Wolf Hall: Anna Regina

Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn in Wolf HallPreviously on Wolf Hall: Wolsey died en route to prison, setting Cromwell on a revenge path against the Boleyns and everyone else involved in his downfall.

It’s now 1531, and Henry’s asking Parliament to declare him Supreme Head of the Church of England, so he can declare his own marriage to Katherine null and void. That’s not going over too well with loyal Catholics, like More, who enjoys spending his afternoons reading aloud from the Bible (or a prayerbook) while some poor bastard gets tortured.

Continue reading “Wolf Hall: Anna Regina”

The Princess of Wales

On 19 May 1499, a young Catherine of Aragon married, by proxy, Arthur, Prince of Wales, unwittingly taking her first steps on her journey into living hell. Catherine was only three years old when she became engaged to Arthur, and not yet 14 when the proxy marriage took place. She and Arthur corresponded in Latin, that well-known language of love, until Arthur turned 15 and … Continue reading The Princess of Wales

Good Queen Bess

Happy coronation day, Elizabeth! That’s right: on January 15, 1559, Elizabeth I, last monarch of the House of Tudor, was crowned Queen of England in Westminster Abbey, following her accession on November 17, 1558. After a highly unstable childhood, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn somehow managed to weather the reign of her devoutly Catholic half-sister, Mary, who was a little too fond … Continue reading Good Queen Bess

Third Time’s a Charm

Halfway there! On May 30, 1536, Henry VIII married his third wife, Jane Seymour, a mere 13 days after the execution of Anne Boleyn on trumped-up charges of adultery, treason, and incest. Oh, Henry. You were such an asshole. Jane was no stranger to the court, having served as a maid-of-honour to both Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Henry began paying her attention when … Continue reading Third Time’s a Charm

That’s One Way to Avoid Prison

Thomas Wolsey, a cardinal who was named Lord Chancellor under Henry VIII, became the subject of the children’s rhyme Humpty Dumpty when he suffered a “great fall” in 1530. His descent ended on November 29 when he died on his way to prison. Wolsey is thought to have been a spectacular example of social climbing: he was born around 1473 to Robert Wolsey, who may … Continue reading That’s One Way to Avoid Prison

England’s Got a New Queen

On June 1, 1533, England got a new queen: Anne Boleyn. Anne was crowned in a spectacular ceremony at Westminster Abbey just four days after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, declared her marriage to Henry VIII valid. Anne and Henry were married in secret shortly after returning from a meeting with the King of France in Calais in late 1532. Shortly after, she became … Continue reading England’s Got a New Queen

The Beginning of the End

May 15 was the beginning of the end for a pair of 16th century queens. First, in 1536, Anne Boleyn was brought to trial on (almost certainly) bogus charges of adultery and incest and found guilty. Her brother, George Boleyn, who was accused of having a sexual relationship with her, was tried separately the same day and also found guilty. The trials came a day … Continue reading The Beginning of the End

The Tudors: Off With Her Head!

Previously on The Tudors: Henry fell for Jane Seymour and decided to jettison Anne. Anne, her brother, and several other men were arrested and charged with treason. All but Wyatt were sentenced to death, and the men all lost their heads.

Someone is polishing a very impressive sword by candlelight. Once the job is done, he blows out the candle, and we learn it’s May 15, 1536.

In England, we get a montage set to some lovely churchy choir music. A rider gallops through a misty field. In the fog-shrouded Tower, Anne prays. Henry lies awake in bed in the palace. At the Brandon house, Charles and Duchess Kate are fast asleep as a little boy squirms up between them. Charles wakes up for a moment, then rolls over and throws his arm over his wife and son. Aww. Back at the palace, Henry stands at the window, looking out at two swans on the lake. Then, he’s in the chapel, kneeling, as a women’s choir carrying candles stands behind him, singing the music we’ve been listening to this whole time. Leave it to Henry to have a women’s choir. And to be an asshole for no reason at all. He suddenly turns, looks at the choir for a moment, turns back to the alter, and then screams for them to be quiet before turning around and hurrying out of the chapel.

Continue reading “The Tudors: Off With Her Head!”

The Tudors: These Bloody Days

Previously on The Tudors: Henry got all hot for Jane Seymour, which put her social-climbing older brother, Edward, into a sort of Machiavellian overdrive. Henry almost died after falling off his horse during a joust, sending Anne into a panic and allowing her father and brother to dream of being kings in all but name during little Elizabeth’s minority. Henry recovered, Anne miscarried, and Henry decided he’s done with wife #2.

Ok, things start off super creepy—three physicians are presenting Henry with the remains of his and Anne’s miscarried baby. It’s covered up, in a bowl on the table in front of Henry, and the lead physician is telling the king that the fetus appeared to be male, but it was deformed, so the miscarriage was something of a blessing in disguise. Henry lifts the corner of the cloth covering the body and grimaces, then waves the doctors and attendants away. One of his footmen thoughtfully takes the baby in a bowl with him. Ick.

Continue reading “The Tudors: These Bloody Days”

The Tudors: Love For Sale

Previously on The Tudors: Katherine died and Anne got pregnant again, which I’m sure will end quite happily for her, right? Right? Also, Henry met the lovely blonde Jane Seymour and invited her to court and Cromwell started busting up monasteries in a big way.

Jane’s made it to court and is being escorted through that great hall where everyone hangs out by a young man, presumably her brother, Edward. He leads her to the door of Anne’s rooms and she goes in. One of the other ladies looks her up and down and snottily informs her that Anne’s on her way and Jane’s not to say a word until she’s given leave. What a friendly workplace!

Continue reading “The Tudors: Love For Sale”