He Has a Sword. The Power of Life and Death.
This meeting was very carefully negotiated by Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. It was the Royal side that first offered a meeting, in Doncaster. The rebels countered that it should happen ‘betwixt the hosts’. Which Howard skittered around, because he knew his host was comparatively very weak (1).
Possibly suspecting that, the rebels brought their host to the meeting and the royal forces were treated to displays the day before and the morning-of the meeting of 27th October, of 30,000 rebel soldiers at Scawsby Leys, where they would have been clearly visible from Doncaster. They stayed there until the Pilgrim’s delegation returned, just flexing. (2).
The Royal delegation included Thomas Miller, Lancaster Herald, who was the King’s primary messenger to the rebels during this whole crisis. He gave a lot of assurances to get the Pilgrims to the table(3), and he is probably worth remembering. As is the Ghost of the Duke of Norfolk.
Henry and entourage walk into the main hall and he certainly seems much better.
He meets Jane who is looking good.
Who has had kind of a great idea. So when Henry’s face goes a bit carefully still at being told to expect a surprise…
there’s no reason to worry. Jane has noticed that Henry had an actual emotional reaction to Mary when they met, and is pretty sure she has found a way to please her husband, reassure her step-daughter, and gob-smack a room. This could work, he does seem to enjoy seeing her. Cromwell, having been instrumental in Henry’s recent threats, is suddenly very intense, and a good amount of that seems to be that Cromwell absolutely did not see this coming (Applause, Queen Jane, Applause) and Henry…yeah Henry decides to just bring those threats right up.
But this time in a way that means he never sanctioned them, of course.
Sorry, having trouble with the gif, for a moment. Ah, here we go. And that’s smart play from Mary, or her nervous system if that wasn’t deliberate. He likes to think he’s a Sir Galahad? Well, he can be way worse things to you than a Sir Galahad. His first decision was to exonerate himself and tell you people in the room were actually guilty for those death threats he made, like, three months ago. Lean the hell in to that swoon, Mary.
Jane and Mary walk away, and Jane tells Mary about the apartments she has been granted. Mary might just be more pleased to have found a friend. And Actually Historically Jane was a strong advocate for Mary, but in this instance both Mary and Elizabeth were brought to court at this time mainly for security reasons. Still, it’s an appropriate moment to give to Queen Jane. I’m not mad at it.
A good old game of Cunnilingus
A game one remembers not unfondly. A league would have been fun.
There’s a general tradition that Mary I was very innocent to the point that she didn’t understand swear words, and there’s a sparse little story that Henry, having heard how innocent she was, once set a courtier to test Mary’s innocence by using sexual swear words at a court masque(4). Our Henry elects to do that right now, like three minutes after welcoming her back, and assuring her of her safety.
Sir Francis will be that courtier and he has way less caution than Cromwell, so with barely a pause he’s into a jolly apology and the second round of humiliating the current heir to the throne.
And you’ve got to give the Tudors some credit, they must have very carefully considered just how dirty they could get while still not tripping the TV censor.
There is another, more substantial, Actual Historical event related to this. Mary was Queen by then, and one day accidentally called one of her ladies in waiting (Francis Neville) “My pretty whore” which it turned out she had learned from overhearing Lord William Howard, and still, in her thirties, had no idea what it meant(5).
So 20 year old Mary would have been completely floored by Cunnilingus.
OK. OK. I think I’m done.
Once Mary aces the innocence test Francis drifts off to try his luck back with Fictional Misselden. But she stops him dead by quoting ‘Noli me Tangere”-
Francis isn’t pleased but obviously accepts it, and does so quite graciously.
But if it’s Swordsmen who rule, why do we pretend that Kings hold all the power?
The two Pilgrim representatives traveled south with Norfolk, and arrived at Windsor on 2nd November 1536. One was Sir Ralph Elleker but it was Robert Bowes, leader of the North East rebels, rather than Robert Constable that was the other, who stayed in the North, working with Aske. (6) Here the role goes to our amalgam character, John Constable.
I think the blue, starred, main hall ceiling we saw briefly during the wedding scenes was probably a test run for this shot. Which came out amazingly well. The two pilgrim representatives have a slightly scruffy ‘been on the road a week’ look , and with the astounding richness of the visual that appears in front of them, the like of which they would only have seen in a cathedral surrounding a saint’s remains, if ever, it’s all incredible. And it gives you, if only for a moment, an idea of the impression Henry would have left on his subjects that ever actually met him.
This scene is not entirely Actual Historical, but it’s more of a mashup than inaccurate. Bowes and Elleker might well have been unwashed and felt small – Henry wanted to see them right away and they saw him as soon as they arrived. It was therefore very unlikely to have been in front of the whole court. Particularly because when Henry was starting to get raged up in his rant against them (Oh, he went straight to How very dare you, peasants – like he’d never read a dispatch from the North that Autumn) Norfolk and some other councilors suddenly started trying to talk him down(7).
That must have come as a shock, and I doubt they would have tried that in front of the whole court.
But was it enough of a shock? Because it seems like Actual Historical Henry was having real trouble with the whole ‘No, it was your army that effectively sued for peace. They’re actually not here because you won.” concept.
But, frustrated by his council’s failure to let him berate them, and still safe in his own opinions, he wrote a letter for them to take back with them. A really self aggrandizing one, and Henry’s rant in The Tudors follows a lot of the themes, subjects and lines of the letter(8).
“What King hath given you more general or freer pardons? What King hath been loather to punish his subjects, or showed more mercy among them?”
Oh, You’re the archetype for a very different kind of King, Your Majesty.
I particularly like that he’s very dismissive of a lot of their points because they are just far too general to be understood (You can’t mean Cromwell is a heretic because I appointed him, so you must explain yourself better) then when he does get details- doing things like insisting they are wrong about the amount of tax they are paying because that is far too much and wouldn’t have been asked of them. q
The letter, direct to the rebels, was probably the first thing written after the personal rant that may have ended a little quicker than usual.
If you ever have the time to get to the online version of the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, (If you’re bored or, well, Hi, Sir George) it comes last in the list of 3 documents, but it was written first, and handed over to the representatives(9) while they were told to wait for the rest.
It is reasonably uncommon to find a draft in the Letters and Papers, not it’s unknown though. But item 956 in there, Instructions for Lancaster (Lancaster Herald Thomas Miller, who we continue to keep an eye on) was to be Henry’s proclamation to the rebels and it has 5 other drafts along with the final one. Item 955, the wording for the actual proclaimed pardon, has 2.(10)
And somewhere in amongst those drafts the penny might have started dropping. Perhaps helped along by advice from Norfolk, and when the move came it was very Norfolk. Of whom Moorhouse said:
“Up to a point, everything now depended on the probity of Thomas Howard and no one had ever been sure of that.”(11)
While the representatives were given leave to go from court and set off on Sunday 5th they were then fetched back before they were more than a few hours away. Somewhere in amongst the drafts, a communication arrived from the North which has not survived(12). What affected his decision, in what amounts is impossible to say. But somewhere Henry, with maybe a little bit of Norfolk, veterans on campaigns and alliances, who knew how quickly these things could fall apart, decided that time was on their side…and Bowes and Elleker would not make it back to the rebel leadership with the proclamations and pardons until 17th November(13).
They get haranged by Henry, who is really only promising them a pardon. Elleker and Constable are visited in their rooms sometime that evening by Brandon (and the Ghost of the Duke of Norfolk), and Constable feels that someone needs to tell Henry what time it is.
And Henry kind of knows – Brandon is to go North again, with Henry’s permission to negotiate the other terms. Constable, who has perhaps noticed that all the concessions are happening where and when it’s deniable, asks for some proof.
There then follows a bit of business with a letter.
Cromwell’s letter is Actual Historical but this delivery method isn’t. It did end up in the hands of Robert Constable, though, so this is a neat way to get it there. It would also never be meant for a herald, as The Tudors has it, this letter was secret. In The Tudors though a secret sympathizer in Cromwell’s very office,
Copies it and slides it under the door to Constable and Elleker’s rooms.
In Henry and Jane’s rooms they look a bit post coital. Jane gives Henry a compliment, and says she thinks he is the kindest of rulers, and she wishes the world knew it.
And then, perhaps picking her best moment, she tries a bit of a nudge. That’s a bold move, Cotton, let’s see how this works out for her. Well, this has an Actual Historical basis(14). It happened publicly at court and was reported by a French representatives including that he told her to remember Anne.
Reginald meets Ambition
To the Spanish Netherlands.
Where brand new Cardinal Pole prepares for his meeting with representatives of the Emperor. Chief of whom, we already know.
But it is definitely Declan Conlon, who played him in Season 1, so welcome back. Actually Historically Pole established a base in Flanders (15) and met with Imperial and other representatives. In The Tudors he brings up the risings, and the Imperials have always had the best diplomats. Mendoza is carefully inscrutable until Pole crosses the Rubicon the English rebels keep not mentioning.
They’re not so bothered about that because a great friend to Spain and true Catholic is waiting in the wings, and the words ‘Infanta Maria’ rustle about the table approvingly. But Reginald doesn’t let the thought settle even a moment before offering his ‘New Coke’ self. I love the energy Hildreth gives Pole, he’s just that little bit too intense, a bit too highly strung, it’s great.
When Ned Stark lost his head, who was truly responsible?
The pilgrim reps arrive back at Pontefract.
Ralph brings the news of the pardon and Brandon’s return with positivity and hope. Well, no, he’s got that letter. Actually Historically Cromwell wrote it to Sir Ralph Evers (royalist and general bastard, apparently) who was managing to hold Scarborough Castle but was terribly low on supplies. Cromwell wrote the letter some time after the representatives had arrived at court which was part of made it so damning. It, and the supplies, got intercepted by rebel forces and the letter found its way to Robert Constable, who produced it on the representatives’ return.
That quote is pretty close to the Actual Historical letter(16), and uses some of the historical wording.
What’s a little gutting is Aske’s reaction. It’s all centered round preparing for the meeting, and ‘clarifying their points’. Somewhat wrenchingly, the pilgrims took Henry’s admonitions about being too vague to deeply to heart and spent a long time in perfecting arguments he would never hear, and no one in the royalist party gave a damn about.
And Constable’s warning is both prescient and timely, it was at this point that sections of the commons, suspicious of the vagueness they were being dealt, really started to buck.
They still have the advantage, but the clock has been ticking, and ticking, and they still have not pressed it for the sake of their faith and hope in Henry.
For now, and up to the end of the episode Charles Brandon is going to be possessed by the Ghost Duke of the Duke of Norfolk. He and Henry discuss his return to negotiate with the pilgrims, while it’s all very clear that he is not supposed to be doing it honestly. And he’s a lot more Norfolk than Brandon as he tries to nudge Henry to what Charles really wants.
Henry sees the manipulation coming a mile off (that’s one thing Meyer’s Henry always does – you can see him clock whenever he spots someone trying to manipulate him.), and does to Brandon what he’s sending Brandon to do to the rebels.
And Brandon is sent off, apparently willing to mislead the rebels in exchange for an enemies’ downfall. We see Brandon at Pontefract as Howard was for the second round of meetings. Basically, the pardon was announced, they were promised their own local Parliament, and told everything else would be decided at that Parliament.
The guilt or innocence of current ministers and bishops? Parliament. Current heresies? the same.
The rebels get the dissolution of the abbeys put on hold, with, once again, a promise to review with a new Parliament. The general population of rebels,
The terms are read out, the herald (would have been Thomas Miller) reads out the pardon, and the pilgrims are told to go home with hope and faith in their hearts.
Back at his home in Yorkshire, Aske and his adorable fictional family are surprised by a letter from the King, asking Aske to come to court and offering him safe passage.
Actually Historically, about halfway through December, with the truce still just about holding, Henry sent a guy called Peter Mewtas with this letter (the text used in The Tudors is very close to original). As here, Aske consulted his comrades.Elleker has an opposite day – Historically, the promises of Kings are worth a lot less than people in general. They lie a lot. If it’s lying to anyone lower than a Baron I’m not even sure they know it still counts. Darcy arranges an Actual Historical (17) series of riders to alert them if Aske is arrested (Henry had hold of those reps a long time). Back in Whitehall the weather has got dark and dirty.
And someone’s up, a bit drunk,
and has ‘One Day’ kind of vengeance on his mind.
Clever Girl. But if you were as smart as your daughter, you might have leaned in a bit more to that swoon.