The 2DOR Office
This intro contains a little glimpse at the personal politics of Cromwell’s office. Sir Richard Rich is introduced by new guy Risley in a formal and respectful way, using his highest title.But to Cromwell, he’s Richie. Richard is his trusted friend and junior partner. Risley is currently hovering at the margins, accepted, but not quite ‘in’.
Actually Historically Richard Rich isn’t due that title yet. He became Lord Chancellor of England in Edward’s reign. Right now that post was held by Thomas Audley, another, earlier, ally of Cromwell and it looks like The Tudors gave his role to Rich for character economy.
He’s also replacing Thomas Wyatt in this, who was a loyal friend and protege to Cromwell, and Cromwell was a good friend and mentor back. Cromwell saved Thomas’ life during the Anne Boleyn trial, I mean, Henry never liked him much, what were the odds of him of all the accused walking away from that one? Cromwell must have pulled hard to save him.
And despite what should have been a crippling “The King doesn’t like me and I was briefly his rival for the wife he loved, then hated, then had killed.” career injury Wyatt had a good and significant diplomatic career, becoming Ambassador to the Imperial Court, or ‘Our Chapuys’ in March 1537. Their letters to each other in this period, while Cromwell is the senior partner and chastises Wyatt when he thinks his work has been below par, are warm and friendly to each other with a lot of personal references (1).
So, The Tudors’ Richard Rich, who is a also little bit the Thomases Audley and Wyatt, is about to get briefed on the ‘Nonsuch Palace’ plan, and we find out that that is not the only building that Henry has been up to. Henry was definitely a ‘builder’ King, constantly extending his palaces, or building and acquiring new ones. He’s from half a millennium ago, but he’s got two major palaces that survive, and they get mentioned here.
Hampton Court and St James’ Palace are from other periods in his reign (St James’ Palace was completed when Anne Boleyn was Queen, and he was extending Hampton court almost as soon as Wolsey gave it to him), but Nonsuch is being used as a focus to discuss Henry’s building projects.
Don’t mind if I do.
Royal Palace Cul De Sac
These days, most retired Palaces join the Historic Royal Palaces charity and are opened to the public for visiting and exhibitions. The money from this goes to maintain the buildings, to pay wages and to develop them as attractions for the public based upon aesthetics and history.
I bought a membership last year because I was going on a trip to London and on a trip to London you can get to The Tower, The Banqueting House, Kew and Kensington Palace all in a couple of days. I saw a tiara at Kensington Palace that made me gasp so hard as I walked through the door that I swear the security guard visibly clenched.
Of Henry’s two survivors Hampton Court is one of the stars of the Historic Royal Palaces, it has amazing gardens and original Tudor sections, along with an impressive baroque rebuild from William and Mary’s reign, designed by Christopher Wren after he had remodeled London, and site of a reasonable amount of Hanoverian feuding.
But St James’ Palace remains in obscurity, because the incredibly senior partner in the Royal Palace family is still working as the office.
If you’ve ever walked up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, you’ve passed St James’ Palace. There is, in between the top quarter of The Mall and the very top of Pall Mall, basically an centuries old, historically rooted, forerunner to a mafia compound for senior royals (2).
The British Royal Family’s compound (House of Hanover to House of Windsor Edition) is just a short walk from Whitehall and Westminster.
Clarence House (Was the Queen Mother’s now Charles’ official London residence), Lancaster House (Where they film The Crown BP interiors, and the UK government’s poshest reception venue), York House and St James’ Palace all sit within it, among other smaller buildings and all of it a small catapult of a stone from Buckingham Palace. It’s understandably illegal to trespass there.
St James’ Palace is the oldest of the bunch by a long way (The House of Hanover settled the royal family around it about 250 years after Henry). It remains the administrative centre for the royal family with most of the offices, and that’s why Ambassadors sent out by the UK are still sent from ‘The Court of St James’ Palace’. When they do the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, St James’ Palace is where the new Guard comes from. Several senior royals have an official residence there.
St James’ Palace was probably at its most historically significant for the Hanoverians. For the Tudors and Stuarts it was more of a townhouse retreat, they had Henry’s increasingly massive Whitehall for all of their official stuff, and every monarch from Victoria to now has officially lived at Buckingham Palace.
Not open to the public, ever, St James’ Palace keeps on trucking. Only Windsor Castle is older, royal and still on official duties, and Windsor’s had a lot of work done. St James’ Palace gatehouse faces out right at the top of Pall Mall so it’s possible to get a decent look at some of it from the outside. Hopefully, when the Royal Family move on again, St James’ the Venerable will get to shine brightly in preserved retirement.
St James’ Palace is a big, long term success story from Henry’s building programs.
Nonsuch, Not So Much
Nonsuch was a lot more ephemeral, it had its hour, and the hour was pretty short for such a building. Nonsuch stood for 135 years. She was undoubtedly impressive in her day.
But it was never going to work in that era because Nonsuch didn’t have enough water to function as a Tudor Palace. Nonsuch was built on a location that didn’t have enough potable water for a full royal court. The Queen’s household alone would be around 200 people (3) and Henry’s could balloon up to 800. That’s an awful lot of people drinking and hopefully bathing.
All those white plaster sections on Nonsuch were stucco reliefs, individually created, and designed to teach Edward chivalry, etc. Nonsuch certainly seems to be a place Henry built in order to continue to loom. Gratifyingly, Edward wasn’t much interested in it (4). When Mary inherited it she sold the white elephant, but Elizabeth loved it, bought it back and used it regularly. It saw a little action in the Civil War (an actual skirmish in the Banqueting house), eventually leaving royal palace status by being used as a payoff from Charles II to his mistress Barbara Villiers.
She stripped and demolished it to pay her gambling debts around 1682 (4).
And that was that.
Richard Rich, possibly forseeing a bit of that, asks Cromwell an untenable question. Is there not some way to…
And No Richie, No There Isn’t, Okay? Henry has just added grief-crazed to his list of attributes, and he’s emphatically not getting more tolerant with age. Also, Cromwell can’t even speak to him right now. As mentioned last time, sometimes Will Sommers was the only guy that could talk to Henry, but those times were more associated with Henry’s illnesses with his leg.
And as for this sentiment…Actually Historically Henry didn’t go missing from the court other than the roughly three week period when it was expected behaviour. There was no breakdown of law and order (of the murders we were shown, Pakington’s happened about a year beforehand and the young Carew chap was made up), and The Tudors is, for some reason, trying to establish that no one can govern without Henry’s active involvement.
It’s also giving the character of Henry a problem he can solve by getting up and walking out of his room, to go with all the others for which it would already be a good first step.
Week 3: Henry “The Religious Situation” Tudor,
Meanwhile Henry is finally having a good time, and Meyers can play the hell out of a drunk Henry. Will is having a good time.
It is still dark, but someone (clearly not Henry or Will), possibly quite a few people have been in, cleared up the room, scrubbed up the spills, taken those drawings down to Cromwell, laid some rugs on the ground, given Henry his tea on a gold tray and delivered a vat full of wine.
Henry’s has wine and a guy that’s paid to make him laugh, so that’s a good time waiting to happen, right there. Will’s having a good time because this is the easiest money he’s earned this month. Henry is hammered, and all Will has to do is lob him a few softball bawdy puns and watch Henry yak it up.
Henry might have the curtains drawn at 2pm, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel and he’s clearly stayed committed to his workout regime throughout his grief fueled depression. So, choices made.
The drunk improv session continues and the bawdier the puns become about the religious situation the bigger the laughs at them get. Well, I suppose that is how drunk improv generally rolls and it gives us a great Spiritual Effect/Profane Source comparison. Through it all, David Bradley makes Will quietly watchful. He laughs along enough to get Henry into another gale, but once Henry gets going, Will is watching him and wheels are turning.
and The Dox Bollocks.
The laughs get bigger and bigger until we get to the doxology. A doxology is normally a few lines used as a response in ‘call and response’ moment. It’s got a long history in religious observance, and one of the most famous ones involves the Lord’s prayer and an argument that used to be entirely Catholic, before the Anglican Protestants picked a side heavily, made it official and everyone regrouped.
“For thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory
For ever and ever, Amen.”
Had been around for an awfully long time (old Greek texts), as has the argument about whether to use it or not. It comes from some versions of Matthew 6:9-13 around long before Protestantism so Henry didn’t write it. I mean, it was practically made for him, though.
A line at the end of the Lord’s prayer where the subtext is “Just saying, this all works because you’re a kind of really awesome eternal King.” is just the ticket for a new religion based on royal supremacy, and you can bet your ass Henry’s bible included it in its Gospel of Matthew (5). But it wasn’t part of the Six Articles as The Tudors will try and convince you later. We might imagine Henry loved it, and encouraged its use, but it wasn’t in general use and they weren’t legislating down to the level of prayer until the Book of Common Prayer (Original Edition 1549) which is when it became official, and that was in Edward’s reign.
Henry takes another mood swing. And Will picks his moment, talking quietly and gently about the land of the wounded King, parched and waiting for his return. And Will has his timing just right because Henry sobers up like someone slapped him.
Now this is one of the lowest ranked The Tudors episodes on Imdb and I think that…Wait, wait, did you hear that?Oh, Well, Ian Beattie had better go then. Goodness, this is exiting. We have no idea who is fighting, or why they are fighting, but the stuntwork set pieces are great, and you kind of get where everyone is, so it’s not too sharply cut. You’re almost getting into it when Beattie Seargant runs out and makes the statement of the moment.
Turns out there were several incidents of fighting in early 1538, apparently culminating in a small riot with tens of men fighting with the palace officers, which happened in early April 1538, about 3 months Henry’s return to official life, and 5 months after his grief isolation period.(q)
Finally Beattie Seargent has a job he can do. No one’s mistaken him for Sherlock Holmes today. Today is for yelling at miscreants, and then fighting them if they don’t give up.
The man does not give up his swords, and injures “Sir, there’s a fight” guy, so Beattie Seargent has to jump right into the fighting. And he’s great, fights like a demon and you get the feeling that it’s the most job satisfaction he’s had this month, too.
But never mind that, turns out the rumours were true and…
Cromwell’s got a Hessian Posse
And he unleashes them to join the fight. With them and Beattie Seargent’s skills the fight is turning, but Beattie Seargent finds himself up against 3 swordsmen,And he gets a mini epic takedown, and dies. The Posse must have got the job done, though, because order is restored enough that Cromwell is about to attend a privy council meeting. And all this chaos has everyone is on edge.
There are about 10 guards in the room and Seymour, Francis Bryan and Brandon are all declaring positions, making statements and generally having a bit of a yell at each other by the time Cromwell walks into the room, trailing Risley and his posse behind him.
First up is Lord Hussey who starts with the premier hostile meeting question: “Who the hell said you could call this meeting anyway?
Francis Bryan is quietly watchful, Edward Seymour seems to be leaning in a bit more to the “Give Cromwell Crap” party, at least with some head nodding support. But it’s Brandon, who does not sit throughout, hunched over the table who is silent but in wait for Cromwell. The Tudors Brandon, of course, has a massive issue with Cromwell over Cromwell threatening him so he’d do that genocide that’s ruined his marriage now.
He’s the first to directly accuse Cromwell of involvement, Fox newsing him with “People are saying…” that Cromwell’s servants…And he straightens up and looks at Cromwell with the prissiest expression I have ever seen.
Cromwell starts to j’accuse right back and Brandon surprisingly gets into Cromwell’s ‘base’ birth for a character that Season 1 was pretty sure was base born himself (Not Actual Historical for Brandon, his father was Henry VII’s standard bearer and his mother was a bit of an heiress, and he one of the kids Henry VIII was raised with, not exactly a snipe from the back streets.). He ends with saying that Cromwell is not to summon him any more for any thing…
The meeting breaks with Brandon’s exit and everyone on team Cromwell is wondering what he’s going to do. Risley and the posse wander off but Rich follows Cromwell to ask what’s up with the King?
Are the Prawns Code?
Edward Seymour remains quite the enigmatic character. We join him and wife Anne for dinner. Edward, I think at least at some point in writing, might have been an early attempt to put an asexual character in a TV series, because he’s remarkably surface chill about his wife’s affairs and seems fine with a degree of coolness in all his interactions with her and anyone else, but there’s also definitely something else going on with him. He’s almost universally dismissive of other people, casually cruel and his and Anne’s relationship is just odd.
Edward gets rid of the servants (with the brusquest of handwaves and a grunt) and informs his wife that he’s warned off her lover, Sir Francis Bryan. Her expression is very guarded when she asks why he did that. Then he starts claiming all the reasons Sir Francis is a danger to him, and escalates it to now having to destroy Sir Francis. Anne selects a strong dysfunctional marriage fencing response to that: she is slightly disappointed, but mainly neutral about it, giving Edward little to work with or against.
But when we get to the conclusion of this little dinner talk I think we get a glimpse of Anne’s personal tragedy. I think she loves Edward, but Anne’s aware that to become emotionally available to Edward would be to become a verbal and emotional punching bag. She’s a little emotionally raw and just so quietly but deeply disappointed as she points out that if he’s going to remain the same brusque, dismissive asshole with her that he is with others then she’s not going to try, either. And she’s just going to have to find a new lover. And then in the best British dysfunctional marriage traditions, she changes the subject to the most trivial thing she can think of to demonstrate her total lack of engagement.
Phased Work Returns
Back at Whitehall morning has broken, and someone is creeping up on Cromwell in his office bed. But it’s fine, it’s Will to tell him that it’s Royal Bureaucracy Christmas morning.
Cromwell goes to Henry’s reception room, and I think the black chair covers are new and Henry’s back to work look is “rapidly aged and possibly ill”.
They get straight into work, King Francis wrote to congratulate Henry on his son. Henry’s response is right out of his Actual Historical letter back, and is probably the most famous Actual Historical line Henry has about Jane’s death(6). Henry moves on to the fact that he wants to talk to Bishop Gardiner. Which should put the wind up Cromwell, but he’s so relieved Henry’s back he seems to just roll with it. Throughout this scene Henry’s just barely in the room, drifting off for unguarded moments whenever he’s not required to speak. He checks on Edward’s current state, with what sounds like a threat (“If anything ever happens to him…”) and then when Cromwell gets into the possibility of remarriage to get that second safety son, Henry starts off a little dicey.
Cromwell handles it well but Henry drifts off again as prospects are considered (current front runner Marie de Guise)
The Second Son
Mary is walking through the countryside, presumably on one of her estates, talking to Chapuys.
They discuss that the Council wants the King to marry again. Mary, somewhat reasonably, would like to know the current Portuguese marriage forecast.
And the answer is no. The King becoming available really side swiped those negotiations. Everyone was suddenly concentrating on Henry instead of Mary, then some double marriage suggestions arrived on the diplomatic table, to add to the confusion.
The problem with marrying off Mary had not really changed, despite Edward’s birth. Henry had had sons before that did not survive and Edward was just an infant. Mary was an adult, old enough that she should have been married a while ago, but imagine the early years of Edward’s reign with a Mary that was abroad and exalted and married to an Imperial and Vatican approved Catholic Prince with children? How much more unstable would that fledgling Protestant government have been? Would it even have survived that long?
She’s too well connected, and too well loved, particularly by aggrieved Catholics. She’s got a huge faction waiting to support her and the only thing holding them back is fear of Henry (He is really scary, though). She’s going to be a threat to Edward unless Henry lives to a ripe old age, and breeding would increase that threat ten fold. All those instabilities that followed the Crown during the Wars of the Roses, they’re still there, they’re just masked by the fact that Henry is really secure on his throne (especially since the Pilgrimage was crushed), and terrifying and hard to predict.
But once he’s gone, History will show you just how long a tyrant’s grasp on events survives them(Hours, sometimes minutes). Henry’s got about another decade but he sees the future coming, so Henry is in no hurry to marry off Mary. She’s still in the position of second son, she’s a politically strong one in a divided country and Henry was born a second son, himself. Lots of second sons ended up inheriting. Sometimes they actively brought it about.
When Mary points out some diplomatic distance between Chapuys’ words now “Maybe they’ll find you someone even better than Don Luis” and before “I thought you said Don Luis was incomparable?” He goes to apologise but Mary stops him, saying he means well. And you know, given Mary’s life, someone on her side that does always mean well, I’d call that a tiara level friend.
Greener Grass with Fewer Steps
Mary’s emerging tragedy is that she saw one of the very few futures on offer for women of the period, being a wife and mother, and went “That’s me, that’s who I want to be and that’s what I want to do.” but it just kept on not happening for her. You’d think she’d have been one of those women for whom the Sixteenth century actually had something going on, but her political importance kept preventing it from working out.
She was, however, in a position that other women, like future Anne of Cleves or current Fictional Misselden here, were striving towards. She had large estates which she was in charge of, she could live largely independently, other than deferring to Henry (both Henry’s daughters were female landed magnates, and at a level equivalent roughly with Dukes by his death, and at times they both argued like hell with Edward’s administration), and no one could force her to marry but her father who was actively resisting that.
So Mary’s purgatory was some other women’s idea of heaven. Fictional Misselden, here has been doing really well with a whale of a client, and he’s just lost his wife so…
Oh, apparently when you lose the wife it’s too painful to keep using the same mistress (Also, without a Queen to work for it’s hard to justify Misselden staying around, but they could have made it work if they’d wanted to), so Misselden is off and on her way out of the picture.
And paying off royal mistresses was a problem in this period (Roll on Charles II). Women, being less intelligent and more emotional than men could not handle money, and were themselves property in some ways and the law and custom of the time agreed that women with money should really always be a temporary event.
You can’t just leave her with her father, that makes her still a problem, because an unmarried woman remains incomplete, like a package awaiting a deliverer. So you marry her off to a man, bribe the man, and make sure he knows he’s getting that because of her, and she should be OK, and that should finally be that.
But Misselden does not see the value in the middle man. For her, Robert Tavistock is a problematic ex at best, and it sounds like this time the mistress made sure she got paid up front. Henry has “already been more than generous” so let’s assume she’s not just got the manor house, she’s got the whole Country Estate and comfortable money to run it.
Henry is most pleased at her attitude, and for someone with constant demands on him for his favour, a woman who’s sleeping with you but doesn’t want to be Queen must be very refreshing…and then he wants one night of the girlfriend experience as a cherry on top, because he was always going to be that kind of guy.
Misselden (Charlotte Salt) thinks for a good moment before the nod, possibly adding up that Country Estate, and being rich enough to be able to employ a boy to just pick up stuff she’s forgotten to take with her for the rest of her life…and what the consequences of a ‘No’ might look like… and she agrees.
Resume the Hunt
Henry wanders on to the second part of what is, apparently, a multi-agenda driven garden meeting. Sir Francis Bryan is being chivvied to get after Cardinal Pole again. The agenda is in the subtext. There are two Actual Historical quotes, the first of which The Tudors interprets as a clandestine order to Sir Francis to go after Pole’s family, and the second demonstrates Henry’s seriousness about it. But both of those quotes aren’t from Henry (7) they’re from someone else. Henry certainly wasn’t opposed to this course, and he probably had made it known he wanted the Poles out of the picture (8). But figuring out how to do it, and actually making the running on it, and who would work hard to end up benefiting the most from it, and the source of those quotes, was Thomas Cromwell.
We move to Reginald’s undisclosed location:
To find Reginald playing chess and talking with Cardinal Von Sydow Von Waldburg about this very personal politics. Von Sydow Von Waldburg starts with attributing Pole’s recent escape to be a miracle rather than paranoia and excellent nerve. And yes, this was a bit of a homage to the Seventh Seal scene, mentioned by Mark Hildrith in one of the respectful and sweet memorial tweets he wrote about working on these scenes with Von Sydow upon the other actor’s death.
I haven’t been able to find the source for the letter that Pole and Von Sydow Von Waldburg discuss, but a there’s a hist fic novel that quotes it more fully than here. It’s the time honoured device of using someone they love against someone you can’t reach. In this case Reginald’s older brother Lord Montagu is apparently desperate for him to return home, and implies it might affect all their safety.
Pole was a great way to focus Henry’s anger. He had written that blistering book, and he was resident in Rome and working for the Pope while Henry’s excommunication was finally in the works (issued 17th December 1538).
Von Sydow Von Waldburg, who seems to be Reginald’s Papal handler, correctly identifies the voice at work as Cromwell’s and advises him to stay strong with a vivid demonstration and some great lyrical advice. Pole seems to agree, but he steals a nervous look down at the burned paper, right at the end of the scene.
The Empire Strikes Back
With the issuing of the six articles, The Tudors bounces ahead in the timeline like a cybernetic pole vaulter, to June 1539, having spent an awful lot of this sodding episode hanging out with Henry’s angst. Last episode Henry set his working group to define the new doctrines and practices for the Church of England.
He summons Bishop Gardiner to express his disappointment that these two rival factions hadn’t solved religion like he told them to, but he has a nice surprise for Bishop Gardiner.
And the answers to those questions are going to be right up Gardiner’s alley because Cranmer’s opinion is not required and Henry’s been getting reactionary lately.
The Articles of faith of the Church of England are what happens when you put a lot of wordy intellectuals that like to hold committees in charge of a religion. It started with ten Articles, went down to six, went all the way up to 42 articles under Edward, and they finally settled on 39 with Elizabeth.
The Ten Articles were largely directed by Cromwell and Cranmer: Purgatory’s gone, but transubstantiation still works, it all looks pretty catholic to a modern eye but the emphasis is on justification by scripture and faith which were the new ideas. We’ll call that one “A New Hope”.
Then came the Bishops Book in 1537, the “Holiday Special” of the group. Officially approved but somehow not canon, the production of the Bishop’s book was directed largely by Cranmer and other Protestant leaning Bishops. While it got officially licensed, Henry would pull back hard on it, giving every indication he wished it had never been published with over 250 suggested revisions to it by January 1538(9).
And through it all, the Catholic faction got bolder and Cromwell pushed ahead. The dissolution was in full swing, and by summer 1538 the campaign against idolatry had burned most of the shrines of domestic Saints. Thomas Beckett’s went quick, the rebel against royal authority was never poplar with Henry, but it also claimed the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, where Henry and Katherine had prayed for a son so long ago. Cromwell had the images brought to Chelsea and burned (10).
Outreaches to German states didn’t pull Henry into Protestantism and backfired badly at one point when he was made aware of Anabaptism and other far out Protestant ideas (11). Until then, he seems to have had no idea such things existed (Cromwell must have talked around them), let alone in his country and the discovery of a whole new flank to defend against sent him further back into Catholicism.
Cromwell was getting the great Bible printed against Gardiner’s opposition, while conservative Bishops got invited on progress with the King. Cromwell fell ill in April 1539, just before (and probably not coincidentally) Norfolk declared the committee’s failure at the task assigned and asked the King to help settle it. Parliament was called, a political fight ensued with Henry sitting as active arbiter and judge (I’m sure everyone felt entirely free as they desperately tried to read his facial expressions) and the Six Articles came out at the end of it.
The Tudors just goes straight to them being read at out a council meeting, and they are bang on the Catholic traditional side of every question that got asked. We see Cromwell’s increasing despair, Henry’s prim satisfaction and Brandon, Tunstall and Gardiner are delighted. The six articles are read out and set against a montage that includes this meeting, scenes from Cardinal Pole’s daily worship,
and Henry and Misselden’s last assignation.
Cromwell has to sit there, Brandon’s defiant gloating right in his face. The punishments are severe, even trying to go into exile will be Treason. Once they’re all gone, we end where we started with Cromwell and Rich discussing the situation and Cromwell, who needed no one to tell him what time it was, reads Henry down to boots.
The episode ends with Will on the throne, a lopsided crown on his head and laughter echoing down dark halls.
Easy to know what you’re going to free people from, but you can never tell what direction they’ll choose to go once they are free. By all means, try it, and hear history laugh as loud as Will.
24/07/2020 – Did an edit. Changed a photo.
25/07/2020 – Edited more, added the fabulous Barbara Villiers. Will leave it alone now.
05/08/2020 – No I won’t. Added to Barbara Villers’ caption.
Added paragraph about the fighting (Hard Working Cats posted their comment before the edit) now that I’ve found it. The account is from Alison Weir, it does have primary source support(q) but while the primary source gets a lot of detail in about some earlier individual fights, when he gets to the riot he describes a massive brawl (40 guys on one side) that the opposition against order wins (“…they beat all the officers at the Counter into houses”), and gets pretty vague for something that only appears in this letter and I’d really expect to be reading about in Chapuy’s reports, or somewhere else if it happened as described.
Great read as always!
For some reason the random fighting scene sticks in my head as a source of confusion. Why would there suddenly be fighting to the death and someone willing to kill the sergeant right in the palace area??
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As improbable as it seems at first sight, there’s actually historical basis for that, as scant and concise as it may be. Since Autocrat already explained it correctly, let me quote straight from Weir’s book, upon which many of the show’s events appear to be based:
“In April 1538, the ever-simmering tensions at court erupted into violence. One of Lord Hertford’s retainers killed a man in a duel within the verge of the court, then fled to sanctuary in Westminster Abbey. In another incident, a courtier was found murdered, while soon afterwards a brawl between the servants of the Earl of Southampton ended with one being brutally slain. Then Sir Gavin Carew and one of his men picked a fight with a Serjeant of the Household and his Yeoman, which left the Yeoman dead and the Serjeant badly wounded. Cromwell’s own henchmen then weighed in against Carew, who was arrested, and the quarrel spread among the servants of the various lords of the Council, leading to a riot involving forty gentlemen and their retainers. There is no record of what happened next, and no one is known to have been punished. This may have been due to a more urgent crisis intervening. In May 1538, the King fell desperately ill. The abscess or ulcer on his leg closed up and “the humours which had no outlet were like to have stifled him.””
– Chapter 52 (page 315 on my version)
She provides only one source, which is the letter Autocrat points out above. Michael Hirst mentioned been drawn to those rare incidents/historical footnotes, so we may guess he found this one particularly thrilling for this episode. And hell, it works. I was on the edge of my seat first time I saw this episode, didn’t even care who was fighting or why (I was in college at the time, with no money to get my hands on any of the Weir/Starkey/Fraser/Ives books I own now)
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Interesting. Thank you! I was a bit perplexed by that scene, and wondering if I had missed context. Still odd the way it was thrown into the show but… That’s why I’m grateful for finding this site!
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