Christmas Prosents 2019 #1: The Tudors Season 2 Wrapup

Hello , gentle reader.

You got the instructions, then? Excellent. And you got here. You found the tube station that looks like you are in Moscow. 32580038576_a7e33d3cf4_o.jpgYou dandled, as instructed, down the platform. You did the move with the mobile phone. I’m not saying I was surprised, but it was solid work.

You fooled the AI that closely scrutinized your movement, found the button and a train was summoned. You tolerated the blanked out windows, and I see from your file that you didn’t ask about the ‘bells’. Oh, you’re definitely the kind of smartarse we keep an eye on around here, so welcome aboard to this totally reasonable location.

stanley m1
It does rather look like it should be an SCP, doesn’t it? “Not Yet” They tell me, in a monotonous, gravelly tone.

And if you could just do me a favour, gentle reader and pretend to have forgotten something.

Yes. You’ve done so well, reader, just…yes back toward the train would be perfect while the staff have disembarked and those two quite ominous looking people remain some… way aw.ay…

Oh hithtebuttonhitthebuttonhit…and we are moving. Yes! Yes! Ahahahahaaha!


Thank you so damn much, gentle reader. Oh no, the train is fine, they wouldn’t shut up about how it was unstoppable and that was that great for them…somehow? Look they were a weird bunch of what I think might have been a kind of dimension hopping Randian Objectivitsts from a very specific kind of 70s, but honestly I can’t be sure until I can access Wikipedia and know what reality we stopped in.

Bottom line, I should not have accepted that invitation for Christmas and I am utterly delighted to see you. You probably shouldn’t have accepted mine, reader, but thank God that you did.

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It’s not so bad, here. I mean, it’s a bit super seventies, but…oh wow, that’s quite cozy.

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Also, alcohol and nibbles. It looks a teensy bit tired, though.

How long did it take to get here? Yeah? Cool.

So, I’ve shut down the signal with the instructions, so now whenever this gets accessed it will be December 24th 2019 right here, moving steadily away from that place as they try, and fail to keep up. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Merry Christmas Reader!

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Okay, and if we can talk around the holo-ghost who keeps drinking 3/4 of a glass of wine and staring out the window then I believe we’ve found our carriage. Just don’t make eye contact, it’ll be fine. This is comfy.

And I believe I owe you a Tudors Season 2 wrapup. So let’s pop some tinsel on the table (It was in the most super seventies cupboard back in the- yes, that one) and get into it. Here are the nibbles, there is my drink. Here is yours and…

Ahhhh… And welcome to the 2019 Tudors Season 2 Wrapup, reader.

Amazing Stories of the Secondary Cast

Well, actual historical smaller characters versus their storyline in The Tudors impressed and surprised and gave me stuff to write about this year.

vlcsnap-2019-04-03-00h20m03s488Pennington and Southwell


Pennington and Southwell seemed very specific for just two characters in a swordfight and when I looked it up- there they were, an actual historical fight in April 1532 that led to Pennington’s death, and historian Shannon McSheffrey had already looked at it in detail and published work on it. She’s a Canadian professor that has done a lot of work looking at the practice of Sanctuary and would pop up again this season, having disproved the ‘William Webbe’s Wench’ tale (William Webbe ran the Westminster Sanctuary and that’s the job whoever made up the tale was trying to get).

Southwell pops up again historically (quite quickly, he paid a fine and walked on the charge) collecting Thomas More’s books when Richard Rich goes to speak to him. We know because he testified at More’s trial (undramatically, he and the other guy said they didn’t hear the conversation between Rich and More, being busy with the books). Their inclusion is a demonstration of the Actual Historical context used to construct much of The Tudors.

vlcsnap-2019-02-23-00h06m11s360Wyatt and Darrell

And the next one demonstrates how much The Tudors will strip that story to the bones and then whip some out and rearrange them to look like a camel if you are a secondary character and your life is tricky to adapt.

Wyatt and Darrell were a treat, and the reasons their true story got omitted from the drama are also some of the reasons their story is great. The Tudors needed Wyatt at his lowest ebb for Anne’s execution, and there was no way The Tudors would break off from trying to get the Pilgrimage of Grace on film in Season 3 to check in with a “Thomas Wyatt and Elizabeth Darrell get together 12 months after Anne dies and have a reasonable life” story line. So Elizabeth gets doomed because there are main storylines to keep moving, their actual historical one would be damn tricky to adapt.

Still, the Wyatts and Darrells deserve a historical novelist or their own adaptation one day. The Wyatts were a normal, reasonably well off family that brushed up against capital ‘H’ History when the incredibly talented Thomas got a crush on Anne, and  Thomas’ son by his wife, Thomas Wyatt the Younger would cause the great crisis of Elizabeth I’s life pre-acession, nearly getting her killed by leading a rebellion in her name against her sister Mary in 1554.

Next amazing story was the one that shocked me most this year.

Although, before we get into the historical bit, did anyone else notice the hand proportions here?  They are perplexing. Yeah, it gets worse the more you look.

The Infamous Lady Rochford

Which brings us to Jane Boleyn. Having watched so many adaptations, I had no idea that Jane Boleyn is generally considered a very unlikely suspect for the incest allegation. I wrote about it early – Episode 5.1,(Through a Marriage Darkly) which has her marriage and the marital rape, because that is where The Tudors starts making stuff up to motivate her for that allegation. vlcsnap-2019-06-07-01h06m31s960.png

She’s an interesting adaptation case study, Jane Boleyn. it seems capital ‘H’ History has known she likely wasn’t the culprit for a time, but it’s just too good a story for popular history to give up. It’s hard to blame The Tudors for going this way, back in 2008 (possibly 2007 when written?) the Tudor theories being talked about were Retha Warnicke’s work on possible homosexual connections between George Boleyn and Mark Smeaton. Jane Boleyn wasn’t part of the conversation.

Jane’s first sympathetic biography (The Infamous lady Rochford, Julia Fox) came out in 2007 and finally started that conversation. Jane’s first sympathetic adaptation is a 2017 historical novel,The Raven’s Widow by Adrienne Dillard. Maybe the next filmed adaptation will consider taking on a more actual historical Lady Rochford.

In fairness, the Fox biography contains little new information, but does dig up some original stuff. Fox also has a tendency to over interpret and extrapolate from what she has,(you will get tired of hearing what Jane must have thought or done) still she does have the excuse that it is her first historical biography.

A Bad Year for Me and Alison Weir

Unlike Alison Weir, pillar of readable popular history. I didn’t want to bring her into this fight, but Alison Weir literally wrote the book on Anne Boleyn’s trial and execution, The Lady in the Tower 2010, in which she holds adamantly to Jane Boleyn Husband Accuser line, and is really sniffy about Jane and her biography –

“…there having been just one not very convincing attempt, in 2007 to rehabilitate her memory” (The Lady in The Tower p369).

When perhaps she should have been attending to her own garden. Sure, Julia Fox enters into the cardinal sin of over interpreting what she has, but so does Weir, she’s just way better at hiding it.

I bought Weir’s ‘Six Wives’ this year, to go with my Fraser’s and Starkey’s Six Wives and because King and Court, Weir’s Henry biography is not arranged chronologically and is a real pain in the ass to use as a reference. I found myself reading stories and versions of events, particularly in the Anne Boleyn section, which I thought were long debunked. I found that she was no longer using footnotes, but a paragraph summarising sources for each chapter, and she was relying a whole lot on Anne’s first biographer, George Wyatt.

George Wyatt’s biography is quite weak, as evidence. I did overstate it in my recap when I said he had no foundation for his accusation of Jane Boleyn at all – he was writing 50 years after the event, and he apparently interviewed one witness, Anne Gainsford, who would have been incredibly old and may have died before he published, often relied on family anecdotes, and had a serious agenda to exonerate Anne. As a source, he’s just not great to take at face value, and he was alone in this claim when he made it.

On exactly the same page as she gets sniffy about Julia Fox, Weir happily regales us with Jane’s later confession on the scaffold at her own death. Wow, I thought, I have never heard of that. Then you notice ‘words were reported as’ which still turns out a bit strong for a speech that ‘reported’ those words 150 years after the event by Gregorio Leti, famously inaccurate historian/satrist in a speech that no one rates as remotely likely to be real.

Weir even says in the footnote:

“Not always a reliable source, but given the other evidence about Lady Rochford, there may be some truth in this.”

Oh, so there are special rules for Jane Boleyn, then. Anything goes, apparently, and that’s because of all this other evidence against her. One problem with that is that all this other evidence she talks about is all from George Wyatt’s biography. There’s nothing contemporary, and nothing better than Wyatt’s biography with anything about Jane being the source of the incest allegation.

Weir sets a lot of store by the Lancelot De Carles’ account of Anne’s death, unless you’re Jane Boleyn, because it indicates someone else was guilty. When pushed she does say that the account of a Portuguese gentleman kept in the Excerpta Historica indicates Jane as the culprit.

Hey, interesting fact, the Excerpta Historica is now online. Wanna take a look? The bit she seems to be referring to is at the bottom of page 261.

Yeah, there’s fuck all about Jane Boleyn in there. There’s nothing to say it was even a woman. Weir’s just wrong on this.

Also, she was wrong this year about William Webbe’s wench, where it turns out she misinterpreted a claim considered fraudulent at the time as a genuine report.

And I found out this year she was wrong last year with how Henry found out about Wolsey’s death, where her interpretation of Cavendish’s account implied this was how Henry found out and his reaction.

Cavendish was summoned to the archery butts to see the King (he didn’t find him there) after arriving the previous night and this event was far more a formal notification of death, Henry would have found out the actual news by messenger several days beforehand. Wolsey was buried by then.

And in going for this interpretation, both The Tudors and Alison Weir missed out my new favorite part of this story – that afternoon Henry quizzed Cavendish for over an hour about where Wolsey has stashed all his money.

Nice to know what Henry’s priorities were.

And look, she’s still the author of my favorite history book ever (Children of England – about the period between Henry’s death and Elizabeth’s accession) but she’s going to be getting double checked a lot more and I think she’s earned that.

A Man for Wolf Hall

I got in most of what I wanted to say wrapping up the end of Season 2, but A Man for All Season has probably informed most opinions about Thomas More. a man for all seasons.gifBut as wonderful and erudite as he was, that Thomas More was more about a reaction to McCarthyism and playwright Robert Bolt’s talent than Actual Historical Thomas More.

His primary concern of liberty of personal conscience, was not that of Thomas More, who used liberty of personal conscience to protect his religious beliefs. And Thomas More had the very Tudor trick of believing rights only applied to people on the same side as him, we never see that here.

Thomas Cromwell is even more propagandised in Wolf Hall. Cromwell, with his pragmatism, does come across from history as someone slightly more modern than his contemporaries, a bit ahead of the curve, but in Wolf Hall he’s basically a founder member of Amnesty International. amnesty.gif

Which he can carry off because in Wolf hall he’s not a man that does that. That happens offscreen, when the people Actual Historical Thomas Cromwell ordered tortured and whose executions he arranged (Like the maid of Kent and her followers, or Bishop Fisher) ‘poof’ out the narrative as soon as death starts to loom.

Also, this Cromwell is blessed with one of those faces you just spontaneously confess to.

sponateous confessions
And a really scary cupboard. That’ll do it.

The Tudors‘ Cromwell and More, they have their weaknesses but they’re not propaganda. If you’re looking for Actual Historical then The Tudors‘ depictions of these two heavyweights are the closest filmed versions have managed, with at least some of the strange edges that make characters from the past just a little bit alien.

The Ghost of The Duke of Norfolk

That was easy to deal with this season. The missing Duke of Norfolk, a huge historical presence, is a problem for The Tudors. This season The Tudors dealt with it like this:

In the historical record, did the Duke of Norfolk do something bad?

Give it to this guy.

Did the Duke of Norfolk do something good?

Give it to this guy.

End of the Line 2019

Well, I can feel us slowing down. And we have arrived, yeah, don’t worry the AI doesn’t work when you’re on the way out. tumblr_m60qs9LgGU1qfdi3ro1_400Yeah, let’s walk out briskly. Yes. Freedom. God, taste that air.

What, me? Oh I’ll be fine, there’s a lizard guy called Jim, lives in the cellars at St James’ Palace. He’s a great guy, just trying to get along not normally part of any plans and has a lot of spare rooms. Also this bag contains all of the stuff I could steal from the train so I’m good. You could come along if you wanted.

(Fiddles with phone, consults wikipedia, smiles)


Randian Objectivists and their trains, right?

Merry Christmas and Season 3 Episode 1 and State of the Blog will be up on January 1st.


Credits for first 4 and final images:

1: Gants Hill Underground From Flicker taken by R~P~M. Source.

2: Stanley Micklesen Safeguard Complex photo from

3 and 4: Both come from this article.

Last image: Gants Hill Underground from my Vintage London Tumblr: Source




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