Monday, 17 March 2014
The Tudors: Season One, Episode 3
"That will make me happy."
"It will also make you King of France..."
Occasionally history must be changed or distorted to keep a coherent structure to the drama, and Henry's sister Margaret, a composite of two of his real life sisters, is one of these. Here, she is married off to an elderly and distinctly unsexy King of Portugal, whereas, in reality, one of Henry's sisters married a King of France in similar circumstances, but this happened years before the series started. It therefore follows from this that Brandon's being tasked to follow her to Portugal, his being made Duke of Suffolk, and his illicitly marrying the king's sister and getting a ticking off, didn't happen exactly like that. But they're the sort of thing that did. And I don't criticise Michael Hirst for doing this sort of thing to knock out a structure for the season. Let's just go with it.
Meanwhile, the Imperial ambassadors and Sir Thomas More discuss that nasty man, the heretic Luther, who is, we're told, a thoroughly bad sort. Henry thinks so, too, and he's written a pamphlet to prove it, in his own hand, no less. He's such a good little Catholic. For now.
Plans are aoace for Mary to marry the son of Charles V, much to the chagrin of Cardinal Wolsey. And Sir Thomas Boleyn, splendid father that he is, continues his plotting to pimp out his daughter Annecto the King. That's what I love about The Tudors and, indeed, the Tudors; there's just so much skulduggery.
We get to meet the young Charles V, who is awfully keen on doing something about France's occupation of the Duchy of Milan. The Emperor's other job is, of course, King of Spain (well, one of his other jobs, the moonlighting little scamp...), and the ambassadors of said Kingdom are making themselves extremely popular with his Auntie Cathetinez, who just so happens to be the Queen of England. It's complicated. Such was Sixteenth Century Europe.
Henry, meanwhile, wants more ships for his navy, lots of them. He's not parsimonious like his Dad; he wants to spend, spend, spend. He also wants Anne Boleyn, who is to become, er, one of the Queen's Ladies in Waiting. Awkward. Anne, meanwhile, seems to be shagging the poet Thomas Wyatt. I'm fairly sure that last bit is artistic licence but, again, it works.
Charles V gets on awfully well with Henry, and seems to be a very similar character: power obsessed and an expert in the dark arts of early modern international politics. Yet he paints on a larger canvas than Henry, King of little England, speaking of the Americas, and the "treasures of Montezuma" unlike with Francis I lady episode, the position on alpha male isn't up for grabs. It's Charles.
And here we come to the point; if Henry should ever wish to divorce Catherine, a purely hypothetical situation at least, then there is no way that her loyal nephew Charles would allow it. There's a moral here, and one with relevance to politics today: England's fate is bound up with Europe. We must be at the heart of it, or we will have no say in it.
We end with more plotting: Sir Thomas Boleyn and the Duke of Norfolk seem to have it in for Wolsey...