It’s all about Calais
Thomas Wyatt is riding to The More, Katherine of Aragon’s new residence.
Katherine has few servants and apparently only one lady in waiting now, called Elizabeth Darrell. It’s hard to care too much about Mistress Darrell, she seems kind and pretty and possibly a little dim and…
Well, dim is unfair. Mistress Darrell is a simple person, and as Pratchett pointed out people think that means the same as stupid but it really doesn’t. She’s straightforward, she has a profound belief in her religion (Catholic), and she is devoted in service both to it and to Katherine of Aragon. She is chaste and shy but Thomas Wyatt has been sent with a demand for ‘Lady’ Katherine’s Jewels.
He likes Mistress Darrell, and he’s got a sonnet in his pocket just for her. She is determined towards chastity, but Thomas Wyatt has a devastating poetry game. A “Father of the modern sonnet, and Anne Boleyn’s ex” level poetry game. Sure enough, once he’s left and she’s reading it she hears a noise
and acts like she’s been caught thinking about masturbating. I think Mr Wyatt’s going to make this work.
We start with a brief look around court where we see Anne waiting to talk to Henry, but seeing Henry with the French Ambassador is willing to wait. That’s being unusually patient for Anne, but that new Big French Trip is coming and that is exactly what Henry and the French Ambassador are discussing.
Our French Ambassador is ably played by Jonathan Ryan, who was here in the pilot episode and drops in periodically to be Francis’ everyday ambassador until the end of season 3. He’s less subtle than Chapuys but seems more adaptable, a worldly, almost unctuous man, he’s an ideal choice to organise a mini summit whose success depends on Henry rounding all the bases with Anne. There’s a lot of coded talk about everything being right and making things ‘special’.
Once she sees the discussions with the ambassador are over, Anne would like to formally introduce Mark Smeaton to Henry.
What’s really going on here is Anne cementing her position as consort. Anne cannot compete with Katherine in terms of international status or lineage, but that’s not the only criterion Queens get judged on. Katherine was a bit older, and her tendencies towards piety and domesticity would have made her seem older still. Here Anne gets to demonstrate her taste, her refinement, and to produce for the Court’s enjoyment the very latest thing in entertainment – Mr Mark Smeaton.
Anne is delighted by her acquisition and his reception by the court (The tune he’s pre prepared is bright and complex and there’s appreciative noises from the crowd on the soundtrack.). So Henry uses the moment to ask for Anne to agree to Brandon’s return to court. Anne is not keen initially, pointing out that that might cause others to think the ‘gossip’ he repeated was true. But Henry has a counter point, if Henry invites Thomas Wyatt on the trip with them, then…
She assures him he has no need to be suspicious (she did break it off with Wyatt as soon as she was ordered to start seeing Henry, but that’s nothing Henry is ever supposed to know), and never will have. She plays with his fingers as they watch the rest of the dance and they are a picture of happy domesticity.
We skip to Cromwell and Thomas Boleyn, where Cromwell has received a report from Cranmer in Nuremburg, the first officially religiously free city. Apparently members of the clergy are allowed to marry there and Cranmer didn’t just report it as an interesting fact,
Cromwell and Boleyn both raise their eyebrows at this and are very carefully gauging each others level of ‘shock’.
Cromwell and Boleyn’s conversation, well, it looks and acts and sounds very much like a seduction. Except that it’s “You show me your dangerous radicalist tendencies that could get you burned alive and I’ll show you mine.”. They’ve been getting to know each other but they didn’t have a real connection before the Boleyns got into power, although Cromwell’s been forging bonds (Giving banned books to Anne, getting George into the Catholic European Research Group.) with the Boleyn children.
Today Cromwell sounds out Papa Boleyn and finds that the radical version of Protestantism he’s found in the kids stems from the father. Cromwell is very pleased that all the members of the family now cascading into power are on the right side, and the revolution rolls on.
Then we flit back to Henry and Anne, where Henry is teasing her that there is something very important that needs to happen before they go to France. Look, whatever it is it can’t be that import…
Oh my God, it absolutely can be that important. It’s a new title (fans self). Anne is about to become a Marquis. Let’s review.
Okay, so in rank it’s at the halfway point in that list but speaking practically it’s a breath taking elevation. Most of England’s nobility is concentrated in Earldoms or lower (remember the trouble her father had to go to to get that high?) and you can be a hugely powerful person just by occupying the lower part of that list. At this point in English history there’s a real shortage of Princes and Dukes too so she’s really outranked only by Henry, Brandon and Norfolk. At the end of this short ceremony she will outrank her brother and father in her own right. And that’s before we get to the fact that she’s a woman.
Actually Historically The Marquessate of Pembroke was one of The Tudor family’s original Welsh titles that had run out of people to inherit it. While repackaging it to give it to Anne Henry gave the title a radical redesign.
It was and remains the only British hereditary peerage ever awarded to a woman in her own right, and the only British title where being a bastard was no bar to inheritance. Because the grant specifically said “heirs male of the body” (any male child Anne would have) and deliberately skipped the whole “lawfully begotten” part. And it might just be worth noting that when it was in the Tudor family the title was carried by the children of Owen Tudor and Queen Catherine De Valois, children who the subsequent Tudor family believed and repeatedly stated were legitimised by their parent’s marriage which happened some time after they were born.
Plans for Calais, indeed.
Anne walks in and finally looks just right. Her style has always deliberately been on the gaudy side, a bit loud, a bit brash, a lot of new money to set against Katherine of Aragon’s restrained opulence,
but today she is the bright, clear and confident symbol of a new monarchy. Cromwell pronounces her investiture so primly it’s like he inhales his own nostrils at the end.
The Tudors is right that the investiture was a large affair with all members of the court required to attend (Brandon might be uncomfortable but it would appear the math came out in his favour – he’s back at court).
There might have been several hundred thousand girls in England in that age, two or three thousand high born enough to ever meet Henry, tens of mistresses (including her own sister)that he had and then discarded,
but Oh Honey, there was only ever one Anne Boleyn.
The Breaking Point
Ask most capital ‘H’ historians today for their focal point for the Break with Rome and the machinations that brought about Henry’s second marriage, and they’ll choose none of the big confrontations in Parliament, as the screen adaptations do. Most will choose the moment contained in this little scene, and it doesn’t even have anything to do with the two characters talking (Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher). For captial ‘H’ historians a big part of the recipe comes down to Warham’s death,
and the vacancy to become Archbishop of Canterbury that he left behind at a very opportune time.
The Tudors concentrates on the conversation between his two mourners, Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More. While trying to rally More, Fisher says that they have a duty to defend the church, no matter ‘the cost’. This is coded talk, and More responds by saying he is unafraid of ‘the cost’, but he has abjured (renounced) the public realm and only wants to write and pray.
And for The Tudors that is perhaps the main purpose of this scene. It shows Sir Thomas More retreating not only from the hostile environment of the court but from his friends and his cause too. And it hits the nail on the head. That walk away by Thomas More is the walk of a man on his way to meet with his fate, whatever is coming.
Sex and Death and back around to Sex again
Oh, here they are. Mistress Darrell shows up to the assignation, and while she’s full of denial, sweetness and reasons why she absolutely must go to mass now,
Wyatt is a world class poet, and a champion seducer and persuades her to just hang out and kiss by the tree for a bit. You know, what could happen? I’m also driven to notice that Mistress Darrell has fixed her hair very nicely today and that’s a nice dress,
that’s about to hit the floor. It does, they start getting hot and heavy, Krystin Pellerin does a great job with the clearly virginal Elizabeth Darrell’s being thrilled while also being somewhat scandalised.
And then The Tudors does one of those editing gear changes that feels like the engine is making a reasonable attempt to get out of the car.
The score drifts off, and we’re still in a woodland, where Sir Thomas More is discussing his possible upcoming death with his daughter, Margaret. He introduces the subject of martyrdom, and Margaret’s face collapses in pain. She is, like any good daughter with a worthwhile Dad, just not on board with this ‘How about Death?’ plan. He tries to get her onside, saying how much it would comfort him if his wife and children could just get behind him dying for a good cause that,
Yeah. Sir Thomas More sees the trap he’s going to fall into, he just cannot avoid it. He’s trying to get his affairs ‘in order’ as it were, but family is not something he can close the door on yet. He cannot save them from the pain that is coming, because they just want him to live.
The gear change out of this profound little scene is less clunky than the one in, as we go to the opposite end of fortune’s scale and to the situation causing More’s discomfort – Henry’s relationship with Anne. Anne is showing off the clothing she had made for the Calais trip to Henry.
She’s a little on edge because she wants him to be proud of her, she wants to start inhabiting the role of Queen, and this is a chance to do so on an international stage. Henry’s been planning for that, too. Right back at the start of the recap, he sent Thomas Wyatt with an order to collect them, and now the jewels of the Queens of England are presented to Anne Boleyn.
Anne is pleased enough to declare her devotion and offer Henry a spontaneous handjob, and, well, that is a lot of jewelry. It also has to be said that for someone providing the handjob, she does appear to be kind of into it.
Chapuys meets /u/NanBullenisaWitch34 in the cellars below Whitehall. He wants to know if /u/NanBullenisaWitch34 will make an attempt to kill Anne during the Calais trip, and when he gets a semi positive reponse (Yes, if the opportunity arises) he’s ready to promise the guy pretty much anything to get it to happen.
The Longest French Weekend
Although the English would really like to point out that it was actually-
Yeah. Well, Actually Historically there were two parts to this trip (Which happened in October 1532). Henry went with a large retinue (but no Anne) into France itself – Bolougne, to be exact, where he was received by Francis. Anne was not invited on this leg of the visit because at this point, Francis’ first wife, Queen Claude had died, and he had since remarried a niece of Katherine of Aragon, and the Emperor’s sister, Eleanor of Austria. So, that invitation would have been a little awkward. What we see on The Tudors is the second half of that visit, when Francis return-visited Henry in Calais.
So, as Francis, the magnificent bastard walks in, and he and Henry exchange warm greetings like it’s even possible that they believe it for a second,
we should all keep a close eye on him. Because he’s going to play this round of diplomacy for the maximum possible gain. He’s going to give Henry just enough cover to do what Henry wants, which will put Henry on the outs with the Emperor for the foreseeable future, while not really jeopardising Francis’ own position with the Emperor or the church, and giving himself plausible deniability that he ever fully endorsed Anne as Queen, should he ever need that. The party gets started, and Francis and Henry are shooting the shit. Francis wonders where Anne is and Henry is delighted to tease him with her possible appearance. We get to the fact that Francis’ Queen (Whichever one they’re portraying her as) and the other females of the French court have refused to meet her. Then Francis tries out one more idea for getting Henry back into the internationally Christian fold. What about a joint crusade? If they were to try and re conquer the Holy Land, the Pope should be delighted. I mean maybe not delighted enough to overlook Henry’s new marriage but definitely delighted enough to reward Francis. But they’re never going to do it. They’re like to guys that keep saying they’re going to organise a vacation together whenever they meet up, but then they go home and realise they actually can’t stand each other and nothing ever comes of it.
Thomas Boleyn comes over to Brandon at his table and invites him to dinner – an attempt at rapprochement, because if they can’t utch him out of the charmed circle then the Boleyns had better deal with him. Brandon gives a pointed refusal,
and he and Boleyn spar for a minute. There will be no reconciliation, and while Brandon just ascribes the difference to ‘growing up’ he has been connecting with his religion and has found himself to be quite Catholic, and increasingly sympathetic to the plight of Katherine of Aragon. Boleyn has similarly been revealing his colours as his power grows more secure, and they find themselves on either side of this divide.
Mark Smeaton and Mary Boleyn are bonding, and talk about Mary’s recently deceased husband who was implied to be old and dull and impotent ( also Not Historical – Mary Boleyn’s actual first husband might have been dull for all we know, but he died at age 28, 4 years before this point, and they had children together). Mark gets to finally come out to someone, so that’s nice. Meanwhile music starts up and The Tudors is going to do a bit of a remix with one little fact from history. Actually Historically Anne did dance with Francis I on this trip, it was at a masque and Anne would set a lot of store by that dance as a signal of approval from France.
Here, that incident gets to further the Henry/Francis psycho sexual drama. It seems that for Henry, not only must everyone, including Francis, see and acknowledge Anne, they have to see her as Henry sees her. So she’s introduced to Francis as a literal courtesan: exotic, seductive and unattainable. Francis, who we have to believe both saw this coming a mile away and who knows exactly where Anne is hidden in that group (Francis did have a fairly long term affair with her sister Mary way back in Season 1), manages to be appreciative and seduced while also maintaining a polite distance and diplomatic surprise.
The real reveal comes after. Francis and Anne wander off (while still in sight of the other guests) for a diplomatic chat.
Yeah, Francis’ eyebrow flick says it all. He was more implying blackmailable occurrences than reminiscing. But to her credit Anne kind of knows it, kind of acknowledges it in her very next sentences. She says that Francis knows things about her that she would prefer kept secret. Francis agrees, and when Anne asks if he agrees with her marriage to Henry gets down to business in French in a way that apparently both foxed the subtitle writers and reminds you that it can be a kick ass language when roused.
He says that he hates the Emperor, and knows Anne is a friend to France, so yes, he is happy. He does not include the fact that her marriage to Henry will stick a wedge between England and the Holy Roman Empire large enough that France is going to be England’s only option for a major European ally for a longtime to come. He does give her useful advice on the difficulty of the role she is taking on.
They share a moment, but it’s one of an older politician talking to a younger one, trying to express the gravity of what she’s taking on. Bit of foreshadowing there.
Francis has given Henry absolutely everything he wanted on this trip, so neither Henry or Anne have noticed that it’s actually not that much, and none of it is anything that Francis can’t slip out of should it not serve his purpose.
Anne goes to her sister, who gets payback for rubbing Anne’s nose in her affair with Henry at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.
And it seems she’s made her decision.
Later that night she is writing when the camera basically stalks her, and a lightning flash reveals…
He is going to shoot but then Henry shows up.
Actually Historically the weather did turn stormy and Anne and Henry ended up spending several unexpected nights in Calais, there were erotic tapestries on the walls, and it’s quite likely that this was where they started trying to conceive.
Henry is examining those images (paintings instead of tapestries for The Tudors) when he turns around to see a comfy bed, a roaring fire
Anne picks out the Henry VIII special seduction line:
And to a rhythmic, winding soundtrack, they get right down to that.