Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Tudors: Season One, Episode 4

"I married my brother's wife, and God has punished me."

There's a lot going on here; Margaret's first shag with her elderly and moribund new husband takes place surrounded by bishops and prelates and whatnot: the best bit is "Did His Majesty...?" followed by clapping...! Henry becomes steadily more besotted with Anne Boleyn and more alienated from the Queen. And Wolsey promotes a talented young man (and fellow commoner) called Thomas Cromwell, about which there is no irony whatsoever.

(Incidentally, fact fans, the stuff between Margaret and the elderly King of Portugal really happened, sort of, except it was to Henry's real life sister Mary, in 1515, with Louis XII of France; our old friend artistic licence strikes again.)

There is also much intrigue on the European stage; Francis of France is now the prisoner of the Emperor Charles, following fighting near Milan, as if he wasn't powerful enough already. Earlier in the episode he had requested English financial support (meaning taxes, meaning Parliament), and an alliance between Henry and the Emperor is popular; both rulers are good Catholic and Charles is, after all, not French.

And yet... Charles is the nephew of Catherine of Aragon, a daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella. Charles has the Pope by the balls, and is the reason he will never be granted a divorce. Even if it were not for the power imbalance, the two of them could never be friends in the long term. Anne Boleyn may be playing hard to get, returning the king's gifts, but he has a wandering eye. And, following an unfortunate jousting accident which he barely survives in spite of the efforts of 16th century medicine , his near-death experience makes him realises that, should he die now, he would do so without a son. He's had too much of pleasure; now he plans to be serious. Yeah, right. Oh, and this is not good news for Catherine.

Still, at least he's a good Catholic, right? After all, the Pope has given him the title of "Defender of the Faith."

Wolsey, meanwhile, cheerfully appoints himself Bishop of Winchester and carries on embezzling loads of moolah, failing to comprehend how the Boleyn tribe has it in for him. The King, it seems, is a fan of Thomas Wyatt's poetry. And, still on the subject of art, one Thomas Tallis turns down a threesome with three luscious babes because "music means more". Hmm.

Catherine of Aragon has a letter for the Emperor; I think the battle lines are drawn in what will become the divorce saga. Charles Brandon, in shagging Margaret, is technically committing capital treason against the kings of both England and Portugal. The King knights his mates, William Compton and Anthony Knivert. And we learn that Cromwell is a secret Protestant. Well I never.

We end with Henry instructing Wolsey to get him a divorce. I'm sure that will go down well...

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