The Nine Days’ Queen

Today, we remember one of England’s most tragic (and shortest reigning) monarchs: Lady Jane Grey, also known as the Nine Days’ Queen, who ruled England for just over a week and was executed at the age of 16 in 1554.

As the granddaughter of Mary Tudor (sister to Henry VIII) and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, Jane was in the direct line of succession. According to Henry VIII’s will, the crown would pass to Jane’s mother, Lady Frances Brandon, if all three of his children died without issue. The crown would then go down through Frances’s family, of which Jane was the eldest child. Jane received an excellent education, and she was highly intelligent. Her studies were one of the few things in her life that made her happy: her parents were difficult, scheming social climbers who bullied and abused their daughter when they weren’t using her to get ahead in the world.

Jane’s ambitious parents first schemed to marry her to her cousin, King Edward VI. This came to nothing, and Jane was instead betrothed to Guilford Dudley, a younger son of the 1st Duke of Northumberland, one of the most powerful men in England. Although Jane had no interest in marriage, the ceremony went ahead in 1553.

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The Tudors: Below the Belt

Previously on The Tudors: In a real hot mess of an episode, Henry married a teenage bimbo who was pretty much only charming to him, a toddler, and an exceptionally creepy groom.

Wow, a party straight off the bat. This might be a new record on the Start to Party meter. Kate, of course, is out dancing merrily, along with Seymour and his wife, who takes a second to eye Surrey, who’s watching the dancers.

From the balcony, Culpeper and Lady Rochford are also watching. Culpeper comments that Kate seems like a happy person, always dancing and partying. Lady R says she has every reason to be happy, since Henry spoils the hell out of her. Culpeper says that Henry’s pretty peppy these days too—up early, hunting, etc. Culpeper, gazing down at Kate, says she’s very appealing, but Lady R is under no illusions about her new employer and tells him Kate’s a fool. Nice to know somebody besides Mary noticed. Culpeper turns his attention to Lady R, commenting that it’s been a while since her husband died, and yet she hasn’t remarried. Down below, the dance ends and everyone applauds.

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The Duchess of Duke Street: A Bed of Roses

Previously on The Duchess of Duke Street: Louisa almost worked herself to death trying to pay off Gus’s debts and was rescued by the very timely re-introduction of Charlie Tyrell, erstwhile seducer of maids and rescuer of red-headed damsels in distress. He bought out the lease on The Bentink, filled it with fancy stuff, and proudly stood by with champagne as Louisa relaunched.

Charlie’s helping Louisa vet inquiries for rooms as she fusses around with some flowers and comments that there have been lots of inquiries but nobody’s actually checked in yet. Charlie easily says it’ll take time and she shouldn’t worry. Particularly since he’s talking the place up with all his high-class buddies.

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The Tudors: Headdesk

Previously on The Tudors: Henry got his son and then lost his third wife in quick succession. He then married and quickly got rid of Anne of Cleves, and then got rid of Cromwell in the most horrific botched beheading imaginable. While Cromwell was being tried on bogus charges and hacked to death, Henry was taking up with 17-year-old bimbo Katherine Howard.

New season, new characters in the credits: Tamzin Merchant as Katherine, Lothaire Bluteau as…some French guy I guess. Sarah Bolger! Regular cast member—yay! Torrance Coombs as, I think, Culpeper, and David O’Hara, who looks really, really different from how I remember him from Braveheart. I never would have connected him with Stephen the fun, crazy Irishman.

Whitehall, August 1540. In voiceover, Chapuys tells us that it hasn’t rained in two months. Man, that sucks. We also learn that Henry’s gone a bit overboard when it comes to jailing people accused of heresy and executing people left and right, and it’s apparently the hottest summer in living memory. Even the dignified Chapuys is sitting around in just a shirt that’s untied at the neck, dabbing his dripping forehead with a handkerchief. He goes on to say (he’s writing a letter to the emperor) that it’s rumored Henry’s already married to Katherine Howard and intends to present her to the world shortly. Great.

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The Tudors: Just Messing With You!

Previously on The Tudors: An utterly adorable Anne of Cleves arrived in England and got a strange, disgusted reaction from Henry, who married her nonetheless, mostly because he didn’t have a choice.

Henry starts off with his council, informing everyone that he can’t bring himself to have sex with his wife because he’s sure there’s some kind of impediment to the marriage. I think we’ve all heard that one before. He brings up Anne’s alleged precontract with the Duke of Lorraine’s son, and as the camera pans across the council members, we see Rich with the most hysterically funny flummoxed look on his face, like even he can’t figure out what Henry’s problem is with this woman. Henry tells them to look into the matter and find out if his scruples are justified. He leaves, and everyone bows, Brandon and Seymour exchanging smug smiles.

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Unto Us, a Dynasty is Born

This was quite a day for the Tudor dynasty. In 1457, the future Henry VII was born at Pembroke Castle in Wales. Exactly 90 years later, his son and successor, Henry VIII, died at the Palace of Whitehall. Those 90 years were, to say the least, important and tumultuous in the history of England (and Europe). Henry VII exploited a very distant and questionable claim … Continue reading Unto Us, a Dynasty is Born

The Tudors: Marriage Made in Hell

Previously on The Tudors: Cromwell tried to engineer a marriage between Henry and the Protestant Duchy of Cleves, and for some reason, the Duke’s caginess doesn’t raise any alarm bells at all.

Holbein hangs around in Cromwell’s busy office, waiting for the man himself to show up. When he does, he tells Holbein he needs him to head to Cleves and paint a portrait of Anne. He urges Holbein to make sure the Anne in the painting is easy on the eyes, despite her actual appearance, because there’s a lot riding on this marriage. Oddly, there’s a totally sloppy historical muck-up in this scene when Cromwell refers to Anne as the current Duke’s daughter, even though she’d been previously established as the duke’s sister (as she was in real life.) Oops!

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The Tudors: Sketchy

Previously on The Tudors: Henry locked himself away to grieve, and the court went right to hell. Once he reemerged, Cromwell suggested he marry again. Also, Reginald Pole, now a Cardinal, has been stirring up trouble in Europe.

Henry’s getting dressed with Brandon standing nearby. After dismissing his servant, Henry says that all the fighting at court was unacceptable, so he’s naming Charles president of the council and Lord Great Master. He’ll be in charge any time Henry’s indisposed or not around. It might have been a good idea to think this out before you locked yourself away for weeks or days or however long it was. Henry also mentions that he’s having Seymour look into the activities of the Pole family, all of whom are now under suspicion, thanks to Reginald’s activities.

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The Tudors: Fool

Previously on The Tudors: Brandon was sent north to needlessly slaughter a bunch of people, and started losing his mind a bit as a result. Henry’s joy at finally having a son was cut short when Jane died a few days after the birth.

In the chapel, Henry approaches Jane’s tomb, kneels beside it, and tells her he’ll be with her someday. And he was—they’re both buried at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, though I think they’re under the floor of the altar, not in tombs, but it’s been a few years since I visited, so I may be misremembering.

Meat market! Butchers hack apart dead animals and hang the carcasses up for buyers to peruse. For no reason at all (seriously, someone of this guy’s stature would have had no reason to be wandering around this part of town), an expensively dressed gentleman comes through and makes his way down a narrow side street, where he finds his way blocked by a peasant with a laden cart. He gets snippy with the peasant, who suddenly gets a bit scary and identifies the gentleman as Robert Packington, Member of Parliament and friend of Cromwell’s. Packington, a little nervously, asks the guy to step aside, because he’s in a hurry, so the peasant grabs a pistol out of his cart, shoots Packington right in the head (and leaves a wound that’s way too neat for a point-blank shot with a weapon from that time), and takes off through the market, still waving the gun. Uh, ok, so people are just killing people for being friends with Cromwell now? Come on, the guy wasn’t that hated. Maybe the peasant was just pissed about Packington’s expense reports or something.

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Happy Anniversary

…to Henry VIII and his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, who married today in 1540. To put it mildly, the marriage was not a success (although it was less of a disaster than Henry’s marriages to Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard. At least Anne of Cleves escaped with her head attached.). See, the trouble was, because this was before cameras or Skype, the only way … Continue reading Happy Anniversary