The King makes himself head of the Church of England while the Catholic Church fights a losing battle to control Henry VIII's desire for an annulment. Anne Boleyn demands that Henry break off contact with Katherine, so the noble Queen is banished from court. On top of that The Reformation is underway.
Christmas at the Tudor court is a time for ringing in the new. Mistress Anne Boleyn has replaced the banished Queen Katherine. The King's chaplain, Thomas Cranmer, makes a fact-finding visit to Lutheran Germany while Henry withdraws both the authority and taxes of the Catholic Church at home. And a royal visit to France finally convinces Anne to consummate her relationship with Henry, even as his best friend Charles Brandon suggests that she is no virgin.
Henry's patience finally wears out and he marries Anne in secret, appoints his Lutheran chaplain Thomas Cranmer the head of the Church of England, and strips Queen Katherine of her title and status; the king and new queen have their first child, and are disappointed that it's a girl...whom they christen Elizabeth.
Sir Thomas More refuses to accept Henry's command that his people swear an oath of "allegiance and recognition of the King's supremacy" to both church and state. Anne is made aware of the King's womanizing ways, and arranges then gives her blessing to his next mistress. Also, Anne has a confrontation with Lady Mary, Henry's daughter.
Attempts to legitimise the King's marriage and increase his power hit unmovable obstacles as Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher insist that only God can be head of the church. Imprisoned in the Tower of London they face likely execution unless they take the Oath of Allegiance. Meanwhile Henry's wandering eye continues to roam.
As the Reformation gathers pace Sir Thomas Cromwell becomes ever more powerful as propagandist-in-chief of a new moral order. Royal confidence has given way to doubt. Henry is haunted by the memory of the executed Thomas More while Queen Anne Boleyn's insecurities border on paranoia. Her husband's affairs continue and an effort to have her daughter Elizabeth betrothed to a French royal fails when the French King refuses to recognise that the infant Princess is of legitimate birth.
The English Reformation is in full swing.
Queen Anne suffers from nightmares and feels threatened by Katherine and her daughter.
Henry pays an unplanned visit to an old friend, Sir John Seymour, father of Jane Seymour.
At Henry's command Jane Seymour is made a lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn, to the discomfort and suspicion of the Queen. When Henry is seriously injured in a jousting match all thoughts turn to who might succeed him. There will be far-reaching consequences if Anne's pregnancy does not deliver a healthy son.
Anne has lost a son and with it her last chance at a lasting marriage with Henry. The King's affections are shifting anyway: the Seymour family are awarded rooms at court and seem likely to replace the Boleyns as royal favourites. Several in the court begin to move against Anne who is accused of adultery. Arrests are made of suspected lovers and of Anne herself. All, including the Queen, are sentenced to death.
Queen Anne is imprisoned in the Tower, awaiting her execution. The king granted her wish for a special executioner, but he is delayed and the execution has to be postponed. King Henry proposes to Jane Seymour now that his marriage to Anne has been declared null and void. He hopes she will gave him a legitimate, male heir.