The Tudors Recap – Season 4 Episode 6: You Have My Permission (Part 2)

The Illumination of Catherine Parr

We open on Henry’s papers on the desk as we pan up,

to find Risley entering and announcing a visitor.

Henry’s home office is doubling as a small recreation space in what feels like a pleasant early evening. Henry is by the fire with a glass of wine, and perking up a bit at the prospect of his most potentially enjoyable bit of work all day.

6:15pm interview candidate for NQ role (Note: Candidate unaware they are being considered for a fabulous promotion).

This scene is going to be all about introducing Catherine Parr, giving us a brief biography as she gets a private audience with Henry, enabled by Thomas Seymour and driven by the story thread that the Latimer branch of the Neville family wants to be sure they are indeed, absolved of any part they might have had in the Pilgrimage of Grace.

It’s a neat idea for an intro that contains a lot of her historical basis, but it’s basically invented.

Henry was not beyond deciding a woman he had known, or been aware of for some time, was suddenly super attractive. It was the making of Queen Jane Seymour. But there’s no evidence for an individual meeting between Catherine and Henry at this point, Jan-Feb 1543, shortly before the death of her second husband.

Also the time of danger for this family was 5 years beforehand, when 3 of the Neville brothers were in the Tower (Catherine’s husband John, his brother Thomas and his brother Marmaduke(1)) and when they didn’t have access to the King, but had to sue for mercy by bribing Thomas Cromwell, who had Lord Latimer pay through the nose.

So who was she, this woman coming through the door?

Catherine was the oldest child from a close knit family of courtiers with strong connections in royal circles, raised in a rich one parent family.

A Reasonable Representation of the Parr Family – That’s just possibly Maud Parr on the left, a positively identified Catherine second, a positively identified William third, and another just possibly Anne at the end there.(q1)

The Parrs were Northern gentry, but Catherine’s mother and father spent a lot of their time in London, based at Parr House on the Strand and attending at Court. Catherine’s father Thomas was a contemporary of Thomas Boleyn and actually was a bit more successful than Boleyn in their early careers. Then Thomas Parr died unexpectedly early when Catherine was just 5, making Maud Parr a widow at 25.

Maud was, by all accounts, a pretty remarkable woman. She never remarried, but spent the rest of her life on her work as a Lady in Waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon and preserving the Parr inheritance for and working on the futures of her three children.

At the top of society, and in a job that absolutely had to be done by women, some of whom would be having children, flexible working was instituted very early, like in the Early Modern Period early. Royal Ladies in Waiting of the time did (and still do) work on a rota basis (2) so if they needed to take a month, a season or even a year or two away from their duties they could. It’s also the reason the official entourages were so huge – because only somewhere from a third to two thirds of them would be ‘on duty’ or ‘in waiting’ at any one time. So with that working arrangement as well as enough money, property, and servants, Maud Parr was enabled to find a decent single working parent work/life balance wayyyy back in the 1520s.

Maud was renowned for her skill in French, a most important signifier of cultural sophistication in the period, and all her children were comparatively highly educated in modern languages. Catherine spoke French fluently as Queen and was able to read Italian (She had books in Italian at her death and Elizabeth’s first letter to her step mother was in Italian)(3), she also had basic Latin and took up learning Spanish in 1546.(q) However a letter from Edward in the same year (her 3rd as Queen) seems to indicate that she wasn’t taught advanced Latin or fine handwriting when young (which, if you were female, was the kind of education you really only got if you were a princess), but had been working hard to improve at these skills since becoming Queen(4).

And that is one of the things that makes Catherine Parr stand out in the small but now functional chart of Henry’s wives we have when we slap an ‘academic achievement’ filter on it. Catherine Parr started out her tenure as a Henry’s Queen at just above average. The bottom half of that table is Jane Seymour, Katherine Howard and Anne of Cleves whose academic portion of their educations were just not in the same league as the top three.

At number 1 Katherine of Aragon got the wide ranging academic education of a true renaissance princess. Close, but still number 2, Anne Boleyn got the ultimate apprenticeship in modern languages and cultural sophistication: an education held at two great foreign courts (The Netherlands, then France). And then there was a bit of a gap to Catherine ‘advanced home courses in modern languages and literature’ Parr in 3rd.

But Catherine Parr really made lifelong learning her ‘thing’, so she would continue to move up after marriage and would end her time as the number 1 most academically accomplished of Henry’s wives, organizing several translations into English of important European literary works, and then becoming the first woman to publish a book under her own name in English, and it was a big bestseller, an achievement for the ages even if she was a bit of a celebrity author.

Back to when Catherine was just 11 or 12, Maud did try to betroth off her oldest daughter first, but a plan to match Catherine with the grandson of Lord Dacre of the North didn’t work out (5). Once those negotiations had run their course, Maud had to turn her attention to her son’s marriage prospects, as she aimed for a truly great dynastic marriage and the one thing the Parrs lacked – a title, all in the one package for her son, William Parr. William had already joined the household for Henry’s bastard son, the Duke of Richmond, which was where male Tudor Court tweens needed to be seen at that time, so he was a career forward 11 year old. It helped that his uncle was running that household.

It was time to get William’s future set and the heiress package Maud had her eye on was Anne Bourchier, only living child of the Earl of Essex. Holding titles ‘in right of’ your wife happened quite a lot in Tudor England. It was something that needed extra steps to make it happen, the Crown had to approve it, and then the title had to be ‘re created’, but if you were married to a woman who was due a title, and just didn’t get it because she was born into the wrong gender, with some effort and influence in the right areas that could well become your title. And the Parrs were all about effort and influence in the right areas.

William Parr’s betrothal and then marriage to this primo heiress took a lot of money, time and effort for Maud to pull off. It would also (after Maud’s death) end up being a top tier disaster of a dynastic marriage, with William’s wife flat out refusing to have him as any kind of husband, and Cromwell stepping in to (briefly) grab the Earldom of Essex when her father died. By 1541 Anne caused a scandal by eloping with her lover and starting a family with him.

Still, William did well at work, in his career as a courtier and sometime noble soldier, getting installed in the increasingly powerful Privy Chamber in 1537 after loyal command service during the Pilgrimage of Grace, and being made a Baron in 1539, and personally, as Katherine Howard and Thomas Culpeper had joked about back on the northern progress, having a long term affair with Dorothy Bray.

Also just surviving the Privy Chamber in post from 1537 showed he had nerve and some skills. He and his wife just really disliked each other.

Having spent a few years arranging this magnificent catastrophe in waiting, Maud returned to her oldest daughter’s prospects, and her funds were a bit lower this time around, and the times they were a changing, which would lead to Catherine’s relatively modest, but very useful, first marriage.

And no, Catherine Parr’s first husband was not a crazy guy. Historians in the 18th Century made the error of confusing the Edward Burgh Catherine married with his grandfather of the same name, who was kind of crazy (6). This idea had lost currency by the time The Tudors was filmed and was rejected by multiple popular Historians of the time, so while it is a little naughty, The Tudors skims past actual error by having Henry ask it like it’s a query about some gossip, and Catherine just vaguely admit that the marriage wasn’t happy in response.

And perhaps The Tudors’ Henry might have just learned something about Lady Latimer’s level of discretion.

If Catherine Parr’s first marriage actually wasn’t happy then that might have been down to her father in law, Lord Thomas Burgh, strident religious reformer and Anne Boleyn’s Lord Chamberlain. Connection with him would have eased the Parrs transition from Katherine of Aragon’s Queenship to Anne Boleyn’s, but later events would show he was pretty rough on his children. In fact, most of the speculation from modern historians that her first marriage might have been unhappy is down to the fact that her first father in law has quite the reputation for being an asshole.

You might remember that when we were talking about Cromwell helping women, that a Dame Elizabeth Burgh went to Cromwell for help because her father in law was trying to declare her son illegitimate. Well, Lord Thomas Burgh was that father in law. Elizabeth’s suit to Cromwell didn’t work, Lord Thomas was in with the in crowd at the time and Elizabeth and all her children were cast out of the family home, Gainsborough Old Hall, which is one of the best preserved medieval manor houses still standing today.

Gainsborough Old Hall Source Source

Still in Catherine’s earlier tenure as first daughter in law to Thomas Burgh (pronounced Borough) she got on far better with Lord Thomas. Catherine and Edward were allowed to set up their own home at Kirton-in-Lindsey two years after marrying.

Perhaps Catherine got on better than her successor because she had allies, Maud journeyed to visit her daughter in 1530 and it was shortly afterwards that Catherine and Edward got their own house out of Lord Burgh. Or perhaps Catherine and her father in law got along on religious lines, Lord Burgh was a reformer and it might well have been from Lord Burgh or her first husband that Catherine picked up her interest in reformed religion – it’s hard to tell, because until she became Queen Catherine she kept her religious views very quiet, and being discreet enough to be a Shhh: Secret Protestant would be very useful for her for as long as it lasted.

Catherine’s life went through some serious changes within a few years. Her mother Maud Parr died at just 39 in 1531, and her young husband Edward Burgh died in 1533, the year Henry married Anne Boleyn. Catherine’s father in law provided the 20 year old with a modest widow’s pension. There’s no recorded evidence indicating any pregnancies during Catherine’s first and second marriages.

Catherine’s second husband, John Neville, Baron Latimer, was 20 years older than Catherine with a 14 year old son and a 9 year old daughter. They did not rush into things, theirs was a marriage made for practical considerations and Catherine was a widow for a little over a year. Without Maud this time around Catherine was probably helped by Bishop Tunstall (an old friend and ally of Maud Parr) and other family friends and Northern social connections to make her second marriage. Tradition has it (without supporting evidence, but it remains quite possible) that Catherine spent most of the 12 months of her first widowhood at Sizergh Castle in Cumbria, with Lady Strickland, who happened to be a Neville.

When Catherine and John Neville married in 1534, Catherine got her title of ‘Lady Latimer’ and became mistress of Snape Castle in Yorkshire.

Sizergh Castle where she might have stayed in her first widowhood(source) and Snape Castle, where she lived as Lady Latimer (source)

Catherine was a great Tudor stepmother. She got on quite well with her stepson, which was an achievement as he turned into a pretty wild adult, and she formed a maternal relationship with her step daughter Margaret. Margaret’s mother was Latimer’s first wife and she died when Margaret was only 2. Catherine and John Neville settled into married life and all proceeded pretty quietly for a couple of years. Their home was about a day’s ride from England’s then Second City of York, and Lord and Lady Latimer of Snape Castle would have been an important part of Northern society of the period.

And then the Pilgrimage of Grace struck, in Autumn 1536.

By 11th October 1536 the rebellion had seized Jervaulx Abbey, about half a days walk from Snape.

Lord Latimer would claim he got the ‘Get taken from your house at 3am by a lot of armed men and involuntarily sworn to the cause’ early membership deal in the Pilgrimage of Grace. There is no direct report of this happening to Lord Latimer, but there were reports of abductions of noblemen in the area, and when Norfolk wrote to Cromwell defending Lord Latimer, he said he

“Cannot discover any evidence but that he was enforced, and no man was in more danger of his life”(7).

Of course Lord Latimer was going to need that kind of help once it got recorded that he had popped up on 22nd October 1536 at Pontefract Castle and took on an army command position for the rebels. He was still a rebel leader during the Doncaster Bridge meeting, and ended his involvement with the cause with the General Pardon issued before Christmas 1536. Probably one of the worst pieces of evidence implicating him was down to coincidence: A year or so beforehand Latimer had betrothed daughter Margaret to the son of Sir Francis Bigod, of Bigod’s rebellion, about to kick off in Mid January 1537 and provide Henry with cover to kill a lot of the people he’d just pardoned. Yeah, choosing to get related by marriage to that guy wasn’t going to look great.

By the end of the Christmas period, Lord Latimer had already decided to go down to London to explain himself, and set off quite early in the New Year. On his way down he was met with royal orders to go back North and join the Duke of Norfolk’s army. Then, as he turned back, he got word that Snape Castle has been forcibly occupied by rebel forces(8). Many parts of the Pilgrimage were (justifiably) very concerned that this sudden peace meant capitulation and were keen to make sure men like Lord Latimer remembered just how much he had left to lose in the North.

Catherine and her step children were all trapped in Snape Castle until the return of Lord Latimer, who managed to calm the commons and get them to leave before continuing North to join Norfolk’s army. The Tudors refers to the incident.

It might have been the most terrifying experience of her life so far but, c’mon, Henry’s only thinking about marrying her. Give him a chance and getting your house invaded and you and your step kids house arrested by rebels won’t look so half so terrifying.

When the fallout from the Pilgrimage was over, and Lord Latimer had bought his freedom, they moved to London and from then really just visited the North.

Henry quietly asks about and gets confirmed that she had no children by either her first or second husband. And when he asks if she believes there is such a thing as a happy marriage, and she answers in a glowing affirmative, he’s so disappointed she apologizes for for her answer before he steps in and takes the sting out of it.

He’s not mad, he’s just hoping that you’re going to see the virtues of settling for the bridegroom that’s making himself inevitable, Catherine, rather than the one you think you want, I mean, that one’s probably going to be a sack of crap anyway.

Henry VIII early 1543, really working the last mileage out of “Better the fussy mustached devil you know” and those twinkly blues.

A B Plot Thickens

For the next scene we follow Risley through his day and someone has been through a lot to find us a new angle on the set.

They succeeded pretty well and while I am still disorientated Risley gives Gardiner some papers and Gardiner stops him and points out the new secret treaty with the Empire.

“Mmmmm, smell that political weather, Risley, it’s perfect political weather for a heretic hunt, Isn’t it.

And he gets some good old dehumanising language in there for the people he’s going to try to kill.

This scene presents this as a definite change, but it was more of a rising tide. Henry’s enthusiasm for Protestant ideas kind of died with his interest in Anne Boleyn, and his enthusiasm for reforming the church lasted until he’d siphoned the last of the big money out of it. After that, the religion Henry wanted to (re) create was very similar to the Catholicism of his childhood, just with anything he didn’t like removed, and with Henry as the New Pope/Maybe Demi-Jesus.

Early in 1543 the ‘Kings Book‘ became the official manual of the Church of England, replacing the ‘Bishops Book’ which had been directed by Cranmer and Cromwell, and a lot of things were looking far more traditionalist now. The act which made the King’s Book law also banned anyone lower ranked than Gentry from reading the Bible in English and women that qualified were supposed to only read it alone.

From the death of Anne Boleyn the hotter kind of Protestant minister needed to really start watching their step. And though, since Cromwell died, the Catholic faction had repeatedly failed to take out the remaining prominent reformers in Henry’s Privy Chamber and the Government, (People like Archbishop Cranmer, Edward Seymour, Rafe Sadler and Anthony Denny) they had ended up executing some of the hotter stripe of Protestant ministers and lay common people who had managed to be in the wrong place and had the wrong ideas and said the wrong thing, with increasing frequency.

Casting Gardiner as the somewhat bloodthirsty prosecutor is pretty legit. Described by David Starkey as:

“…that rarest of things, a reactionary with a clear sense of strategy, and the will and boldness to carry it out” (10)

Gardiner was a full bore Catholic counter revolutionary that was up for killing a lot of people, including colleagues, and, oh, especially into killing Archbishop Cranmer (a quest he would repeatedly attempt and, at one point, lose a nephew on) . Gardiner’s on the B plot for this episode, which is about stepping up the hunt for heretics into Henry’s proximity.

Actually Historically, early in 1543 a heresy hunter, John London Dean of Oxford and Canon of Windsor, passed information on to Gardiner that he had found several heretics serving at St George’s Chapel, Windsor (11). As often happens with something that looks like it could build to something else, John London handed the case over and got to stay working on it, and Gardiner became the head of the investigation. In this scene we see him doing some political preparation for the hunt by strong arming Risley into joining him.

Unless you’re a filthy heretic lover, Mr Risley? Right,then, lets get some wrong believers burned.

A Matter of Pleats and Sleeves

We’re back at the Latimer’s townhouse where the birds chirrup busily outside, as Lord Latimer slowly enters the room. He’s not very mobile, pale, and has deteriorated a bit even from our last visit.

To find his wife surrounded by a pile of presents. From the King.

Lord Latimer wants to know what they are, and when told, he wants a look. Her husband asks her to tell him if the pleats and sleeves she has received are fashionable, and we get from this question, and the quiet assurance of her ‘Yes’, that Catherine is a fashion girl. Catherine is clearly not thrilled with the whole present situation and suggests sending them back. Latimer points out how impractical that idea is.

I’m just a Lord, looking at his Lady who is considering knocking their King’s interest back and saying that could actually kill me, dear.

When Catherine tries a well intentioned but somewhat obvious obfuscation, that she doesn’t know why the King sent the presents, he insists on truth. It’s very sad, Lord Latimer is reasonable and rational but really didn’t need to see his wife’s suitor’s caps getting thrown through the door while he was still alive.

So it’s a good job that didn’t Actually Historically happen, then. There is a debate about it. There is an actual historical document (12)but I find I am in the David Starkey, Linda Porter camp that says this document has been massively over interpreted. The document is summarised in the Letters and Papers, here, item 443.(13)

It’s a bill from Scutt the tailor, one item of which is for ‘plyttes and slevys’. It’s dated 16th February 1543 when she was Lady Latimer and her husband was probably very ill. It also includes some items ‘for your daughter’. And it’s in Henry’s Government papers, signed by the guy that would become Catherine’s chancellor, Thomas Arundell.

So apart from the reasonable assumption that Henry paid that bill, there’s also kind of been this other assumption (14) that the date of the bill is also the date it was paid, so Henry was signalling his interest in Katherine before her husband died. And also, perhaps that Historians tend not have much experience of being owed money by some relatively rich people.

Because, as Starkey pointed out, why on earth would you think it was paid immediately? It’s in the Letters and papers for 21st April 1543, and her husband died on March 2nd 1543. Assuming it wasn’t moved, that leaves, sure, not plenty of time but nearly two months for Henry to say ‘Hey, Let me get that bill for Lady Latimer, the poor distracted widow’ as an early expression of interest. (q3)

A further subsection of historians have gone the route of ‘Your daughter’ referring to Mary (because Henry paid the bill), meaning Katherine was buying clothes for Mary, so Katherine had to be working for Mary. There’s no other evidence presented for this ‘Katherine was part of Mary’s household’ theory and it doesn’t hold up.

The Tudors is all about the drama right now, and so has picked the route that bumps everything up by a couple of months and gives us Henry being way too forward and John Neville reckoning with his own future replacement.

War Were Declared

There’s a ceremonial treaty signing in the presence chamber today, and the score is doing most of the heavy lifting for the grandeur.

The treaty between England and the Empire was actually historically signed right about now in the timeline, in February 1543(15) . When we last looked over to the continent, Francis I had considerable advantages and had declared war in July 1542. But even those advantages just weren’t enough to make serious territorial gains, and, helped along with some tactical errors by the French, Charles HRE’s territories doggedly held out against France’s advances and Charles was now putting together a return match for the 1544 season.

It’s an exiting prospect, and England is ‘in’. Bishop Gardiner leads everyone in a recap of what the Treaty contains.

Henry signs the Treaty with appropriate gravitas. The most interesting moments for me are Chapuys’ rather intense interest,

It’s basically the summit of his career.

and Henry’s “Tell Charles to resist the temptation to betray me this time. No. Seriously.” stare at the end.

No. Seriously. Right? Right.

We go straight to the witnesses exiting the room, the younger bucks, like Thomas Seymour, talking loudly about how pumped they are to invade France as they pass the French Ambassador.

It’s just not tasteful.

It’s left to Marillac’s opposite number, Chapuys to stop and answer questions.

And Chapuys is kind of happy to, on the day he has pulled off the diplomatic coup of the decade for the Empire. In this moment, Marillac gets to deliver a line that, in a show that has been known to deliver a clunker or two, demands your attention as it revels in just how incredibly awkward it is.

Apart from “I don’t understand”, Hirst ripped this whole thing from Actual History, but from a year later and from a report of a speech from a French Ambassador to the Signory of Venice (16). The Pope would subscribe to the same argument, but the reply from the Empire was the same as Chapuys gives, here, but in actual history explained very ornately.

Politics…uh… finds a way.

Then they both get a bit snappy at each other, starting with “Ah so you admit you’re basically trying to take over Europe.” from Marillac.

You know, I’ve never been sure about Lothaire Bluteau in this role, but I think the ‘uncrossed arms to crossed arms’ move here might have won me over. I’m not certain I can explain why.

Meanwhile Henry has decided to go with ‘Classy, with a side order of blindingly handsome’ with the official declaration, and sends Brandon with the official paperwork.

Well, Thank you, that’ s absolutely lovl…Wait, did you just declare war on me?

And like that, War were declared…to take effect next summer.

Forgive Me, Patriarchy

Meanwhile Katherine has gone to see her fictionally adulterous lover, Thomas Seymour. Certainly this Actual historical couple might have been “unofficial” lovers at some point but that was in Katherine’s widowhood for Henry. There was a lot of secret trysting and love letters exchanged between Katherine and Thomas Seymour in Chelsea in the early months of 1547 – Henry died in January and they probably married in May the same year(17).

But at this point in the timeline there’s no evidence for a physical relationship between them.

Katherine comes in, fully primed to explain everything and apologize immediately as she comes through the doorway. That being said, she is kind of bringing the drama.

You like this dress? Well you shouldn’t, Because another man bought it for me.

There is a very different energy for Katherine breaking the news of Henry’s interest to her lover than it was to her husband. Husband John got some reassuring pats and a “Yes, this sucks” attitude. For Thomas Katherine is dramatic, apologetic, honest and submissive which is met with Thomas getting a bit cold, witholding and maybe implying a little bit of judgement.

And in response Katherine does everything but fall to the floor. A side effect of a lot of kinds of love is becoming kind of stupid for someone, like your IQ drops every time they walk in a room, and boy, is The Tudors‘ Katherine Parr stupid for Thomas Seymour.

The next bit is kind of satisfying as, in private and under stress, Katherine gets to say what surely a lot of people have been thinking.

This was always getting its own gif.

Setting up the next bit that I find kind of inexplicable.

Which changes fucking what exactly?

He might very well be just ” A lonely man who has set his cap at her”, I mean, he’s also old, but that lonely old man is still Henry VIII, 5 wives down, 2 he has killed directly and a King that has always believed that fatal purging makes the Court grow stronger. There is nothing for either of you to be relived about and your first reaction was entirely appropriate, Katherine Parr.

And while your brain is apparently telling you it is, that wasn’t a solution, that was just something Thomas said in a reassuring tone of voice and then kissed you.

it’s fine. Everything is awesome.

Well, Jeezy F Creezy, Katherine Parr.

Council Meeting

The Council is going to take a brief look at the Scottish situation, and it opens by getting something wrong, as Henry stares into the middle distance, perhaps thinking of the lady we just left.

Hertford says that in Scotland the Regent Queen is calling the shots, but Queen Marie de Guise wasn’t Regent yet. She wouldn’t be until 1554. For the next eleven years the Regent was James Hamilton the Earl of Arran. He certainly started with pro English policies, and agreed to the betrothal of Mary Queen of Scots and Prince Edward, so the English had every reason to be confident at this time. And boy, are they confident.

The relationship with the Earl of Arran would break down towards the end of the year, he would become pro French and convert to Catholicism ( Going the whole distance in the other direction). The start of the conflict known as the ‘Rough Wooing‘ would be in December 1543, when the Scottish Parliament had the temerity to reject the treaty of Greenwich, and not end until 1551, well into Edward’s reign. In May 1544 Hertford would have a crack at burning part of Edinburgh before Henry went away to France.

But it was the decision to invade France that ensured this ‘surely a done deal’ joining of the English and Scottish thrones would not happen. Promises were not difficult, betrothals could be long, the Scottish military was battered, not decimated. Unless the English were actually occupying Scotland and/or had possession of the infant Queen of Scots this was nowhere near a done deal, and Henry would not have enough power to control the Scottish succession if he was making war on France.

His Grace Bishop Gardiner tabled an item.

with teeth in it.

He wants to arrest and torture the heretics found in the Chapel Royal at Windsor – John Marbeck, Robert Testwood and Edmund Harman. Henry thinks for a bit, and decides everything in his religion is still is a bit too Protestant and gives the order to round them up. The best part of this, for me, being the looks across the table between Gardiner and Hertford, the heretic beyond Gardiner’s current reach.

And so it’s woe unto the musicians of the Chapel Royal.

On The Run

Robert Testwood defies actual history by initially evading his arrest (There was no report of any one of them being on the run for any time). He makes his way to the Seymours, presenting them with a problem, and fictional problem it may be, but we get to see a bit more of what their deal is.

And I think that even they want to know what their deal is, at this point.

The trouble is they can’t help Testwood, not openly and not covertly. Henry’s swung back to Catholic, and apparently the Seymours weren’t set up for emergency people smuggling. Anne comes up the table to back up her husband, Mr Testwood just needs to answer some questions, apparently.

Torture. Actual torture.

When Testwood points out that he’s going to be tortured, and is terrified, they have nothing they can do for him and go into damage control mode. Edward becomes the of the world least charismatic youth pastors for a minute,

And Testwood is still kind of processing that when Edward tries some polite passive aggression. Once he’s done with his non explanation of why him and not them, he walks past him to open the door behind him so Testwood can feel like he can leave now.

Except Anne knows this is going to take more than that so she comes in with full ruthlessness, while Edward is still trying mild social awkwardness.

Ouch, Anne. Also from Testwood’s reaction I think she might have glided in silently, Mrs Danvers style. Poor Guy.

What we do in the Shadows

Chapuys is visiting Mary who has been ill.

Which almost certainly explains the day curtains.
Oh Wow. Mary. How many bleedings was that?

Chapuys gets given the job he took up in history, predicting way back when Katherine Howard was still alive what the new act would do to Henry’s dating prospects(18).

And frankly even if you were known for your virtue it would be a rocky damn road. Henry’s Virgin detection rate was currently 0 for 2, and he now had a history of changing the law to make whatever it was you did that pissed him off a capital crime if it wasn’t one already. Even a class that treated a lot of their women as disposable resources suddenly had their own necks to think of and Henry’s field of opportunity duly narrowed.

Mary’s all in for Team Tudor, and I don’t think she’s quite ready to hear that about dad, Chapuys.

Come and See the Violence Inherent in the System

Testwood didn’t have any forward thinking friends, apparently, and got caught. We are taken to his interrogation by Gardiner.

And Mr Testwood has already had a tough day or two when they start.

The star of this scene is the Bishop’s voice as he tries to persuade Mr Testwood to give up the politically important people in his organization.

And there’s really no evidence that Hertford was, actually historically a particular target at this point, but the other two mentioned were.

Both got arrested in the sweep following this one (19). This first wave of arrests got some men from the town of Windsor as well as employees of St George’s Chapel. Actual historical Robert Testwood was very sick when he was sentenced to death (20). Some of them got pardoned.

But the second wave of imprisonments would not stick. Philip Hoby’s imprisonment was brief, apparently, and Simon Haynes Dean of Exeter got released July 5th, just before Henry married Katherine. People in Henry’s orbit he found personally inoffensive could still defy the law as Gardiner wielded it.

But apparently Gardiner couldn’t help himself, and still aimed for the near untouchable Archbishop Cranmer this time around, because what’s an attempted purge if you haven’t tried to kill Cranmer? According to an interview with a guy that used to work for Cranmer (21) , Henry came rowing down the Thames one evening that summer, to stop at Lambeth Palace to call on the Archbishop and say:

“My Lord, I now know who is the greatest heretic in Kent”(21)

and to say that it was Cranmer. Ha.Hahaha. What a jape.

More practically Henry had also popped around to say that he’d decided to make Cranmer the head of the commission investigating all this (Despite Cranmer’s protests because Cranmer was a political idiot). So that was that for this round of battle royale religious politics then.

Dinner is served

Back in The Tudors where we haven’t seen Cranmer since the end of Season 2 it is dinner time, and Lady Latimer has been invited to a semi informal meal with the King and his oldest daughter, and his Seymour branch of in laws.

And Suffolk and Surrey on the drinks and Chapuys, it looks like a good time.

Henry kind of redirects the evening by asking Katherine how her husband is doing.

Henry says he is sorry to hear that and then Katherine thanks him for the stalkerish present he got for her. While making it absolutely clear that the headline must be that Katherine Parr is not slutting about for fine dresses.

Henry explains that he did it because he saw Katherine looking sad. He wanted to get her something to make her smile.

And she’s kind of obliged to smile at that, so he can “mission accomplished” the incident, and everyone can get on with ignoring how weird that was. Except Thomas Seymour who is kind of chucking back the wine.

So, Henry brings up everyone’s favorite dinner time subject, when are we invading France and how awesome will we be at it?

Although I think Edward Seymours’ non verbal “Tosspot” to Surrey is my favorite non line.

After the palate cleanser of imaginary France invasion league, Henry asks Katherine if she plays cards, she does so Henry now gets to play cards with his crush.

In an amazing top. But it’s fine he’s just a lonely man with an amazing wardrobe that’s set his cap at you.

I don’t know what the game they’re playing is, but it must have a time element, because it involves rapid slapping down of cards and everyone gets a bit kinetic and giggly. Henry and Katherine’s energy gets noticed by people other than Thomas Seymour.

As the volume slowly rises in Katherine and Henry’s corner Suffolk wanders over to see Hertford. When dealing with the vindictive and increasingly powerful Hertford, Brandon still has his “Coolest girl in school” energy.

And Hertford’s inability to understand that Brandon might just be feeling human compassion regardless of religious affiliation is why Brandon gets to keep that ‘Coolest Girl in School’ energy, you may ask, Hertford. It does not mean you will understand even if I tell you. It’s also probably going to fuel Hertford’s mis-identification of Brandon as shhh:Secret Protestant later in the series.

Meanwhile Thomas finishes another drink and goes walking over to the corner like a man who needs to see what’s under the sink.

To find Katherine winning a hand and Henry trying to foist a prize upon her. She refuses it twice.

But Henry insists on her opening the small package.

It’s a horrid ring. It’s heavy and clunky, and the shit that would get caught in that setting is ridiculous. I will call this one ‘Always in for cleaning and it is ugly anyway’. And I will remember you.

She tries refusing a definitive third time, but Henry’s not having any of it.

But it’s OK, he’s just a lonely man that has set his cap at you . That has to solve something, right?

Thomas Seymour comes around the corner just in time for the lonely man with a set cap to send his ass to Brussels.

Thomas Seymour did become ambassador to the Netherlands in May 1543, but it’s generally considered that the move was on the cards from at least March that year(22). Henry benefited from his rival’s move but it was a lot less of an ‘on the nose’ power move than The Tudors has it.

After Party

The after party consists of Henry, Brandon, a flagon of wine and a clock.

It’s not banging but it’s doing what it needs to.

And consists of Brandon asking awkward questions, like is Henry considering another marriage?

Katherine Parr. Really? Katherine Parr? Ugh. Katherine Parr Ugh…Hot.

And if he really wants to go to war again, which Henry interprets as a bit on an attack on his manhood.

Because anything that stops him from doing stuff is an attack on his manhood. He might be projecting a bit.

The Brandon/Henry bromance survives Henry’s current brush against the passage of time, and we go to the Latimer house where John Latimer has very little left of it.

The next part is a disturbing moment from The Tudors. Whether caused by watching Henry’s advances, or whether he might have caught wind of Katherine and Thomas, or whether closeness to death is just causing him to hallucinate, John Neville, Baron Latimer is going out bitter. At Katherine.

She’s crying and a little beside herself, absolutely insisting that she must tell him something, and then he turns to her and tell her to “Go to Hell”.

And her reaction is amazing, going from relief that he can still talk to her, “Did he just actually say that?” to really wondering if the chaplain or the kids caught that because that was messed up.

Still, enough about Katherine, what about Henry’s needs?

We go to Whitehall at night.

To a Henry who is lonely and not getting to sleep.

We cut to morning, and I think we’re supposed to be right after her husband’s death. A day, maybe two.

That’s either her draped husband’s coffin or a whole lot of tablecloth for the occasion.

Risley and Hertford seem a little embarrassed by the job they have to do. And we’re clearly not going by the most likely actual historical deadline, which is John Neville dies 2nd March 1543, Katherine’s brother William and her uncle get important government posts and new titles in April, Henry proposes probably late April, Thomas Seymour goes to Brussels in May, Katherine accepts before 20th June.

We’ve been bamboozled by that damn tailor’s bill into a lot of unnecessary timeline drama but look at this:

That might sound like a statement, but it’s actually a question. I mean it’s hard to tell what the answer to that question could possibly be apart from “Yes”, but that’s technically a question and Henry’s come a way since he annouceproposed to Jane.

Henry VIII, growing as a human person. Just a tiny bit.


  1. Too much to comment on right now but you just taught me more than any college history course did on this period.

    Your caps under the pics or gif’s are working OVERTIME. I laughed throughout this…no, really I did.

    I won’t be inviting Anne and Thomas over for thanksgiving. I mean, mean. But I guess necessary..?

    Brandon is SO THE COOLEST GIRL IN SCHOOL. Omgosh I couldn’t find a better way to say- Edward wants some ‘splaining’ about Charles interest in the ‘nest of heretics’ tomfoolery…and Brandon cool girlz him down. I love you Charles. I meant I missed you. I’m not objectifying him. It’s just that our personality’s and temperments are so similar! (Except the evil planning meetings to execute Wolsey and cromner mean girls meetings. I told him not to do it. I said the duchess will have ‘lost that luvin feeling’ but he didn’t listen.) still, he’s my best historical friend. He will get saucy later I bet…

    I may add more but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that this piece or writing was one that gave me totally unknown material. So thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh noooo. I’m going through autocrat withdrawal. Will you do the rest of the episodes? Pretty please with cheese on top? I’ll buy you a nice Prosecco and make you some butter cookies to eat while you do it. I promise!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay, this is why I need you to do your magic and write recaps- they truly are a joy to read and make me laugh so much- but also the level of your knowledge is over the top. When I watch this show I invariably end up looking things up, which is when I found your blog. As you have said in so many words, there are a lot of post hoc fallacies among historians with the evidence becoming causal and weaving a story that could or could not be true. That said, you’re the only one that provides references to this extent. I have always been interested Catherine Parr. I find it impressive that she made learning a life long goal. I have read sources that say she had been a lady to queens- but I have also said this was not accurate. Did Henry choose from the posh help again? I mean I know it’s his ‘thing’. Surely one knows that the royal penis as lawful vagina detector (Anne of cleves recaps to those that might think I’m just disturbed a bit) – well we all know that it wasn’t up to it. Sorry. But you know what I mean, it’s failed over and over….and maybe Henry learned this over time and was wise to choose a lovely young hot wife. (By the way thank you for the portraits, I had only seen one of them. She’s lovely. But again the hair color question I asked you.) so was she posh help? I know her mom was to first queen Catherine.

    A side question which is totally out of the blue – I read in your references about the court thinking that perhaps Henry might take Anne of cleves back and she was highly thought of and considered her to be sort of flawless in respective to ms. Howard…something like ‘noone could question her dignity or character’ in her behavior given all that had happened. (That is so not a direct quote, just the general idea). Some historians say that she wanted to be Henry’s queen or she didn’t like Parr but all I can see is that Anne said something to the effect that Parr was taking on a great deal. Which to me doesn’t say she didn’t like her but maybe felt bad for her, knowing how Henry’s queens were often treated or they ended up dead. Is there anything else to this notion that Anne didnt like Parr? I mean it’s written as fact that she didn’t like her or was jealous or felt slighted for not being chosen again by many and if that’s the only thing she said – well to me it says more about Henry than Katherine Parr. (Total non sequitur and I’m sorry but I have all of these questions and you seem just to know all of this off the top of your head sooo)

    I know these must take a tremendous amount of time and energy so I don’t mean to pester you with questions….just when you can. You are the antidote to ‘post hoc fallacy written as actual history problem’ for me. Every field makes them. With history you can see a whoooole lot of them. I imagine that like, say archeologists, piecing together the whole picture is part of the fun- but I prefer when it’s presented as you do, like a hypothesis or a probability is different than saying ‘this is THE TRUTH’ so I once again go to my favorite historian to get the truths. (That b you) cheers! Thank you again for all of these😊

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Dear Autocrat,

    I just wanted to thank you for these glorious recaps. I’ve just stumbled upon them and they have had me hanging on my phone way longer than normally for the last few weeks. I have loved the series just after it first aired and I was in my late Teens an dhad absolutely no knowledge of Tudor history. Rewatching it now, with more background knowledge is definitely a different experience and your recaps are the perfect companion as they bring some hilarious commentary as well as more information than I could’ve asked for! I really hope that you are able to finish them.
    I wish you and your loved ones happy holidays an that you stay healthy and safe!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Laura! Comments like yours are what keeps me going, and in honour of your taking the time to comment over the holidays I’ll promise the next recap by the end of the 28th December. It’s like, 60% done but I think I’m over the hump with that one (I’ve hit two things with issues in the current popular historical record this episode – fascinating to get through but it all takes time). I start writing it again tomorrow, and I am off work until the 10th of Jan so I should manage some New Years stuff this year.
      A safe and joyful Happy Holidays to you and yours as well. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and I’m really glad you enjoyed the recaps.

      Liked by 1 person

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