Boulogne Has Fallen
The men cheer, they hear the words they want to hear, and in the Battle Pavillion Surrey and Henry bro out their victory slaps and grunts of satisfaction.
We did the thing we came to do. Great, now can we all go home and start trying to murder each other again?
The News Moves
The Tudors doesn’t always announce locations when it moves.
When her brother in law (Anne’s husband) gave Queen Katherine the news of Henry’s success on 19th September 1544 she and the Council and the kids were all at Woking in Surrey (1) trying to avoid the plague which was having a London Season of it(2).
After Solway Moss, and particularly James V’s death, England was still on the front foot with Scotland, but the first thing Katherine did was to have the victory proclaimed, and thanksgiving masses arranged all across the north of England in particular(3). The Scots would love to get into England when there wasn’t a full army there, and the Pilgrimage of Grace was still less than a decade old. Keep the country quiet, that was her job.
The Tudors gives us the family reception of the news and it is something even Henry might have been pleased with. Queen Katherine is clearly delighted, along with everyone else and much is made of his being a victorious conqueror.
While also thrilled, Mary seems preoccupied, and remains out of the centre of the shining celebrations.
Again, this is early for the turn in Mary and Katherine’s relationship. They fell out fr when Katherine remarried Thomas “Hot Mess Express” Seymour just 3-4 months after Henry died and Katherine Parr had died herself by the time Mary got her full Zealot Queen shoes on (1555ish).
The Old Soldier’s Reward
The Governor of Boulogne is invited to take the long walk up to give it up to Henry.
The Governor is a full grade Frenchman. Choosing the words of his surrender very carefully.
The wardrobe dept’s little sleight of hand in dressing him works out. He’s wearing clothes two or three sizes too large for him and I believe he went into the seige a heftier guy than he came out.
Two interesting things, this is back when “Keys to the City” meant access to our grain and gunpowder stores so it really meant something. The other is that Brandon takes the keys with a respectful “Monsieur” and Henry gives Brandon an eye flick.
Like he’s somehow diappointed with the way he did it, should Brandon have waited for Henry to harangue him a bit? Also slapped the guy? Possibly.
The Governor of Boulogne gets to his point, and pretty much the only thing that would have him on his kness in front of Henry – to ask for safe passage and clemency for the remaining townspeople and the unarmed garrison, which Actually Historically totalled about 2000 people(4).
Sieges were historically (TW rape) difficult. There was an extent to which a 16th Century Soldier did have to soldier by the rules. Henry, Wolsey and Norfolk kept a very tight rein during Henry’s 1513 campaign and here in 1544, too, you could be hung by the wayside for so much as looting the populace without permission(5).
They might have started reading out the military law to soldiers that had joined up by this point in English history, but there was a sense in which the aftermath of successful sieges were considered somewhat…free. Threatening the population was a general tactic used to shorten seiges, the population should have surrendered if they didn’t want a sacking, making us stay in all this mud and dying.
While the punishment for rape was death in Henry’s army of 1544, and everyone knew that, a large part of the soldiery believed there was a ‘right to rape and loot’ inherent in a successful siege(6). Because everyone also knew that after a seige, normal rules got suspended, as it were. And apparently “What happens at the sacking stays at the sacking” was quite the era’s military recruiting tool. (6a)
European Militaries started by being modelled on the Roman Military and the Roman Military had a policy which meant that once ‘The ram has touched the wall’ of a city they would show no mercy. No one wanted to be sitting around beseiging, so that was how it started. Motivate the locals, doesn’t matter how, and get on the march again. Soldiers in this era also knew that post seige looting was their only chance for a big payout.
If developing militaries were looking for direction re: Civilians and what we can do with them, well the Bible was where everyone was turning in the 16th Century for new answers and the accounts of biblical sieges were basically a double thumbs up and a ‘fill your boots’ for a ‘no rules at a sacking’ military too.
So this was an important ask for the Captain of Boulogne, for civilians that would otherwise have no protection, and Henry gave that assurance. In fact, he made sure that his soldiers did not enter Boulogne until the civilian population left, granted them safe passage to Abbeville and gave them a few guards to get them there safely(7).
And everyone publicly saw the great mercy that the Good Christian King Henry extended. And Henry was called greater than Alexander by an Englishman in a 16th Century biography (8) for sparing the population of Boulogne.
And his protection to that population lasted a whole few miles down the road, at which point the good remainers of Boulogne were attacked, beaten and robbed. They were stripped of all their goods and useful clothing and one account states some of the women got raped, probably all by soldiers working for England if not their actual guards(9).
Once they got through that, they were possessionless, in thin clothing, in terrible lashing rain heading to winter, and in a desolated landscape that had been getting systematically stripped of anything edible for three months and most of the harvest season, with almost no building left standing.
While common soldiers that looted did get hanged, that happened while Norfolk was on his early mission which was repeated ‘burn the villiages and all their food and food buildings’ runs. No unofficial looting while you’re supposed to be burning all the stuff they need to survive. The insubordination of it, that’s what they were hanged for, not the damage to the civilian population.
Because no one was going for hearts and minds. Boulogne was being readied to be a colony, which meant it got the Irish treatment: a spirited attempt at emptying it out of all humanity by whatever means necessary. Get all the Boullonaise out, and English Soldier Farmers in. We got our own spare starving working class for the heavy work.
That line Surrey’s friend had about the French begging for a scrap of food to feed their children? That’s from the actual contemporary testimony of a serving Welsh soldier.
The local land was depopulated by around 90%(10). There was nowhere to get food or clothes or rest. One you had burned down someone’s home and possessions you could call them thieves and brigands hiding in the woods, and the English had been hunting those down all summer. The population of the last out from Boulogne embarking mid September needed about thirty miles of protection to get somewhere approaching safety. They got about three.
That Welsh soldier from earlier was Elis Gruffydd – He was stationed at Montreuil and kept a journal, was amazingly interested in recording what had happened to the people he saw, (possibly a guy with early advanced empathy – Hella disability to live with in the 1540s) and he saw the Boulogne refugees try to shelter in ‘the ruins of a church and village which we had burnt a short time before. Many both old and young died there of cold’ (11)
Disease from the chaos did the most damage to the population, Gruffydd also passed through a villiage of ‘as many as a hundred people, old and young, with not one healthy man among them, but all shivering with ague [a malarial fever], and death in their faces from the scarcity and lack of bread to strengthen them.”(12)
All in all, probably 50,000 civilians died as a result of the English Invasion, more than the total number of any one of the three combatants’ armies. England held Boulogne for 6 years and devastated the area for more than a generation, most of the ‘fighting’ was soldiers against civilians.
Still, Henry won.
We go to the command tent, and as we walk in we are treated to some of the humour we almost certainly would have heard if we had been invited. OMG, Did you see how skinny everyone was when they came out?
While we are here it is time to say The Tudors has been seriously selling short Henry’s swag. This arrangement we see in The Tudors would probably just have been his reception tent. You would have walked through it before you got to Henry’s ‘Tiny Travel Battle Home’ (Tiny for a guy that was used to palaces), a wooden lodging of many rooms that was designed to be mobile and could be disassembled and reassembled and lasted at least until his death (it was noted in his effects)(14).
So, in what would have been the proletarian end of his actual historical accomodation, Henry finds Hertford, the one lord of his Council that wasn’t keen on the French invasion and presses him on how awesome this has all turned out. And, as ever, Hertford manages to disappoint Henry by reading the subtext and giving him exactly what he wanted so precisely it ended up being an unitentional ‘read’.
Henry goes and gives a toast to War and Victory (He’s mentioning victory a lot, go heavy on victory), and then briefly sits alone in VIP before asking Brandon to join him to tell him just how much he appreciates the work Brandon has put in.
Brandon has that pure young heart that younger Hertford is missing. So he is confused with how they’re not going on to Paris like they said they would. Brandon is genuine, so Brandon completely flubs his lines in Henry’s victory play.
We left Charles HRE and his army at St Dizier, about 150 miles from Paris, in mid August, St Dizier had just fallen. Francis had his 45,000 strong army stationed at Jalons, about a third of the way Charles needed to come to get to Paris. Charles, knowing the clock was ticking (and St Dizier holding out for so long was a big stumbling block for him, in what was a time trial) changed focus more than once. He needed to reach something important enough to squeeze and bring Francis to the table. First, he was going to beseige and take Chalons sur Marne, then he found out Francis’ army camp was at Jalons and changed his mind and forced a march to Epernay to meet them from a vulnerable point. But he and his army arrived just as they had secured their defences and the only bridge through which Charles could reach them.
So Charles turned again, and the cities he came to just had to capitulate, as he mowed through them on his way, now to Paris, and with his advisors warning him constantly:
” In all Spain there is nowhere to raise a Ducat this year or next”(15). Knowing, that even with the best weather and luck, his money would run out at the end of September, Charles finally made the headway he needed, when only about 70 miles from Paris he suddenly turned north on September 12th, attacked and took Soissons and gained the bridgehead at Aisne(16).
The last French bridge between his army and Henry’s.
And as soon as he heard that, Francis finally indicated that he might come to the negtiating table and he might mean it. Despite later narratives of the English knowing nothing about all this, on 7th September Charles HRE secured safe passage for his envoy, Antione Perrenot, to go to Boulogne with a message for Henry. Which he delivered. It boiled down to: Are you ready to move? Are you going to march, with me, on Paris? How Soon? Because if not, I’m taking the best deal I can get out of Francis with what I’ve done and I am going home. (16)
The English taking of Boulogne about a week later was what brought Francis firmly to heel, because a dual English & Imperial army marching into Paris was suddenly awfully possible. And Francis wasn’t giving signals anymore , he was asking what Charles wanted.
In the event, Charles seems not to have pushed his luck. He got what he mainly wanted and what, for this campaign, he was kind of due.
The French were seperated from their Ottoman Ally, No one was talking about France getting Milan any more, and all members of the French Royal family would drop their claims to Naples, so Charles was getting those big chunks of Italy which they’d been fighting over for 2 decades by this point. He also resurrected the ‘split up the French throne by a kind of Gravelkind’ deal with some betrothals and related territory gifts Francis had to agree, but they safely never came to anything. Francis also secretly agreed to help Charles against his own Protetant Germans if it came to that, and no the English weren’t included in negoitiations and in that sense it was a ‘secret’ treaty, but the evidence is that Charles directly told Henry it was coming, and had offered an alternative path that Henry chose not to take.
Henry’s army was broadly in better shape than The Tudors is insisting, but he too had spent enough money this year, and refortifying Boulogne was going to cost another fortune. Boulogne was what he had come for. He wanted the (limited for the pain it took) expansion but he wanted to be known as a conqueror even more. Boulogne had done that for him, it was also the one part of real France he’d ever truly known before now. Whenever there were diplomatic visits, Boulogne was the town the French King would meet him in. Henry got to colour all those memories with the taste of victory, and it was enough.
Henry was getting plans to leave in place by 19th September 1544, the day after the Treaty of Crepy was signed and some time before he should have known about it. (17)
Who ever said anything about Paris?
Henry also disappoints Brandon in the matter of who is to govern Boulogne. In fact he left the Actual Historical task of garrisoning the town to Norfolk, (who, as he does not appear in The Tudors, this season Surrey is kind of playing a bit), and then it went to a guy called Poynings, who was apparently very good, then when he died Lord Grey de Wilton held it for a while waiting for a replacement, and that replacement in late August 1545 was Surrey who got a bit more power than his predecessors(18).
Anyway, Henry anachronistically disappoints Brandon, because Brandon clearly does not think Surrey is right for the job. He almost “What about me?”s, but stops himself.
And I think this Henry knows something his naive friend doesn’t. He knows that Boulogne is going to be a high % proof poison chalice, and better Surrey drinking from it than Brandon.
Into the West
We move out to the camp, where the morning looks good, and soldiers are leaving and preparing to leave.
But we are focused on the crosses.
Once he comes into focus Harry Hirst catches our eye, he looks a lot smarter than he did and he’s got a haircut. Probably been quite the lauded hero this last week.
But I don’t think he felt it, really. We’re in the graveyard and he’s purposefully headed toward Richard’s grave with a cross we can presume he’s made. Probably dug the grave, too. He knows exactly where it is. And as he places the cross, and the little white flower with a face already full of survivor’s guilt before he says sorry,
For so many generations before us, sometimes all they had to remember the lost people they had loved, was just a flower.
Bye Harry – Jody Latham, probably best known for being Lip in the UK Shameless and some extended roles some of the bigger UK soaps (and some dramas). Bye Richard – Moe Dunford, Aethelwulf in Vikings,in The Dig and two shows out this year. The boys ended up doing rather well.
Just Go Home and Get a Room
But boy, am I in no mood this week for the world’s most pointlessly extended passive aggresive battleground flirtation. Or Brigitte as a window on the French population’s experience.
Brigitte is not taking “Free to Go” well. This is, perhaps, something Brandon might have anticipated for this moment, given that she lightly stalked him into bed. But no, he had no plan for dealing with it.
I mean at that point he tells her that “No, she is worth everything”. So maybe just wait until she spins out and then save the situation was his plan.
He invites her to come back with him, to England.
He tells her he loves her. He seems like he means it. And they join up, presumably so Brandon can spend a lot of time answering the questions “Do you not love me today? did I become ‘ideous overnight?” and so she can put up with him being emotionally witholding right up until she collapses, which should be just about every day at 2pm.
I said Get. a. room.
They Think It’s All Dover
Back home, and straight to a relationship with some meat on the bones.
And isn’t it great to come home to a Queen who knows how to do the job. This public/private reunion is beautifully handled by them both and the Queen only needs one small prompt (She forgot to go heavy on victorious at first, but then she hits it fine.)
While it is a personal reunion with genuine emotion this meeting is also about both of them fulfilling archetypes in public – he as the returning Warrior King, she as the loving Queen greeting the victor home.
Everyone does well, particularly Queen Katherine, who on the way out walks very close to her husband, concealing a little that he is in fact leaning on her. They pass Bishop Gardiner.
Bishop Gardiner might well look downcast and plotless, here. Actually Historically when the Queen got the news of the victory and Henry’s planned return she scaled back her council attendance and spent some time with the kids in the Home Counties.(19)
But, in a move I think we can say predicted quite well the priorities of her husband, as soon as she knew he was landing, she dumped the kids, went to Kent and took him on a bit of a second honeymoon, where they could spend their time basking in being Europe’s latest power couple, until the plague cleared and they went back to London.(20)
Time for the symbolic booty show. It’s not huge drip for a summer spent looting en France. We get our standards, their standard, Keys to the City, and presumably some kind of symbolic sword arrangement at the back.
But the conqueror himself looks great,
and more importantly pleased with his reception. Queen Katherine is wearing Queen Jane Seymour’s most sumptuous vintage look, the crowd is all cheers, the royal family all smiles. Won’t someone save me from this?
Ah, Thank God, Bishop Gardiner and Councillors Rich and Wriothesley are here to foment discontent right up until they start plotting in that corner.
Gardiner introduces the topic and sets the tone. What he gets in this discussion are the bullet points of a letter he wrote to Secretary Paget in November 1544:
“I consider we be in war with France and Scotland. We have an enemy [in] the Bishop of Rome. We have no friendship assured here” and
“…our war is Noisome to the wealth of our own realm and it is so noisome to all merchants that must traffic by us”(21) was his recorded opinion.
He also mentioned goods shortages at home.
Rich’s lines are also Actual Historical, but they were Wriothesley’s and from 12 months later, once the money issues really started kicking in.
“I am at my wits’ end how we shall possibly shift for [the] three months following and especially for the two next.”(22)
So, The Tudors will be mentioning the money worries again, as it should, but it is largely going to skip over the conflict with France and full financial crises that followed the capture of Boulogne.
The campaign at Boulogne had been budgeted to cost £250,000.
It actually cost around £700,000 in 1544 and another £560,000 in 1555(23). And as rich as his reign had made Henry, this spending was completely unsustainable.
But What Do when it’s your tyrant’s passion project? Safest bet is probably to find something else to worry at until Brandon eventually starts bringing it up because the Kingdom’s about to collapse.
Well Wriothesley is apparently on point for this, and has been working on his religious fervour while we were away, and he thinks Queen Katherine O’Clock should be coming.
Bon Voyage, Old Friend
But not quite Goodbye. Chapuys has his personal farewell to Mary coming up so this is just the formal farewell reception.
We’ve jumped ahead to early May 1545, and Chapuys’ departure from the English Court. Although from the proximity of the scenes in The Tudors it just feels like maybe a few days.
Chapuys comes slowly up to the Throne, both because his gout means he has to walk with two walking sticks and because he’s acknowledging old friends here to see him go.
He’s clearly going to have diffculty bowing and Katherine turns to Henry to ask the unvocalised question “Should we let him sit?”, but the unvoclised answer comes back from Henry: No, he has some unfinished business with the Empire for Chapuys’ last day.
Chapuys goes right into a discussion with Queen Katherine, starting with thanking her for the friendship and care she has shown to Mary, and when they get onto the friendship between the two nations, she gets to show her diplomatic chops, which is appropriate for two reasons.
Actually Historically Chapuys recorded and reported on his farewell ‘do’. (24) He arrived an hour early for the pre event, and was amazed when Queen Catherine came down from her apartments, specifically to talk to him, accompanied by the lady Mary. Queen Catherine also stepped away so he could talk to Mary with a degree of privacy.
It’s what we used to call condescention before that word was a perjorative. Social stations used to be much harder barriers, and condescention meant someone of a higher social station, voluntarily (if momentarily) stepping down from the advantages their station awards them in society, in order to make someone else more comfortable.
Perhaps some of the old skills were worth keeping up.
Something that struck Chapuys so hard he mentioned it was her concern for his comfort: “the Queen, being anxious, as it seemed to me, that I should not suffer from having to stand too long.“(24)
When they got back to talking she was full of delicate flattery and diplomatic interest. Chapuys had a high opinion of Katherine Parr, not least because of her fairness and kindness to Mary. But she was, secretly, making diplomatic moves against the Empire.In her biography of Katherine, Linda Porter points out that right as she was sat here cementing Chpuys’ good opinion of her, her secretary Walter Bucler, along with Christopher Mount, had been in Europe for months trying to forge a league containing the Kings of England and Denmark and the majority of the Emperor’s German Protestant territories. (25)
Which Charles HRE would have shit a brick at, had he known, so…
Anyway, actually historically Chapuys then had an informal with some councillors before seeing Henry, and Wriothesley and Suffolk both underlined that England was looking for peace and a treaty and even at one point begged for material assitance at Boulogne. Before pointing out that they were not talking for the King and not to mention it to him. At all.(24).
Chapuys didn’t, and found a Henry nowhere near as desperate as his councillors for peace and happily boasting about how beaten and in what a sorry condition the French were (possibly forgetting he had never actually come up against the French Army, that they’d mainly fought civilians they’d been starving), and that he didn’t really need a truce, anyway. (24)
Instead, in The Tudors, we get a Henry incenced at the seperate peace Charles has made with Francis and which, actually historically, he was warned about probably at least 9 days before it was signed, and long before he came home. But here it makes for an interesting flashpoint, and a final piece of drama between Henry and the longest serving and most influential ambassador at his court.
Henry is angry and won’t take Chapuys’ reasoning, but he is clear the target for his anger is the Emperor. The winds somewhat blow past Chapuys, and Henry manages to angrily wish him a long and happy retirement.
They Got a Room
F for respects, unless Anne Seymour takes another lover I think this is our last nudity in The Tudors.
I think Brigitte’s love language is seeding limited chaos. What else to explain this weirdly escalating series of questions about his wife, whose dress she is presumably examining, followed by the startler “When shall I meet her?”
Your boyfriend likes to right boats, so you toss out conversational weird shit until the boat moves? Is that it?
I do not care enough to truly figure out their deal, but it does seem a bit co-dependent. They’re still very good to each other though so if it works for them, then great.
I just wouldn’t want to get invited to a long dinner with them.
Anyway, he gets her to break out the nudity. And I break out the paint censor one last time.
He’s quietly moved by her nudie beauty, and they smooch.
Goodbye Great Ambassador
These used to just be for Queens, but if Cromwell got one, why not Chapuys? He’s been with us since Season 1 Episode 3 of The Tudors. It’s time to say goodbye to Anthony Brophy’s Eustace Chapuys.
It’s easy this time, there’s never been a Chapuys in a major Henry adaptation that can compare with it. Brophy was in 24 epsiodes of The Tudors, that’s more than anyone except Cavill and JRM. If Eustace Chapuys had existed in adaptation before this was almost a walk on part with a couple of flourishes. Later, Mathieu Almaric did well in Wolf Hall but the part was still relatively small.
History nerds love Chapuys- gossipy, brilliant, and insightful, he’s realistically the only primary source that still stands at chance at entertaining you from time to time. Chapuys could bring out subtext, and that’s a skill that aged well. He was also a master spymaster and an intriguer and there’s really no competition for the best adaptation of Eustace Chapuys prize, it’s this one.
They got his devotion to and close relationship with Mary,
which was known and noted, and can also be seen from his writing, how he campaigned for her interests with the Empire. This hugely important relationship for both of them could well have been largely as the Tudors depicts it. She would rely on Charles HRE’s advice for the rest of her life and trust him totally, probably because in her mind, Chapuys, her only ally in the darkest times, was the Empire. And he had always been there for her.
The Tudors also gets his humour, and as time went on they made him this more laid back court professional, quietly amazed by the excesses of the English, and with time and spare capacity to chat and even joke a bit with his opposite number.
Best. Chapuys. Ever. Anthony Brophy has been busy ever since, including the run on Vikings that many The Tudors alumni got, and with a long running part in Red Rock, a popular police and corruption drama (Irish Smalltown The Shield) that was quite a ride.
We will miss Chapuys. It’s the end of an era. But we know someone that will miss him even more.
Goodbye Politics and Emotions Dad
Mary will be talking about her future reign this scene and Mary is wearing a crown as she basically freaks out that Chapuys is leaving. She tries forbidding him, but he can’t not go. He says “You see how it is with me” – the gout has basically crippled him, and he points out that he can kind of can leave her because for once she is in a pretty secure position.
Queen Catherine loves her and has been a reliable ally to her. But The Tudors Mary is getting her religious extremism in early, becasue we’re pointing ahead to who she’s goign to be. So woe unto her very reasonable step mother.
Mary realizes she should not be blaming Chapuys for this situation when she could be blaming herself.
Mary goes on a bit of a rant/thesis for her rule.
Chapuys, instead of running towards her with his arms out and his hands waving, yelling “Other options! There are other options!” is an Imperial man of his time so all this burning talk just goes right under the radar as reasonable religious expression, and he just seems to be quite impressed with it.
But he’s also very sad, and rises, and asks permission oh so very gently, to hug her. Her ‘Oh, dear God yes‘ reaction just underlines that paternal relationship they have. He ends up by giving her a ring, precious to him, that he got from the Emperor, who had received as a gift from her mother.
Oh, Goodbye Politics and Emotions Dad. You will be sorely missed.
A Very Glorious Affair
Bio Dad is in his study, with the swag from his victory around him, the standards, the keys of the city, all the maps he commissioned.
Hertford comes in to give him some crappy news (Treaty details) and crappier news (The French Army is coming to Boulogne) and Henry is not very responsive.
In fact, Henry has been looking ill, specifically with leg trouble ever since he got back and went to meet the Queen, and he’s now covered it up for long enough that he’s got a raging infection and he’s ready to collapse.
He’s still taking in what Hertford is saying, but doing anything is taking him 110%, the man is ill, so there’s no yelling, he just acknowledges receipt of the shitty news and then gets to what Henry wants. What this has all really been about.
I think it’s Herford’s reactions in this that I love the best. He knew this was what is was, but he’s still clearly deeply disappointed at just how much this was for historical clout. If this were our age, I think Hertford would be looking up Advisor vancancies at other monarchies the moment he went through the door.
Henry is left alone, and starting to physically fail. It briefly feels like 1994 as The Tudors shows Henry’s fevered perceptions by messing with the aspect ratio.
Henry, more alone than he used to be and currently unattended, feels himself slipping, and grabs at the items on the table as he crashes to the ground. The standards and keys lie around his unconscious body as we pull back, and a theme of uncertainty and tension is slowly built.
And I feel we are given a sense, little by little, that for the first time in a very long time,
the Kingdom is starting to move back into play.
Everyone’s going to start trying to kill each other. Exiting times ahead!