The Tudors Recap- Season 1 Episode 4: His Majesty, The King (Part 1)

Part the First

“His Majesty, The King”

Arriving in five minutes, at gate four.

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Titular line spoken right up front and it’s just someone announcing that Henry is walking into a room. So I’m guessing they titled these episodes last minute for the DVD release and someone wanted to go home on time. Shine on, you lazy diamond.

We’re at Princess Margaret’s going away reception for becoming Queen of Portugal. Margaret grabs Henry and says:

“Remember your promise. When he dies I marry whom I choose.”

Yeah, Margaret, that’s quite a stretch. What you actually got was a head nod that may or may not have been in answer to your question, and you’ve been acting like that was an “I do solemnly swear…’ ever since.

In fairness, what else is Margaret to do? She’s basically sentient property with a few rights and she’s been trying to strike a deal as she walks backwards up the beach (from ‘I won’t marry him’ to ‘Just promise you won’t do this again’) for months now. She’s about to be sold in sexual bondage to a 60 year old (and you know 60 hit hard in the 1520s) and her personal relationship with her brother is about all she’s got.

And Margaret’s campaign has clearly taken a toll on Henry. He’s been avoiding his sister until they barely speak and as he sends her away he’s actually struggling with his conscience.

Spoiler: That conscience is going to lose repeatedly, and with increasing force and speed. By Season 3 he’s really just throwing the corpse around while he makes a decision.

He has a word with Brandon that is also a coded ‘I’m reminding you. Don’t sleep with my goddamn sister’ message, and Brandon is a bit over confident that he can deliver on that.

Feedback Part 2

Sir Thomas More is back with Henry’s book (Defence of the Seven Sacraments), and he brought comments. Henry is just delightful as he gets the Pope’s feedback. He’s fiddling with his napkin a bit and then gets this proud smile, as it becomes clear the Pope really liked it. The Pope has even given him a brand new title – Fidei Defensor or ‘Defender of the Faith’

If it sounds cool, then English monarchs never let a title go. Never.

That thing that is always quoted when the Monarchy and Anglicanism are mentioned together? Defender of the Faith? Yeah. We got it from the Pope, as an award for defending Catholicism, won by Henry VIII, right before…you know. And we’ve been using it unironically and without apparent shame for defending a completely different faith ever since.

Martin Luther also had some feedback. He thought that Henry ‘raved like a strumpet in a tantrum’. Oooooooh.

Henry taking his criticism like a Trump, here.

The last thing before we leave this scene is the little look More gives at the end. I’d leave it alone, but it happened twice last week, and I think it’s now clear what it is about. It happens every time More suggests moderation and Henry displays a more iron orthodoxy. vlcsnap-2018-03-21-13h10m01s353.pngI think someone liked what he heard and is now hearing the sweet call of religious zealotry.

Can I ship it? Yes, you can.

We are all aboard Princess Margaret’s and Brandon’s ship the HMS Rampant Sexual Tension.

And this ship is gonna sail.

First there is wordplay, then there is sarcasm, then the smouldering stares.


They are not even out of port yet.

Also I don’t quite know how they’re doing the ‘rocking boat’ effect (Tiny room on rockers, Acting and practical effects?) but I do know that I am buying it.

Gracious Cold Shoulder

Compton and Knivert have taken a level in friendship during Brandons’ absence, accompanying the King to mass. Henry is pretty thirsty, looking for play multiple times as he tries to catch Anne’s gaze. vlcsnap-2018-03-21-16h12m43s082.png

And Anne is just not having it. Queen Catherine notices Henry noticing Anne and decides she’s not going to publicly notice any of this, but privately she notices, and stoically endures.

Henry is alone later when his herald announces Lady Anne….ladyanneclifford.gif


That herald is lucky. If that was Season 4 Henry he’d already be getting dragged to the tower right now, and he might not have thumbs.

Lady Anne Clifford is here to return the awesome jewellery on behalf on Anne Boleyn, and she is mortified enough that I think she figured out why the other Anne asked her to do this just before she came through the door.

There is a note with the jewels:

“Your Gracious Majesty,

It causes me such pain and grief to return the gifts you gave me. Alas they are too beautiful and I unworthy to receive them. I think I never gave your majesty cause to give them to me, since I am nothing and you are everything.

Give them, I pray you to a lady more deserving of Your Majesty’s affections. I am leaving now for my family’s house at Hever. I shall think of you on the journey there.

Your Loving Servant

Anne Boleyn”

Golfclap. Pretty smooth, Anne.

Yeah, that’s a little too elegant and direct, and lacking in weird phrases and unfamiliar language structures (With circumlocution still considered an art for the Tudors, they could take six sentences to say what would take us one). This letter is an original creation. If you want the real deal, there’s an archive of Anne Boleyn’s surviving letters here.

Michael Hirst does a nice trick with language in his historical dramas. His Tudors, like his Vikings keep our direct language structure, but their sentence structure tends toward the slightly more convoluted, and their phrasing and word choice is peppered with enough of the old stuff that it gives the impression of age while never tying the script to archaic language rules.

The Tower and Replacement Pace

We’re at the Tower of London, and we’re here to visit Mr Pace.

Yeah, I’d definitely like this room better with a second door. And a window. And a different stench. Can we liven up those rats a shade? They are barely scurrying.

I did not expect to see Mr Pace again. But Wolsey has a bit of a conscience, apparently. He will ruin a good man’s life to secretly score a second pension, but once that man is thoroughly out of power, Wolsey will let him go. Wolsey’s alignment is Chaotic Neutral.

A guard comes in and tells Mr Pace that he is to be released, but Mr Pace appears to have gone mad. He is talking and acting as if his wife is still alive and in the room. He tells us himself she died in childbirth several years ago.

Then again, he is most convincing as ‘Guy that totally sees his wife’.

He asks the guard if he can also see her, and then goes very still. The guard’s ‘crazy danger’ antennae are well honed from his horrific workplace environment, and he completely agrees with Mr Pace. Oh, he can see her, alright. Why wouldn’t he?

Let’s wish Mr Pace a smooth recovery away from these storylines, which will eventually lead to his demon hunting tour across the United States of America. So Farewell, Matt Ryan, future John Constantine, our Mr Richard Pace.

Henry can’t be without a personal secretary and Wolsey thinks this Cromwell chap might do well. He’s got this really strong work ethic.

Holy Shit. Cromwell is James Frain and he is a baby.

Sharing the ‘filthy commoner’ background with Wolsey, Cromwell is unlikely to intrigue with the nobility, and he’s very discreet. Wolsey is pleased with his choice, and he goes in to see the King.

Wolsey starts with the morning briefing and Henry is distracted throughout the whole thing: The war goes well, it will need more money, but parliament should be fine about it. It’s a very mild roller coaster. Wolsey wonders aloud why an alliance with the Emperor is so popular-

Honestly, Wolsey, the national prejudice just passed you by didn’t it?

Even the news that Wolsey has a hot French Princess stashed at court, who has expressed considerable interest in the English Royal D, barely gets Henry beyond petulant attention. Still, he agrees to everything, including Cromwell’s appointment, so that’s the main thing.

Whatever is distracting him is surely nothing too important.

Meanwhile, on the HMS Vigourously Thrusting Forward

A card game is occurring with bawdy humour, in the cabin next to Margaret’s. She cannot sleep for reasons totally unrelated to picturing Brandon’s velvet clad buttocks, and looks through the crack in the panel.

brandon cards.gif

Oh wow. Brandon may lack focus in many subjects, but when it comes to getting laid, his attention game is strong. Really strong. Like ‘He’s completely forgotten he’s not supposed to fuck her’ strong.

An Evening of Intrigue and Propositions

At court, Henry and Princess Marguerite De Navarre (An actual woman from history who didn’t sleep with Henry VIII, was known most as a leading intellectual, and who is just really poorly served by her brief portrayal in The Tudors – they should have made someone up.) flirt like jackhammers.

Norfolk and Boleyn’s plots move along. The post Boleyn got last week as Comptroller (Accountant) of Henry’s household is really paying off. Boleyn has found where Wolsey has been skimming money off the top , the mechanism he uses, and he has an idea of how much. Norfolk wants to rush in to tell the King, but Boleyn persuades him to wait. This is good stuff, but it won’t be anywhere near enough to take down Wolsey on its own. vlcsnap-2018-03-24-22h29m23s904.png

Henry approaches Thomas Wyatt, who we last saw getting dumped by Anne Boleyn. Henry’s  heard some rumours about them, and he’d just like to ask a few questions while intimidating the hell out of Wyatt. Wyatt does really well for a man crapping himself with fear, and explains that his love for Lady Anne was from a distance and anyway he is very married (quite the turnaround from breakup week). Henry seems to buy this (enough, at least) and bids Wyatt farewell.

Don’t choke or anything.

Then comes an attempted seduction of Thomas Tallis, the artist formerly known as Humbleflow. vlcsnap-2018-03-25-00h33m24s617.pngNow the ladies that make the surface attempt are practical young women. You might say that their time at court has an element of working to it. And my eyebrow is like, halfway up my forehead right now. Cool? Cool.

They are upfront and get from ‘Hello, are you Thomas Tallis?” to an offer of sex with an impressive efficiency. They do not appear to want any compensation from Tallis, other than his company. But Tallis only serves his muse and, while very flattered that two young and attractive ladies would want to have thrilling sex with him, he really needs to get this instrumental solo down before he forgets it.


Less than half a second later, Compton walks by. Huh, I wonder what he was doing there. Think he might have sent them on a scouting mission? Yeah, me too.

Once Compton gets back to Henry’s table, Henry’s increased interest in Princess Marguerite is given a reason. She’s Francis’ sister. And the Henry/Francis psycho sexual drama claims another chapter.

Henry has sex with Francis’ sister, while Henry’s sister watches 1520s Pornhub.

The picture is 4K but everything’s viewed through a crack in a wood panel.

Margaret slams her hand over the crack, fighting valiantly against her lustful inner demons. Although I have no idea why she’s even bothering at this point.

The War Turns Hot

An imperial messenger strides in, accompanied by Knivert, who is delighted to get this guy through the security gates. Because, wow, does he have news. The Emperor’s forces have won the Battle of Pavia, hard. The French army is routed and Francis I is captured.

Yeah I think Henry just…just give him a minute, Okay? And maybe a cloth.

And for now it looks like, even if Henry stops short of becoming King of France (If it wasn’t your army, then everyone knows expectations should be moderate) he will at least get to take a big, wet bite out of it. Normandy, maybe? or Brittany?

The sky is suddenly the limit, and a joust would be just the thing to celebrate those old dreams of martial glory coming to life again.

Have At You!

Knivert is crushing the jousting today.


You know what? Good for Knivert. That’s a damn astute reading of the situation. He knows that Henry is in an amazing mood, Brandon (a devastatingly great jouster and Henry’s closest friend) is not there to overshadow him, and yes, this is likely Knivert’s greatest chance for glory at the tournaments. Knivert is clearly smarter than I judged him, and is going for glory with his superior skill and the knowledge that he must leave it all on the field today.

The competition continues, the King enters the lists and it is Compton that takes up Henry’s challenge, and you can see from Henry’s reaction that’s fine, but he’s really unconcerned. Compton is apparently not a great jouster. But Compton is foxy, and thinks outside of the box. Compton runs a few courses and is losing against the King, when he does this.


Throwing the match but making a jape! Oh, the English fucking love a jape. Henry loves it, even Wolsey manages a chuckle. Which is good, because Sir Thomas More is in the ‘Administrator’s row’ of the stands so there’s a lot more self-righteous religiosity going on than usual. It gives us another look at Wolsey and More’s relationship, which always makes my week. More is talking about people that think that ‘We should all go to heaven on feather beds…’

I think you can actually hear Cromwell’s thoughts down the end there,wondering if More is ever going to put down that shovel.

There’s a cut away to a short scene with Anne back at home reading a letter from the King out loud to her brother, George.

vlcsnap-2018-03-25-13h14m24s440.pngIt establishes George and Anne’s relationship, and Anne’s relationship to Henry. If you track Anne’s attitude towards Henry’s letters to her, you can track Anne’s attitude to Henry during their courtship. She is, after all, the only member of this relationship that was  ordered to enter into it. For now, she’s intrigued, but she’s easygoing about the whole thing. George can read the letter himself if he wants, as long as he gives it back.

Meanwhile, at the tournament, the intensity of the competition he’s getting from Knivert today distracts the king, and he rides down without shutting his visor.


When all the power in your nation is concentrated on a person, their health and well being has massive and far reaching consequences. Henry, acutely aware of this, tries to stand up just after falling, and what I presume is some kind of shock response takes his legs out from under him.

Gasps all around. As Henry recovers, Catherine asks him not to joust again. Henry says:

“I intend to ride again, and to prove to everyone here that I am alive and unharmed.”

So, yeah, he takes her point but there is politics required, here. He orders Knivert to arm himself, and Knivert does, knowing that his day of advancement just fell off a bridge, and he must now face Henry, who is full of adrenalin and utterly determined to crush him, and who he really cannot afford to touch now.

‘This is not the plan I had’ face.

Henry lances him right in the head, and he goes down ‘Game of Thrones’ style, but his injury does not appear to be fatal..for the moment. He gets carried away and, on the plus side, if he survives his chances of knighthood are looking pretty good. That serious injury should get him right back in Henry’s good books.

Back on board the HMS Actually Shagging

Margaret has unconvincingly asked Brandon to her cabin to ask about the travel time. She then suggests playing cards and Brandon, who completely coincidentally showed up dressed to kill, offers her the choice of game.


Oh, shit is on. Look, there’s a general rule about sex on screen, in porn, it sometimes seems like the foreplay never ends. In drama foreplay never begins, they are like, straight up there, with barely a ‘hello’. TV Drama has got limited time they can use for sex, and limited ways to depict it, so better go straight to the main event, even if it does made a proportion of your female audience cross their legs at the sheer suddenness of it.

In any case I’m not sure the rule works here because this entire scene is foreplay. Somewhere down among the innuendos he quotes the bible and she says:

“My poor ladies should not hear you.”  And they leave immediately, in what might be called a practiced fashion. They know what’s up. She says she wants him to leave, he asks for confirmation  and she leans down and is doing something to his earlobe while she whispers ‘Yes. Now’.

Yeah, that’s a 21st Century yellow card, Margaret. Those are very mixed signals, and an unreasonable position to navigate that you’re giving your man there. Still, navigate it he does, gets the enthusiastic response he was looking for and whayyhayy right against the bulkhead.


Yeah, Brandon, what was the one thing the guy that made you a Duke said not to do?

Let’s see how he gets out of this one, my guess is it’ll be at least a week before he even tries.

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