The Tudors Recap – Season 1 Episode 9: Look to God First (Part 2)

Papal Pragmatism

At the end of the last recap, Cardinal Campeggio had dissolved the Blackfriar’s Court without reaching judgement, and referred the case to the Papal Curia (Council) in Rome, forcing Henry to at last see the uncomfortable truth. The Emperor is too powerful, and so the Pope cannot say ‘Yes’ to Henry. These endless delays and hedgings are as close as the Papacy can get to actually admitting that the answer is ‘No’. It’s perhaps understandable given Henry’s tendency to threaten the shit out them when thwarted. vlcsnap-2018-06-14-23h18m54s148.png

The Queen under the Tree

Far from the tumult in the city, Katherine is in a prime archetypal English Queening position, sat beneath an Oak tree, where she is visited by Ambassador Mendoza.vlcsnap-2018-06-15-17h24m00s450

Ambassador Mendoza is incredibly professional. Henry once screamed at and threatened Mendoza during an audience, and Mendoza walked straight out of that audience chamber and tried to recruit Sir Thomas Boleyn as an asset- steady as a goddamn rock. But he’s also, charmingly, always kind of stoked when he’s hanging out with Katherine of Aragon. He keeps it under control, but he’s noticeably brighter in her presence.

With their greetings Mendoza and Katherine make it clear that they have heard what happened at the Blackfriar’s Court. The rest of Mendoza’s info is top notch too. Campeggio got secret instructions from the Pope? Check. He had instructions to refer the case to Rome? Check. Mendoza tells Katherine that the Emperor worked tirelessly for her cause (Hell, the Emperor might have helped draft Campeggio’s instructions at the diplomacy table).

But Ambassador Mendoza is leaving, and Katherine is a bit sad about that. He says that he will be replaced by Chapuys. mendoza.gifAmbassador Mendoza was ably played by Declan Conlon, and as part of that great secondary continuity, look out for Mendoza’s return in a brief appearance intriguing abroad in Season 3 Episode 2. When Mendoza leaves Katherine sits alone, and it’s a little sad to realise that this is Katherine’s high watermark in this fight, her victory. Her husband could not generate enough power in Europe to unseat her, and she won that lack of verdict against every bit of power her husband and Cardinal Wolsey could throw at her.

There is also a victory in putting together 3 patterns in a single outfit that works really well. Katherine is winning it all today, except for anything she actually wants, of course.

Counting Up Friends for the End Times

Katherine might have the most subdued victory dance in the world but Wolsey is doing very poorly.  He’s fretful as he walks across a courtyard, and he clasps Cromwell’s arm when he sees him, before asking a little breathily about the King.

TFW you realise he’s a stalker, but he’s not your stalker, so you’ll probably be OK.

And it becomes clear why Cromwell is suddenly so precious to Wolsey. Cromwell is access to the King. Wolsey gets the gen – The King is going on a progress (visiting the country) with Anne. And he gets to send a message back – He offers Henry money, a rich revenue from a bishopric, and that he will continue to work to get the annulment.


Wolsey always likes to tell people how much they owe to his good deeds towards them, which apparently amounts to everything they have ever done a lot of the time. So either Cromwell really means that or he’s studied Wolsey very closely. Bit of both? Bit of both, maybe.

Moving On

Out riding with Anne while on progress,

And in the one place on earth that can give ‘New Zealand Green’ a run for its money.

Henry goes on a bit of a rant, and it’s the rant Anne has been waiting for. Henry’s been told he needs to go to Rome to give evidence. This has got him feeling particularly anti-catholic and ends his rant with a ‘Damn Wolsey, Damn him to hell’.

Anne has a book she wants Henry to read. Oh, it just bases a claim for Kings outranking Popes in religion with a Protestant view of the Bible, that’s all. Does she have his permission to show it to him? Yes, she does.

Back in Suffolk  Margaret is in her last scenes, and she is incredibly exhausted, reeling as she tries to do something as simple as pick up, carry and then read a book. vlcsnap-2018-06-17-10h06m45s872.png

That night the score picks up as we go check in on the two men in her life. Her brother Henry is surrounded by portentous lightning as he considers going down the route that leads to the Church of England, and Brandon is banging the hell out of some large breasted lady somewhere (not an ideal response to give to ‘Where were you when your wife died?’). Then the theme drops for a moment.margaret.gif

The poem appears to be originial, so damn well done to whoever wrote it. It’s nowhere near Tudor language but it is beautiful and perfect for that moment. Margaret is the first of many characters in The Tudors that will have such visions just before death. She then gets the ‘dramatic vomiting blood’ TV version of death by tuberculosis. So it’s goodbye to Gabrielle Anwar – who gave us a Princess Margaret of depth and clarity considering the time she had and her character’s dubious relationship with history.

Henry is at Grafton House, accompanied by Thomas Boleyn and Cromwell when he is informed. Brandon comes in during the ‘any other business’ section of the audience, clearly shaken, and takes several seconds trying to find the words to tell Henry that his sister is dead. margdeath.gifOnce he manages to tell him Henry takes it like he takes most things, angrily, (and that’s a really heavy shoulder check) at least partly because it’s easier to focus on your friend being a shitty husband than the fact that you were a shitty brother at times.

We get an interesting little aside at Margaret’s funeral, where a common boy asks his father:vlcsnap-2018-06-17-12h19m37s404.pngThe answer is that the King cannot attend funerals, because no one is allowed to imagine the King’s death. It makes sense if your outlook is Feudal.

It’s useful, in the days before physical evidence was more available to have a political mechanism that says if you’re caught plotting against the King you can’t get out of it just because you say it was all ‘hypothetical, in case the King died.’. Also, provisions for what needs to happen after the Kings death are made by the King and God, you shouldn’t be filling your non-anointed head with that. It’s not your place. Careful, don’t want anyone thinking you’re a nasty traitor, do we? No? Good.

What’s going to be dangerous (at least to the politically and religiously active) is that feudal ‘total loyalty’  outlook coming into contact with the emergence of the first Proto-intelligence services in England. Telling the state what your neighbour did all starts here.

Also, while it is nice that we start to see the people engaging with their religion (because that religion is going to get upended very soon), that church they are in is the plain, white-stoned, austere, Protestant kind of church that really shouldn’t exist yet.

In the crypt, Brandon apologises for being a bad husband to Margaret’s corpse with real emotion, and he is clearly in his own change process now. vlcsnap-2018-06-17-12h51m13s684.png

What I did at Cambrai and the end of iTudor 1.0

We go to Hampton Court.

It’s fine

Sir Thomas More has returned from all the treatying in Europe empty handed as far as the annulment goes and Wolsey is just crushingly disappointed. The questions he asks show he had expectations in sending More that couldn’t be matched by the actual negociations. More might have got some trade and financial compensation but as far as the annulment goes Cambrai and the other treaties produced an impenetrable Euro-wall. Both the Pope and King Francis made peace with the Emperor.

Yes. That is…a real shame.

Wolsey has got to the stage where he is starting to despair, saying that Francis betrayed him and More has destroyed him, but the truth is more that they both failed to save him.

Batman begins
There used to be a difference, back in aught five.

Wolsey and Campeggio arrive at Grafton House and Wolsey gets a thorough shunning. When they arrive Campeggio is welcomed in and his baggage taken up to his rooms. Wolsey and his luggage are left standing. vlcsnap-2018-06-17-14h17m54s831.pngThe servant that gets to tell Wolsey that no room has been prepared for him gets an anecdote worthy of r/maliciouscompliance and clearly enjoys this moment, one that he would not dare to provide if Henry hadn’t ordered him to.

Wolsey’s blushes are saved by a friendly man called Mr Norris, who offers him the use of his own modest rooms to change in. He is told to go to the presence chamber, and when he does the warmth of the reception he gets from Henry puts a lot of noses out of joint. Henry asks if Wolsey has been unwell, as that is what he’s been told. When Wolsey says he hasn’t, Henry fully agrees. vlcsnap-2018-06-17-14h27m39s464.png

These people in the same room.

When Henry tells Wolsey ‘Don’t be afraid’ the relief practically drips off of him. But he should be afraid, very afraid. In the evening Henry turns on Wolsey and changes his mind. We see him watch Wolsey from the window. Wolsey is talking to a group of followers all stood around a fire outside, and whether it’s the prospect of Wolsey trying to stage a comeback, whether Anne has been having a word or whether he planned this all along, Henry’s face hardens as he watches and the next morning,wolsgrafton2.gifis the last time Wolsey ever sees Henry. For a King that’s so angry, Henry gets awfully passive aggressive when it actually comes down to it.

New Ambassador of Style

Back in Whitehall, Katherine is meeting her new imperial champion.


Ambassador Chapuys has also clearly been practicing his understatement in preparation for a mission to England. kathchap.gif

Ambassador Chapuys can get short shrift in historical fiction, mainly because we have the hindsight of what happened to Anne Boleyn, while he (Actually Historically) was an enthusiastic contemporary source of the most scurrilous rumours about her. Her historical redemption can leave him looking pretty damn mean.

Anthony Brophy plays The Tudors’ Chapuys as a man with warmth, humour and intelligence, albeit a bit gossipy, and with the common Imperial affliction of a tendency to think everything is about them.

He asks if he should present himself to Wolsey, and the Queen tells him, with some satisfaction, that Wolsey is finished. Sadly the men that have replaced him, Norfolk, Brandon and Boleyn are all Katherine’s mortal enemies.

As she speaks we see two of them, Brandon and Norfolk, ride into Whitehall and stride into court to arrest Wolsey.

Wolsey Falls

Norfolk and Brandon stride through the court, straight into Wolsey’s offices. He has been waiting for them. Norfolk has been waiting for this moment forever, and Brandon’s random Wolsey reaction is set to:

“Delighted by your demise”

Wolsey’s charged with ‘Premunire’, that he obeyed a foreign power while being English. It fits with ‘The Catholic church is just another foreign power’ idea they’re trying to popularise, and they just need an excuse, really. Wolsey will lose his offices and titles and there will be a court to decide on his guilt. He asks where he is to go, and that may be the most important question because he is to go to one of the King’s houses, under house arrest. If Wolsey were likely to die now, he’d be going to the Tower, or at least to somewhere fortified.

Still, Wolsey has a walk of shame to do. Past a lot of people he never had time for.

And someone brought fruit.

Later, during his house arrest he writes to Cromwell, begging him to come and see him,  and Cromwell’s reaction to that is a big character moment for him. Wolf Hall’s Cromwell is practically devoted to Wolsey. The Tudors’ Cromwell is more pragmatic. He’s been an honest broker, and clearly cares for Wolsey as a mentor, cromhd.gifbut he also recognises that there is no saving Wolsey at this point, and this Cromwell is a man with a secret mission from God that needs Wolsey’s job. Damn right that letter is getting ripped up.

Thomas More Reluctantly Rises

But right now, Henry wants to offer that job to Sir Thomas More. He lets More know that as Wolsey pleaded Guilty, Henry has removed the prison sentence, let Wolsey keep the Bishopric of York and a decent pension.

Nope, no one does yet.


He has all the arguments for why More would make a great chancellor, and when he talks about the prestige More has as the friend of Erasmus you actually hear a kind of hunger from Henry. More says ‘No’, that he doesn’t want to be Chancellor, and Henry gets scary angry (I’m really going to need to figure out a scale for this, going forward) . It’s only after that Henry makes concessions. More will never be asked to deal with the divorce. And in all things Henry says More is to ‘Look to God first, and only then, to me’.

And when More shakes his hand and agrees the music is as dark and full of portent as when Wolsey was being sent into exile.




One comment

  1. Let’s take into consideration the fictitious nature of Mantel’s book. Wolf Hall’s Cromwell is almost a saint, walking through a very very fictionalized version of historical events twisted to make him look like a hero or, at least, a decent guy. James Frain’s Cromwell, by contrast, is more believable and close to actual history. According to Mantel’s narrative, Cromwell is almost sickeningly devoted to his cardinal, even remaining with him after his removal from court. But according to Cavendish, who was, you know, actually there, when Wolsey fell, Cromwell told him something along the lines of, “To hell with this. I’m riding to court and offering my services to whomever will listen ASAP.” He may have helped and loved Wolsey at a time, but he sure wasn’t going down with him, no matter what Mantel will make people believe. He was indeed pragmatic and, somehow, he obtained a seat in parliament that year, overcame Wolsey’s destruction and remained in Henry’s good graces for the next 10 years. I can’t help but admire him for that: he achieved a lot, dodged many obstacles and built himself a career from scratch

    Liked by 1 person

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