Previously on The Tudors: The clergy acknowledged Henry as head of the church; More resigned as chancellor as a result. The world’s most inept assassin kept trying and failing to kill Anne Boleyn, at the behest of the pope and the emperor. Anne and Henry travel to France and have sex, presumably getting Anne pregnant.
Things start off rough in a courtyard where chickens, assorted livestock, and rude minor nobility mill about. Two men in black velvet, named as the Savilles, start talking shit to a man they call Pennington, who’s quick to correct that that’s Sir William Pennington, to them. Pennington asks after their master, Boleyn, and that’s Lord Rochford to you, Pennington. The Saville who speaks asks after Pennington’s master, Brandon. Saville asks if Brandon continues to spread vicious rumors about Anne at court, and if he does, he must be completely suicidal. Just how long does Charles expect Henry’s patience to last? He’s already banished him from court once for that. Pennington stupidly says that Brandon doesn’t want anything to do with the elevation of “the king’s whore” and the two Savilles draw their swords at the insult. Pennington draws his own sword and they all start tussling. Man, the Savilles suck. It’s two against one in their favor and Pennington still manages to kick their asses and escape, but not before trashing what looks like a random marketplace set u pin the courtyard. As he flees into the palace, some random guy hilariously yells after him that he’d better pay up for the damage.
Oh, looks like I was wrong, it’s not the palace Pennington ran into but a church. The priest comes out to see what all the ruckus is and Pennington immediately asks for sanctuary, which the priest readily grants, as the Savilles come running in, swords drawn. The priest tells them to put the swords away, but they ignore him, and the lead Saville slashes Pennington across the face. The men start fighting again, but stop for a moment when the priest begs them to. Saville the speaker takes advantage of the pause to stab Pennington in the chest, though. Pennington falls, dead. Ohh, I have a feeling that’s not going to sit well. The Savilles immediately kneel at the alter and begin praying, although I think it’s a little late for that, just as Brandon comes bursting in, accompanied by a few royal servants. He takes in the sight of Pennington’s dead body and goes to stab the Savilles , but the priest manages to talk him down. Boleyn comes running in to join the party and Brandon darkly says that this is all his fault. How so? I doubt Boleyn sent his followers out with orders to go stabbing Brandon’s friends in churches.
At court, a crowd has gathered to beg for access to Anne, to ask for favors. Servants repeat monotonously that she’s not to be disturbed, while Smeaton and Wyatt observe the gaggle and Smeaton remarks that it seems everyone’s beating a path to Anne’s door these days. Talk then turns to Wyatt’s current writing project—he says it’s a satire of the current situation. Smeaton’s surprised that Wyatt finds it funny, but Wyatt finds humor in everything. For instance, he thinks it’s hilarious and ridiculous that he’s suddenly been appointed to the privy council. I have to agree with him, there. I think Henry’s taking this “I’ll show everyone I trust you by keeping Wyatt nearby” thing a little far.
Anne emerges, trailed by her ladies, and greets Wyatt. She takes his arm and starts strolling with him, ignoring all the sycophants trying to get her attention. She happily confides that she has a wild craving for apples, which started three days ago. Henry took it as a sign she was pregnant, but Anne says it’s no such thing. She giggles and leaves.
Henry’s in his office with Cromwell, asking about the news from France. There’s not much to report. Although Francis had offered to send messages to the pope on Henry’s behalf, he never actually followed through. Henry doesn’t care, and he kind of expected Francis to screw him over. The thing is, Henry can’t wait for all the legal wrangling anymore. He now has a very good reason for his marriage to be annulled right now. Cromwell reminds him that he’s head of the church, so he can just grant himself the annulment. Henry, however, wants things to at least look like they’re aboveboard, so he still wants the head churchman of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to issue the annulment. How convenient that the position is currently open, and Henry has just the guy in mind.
Two guesses who that is. If you guessed Cranmer, congratulations, you know how to use Wikipedia or Google! A man drives a cart up to a large stone building and calls Cranmer out. Once the Man in Black appears, the carter tells him he’s got the rest of his belongings from Germany. Those belongings apparently include Cranmer’s secret wife, who was shipped from Germany in a giant crate with nothing but a small table, chair, and what looks like part of a loaf of bread for company. Wow. I’ve often joked about stowing away in the luggage of someone who’s going on an awesome trip, but this is pretty ridiculous. Cranmer pries the front off the crate and helps her out. She’s very reasonably pissed at him for this, but forgives him quickly and they commence kissing, rather cutely, if I must say. This might be the most appealing I’ve ever found Hans Matheson.
Fisher, Chapuys, and More are sitting around a table, expressing amazement at the idea that Cranmer may very well be named Archbishop of Canterbury. Fisher says that, because Cranmer used to be chaplain to the Boleyns, he should be made to take an oath not to meddle with the divorce. More says that of course the guy’ll meddle with the divorce, that’s the whole point of appointing him in the first place. How can Fisher not see that? More says he’s worried for the queen, because Anne hates her, as well as her daughter, and has been making threats against Mary. More’s wife warns him that he’d better stop talking, or he’ll be putting himself and his own children at risk.
Down in Rome, Campeggio attends a meeting with the pope and presents him with a papal bull forbidding the enslavement of the native peoples of the new world. The pope signs it, launching into a little speech about how the leaders of Europe have no morality and need him to figure it out for them. Next, Campeggio hands over a letter from Henry, asking the pope’s permission to appoint a new Archbishop of Canterbury. Why does he need the pope’s permission? Didn’t he just appoint himself head of the church? The pope takes it as a hopeful sign that Henry doesn’t intend to throw off the Catholic Church at all, and he asks what Campeggio knows about Cranmer. Campeggio says he’s too obscure for anyone to know much about him, but there are rumors he’s a secret Lutheran. The pope’s not happy to hear that, and is disinclined to accept the appointment. And yet, he wants England to return fully to the Catholic fold, and to do that, he has to make Henry happy, so to make him happy, he approves the appointment. Uh, ok. I guess this pope’s trying to be more decisive than his predecessor, but mostly it’s just coming across as if he puts almost no real thought into any of his decisions. Agreeing to the appointment of a guy you suspect will work very hard against you to the highest church position in England seems like a terrible idea. The pope moronically thinks that a nobody, like Cranmer, can’t possibly do any harm to the great Catholic Church. Hey, pope, you know who was once considered a nobody? Jesus. And most of his apostles. Until they got popular and started making waves, and then people started paying attention and getting worried. I’m just saying—you should more carefully weigh your decisions.
The new Archbishop is going to see Henry, all dressed up in his purple bishop-ly robes. Cranmer takes a minute at the door to collect himself before going into the throne room. Henry says formally that he’s pleased to see his approval went through all right. Cranmer admits he had some doubts about the appointment, but since it came from the pope and all, he had to take it. Henry rather sharply says that Cranmer’s not beholden to Rome, only to God, and Henry. Henry then asks him to deliver a verdict on the annulment right quick, and Cranmer promises to do so before withdrawing. Henry then moves on to Cromwell, whom he’s appointing chancellor in place of More. Damn, talk about your meteoric rise.
Henry stupidly has decided to go ahead with his wedding to Anne, annulment or no annulment, the reason pretty clearly being her slightly protruding stomach. She and Henry are standing in a chapel, and Henry’s steamed that Brandon’s late. Brandon chooses that moment to arrive, and Henry hilariously smacks him on the chest in annoyance. The priest, who must have been paid off handsomely or seriously threatened before he agreed to do this, starts the ceremony. Brandon looks like he’d rather be just about anywhere else on earth right now.
Chapuys meets with our mysterious assassin, who finally gets a name: Brereton. Really? Brereton has been written as an assassin? Wasn’t he friends with Henry, historically? Oh, whatever. Brereton tells Chapuys that he failed in his mission and he can’t stand to be in this place anymore, so Chapuys sends him off with God’s blessing, That was pretty nice of him. I kind of expected Chapuys to be pissed.
On Henry’s orders, Brandon has been sent to The More to regretfully inform Katherine that Henry’s married Anne, cut Katherine’s allowance, and demoted her from queen to Dowager Princess of Wales. Damn, Henry was one cold bastard. Henry’s letting Katherine keep her property, but he won’t pay her expenses anymore. Katherine asks if she can go see Mary, but all Brandon can do is ask her to forgive him. I guess that’s a no, then. Katherine tells him that, if she had to choose between extreme happiness and extreme sorrow, she’d choose sorrow every time, because only then do you really feel close to God. Touched, Brandon wishes blessings on her before leaving.
Lady Elizabeth, who’s been off in the corner watching this whole exchange, approaches the queen with a plate of food, which she sets down beside Katherine. Katherine invites her to sit, and tells her that, until she dies, she’ll always call herself queen. Elizabeth ducks her head to hide her tears.
Fisher is just finishing up mass when he notices More lurking off to the side. As soon as mass is concluded, More emerges from his hiding place to share some news: Cromwell’s presenting a bill to Parliament that will keep all spiritual matters that need to be tried in England, no more sending them to Rome. It’ll also make Henry the last voice on any such matters. Fisher gathers that this bars the pope from ruling on Henry’s divorce, and also prevents Katherine from appealing to Rome. Clever, Cromwell. More also gossips that there are rumors that Henry’s married Anne in secret and that she’s already pregnant. Fisher clutches his pearls at the news.
Cranmer’s addressing a collection of the leading clergy in England, saying he’s ready to pronounce a verdict and adding that it’s a gosh darn shame that “certain persons” refuse to come and testify. Those who did attend have decided that Henry’s marriage to Katherine was never valid, so Henry’s new marriage to Anne is totally legit.
In his rooms, Wyatt’s writing by the light of a candle when a servant comes in and admits Lady Elizabeth. Wyatt goes to greet her with a kiss, but she rebuffs him, for once, and tells him she’s come on behalf of Katherine, though not with her permission. She mourns Katherine’s wretched condition and accidentally informs Wyatt of Anne’s recent marriage, a fact that certainly surprises him. He takes a few moments to fully digest that info before asking her what, exactly, she thinks he can do about this? Elizabeth reminds him that he’s a privy councilor and buddies with Cromwell, so maybe he can speak up on Katherine’s behalf? Wyatt reminds her that Cromwell’s one of the last people to get onto Katherine’s side, but she urges him to try anyway, resorting to the old “if you still had feelings for me, you’d do this” trick. It doesn’t work, in this case, and he just tells her he’s sorry. Once she’s gone, he pulls out a locket with Anne’s picture in it and looks at it for a while, sadly.
In Rome, the pope’s gotten a big audience of ambassadors together to announce his condemnation of Henry’s separation from Katherine and his subsequent marriage, which the pope declares null and void. The pope gives Henry until September to take Katherine back, or he’ll be excommunicated. The pope gives the audience leave to spread the word. As they leave, Campeggio drags Brereton forward to introduce him to the pope. The pope thanks him for bringing the news of recent events from the English court. Brereton apologizes for not managing to assassinate Anne, but the pope waves that away and says only that God works in mysterious ways. Brereton now wants to remain in Rome, and it seems the pope has plans for him. The pope’s recently started up a new club known as The Soldiers of Christ, aka, the Jesuits. They’ll be sent out to spread the word of God to heathens and heretics. The pope asks Brereton to join the order and to return to England, even at the risk of martyrdom. Astonished at having been asked, Brereton collapses into a huddle at the pope’s feet. Or maybe he fainted from fear, it’s kind of hard to tell.
Cromwell and a handful of black-clad assistants are swamped with paperwork and trying to get through it when Henry comes in. Cromwell sends his flunkies away, and once they’re gone, Henry asks how preparations for the coronation are going. Cromwell says they’re going well. Henry tells him that he wants the people to love their queen, as he loves her. And if he loves her, why shouldn’t they? Right, Henry, because why should anyone else ever have a thought or opinion that differs from yours? Arrogant tosser. Cromwell reassures Henry that the people will love her. Henry then has this completely weird moment where he smiles a little crazily, twitches, and then just leaves. Is he starting to go insane or something? That was really odd.
Up in her rooms, Anne’s looking over fabrics for her dresses when her sister Mary comes in, curtsies, and playfully greets Anne as “Madame la Marquise”. Anne corrects her that “sister” will do just fine and they embrace. Mary pats Anne’s growing belly and asks how the two of them are doing, and Anne says they’re both doing quite well, and all the physicians and a famous astrologer tell her it’s a boy. Henry, of course, is over the moon and wants to run around telling everyone, but Anne tells him not to. Anne leads Mary over to a nearby table that’s covered in drawings. She tells her sister that Holbein’s been designing all sorts of things for the coronation and procession. Mary says that everything looks great, but Anne’s apparently got mood swings, because she tears up and Mary asks what’s wrong. Anne reassures her that it’s nothing, but she’s clearly scared out of her mind. As she should be.
In his own rooms, or at his house in the country, it’s not clear, Brandon broods until he’s joined by his wife, who asks what’s bothering him. He bitches about having to attend Henry and Anne on the day of the coronation. Kate the duchess suggests he pretend to be sick, but Brandon says if he does that Henry would probably behead him. Kate sweetly tells him to go through with it and keep his pretty head. Amen, sister. She warns him to store up his anger, but not to act impulsively. Someday, he may have the opportunity to use it to bring Anne down.
Preparations are well underway for the coronation. Banners are being hung, bells are ringing, and Brereton is taking his place at a second-floor window with a good view of the procession. The procession begins, and Boleyn wonders to George where the crowds are? It does, indeed, look like a pretty sparse turnout.
In his hiding place, Brereton prepares a gun. Meanwhile, down below, Anne’s keeping a brave face on, smiling and waving to the few people who have turned out to see her. Henry, however, looks pissed.
As the royal carriage passes by Brereton’s window, a group of trumpeters start to play, and Brereton takes aim, fires, and kills some random guy marching behind the carriage. Henry and Anne completely miss the assassination, although Brandon, Boleyn, and George see it. Brandon tells everyone to keep the procession moving, which is probably a good idea, since Brereton’s loading up again. He misses his chance—Anne’s carriage rolls on. She’s safe, for now.
She makes it to the cathedral, where Cranmer conducts the service, in Latin. As he goes to place the crown on Anne’s head, Henry calls for him to wait, takes the crown, and crowns her himself, proclaiming her Queen of England.
After the ceremony, Cromwell quietly fills Henry in on the details of the assassination attempt, although they don’t know who was responsible or even who the actual target was. Henry hushes him when he sees Anne approach, and Cromwell makes himself scarce. Henry asks Anne if she’s happy with how the day went, and she says she is, although it would have been nice if there were a few more people. Henry tells her he wants her to be happy for their party, and that everyone’s now waiting for her.
At said party, Henry notes that Fisher and More are both absent. Cromwell promises that both were invited. At the head table, Anne’s gotten her good cheer back and is telling her ladies she’s starving. Brandon observes her for a moment before turning to leave. He’s intercepted by Boleyn, who tells him that, since Brandon was High Constable for the day, what happened in the procession was his fault. Brandon reassures him they’re trying to find the shooter. Boleyn doesn’t really seem to believe him, and for some reason, Brandon brings up Pennington, whose death, he feels, was Boleyn’s fault. I guess Boleyn was as much at fault for that as Brandon was for the assassination attempt, so fair enough. Brandon leaves and Boleyn picks up a cup and toasts to the Boleyns, and to England’s new queen.
At the gates of the city, guards are checking everyone’s hands for gunpowder. Brereton glances down at his own hands, and realizes they’re covered in black powder. Fortuitously, a man comes through the gate on horseback, distracting the guards, and Brereton takes the opportunity to slip through.
Inside the palace, Anne and her sister watch fireworks explode over the city, laughing hysterically. Anne hugs her sister, marveling that it’s all for her.
Maison More. More’s asking Chapuys about the coronation and is told it was a cold, meager, and uncomfortable thing. And More’s absence was noted. More asks after Katherine and Chapuys tells him he’s not allowed to see her anymore, and it’s getting harder to send her letters as well. More says he’s been trying to see her, even though it’s dangerous to do so. More muses that, once upon a time, he though Henry was one of the most enlightened kings in Europe and that his reign would be a brilliant golden age. More shakes his head sadly and warns Chapuys that Fisher’s been placed under house arrest, and Chapuys himself should be careful. Of what? Didn’t they have diplomatic immunity back then?
Anne is giving her new servants and ladies-in-waiting an orientation speech. They’ll all be expected to be just, honorable, discreet, and thrifty. They will be expected to attend mass daily and display godly conduct. She places particular emphasis on the order that they should never behave lewdly. Translation to the new ladies: don’t sleep with the king. She finishes up by inviting them all to feel free to read her copy of the English bible whenever the mood strikes them.
Boleyn’s running an errand to Ludlow Castle, in Wales, which, you may remember, is where Princess Mary is living these days. The lady herself enters the room where he’s awaiting for her, and she’s all grown up now and played by Sarah Bolger, who very quickly became one of my favorite actresses on this show.
She greets Boleyn a little coolly, and Boleyn gets right to it: Katherine and Henry’s marriage has been declared null and void, and Katherine’s been demoted. Mary’s been demoted too, and will hereafter be known as Lady Mary. Boleyn, seeming to get a bit of enjoyment out of all this, tells Mary about the coronation, but she digs in her heels and says she knows of no queen of England, save her mother, and she’ll accept no other queen. Boleyn informs her that she’s now been forbidden to ever communicate with her mother. She can’t even send a farewell note. Mary somehow manages to take this calmly.
More’s finally managed to make it to Katherine’s. She greets him, all bundled up next to the fire and not looking so good. More reassures her that her sufferings are well known both at home and abroad. She seems heartened to hear it, but tells More that she’s been told that, if she doesn’t stop calling herself queen, Henry will withdraw all affection from Mary. Man, what a heartless dick. More, who’s so close to his own daughter, can’t seem to believe that, and his face shows some sorrow at how far from the enlightened prince of yore Henry has really come. However, Katherine won’t yield, no matter what Henry threatens.
More leans in and quietly tells Katherine that he’s been encouraging her supporters in parliament and elsewhere, and that he hopes things will improve for her soon. She thanks him for his help.
Anne’s in bed, asleep, but Henry’s feeling randy and starts to feel her up and kiss her neck. Anne sleepily asks him to leave off, for the baby’s sake, and he lays back, looking frustrated. Wanna place bets on how long it’ll take him to start working his way through her new ladies-in-waiting?
Yet another court party. Courtiers are dancing merrily while Henry leans moodily against a pillar and watches one of the new ladies in waiting, a blonde woman, dance with George Boleyn. He’s joined by Brandon, who comments that the lady is exquisite. Henry smiles in response, which Brandon takes as encouragement to continue. Her name is Lady Eleanor and her father has an estate in Oxfordshire. Charles, ever the good procurer, offers to talk to her on Henry’s behalf. Henry eyes Anne for a moment, then looks back at Lady Eleanor, and winks at Brandon, who goes off to do his job.
Once the dance is done, George and Mark Smeaton retire to the refreshment table, where George asks Mark how he likes court life. Mark thinks it’s pretty awesome and says he’s grateful for the Boleyn family’s patronage. George says that they like to patronize artists and chats a bit about some of the artsy types they’ve rubbed shoulders with in the past. Mark compliments Anne’s musical skills, and then things get flirty as Mark says that Anne’s beautiful, but not as beautiful as her brother. Woah, Mark, that kind of talk could get you killed during this period (I’ve actually heard that Henry VIII was the first monarch to pass anti-sodomy laws). Considering the fact that they boil poisoners, I can’t imagine the punishment they’d come up with for homosexuals. Might want to tread carefully, Smeaton, that’s all I’m saying.
Henry’s doing some paperwork in his study, and Cromwell hands him a folded letter. It’s the final decision of the curia in Rome. Unsurprisingly, they’ve declared in Katherine’s favor and say that Henry’s new marriage is invalid. Henry tears the thing in half, which cuts perfectly to Lady Eleanor tearing a strip of linen as Anne lays on the bed, moaning in labor. Elsewhere in the palace, Henry excitedly tells Boleyn that he hasn’t decided whether to call the baby Henry or Edward, and that he’s invited the French ambassador to hold the baby at the font during the christening.
The ladies urge Anne to push, and she bears down. A baby starts to cry, and one of the ladies informs Anne that she’s given birth to a very healthy baby girl. Anne breaks down in tears as the ladies comfort her.
Henry’s in his throne room, having a grand old time with the Venetian ambassador, when Cromwell slips in and whispers news of the birth in Henry’s ear. The smile drops off Henry’s face in an instant, and once he collects himself, he goes to Anne’s room, where she’s sitting up, holding the baby, looking very small in the huge bed. Anne apologizes to Henry, who coolly says that they’re both young, and have plenty of time to have a son. Which is actually what the real Henry said when Elizabeth was born, so in this case, the writers actually did the research. Anne nods and Henry withdraws to his own room, where Lady Eleanor soon joins him. He puts aside the book he was reading and asks her if she plays chess. She replies in the affirmative and he invites her to play.
Apparently “chess” is code, because we next see them in bed together. Lady Eleanor’s naked and lying on her stomach as Henry traces her spine with the king piece. They start to get busy, as Anne looks down at the newborn in her arms, alone in her rooms.