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Feminism by the numbers

  • 07 March 2012

K-K-Catherine of Aragorn is a stubborn sort, a Catholic bastionista. Still, Henry VIII ain't an easy chap to please. Girls, stillborn births, cot deaths, all nudges him sideways, see, pushing Cath mark I out of bed 'n' holy headlock. 

Harry's eye then spies something beginning with 'A', Anne Boleyn, sister of his bitofallright, poor ol' Mary. (Poor ol' Mary, gives her all, can't take a trick.) 'Right', says Harry; Anne pays a coquette's lip service, and various pontiffs and potentates block annulment and divorce. 

'I'll take my racquet and balls and send off the old bat meself,' Harry declares, pushing himself to the head of the queue, rogering the wee chasm twixt church and state. Harry squires off Anne (that's Anne mark I) before she, too, non-delivers the baby boy jackpot. Not for want of banditry.

'Who's next?' bellows Harry, manfully sweeping Jane Seymour off her feet and Anne's head off her shoulders (delicate sword work, all the way from Calais). Sovereign bullock, primordial lord of lusty hubbies the world o'er, Harry feels his oats, raises doughty anchor and sets sail for greater vistas.

The monarch's dalliances dwindle as Janey's spirit espies lands past Albion. (Bye Jane ...) Bit sad, though, Harry does all right: Jane cashes out with royal heir, Edward VI.

Still counting sacrificial sheep? (Poor ol' Mary, lurchin' with a bellyful of lower class lovin'.)

Fourth girl takes a stand, Anne of Cleves (Anne mark II, now with added Protestantism). Harry assesses Teutonic precision. A sniff, a pinch, a grunt, then he takes his leave. 'Not for me; try harder', he counsels his counsellors, fingering his blade. Who'd wanna marry Harry? Better off as Herod's pig, or teacher's pet!

Europe's blue-blooded belles step back: Annulled Anne is now Harry's dutiful, loving sis. One-eyed snake, spying assassin 'n' 'Vicar of Hell', Sir Francis Bryan, lobs up K-K-Catherine Howard (Cath mark II) for Harry's smash. New balls, new lease of life.But Cath'd rather be groom Culpepper's missus. Harry pairs 'em in headless harmony.

Wearied unto death, Harry stumbles 'pon K-K-Catherine Parr (Cath mark III), who learns a woman survives theological debate with an arsehole by rapidly grovelling for life, liberty and the terrifying yet gainful pursuit of headedness.(Poor ol' Mary lives and loves; never royally wedded yet never regally deaded.)

What do Harry's sorrowful spouses learn us, in this supposedly enlightened time?Cath mark I: Stick to your guns (if the emperor of Spain's your nephew) orAnne mark I: Extend your