Monday, 21 April 2014

The Tudors: Season Two, Episode 4

"I will recognise no Queen but my mother!"

Events are still fluid and volatile after last episode's violent severing of England's links with Rome, and Henry's court has never seemed a more dangerous place, especially for the former Queen's Catholic supporters. Mary is the most humiliated, forced to wait on her little half-sister Elizabeth and then sleep in humble lodgings, but all those who supported the old faith fear a purge of some sort. And there will be no help from Charles V, who is busily warring with the Habsburgs' perennial enemy, the Ottomans. 

Anne is not happy either; on her father's advice she swiftly gets rid of the king's mistress by framing her for theft, and chooses a mistress of her own choosing whom she can manipulate, who is both a cousin and a good Protestant. This is the reality that early modern kings and queens lived with. Meanwhile, the king pays a visit to Elizabeth but ignores Mary, who watches from a window.

The purge finally arrives, as Cromwell drafts a law forcing all subjects to swear an path recognising both Henry's marriage and his supremacy over the Church. The Pope sees the danger for Fisher, who is swiftly and futilely made a cardinal for his protection. Cromwell then twists the knife by advising the king to dissolve all of the monasteries which refuse to abide by the oath and he agrees, entirely uninfluenced, I'm sure, by the oodles of cash that promise to head his way. As for Fisher, he is sentenced to death for treason. The spotlight now turns to Sir Thomas More; will he swear the oath?

Mary doesn't swear the oath, but she is too royal to die; instead she is forever banished from court. As for More, he tries dissembling, as will many other Catholics facing difficult questions on pain of death during Elizabeth's reign. This eventually fails, and he is left facing the inevitable, without much dignity. But we should perhaps not feel too much sympathy for him; he himself had people burned at the stake for "heresy". However sincere his beliefs, he was a serial killer.

We end with More imprisoned directly above the cell of the condemned Bishop Fisher, looking out if the window to a CGI London landscape and a world wider than the cell he will inhabit for most if the rest if his shirt life...

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