Removing a Luke
Eleanor Luke is walking down a hallway, having a bit of a whinge with her fellow ladies in waiting ( ‘More work for us, I fear’ sounds like it could be about the Queen’s pregnancy).
When George Boleyn leans out of the corner he was lurking in and accuses her of stealing some jewels. She denies it and is a bit cocky until it becomes clear that that’s not what this is actually about at all.
The Queen knows what you’ve been doing Eleanor.
So Miss Luke gets forcibly removed by the Boleyns and told to go home to her families’ estates. No indication of any help arriving from Henry, so Lady Eleanor has to leave. She is to throw herself on the mercy of her relatives who will probably make a marriage for her that profits themselves and complain a lot about how much she costs to feed and clothe in the meantime. Hope she got some jewels out of her affair.
Meanwhile at Her Majesty’s chambers things are annoying as hell.
Now Anne has a posthumous reputation of being a bitch to work for. And she probably was – she was insecure as Queen, and she was in a situation that raised her level of insecurity and fear every few months and she could be nasty about it. She had to fight a lot for respect and what she wanted and when faced with a barrier or complication sadly made no distinction between punching up, across or down, or ever really found another gear to deal with her problems.
However in this scene she’s a comparative saint. Oh she gets a little shouty but she’s just been woken by the screechiest laughter ever heard, from her own ladies in waiting who are reading loudly 3 feet from her door when they’re supposed to be working. Also they’re giggling over her ex-boyfriend’s poetry and all the pointed implications inherent in that. She directs them to read the English Bible if they have to read.
Her father arrives, pleased to see her, more pleased to see her pregnant. He’s been on diplomatic duty to France, where, Quelle Surprise, Francis has been backsliding on his support, to whatever extent he currently needs to. It’s an issue. Not too significant at the moment, while Anne is safe, but when she becomes vulnerable the wobbly nature of the French Alliance secured by the Boleyns will become more and more dangerous to her.
A similar issue is that of a mistress. Right now it’s an indicator that her underlying relationship with the King is not as strong as it was. Sure, it might be traditional in that period to take a mistress when your wife is pregnant and, as her father explains, basically expected if you are a King, but Henry wasted no time at all. Also he went without a lot of sex almost all the time they were courting, is there a better demonstration of the different relationship they have now than his immediate reversion to mistresses the year they married?
It’s too not significant yet, but this, like all those other problems is there waiting for a fertile time, all held at bay for the moment by Anne’s pregnancy. If she successfully produces a boy, they will die away. If she doesn’t they are ready to sprout and grow. Her father explains the political nature of the ‘mistress’ problem.
And as he leaves, Anne is considering screechy reader Cousin Madge very carefully.
The Case of the Missing Nun
Cromwell arrives at the Tower for a prison visit with Bishop Fisher. A lot has been happening to Fisher offscreen. He got put under house arrest, then actual arrest, and he’s looking pretty grimy so he’s been here a while.
Actually Historically he got arrested due to his involvement with Elizabeth Barton: who was either the Holy Maid or Mad Nun of Kent, depending on your faction.
Elizabeth Barton was young, poor and working as a servant when her visions started around 1525. In the beginning her message was “Support Catholicism! Ignore Martin Luther! Have You Considered a Pilgrimage This Year?! Pray to the Virgin Mary!” which went down great when Henry’s ambition was to become the champion of Catholicism. It got her moved to a convent, lots of support from old Archbishop Warham, attendants, admiration and eventual attention from the highest in the land (interviews with Wolsey and even Henry in 1528). Books were written and published of her prophecies (which no longer survive).
And then Anne Boleyn really became a thing, the political weather entirely reversed, Archbishop Warham died, and Elizabeth Barton didn’t reverse course or back off, she doubled down. She prophesied that Henry would die within months if he married Anne, loudly and publicly. She had visions which denied the Royal Supremacy over the Church. She met with leading figures including ambitious royal descendants, and leading figures in the Church, Fisher among them. More was far, far more careful.
It took them a year to arrest Barton, whether Cromwell was afraid of her popularity or whether they took that time to implicate as much of the Remainer faction as possible in her activities is hard to tell. Bit of both maybe? But they certainly made her a scapegoat – at one point they were claiming that it was her fault that the Pope didn’t decide the divorce for Henry. It wasn’t international politics or that invasion of Rome by the Emperor, it was a woman in Kent, apparently.
Anyway, that was the context Fisher first got arrested under and that More had his ‘informal conversation’ with Cromwell. The Tudors skips her entirely, but Wolf Hall covers the whole Barton affair very well – although she never stopped and berated Henry and Anne in public, and everyone Cromwell Actually Historically had arrested and executed in this sweep just *poofs* out of Wolf Hall‘s narrative as soon as their death starts to loom.
The Tudors’ Cromwell, devious sod that he is, pops into Fisher’s cell with his best uncanny valley sincerity impression because he just wanted to know how everything was going for the Bishop.
Fisher complains that the food is actually inedible. And Cromwell has a couple of questions for Fisher, first about whether the Kings marriage to Anne is actually legal, and Fisher just straight up says “No”. Cromwell gets the same back about the Royal Supremacy, and legally, Fisher has just cooked himself. Cromwell didn’t need to Westworld it after all.
Fisher asks how Sir Thomas More is, thereby endangering Sir Thomas More. Cromwell says he will see if the food can be improved and leaves.
In Whitehall Henry is not happy. He wants to know why Anne got rid of Eleanor Luke.
There’s a whole conversation which on the surface is about the ‘jewel theft’ and evidence, and in subtext is “You were banging her and weren’t subtle about it”. Henry says he’s not mad and he’s kind of convincing but he is asking questions and pressing Anne about it, and you get the impression that if Anne weren’t pregnant right now this would be going down very differently.
It’s becoming one of those things in a relationship that no one can really admit to being angry about but is going add petrochemicals to any other disagreement you have, when Anne swerves and chooses the political path her father advised.
Again, on the surface, the present being given is a picture of Elizabeth that no one actually cares about. Madge might not have been briefed on the subtext, but she is suitably impressed by Henry’s presence and kind of delighted to be here. Anne immediately regrets this decision, and would like to get mad at Henry’s chirpy acceptance, but can’t because she instigated it. Henry is just having a far better day than he was 5 minutes ago, and sees Anne’s disappointment, but there’s no way that’s going to stop him from saying yes to such an intriguing arrangement.
The 2DOR Business of Government
Another morning and a meeting with Cromwell. They start with the first steps in the dissolution of the monasteries. Cromwell’s found a few small but disproportionately rich religious houses as an appetiser, whose monks have refused to take the oath. Henry snaps them up.
Magna Carta might require that “To no one shall we sell, deny or delay justice” but in Henry’s government at this time for a hefty payment you could avoid it. From the time Henry first ran out of money (around Wolsey’s fall) Henry’s government hustled a lot, and most crimes had an alternative fine payment.
It was equal opportunity corruption. Even some opponents got a shot at it. Actually Historically Bishop Fisher got imprisoned twice in this year. He got out of his imprisonment for the Barton affair by paying a fine of £300 (A highly paid soldier might get £15 per year, and a really great horse could cost 2 or even 3 pounds). He was imprisoned again as soon as he refused to take the oath, and I’m sure Cromwell was confident they could get him back in jail again. They’d take anyone’s money.
So all those monasteries with all those riches won’t really stand a chance.
Speaking of Bishop Fisher, Cromwell takes a moment before bringing up the Pope’s latest action. It looks like he was hoping the monastery money would make Henry happier and he’s a little concerned about how the next part will go down. He really needn’t have worried.
Fire and Blood
To Hatfield House and one of my favorite scenes of the entire show. Anne has come to Hatfield and she brought five attendants with her. Seems like a lot. She asks about Elizabeth’s progress, and is fulsomely reassured by Lady Bryan.
And then…Look I don’t do this often. We’ve all only got so much bandwidth and there’s no point in recapping a show if you’re just going to show it, but you have to treat yourself sometimes.
Did we get it? Did we get all of it? Anne’s little bodice scooch, as the woman who knows in her secret heart that she is still a Knight’s daughter prepares to meet the Born to the Ultra Purple Princess Mary for the first time? Mary’s curtseys that are so teeny tiny they actually express contempt?
The score starts giving us underlying menace when they finally lock eyes just inches from each other. Then it continues through some deep ‘booms’ as they both express the subtext ‘Die in a fire, Bitch’ through an invitation to reconciliation delivered and received in the exquisitely formal and polite language of the court.
Christ I love this show.
Winter is Coming
More has ‘been invited’ to Whitehall for an ‘informal conversation’ with Cromwell.
If the clerks present are recording this, then they’re not the only ones. More liked to write down everything he could remember about important conversations as soon as he could. He then would make a copy and send it to the other party (or parties) to the conversation. It let them see the conversation from his point of view, preserved it for the future and gave them a chance to dispute anything they disagreed with.
As a result we get most of the details and dialogue of this conversation straight from Actual Historical Sir Thomas More.
That habit was one of the reasons Fisher was in jail and More got an informal chat with Cromwell. The official reason for this chat was his role in the Barton affair, where More had been a lot more circumspect than Fisher, and after his only private meeting with Barton wrote to her detailing what they had discussed and pointing out that that had included his advice that she should stop meeting with the dangerously ambitious and the opponents of the King, and cut out all these pointedly political prophecies.
So while Henry was determined to keep More’s name on the warrants for the Barton affair (and Cromwell was among those, as shown in Wolf Hall, who finally persuaded him to drop it) it was mainly as an attempt to coerce More’s support, it wasn’t considered a serious charge by those who knew the law and it just formed a preamble during this Actual Historical conversation, despite being the pretext for it.
Strangely enough, this conversation is even more dangerous, yet far more genial than Anne and Mary’s. Cromwell starts off in his best simulacrum of friendliness, and the whole thing is peppered with lovely little ‘Game recognise Game’ moments from both of them, as Cromwell tries his best to maneuver More into an executable position.
When they get on to the Royal Supremacy More whips out a copy of The Defence of the Seven Sacraments, which Henry wrote and More edited way back in Henry’s “I must be the greatest Catholic” days in Season 1 Episode 3. Great Move, Sir Thomas.
But as More leaves, Cromwell picks up the pamphlet and starts to leaf through it. Cromwell has all the power now, he’s sharp as a dagger and he is going to work the hell out of this problem.
Queen Anne is sat in her chambers, eyeing up Cousin Madge. When she invites her to sit down and talk with her, Madge accepts the invitation like it was just issued by a giant tarantula, which, in a sense, it was.
Anne gently questions Madge about her love life. She bets that Madge has many admirers. Anne turns it around by saying that because she can trust Madge (They’re family, she’s Protestant), that she would have her blessing to become the King’s mistress while Anne is pregnant.And Madge goes from “Oh shit, oh shit I cannot lose this job” to “You know he is pretty hot”. No conclusion at the end of this scene, but it’s looking like there’s a new reserve who would kind of like some time on the pitch.
Your First Family. Remember Them?
Chapuys has come on what he terms a ‘Mission of Mercy’. The letter he reads is Actual Historical and comes from the situation depicted. During the forced separation of Katherine and Mary, Mary became very ill, and Katherine wrote, pleading to be allowed to nurse her daughter.
The letter is really having an effect on Henry, but then he doubles back, and refuses the request.
You see, Henry hasn’t seen Katherine in exile, which means the last times he saw her she was far more fiery and defiant than she is now.
And as much as his administration and new wife might hammer on Katherine being just the Dowager Princess of Wales and her daughter a bastard, Henry knows who they are. Katherine is beloved in the country and almost universally respected outside of England. Henry knows that in Katherine’s family it was her mother that was the war leader, and her father the diplomat. And that her heir is by far the better bet of the two he has right now. He’ll send his physician to Mary, and she can have whatever she needs to help her, but not her mother. Put together they are a massive risk.
The Long Road Away from Home
The last few minutes of the episode are intercut scenes of Henry pursuing pleasure with Madge Shelton, and the road to arrest for Sir Thomas More.
Sir Thomas More is going to leave Chelsea, and his family, for the last time. He has been summoned to Lambeth Palace where he is supposed to take the oath. He accurately guesses that if he doesn’t he will be imprisoned afterwards.
He leaves his family lovingly with gentle words, and then to everyone but his wife and Margaret who will see him in prison, he becomes a memory.
Fancy a Ride?
Henry wanted to go out riding this morning. It looks like he’s not going to, as Anne is very late. He’s disappointed as Madge gives him the news. And then he perks up a bit. Looks like he’s going to get that ride after all. Meanwhile we drop in on Anne.
Where we find out she’s less ‘indisposed’ and more crying in her bed and staying out of the way so Henry can commit sanctioned adultery. It might hurt, but it’s the wise choice for Anne.
The Good Fight
More arrives at Lambeth Palace.Oh Bullshit, The Tudors. That’s not Lambeth Palace.
This is Lambeth Palace. Historical home to the Archbishop of Canterbury since the 13th Century, virtually opposite the Palace of Westminster and not a wall with a door next to a tiny waterway somewhere in the country that I’m sure I’ll see again, but called something different.
Oh, Oh, but wait. Looks like the CG is coming to save the physical location shots, here. That is a decent representation of the Thames, and I think the big building opposite is aiming to be the Palace of Westminster. OK, The Tudors, Well Done, you may continue to persecute Sir Thomas More.
This scene contains a lot of More’s actions and words recorded during his formal interviews. He asked to see the oath, and agreed he would to swear to the validity of the Succession. But he turned himself in knots and twisted around on the Supremacy. He would not “Put at fault the oath or it’s makers or any man that had sworn to it” but he would not take the oath and he would not tell them why.
Cranmer gets shouty and a little shrill as he overblows his description of how ‘villianous’ Sir Thomas is. He’s a bit of an angry rabbit. Then Tunstall threatens torture and Sir Thomas shows them how hard hardcore can get.
His and Cromwell’s interactions are still gold. Here we see how Cromwell has got around the problem of Henry writing a book defending the Pope’s Supremacy. Now it is Sir Thomas More’s book, that he bullied and cajoled Henry into writing. Cromwell doesn’t appear proud of this solution (It is, after all, a blatant lie) and More argues the case against very effectively. But Cromwell has got around that paper shield. We close out with Cranmer resorting to a basic, loud demand for the answer.
Meanwhile, Henry and Madge bonded during their ride, and are now bonding further in one of his hunting lodges in the country. Madge is giggly, and Henry makes…it’s not a joke. He just says her name and says it’s funny, but to Madge this is hilarious.
He says he likes her dimples when she laughs, and calls her over so he can examine them more closely.
All while Sir Thomas More finally loses his freedom, and looks out at London from inside the Tower.
By all the gods, I’m slightly ahead of schedule. Let’s say the next deadline is May 23rd.
Took an edit 12/05/2019