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February 13

It is Feb. 13 1542, and Henry VIII has just executed Katherine Howard. Following his bad experiences with his alternating Catholic and Protestant wives, Henry VIII decides to try his luck with a nice Jewish girl.

The Seventh Wife of Henry VIIIOfficially, of course, Jews were not allowed in England, but he sent word to the Arabs asking them to provide him with a candidate .. preferably one who had studied medicine with their famous physicians, since his leg was killing him. They accordingly sent a healer named Esther, who was, as the sultan assured him, just as charming as her Biblical namesake.

When Henry announced his intentions to his dumbfounded council, he explained, "The Catholics and Protestants have been driving me crazy with their nagging about the meaning of the Mass. I feel that this good lady could not care less".

Naturally, on her arrival he asked her if she had ever considered adultery, which had cost two wives their heads .. one Catholic and the other Protestant, of course, since he WAS an equal opportunity beheader. "It's a shanda!" she answered firmly. "A disgrace!"

Much encouraged, he inquired, "And what about the bread and wine?" Better you should try some nice chicken soup," she at once replied. After tasting her homemade recipe, he declared that it really would have been worth fighting for. While it was boiling, she decided to try it on his infected leg, while also applying some wine .. and to their great surprise, it worked.

Alas, she could not provide male heir, so Henry's children Edward, Mary and Elizabeth all followed him in due course to the throne. They were all so impressed with her medical skill that they made her their chief physician. Even Bloody Mary decided to keep her around, while explaining her presence by saying, "That's my stepmother, the doctor".