About two years ago as I was researching history lessons I ran across a musical called Six, the Six Wives of King Henry VIII. I immediately knew I needed to find more about this musical, and I fell in love. I immediately started planning how I was going to use this in our Renaissance and Reformation lessons, because I HAD to have a Henry VIII’s wives lesson.
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What is Six?
We’ve all heard the rhyme:
Divorced, Beheaded, Died,
Divorced, Beheaded, Survived
Taking inspiration from this rhyme they created a musical. King Henry VIII’s wives are all pop stars and competing for who should be the lead in their all-girl band (this is what I’m gathering from the internet, I’ve only ever heard the music).
But the question is, how accurate is the musical?
That became their timed essay, Compare the musical Six to history
To do this, you need a copy of the Six Musical.
We started off watching the video I’ve embedded up above.
I had done a quick Google search for each wife’s portrait and their picture from the musical.
Side note: I have not included the pictures in the printable in the Subscriber page (you’re subscribed right?) because the images from Six are copyrighted.
Return: They drew a random wife and then they each listened to their solo song.
This is an example of Anne Boleyn’s song performed on BBC.
At this point, my boys were not super excited. They don’t really like music anyway, and having to listen to a musical was just so not what they wanted to do.
I rolled my eyes and made them do it anyway.
Brainstorming time comparing Henry VIII’s wives to Six
Sadly, I got this picture after he’d removed the pictures because they didn’t glue the images down. 🙁
However, you can see what the process looked like, this was for Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s final wife, who survived him.
Side note: fun costuming choice, the wives who outlived Henry all wear pants.
Since this came after we’d learned all about King Henry and his six wives, they were pretty prepared for the historical wives. I can also tell this wasn’t a topic Batman was super interested in because he actually has a few facts wrong. Catherine Parr actually did publish books, that wasn’t just invented for the show.
After their five minutes of brainstorming the got to writing their papers.
How did their King Henry VIII’s wives papers turn out?
I’m glad you asked.
Pretty good for a time limit. It was fun to see how they compared the portrait by Hans Holbein, and the cast images. Princess thoroughly enjoyed the writing assignment and was eagerly looking forward to it for three months straight. She’s actually hoping I’ll do something similar for Hamilton, but I’m not quite sure what I’d do with that one.
Their papers all showed their personalities.
My historical Resources for King Henry VIII’s wives
For the past couple of years I’ve been writing our history lessons, and there are some interesting resources that made up my King Henry VIII’s wives lesson, it’s interesting how you can see bias for or against different wives in the papers.
Over on my much neglected YouTube channel, I’ve got a playlist all about Nation building with links for each of Henry VII’s six wives. I’ve embedded the playlist starting with the relevant videos.
Or hopefully I have. Just in case I didn’t, Nation Building 1500-1600s.
Let’s look at those Six Wives…
Catherine of Aragon resources
I always feel rather sorry for Catherine, from all I can find, she was faithful and in love with Henry for better or worse.
Anne Boleyn resources
I have very mixed feelings on Anne, she clearly set out to become queen, and destroy a semi-functional marriage, but at the same time, she wasn’t prepared for the intrigue of court. That did her in, well that and her jealousy and inability to bear a son.
Jane Seymour resources
Poor Jane, victim to the King and she was known as his favorite wife, but I wonder if she would have kept that title if she had lived. He wasn’t exactly known for his faithfulness.
Interestingly she was the one I found the most biased materials on, whoever wrote it didn’t like Jane much.
Anne of Cleves
While Anne survived Henry VIII’s and was actually friends with Catherine Howard, but thanks to Henry’s slander we all think she’s ugly. She’s also the only other wife to have a video of her song on YouTube.
Catherine Howard resources
Of all of Henry’s wives, I feel the most sorry for Catherine Howard, literally NAMED FOR HIS FIRST WIFE, she was plucked out of relative obscurity to marry him while 16 (I think) and she was executed before she turned 20. The poor child.
Catherine Parr resources
The bookend Catherines have the most information about them out and about. She was an amazing woman, with a tragic life both before and after her marriage to Henry VIII, but she was one of the most politically astute for sure.