Date of this Version
Published in Christianity & Literature 71:3 (September 2022), pp. 287–305.
The first title for Shakespeare’s Henry VIII—All Is True—may reflect standard early modern usage signifying that all is an aspect of ‘troth’ or loyalty, all is common understanding, or all is received from a divine source. In the play, the Lord Chamberlain, Shakespeare’s only character so named, serves the Henrician monarchy’s “truth” by serving Henry’s religious and monarchic goals as the Jacobean Lord Chamberlain similarly served James I’s goals, assuring audiences of the integrity, truth, and legitimacy of the monarchy and its faith. The play shows the Lord Chamberlain working to strengthen the loyalty of Henry’s realm to the putatively divinely sanctioned sovereignty flowing through the monarch. He does so to create a legitimate image of the Tudor regime pivotal to the Jacobean monarchy’s need for support for its 1613 religious goals and the “troth” inherent in English civil religion.