The Good Fight
We open with Katherine this week. It’s great to have the fly on the wall perspective, because we get to see her as both the pensive and concerned woman she is when alone, and the imperially confident woman she becomes when challenged.
Meeting her are two of her lawyers for the rapidly approaching Case of the Century, Archbishop Warham, and Bishop Tunstall. They are also ringers, basically assigned to her defence team by Henry for his own reasons.
Warham is on the left, without the fur trim, and Tunstall on the right. Archbishop Warham is a pragmatist, a man whose conscience is compromised at various points in Seasons 1 & 2, and this is one of them. When he speaks he is hesitant and conflicted.
Bishop Tunstall is a goddamn shark. Wherever someone is holding tight to a principle, Bishop Tunstall is working their knuckles with a crowbar unless Henry tells him to stop.
Today Katherine starts by trying to discuss their brief, but the bishops interrupt. They have some crazy shit they need to discuss first. Apparently there are rumours about plots against the lives of Henry and Campeggio. And if any of these plots worked…then Katherine and the Princess Mary (who has to be 12ish now)..would be suspected of involvement, says Warham, unconvincingly.
Katherine gives some great surprise and shock, and ties it into her obedient wife theme by pointing out that she values her husband’s life more than her own. Unimpressed by Wareham’s commitment to accusation, Tunstall takes the next one, and it’s pretty convoluted.
She is acting like she’s the Queen, but she’s not the Queen and the ‘truth has been revealed’ (Henry has said so, Katherine.), but she’s still acting as the Queen which means she must hate the King because…I don’t know, there’s three question marks and the word profit in there somewhere.
When the offer of a nunnery comes up again, Katherine’s voice starts to deepen and show anger. She just shames the hell out of Warham and when she gets to the fact that he did have a sudden change of mind on the case she has him completely on the ropes, and then she keeps punching.
When Tunstall pipes up after that she rolls out a “Sir” with some real venom and condescension in it, and fires them both from her defence team.
In the evening, we must be on those court mandated visits again because Henry walks into Katherine’s bedroom, and both ladies in waiting exchange a “Shit, he showed up.” look. Clearly Henry has not been part of the bedtime procedure for a long time and they’re not quite sure how to treat him. Once Henry and Katherine are uncomfortably settled, the ladies leave and Henry opens with this:
Henry is really determined to have an argument or get what he wants out of this conversation. But you get the impression that whenever he is with Katherine she does keep trying to revert to their previous relationship which Henry is now absolutely desperate to escape.
So he calls her heartless, escalates that to ‘full of hatred’ and says he cannot believe that she loves him. When she declares she does,completely convincingly, he threatens to keep her away from Mary (because that was something he has the power to do) in case she poisons Mary’s mind against him. They call each other unreasonable,and Henry settles down for a long night of heavy sighing.
Sexytime Travel and Metaphysics
In a bed with a very different atmosphere Jane and Tallis the newly married are discussing the future.
Jane wants to know what Tallis really wants out of life. It’s travel and adventure that has hold of his imagination, and this quickly becomes a ‘traveling down your body as if it were a map’ sexytime game. He’s interested in the scenery but determinedly makes his way south and as they move their game on to the next stage something interesting happens. There’s Joan, Jane’s dead sister, and no-one is looking at her. Now, a lot of the ‘supernatural’ stuff we’ve seen so far can be ascribed to hallucinations, Henry’s visions at the end of episode 7, for example. But there is no POV hallucinating Joan so, according to The Tudors’ universe, she exists. And she’s got emotions, apparently. You see her momentarily pleased that they are happy, then sadness and regret as she is no longer a part of it.
We don’t see her leave, but Joan goes for good now, so goodbye Rebecca Ryan.
The Tudors’ universe is going to have some supernatural elements, and they’ve been slowly building up their solidity over Season 1, starting with Mr Pace, who was so convinced his wife was with him in the tower in Episode 3, through all those hallucinations in plague week, and Joan’s reappearance. Joan is just another step on the path to getting your 21st century brain to accept elements of a world with an older, more magical view of reality. Their treatment of the supernatural is one of those occasions when The Tudors’ tea is just the perfect temperature for me. They build it up slowly, they don’t overuse it, and they have interesting and consistent rules for it.
The Tudors also has Anne Boleyn looking more sultry than is legal in England.
She has a new motto, and she has hidden it on a piece of ribbon and placed it somewhere for Henry to find. This sexytime game proceeds much as Tallis and Janes’ did, slowly moving southward with a mixture of laughter, concentrated silences and pointedly raised eyebrows.Then, suddenly, it’s getting hawt in here.
Henry delves a little deeper in the skirt, then flips it over his head, demanding “Where is it?”. And right at that moment, Anne gives the game a twist. She says that there are fresh delays in the annulment case. She says that someone could be stalling, someone might be a secret saboteur. Henry guesses Campeggio. She says No, someone much closer to you.
Henry gets to the motto, but does he take the hint?
Ministry of Significant Walks
On a beautiful morning right by the big pond Henry’s decides to go on a walk with Wolsey, and question him about Campeggio’s attitude to the divorce. The rapid and smooth running he was promised on the trial does not appear to be happening. So is there something he needs to know about Campeggio?
Wolsey vouches for Campeggio, and when Henry then wants to know what these delays are all about then, Wolsey is still using the blithe tone he had right back when we were at Plan A of getting an annulment, and today Henry has had e-fucking-nough of it.
Wolsey delivers a wholehearted and sincere defence, on his knees and on the ground. He declares that he is ready to expend everything he has to bring the divorce about, and by the end is in some emotional distress. Henry sees it, and they have been friends for a long time. You see Henry soften, and then he takes a couple of paces back to Wolsey, bends down and says “Come, your grace. Don’t be so dismayed”, as he helps him back to his feet. He lets Wolsey know that he really does trust him, and restores as much normalcy to the personal relationship as he can.
But the political weather is changing and Norfolk and More see the incident from a window, and exchange forebodings.
We’re in the presence chamber and Henry starts to do what he did when Wolsey failed to get rid of Buckingham. He’s reaching out to see what else he has that he can use. He’s always got Brandon, but now he has Cromwell, too. Cromwell first.
Cromwell is being sent to meet the Pope. And he is being sent with the true leverage Henry has: The threat to break with Rome. It would be very difficult to do, but it is within Henry’s grasp, and there is a whole lot of money in the English church. Cromwell is sent on his way with two ‘fuckings’ in the speech from Henry to deliver to the Pope and the spin of: Look, this wasn’t a joke, we really mean this. This could happen.
Next it is Brandon, who worked so well for Henry last time. He is sent to see King Francis. Really, Francis? Okay, Francis. The two kings may not get along, but Henry wants intel, Francis is his ally and Francis needs him right now to keep the Imperial wolf from his door while he recovers from the loss of the Battle of Pavia. Brandon is given a series of questions about Campeggio, and then as Brandon is about to leave, Henry pulls him back and adds-
Aragon, Fisher & More
Sir Thomas and Bishop Fisher (Wolsey’s secret court’s heckler) come to see Katherine, and from Sir Thomas’ greeting, it’s clear where he stands on whether Katherine is, indeed Queen.
He is here to introduce her to Bishop Fisher, who they intend to act as her new lawyer with the radical new brief to act in her interests. Katherine’s ‘informal sewing outfit’ is quite something. It has a triangle of brooches pinned to the bodice, a full length cape, and a trash tiara that is the smaller, gaudier brother of Anne Boleyn’s monstrosity. I think she might have been expecting this call. Less flippantly, as we have moved through Season 1 they’ve been cutting Katherine’s gowns a little wider and wider at the top, trying to emphasise the size of the shoulder and torso to capture the more matronly figure of Katherine’s contemporary portraits from later in her life.
As Bishop Fisher starts talking, he’s a reminder that as disturbing as the face of religious certainty can be, that it sometimes did, and does produce people of almost insane bravery, who will just walk through goddamn walls in pursuit of justice and right if their faith tells them that’s what they should be doing right now.
Katherine the thoroughly decent offers Bishop Fisher a last ‘out’ if he wants to take it.
Then they go into the case. And Fisher outlines that they have a very strong legal position. Even if the original dispensation was faulty, (It wasn’t, by the way. Actually Historically the dispensation for her to marry Henry was issued as valid whether she and Arthur had slept together or not. They found one of the original documents in an archive in Spain long after it could make any difference.) then the standard remedy in religious law was to correct the dispensation, not end the second marriage.
He’s so precise and convincing Katherine actually gets her hopes up that they may win. Fisher counsels that while they may win the argument –
Still, they are on the side of angels, and no temporal power scares Bishop Fisher, so at least Katherine has a lawyer of iron loyalty that is actually on her side, now.
Cards and Approaches
A brief scene in which Henry and Anne are playing cards. It shows Henry’s increasing impatience with the holding pattern he’s stuck in, but is chiefly notable for showing the difference in approach Cromwell has figured out from watching Wolsey.
Cromwell has written to Henry.
He doesn’t think Clement is going to help Henry, and that the best the Pope is offering is vague promises. It’s a notable difference from Wolsey’s blue sky thinking, and while Henry might be angry and impatient, and Cromwell hasn’t been able to get him anything better, Henry does at least feel accurately informed.
The Full Francis
King Francis is a truly glorious asshole.
He has great advice, and insight, but he is going to make you work your ass and your humility to get it. Particularly on a day when his really aggressive and arrogant rival has asked for it. Brandon tries to get the gen and Francis says that when he spoke to Campeggio as he passed through France, he thought that the legate dissembled. Brandon perks up – How did he dissemble?
And that’s why you put up with Francis. Oh, he loves the sound of his own voice and yours is just appreciative noises, but he isn’t just selling shit. He’s actually got some gold there. He advises Henry not to put too much trust in any man, and then Brandon asks about Wolsey.
Francis changes his stance to be all business, refuses wine, and thinks about his response before he says it. You can see Queen Claude perk up, perhaps to see just what Francis is going to say about a man he has often claimed as a friend.
And it’s a really considered response. Francis likes Wolsey. He thinks Wolsey wants the divorce to go through because Wolsey and Queen Katherine are hostile to one another. He makes Brandon dig a little more with some long, unnecessary pauses before pointing out that Wolsey runs deep with the Pope and Campeggio, and they are not pro-divorce, which I think is a comment on Wolsey’s potential effectiveness rather than loyalty. He rounds it out by saying that his best advice is that Henry should take control of the matter himself, it’s the only way to get it done.
And with that he excuses himself from the table. Brandon stays at the table with Queen Claude, where he thinks he sees an opening. He offers Queen Claude a way to pay Francis back for his infidelities by enjoying a bit of English hot sausage. Now Brandon, in his closet, has a significant spiritual side to him. So when Queen Claude also talks about using lovemaking as a weapon and what it does to the soul, Brandon looks at her with genuine admiration. He does not get laid for once.
Wolsey is stood, very very still, waiting outside Campeggio’s door.
Campeggio emerges with his son. Wolsey tells the son to leave and the son very clearly looks at Campeggio, with an ‘Is this all right?’ expression. Campeggio says he should go on and…
Wolsey channels a Bulldog, and once he has flung Cardinal Campeggio into a chair looms over him and reiterates with savagery that if they don’t find for Henry than the church is. going. to. lose. England.
Campeggio might talk a good game about truth and justice, might even believe it, but he will do what the Pope tells him and the Pope is still surrounded by 20,000 Imperial mercenaries.
He tells Wolsey that he understands Wolsey’s predicament (Which, I mean he’s a Cardinal, but that’s really above and beyond the call, Wolsey just tried to twist his ear off and threw him in a chair. ) and tells him to have faith. It is decidedly not the answer Wolsey was trying for.
Somewhere in London, Wolsey’s three key enemies (Boleyn, Brandon and Norfolk) are plotting even now, assessing the current situation, planning future moves and approving pamphlet choices (It’s no surprise that shh: secret protestant Boleyn produces killer pamphlets). They’ve decided to go after his financial corruption to get him out of office, and let the rest follow – a variation on Caponing him, basically. It’s all looking good for them right now.
Trial of the Century Begins
The actual historical location of the trial was Blackfriar’s Church in London.
We get a montage of everyone getting ready, set to a great piece of music that never made it onto the soundtrack, to the point that you wonder if the Sept of Baelor is about to blow up.
Wolsey is losing it. His servant drops his chain of office and he just beats the poor guy, while the guy is apologising. Campeggio prays in bed, Tunstall and Fisher arrive early. Henry arrives with his entire rolling crew and gets a cheer. And we see Katherine, a solitary woman in middle age reckoning with herself in the mirror before going out with her chamberlain and two ladies in waiting to get a cheer just as big. Campeggio convenes the court.
Henry gets an opening statement, (and is carrying some kind of ‘law satchel/purse’ today) in which he makes his point about Leviticus saying he couldn’t marry his brother’s widow, and says that all his bishops share these doubts and have signed a petition, asking him to get the matter questioned. He gets a warm nod from Bishop Tunstall who, I think we can imply arranged this for him.
Bishop Fisher starts up (interrupting the King) and says he never signed any such document, and if his signature is on there Bishop Tunstall probably forged it.
Henry shuts up Fisher by saying they are not going to argue about it now, and after all Fisher is just one man, with a look and tone that promises quite a lot for Bishop Fisher, down the road. When Fisher sits down again Henry concludes that it was his great love for Katherine that stopped him from questioning this before, and says he asks for one thing and one thing only…
Once Henry is done, Wolsey, as presumptuous as Fisher was in interrupting the King, wants to make a statement before the Queen speaks. He says that Katherine has questioned the validity of the court and the impartiality of her judges, and by speaking for her he gets to make her points and knock them down and judge that to be a fair shot all in one go, while having a good glower. Then he invites her to speak.
And holding very close to Actual History, this is Katherine’s move.
“I beseech you, for all the love that has been between us, let me have justice, and right. Give me some pity and compassion, for I am a poor woman and a stranger, born out of your dominion. I have no friend here, and little counsel. I flee to you as head of justice in this realm.
I call God and all the world to witness that I have been to you a true, humble and obedient wife, ever comfortable to your will and pleasure. I have loved all those whom you have loved, for your sake. Whether or not I had case, whether they were my friends or enemies.
By me you have had many children, although it has pleased God to call them from this world. But when you had me at first, I take God as my judge, I was a true maid, without touch of man. And whether or not it be true, I put it to your conscience.”
And then she gets up, courtseys, and walks away. To general consternation, the judges confusion, and Henry…Henry looks like his actual conscience might be having a bad day. Katherine walks out to a huge damn cheer, and Henry looks for somewhere to put his pain and anger. Yep, I suspect that Wolsey will do, because whatever outcome they planned for the first day of the trial, Katherine completely crushing it was not on the schedule. Once Henry leaves, face like thunder, Wolsey looks across the courtroom, and all he can see are his enemies, waiting in the prime seats. Divorce is a tough time to work for a tyrant, too.
Sorry about last week, what a vacation without wi-fi couldn’t derail, an on again off again fibre upgrade and a heavy work week managed. Still, Ramses says I won’t miss another week between now and finishing off Season 1, and I believe him (Also my broadband speed is sodding outrageous, now).