Saturday, 3 May 2014

The Tudors: Season Three, Episode 2

"Do you remember what happened to the late Queen?"

The rebellion proceeds apace, and we get a broader look at what it`s about. The people of Yorkshire want their old religious ways, yes, but it`s wider than that; this is a conflict between the old mediaeval world, with its heirarchies, rights and liberties, and old noble families with Henry`s new, proto-absolutist world of centralised power, "new men" and brutal capitaism buttressed by the authoritan state. No more monastical NHS and no more links to a past that does not make money.

 Henry is not in any mood for compromise, much as he pretends to when he must. He is the king, anointed by God, and his word is law. That`s it. Parliament is supine, and all officers of State must work with the King`s wishes. Perhaps this new, even-more-intractable Henry is the result of his wound, still being poked and prodded by "quacks and charlatans." It has long been speculated that his behaviour after 1536 was much affected by it, and this episode provides much to fuel this theory. Henry, on a whim, decides to be nice to Mary, much to the annoyance of the many Protestants at Court. He arrogantly rebukes the petitioners in a way which comes close to Richard II during the Peasants` Revolt, insisting that they are commoners who "are ignorant, and should know their duty". Worst of all, when Jane Seymour pleads for them, he menacingly warns her to stay out of politics if she wishes to avoid the fate of the last Queen.

 More than this, on a personal level, he`s having an affair with Ursula Missenden, and displaying worrying symptoms of megalomania, using the New World, with which  is fascinated, as a metaphor for his new religion.

Henry is not a stable king, and England is not a stable kingdom. Not only is there rebllion in the north but also plotting in Castel Gandolfo, with Reginald Pole accepting a cardinal`s hat and off to chat to Francis I and Charles V. Sir Francis Bryan, although rebuffed by Ursula, is having it off with Edward Seymour`s wife. Henry has made a tactical compromise with the rebes for now, but we all know the bloodbath is coming...

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