The Spiritual Birth of the Daily Mail
There’s a real awareness of tabloid sensibility in The Tudors’ treatment of the annulment trial. Commoners start creeping into the story as we get shown London’s reaction to the incredible gossip about the most intimate moments of royal life coming out of the Blackfriar’s court.
There were a few commoners shown outside the court last week, and this week we see that some of them have been allowed in. Clothes a little on the shabby side, the ‘washed in a bucket this morning’ people move aside quickly so Thomas Boleyn can sweep in to the proceedings, late.
Katherine has been pronounced ‘Contumacious‘ (Stubbornly rebellious) by the court, which is seriously trying to find out whether or not two 15 year olds had sex over a decade ago.
We got to this low point because the Roman Catholic church did not (and does not) allow divorce, so the only way for Henry to get free is to argue there was no marriage in the first place. Henry contends that the papal dispensation (permission to marry despite issues) was faulty because it presumed Katherine was a virgin, so Wolsey has now set out to prove that Katherine and Arthur had sex during their brief marriage.
As lowbrow as all this has rapidly become, it is Sir Anthony Willoughby that finally ensures that no one is getting out of here with their dignity intact with a joke that hits it right out of the courtroom and into historical anecdote. When asked if Prince Arthur said anything to him after his wedding night, Willoughby says that the Prince said he was thirsty…
The reactions are great. You get to see Wolsey, first anticipating a juicy piece of evidence, then concerned that it has all landed a bit too boisterously. Henry, Actually Historically a prudish man for his times, being thoroughly embarrassed and angered. Campeggio’s reaction is more veiled but I find him disapproving (I think King Francis was right about him last week), and the Duke of Norfolk can afford a little smile to himself while Cromwell must maintain the impeccable manners of the middle class, and as straight a face as possible.
Gone Prayin’ Done Pretendin’
Then we’re off to a church along the Thames.
The camera does a lot of circular moving this episode, and we swing around the exterior, then the interior of the church to reveal Katherine looking particularly Spanish (it’s the headdress) and in mourning colours, praying and attended by her ladies, with Wolsey and Cromwell hovering nearby.
Wolsey interrupts her right after prayers, and starts with the King wanting to know why Queen Katherine is not in court. She says she’s already answered that with a face that is long, long, past the point of hiding her annoyance and increasing contempt for Wolsey. Wolsey tries to control the conversation by asking that they go somewhere private, but she is not having it. He can talk to her in public.
So they go on a walk and talk. All Wolsey really has are arguments to power, and Katherine bats them away with sarcasm and soft power and is doing really well until she starts to monologue. I mean, who wouldn’t when finally faced with a formerly covert enemy you don’t have to pretend to like any more? But her arguments are very self indulgent.
Once she settles in it’s clear that she is currently blaming Wolsey for actions that came from Henry. Saying that Wolsey has, for his own purposes, ‘kindled this fire’ is advanced willful blindness at this point. Having a go at Wolsey for his ‘voluptuous life’ is unpleasant to the 21st century sensibility – we’ve met Joan, the woman Wolsey has been in a faithful monogamous relationship with for years, and who he is not allowed to marry. She is on firmer ground with the ‘pride’ and ‘vainglory’ accusations, and then falls into the trap that many members of dominant powers do, believing that if they are not the most valued by others then it must be due to malicious discrimination.
Wolsey prefers the French, but breaks with them when told to. He never asked to be made Pope by force (To be fair, I’m not sure he ever felt it was an option), certainly not by the Emperor, and if the Emperor’s influence weren’t stopping this annulment I honestly think Wolsey would be pretty neutral about him.
Katherine rounds out the scene strong, however, getting right down to brass tacks with this man who absolutely would destroy her if he could, is publicly dragging her reputation through the mud, and is Henry’s instrument in all the ways she has been getting hurt. She expresses her belief that if, by holding out she brings Wolsey down, well that’s all gravy to her. Then she peaces out.
And that might just be Wolsey’s failure in a nutshell. A failure of imagination, because there is more than one way to do this, and Wolsey’s method is sinking fast. Where Wosley sees a dead end, secret Protestant Cromwell sees a potential door for his revolution.
Daily Mail Readers
Ruffian #1 enters a competitor for cheapest tavern in town (it’s a cellar with a bar in it) with a coin and an ‘I was in Spain last night’ joke. The second punchline he’s got are the words ‘In.Out.In.Out’ with (in)appropriate gestures. The tavern erupts with laughter. Twice.
The oldest man in the tavern™ is gleefully inappropriate and recounts how young he was the first time he had sex and how many times he had it. The tavern erupts with laughter.
Then Ruffian #2 stands up, raises his tankard and proposes a toast
“To Katherine, the Queen of England, who doesn’t give a fig.” Which, while it is an expression, was at the time also an obscene hand gesture, supposed to resemble a clitoris. Stick your thumb through your 1st and 2nd knuckles. Congratulations, you just figged yourself.
Everyone shambles as close to attention as they can get, holds their weaving tankards aloft and yells:
“To Katherine, Queen of England!” at very drunk British volume.
They might believe she slept with Arthur when she was 15 or 16. They might not. It doesn’t seem to matter to them, much. They like her, they like her attitude. Yaas Queen. Wheyyheyy.
Let them grumble. That’s how it’s going to be.
Henry gets announced at the other court (The King’s Court) and he and Anne stride through the door and through the great hall, making a point of not noticing anyone until she publicly air kisses their allies, her brother, father and uncle at the end of the hall.
Avoiding, as much as we can, the return of the original trash tiara, and one of the world’s gaudiest dresses bought to keep it company (Henry’s seed pearl embossed outfit is gorgeous) the dynamics are interesting. Henry has gone from occasional disturbances of the original order to actively imposing the new one. We’ve come a long way from those furtive conversations under his wife’s eye.
Boleyn and Norfolk have a walk and plot, noting the declining state of Wolsey’s fortunes and preparing for the day when Norfolk will be head of the King’s Council. Norfolk remains just as condescending as he was before banishment, but Boleyn’s star is rising and it no longer seems as appropriate as it did before. Boleyn looks a little impatient after Norfolk walks away.
In Henry’s private dining room, Henry loves all the attention Anne is now getting.
Anne keeps dropping bait. She points out Katherine’s non attendance at the trial. When Henry says Wolsey has promised him a divorce by Summer she says
“Promises are easy.” and “What if you don’t?”
She is always ready to point out that Wolsey’s word ain’t law anymore, and blindly accepting it hasn’t got Henry very far, has it?
Margaret has got out of bed late at night. Brandon notices and asks what the matter. She says she couldn’t sleep.
Brandon takes the opportunity to say that he’s going to go to court tomorrow, and will she come? Henry has asked for her to attend again, apparently.
Margaret won’t go and she frets over the proud and grasping Boleyns as she stands by the window. Brandon understands but wants to address practicality. What is she going to do if the King commands her to come to court?
She comes over, and is as delicate as she has ever been with him.Once he’s asleep she goes into the next room, and while desperately trying to suppress a violent coughing fit shows us the bloody rag of doom she’s been coughing into. She passed caring about what will happen if she doesn’t attend court some time ago, and does not have long left.
Walking through Walls.
The court is packed to the rafters as Campeggio announces that the Queen’s Counsel, Bishop Fisher (Actually, I think Katherine might head a ‘don’t give a fig’ party) has asked to make a statement.
The camera goes on a circuit around Fisher as he stands, completely alone, and opens his speech. He contends that the marriage between Henry and Katherine cannot be dissolved by any power, human or divine. Okay, well I saw that first part coming but that second one was quite the shock.
So if God tried to annul it, God would be wrong? Wow, that’s a chunky claim. The courtroom is already quite clenched when Fisher warms into his theme, by comparing Henry to the Tyrant, Herod Antipas…
“Tyrant? Tyrant?” Comes Wolsey’s deepest, most offended ‘from on high’ tones. Fisher does not care, he keeps rolling right along. The tyrant Herod Antipas had a chequered marital history, apparently, incurring the displeasure of John the Baptist, who he had killed.
Bishop Fisher says he is ready to lay down his life, he repeats it, and he is entirely believable. He is ready to lay down his life to defend the sanctity of marriage and condemn adultery.
Remember Bishop Tunstall? Well, Bishop Tunstall is outraged. After a quick look across at Henry and Wolsey he launches into his own accusation of Fisher. He accuses him of arrogance and disloyalty and demands that the court disregard every vile word. The whole thing descends into outraged burbling. Bishop Fisher seems to have a real talent for legal disruption.
Go To Cambria, Break Stuff.
Wolsey is in his quarters, and once he has poured out his wine, he does not put down the jug. Not a good sign, but in his defence their wine goblets are tiny. He even offers Sir Thomas More a goblet. Which Sir Thomas naturally refuses.
Wolsey, drowning man, has just been gifted a whole lake of water. He’s heard that the Imperials and the French and the Papacy are all looking to make peace with each other, at a place called Cambria (actually Cambrai,and a couple of other locations but it all happened pretty rapidly). Thomas More is to go there, and sabotage it as much as he can.
The ask, taken on its most positive spin, is not entirely impossible. But you need to accept at face value the assurance King Francis has apparently sent Wolsey, that he has absolutely no intention of making peace with the Emperor. So if the French, one of the major parties will not play ball, an obstructive English contingent could be an asset.
But with each setback in the annulment quest, Wolsey has heaped expectations onto the next plan, and the plans are now breaking under the weight. Wolsey wants More to stop Pope Clement from making peace with the Emperor by…reminding him of recent history? If Pope Clement has decided he will put aside the fact that Rome was sacked by the Emperor’s troops and he was captured, More reminding him that it happened isn’t going to do anything. He is to keep King Francis true to his assurances to Wolsey (how is not given), and find out if possible whether the Emperor would invade England in support of his Aunt.
More is sent off on mission impossible, and Wolsey necks his wine.
Henry Loses the Arguments Against the Womens
Henry and Katherine are still on those ‘mandated couples time’ events. Katherine would like to complain about her treatment. She says that Henry treats her unkindly and neglects her in public.
Henry’s response is to say that they weren’t married, and the court is going to go that way. And if it does not go that way he will break with Rome and marry who he wants.
Katherine, in another show of her willful blindness when it comes to Henry, takes this outburst and decides to plead once more that she was actually a virgin when they married.
Okay, so The Tudors has taken a position on this question from history. The Tudors’ Katherine of Aragon was a virgin when she married Henry, and apparently Henry knew it. That explains some of the resentful looks he’s been giving people that were on his side during the trial.
Also, you’ve been saying that it is the point for a year or more, Henry. We’ve got a whole trial going on and Katherine’s reputation getting dragged through the muddier parts of Southwark on the basis that it totally is the point.
Henry slams the door and goes to see Anne. Who is equally displeased with him. Oh, she told him not to argue with the Queen, one day he’ll succumb to Katherine’s reasoning and cast Anne aside. She could have spent this time breeding, like, having tons of sons, but instead she’s been waiting to no purpose at all. Hey, if getting shouty could do it, Henry, you would have it done.
Secret Texting and Open Threatening
This weeks’ secret text is from the Pope to Campeggio. Has something happened at Cumrai?Whatever he speed reads, Campeggio is a little shook. He folds the letter right back up, holds it close under his cape, all while looking around, and heads somewhere more quiet to read it properly.
A little while later, Henry is walking through the palace with Knivert, when they happen upon Campeggio. As logical argument and being shouty isn’t working for Henry right now, he decides to use his best threatening face on Campeggio. He sits down with Campeggio and thinks they should discuss the rise of Lutheranism on the continent. Henry thinks he know why is has been happening.
Oh Greensleeves, you were composed,
Much later than I had supposed.
The form you were written in would appear,
In Italy but not for many years.
So despite my clear and constant faith,
Henry VIII did not write Greensleeves.
(Because it was probably Elizabethan)
Stum lute strings wildly on final line.
Nevertheless The Tudors‘ has decided that its Henry did write it, so we enter an evening at court with Knivert, Henry and Brandon with Greensleeves playing in the background.
Brandon swaps glances with yet another pretty young woman at court, and after the usual back and forth Knivert says: “I bet you dream of women”
“No” says Brandon, “I dream of Heaven and Hell, and of repentance, since you ask.”
Henry goes over to Thomas Boleyn and asks him, in an almost distractingly intense way, to ask Anne to come back to court. He cannot live without her and the verdict will come in tomorrow, tomorrow he will have his divorce.
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Campeggio walks into the court at Blackfriars to monstrous anticipation. Henry helps him into his chair and he is asked for judgement, and Campeggio has decided.
Henry walks out to absolute silence, and once he’s left the hubub begins. Wolsey shoves down Campeggio, who was just getting up and calls him a ‘Cupid Stunt’. Brandon’s random Wolsey response generator gets set to ‘angry, victorious and surprisingly anti catholic’, and we enter next week with all those well laid plans blown to smithereens.