.
  • The rumors are that Cranmer is committing heresy. Gasp—that's pretty bad.
  • When Cranmer gets his turn to answer, he defends himself: he's never knowingly taught the wrong thing, and he's always tried to uphold the peace.
  • Suffolk points out that because Cranmer is a council member, no one can actually bring charges against him. Boo-ya.
  • Gardiner interprets this as: let's toss Cranmer in the Tower. That'll knock him down a peg so others will be able to complain against him to the council.
  • But Cranmer doesn't feel threatened—in fact he's even kind to Gardiner, telling the guy that it's better to be nice than to be ambitious.
  • Gardiner wants a fight. We get the sense he's bummed when Cranmer agrees to go to the Tower, so he figures he'll push a few buttons to rile the guy up. He calls Cranmer a weak Protestant.
  • This time, Cromwell steps in to tell Gardiner that he needs to back off: he's being too cruel, and he needs to cool it. (Looks like he took that advice from Wolsey to heart.)
  • Gardiner retaliates by calling Cromwell a Protestant. This guy's all loaded and ready to fire.
  • That does it. Cromwell and Gardiner fight like cats and dogs until the Lord Chancellor intercepts.
  • Lord Chancellor asks if everyone is in agreement that Cranmer should head off to the Tower. Everyone is, so a guard comes in to take Cranmer away.
  • Cranmer asks if there is another way. When he's told that there isn't, he pulls out a ring. This isn't just any ring; it belongs to the king, and it's a sign of the king's favor.
  • Uh-oh. The council members figure out that they've made a wrong move. Maybe they shouldn't be picking on someone the king likes so much.
  • Henry and Butts (yes, that is really this dude's name) have been listening at a window. They've heard enough, so in they come.
  • Gardiner speaks first and thanks Henry for being wise enough to know when to step back and let the Church rule. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge?
  • Henry points out how much Gardiner always flatters him and says he sees right through it. He's disappointed that the men have treated Cranmer so badly. It's not cool to leave your peer out in the cold, or to want to ship him off to the Tower to die.
  • Henry wants everyone to just get along. He likes Cranmer, and he wants the council members to like him, too.
  • Group hug. No, really: Henry wants them to all "embrace and love this man."
  • With that settled, Henry asks for the council to baptize his daughter.
  • The men leave with a word from Henry about Cranmer: even if you're mean to him, says Henry, Cranmer's still you're friend. That's just how he rolls.