King Henry VIII is aging rapidly: the recent siege of Boulogne has taken its toll, his ulcerous leg is constantly in pain and he now requires glasses to read. Political events continue to be tumultuous and exhausting. The profligate Earl of Surrey, a noble not known for his sense of judgment, loses 600 men in an unprovoked battle in France, endangering Henry’s recent success in Boulogne. News arrives that the King of France is preparing for war and worse, the Emperor Charles – England’s recent ally - has seized English ships and properties. The rising influence of Bishop Gardiner is signaled by the appointment of a Catholic, Wriothesley, to the important position of Lord Chancellor. Nonetheless the Lutherans continue with their radical reforms; the latest of which is women preachers. One such preacher, Anne Askew is imprisoned and tortured by Wriothesley and then burnt at the stake for her perceived heresies. Sensing their rise in authority, Gardiner and his allies are determined to trap Queen Catherine. Brazenly, the Bishop suggests to the King that he has proof of her heresy. Henry confuses the Bishop with the reply that even if this were true – and he likely knows it is - he would spare her life. The Earl of Surrey is not so fortunate. Defiant on his return to court, Henry’s Privy Council is unconvinced by his explanations about how so many men were lost under his command in France. His rank is withdrawn and the King refuses to see him. Surrey’s wild antics and attitude have won him no friends among Henry’s closest advisors and he is arrested on charges of treason. After a quick and one-sided trial he is sentenced to death.