The Tudors Recap – Season 4 Episode 1: Moment of Nostalgia (Part 2)

Pardon my caprice

Henry’s going on vacation. In the Actual Historical long hot summer of 1540 Henry took his new wife on a bit of an extended hunting tour (1).

The architectural plans in the background are a nice touch, as Henry has some plans for Whitehall, which he fires at Edward Seymour.

From the efficiency of Edward’s catch to his non plussed expression, apparently this happens quite a lot.

Who is attending him today along with Risley, getting him through the admin before he goes away. Henry asks who is imprisoned in The Tower and we get a grab bag of actual historical people who were Henry’s political victims for the 1541-42 Season (Missing Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury who died in 1541, but whose execution was covered in Season 3) . Almost all of them died in the sweep Henry made of the Tower before going on the big Northern Progress with Katherine in 1541. The Tudors puts them all here, a year earlier, before their 1540 holiday.

Edward Seymour lists them out.

Lord Grey, (executed 28th July 1541) seems to be this atrocity pioneer and Lord Deputy of Ireland, who ran afoul of Irish politics. Not, sadly, for his ‘Can kill the civilians too’ attitude, but for helping his nephew escape powerful enemies after a failed conflict.

Lord Lisle (died while imprisoned March 3rd 1542) was the Governor of Calais, and husband of Lady Lisle, the one that was always sending gifts to Henry’s queens to try to get her daughters into court. He was also Arthur Plantagenet, a bastard son of Edward IV. Interesting guy, raised in his father’s court in his early life, we don’t know how he handled the York to Tudor royal house transition, but he got into his half sister Elizabeth of York’s household about 15 years after she became Queen, and when he was probably around 30 years old. From there he served both Henrys on the field of battle and off of it, a combination of his bastardy, loyalty and docile personality keeping him safe.

That was until he rose to become Governor of Calais, got a title, fell out with Cromwell, got seen as a bit ‘too’ Catholic back home, and by 1540 Henry had executed every legitimate Yorkist male relative except Edward Courtenay (still a kid and imprisoned in the Tower) and Cardinal Reginald Pole (not for lack of trying), so benign bastard Arthur Plantagenet was now a little more present in Henry’s vision.

By 1540 Arthur was around 70 years old, and achieving his arrest in May gave Thomas Cromwell hope that his star was back in the ascendant.

But Arthur wasn’t executed, he was just kept in The Tower. The evidence against him hadn’t ‘developed’ after Cromwell’s death (it did give future Historians the Lisle Papers), and Arthur Plantagenet was kind of known for not actually being a threat, one of Cromwell’s repeated complaints about Arthur was that he kept deferring to his wife(2)The story goes that Henry decided to release Arthur in late February/ very early March 1542, the shock gave Arthur a heart attack, and he died a few days later(3).

So it’s also pretty possible that Henry just found it way more convenient to keep one of the last Yorkists under lock and key, and then when the harmless old dude died, Henry realized this was not a great look for him and boom. He’d been planning to release him. In fact he had released him. The old guys’ heart had given out. Could have happened.

It’s just “Ah yes, the old gentleman. We released him, and then he died before we could let him out, see” is one of those statements that significantly widens your eyes as you hear it, particularly from Tower guards working for Henry VIII.

Posthumously or not, Henry’s decision to exonerate Arthur also meant that Lady Lisle got released, and his family got to keep his goods, and their most of their status in Tudor society.

Sir John Neville (executed 15th June 1541) is named as having been the leader of…

a ‘disturbance’ which really hasn’t happened yet. And was actually still at the ‘conspiracy’ stage and he wasn’t accused of being the leader, Sir John Neville was arrested and executed for failing to report it (4).

Thomas Fiennes, Lord Dacre (executed 29th June 1541) , was not, as The Tudors would tell you a cousin of Queen Katherine Howard’s. But through his father he was a second or third cousin to future Queen Catherine Parr.

I think The Tudors makes him a cousin of Katherine’s because Lord Dacre’s story is a good demonstration of Henry’s very arbitrary sense of justice. Having him be Katherine’s cousin makes a nice contrast to Surrey who’s also related to her and just got rewarded, what will it do to the quest for mercy for Lord Dacre?

The age is right. The Tudors’ version leads the viewer to imply Lord Dacre was the leader but he was more just a member of the group. There probably was drinking, but it wasn’t like they just came across the guy and killed him. It was a poaching expedition, and there were 8 of them. The old man, John Busebridge and his son caught them and the older man was killed in an ensuing fight. They were all tried, found guilty and sentenced to death.(5)

According to the William Paget, Henry’s Secretary, the sentence of hanging came out of the trial and that was what all the guilty got (except the son of Sir Thomas Cheyney, who got pardoned).(6) Henry didn’t really choose the ‘ignoble’ punishment of hanging, so much as let it go ahead when he was clearly being expected to moderate it in some way.

The eyebrows could take a beam out

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey calls upon Anne Seymour for a totally ahistorical seduction sub plot. Surrey starts by suggesting that he came to see Edward,

No, I totally did.

To ask a man he hates for advice about a subject he’s very proud of being good at. He wanted to ask Edward for some military advice, that’s why he’s here. Except maybe… he stares for a couple of seconds and the mood takes a bit of a turn.

Alan Van Sprang’s Sir Francis Bryan is so heavily implied in that sentence he should get a credit this week.

As we’ve covered before, actual historical Anne Stanhope was not known for extra marital promiscuity, and her and Edward’s deal didn’t appear half as weird as the dynamic The Tudors gives them. She was known for being bolshy.

Oh, things could get interesting in a hurry if Anne takes Surrey as her new lover. Although she and her husband seemed like a very united front in the big court scene.

What’s going on here, then?

Better Beginnings

We are in the Queens rooms, which have had a facelift for Katherine and are just an exquisite space, but also a bit of a mess right now. Katherine is being packed for the hunting trip,

Tudor matched luggage sets!

when she notices a favorite set of shoes, unpacked and unpackaged, she calls Sir Edward, one of her senior male servants.

And give Sir Edward his due, his duties might be considered on the light side, but if that 17-18 year old Queen tells him to look after her shoes, he’s going to diligently look after those shoes.

The bustle and industry is interrupted by news of an unexpected visit from the King.

Yeah. How many pieces in that set?

Actually historically it seems it was Queen Katherine who initiated the meetings with her two younger step children (7). The one with Edward was turned into a small event in Essex, where Henry and Katherine visited Edward and Mary and both their households. There was a bit of a reconciliation between Katherine and Mary (not a warm one, but enough. Henry invited Mary back to court, Katherine “countenanced it with a good grace”)(7)

In The Tudors Henry sweeps in and makes the introductions including Lady Bryan (Jane Brennan) who’s wearing some padding and has had other aging work done since S3.

And Katherine and Edward get on the second they meet. She’s a fun, nonthreatening, pretty adult that’s willing to play, and he’s, like, five and not tired or hungry at the moment. It goes great.

Henry’s love and concern for Edward’s physical care come up in the interactions. One of the things The Tudors gets right is making Edward comparatively healthy. There is a tradition that he was a sickly child, but other than the occasional illness he generally kept very well. Edward’s death at a young age, and Henry’s particular concern for his health as a child created the later impression Edward was frail when he was young, but he really wasn’t.

And everyone agreed the visit had been a great success.

The next visitor is the future Big E.

And in her final form for this series.

Laoise Murray will now play Elizabeth to the end of the series, and it’s a limited role but she does it very well. Edward has one more actor change to go. They’ve been aged up a little, Edward was 3 and a half, Elizabeth nearly 8 when they met Queen Katherine, but unless you’re going to change child actors every two episodes that’s inevitable.

Elizabeth, like her sister, has a bit of a custom curtsey. Mary’s curtsey is all about impeccable manners and grace. Elizabeth’s is efficient, charming and a little bit cocky. The down and up is efficiently quick, and it’s slightly asymmetrical like Mary’s, but while Mary breaks eye contact, bows her head, and echoes the movement gracefully with her arms, Elizabeth keeps her arms down, back straight, head up, and she just dips her eyes for a moment.

The meeting goes very well, and Katherine gives her a necklace, nice but not really expensive as royal jewelry went, as she is reported to have done historically (8). Elizabeth is surprised, and pleased and very gracious.

And suddenly step-motherhood isn’t looking quite so bad as it was when Katherine was getting run over by Mary the Ice Tank.

But the undercard star of this exchange is the guy who is watching it, but keeps drifting a thousand or more miles away, or is it just 6 years?

On The Tudors subreddit a couple of years ago /u/sulliedandunusual posted about the subtext of Henry being reminded of Anne Boleyn in later seasons, because he keeps drifting off when Elizabeth’s around. I had noticed a couple of instances, including this one, but I missed one in the next episode that they also pointed out.

It’s difficult for Henry to be in the room with Elizabeth, she’s a living reminder of her mother, and who’s he going to be angry at, now? He does it a bit in the gif above but he really zones out at the end.

He’s frozen so long I’m amazed the gif is watchable.

The distance shown between Henry and Elizabeth is quite appropriate because, Actually Historically, Katherine visited Elizabeth without Henry. We know about it because of the barge bill (She and Elizabeth traveled on the Thames to meet at Chelsea)(9). It was also basically private, unlike the meeting with Edward and Mary.

Dynastically Elizabeth was quite low ranked, her only large political connection left after the Boleyn purge were the Howards, and they now had a new Queen and maybe a new succession to invest in. She was still a child, the wrong gender, and tainted by her mother getting publicly executed for multiple adultery including incest. Compared to her two illustrious siblings, Elizabeth at 8 was not quite an irrelevance, but she wasn’t a current political concern, and doubtless she was kind of painful for Henry to spend time with.

We also get a little look at Henry and Katherine’s relationship in this scene, and things are going well for Henry and his second Katherine. Of course his mood might also have been affected by Anne’s old trash tiara, currently haunting Katherine’s head.

I have an inanimate object nemesis, so that’s new. You know it’s made it into every season?

And it’s time to get out the big asterisk and point out that, as with quite a few story lines this week, all of these meetings happened in 1541, just before Henry and Katherine left for the Northern Progress. It’s almost like a big plot development is coming in mid 1541 for which The Tudors needs to clear the decks. I’m pleased at the historical detail makes it in there, and I don’t think that moving them by a year seriously changes the dynamics of the story lines concerned this week.

It’s about transparency in royal justice

You know what needs to come back in? Kicky legal satchels.

It’s Risley’s. He’s on his way to see Edward Seymour.

Oh, dear, it’s a death satchel? The buff suede fooled me. It’s less cute now but probably worth more.

Risley takes a moment to lament the case of Lord Dacre.

And Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford is having none of it. Risley doesn’t think much of that, while he’s safely out of Edward’s eyeline. And while the case of Lord Dacre is often quoted as evidence of Henry’s capricious and cruel nature, and it is but I also think we might be in danger of just accepting quite a lot of the historical spin, unchecked.

23 was young, but not ‘young’ young for a Tudor, it’s 1541, there’s a 14 year old imprisoned in The Tower for basically nothing, the pension for senior government positions is you get to spin the wheel when half the segments are ‘Death at The Tower’, and Gardiner and others are starting the religious persecution of the Protestants, early stages, but it’s starting to roll. Why is the court so suddenly so goddamn sentimental about a guy that (presumably) helped kill an old man during a crime?

What brought on all this romanticism for the court was the ‘Lord’ in front of Dacre’s name. He was one of them, part of the court, a 1 percenter, this wasn’t supposed to happen to him, and some of them were outraged. Dacre earned from property rent the Tudor equivalent of about half a million a year modern. He had powerful friends and relatives who had access to the King’s Council, got a meeting with there and who yelled loud enough to be heard by William Paget, Henry’s Secretary, through two closed doors (10).

And that might be where they went very wrong. because Henry was such a bastard in this case I think he might have heard (or heard about) some of that. Particularly as Sir Thomas Cheyney‘s son managed to just squeak away from the same charge with a pardon.

You didn’t demand stuff from Henry, you didn’t march in and give his council shit. You requested it with as much humility as you could stomach and a lot more. You remembered you were talking to not just a King but the Lord’s Anointed. Walking on your knees might help. How’s your grovelling?

Lord Dacre’s advocates got the council to raise it with Henry, but Henry remained unmoved. According to Wriothesley’s Chronicle a representative of the Lord Chancellor (Audley at that time) dramatically stopped the execution party just as they were about to leave The Tower:

“…came and commanded, in the king’s name, to stay the execution until two of the clock.”(11)

Which fueled speculation that Lord Dacre might just be pardoned, and a long wait that must’ve felt longer and who knows what was speculated. Then the time came, and Henry hanged him anyway. Just a bit late.

My name is Henry Tudor and I’m here to make it clear. You’re all ants to me, baby, that’s why you’re cowering in fear.

And for all the talk of public sympathy, according to another contemporary chronicle, while the crowd was saddened at most of the executions arising from this, the one the crowd lamented most was John Mantell who had been executed the previous day (12).

Close as I am to being on Edward Seymour’s side on something, that’s about to fade away as Anne comes stalking up with a question.

That could be interpreted a lot of ways.

And the answer is no, he didn’t. In fact, Surrey has been badmouthing the Seymours pretty liberally, taking particular exception to their ‘not exalted enough’ birth. So Edward wonders if Surrey might ‘deal’ with Anne.

That’s probably a semi-hard yes.

Because it’s apparently the season to send your wife out to her politically useful lovers, not the season for threatening your wife’s politically useful lovers. Of course, Anne’s tragedy is that what she’d really like is to be close to her husband but that is basically impossible. She’s all about Seymour family loyalty here. She’s touching his shoulders and inviting physicality while she asks Edward about approaching Surrey, and he evidently does not want to be here for it.

If Edward is asexual, he’s an asexual tosspot. That woman is owed a reasonable conversation about how you just don’t enjoy physical intimacy Edward, not this permanent underlying aggression. Maybe he’s gay and it’s under so much repression it’s coming out as aggression towards his wife. I still don’t quite have an idea of what his deal is, but it somehow always involves being an asshole.


You know what temperature it is all episode, with direction, performance, make up and lighting all at work to tell you it is hot, hot, hot. The camera and sound help out with this next bit, as Foley artists give us the singing of summer insects, and the camera focus wobbles to try an approximate a heat haze. It works well.

And I think a yellow filter, too.

And it appears in Tamzin Merchant we have a Queen that can actually ride alongside JRM. JRM has either ridden a hell of a lot or is a natural, and he’s good enough that it could be both. She’s got a good seat, solid balance, she looks relaxed, and she can afford to take her attention of the horse for a few seconds at a time, at canter. That’s pretty good going for an actress in a cumbersome costume (although the bigger the costume, the more likely that you can avoid riding side saddle).

Inside Old Castle House, Berkshire we see that the Great Halls owned by minor Nobility and strong Gentry haven’t moved on that far, architecturally, from the better Anglo Saxon examples. The roof is probably a lot better, but the floor is compressed earth, some of the walls undressed stone, and you can just about see between some of the wood slats comprising the other walls.

But there’s a hog roast, and look at that platter. They are putting on an excellent time.

The music is simpler than we normally find at court, but bright and fun. The Queen and her ladies are dancing a jaunty number, and Henry and Sir William and everyone else is appreciating the food and wine.


And then Henry sees Sir Richard Rich arrive, and it’s time for some bullshit.

It’s the Cowbridge incident, again. In May 1541 Henry landed 2000 troops and Surrey and Thomas Seymour were members of the party. So far, The Tudors and Actual History agree, but then we start diverging a bit.

This thing was started by Henry secretly and suddenly rush fortifying a part of the French-Calais border in August 1540 (13) that had never been entirely agreed upon. It rumbled on for over a year, the visit talked about here went kind of OK and it didn’t resolve anything(14).

By the time we got to May/June 1541, the Cowbridge border had started to stabilize. Everyone had fortified, the English sure weren’t coming any further, and no one wanted to go to war over the Cowbridge and about 500 yards of France if they could help it.

But the significance of all this was the same as it is given in The Tudors. If Henry wanted a big, tangible, foreign victory, if he wanted to equal Henry V, his time was running low and it would have to be France. Any other option was either a far lesser opponent, or needed France as a very solid ally, and that was not the relationship Henry had with France or Francis.

Henry was slowly stalking a war, and whenever he fishes his wish, a forward fortified border at Calais is going to be damn useful.

And then director Dearhbla Walsh pulls focus to Culpeper, checking on Henry before he steals a look at Katherine and explores an idea she’s actually been quietly playing with since the scene started.

It’s about the male gaze (specifically the kind that’s also speculating about having an erection soon) and the danger inherent in it for Katherine. Culpeper is definitely the freakiest. Culpeper would have me reaching for the pepper spray. But it’s everywhere around her, and focused on her regardless of what she does. Because that’s not a sexy dance, that’s just a dance. She’s not demanding attention from anyone except Henry, Katherine is just having a good time tonight.

No matter what is being projected.

In bed with power

We move to Henry and Katherine in bed, in all this heat.

Also, Henry could you just not? Her back is very sweaty, at least wait till we’re out of close up.

I imagine there’s quite a lot of temptation to being in bed with a lot of power. Katherine judges Henry’s mood to be good, so when he asks her the question above, she makes a bit of a move.

And fails for the first time. “Give it time” was decidedly not the answer she was looking for. Henry’s reactions are gold. His relationship with his eldest daughter is where he needs it to be. It’s in a comfortable place for him right now, and Mary is an important political piece that is being nicely obedient. Henry also clearly has no appetite for adjudicating the female relationships in his life. They can sort that out themselves.

A key note of The Tudors’ Katherine Howard is that she’s a very physical human animal, tied to instincts, pleasure and physical experiences. So the sex she immediately then tries to initiate might just come from the moment, or it might be a reaction to the fact that she doesn’t have enough power to give Mary a good hard shove yet.

Anyway, Henry’s too tired. So they table it for the moment, and he says good night. All still very loving and stable, he’s just been riding all day and feasting all night and he’s near 50.

Katherine falls back on the bed, possibly a little frustrated, and shortly afterward the door opens and someone comes a creepin’ in. It’s Joan Bulmer, who jumps into Katherine’s bed with a giggle.

It is really presumptuous of Joan, and Katherine is manifestly not here for it. None of those responses are inviting Joan to stay. In attitude, body language and speech, Katherine is heavily implying she’s a bit shocked at what Joan has done and she should leave now, particularly with that utterly unmeant smile and “I told you to mind what you say”. She should be able to tell her just to ‘piss off’ but she can’t, for the same reason she had to give Joan a job. Joan, on the other hand, is trying to reforge their old connection.

Joan was part of, and and must have known near everything of what went on in The Duchesses’ house at Horsham, Chesworth House. She was a few years older than Katherine (15), and according to Manox she had a fling with Francis Dereham at some point before Katherine did(16). She was the highly inefficient chaperone when the Dowager Duchess finally caught Katherine and Francis together(17), and she seems to have been a key player in the ‘alternative living style’ Francis Dereham brought to the house.

The ‘puffing and blowing’ between Katherine and Francis Dereham, in her bed at night became a well known phenomenon in the maiden’s chamber, with one girls asking to change beds because of it (18).

It seems a risky tack for Joan to be bringing up what Katherine clearly doesn’t want her to talk about, but the memories are fond, and Katherine is currently fooling herself about the seriousness of her earlier relationship with Dereham. Joan cannot resist bringing up her weapon, that she knows the past.

Joan is very reassuring when Katherine confronts her on it. She’s aware of the life this change in fortune has given her, she’s not going to blab.

And certainly compared to Francis when he turns up Joan is a good conspirator. That’s kind of what she’s demonstrating here. “Look here we are, close to the dangerous secret, but see how very careful I am being with it.”Katherine makes her swear, on her life, not to talk about it, and she specifically tells her not to tell any of her other ladies.

Katherine insists on a literal pinkie swear, which Joan does willingly. It all seems a bit childlike, but it’s kind of sweet in that it’s probably what they did years ago, during their last adventures. She’s going to reforge the relationship by being in on another secret affair of Katherine’s, but that affair will be accelerated and made more sure by the fact that Joan is going to fail that oath, specifically in the way Katherine tells her not to.

Joan’s life just got exiting again, the world got some colour back, and who is the absolute centre of all of it but her old friend, chum…and…

Oh, and former same sex sexual experimentation buddy? OK.

Well, sure, that could be very useful in reforging that connection Joan. And she’s doing exactly what Katherine just did with Henry, trying to seduce power. But Katherine is not into discreet lesbian experimentation any more, and under a sheen of hilarity that covers the order and makes if feel like old times, points out that she is the Queen and directly tells Joan, for the second damn time now not counting all the hints and signals, to get out of her bed.

Dangerous projections

We are in what looks to be a nice small servant’s hall as Katherine’s servant Sir Edward and Sir Richard Rich trade some good humoured joshing about the fact that a barrel of ale appears to have opened itself.

It’s a nice dynamic. Richard Rich is slumming it a bit, he’s had to travel from London and may well be just staying the night but he’s a minister of state, and he’s hanging out with the servant’s branch. He and Sir Edward seem to get along, but Rich is clearly the senior guy in the room.

Sir Richard sits down opposite Thomas Culpeper, who is remote and quiet, until he says this.

Stop. Hammertime.

Queen Katherine wasn’t acting wanton tonight. Katherine was acceptably dressed, having a good time, dancing a non seductive dance with only her ladies and seemed to be focused on Henry. If, at the end of the evening, Thomas Culpeper’s overriding thought is that “By God, she’s wanton”, it’s a result of the alcohol and the all the thoughts he brought with him marinating for several hours. It has absolutely nothing to do with how Katherine behaved this evening.

The fact that he ends up being reasonably right about that is going to be an unfortunate coincidence for everyone.

He’s trying to get others on the same page, he’s seen their looks, and he knows what’s been going through his head.

Rich knows what the deal is.

“Have you any idea how self destructive you’re being right now?”

Although it’s this look he gives him right afterwards that I like best. Rich is silent, serious, and suddenly assessing the shit out of Culpeper, while staring him right in the eyes, despite being pretty drunk.

So what do I do about you now?

Rich makes his calculation. He decides it’s dumb drunk talk, but dumb drunk talk that needs to stop now. He stands, and says goodnight, with heavy subtext. Before he goes, he tells them to get themselves to bed.

Once he’s gone, the reasoning for Culpeper’s decision to share his thoughts is made plain. He’d like some company on a rape expedition.

Well, it can get dangerous if there’s only one of you.

In the morning, before they head out, Queen Katherine starts throwing some interesting glances Culpeper’s way.

And he notices.

So the Culpeperapist?

I’m going to have to go with ‘No’.

The story does have a leg to stand on. Unlike Catherine Fillol banging her father in law, or Jane Boleyn incest accuser this accusation is contemporary, and from a pretty good source. It’s from a section of the Zurich letters written by Richard Hilles to Heinreich Bullinger.(19)

Hilles wasn’t living in England at the time. He did visit quite a lot, kept a house there and he was reasonably clued in to English politics, particularly religious politics. He was a cloth merchant (His section of the Zurich letters are also filled with a lot of cloth and money talk) whose business was based abroad so he lived abroad much of the time. Through his adult life he did that a whole a lot more when Protestants were being persecuted, for he was a hot one.

His letters were to Heinrich Bullinger a prominent Protestant theologian, who opened the city of Zurich up to English Protestant exiles, and this is how a lot of this correspondence survived. Hilles apparently wrote in terrible Latin. The author admits his Latin is bad and later commentaries who translated the original make a point of saying how bad the Latin is.(20)

His reporting is generally good, and pretty straight, though he does love a religious lesson, and one of his core beliefs and instruction he takes from the world around him is that God is active and working in it. And he underlines it at the end of this story by stating what a good lesson it is that in Culpeper’s ultimate fate that God does not allow wickedness to go unpunished, with the subtext even if Henry does.

The thing is, no one else ever mentions this rape, and murder, and pardon concerning a very prominent courtier who became infamous. It’s all retrospective, he writes after Culpeper’s execution, when both the worst truths and biggest libels are likely to pop up, and no one else whose writing has survived and would be more likely to know about it than a well connected merchant basically visiting but living abroad ever mentions it.

He never mentions Culpeper’s name, either, and he starts, if he is claiming Culpeper, with a mistake.

One of the parties, who was first hanged and afterwards beheaded and quartered for adultery with the Queen…

That’s Francis Dereham. Culpeper was just beheaded. The thing is, the second paragraph doesn’t make sense for Dereham at all. So yeah, he probably is saying it’s Culpeper but it’s not a great start.

The Tudors is faithful to the source, adds a little colour to it and gives the characters life.

…was one of the King’s chamberlains: and two years before, or less, had violated the wife of a certain park keeper

Played by Claire Brown who does really well with a tough scene.
That’s might be the most fucking repulsive suggestion I’ve ever heard.

in a woody thicket, while, horrid to relate! three or four of his most profligate attendants were holding her at his bidding.

Yeah, she doesn’t get away. But we do cut away before the rape.

For this act of wickedness, he was, notwithstanding, pardoned by the king.

The apres-rape party is small but joyous.
Well, it gets a little awkward when her husband shows up.

after he had been delivered into custody by villagers for his crime, and likewise

And when he’s not cowed by some snobbery and implication,
finally Culpeper starts to sweat a bit.

for a murder which he had committed in his resistance to them, when they first endeavoured to apprehend him.

And when he refuses a bribe, stabs the guy.

God, who is just, will not always suffer wickedness, either here or elsewhere, to go unpunished.” (19)

And what puts it over the edge for me is the description of a murder as well as the rape committed and him actually being taken into custody. Before that a crime against a woman could have flown under the radar, but in custody for murder and rape, and a pardon from Henry, official or otherwise, not noted by anyone else at the time or after. No place names, not even a county, no names, not even the perpetrator’s, nothing to check and a convenient religious lesson that makes Henry look bad and his court hopelessly corrupt.

I might be due a heavy slap from a park keeper’s wife from way back in history, but it seems far more likely that it’s a mangled story, that got attached to someone now infamous.

The Joy of Consent

Let’s go get a palette cleanser, shall we?

For a very different encounter, all about consent and pleasure

with your political opponent’s wife,

Asking first? Assuring terms are agreed?You be as ahistorical as you like, Surrey.

who is apparently down for some digital stimulation.

Muddy puddle

Back out in the recently besmirched Berkshire countryside, members of Henry’s court have shown up for that council meeting Henry walked about at the beginning. They ride up and come across a group of women so well protected they can have a mud fight in a big puddle in their underwear quite safely.

Henry walks around the corner so he was here already, and, smiling, decides to call a halt.

There are dubious faces in the group. Rich is going along with it, but their host, Sir William is embarrassed. Brandon has a polite smile that becomes a concerned look periodically, and Edward Seymour is like “Can you believe this?”

She’s on a consort’s throne once held by political titans, Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, and she is a young, innocent lightweight. Katherine Howard is just not on that level and it’s obvious. But as long as she has Henry, her star will rise, and she’s safe. She’d be still safer if she were pregnant.

Barn Council

I mean, it’s a hall, but it’s very brown compared to what we’re used to.

Seymour gets asked for his report, and there’s been a brief plague outbreak which is looking better now, those building works have been started, and those executions were all carried out. He gets a brief nod from Henry, who then sits everyone down.

Everyone is a bit shocked when Henry decides to release 500 prisoners accused of heresy.

I mean, sure, but it’s hardly been your MO to date has it?

He is reassured on Edward’s health, and reassess the French situation in light of a recent marriage proposal (for the wrong son, again. Henri was the dauphin now and he was already married) for Mary by Francis. This overture is welcomed and everyone agrees that

I think it was the other way around, you decided to test France, but alright.

And the meeting ends with a noted advance for Katherine’s status as Queen. First, everyone whips their head around as he says “Now about Queen Katherine” because when that’s the start of Henry’s sentence, who knows how it will end? It ends in a concerning matter for the Seymours, (a new Queen is a dubious proposition to the old Queen’s family, even if she did die while still loved and leave a son behind), and a good time to be a member of the palace personalisation team.

Well, the rain came

The camera rolls out to Henry and Katherine, in bed, with a bit of puffing and blowing, but we’re still in foreplay territory when Katherine calls a halt.

Henry can’t hear what it is to begin with, perhaps his ears are getting old. But the heat has broken, the rain has come and it is time for all sensual creatures to run out and see hear breathe in and feel the change that has come upon the world.

The camera lingers on Katherine’s increasingly translucent nightdress, as she delights in the rain. And the score reflects her pure joy, but late on it brings in something a bit darker to meet it as we see the Henry is not the only one watching her intensely.


  1. Damn this is good reading. I get de-railed by Wiki-surfing every time I read one of your recaps.

    Got dinged with an indeterminate Covid test today and am awaiting results of the re-test, and was feeling stressed and sorry for myself, and then this recap went live 🙂 Thank you for brightening my day!

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  2. Thank you thank you- I just saw this came out! I think I might have been going through withdrawal from your recaps and it has been a difficult time here for a lot of people. I haven’t even read it all but I really wanted to just tell you I so appreciate the time and effort these take. You know me well enough now that I will post more after I process all. Geez not to sound like a total freak but I really needed this! I know so much is going on everywhere and am not so egocentric to think that I have just had a rough time so I thank you for everyone that reads your posts, as it provides intellectual stimulation and makes me laugh a lot- I mean like ALOT….and I’m so sick of being sick and over thinking about life and politics. It’s so wonderful to have something that is so damn entertaining but also filled to the brim with knowledge. Best to you and thank you again for beating your own deadline (it was like the 28th or so- so go you!!) and the next is coming soon as well- mid feb or 11-14 which is sooner than I had expected but now so psyched!!! I had withdrawal signs, anhedonia, lack of interest of anything except thinking about the world too much, mind numbing boredom and looking for something that entertained me but wasn’t gratuitous violence or sex….I mean I suppose those have a time and place for some people and I can respect that…Its just
    Not my thing (and No I am not one of those annoying pretenders that is an intellectual elitist. They bug them crap out of me but to each their own I
    Suppose. I have done some seriously stupid things and don’t regret them. C’est la vie…) Seriously, you bring me cheer when nothing else does, distraction from the minutiae that does not cause apoptosis or loss of brain cells by being bored to death by bad tv (I know one persons junk is another’s treasure and I so don’t judge). Just for me, I’m grateful you do this, truly! I will be back ….😉 ps. I’m really not a huge geek. (Or maybe I am, don’t care). I just enjoy quality and and laughing a lot…

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  3. Oh I’m sorry- I hope your test turned out okay Anna. I’m sorry I meant to add that. Autocrat is the best at taking your mind off of worries….prolly bc she has a really nice sofa and big brain…? Anyhow I tend to comment a lot and I hope you are okay. Best wishes to you!

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  4. Wow comprehensive recap, sooo enjoyed it! I want to live in your world. Okay, I imagine tea and crumpets and long talks about whatever and at times some shortbread cookies and a Riesling or gewürztraminer. Or maybe something less sweet, I like dry. I know you have a wide range of tastes and make fabulous hors d’oeuvres to entrees and desserts. I especially like anything in ramekins and the little flame thing to finish creme brûlée…oh right. Back to the point…

    Edward Seymour was an odd duck. Really he is and acts in a way that is both overt to insidiously belittling to his wife (which I now know from Autocrat that this wasn’t Historically accurate but he was supposed to be sort of off). He does not beat his wife or cheat on her (I’m not giving kudos for that) but he does not love her and he does not even try to hide the fact she is low in the list of priorities and just just diminishes her when he feels like it. I actually like the actor that portrays him but his character is a jerk. Sir Francis Bryan is clearly a kiss and tell type in the Tudors and I almost (but not really) wish she had an affair with Surrey. Although she probably saw that he loved himself so much and his political aspirations much like her drag of a husband so didnt… now Max Brown is hot in real life but this character pisses me off. Sometimes.

    Arthur Plantagenet was another example of Henry’s cruel irony. Punishing a man in his 70’s while no danger at all to the throne, and then he dies. Maybe he did it on purpose- I mean I certainly would of wanted say screw you Henry I’m going to die now so you look like the insecure asshat you are….mmm but I know that’s just me…nice spin Henry. I know some politicians that learned from you…

    I did not know Queen Katherine asked to meet the two younger children. That makes me think she was intelligent to some extent and wanted to have a good relationship with Henry’s children. Mary, oh Mary. My heart breaks for you at times and I find you absolutely insufferable at a very small amount of times. You’re curtesy is gorgeous (I think I said I tried to do it and fell over laughing) – she can project so much warmth or coldness into it- it’s quite a bit striking of body language. And dear Katherine, she just told you to f….fall off…the top of a Mountain (I mean she literally conveying F off but I don’t know if I can’t say that) Katherine does not register this at first…making me see her as a little naive and also it shows a sweetness about her. That she tried and wanted to have a good relationship. But Mary, and I can understand her feelings but is a too cold for me, wants no relationship. Ouch. But it’s good to know they will play pretend friends at some time… Elizabeth was of not much consequence then but since we all know history I watch her intently. I find she charming and very well played by the young actress. You see her warmth towards those that will give affection. Okay so her dad is not very comfortable around her due to memories or her mother Anne Boleyn but….who’s the adult here Henry? Like it’s this child’s fault. Oh I forgot Henry is not always adult like and at many times lacks the ability to see anything beyond his own view. JK I didn’t really forget but come on Henry, grow up.

    I find Culpeper just gross. He embodies the type of male I avoid at all costs. But I am not 17 and a queen… still he personally grosses me out just by his lecherousness. Interesting facts autocrat….didn’t know. I have to say the actor pulled this off so well I worried he was this gross until I saw him briefly in something else and sighed to myself, and said okay that was just acting. Because I would’ve totally gone for pepper spray.

    Not to be picky but wasn’t that nightgown Jane Seymour was buried in? I mean when Katherines is dancing in the rain and that lech is watching her…I mean culpeper. I know I know it’s just a show. But I enjoy it so very much! Thank you autocrat, pls keep
    Sitting on your sofa and writing….am so looking forward to the next! I can’t believe I didn’t see this had come out until recently. So much more information than I knew. Btw have you ever done a recap on any of the starz series- the White Queen, white princess, The Spanish Princess. Please let me know- I quite enjoyed the first one ( white Queen) – I know it was not historically accurate (but I don’t know the extent of it) but I enjoyed how it included so many characters and stories.

    Thanks for these great recaps 😊Best!!!

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