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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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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The Tudors: Everybody Dies

Previously on The Tudors: Jane got pregnant, and to balance out that good news, the northernors rebelled again. Most of the rebels were executed, but Henry’s got a soft spot for Aske, so he’s just biding his time in the Tower for now.

Henry’s in his study, examining a model for a giant, magnificent barge, presumably for Jane’s coronation, and asking Cromwell if Brandon’s been sent north with his orders to start killing people at the earliest possible opportunity. Cromwell reassures him that he’s got his orders, and by the way, the Emperor’s going to be sending an envoy with a list of possible husbands for Mary. Henry kind of grunts at that and then calls Cromwell’s attention to the model, which is indeed for the barge Jane will ride to her coronation, which will take place after the birth. Henry, ever the optimist, is certain the baby will be a boy, although you’d think after all the years of disappointment he’d be a little more cautious by now. Cromwell risks Henry’s wrath by bringing up an unpleasant topic: A pamphlet being distributed by Pole and his buddies that condemns Henry as a heretic and an adulterer. Henry doesn’t seem too bothered, until he learns Pole’s in France, trying to get King Francis to help rekindle the recently suppressed rebellions in the north. Shockingly, though, Henry keeps his cool and goes back to play with the model.

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The Tudors: Merry Christmas!

Previously on The Tudors: The whole north of England got pissed off and rebelled against the dissolution of the monasteries, and Henry had to give in to their requests (on paper, at least).

It’s Christmastime in London, where the snow is falling prettily and Henry and Jane are attending a candlelight mass with Mary and the rest of the court while a choir sings and walks in cross formation down the aisle of the chapel royal. Rich growls to Cromwell that it’s going to be pretty hard to banish Catholic ritual throughout the kingdom when it’s being practiced right at court. Oh, please, even the Protestants liked a Christmas carol now and then (well, except for the Puritans, but then, they weren’t really into fun or color, were they?) Aske, who’s come down for the holidays at Henry’s invitation, asks Jane’s brother Edward when he’ll be meeting with the king. Soon, says Edward. In the meantime, Henry wants Aske to write up a detailed account of everything he did during the rebellion and the reasons for it. Uh oh, that sounds like the type of document that could really get used against you someday, Aske. Judging by the look on his face, he agrees with me. Jane turns and catches his eye, smiling and nodding a greeting, which he returns.

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Happy Birthday!

…to Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, saint, and tragic murder victim. Becket was born around 1118 in Cheapside, London and educated at Merton Priory in England, then in Paris, Bologna, and Auxerre. He was an assistant to Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, and was made Archdeacon of Canterbury and Provost of Beverley. On Theobald’s recommendation, King Henry II named Becked Lord Chancellor in 1155.

Becket and Henry became fast friends but a rift developed between them after Thomas became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162. Henry wanted more power for himself, but Becket refused to cede any clerical independence to the king. After several years of fighting, during which excommunications were flung around and the Pope even got involved, Henry, in a rage, allegedly said: “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” He failed to realize that, since he was king and all, someone was bound to take him seriously.

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The Tudors: Northern Exposure

Previously on The Tudors: Henry married Jane Seymour, who persuaded him to forgive Mary. He did so, but only after she signed a document acknowledging her mother’s marriage to Henry as unlawful. Meanwhile, up north, Robert Aske and a few other Catholics got the common people whipped into a frenzy over the dissolution of the monastaries and started their very own rebellion pilgrimage.

At Whitehall, Rich catches up with Cromwell and asks what the latest news is. Both good and bad. The rebels in Linconlnshire dispersed after being promised a royal pardon (and a royal ass-kicking at the hands of the king’s army if they stuck around), but in Yorkshire it’s a different matter. The rebels have taken the city of York and there’re rumors they plan to march south.

We hurry north ourselves to see what’s up. The rebels are indeed on the move, and they’re now followed by a large gang of women—wives and hangers-on—just like a real army. Meanwhile, Lord Darcy, the Warden of the East Marches, who’s in charge of Pontefract Castle, is writing to the king, begging for more soldiers and arms, as he’s certain he won’t be able to hold the castle against the approaching rebel force, even though he’s got his own garrison there, prepping for battle. He urges Henry to negotiate with the rebels. Yeah, I’m sure that suggestion will go over well.

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