Sun and Moon
Morning has broken and we open with the Sun and Moon (The Moon is now on thematic duty for Katherine Howard) shining down from the same sky on a springtime Whitehall.
As evidence of his increasing need for privacy in later life, Henry created a new level of private apartments in this period. These ‘Secret Lodgings’ were built in many of his palaces (1), and were a more private space than the Privy Apartments. In The Tudors we’re still in the same rooms we have always been in but the demonstrated increased need for privacy is the same.
Culpeper is dressing a recently recovered Henry in the finery required of Kingship. It’s taking more care and time and scaffolding than it used to to project the image Henry needs to convey.
Throughout the process Culpeper is careful and respectful, close to reverent.
The Tudors might make you feel that Henry has, like, one guy in his retinue but with the building of the secret lodgings, that he might spend days in at a time, the personal staff fulfilling the original role of body servants would have been even closer to him and fewer. After becoming England’s Admin, there was a reasonable amount of public business going on in the Privy Chamber.
The Privy Chamber was also becoming like a department, members might be in charge of the movement of his belongings, or mainly politicians, appointed to the Privy Chamber so the King could speak to them more easily.
Culpeper’s role was certainly one that was still all about personal service to the sovereign. And he’s shown here as a vital support to Henry in his role as King and it ends in a lovely little moment of recognition from both of them.
And The King is ready to face the world again. He’s going to start with the Queen, who is at her dancing lessons. She and her ladies are learning something complicated and really very graceful from a French dancing master, with accompaniment on the harpsichord, violin and cello.
Joan Bulmer is intent on the recently memorized steps and she’s not doing it gracefully, with her mouth a little open, steps a bit heavy, but she is concentrating and getting it right. Jane Boleyn, veteran of many such lessons is doing much better, and seems to appreciate what she’s being taught. She’s by far the most polished dancer of the group and shoots a few looks at Queen Katherine through the scene, who is messing about.
The dancing master takes over with a demonstration, and while Katherine plays up to her four junior ladies, who are supplying her with an audience today, a secret audience arrives quietly at the door.
They go to have lunch together, and Henry says that he hasn’t seen her in a while. She goes back to that moment when she was very concerned by that and couldn’t get an answer on it.
The fact that she started seeing Culpeper in that period gets unknowingly referenced by Henry, causing some staring across the room from Jane Boleyn and real careful blankness from Bulmer.
The Giving of Gifts
Henry notices that it’s Surrey, a relative of Katherine, serving the wine today. Henry starts his gift giving today with a place in the Order of the Garter for him. Henry asks if it pleases him.
And you know, I think he is. As is becoming a familiar refrain from me, this all happened a bit later. Only by a month or so, though. Surrey became a member of the Order of the Garter on 23rd April 1541, in the period when Katherine was believed to be pregnant. Along with a grant for one of her brothers a the time, there was bit more politics in this appointment then The Tudors suggests, and the fuel from Katherine’s apparent pregnancy certainly helped. (2)
Still, Henry Howard is actually pleased by something. As he’ll mention later, his father and grandfather were both members of the Order. Surrey gets to climb the league table of Howards (the only league table that counts, surely). He looks around to see if anyone worthwhile (perhaps even another Howard) was in the room to notice his elevation.
Then Henry drops the titular line and gives Katherine a honking great probably sapphire ring.
Katherine declares it beautiful, Henry declares her beautiful and they share a tender if underlyingly horny moment. But that pressure to conceive is getting everywhere now. Also Henry has mentioned that he’s going away for a few days. Whatever he’s doing it was apparently on his mind during his seclusion.
As a distraction from that pressure, Katherine stares intently at Culpeper once Henry has left the room.
When they were Demi Gods
Henry, recently recovered from a serious illness, and probably also carrying more than one long term, untreated chronic illness, is leaving the palace when a bishop approaches him. One thing that’s easy to underestimate from our point in history is the sheer amount of suffering humans went through before the modern age. We still go through plenty now, but laws and economics and technology and above all, medicine have been alleviating the suffering inherent in the human condition, where they can, for centuries. We still suffer, but humanity has been fighting the good fight and beating back universal helpless suffering for a long time, now.
The bishop has brought a group of Henry’s ‘poor, suffering subjects’. And, yeah, they probably were.
Kings were believed to be divinely appointed, and affirmed through a religious ceremony (the Coronation). Add to that Henry’s self appointment as the head of the Church of England and he was believed to be an actual conduit for the grace of God.
Faith healing by the King was a thing for a very long time. What we have evidence for was a lot more specific than this instance given to us by The Tudors. The only believed cure for Scrofula (a form of TB that came with seriously enlarged lymph nodes) for most of History was the touch of the King, and later in history Charles II’s enthusiastic revival of the ceremony of ‘Touching for the King’s Evil’ and William III’s refusal to countenance it, showed their people and later history where each of them stood on the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ debate.
And Henry, recently recovered from an acute bout of illness, is solemn and thoughtful and might even be experiencing some flutterings of empathy as he turns from what he was doing to his lowliest and most needful subjects.
He carries on down the line, blessing a man with a hunchback, and another with eye disease/injury. The people he doesn’t bless touch him lightly and reverently, as for them he is a actual conduit to God. Henry is also reverent and deliberate, but his attention is caught by a woman on the end who is sick and has lost her hair. Something about her plight touches him and he kneels down and actually makes a connection with her.
Henry, who needs a mounting block to get on his horse now, was recently in his own bed, shivering with a fever and can barely raise his head as he prepares to leave. But he does, and those outstretched arms go up with all the suffering of his people and the only thing he has for them is a hope empty of everything except a placebo. He can’t even cure himself.
The Gift of Knowledge for a mind like a fire
We go to Hever Castle, which Henry had inherited from Thomas Boleyn, and had now given to Anne of Cleves as part of her annulment settlement. We peek over the mezzanine rail at familiar whitewashed walls and see Anne Boleyn’s daughter at her dance lessons.
It’s all a lot more dignified and composed than Katherine’s earlier dance lesson. Here Elizabeth is under the watchful eye of the dance mistress and the appreciative eyes of Anne of Cleves and the attendant ladies, who include Kat Ashley, centre of the group of three on the left.
Anne is delighted and applauds Elizabeth’s progress, when unexpected applause arrives from above and we see whose POV we’ve been watching through.
Henry greets and kisses Anne far more warmly than he ever did when they were married. Henry then greets his daughter and asks how her Latin is. Then gives the gift he has brought to Elizabeth, a book by the Roman historian Tacitus, along with plenty of encouragement for the task of learning.
Elizabeth needs little encouragement, and is already trying to read the book as he gives it to her. Getting her such an advanced book would indicate he has been told about Elizabeth’s facility for learning and particularly languages. Estimates of how many languages she could speak fluently as an adult vary from six to eight. They included Greek, Welsh, Italian (highly useful as it started replacing Latin as the language of diplomacy in the period), French, Spanish and her Latin was notably brilliant.
Her education was started, and then overseen day to day by Kat Ashley, an unusually highly educated woman herself who, along with most that met the young Elizabeth, recognized her shining intellect, that stood out as peculiar even among Henry’s children who were all very intelligent in their different ways.
It was recognized when she was young because Elizabeth would benefit from sharing tutors and some classes with her brother Edward and his school fellows (3) which was unusual and meant that someone had recognised that brain needed extra work (William Grindal, mentioned in the scene, took over her advanced language work from Ashley and was originally employed to teach Edward – all happening a little later than this in 1544). The benefit of this shared education was not just educational but social, widening her circle of friends and giving her ease when speaking to and debating with men as an adult, because she had done it from childhood. She also first met the love of her life, Robert Dudley, during these lessons, as he was one of the boys allowed to be schooled alongside Edward.
So Henry has spoken to Elizabeth, managed to be caring, and got her a very appropriate gift. In return she manages an excellent formal thank you to Henry, and one of my favorite bits might be Anne of Cleves looking at her with pride, and then looking over, with some confidence, to see Henry’s reaction.
It goes down very well. Elizabeth is crushing being a model princess, and Henry is finally being a decent father, albeit for a short time. He says that he is planning to stay for supper, and hopes this will not inconvenience Lady Anne.
I mean, he just came to visit his daughter and ex. What other possible subtext could there be?
Some Feuds are about Hate, after all
Whatever they find in the larder I’m sure will be nice, but I’m not sure it will compete with what they are serving over at the Order of the Garter investiture prep dinner.
Now Hirst takes a bit of licence here, in order to create drama. Surrey and Seymour were two of the four inductees to the order in 1541, and there would just be the one ceremony a year so they joined at the same time. In The Tudors Seymour is positioned as having taken his place in the order a few months beforehand.
The Tudors Edward Seymour is just the kind of jerk that would take over a social group once he joins it, and the other members might be fine with that as he might be the most junior member, but he is by far the most influential member out in the world. He says he has been ordered by the King to oversee Surrey’s induction prep, which either means Henry has a very pointed sense of humour or Edward has given the rules a thorough re interpretation to make that the order.
Surrey is silently unimpressed through the speech, and then, once Edward stops talking he opens his mouth and just lays waste to the room.
Ouchies and applause, Surrey, that was simply stunning.
Over at the Queen’s chamber Jane Boleyn is having greens soaked in vitriol and the Queen is nibbling on redcurrants.
She asks if Lady Rochford knows where the King has gone, and she doesn’t.
Last time Katherine wanted to know where Henry was there was an undertone of worry, even panic. This time she’s pretty casual about not seeing Henry because she’s got a whole new interest, and perhaps some time to pursue him in. Katherine, as some girls of her stripe are wont to do, repeats something dubious she’s been told about the full moon. Lady Rochford is tucking in to her, apparently, massively annoying greens as she tells the Queen that for some, the moon is the planet of love.
That gets Katherine onto meeting with Culpeper again, and Lady Rochford has morphed from enthusiastic facilitator to a capable but restrained conspirator, who is starting to sound notes of caution.
So, Jane then starts to warn Katherine about the necessity for contraceptive awareness, but gets answered with this.
When his affair with Katherine was heating up, Francis Dereham told Margery Benet, a maid of the Dowager Duchess who knew about it that he knew enough about sex to ensure Katherine did not get pregnant(4).
Alice Wilkes was the girl who has asked to change beds so she could get some sleep(5), and at some point she confronted Katherine with the danger inherent in what she was doing. Katherine told her that a woman-
“…might meddle with a man and yet conceive no child unless she would herself.”
Apparently she was learning things from Francis.
Alice then took her concerns to Mary Lascelles, who had helped Katherine get free of Manox, but subsequently withdrew from her circle. Proto-puritan Mary felt she had had her earlier concerns about Katherine’s morality vindicated by her later relationship with Dereham, and told Alice to stay out of it, too.
“Let her alone” she said “for if she hold on as she begins we shall hear she will be naught in a while.”(5)
Katherine had the Howard outlook of not really worrying what the little people knew or thought, dealing with them only if they were or seemed likely to become a problem. Just as here, in The Tudors, she seems pretty oblivious to the danger in having your fantastically risky assignations organized by someone that really doesn’t like you at all.
A Thing of No Value
Since getting (to all intents and purposes) divorced, Anne of Cleves has really come out of her shell with Henry. She’s learned the language, stopped living under the strict regulation of her home and then the court, and perhaps above all is no longer terrified he’s going to have her killed.
So, she’s pretty chatty now, and while they are served dinner cannot help talking about the virtues of his daughters. How Mary is serious and religious but so very clever, even though she tries to hide it. But Elizabeth?
As the conversation lulls, Anne has thought of a gesture she would like to make.
As Henry deals with the delicate social situation of clearly now fancying a woman you divorced because you publicly thought her hideous, it’s worth pointing out that that very diplomatic gesture is actual historical. It actually happened just after their annulment, while the final touches to Anne of Cleves’ settlement were being made and she sent it as a gesture of goodwill, “desiring that it might be broken in pieces as a thing which she knew of no force nor value” (6).
Seen mostly through Lady Rochford’s avid eye, we watch Culpeper and Katherine meeting and making out. He asks her if she likes meeting like this and yes she does, He asks if she loves him yet and wants her to let him know that by some ‘token’. She says “Shall I kiss you?” and he gets the first bit of edge in his voice as he says
So apparently it’s time to get dry humping and give up a feel, I think that’s the token he’s looking for, Your Majesty.
They start to bump and grind a bit, and once again, this is all very early.
Having been knocked back a bit by his reaction to the secret gift she gave him at Easter, Katherine didn’t approach him for a while, and not directly. Her next known move was when Culpeper became ill in May or June, when she sent her pageboy, Morris, with meals to his chamber.(7)
Again, it wasn’t anything really prosecutable, but sending food to a man’s room was a pretty intimate form of charity, and a method of flirtation later used during the official courtship of Elizabeth I and the Duke of Anjou.
It is possible Katherine and Culpeper started meeting privately before the progress, but it’s relatively unlikely (the chaos caused by moving houses every couple of weeks or less gave them quite a lot of cover) and they certainly weren’t foreplaying before they left.
When they did start meeting, the device they’re using now, of meeting in Lady Rochford’s rooms, well, that was the first recorded method they used (8).
Which brings us to the owner of the voracious eyeball at the door.
Prurient interest was raised as a possible explanation for Lady Rochford’s behaviour at the time, and since, and in what is known to be a source for The Tudors, at least one of the aughts big popular historians declared
“Historians have endlessly speculated as to her motives, but the only plausible inference is that she obtained a vicarious thrill through her involvement in this illicit liason.”(9) with way more confidence than that statement ever warranted.
Jane had got herself back into court, but by 1541 she had lost her patron, Cromwell, the previous year. She had probably made the jump from Anne of Cleves retinue to Katherine’s by her strenuous attempts to get evidence for the annulment out of Anne. Jane, a long term member of the Queen’s household knew Thomas Culpeper and was no stranger to intrigue. In the first year Henry looked as infatuated with Katherine as he had been with Anne Boleyn. A little over halfway to their first anniversary he had a life threatening illness, and Dowager Queens were rich and powerful people.
Jane decided to hitch her wagon to Katherine’s interest in Culpeper, and in doing so she became the most important Lady in Waiting at the court, also the most at risk, the Queen’s only true confidante, and the supplier for her addiction. There were lots of reasons for her to involve herself. But when the danger line came up and was passed, no way for her to apply any brakes.
Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense
The Order of the Garter is the oldest surviving order of chivalry in the world, the uniform remains insanely elaborate and complicated and the Garter Day procession remains one of the best places to get a photograph of the Queen smiling. Although I think my favorite uniform is the hot pink variant given to the Officers of the Order of the Garter (Admins for the order, basically). The Queen opened the order up for women to be full members (Ladies Companion of the Garter) in 1987.
While there has been a lot of historical speculation on the nature of the order, and stories of garters falling at dances, of Edward III retrieving it and scolding onlookers with the French motto (Shame on him that thinks evil of it), I want you to think of the most obvious thing. The thing English Kings were always thinking about, and you will be close to the original nature of the order.
It certainly became something else over time, the epitome of chivalry, the signal of your occupation of the court’s inner circle, but originally, when thought up by Edward III back in the fourteenth century, the most likely explanation is that it was all about invading France. Again.
It was modeled on the Crusades because he wanted the same level of determination. Evil be to him who thinks evil of Edward III’s claim to the French throne. They had to be knights and they were to be bound as if with a garter (A garter was a support part of armour, worn by men, not a female clothing item at the time the order was founded) because they were to all keep damn well fighting until he was King of France.
I am, in fact, not actually a member of the Order, Lord Surrey. But that does not mean…
Jesus, Surrey, why do you have to be such a bitch? Alright, throw me a prawn. The next scene opens with the poshest chorus line you ever saw.
Surrey gets his gear and his garter and one of his brother companions ties the garter on, not Edward Seymour or Surrey would have no circulation left in that leg. The words are all about companionship and brotherhood, as they should be for an order of chivalry. The score has a bit of impulsion in it and some drums going on because for all the friendly and comradely language two of these guys would happily rip each others eyes out right now.
There’s Something About Hever
Back at Hever Henry thanks Anne for not raising objections to the annulment.
And Anne says she is all about pleasing Henry, telling everyone how good he’s been to her, and to stay in England, which she already loves. And Henry perks up at the ‘Please you as My Lord’ bit.
He then decides to tell her about the glowing opinion of her, written to Francis I by Ambassador Marillac, and after they were divorced, too.
It’s very close to the actual historical quote:
“…to the great regret of this people, who loved and esteemed her much as the sweetest, most gracious and kindest queen they ever had or would desire.” (10)
I think we can say that Anne of Cleves, who is relaxed in a way she emphatically wasn’t the whole time she was married, has noticed the weather change with Henry. But this is the point where she notices the speed and possible direction of that change, and starts gently deflecting.
Well, he did divorce her because he said she was too unattractive to have sex with.
There’s no historical basis for this sudden attraction. There were rumours, at various times, largely caused by her international significance, the fact that no one knew what he had found so objectionable about her, that after learning the language Anne turned out to be witty and friendly, and the fact that everyone thought thought she looked better since her divorce. All of which (and the tumultuous events to come) caused a lot of ambassadors to periodically go “Oh my God, what if he takes her back?” and clutch their pearls about it.
But actual historical Henry was never heading here, as The Tudors’ Henry gets gently directed to think about his wife.
About your Wife
Lady Rochford hears someone’s voice not far enough away and starts frantic gentle knocking and increasingly urgent ‘My Lady’s. Katherine comes out with a chirpy expression, meets eyes with Culpeper, and then Jane Boleyn does the same for a decent demonstration of this pretty messed up love triangle.
A Working Marriage Mode
At the Seymours, Edward is bitching about Surrey with his wife.
They get on to the fact that Edward helped make a relative of Surrey’s the Queen (and that is not a mistake he would have actually historically made), and Anne becomes the second person to point out that that could be temporary.
Anne has her own antagonistic deal going on with Surrey, so she’s persuading Edward to get on the vengeance train. Edward doesn’t really need persuading, but he’s finally found a role for her, a facet of his wife that he kind of doesn’t mind being around.
And unfortunately for everyone else around them, that mode of womanhood is straight up Lady Macbeth.
As You Like It
Late at night, Lady Rochford drains her wine and eyes up Culpeper asleep in her bed.
She strips off and climbs into bed with him.
And I think it’s being at the centre of all this, in control of Culpeper and Katherine, that she’s being portrayed as enjoying. Hard to be specific because the drama doesn’t entirely understand what she’s getting out of this either.
Evil to him who evil thinks
Surrey opens the door to a tavern in London, and awaits, confidently, the astonishment his arrival will cause.
Sure enough the tavern is flabbergasted and he’s the centre of attention pretty quick. Surrey’s about to diverge from his historical character, probably to make him more approachable for a modern audience. I don’t imagine the actual historical Earl of Surrey enjoying the company of commoners, talking to them like they’re people, and being spontaneously generous to funny working women, like this one is. But The Tudors’ Surrey seems to feel what’s the point in being this fabulous if there’s no one to appreciate it?
The guy in the cloak who sneaks in behind him will turn out to be a spy for Gardiner, or one of Gardiner’s allies. Surrey sits down with two of his men, who he apparently decided to meet here, and calls for ale. The ‘wench’ that delivers his ale is a larger carriage kind of girl, and busy about her business when he asks her if she’d like to suck the cock of a member of the Order of the Garter? What would her friends say to that, eh?
In his council chamber, Henry and the council are discussing the plans for the progress to the North. Henry reminds them that they need a decent number of men at arms, as the areas they will be visiting were the heartland of the Pilgrimage of Grace.
Henry is generally confident though, what with those areas not having an army anymore. Meanwhile, these discussions are inter cut with the surprised reactions of the servants Queen Katherine is running past.
Henry also speaks of a proposed visit by James V of Scotland to York in September, just as Katherine is booking it up the Main Hall, heedless of anyone else in the room.
Henry’s door guy, effective through 5 marriages is finally caught by surprise and Queen Katherine bursts into what should otherwise be trouble.
I mean, look at his expression. There’s only one kind of news that going to save her from a severe yelling and some cold shoulder at the least. Fortunately, Queen Katherine has made the right call and it is exactly that kind of news.
Henry is actually worried she might spontaneously miscarry from jumping around a bit and being exited. She doesn’t seem like great multi-tasker. She needs to lie down and mediate for about 9 months.
Despite that, though, Queen Katherine is back in the sunshine again. There was a danger of frost there, for a moment, but the Spring Queen is in her right season again, back to new hope and promise.
This pregnancy alert was reported by Marillac on 10th April 1541 in a letter to Montmorency.
“…Queen is thought to be with child, which would be a very great joy to this King, who, it seems, believes it, and intends, if it be found true, to have her crowned at Whitsuntide.”(11)
Katherine runs back and she and Henry kiss passionately for a moment. She walks away and turns to the side for a moment, to mime showing off the bump that she expects to appear.
And Henry bows graciously, while possibly thinking “Better be a boy”.
The Current Second Heir
And sometimes it’s really easy to tell what source Hirst read, because in the very next scene he gives the second half of that Marillac letter to Chapuys. Chapuys and Mary are walking through an orchard (and the subtitles experience the same issue as they did when Henry was on a building site – there are comments about whether the apple trees need pruning next year in amongst the high politics talk.) when he speaks about the coming progress and says embroiderers have been set to rework the old church fabric decorations for it.
Which was actually Marillac at the end of that letter talking about ornaments for potential celebrations for another child. (11)
Chapuys gets a spasm of gout and Mary invites him to sit. Once he’s sat, you see his eyes flick to her face and away a couple of times. He’s winding up to tell Mary something difficult.
Well, long story short Mary, the Tudors were the first royal house to politically weaponize crowning for Queens. Until Henry VII, if you were married to a woman you crowned that woman Queen. If you married her after you became King the ceremony might not be a big one but you found a bishop, at least, and you crowned her. People did put a lot of store by it though, just as for a King, God had been asked to judge her if she had a coronation.
Until Henry VII. Henry VII was always going to marry Elizabeth of York but got crowned some time before he got married. Deliberately. Elizabeth of York only got a Coronation after she’d given birth to Prince Arthur. Because Henry VII didn’t want to be the guy that married into it. The emphasis on his succession was always put on his victory at Bosworth Field, and fair enough that victory made him King. But the uncomfortable reality was that his wife’s claim was far better than his, and being married to her meant that the Yorkists had nowhere else to go with their support, which saved him both from and during a lot of rebellions.
Henry VII made himself King, but it was Elizabeth of York that kept him King and made his son so unusually secure on his throne. Henry VIII had Catherine of Aragon crowned at the same time as him. By the time Anne Boleyn came around he already needed to get rid of a crowned Queen and wasn’t quite so keen to rush into it. Anne got crowned when pregnant, but turned out to be carrying a girl.
Thereafter, getting a coronation for a Queen was linked to having a child and Jane Seymour didn’t live long enough after her victory to be crowned. If you were looking hard enough for a reason, that could be fuel to the fire for Mary’s claim.
There was a rumour that Henry intended to crown Katherine during the progress, that persisted long after her pregnancy alert. This was partly because he had said he would during the Pilgrimage (different Queen, in fact 2 Queens ago now, but he had said it), and partly because of all the extra stuff they took with them for the possible visit by James V of Scotland. Everyone noticed all the stuff in the luggage was particularly expensive and fine, and a lot, and as the James visit wasn’t common knowledge they all assumed ‘Coronation’ also, they tended not to put out announcements when pregnancies turned out to be false alarms.
The group he’s talking about see the future coming and it’s increasingly Protestant shaped. Mary’s still the adult but Edward’s getting older so they would desperately like to put a question mark somewhere near him. Frankly it’s a long shot. He was male, and pretty unquestionably legitimate (both previous wives were dead when Henry married Jane). But if there was the tiniest of queries because his mother hadn’t been crowned, then the Tudor Kings put it there themselves.
And, as with all her other reactions in the pauses in this scene, you can see ambition, perhaps even Holy Destiny start to reveal itself to Mary. She is delighted by Chapuys’ spin, and looking back at the future with some desire. You can see that mission from God appearing in her eyes.
She’s really her father’s daughter, isn’t she?
She’s going to be terrifying.