I, Henry VIII Am Signing a Posthumous Pardon for My Wives Who I Had Executed for Unsubstantiated Reasons

Today is a momentous day. Today, I am righting a wrong that I admittedly didn’t think was wrong until my advisor, Thomas Cromwell, told me it was the other day when I was playing human chess with prisoners of war in the palace gardens. That wrong was having two of my six wives executed for debatable acts of treason.

Right after I took his bishop and shot the traitor playing the bishop with a crossbow, I realized that maybe it looked bad to have had two of my wives’ heads cut off so that I could be free to marry someone potentially more fertile. Granted it worked: I now have a son thanks to my late wife who died in childbirth serving her purpose, and while many say he’s feeble and won’t live past six, his existence means I’ve succeeded as a man and ruler. But I digress.

Onto my wives who’ve earned my pardon for the heinous acts they committed like failing to produce a male heir and being a 17 year-old-girl.

Anne Boleyn was a tease from the moment I met her, and used her witchcraft to trick me into annulling my marriage to my first wife because she was old and now barren, and making me create a church that’s all about giving men the right to divorce. Then she had the audacity to birth a girl and have multiple miscarriages in an attempt to give me a legitimate heir.

Naturally, I couldn’t condone that behavior, so I had her put to death on a trumped up charge of incest with her brother, George. Oh, and I had George put to death for incest too, but it’s not about men today.

Today is about the women of this land, especially those in my high court who’ve expressed concern over my alleged penchant for killing the women I marry. I understand why it might give you pause about accepting my unsolicited attention and coming to my bed chamber to engage in illicit sex acts despite being happily married or just not interested.

And speaking of uninterested women, Catherine Howard was in her late teens when I, a 49-year-old man, decided she’d make a good wife while I was still married to my fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. At first I enjoyed her vibrant passion and life, but once my festering riding wound made me permanently cranky, I wasn’t so into all that energy, so I allowed my court underlings looking for scraps of power to dig up evidence of her cheating on me. Sure enough they found some (teenagers, amiright?), and even though I could’ve annulled the marriage and banished Catherine, I opted to play into my strong suit—destroying women from the inside out and then killing them.

Was having her rot in prison for more than half a year while I had Parliament create a bill that made not disclosing previous sexual history to the king punishable by death, even though that’s exactly what I did literally every single time I moved onto a new wife, hypocritical? I don’t think so. A woman should always be held to an unimaginably higher standard than a man. How else will we know they’re worthy of bearing our children or looking after property that they can never legally own?

In spite of that, my advisor, Cromwell—oh, sorry, forgot I’d put Cromwell to death because he arranged my marriage to Anne of Cleves who was slightly unattractive and smelled strange. My advisor, Hales, told me it’s still a good idea to pardon these unforgivable bitches for the optics.

I pardon Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, who everyone already acknowledges did nothing to deserve the capital punishment they received—in hopes that all you lovely ladies will be lulled back into a false sense of security that I won’t get execution-happy again given the need and opportunity.

So, now that that’s done, everyone feel better about coming back to my chambers of their own accord for group sex, or do I have to call in the spear-bearing guards again?