King Henry VIII and Cinderella
I’ve recently finished reading “The Boleyn Inheritance” by Philippa Gregory.
The story is told through the eyes of three women: two of King Henry VIII’s wives namely Anne of Cleves (fourth wife) and Katherine Howard (first Anne of Cleves’ maid in waiting and later the king’s mistress – fifth wive); and kinswoman Jane Boleyn, who betrayed her husband and his sister (Anne Boleyn – wife number three) and played a part in every wife of King Henry’s undoing except for the last one.
Reading this book made me think of the story of Cinderella. But this is no Cinderella fairy tale. King Henry VIII was a horrible human being. He was old, sickly (he had an open leg wound that stank up the whole palace), he was obese. His Achilles’ heel was beautiful women, but he was very paranoid and insecure believing there was a constant plot to kill him.
He had his first marriage annulled and was excommunicated by the Pope. This caused the church and state to separate.
Why any woman would agree to marry him is beyond me. Although, apparently Anne of Cleves’s childhood home and life was so horrendous she would have done anything to get away from her brother and mother.
There are a few things that bother me about the story of Cinderella. After she runs away when the clock strikes midnight and the prince is only left with her shoe – why doesn’t he just find out what shoe size it is? Judging from many adaptations of the story, Cinderella has freakishly small feet (like me) and by knowing that, he could have saved himself so much trouble.
Also, how do you not recognize the woman you have danced with and fallen in love with? If it were a masked ball or if the people were wearing wigs, I could understand why he didn’t immediately recognize her, but seriously? How thick is he?
And I do not for one second believe that when Cinderella marries the prince she is free. She remains a servant by becoming the prince’s wife – who says he won’t treat her as such?