In the Season 4 premiere, King Henry VIII marries his fifth queen, a lusty teenager whose beauty and checkered past inflame the passions of a trusted courtier, Thomas Culpepper.
Henry's age catches up to him during Christmas celebrations, but his youthful and randy court continues the party without him; the arrogant Lord Surrey takes aim at the powerful Seymour clan.
A noticeably more benevolent and tolerant Henry VIII forgives the citizens of the North for their rebellion against him, but the youthful wife he dotes upon launches a passionate affair with Culpepper.
The king's warm welcome in the North reinvigorates him but his queen's past catches up to her when a former lover appears with threats of blackmail, and an anonymous letter exposes her infidelities to Henry.
The king is devastated to learn of his beloved queen's ribald past and present affairs, and banishes her from court, even as the investigation rounds up and tortures suspects.
The newly single Henry surprises his countrymen by restoring his daughters to the royal succession, forging an unexpected political alliance, and manipulating events to marry an attractive, mature, and recent widow (Joely Richardson).
War looms with France as Henry marries Catherine Parr, who proves to be an able and respected queen and stepmother, finally giving England's king the stable, happy household he has long desired.
The war with France is nearly lost when one of Henry's officers cleverly engineers a sudden victory, but the triumphant king's health has been weakened by the costly adventure; Brandon returns from France with a mistress.
Powerful accusations of heresy are made against the queen but the ailing Henry has little interest; a chastened Lord Surrey faces the ultimate penalty for losing 600 men in an ill-advised action that nearly reignites war with France.
Henry defeats one final political foe but faces his mortality after the deaths of both his best friend Charles Brandon and King Francis of France, and the ghosts of his former queens appear for a final confrontation.