The Curious Device of the Holbein Dual Portrait
Open on Holbein doing sketches for a dual portrait of Henry and Katherine.
If that finished portrait had ever existed, then you’d have seen David Starkey slowly stalking past it (while explaining something. to camera. in that tone of his) a good 8-10 times in the aughts alone. So either it never got finished or it never existed.
It’s a neat device, though. We get some renaissance art background as we see Holbein uses a magnifying glass and a grid screen for his work. And there’s a check up on the state of the relationship.
Katherine, no matter what she actually feels, is managing to appear serene. Henry would rather be anywhere else. He’s fidgity and bored and sighing.
No One Expects Cardinal Campeggio
You know who else is fidgety? Wolsey. He’s awaiting Cardinal Campeggio like it’s first date night. Campeggio is announced and makes an entrance that’s so delayed it’s almost Pythonesque. He explains that God has given him Gout as a trial (and killer timing to help him bear it, presumably). But it’s a decent distillation of the whole scene. Wolsey is in a rush, desperate to get to an answer, Campeggio is holding back because whichever way the papacy decides someone powerful is going to be pissed off.
Wolsey rushes to business, forgetting the formal niceties, which Campeggio politely but pointedly requests.
Campeggio then repeats Clement’s mistake of treating Anne as a cause rather than a catalyst, because while, yes, his passion for Anne will “Alter and fade with time, as all such passions invariably do.” Henry’s need to have a son isn’t going anywhere.
Turns out that the threat to break with Rome has been out acquiring a shape since last week, and the score turns up with a purposeful drumbeat as Wolsey lays out a possible scenario for that event to Campeggio. He emphasises that as the Roman Catholic church has already lost most of Germany, let’s take this seriously. Campeggio does.
In The Garden
Anne is still exploiting the gap between what Wolsey tells Henry will happen, what Henry tells her about it, and her own pretty astute guess of the actual state of play. Anne wants to know if there is any danger that Rome will rule for Katherine, and declare the marriage valid.
Wolsey is clearly playing it very fast and loose with the truth in his desperation to get Henry what he wants. Anne takes Henry’s assurance as a reason to start wedding planning, and she has wonderfully hedged bets at the moment.
If Wolsey succeeds and they get an annulment this go around, she’s Queen, and wins. If he doesn’t, Wolsey (her families’ enemy) pays for his failure, and Protestantism gets to sidle in and maybe become Henry’s shining knight. The board is just made of win for (shh: secret protestant) Anne right now.
But the spat she and Henry are about to have (He has to go eat and sleep in the same place as Katherine for a while for some cunning legal reason, Anne is not keen.) is about how precarious her position really is. Her pieces may be fantastically placed, but her whole game board is balanced on a fence post. She has no official status or position, and everything depends on Henry. If he decided he was bored right now she’d just be another ex mistress (albeit one he hasn’t slept with, yet). You can see why she makes such a tempting target for the Papal faction.
Meet the Boss
In this first meeting, Campeggio brings a fine solution to the table. Wolsey is twitchy because of Campeggio’s initial suggestion of ‘How about we just don’t have an annulment, how about that?’.
Campeggio points out Katherine’s well known piety. Campeggio notes that Jean de Valois was a relatively recent French Queen that abdicated her marriage and joined a nunnery (Actually Historically she only did that once the church had already forcibly annulled her marriage, but who wants to dwell on that?). Campeggio wonders if Katherine could be persuaded to do that. Henry asks Wolsey for his take on this idea.
It would also end the marriage without changing Princess Mary’s legitimacy status (not that anyone in this room really cares about that). It’s a complete winner for the Papacy too, as they finally get out of this very tricky situation without pissing off any of the significant European powers. Henry is positively enthused and wants Campeggio to approach Katherine to start working this out right now.
In the very next scene it’s clear that Campeggio has been doing just that as he and Katherine round the corner.
The key component in this plan, and one medieval and renaissance men didn’t normally need to think about in these situations, is actually persuading the woman in question to do it. Any other woman, and the word persuade should really be written ‘persuade’ and imply a heavy stick. But Katherine is a senior member of the most powerful family in Europe, who don’t want this annulment. She can’t be touched and she can’t be heavily leaned on without serious consequences coming from the Emperor.
From her perspective, if she takes this deal, how is she going to protect her rights and those of her daughter once a woman that hates her is Queen? And all this depends on her actually wanting to do this. That other ex-Queen they mentioned had already had her marriage annulled when she made this choice, and Katherine has vigorously opposed stepping aside.
Katherine acquires time by pointing out that according to the best practice agreement of being a dutiful wife, she needs to ask her husband’s permission before answering such a question. And then she asks if Campeggio will take her confession later. He is pleased to do so and takes his leave. And then Wolsey swoops in like a really motivated stalker.
Wolsey must not only leave no stone unturned, he must be seen to leave no stone unturned in his quest for the annulment. If it gets back to the King that he swooped in, knelt and begged the Queen to agree, then so much the better for Wolsey.
He hints that that menopause is coming for Katherine (If he’s going for ingratiating I believe he’s already missed), and tries to sell the act of taking holy orders as the culmination of her life’s work, not the end of it. Katherine is decidedly unimpressed, and semi-politely but very pointedly tells him, in so many words, to get the hell up and stop wasting her time.
Uncomfortable Compulsory Couples Home Evening
Forced marital mediation is not going great.
Henry is super hot about sending her to a nunnery, and hits the ground running with Katherine at dinner, wanting to know immediately if she has spoken to Campeggio.
Henry asks what she will tell him, and when she says “The Truth” his outraged reaction is a bit of a tell. He really over claims- “All the world” knows their marriage was unjust, apparently. And he gets to “persuading” really quickly. Katherine’s response?
Cromwell drops by while Anne is trying and failing at needlework. He’s brought a book he got ‘from the continent’. I thought it might be saucy woodcuts, but it turns out to be the decidedly unsaucy and historically significant The Obedience of a Christian Man, by William Tynedale. Or, to give it it’s full original title: The Obedience of a Christen man, and how Christen rulers ought to govern, wherein also (if thou mark diligently) thou shalt find eyes to perceive the crafty convience of all iugglers. Seriously, click if you don’t believe me, brevity wasn’t shit in Tudor literature.
It is one of the literal roots of the Church of England. We see it go from Cromwell to Anne, and it will get from Anne to Henry where it’s going to find a huge fan. But for right now this book is illegal and so much as possessing it could land you in a very uncomfortable jail. The dangerous illegality they hover around makes any scene with two Protestants in it a bit more exiting.
Anne gives Cromwell a gift of her needlework to deliver to the King, perhaps as a favour, anyone that delivers him gifts from Anne is going to be well associated in Henry’s mind. And it’s a good thing that Henry does love her because it is an ugly gift.
Chicken and Metaphysics and Practical Love
Jane and her now deceased sister Joan did not come from a standard background for ladies of court. Because when she left court Jane didn’t go back to reasonably well set up relatives. She’s living in one room with clothes drying above the bed and a chicken for a flatmate.
The looming stranger that has surprised her is Thomas Tallis, court composer and former lover first of Compton and then of Jane’s sister Joan, both of whom died of the Sweating sickness. He is invited in to talk, and he mentions Joan’s death. Jane then starts saying how her sister hasn’t left, she can’t leave and then…
First, this isn’t treated as a jump scare, the score stays low and a bit melancholy throughout this bit. The Tudors doesn’t definitely come down on a side of whether or not Tallis sees Joan (It will, however, come to a definite conclusion as to whether The Tudors thinks Joan is there or not…next week), because Tallis’ reaction is quite muted, and he doesn’t say anything about it. He shakes his head a bit and ploughs on with what he came to say.
It looks like Jane definitely warming to the idea, and they hold hands across the table, both looking a lot more hopeful then they did when he walked in.
Confession as a Weapon
Katherine is confessing to Campeggio. She says she wants to confess about her marriage to Prince Arthur, and once she has his complete attention she confesses that she never had sex with Prince Arthur. Then she confesses she never had sex with Prince Arthur in Latin, with references to purity that involve her mother’s womb. Having established the shit out of that, she refuses the request that she go to a nunnery, because she is the King’s legitimate wife and her vocation was always toward matrimony.
And having disappointed Campeggio once she goes for the double.
One of them is coming out of this encounter far more bruised and it’s not the confessee.
Trouble and Strife
Welcome back to dinner with the Suffolks, where they are still drinking but they’re not shagging anymore. Margaret is spoiling for a fight. Brandon moved mountains for them both to get back to court, which Margaret now refuses to attend. It’s all about Anne and Henry, and apart from the objections she states, you get the impression that while she was happy to bend the knee to safe, dependable, slightly ignored Katherine, bending the knee to young, beautiful and arrogant Anne would be utterly insupportable for Princess Margaret.
She very pointedly cuts that fruit and doesn’t eat it. More importantly, the camera closes in and notices what she’s doing. While actors, as a rule, try not to eat onscreen, I think that this time it is the character’s doing. We will find out soon that Margaret is becoming very ill with tuberculosis. I think Margaret is settling her accounts (including with a heartbreaking speech about how Brandon can be unfaithful, yet still love) and we’re being shown that she has no appetite. Margaret is very deftly handled, and so is Brandon, most of the time.
The problem with Brandon in the back end of season 1 is that he has this wildly uneven attitude to Wolsey. Back in Episode 6 it was clear that he didn’t hate Wolsey, he was plotting against him with Norfolk and Boleyn as a quid pro quo so he could get back into court. Now he’s siding with Boleyn because he “Hates Wosley more”. Brandon’s attitude to Wolsey swings from regretful to nasty to forgiveness to hate several times in the rest of the season with no discernible reason for any of it. And it’s not just delivery, it’s like the lines we’re written for two different characters.
Maybe they wrote and filmed him one way, found it didn’t work and changed mid stream. In any case, any time Brandon’s attitude to Wolsey comes up you might as well smack a random number generator to see what it’s going to be in this section of an episode.
In any case, today he sees his wife’s pain and moves to comfort Margaret, but she gets up and walks out, with a deflecting insult. I think she knows she’s ill, maybe she suspects she is dying, and as a reaction to that she’s finding emotional closeness scary right now. Fighting is easier, fighting is what she knows, fighting feels safer, so she fights.
The Butcher’s Son
The bully boy isn’t a side we’ve seen to Wolsey in a while (he did throw Bishop Bonnivet against a wall in episode 1), but he too is going back to what he knows in a time of crisis. He stalks down the corridors of Whitehall, face like thunder, wringing and massaging his hands. He’s is on his way to see Campeggio.
And when Campeggio’s son first says his father is indisposed, and then has to physically put himself in front of the door, Wolsey goes back to his first trick, the oldest one, to move the world in the direction you want.
It doesn’t work for him today.
An Evening at Court
And we round it off with an evening at court, where the court’s reception of Anne has changed from slightly snobbish curiosity to outright deference from the majority. Campeggio and More are watching from the mezzanine.
Campeggio asks More if he thinks that the King and Anne have, you know, done it. And there’s the hilarity of ‘Wow, Campeggio, did you pick the wrong guy to ask about illicit sex gossip’. More doesn’t answer, and they move on to political matters. More is happy to disabuse him of the notions the Pro-Boleyn camp have tried to feed Campeggio, that the divorce has popular support in the country.
We hear a big, familiar laugh, and see Henry walk in the back of the room, flanked by Tallis. As he and Anne start to circle each other around the dance floor, More is clearly disgusted, and excuses himself.
Henry checks in with Wolsey, and gets told that Katherine has refused the ‘offer’. Wolsey presents what he has managed to get from Campeggio instead, that the Pope is apparently prepared to consider legitimising any children Henry has with Anne, whether they are married or not.
Well, 1) I’m not sure English inheritance law is up for that whether the Pope is or not, and 2) That is some very weak tea wrapped in horseshit. Henry calls it out as such and is very pointed with Wolsey that this is unacceptable.
Up on the mezzanine, Campeggio picks Ambassador Mendoza for his next guide,and they discuss Wolsey’s relative strength against the Boleyn alliance. Then they’re on to what the Emperor is thinking. He’s already written to the Pope, demanding that the case be referred to Rome (You know, your holiness. That city of yours I have occupied and let you escape from recently. I think you should hold it there.). Campeggio wants to know the Emperor’s intentions.
Down on the dance floor, Margaret has apparently decided to come to court. Anne breezes by Margaret with her back to the Princess, and doesn’t even bother to look at her. Margaret makes it abundantly clear just how far she is looking down her nose at Anne, if only Anne would turn around and see it. When Henry comes around Margaret makes a plea against Henry’s relationship with Anne that is almost desperate in it’s intensity. Henry’s reply is pretty brutal: “Look to your own marriage”, but her plea was damn presumptuous.
Henry finally catches up with Anne and there’s some coded talk (replace ‘burning’ for ‘horny’) and they end up dancing together, in front of everyone, at every level, no matter who they are or what they think.