Feel like you’ve been cooped up in The Court a lot lately? Well,
Good News Everyone!
Henry’s called a Blood Hunt on a traitor!
Actually historically it was Sir Francis Bryan that got sent to the continent to hunt for Reginald Pole (1). In The Tudors he goes there with Thomas Seymour, and it’s a nice introduction to Thomas Seymours’ character, and given what Actual Historical Thomas Seymour got up to in his later life, this all seems reasonably appropriate if not actually historically right. We don’t know the specifics of the hunt, but Francis Bryan was sent to the continent, bounties were offered, and Pole spent around two years living in hiding whenever he left Rome. (2)
They arrive to find a French representative with an attitude in the middle of a fashion crime.The attempted robbery fails (Your tertiary character could never). The waistcoat clearly still belongs to the King Francis’ Field of the Cloth of Gold 1520 Summer collection. I don’t mind vintage (or if it’s a knockoff, yes, that is a good knockoff), but get it to fit or retreat from my screen, monsieur. Your attempt at pattern mixing with the cape means nothing to me.
The Comte de Lyon is as cocky as you would expect a Frenchman in high end thrift to be, having been given the task to slap Henry’s fingers and remind him, once again, that France doesn’t actually owe him anything. So it hasn’t captured that Cardinal that he hates for him, which would have had the Pope baying for their blood with absolutely no gain for France.
And instead Pole was asked politely to leave France and allowed to travel to Caserta, down in Southern Italy. Sir Francis is aware he is being served some diplomatic crap, a way to say ‘No’ while looking like you’re saying ‘Sorry’, but has a pragmatic response.
Once he leaves Francis and Thomas eye up the serving wench who I think was eyeing up Thomas and Sir Francis announces his intention to kill Cardinal Pole, while chewing on a drumstick.
And with that the “Should have kept your mouth shut, Reginald” European attempted murder tour begins.
The Longest Courtship
Ideally, the Imperials wanted Mary reinstated to the succession, married to an approved Prince, safely in their hands, on the continent and breeding, and they’d take however much of that they could get without invading. The Emperor had been really impressed by Don Luis of Portugal (Younger brother to the King of Portugal) during the Tunisian campaign and started trying to set up the match between him and Mary in earnest in February 1537.(3)
Henry and Jane are a bit light and giggly in their general good mood as Chapuys is announced, and makes the formal suggestion of Prince Luis 4 Mary. The usual highfalutin descriptions include the nugget that he is…
He’s great in every way of course, but when Chapuys is bigging up Prince Luis’ experience the description gets a bit rugged, like “He’s been on military campaigns”.
Henry shows a sudden interest in his daughter’s welfare and spirituality when married to such a person. OK, and Henry is being a bit annoying. Then again, it sounds like Chapuys really over corrected from the ‘masculine dude’ track, with the whole ‘treat her like a nun’ analogy.
But Luis was 10 years older than Mary, and had a mistress, Yolande (or Violante) Gomes who had given birth to their son in 1531, and when Yolande eventually died, she’s supposed to have died a nun. So he managed to get a future nun pregnant, at least.
Once Chapuys has left, Henry and Jane have a good chuckle, pregnancy being an awesome conversation topic for them right now. Then Chapuys approaches Mary with this completely decent proposal. And Mary has to take a moment. She gets to positively fluttery very quickly and is definitely fishing for info in a given direction. This is a woman who has been raised, groomed, instructed and prepared for marriage, one of about 3 available fates for women of the period, and it has just hoved into view as an actual current possibility. Forgive her for pacing, a little.
And while much is made of her innocence of the world, Mary herself was 20 and seems ready to get to something a little PG-13 at least. She drops the coyness about ‘Do women like him?’ quickly and asks Chapuys outright.
And gets back the plainest compliments from Chapuys, who gets right down to the info Mary wants. No faffing about, here. Yes, he is good looking. Chapuys has seen him himself.
And have you seen what her 45 year old, increasingly obese father looks like in this universe? In The Tudors had Don Luis ever needed to show up I think we can say he would have been a legitimate snack. They’ve shaved 6 years off of him, too. Chapuys dunks the lily in gold by saying that he thinks her mother would have approved (it’s heavy handed but I also think he’s probably right), and Mary’s sold on the idea.
She remembers the fate of Robert Aske, then, and heads quickly to hardwired guilt.
And Chapuys reminds her that she does have every right to think of her own happiness. It’s nice that someone does.
2DOR Executive Steering Group
Meanwhile Henry gets going with a little side project. It’s happening early in the timeline because next episode jumps over a lot of time, and has Henry in seclusion for almost all of it. So here he’s getting in the work he needs to do to come out at the end of next episode with the Six Articles of Faith of the Church of England (1539).
Henry meets with some clergymen and tells them he’s not happy with the direction the Church is going in.
In what was his first attempt to start pumping the brakes on Protestantism. He’s interrupted by a messenger with news about the Queen. And as he comes marching out of that meeting room he just stops short of running to the Queen’s rooms, and you know what mode he is in.
But everything is fine, the baby is just kicking, and Jane wanted to give him a chance to feel it, that’s all. Interestingly, Jane doesn’t gender the baby “Can you feel it? It’s kicking”, whereas Henry is real certain of that gender and already has a name picked out. And then he whispers to the fetus to “Be strong” in a disconcertingly intense way.
However for once, Henry is not the parent of greatest concern. Down by the river, Brandon is hallucinating, and not handling parental responsibility and his fresh mental illness well.
And it’s a good 415 years before he had a hope of getting the first modern diagnosis on that, let alone any treatment, so Brandon probably deserves a bit of slack, here. All the same, he’s really not about keeping the situation calm for the child. He’s demanding confirmation by asking a lot of questions with absolutely no room for a ‘No’ answer, while getting increasingly agitated as ‘Yes’ refuses to appear.
It’s only the final question that has the possibility of a ‘No’ answer, and no kid is going to say it at that point. The Tudors is clear that young Henry doesn’t see the pilgrimage of this ghost. It leaves Brandon’s condition open to interpretation, this could very well be PTSD, and perhaps Brandon is becoming ‘attuned’ as people with far more faith in quartz than I’ve ever been able to raise might suggest.
Either way it’s a pretty strong reaction to a very restrained ghost.
Brandon is emphatically not OK.
We need a pageant, unless we don’t. Is it fashion week, or something?
Over on some palace parkland that looks really lovely, Edward Seymour and Henry are starting to bond, a little, while planning the celebrations for the birth of ‘the boy’.
And yes, it’s fashion week.
Actual Historical Henry moved the fashion needle in his era, the King’s personal style having a strong influence on what became known as the ‘English fashion‘ for men of his period(4). And this was the period in his life when Henry was really leaning in to that new style.
Bigger. Wider. More of a sumptuous Fabric Wall, seems to have been the general note. With perhaps a dash of ‘Is there a way to feature the codpiece more?’ thrown in, at every single meeting.
Below is the famous Walker Gallery copy of the Great Mural Portrait of 1537.
The Tudors has been getting into it this season and the fashion emerged because Henry was getting larger. If you can’t hide the gut, lean into your height and go for bulk, appeared to be the idea. That was what Henry decided peak performance was going to look like.
And it’s been getting some play from the beginning of Season 3, as male characters’ outlines have been getting bumped up.
One of the people this is tricky for is our Henry, himself, as Meyers is not particularly tall, appears to have lost weight since the end of Season 2, and was not required to pad. So, the problems this fashion was created to address just don’t exist on the model, making it look a bit weird on him.
So the guy that Actually Historically set this fashion to everything could suit his body shape is the most distant follower of it in The Tudors. In this episode Henry’s costuming tends toward the natural, but whenever he’s in a formal situation he has the Season 3 de rigueur Court accessory – the draping fur shoulder pads or what we might call a Jon Snow Throw to get that ‘Big Box Set’ or ‘Wide Ass Coat’ look. Nice to see the menswear getting attention, ironic that everyone else is carrying the style off far more than Henry.
Anyway, Edward and Henry are talking, and basically getting along when its Henry, strangely enough, that brings up his unhappy reproductive past. And his face is interesting to watch as he processes Seymour’s reaction. Henry is wary of Seymour, and he’s always going to be, the issue is kind of hidden here because Meyers’ Henry remains so young. The dynamic between them is always a little fraught because Actually Historically Henry was getting old.
Henry knows that whenever he is talking to Edward, he is likely talking to the next man to run England. If Henry doesn’t make it to his prospective son’s 18th birthday, his son will need help and Edward Seymour will be his senior male relative.
As such, Edward does a very delicate introduction to bringing up the subject of Cromwell and the recent rebellion.
And Henry gives an interesting response, and I like Edwards reaction.
Back in the Queens’ rooms, baby clothes are being coo’ed over and luxury items sorted for use. Jane Boleyn approaches Jane with that request from Lady Lisle (Quail provider) for a place at court for one of her daughters and Jane agrees. Then she asks for Fictional Misselden to help her with her gown. Ok, stop. Jane was kind, but this virtual sainthood is not who she was.
Lady Lisle had been trying for years to get her daughters into court. When she succeeded (which she did when Jane was about 6 months pregnant), the winning daughter, Anne only had clothes in the French fashion. Jane was vigorously opposed to French fashions (associated as they were with her predecessor). So Anne was allowed to wear out some of her clothes as long as the French bonnet and bodice were replaced immediately.
However, Henry noticed young Anne, and commented that she was far fairer that her sister. And suddenly Anne wasn’t allowed to wear out the French clothes at all. Everything had to be replaced with the English fashion, like, yesterday. (5)
So good person though she was, Queen Jane Seymour was not entirely naive, and certainly wasn’t selflessly throwing her husband at his mistresses as she went to her child bed.
Where she is going now, turns out that sensation wasn’t the gown.
She turns to Mary, and asks her to not ‘forsake’ her (Look like Mary’s been volunteered as doula). Meanwhile Henry has been told and the news spreads like wildfire.
And then Stutter.
But everything progresses very slowly in the birthing room. Jane’s being attended by a midwife and her ladies, and the black draped physicians hover at the margins. Just at ‘concerned’ for now. Jane sends Mary to get something from a box, and it is early stages but labour looks like it’s a bumpy road for Jane. That bit has always sounded kooky to me, but they live in a far more spiritual world than I, and it’s a nice bonding moment for them. The score follows the action as the same theme that played during Elizabeth’s birth starts off the scene but then it stops, and the ‘Henry and Jane’ theme plays as Henry prays to his God in the chapel royal. Back in the birthing room, Jane’s cries have become more anguished, and the pace has gone from rapid impulsion to a resigned drag.
Time has passed, and it’s evening for the next scene, where Edward Seymour comes in to see Henry. He tells him there will be a procession to pray for the Queen tomorrow, if she’s still in labour. Henry basically says “Yep, if she’s still in labour tomorrow we’re going to need prayer”, and then he says this linevery gently. They’re going to go the full on grief route for Henry in The Tudors so the way he’s quite despairing here is a nice primer. We’re getting ready to see his tender side.
Morning has broken
Cromwell sees the morning in at Whitehall.
We don’t get to know what’s happened with the Queen yet, because we get whisked to see the Brandons. Charles is praying when his wife comes up and kneels next to him. Charles is straight into “Why I’m fine with that genocide I did”.
His wife is just as nonplussed by that argument as the screenshot suggests. As he tries to justify his actions it becomes clear she’s really just here to deliver one piece of information.
And then walk the hell out. So everyone in need of a lot of therapy at the Brandon’s.
Back with the Queen, and the morning is dark.
The ladies in waiting are no longer clustered around Jane, but stood just trying to support each other in the room. The black clad physicians have moved into the room, to the bottom of the bed. Jane’s cries are just pitiful, and there is clear, unmistakable fear and maybe a bit of dread on the faces of Misseldon and Jane Boleyn as the physicians get the ‘instruments’ out. Mary gets a second wind as she sees that going on and you can feel the real tension building. We are very nearly at the last gasp of hope, here.
Because a cesarean section performed at this point in history killed the mother. Their surgery and hygiene was nowhere near good enough to pull that off with any chance of survival. It certainly didn’t happen to Jane because she lived for two weeks after Edward was born.
Actually Historically Jane had a noticeably long labour (6), and if surgical options were considered they would only have been considered, as Edward Seymour explains to a grief stricken Henry, if the Queen died during labour, or was considered certain to die.
But there’s no Actual Historical evidence that their concern, or Jane’s condition ever got this far. It’s a nice dramatic moment for The Tudors. And an actual historical labour that was at least 15 hours (that first public prayer procession happened 15 hours before she delivered)(6), and probably closer to 20-24 hours long would have concerned everyone. But there’s no evidence a cesarean,or other surgical intervention was really considered.
And Landed it
We get a quick look at Jane and she just seems done. Really tired, not even crying out any more. Then we move outside of the birthing room to wait with Edward Seymour. Suddenly a baby’s cries are heard and a clearly exhausted Jane Boleyn comes out to tell him the news the entire country is waiting for. He runs out the room, and the score attaches a long, high note to follow him. He scatters a load of ‘not quite VIPs’ in the corridor set, and The Tudors gives the news real impulsion with a lot of movement from the camera and characters as this piece of history moves towards Henry. And then Edward gets to tell Henry news he has waited a quarter century to hear.
And the full score comes in victoriously as Henry stares into the middle distance, letting the full import wash over him. He’s done it. He’s finally justified. He’s procreated a child of the right gender.
The Lord Giveth
They dust the fireworks off again, and Queen Jane’s baptism reception outfit is amazing. It all has a degree of religiosity to it, as does Jane’s greeting to her child. And as you get into the close up you see how exhausted and possibly how unwell Jane looks. Henry gets in on this semi religious import, and you know that he’s sure his blessing is worth extra, what with being head of the Church of England. There follows a brief scene between Mary and Elizabeth. It’s kind of sweet, they’re both at the palace for the baptism and apparently they are sharing a room. They have a brief discussion that establishes a nice dynamic between them and gives Elizabeth a claim on a possible future mission statement. And then we get a seat for the baptism itself. Actually Historically Henry wasn’t there(7), it was standard for royal parents not to be when it happened as royal baptisms happened so soon after birth. As mentioned when Elizabeth was born, they were simple, short ceremonies and the procession into and out of the chapel were the most noted thing about them.
In The Tudors we are shown Edward’s christening as the camera starts very low.
Then rises up to show you all the court united in reverence.
And finally up beyond the crowds to the stained glass windows, showing what must surely and finally in these actions be God’s favour shining upon on Henry VIII.
Did you forget how that one finishes?
Except the last notes of the Te Deum are barely sung when Henry walks out of a door on to the corridor set, followed by a panicky physician.
Actually Historically Edward was born October 12th 1537, early hours of the morning. Her health did worsen a few days after the christening so…
Goodbye Good Queen
Sorry, she never did make it to great. Jane Seymour is always a tricky role to play and I’m actually all turned around on Annabelle Wallis’ interpretation. Jane the domestic abuse survivor was well done, but in the end just could not get over the limitations in the script.
I bought Anita Briem’s version, and in the end I bought Annabelle Wallis’ version too but I never got to see how they were connected. I needed a hinge moment. Maybe Briem needed to run into Henry in a bad mood, or maybe Wallis needed to start her season a bit more confident without it, they are two separate women. I definitely think the moment where he told her to remember ‘The late Queen’ could have been hit a bit harder.
The last limitation that Queen Jane had was time, just 8 episodes and 2 different actresses. Also, I noticed this year her screen time was nowhere near Anne’s or Katherine’s in Seasons 1 and 2. Jane would be off in her own storyline for a just couple of scenes per episode at best in Season 3. Ultimately, there just isn’t as much about Jane in the historical record as her predecessors . She was a relatively quiet person, who had her whole identity bound up in her husband, and she followed the historic flaming meteor of Anne Boleyn, before dying quite quickly. She is by no means easy for any adaptation to bring to life.
In The Tudors I think choices were limited both because of the actress change and the reduced number of episodes in Season 3. I think some choices were good, but none were inspired, and ultimately the decision to always lean towards a traditional, idealized Jane kind of ruled out much character development and depth. She even gets given a modern charitable domestic ever so slightly feminist twist to make her yet more approachable to a modern audience.
In the end Jane got two solid portrayals in The Tudors, but without the breadth and scope Katherine and Anne had there is just not as much to her.
And he taketh away.
Henry arrives in the sick room, and his angle is given a lot of green. He knows what his physicians can’t say it is, it is childbed fever (also known as purpural fever). And Actually Historically that’s a leading contender for what killed her.
Actually Historically Jane’s illness had a lot more ups and downs. She survived giving birth by 12 days, but by the 24th of October it had become deadly serious. In The Tudors, Henry realizes it is hopeless medically and he gets everyone to leave. On her way out, he has a touching moment with his daughter Mary, based on their shared loss.
Henry kneels down, and kisses his barely conscious wife very tenderly. He tearfully cradles her hands and launches into an impassioned speech, first to her, not to leave. Then to God not to take her away.And over a soaring soundtrack, Henry gets his answer.
Notes: 02/06/2020 – took an edit, added audio, changed the featured photo to one without subtitle.