Henry VIII and Family

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Anne Boleyn's Swift and Bloody Fall: Justice or Tragedy?


I found myself lying awake tonight, unable to sleep as I pondered over one of history's most notorious Queen Consorts, Anne Boleyn.  I have been what you might call obsessed over the history of this woman for many years.  I have been intrigued with her life as a whole:  her childhood, her education at the Austrian and French courts, her grand entrance into the Tudor court, her love affair and marriage to King Henry VIII, and most of all, her swift downfall, disgrace, and death.

The anniversary of her death is soon approaching, and by that I mean merely hours.  I think about how she must have felt on her very last night here on this earth.  Did she look out her window thinking back on everything on her life?  Did she fear for her daughter, Elizabeth's future?  Did she remain on her knees praying through the night?  Did she still wonder how it all came down to this?  Her impending death must still have been an extreme shock to her, I would think.

In all I have read of Anne Boleyn from Eric Ives to David Starkey, Antonia Frasier to Allison Weir, and hundreds of interesting and educational writings of Claire Ridgeway, in my heart of hearts and intellect, I strongly feel Anne was not guilty of what she was charged with and accused of.

I can say for certain that she was a strong willed woman with a viscious temper, and she unleashed it at the most unfortunate times.  I can also say for certain that once Henry married Anne, expected certain things:  a son, a woman who would bend to his will, a quiet companion who would leave him to rule.  That was not what he found in her, and I believe he grew to resent those things, especially when she continued to fail in her promise to provide him a son and heir for the throne.

Was this cause to have her executed?  In my opinion, no.  I feel that ultimately, in Henry's obsession to have a son, he decided to be rid of her in the swiftest and most calculated way possible and wanted nothing to do with another tedious divorce trial.  After all, if Anne was dead, no one could dispute another child's legitimacy if one was to be born.

What is so intriguing about this woman that I am sitting here at an ungodly late hour writing furiously about her?

In one sentence:  She is a woman I greatly admire, her faults, foibles, wrongdoings and all.  One can simply look at the negative qualities that make up what is some of Anne Boleyn, or they can look at the entire woman.  Who she is is quite remarkable even by today's standards.  She was educated in the highest, most luxurious courts in the world, she was intellegent and witty, always fashionable, an accomplished dancer and musician, a loving mother, and passionate about her faith.  

I think now about how difficult it would have been to be sitting in a tower that was once lavish with her coronation and being "the most happy," and waiting to walk to the scaffold to be executed in front of friends and enemies alike.  It took great grace and courage to stand there and give a speech, completely composed and wait for the sword to slice her lovely neck.


How heartwrenching and sad it must have been for her to see her brother's execution, to be abandoned by family and friends, but most of all to have her husband, the one she loved beyond all others to order her death as if he were ordering tea.  As she sat at the window in the tower, he was arranging plans to marry another woman as if she no longer existed before the execution began.  That kind of betrayal is unspeakable and I can't quite find the words to describe what must have been going through her mind at a time like that.

This cold, early morning of May 19th, I mourn the loss of Anne Boleyn's life, what she was and what she could have been.  I mourn the loss of a little girl's mother, a daughter to Elizabeth Howard, and I mourn the cruel injustices dealt to her.  It is a tragedy, in my opinion.  A senseless and heartless one, and I choose to remember the light that she once was in this world.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Research Project: Sir Thomas Wyatt

This past Fall, I enrolled in a British Literature course at school and enjoyed it immensely.  Part of our semester grade was a documented research paper.  I chose to do my paper on Sir Thomas Wyatt.  I am posting the entire contents of the research paper I wrote, as I think it has a lot of great insight to his work.  Enjoy!



"A hand, that taught what might be said in rhyme;
  
That reft Chaucer the glory of his wit.
 
 A mark, the which (unperfected for time)
  
Some may approach, but never none shall hit."

          —Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey wrote of Sir Thomas Wyatt (Luminarium)

Often referred to as the “Father of the English Sonnet,” Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder was an amazing poet and writer who brought many innovative changes and ideas to poetry in England during the sixteenth century Renaissance period (Wikipedia).  He created the English sonnet and it is still widely recognized and used in today’s literature.   Wyatt composed thirty-one sonnets, ten of which are direct translations of the works of Italian Renaissance poet, Petrarch (1911 Classic Encyclopedia). 
The experiences Thomas Wyatt had as a member of the Tudor court helped to shape his work tremendously.  Wyatt’s frank nature and choice of words in his poetry show a harsh, bitter view of a Tudor era courtier’s life at times; at other times a spurned, disillusioned lover.  They also give one a sense of the bitter injustices he experienced during the years he spent abroad as a diplomat serving in various royal courts.  His primary preference was the sonnet, a form which he was the first English writer to make use of.  He would pave the way for writers such as Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and William Shakespeare (The Norton Anthology of English Literature).
“Perhaps the poem that most brilliantly captures Wyatt’s blend of passion, anger, cynicism, longing, and pain is “They flee from me (The Norton Anthology of English Literature).””  In this particular sonnet, Wyatt uses an almost dream-like quality to describe his affair with a woman, who in her fickleness forgets the kindness he has shown her.  He feels forsaken by her, but the sonnet gives no final conclusion for the reader.   In the last two lines (or couplet) of this piece, Wyatt ponders bitterly,
“But since that I so kindly am served,
 I fain would know what she hath deserved.” (20-21)
He sarcastically uses the word, “kindly” to convey his feeling of mistreatment by his lover.  This is not the only sonnet which carries this theme of being wronged.
Another poem written by Sir Thomas, “Who list his wealth and ease retain,” is thought to have been written at the time of his imprisonment in the Tower of London, during which he witnessed Anne Boleyn’s execution (Weir).  In the third stanza,
“These bloody days have broken my heart,
My lust, my youth did then depart,” (11-12)
Wyatt describes the gut wrenching sadness he is experiencing.  It is as though the last of his youth and innocence are now gone with the execution of his friends and all that is left of him is a hollow shell of a person.  The last three words in the last line of every stanza, “circa regna tonat,” translate to “He thunders around thrones (Norton Anthology of English Literature).”  One can assume he refers to Henry VIII in this instance, as he was the king of England during that time.   The difference in this sonnet, however, is the feeling Sir Thomas gives of political danger and disgrace.  He not only feels he lost his youth and innocence, but he also feels stripped of his wealth and safety.
There is also a bit of a cautionary tale in “Who list his wealth and ease retain.”  It advises that when one climbs too high within the Tudor court, one cannot see where the danger of falling lies.  A person is blind to everything but wealth and ambition in an effort to climb even higher.  Wyatt seems to have learned a valuable lesson in his ordeal at the Tower and it is quite evident throughout the theme of this poem (Anne Boleyn Files).  This same lesson is a common theme in present day as we see many people rise to fame and fortune, only to throw it all away because they are blinded by their determination and greed.
In one of his freest translations of Petrarchan sonnets, “Whoso list to hunt,” Wyatt writes about his enchantment with a woman; the pursuit of her causing him to grow weary.  He decides to give up pursuing her and even goes so far as to warn others of the futility of the “hunt.”  It has been rumored for centuries that the muse of this poem was none other than the infamous Anne Boleyn (Ives).  The cynical poet comes close to causing the ire of the mercurial King Henry VIII with his love for Anne, if the rumors are to be believed. 
Perhaps the most telling evidence that this poem may have indeed been inspired by Anne Boleyn is the final four lines:
            “And graven with diamonds in letters plain
             There is written, her fair neck round about,
            “Noli me tangere, for Caesar’s I am,
             And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.”” (11-14)
The Latin phrase, “Noli me tangere,” translates to “touch me not.”  It is easy to then surmise that “Caesar” in this case would be Henry VIII, hence the warning, “King’s property, do not touch” (Fraser).   Even in the present time we still see men or women having to give up pursuit of someone they love due to reasons of politics, money, etc.  It is no less a frustrating experience now then it was in the sixteenth century.
Wyatt never published any of his poems, and very little of his work appeared in print during his lifetime (Norton Anthology of English Literature).  In 1557, Richard Tottel included 97 poems in his book, Songs and Sonnets which he credited to Sir Thomas.  Although Wyatt’s poetry had been previously criticized for being poorly crafted and having a rough meter, critics are now regarding his style as more complex, innovative and experimental (Encyclopedia Britannica). 
While Sir Thomas Wyatt is widely known as the first person to write the English sonnet, his work also helped to illuminate the scandal, danger, trials and tribulations of court life in the sixteenth century.  His common themes of searching for truth, feelings of injustice, betrayal of a lover, and searching for the “quietness of the mind,” are all themes we still find common in literature and music today.  His writing still has the power to touch the reader in a way that they can relate to on any level.  He was brave enough to plainly illustrate for his audience the treachery of what many viewed as a coveted and glamorous life and was one of the few who didn’t lose his head for his efforts!


Sources


The 1911 Classic Encyclopedia. “Sir Thomas Wyatt (Poet).” The 1911 Classic Encyclopedia. Encyclopedia Britannica, 21 Oct. 2006. Web. 23 Nov. 2011.
Encyclopedia Britannica. “Sir Thomas Wyatt.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011. Web. 25 Nov. 2011.
Fraser, Antonia. The Wives of Henry VIII. Great Britain: George Weidenfield and Nicholson , 1994. Print.
Ives, Eric. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn. Oxford: Blackwell , 2005. Print.
Logan, George M, et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2006. Print.
Luminarium Encyclopedia Project, and Anniina Jokinen. “Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder.” Luminarium Encyclopedia. Curtis Clark, 1 Sept. 2009. Web. 12 Nov. 2011.
Ridgeway, Claire. The Anne Boleyn Files. MadeGlobal.com, 2011. Web. 6 Nov. 2011.
Weir, Alison. The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn. New York: Ballantine, 2010. Print.
Wikipedia. “Thomas Wyatt (Poet).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Oct. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2011.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Unexpected hiatus... OVER!

To my followers:

Sorry for the unexpected hiatus, but I will be back and posting more Tudors Episodes run downs, Tudors biographies, etc VERY soon!

Hope everyone has survived the crazy Winter without going too crazy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Tudors, Season 1, Episode 2



"Simply Henry"

Episode Two opens with a beautiful view of Val d' Or, which at that time was English Occupied France.  There is a spectacular picture of grand tents and a magnificent "castle" in which the celebrations will occur.

King Henry arrives with his best friends, Charles Brandon, William Compton, and Anthony Knivert.  At the top of the hill overlooking all of the bustling activity below, the men wonder whether or not the King of France is really being truthful or if it's merely a trap to get rid of Henry.  The King doesn't second guess it.

King Francis of France appears with his men and Henry decides to ride alone to meet with him.  He orders his men "on pain of death" to stay where they are while he rides down the hill to meet his frenemy.  (Yes, I said frenemy, lol!)  It's a tense moment before they finally greet eachother and ride into the "castle" together.  


A royal page starts an announcement, calling Henry King of England, Ireland and France.  Henry stops him, stating that he cannot be called King of France while Francis is there.  He explains that for this summit, he is "simply Henry, King of England."  


You can feel the tension in the air, the French and English generally disliking eachother immensely.  Both Kings put their hands on the bible and swear to be true, virtuous, and loving to eachother.  They both swear.... gee we shall see how long that lasts!



The Princess Mary and the Dauphin of France are introduced to eachother, as they are to be betrothed at this summit to further bind the agreements between England and France.  It's a rather funny moment, because Mary tries to kiss the young prince and he gets all bent out of shape, as boys at that age think kissing is "gross."  When she doesn't get the response she had hoped for, Mary pushes the Dauphin down.  Henry admonishes her, but not too strongly, and you can tell he is mostly amused by this.  

After the more "official business" of the day is over, people celebrate, drink, mingle.  King Henry chats with Thomas Moore, asking him what he thinks of the "Palace of Illusions."  Of course, Thomas tells him he thinks it's incredible.  




Back inside the "Palace of Illusions," there is much entertainment and feasting going on.  King Francis stands up and the room quiets down, offering Henry a gift of jewels.  Henry graciously thanks Francis.  Henry humbly gives the King of France a "pastry."  But, when Francis starts to cut into it, a few birds come flying "magically" out of the pastry and everyone is delighted, thinking it a great trick.  

Compton sees Brandon eyeing up the women of the French court and asks him what he is thinking of.  Charles replies, "I'm thinking, that while I'm here, I should behave like the King of France."  LOVE IT!  Naughty rogue!  


Meanwhile, Francis leans over to speak with Henry, pointing out Lady Mary Boleyn.  He tells the young King of England that he "calls her his 'English Mare' he rides her so often."  I'm not sure if he's recommending her "services" or trying to insult Henry because she's from England, or if he's just being a piggish competitive male, LOL!  Whatever the case, Henry is intrigued enough to summon Mary to his bedchamber.


And, predictably, of course, in the next scene we see Thomas Boleyn, hauling ass to find his daughter, Mary.  Once he finds her, he explains what she is to do.  She excitedly rushes over to find her sister, Anne to tell her of the King's interest.  Anne gives what we will soon find to be a her gorgeous trademark smirk, and Mary flits off to do the King's bidding.  


Henry finally shaves his beard, while Thomas Tallis sings for him.  He has a very unusual but beautiful voice and Henry likes it too.  He ask him his name and tells him he has a good voice.  He gives Thomas a "sovereign for his song."  

Thomas Boleyn meets with Cardinal Wolsey amongst the outer fringes of the celebrations.  He tells Wolsey what Buckingham is planning to assassinate King Henry.  Wolsey tells him to speak of it to no one.



And here is where it starts to become very unpeaceful at this summit for Perpetual Peace.  While watching several wrestling matches, Francis becomes cocky and starts to regale Henry of the talents of the French, basically starting a pissing match with his so-called brother from England.  Henry at first tries to blow off his conceited claims.  Finally, the King of England has had enough and challenges the King of France to a wrestling match.  Francis does not accept until Henry calls him a coward.  Both queens watch helplessly as their husbands start to disrobe in order to wrestle.  



Thomas Moore tries to dissuade Henry, but he is insistent. The two Kings engage in the wrestling match.  People are placing bets and cheering for their respective sides.  Unfortunately for Henry, he is defeated and VERY humiliated.  He does NOT like to be shown up by anyone, especially the King of France!  He demands a rematch, and gets extremely angry, saying he will NOT sign the treaty.  He tells Thomas Moore to go inform Francis that he will not sign it.  Thomas becomes very passionate when he counsels Henry, telling him, "Alright!  If you want the world to know that the King of England is easily changeable, shallow, intemperate, incapable of keeping his word, then of course, I will go tell them.  I am merely your Majesty's humble servant."  Henry grudgingly changes his mind.



Henry pulls himself together as Charles Brandon brings him a visitor.  It is Mary Boleyn.  Of course, Henry sleeps with her after telling her, "Tell me, what French graces have you learned?"  


The "Treaty of Universal and Perpetual Peace" is signed by a very simmering Henry.  He promply takes his anger out on his bedchamber after the signing, destroying furniture, screaming, etc.  France never kept their word, so he should not have been worried, lol!

Back at Whitehall, Henry has quickly lost interest in Mary Boleyn, telling her to leave his chambers.  She is NOT invited back.  


On top of everything else, Henry finds out the his wife's nephew Charles, has now become Charles V of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor.  He wants to forget about France altogether, much to Wolsey's discomfort. Henry demands that Wolsey make arrangements to visit Charles.  He now wants to do business with Spain instead of France.  

Thomas Boleyn pays a visit to the Duke of Buckingham, who is now more determined than ever to usurp the throne from Henry.  Boleyn pretends to be following along with what Buckingham's plans, even though we all know he's already betrayed the Duke.  Buckingham tells Boleyn in no uncertain terms, "You betray me, Boleyn... I'll feed your body to me dogs."  

Henry grills Wolsey on any information about the goings-on at court and Wolsey happily informs the King about Buckingham's plans.  Henry tells Wolsey to invite him to court for the new year, but warns him not to say anything to alarm the Duke.  Wolsey his happy to do the King's bidding.

The King and Thomas Moore have a chat.  Henry asks him about his children.  He explains they are all well and he even educates his children.  The King calls Thomas an idealist.  Henry goes on to talk about a book he was sent from Urbino, Italy, called "The Prince," by Machiavelli.  He discusses the virtues of what Machiavelli discusses with regard to ruling.  Henry ponders a passage in the book, wondering if it's better to be a loved ruler, or a "feared" one.  Thomas doesn't have an answer for him.  Henry confesses that Buckingham is going to try to kill him.

Lady Blount pays Cardinal Wolsey a visit.  As she promised, she has come to him when she can no longer hide her condition.  She asks if he has a message from the King.  He does not.  He does inform her, however, that her husband is reconciled to her "condition," as he has been made an Earl for his "inconvenience."  He does not make any promises as to whether or not Henry will recognize the child as his.  It's clear Lady Blount was hoping the King would feel something for her and ask for her.  Not going to happen.  

At Buckingham's Estate in Penshurst, he is building an army and men are pledging their allegiance to him in the fight against the King.  

Cardinal Wolsey tells Thomas Moore that the King has demanded he write up a treaty uniting them with the Spanish.  Thomas, of course, is heartily disappointed.  He also confesses to Wolsey, he feels the King no longer cares for him or trusts him as he once did.  The Cardinal bluntly informs him that in order to keep the love of any king, you must be prepared to give up what you hold most dear.  Thomas confesses it's his intregity that he holds most dear.  He also refuses that he would give it up for anyone.  Foreshadowing, are we????  That will soon be Thomas Moore's theme!



At New Year's celebrations, Henry receives gifts and greetings from people of his court.  Of course, the Duke of Buckingham presents himself.  He reluctantly kisses the King's ring, and you almost wonder if he's going to be ballsy enough to just kill Henry right there.  Everyone has their eye on the pair, and it's intense.  The Duke presents Henry with a gift of a clock with words engraved on it.  It says, "With humble true heart."  What a joke, as the Duke clearly means NONE of those words!  Henry pretends that he is touched by the gift.  

While all this is going on at Hampton Court, Lady Blount give birth to a baby boy.  I bet she can't wait for the King to find out!  

The next day, Compton and Knivert arrest the Duke of Buckingham.  He goes along peaceably so that his men are not implicated or arrested as well.  He is confident that no one will judge against him in this case.  Little does he realize Henry is much more devious than he ever gave him credit for.  Henry institutes a court of high steward to judge the Duke's case.  Twenty peers of the court, with Norfolk first in line.  The Cardinal tries to council against finding Buckingham guilty, for fear that it would incite people to rise against the King.  Henry appears to agree with the Cardinal.  Even Wolsey is not aware of what's really going to happen.    The King shares with his closest friend, Charles Brandon, his true intentions, with instructions for him as well.  

As the King and Brandon play tennis, Thomas Boleyn, watching the game from the sidelines, questions his daughter Mary about whether or not the King calls for her at night.  She sadly confesses that he does not.  Boleyn is not pleased to hear this.



Under orders from the King, Charles locates the Duke of Norfolk and "encourages" him to judge the Duke of Buckingham based upon His Majesty's wishes.  It's clear the two have a general distaste for eachother and this situation only serves to make it that much more tenuous.  To further encourage Norfolk, Brandon presents  him with a ring, which is revealed once belonged to Norfolk's father, who was executed by King Henry VII.  It's very obvious that having this ring returned to Norfolk is very meaningful.  Brandon also admonishes the Duke to have a care for his inheritance.  There's an obvious threat in there, of course.  The King wants what he wants.  



At Buckingham's "trial," he is brought in, looking very confident and sure that he will be released.  Unfortunately, this is not to be the case.  Norfolk reads his verdict.  They find him guilty of all charges and sentences him to death.  Buckingham is incredulous and angry and blames Wolsey.  Ironically, for once, it's not really Wolsey's fault.  Buckingham is thrown into his cell, where he finds the gift he had previously given the King.  Nice touch, Henry, nice touch.

While out riding, Henry receives the news that Lady Blount has borne him a son and he is elated.  

Buckingham is being brought to the block, where he is to be executed.  He is struggling the entire way.  


Henry arrives at the place where Lady Blount gave birth, and bursts into her bedchamber, impatient to see his new son.  He immediately strides over and picks him up, having to see the child for himself.  

Buckingham, struggling every bit of the way, so that he had to be forced down, is executed while his daughter watches.  

Henry thanks God for his son, holding the baby close.  It's obvious he is choosing to recognize the child as his own.  He rides off yelling, "I have a son, God, can you hear me?  I have a son!"




Back at court, there are fireworks, cheering, feasting and much celebration over the King's new son.  Henry callously, yet gleefully tells Charles, "I knew it wasn't my fault."  The Cardinal informs the Lady Blount that her son will be recognized by the King, that he will be a Duke, and have his own establishment befitting his station.  The lady is clearly sad that the King is offering nothing to her.  

Queen Katherine enters and a hush falls over the room.  With much dignity, she raises a glass to toast her husband's new son.  What a classy woman.  She had all the right moves.  It's sad it never did her any good.  :(  After she leaves, Henry toasts loudly, "To my son!"

The old Pope dies and it is revealed that there is no way Cardinal Wolsey will be elected to be the next Pope.  

The Queen, in her sadness, immediately retreats to the chapel in bare feet, revealing her utmost piety.  She prays fervently for a son, but alas, it's too late for her. 



Anne Boleyn is summoned by her father Thomas, back to England.  She is curious as to why she has been sent back home.  Thomas informs her that the King is no longer interested in her sister.  He also goes on to explain that in order for her family to rise in the King's favor, Anne should gain Henry's interest.  Her father is confident in her abilities to keep in intrigued far longer than Mary could.  He tells her there is something "deep and dangerous" in her, that her eyes are like "dark hooks for the soul." 


Her father's flattery works... she concedes to do his bidding, although, I'm sure she really didn't have much of a choice in the matter.

The King rides along in his coach with Cardinal Wolsey.  He questions Wolsey about his meeting with Charles V.  It is revealed that the Emperor wants an alliance with England against the French.  It pleases Henry greatly.  The King then goes on to lament that he does not have such a great palace as Hampton Court... I believe hinting that he wanted it.  Wolsey, realizing this and wanting to stay in the King's favor gives it to him, even though you can tell it almost kills him to do so.  Henry jokes, "With the furnishings?"  

Keep your eyes open for Episode 3!!!!

****All images courtesy of the AWESOME Tudors site, Tudor Wiki:  http://tudorswiki.sho.com/

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Monday, January 17, 2011

The Tudors, Season 1, Episode 1



"In Cold Blood"

"You think you know a story, but you only know how it ends.  To get to the heart of the story, you have to go back to the beginning."

In the beginning of the first episode of Showtime's "The Tudors," we start out at the Ducal Palace in Urbino, Italy.  What we see here from the very first scene is how Michael Hirst manipulates history to create a great show.  Mind you, I'm definitely not complaining about it, I just like my readers to know the facts along with the fiction.  An English Ambassador is hurriedly walking through the palace halls, having been awakened most urgently by the Duke, who "called an early meeting of the council."  The Ambassador is indignant at having being summoned in such a way.  Despite his indignation, however, he does notice that there are quite a few Frenchmen about the palace.. a thing which does not seem to please him.  He asks, "Why are the French here?"  He is very wisely suspicious.  

As the Ambassador and his companions walk through the palace halls, he notices he is being followed and braces him self.  One of the Frenchmen hails him, "Excellence," right before he is brutally stabbed.  It appears the unfortunate Ambassador has been set up to be assasinated.  This is how Michael Hirst created the first little manipulation... Henry VIII had no uncle that I have been able to find... his father, Henry VII was an only child, his mother, Elizabeth's brothers had all died or disappeared before Henry's birth.  It could have been his uncle by some distant means, but we never find out who the actual "uncle" is supposed to be.  But, as usual, when Michael Hirst writes something it's because he wants to make a smoother transition for the viewer without getting to heavy into the real politics of the situation.  After all, it's supposed to be a steamy drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat, whether historically based or not.  :)  In this case, he is going to use the "uncle's" death to plant the seed for war against the French as we see in the next scene.......


Next, we come to Whitehall Palace in London.  I love how they recreated it so we could see what it was supposed to look like!  I imagine it was once spectacular!  The King's secretary is walking briskly with Thomas Moore (played by Jeremy Northam), a very devout Catholic, a lawyer, humanist, and a dear friend of Henry's.  Thomas is concerned about how the King is handling his grief with regard to his uncle's murder.  Thomas is trying to find out if the King is wanting to wage war against France.  Being a humanist, he is quite alarmed at the thought of England at war.  Mr. Pace confesses that the King is "mad with grief," but trying to counsel patience with regards to war.

Enter King Henry VIII, played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers (YUM).... he is holding council to discuss the recent events that have occurred.  He states that they murdered his uncle "in cold blood."  He feels that the murder, among other things, are just causes for war.  The King asks his men what their thoughts are about a war with France.  Buckingham (played by Steve Waddington) is the first to speak up, agreeing wholeheartedly with war, while getting in a jab or two at Henry reminding him that they should have gone to war with France long ago.  The Duke of Norfolk (played by Henry Czerny) also agrees with going to war.  Henry then asks Cardinal Wolsey (played by Sam Neill), his most trusted advisor.  Wolsey concedes that England has just cause for war.  Henry concludes the meeting saying, "We are to war with France."  He seems happy to have the political business contended with so he can "go play."  He races off to do just that!

Thomas Moore questions Wolsey on whether or not he really thinks England should go to war.  Wolsey tells him they should do "what the King wants us to do."  Thomas' response, "But the King doesn't know what's in the King's best interests!"  Wolsey replies, "Then... we should help him decide."  We already see what kinds of characters the King is surrounded by at court... but wait, it's sure to get better!

Meanwhile, Henry is "playing" with his current mistress, Elizabeth Blount (played by Ruta Gedmintas).  It's clear he has fun with her, but it's nothing deeper than that.  She seems to adore him, which I'm sure will be to her detriment later on, lol!  We find that although Miss Blount is married, she has no qualms about being the King's mistress, even to the extreme jealousy of her husband.  She and the King joke about it after having a romp.  


Later, at Hampton Court in Surrey, home to Cardinal Wolsey, a French Ambassador and French Bishop pay him a visit.  The first thing Cardinal Wolsey does is get right down to business... he questions the gentlemen about what happened in Urbino.  He reveals/confirms his sympathies with the French, and that he has labored long and consistently for harmony between England and France.  The French, of course claim that it was not done on King Francis' orders.  Wolsey tells them, words will not suffice in this instance, that King Henry will need more than words to be diverted from waging war on France.  The French Ambassador's reaction is to just go to war.  The Cardinal insists that he's bluffing.  The Bishop rushes to smooth things over between the two men and get them to come to some kind of agreement.  He asks the Cardinal to find a way to "pacify the young lion."


Now we see the young King Henry at play.... he's playing tennis with his closest friends, Charles Brandon (played by Henry Cavill), Anthony Knivert (played by Calum Blue), and William Compton (played by Kris Holden-Reid).  The men razz eachother playfully while playing hard.  It's very clear how close Henry is with Charles, almost like brothers.  As they are playing, Charles reveals he "has to try" this girl with an exquisite face.  Henry asks who the girl is and Brandon confesses the girl is the Duke of Buckingham's daughter.  Henry bets him 100 crowns that he won't succeed.  Brandon cheekily accepts the bet.  


For the first time we see Queen Katherine of Aragon (played by Maria Doyle Kennedy), dining with the King.  He asks the Queen about their daughter, Mary.  The Queen does not hesitate to fill Henry in on how exceptional her talents are for music and in all of her other studies.  Henry states that he's proud of Mary and that she is the "pearl of his world."  The Queen asks him about his intentions in his dealings with her nephew, King Charles.  She also mentions that she does not trust Wolsey in those matters, due to his affection for the French.  The King seems displeased that his wife is questioning his political decisions.  He chides her that she is not his Diplomat or Chancellor, but his wife.  He says it rather vehemently and it's clear Katherine was not prepared for this kind of reaction, but with her usual grace and dignity changes the subject and comes at Henry a bit softer, more tender, telling him she would like to be his wife in EVERY way again, asking him to visit her bedchamber.  It works... a bit.  Henry, caught off guard softens a little and doesn't answer, merely telling her to eat.  He's clearly no longer comfortable sleeping with his wife.  Sad for Katherine.  :(


The King, obviously having given his wife's plea some thought....starts preparing for what I'm guessing he hopes to be a successful attempt at a son.  He kisses a cross, which I'm thinking is more like a fervent prayer at this point, he eats a pomegranate (in a most YUMMY looking way), which in those days symbolized fertility, and prepares himself for a visit to his wife.  



He hurries along the castle halls, to Katherine's bedchamber, looking pretty determined.  However, when he arrives at her chamber, he finds she is not there... she has gone to prayer.  He conveys a message to one of Katherine's maids telling her to tell the Queen he came to "offer his love and devotion as her true husband."  He then signals to one of his men to speak with this same maid on his behalf.  Gee, one guess as to what he wants with the lady, lol!  

We see Katherine in the chapel, praying so devoutly and with such feeling..... meanwhile the maid from the Queen's chamber enters Henry's chamber.  Of course, he then proceeds to have his way with the maid.  Not surprised, although historically Henry was not quite as sexually active, even in his younger days as they seem to want to insist on portraying in this series.  Sex DOES indeed sell, so I'm sure that's a big part of it.  



What would "The Tudors" be without jousting?  Of course, as a young man, King Henry VIII loved to participate in jousts, and we get to see a glimpse into that in this scene.  His friends Charles, William and Anthony are there to joust as well.  Charles is the first to enter the lists and makes a point of asking the Lady Buckingham if he could wear her favor on the jousting field.  She happily tieds her delicate lace on his lance.  The Duke of Buckingham is not pleased to see this little display.  Charles of course wins and knocks his opponent off of his horse.  The Duke of Buckingham jousts nexts and also unseats his opponent.  


Cardinal Wolsey is at it again... and I'm sure his conniving won't be stopping any time soon.  He decides to construct a peace treaty between England and France and shares his intentions with the Ambassador and Bishop from France.  In return for his diplomatic machinations.... he wants to be elevated to Pope when the current one passes on.  


Back at the joust, King Henry has entered the lists.  He is to joust the Duke of Buckingham.  This is going to be a bitter joust of rivals.  It's clear that the Duke and the King butt heads quite frequently.  Katherine comes forward to tie her favor onto Henry's lance, but you can see concern in her eyes.  It's clear she does not like to watch Henry joust.  The King brutally knocks the Duke off of his horse, much to his own delight.  


King Henry pays a visit to Thomas Moore and meets his family.  He asks Thomas why he doesn't come to live at court, and Thomas promptly responds without hesitation that he doesn't come to court because he despises it.  In those days, the Tudor court was such a Machiavellian web of intrigue at all times.  There was always someone looking to step on another in order to promote their own interests and gain more favor from the King.  It's not a wonder to me why Thomas despised it.  The King asks him why he didn't say much at the council about going to war with France. Moore replies that he has an abhorrence of war as a humanist.  Henry agrees on the humanist level, but tells Thomas in his role as King, he has to disagree.  We find out that Thomas Moore has taught Henry quite a bit in the years that they have known eachother.  He urges Henry not to go to war... to spend the money on the welfare of the people instead.  Henry is determined to be remembered for great battles.  He wants to be remembered eternally, to be "immortal" as Henry V was. 


Back at court, the Duke of Buckingham is pacing, angry..... ranting about the fact that the crown should be his and not Henry's.  Unfortunately for the Duke... he does have a valid point.  Even more unfortunately for him...Norfolk, the one he is ranting to, seems rather indifferent.  He does, however, remind His Grace that what he is saying against the King is treason.  The Duke is not fearful of this, indeed, he feels something must be done to change things.


Poor Buckingham... his evening is about to get worse.  He enters his lodgings within the palace to find his daughter having sex with Charles Brandon.  Wow, talk about adding insult to injury, as Charles at this time has not yet been made a Duke himself.  Charles is very smug about the whole thing, insisting there was no "honor" left in the girl to besmirch and the Duke threatens to kill him, holding his sword to his throat.  He lets Charles leave and then promptly backhands his daughter for disgracing him in such a way.  Ah... fatherly love.... not so much!

Elizabeth Blount, Henry's now not so current mistress, pays a visit to Cardinal Wolsey and reveals she is pregnant with Henry's child.  It's clear that she was hoping for something more than Wolsey's tepid response.  He advises her to tell no one of her condition on pain of death and that when she is no longer able to hide her condition, she will be removed to a place for her "lying in."  He very coldly dismisses her.

The Cardinal then makes his way back to court.... it's very clear that he is highly revered at court and people rush to try to have an audience or blessing from him.  He meets with the King's secretary, Mr. Pace, to make sure he is looking after his interests while he is away.  The secretary replies, "Like an eagle."  Wolsey tells him, "I don't want an eagle, Mr. Pace.  They soar too high.  Be a pigeon and shit on everything."  LOVE that line!  

Mr. Pace notices a dirty, rather obscure young fellow, kind of waiting around on the fringes of the people.  He quickly goes over to question the lad.  Pace finds out his name is Thomas Tallis (played by Joe Van Moyland), a musician who was sent with letters of introduction from the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral.  Pace asks him why he did not present himself.  We do not get an immediate answer.  He is then delivered to the choir director, who looks over his qualifications.  He is very musically educated, and admits to enjoying composing music as well.  The choir director, however is skeptical and basically tells Tallis he'll believe it when he sees it.


The King meets with Thomas Moore and Cardinal Wolsey after hunting.  He asks them about the preparations being made for war with France.  He is happy to hear they can go to war within a matter of weeks.  The Cardinal clearly has more to say.  He cautions the King that wars are expensive and that they would have to raise taxes, which would be unpopular.  The King sort of brushes this off at first, but Wolsey is nothing if not convincing.  He proposes to deal with France in a more peaceful, less expensive way.  He admits to working on something to help the King gain more power and prestige.  He confesses to speaking with other Ambassadors and notables through out Europe in order to create a "Treaty of Universal and Perpetual Peace."  This treaty would also include betrothing Princess Mary to the Dauphin of France, making it an even stronger tie with France.  Henry initially laughs at the idea, but is intrigued.  They explain to him more about how it is enforced and the King considers it.  The humanist in him agrees with this proposition.  He congratulates the Cardinal on his innovativeness and then agrees to the treaty.


After Henry dismisses the Cardinal and Thomas Moore, he is told that the Duke of Buckingham requests an audience with him.  UH OH!!!!!!  The Duke promptly and without and preamble tells the King that he found his daughter in compromising positions with Charles Brandon.  He demands that Brandon is banished for bringing disgrace to his family.  The King is outraged and tells the Duke there will be no punishment forthcoming.  He tells the Duke that unless his daughter is claiming rape there is no punishment to be had for Mr. Brandon.  The Duke is furious and barely controls his anger when the King dismisses him.  Thomas Moore cautions Henry on his manner of dealing with Buckingham, telling him that not even his father, King Henry VII crossed him.

Wolsey again meets with the Bishop from France... but this time it's to ensure he's getting what he wants out of aiding the King of France.  The Bishop plays coy and it angers Wolsey.  He roughs the Bishop up a bit to bring home his point... it's clear now that the Bishop and Wolsey are on the same page.

In Buckingham's lodgings, it's clear his daughter has definitely NOT learned her lesson.  She is paid another visit by Charles Brandon who silkily weaves his way back under her skirts.


Thomas Moore, back at home with his family, is at the dinner table with his children.  He asks them if they had all done their reading.  They tell him obediently that they have completed it.  They all bow their heads to pray.  Thomas says a prayer and bids them all goodnight.  He removes most of his clothing upon entering what looks like a tiny little chapel room in his home.  He prays passionately while wearing a sad looking tattered shirt.  Not sure what that is supposed to mean other than that he's willing to suffer for his beliefs.  Maybe it's Hirst's way of doing some foreshadowing?

The King sits and enjoys a shave while he dictates a letter to King Francis.  In the letter, Henry decides that in a show of true brotherhood, he will not shave until they meet.  His beard will be a token of universal friendship.  

Wolsey gets news from the Bishop from France that the current Pope is gravely ill.  He assures the Cardinal that he has the full support of the French in being elected as the next Pope.  The Cardinal is more than pleased to hear this.


As Lady Blount attends Queen Katherine, she sort of doubles over, as if feeling a bit weak.  The Queen is concerned, having no idea of Lady Blount's condition, or the her husband is partly to blame for it.  Lady Blount assures the Queen that she is okay.  The Queen asks her to stay for a while to talk.  


The Queen goes on to confide to her maid that Wolsey has taken away anyone she feels she can trust and she misses talking to someone.  Lady Blount assures the Queen that she can trust her, which we all know is a lie right there!  The poor Queen confesses that she is sad.....sad that she cannot give the King a living son.  She talks of the boy she gave birth to who passed away after only living for four weeks.  She feels the King blames her for their son's death and through painful tears she tells Lady Blount that she suffers greatly and prays for things to change.

As Katherine bares her soul, Henry is also doing his own version of it.  He's in confession, weeping about not having a son.....telling the priest that he feels Katherine's marriage to his brother Arthur was consummated, that his marriage to the Queen is a lie and that's why they have no sons.  The priest tries to assure the King that this is not so, however it's clear the King does not want to see reason.  

The Duke of Buckinham summons Thomas Boleyn for a secret meeting.  He tries to gauge what Boleyn's position is within the court, hoping for an ally.  He finds that Boleyn is more than happy with the present King and that he will not aid him in his quest to usurp the crown.  They do, however agree about someone close to the King... Wolsey.  They discover a mutual hatred for the pompous Cardinal and agree to discuss it more later.  


Thomas Boleyn has an audience with the King and they are playing Chess.  Henry is eager to find out everything he can about King Francis.  Of course, Boleyn tells the King exactly what he wants to hear.... that Henry is far more superior in ever way.  Henry tells him to return immediately to Paris so that he can handle all of the diplomatic negotiations for the summit.


As Henry marches along through the palace, he runs into his daughter Mary.  He is a loving a doting father to her, scooping her up and holding her tightly, telling her she is the most beautiful girl in the whole world.  It's very sweet and a bit sad, because you know this will not always be the case for this father and daughter.  :(  Katherine politely asks to speak with him before he saunters off.  He agrees and follows her into a room so they may speak privately.  The Queen starts off by telling him she does NOT like his beard and what it represents.  She is hurt and alarmed that Henry is betrothing their daughter to the Dauphin of France, as France is an enemy of her family.  She appeals to him softly to reconsider what he's doing saying that she cannot disguise her distress.  He tells her she's "going to have to."  Such a loving guy, that Henry...*snorts*


Now we find Thomas Boleyn in Paris, and he is walking through the house shouting for his daughters.  He finds them quickly and we finally get our first glimpse of Anne and Mary Boleyn!  He tells them he has wonderful news and goes on to explain what is about to happen in Calais.  He also tells his beautiful daughters that they will have a chance to meet the King of England, whom back then was basically like a rock star.  The girls are, of course, thrilled at this prospect and they all toast to their futures.


Back in England, King Henry summons Wolsey to get his opinion on the clothing he is having made for the summit in Calais.  The decide to dine together so they can talk.  The Buckingham decides to be a bit of a rebel and when Cardinal Wolsey steps in front of him to wash his hands in the urn the Duke is holding, Buckingham purposely spills the water all over the Cardinal's shoes.  The King is outraged and demands that the Duke apologize to the Cardinal.  He apologizes to the King but does not apologize to Wolsey.  Henry dismisses Buckingham.  


Buckingham is furious, stomping back to his lodgings like a bear on fire, yelling for his servant.  He goes into another room to find Norfolk and Boleyn waiting for him.  He tells them, "it's time."

Wolsey continues to reveal all of the wonderful progresses that have been made in preparation for the summit as he dines with the King....

Buckingham is going full throttle now, giving instructions to his servants in preparation to usurp the crown from Henry......

Wolsey tells the King that Lady Blount is with child.  The King kind of rolls his eyes at this news....he's not sure what he wants to do about that yet.....

The Duke of Buckingham then reveals how he could assassinate the King... by keeping a dagger hidden off to the side when bowing to him.  He's determined to get what he deems rightfully his.......

The King is excited for the summit and what it could mean saying, "Nothing will ever be the same, Your Eminence.  You and I will be immortal."  FANTASTIC and fortelling last words for the first episode!!!!


Episode 2.. coming soon!

***All images found at the Showtime Tudors Wiki site found here:  http://tudorswiki.sho.com/

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