Henry VIII and Family

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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