The Tudors: Golden World

Katherine finally shuffles off the mortal coil, which pleases Anne almost as much as being pregnant again. Cromwell’s ruthlessly suppressing religious houses, resulting in a whole new underclass, and Henry meets Jane Seymour.

Previously on The Tudors: Anne got more paranoid about Henry having affairs, and became convinced that she can’t give Henry a son as long as Katherine and Mary are alive. Henry started to get tired of Anne’s jealousy. Cromwell started spreading the good word on the Reformation.

We start off with Anne taking a nice ride through the woods, where she comes across Wyatt at the head of a group of strange-looking, cloaked figures. He offers her an apple, which she waves away, smiling pleasantly, and the figures part, bowing to her, revealing another figure at the far end of the path they’ve created. The other figure, which has long, gray hair, stands with its back to Anne. When she reaches it, it turns, and it’s an old woman, in a white gown, with a ruff and a cross around her neck. Anne starts to look around, disconcerted, and finds her father. He takes her hand and leads her a little ways away. She turns again and she’s alone, but then the figures reappear and advance on her and lock her in a sort of iron maiden-looking thing and put it on a raft, which is dragged down the river by early Celts, or something. Definitely not people dressed like Anne’s contemporaries. Mary’s face suddenly fills Anne’s limited field of vision, and then the raft is set on fire as Anne screams.

Anne wakes from what was clearly a dream, sweating and panting in fear. She looks around her room and tries to gather herself. The lighting’s interesting—the shadows falling across her face look like bars on a prison cell.

Henry’s in his study, staring moodily into the fire, which seems to be his default mode these days. In come Cromwell, Cranmer, and Boleyn, Cranmer holding a giant white book. The book is the results of the audits on the religious houses throughout England. Henry begins to page through it, as Cranmer explains that the book not only includes a list of the monasteries’ wealth,, but also enumerates their many sins, which include corruption and fraud. As Henry looks through the book, Boleyn reminds him his treasury is pretty depleted these days, and plundering the monasteries might not be a bad idea.

Anne’s clearly not over her dream yet. She’s staring at herself in the mirror, crazily wide-eyed, and when she hears a knock on the door, she jumps up excitedly, thinking it’s her brother. Alas, it’s only Sir Henry Norris, who’s come a-courtin’ Madge. Madge, to be honest, doesn’t seem all that happy to see him. Before Anne goes to leave him to it, Norris brings up the subject of religion, and he and Anne fervently talk of their devotion to the Reformation and their desire to purify the religious houses. It’s a little creepy, actually. But Anne seems happy to have found a kindred spirit, so I guess that’s nice.

As Madge and Norris leave, George Boleyn bursts in and Anne drags him back to her bedroom for privacy. Once there, she tells him she had the dream “again” and repeats her belief that she and Mary will be the death of each other. She rants and raves that Katherine should just hurry up and die already, and then she moves right on to saying that, the next time Henry goes abroad, she’ll be left as regent, and then she can just order their deaths. Yeah, I’m sure that wouldn’t cause any problems at all. She starts to giggle crazily and George shakes her to put a stop to the crazy. She finally shuts up and George proves he’s got a bit of their dad in him by ordering her to act like the queen she is. He also urges her to be more like Katherine, who was dignified and never betrayed her real feelings. Anne looks devastated to be told to act more like her mortal enemy. George tells her to grow up and stop being such a problem child, and then he bursts out of the room, nearly slamming into a lady-in-waiting along the way. The lady peeks into the bedroom and sees Anne sitting on the bed, absentmindedly lifting up a sleeve of her dress, which had slid down during the confrontation.

At a picturesque priory out in the countryside, a young monk goes tearing through the barnyard, where various monks are hard at work. He’s waving a letter and calling for Father Abbott. Once he finds the Abbott, he sadly informs him that the religious house is to be closed, on the orders of Cromwell. The Abbott can’t believe it, and he takes the letter to see for himself. Sure enough, they’re screwed, for reasons unknown. One of the other monks reasonably asks what’s to become of them. In all likelihood, brother, you’ll end up wandering the streets, homeless and with nowhere to go, which is what happened to a lot of priests, monks, and nuns in England at this time. The government that so gleefully helped itself to the riches of the church made absolutely no provision for the people they dispossessed, leading to widespread poverty not just amongst those who lived in the religious houses, but also amongst those who relied on those houses for jobs, charity, and other means of support.

From that sad little scene, we cut back to court, where Brereton is helping himself to a nice bit of meat off a roast. Hey, remember when he went to the pope asking to become a monk? Whatever happened with that? Because this guy, dressed richly in furs and a big gold chain, sure doesn’t look like the monks we just saw in the last scene, with their rough robes and sandals. Anyway, he’s apparently, ironically, been put in the position of food taster to the king and queen, because once he tries the food, he nods and sets plates in front of Anne and Henry, who tuck right in. Well, I guess now we know why he never tried poison as a means of getting rid of Anne.

Once the plates are on the table, Anne starts nagging/urging Henry to talk to King Francis about the proposed engagement between his son and Elizabeth, which Francis rejected last episode. Henry’s not too keen on the idea of begging the King of France to let his son marry Henry and Anne’s daughter, and he starts to raise his voice, so Anne backs down. She picks up a piece of meat but hesitates to eat it, eyeing it warily. Henry reassures her it’s not poisoned, and as she starts to eat, he goes on to say that it might be better to seek an alliance with the Emperor. Anne snorts that that would suit Katherine, and Henry snaps that it has nothing to do with her. It has to do with England and England’s interests. Anne glances up at Brereton, who’s taking all this in, and then takes Henry’s hand, apologizing for annoying him. He says it’s no big deal, she’s just concerned for their daughter, as she should be. Satisfied, Anne’s about to go back to her dinner when Henry’s hand snakes out and grabs hers. He firmly tells her to leave the greater things to him. Anne starts to offer some sort of argument, but then nods obediently.

Cromwell’s actually enjoying some downtime, having Cranmer and his secret wife over for dinner. The wife asks after the reforms, and he gives her the rundown of all the houses he’s disbanding and the many, many holidays he’s canceling, because they damage the economy by giving people who worked seven days a week a frigging day off every now and then. The wife asks what’ll become of the clergy, and her husband excitedly jumps in to tell her that they plan to issue a set of injunctions that force the clergy to preach the supremacy of the king in all things, and there’s also an injunction requiring all parents to teach their children and servants the Lord’s Prayer, Creed, and the ten commandments in English. Who would enforce that? I can’t even begin to imagine the logistics of such a thing.  Cromwell goes on to say that they’ve put all the remaining religious houses on notice to get rid of any relics or imagery, because the money people have been spending on fake miracles would be better spent supporting the poor and needy. I guess I agree with him in principle, but there are a couple of things he’s missing here: 1. Religious houses were essentially the homeless shelters of their day. Anyone who needed a meal and a bed for the night could find it at any monastery or nunnery. Those houses were partially supported by the money that relics brought in, so that money’s already being spent on the poor and needy. 2. This, of course, assumes that anyone who saves money that they would have normally given to a religious house ends up donating it to a worthy cause rather than, say, getting another drink at the alehouse, which, let’s face it, is much more likely. See how the poverty problems I mentioned earlier ended up happening?

Mrs. Cranmer thinks this is all good, but she doesn’t think they’re going far enough or fast enough. Geez, lady, we’re talking about forcing people to accept major social and religious change, it takes time! Calm down. The boys are amused at the notion of a woman having opinions and all, but she shuts them up by first referencing the unorthodox way she entered the country, and then demanding respect for her opinions. She tells Cromwell he should smash the Catholic Church while he has the chance.

Ahh, The More. It’s been a while since we caught up with Katherine and Lady Elizabeth. Remember her? The girl who randomly started sleeping with Wyatt? Well, she’s on her hands and knees right now, scrubbing the floor. WTF? Ok, this is just totally stupid. Yes, Katherine’s household and income were diminished once Henry demoted her and kicked her to the curb, but she was still living in a castle with actual servants. She wasn’t so hard up she only had one lady-in-waiting around to do all the drudge work. The very idea is completely absurd, and there are better, more subtle ways to show that Katherine’s come down in status. Actually, since they’ve been telling us pretty much every episode for a while now that Katherine’s come down, I don’t know why they need to make a big deal of showing it at all.

Anyway, she’s scrubbing away when Wyatt comes in, and looks shocked to see her like this. She rises and coolly asks why he’s there. Wyatt looks sad and asks her why she chooses to stay. She replies that she loves the queen and her faith. She accuses him of not believing in anything, so he says he believes in love. She tells him he can kiss her, and then leave her alone forever. He takes her up on the offer, and after a fairly passionate embrace, she pushes him away and turns from him, near tears. He says her name once, and then leaves. Well, that was a fairly pointless scene.

We’re back at the monastery we saw earlier, the one that was about to be suppressed. A richly dressed man stands in a silent room, where monks work on illuminated manuscripts at a row of desks. The Abbott comes in, and the man introduces himself as John Leyland, Henry’s librarian. He asks after the priory’s library and rather gleefully tells the Abbott he’s being sent out to examine the libraries of all the religious houses that are to be suppressed, essentially so he can plunder them. The Abbott is horrified at the idea, and also at Leyland’s other task: to find volumes that would support Henry’s supremacy and the new religion. I totally feel for the Abbott, because while I know the church then (as now) had its problems, the Reformation was really poorly handled in England and basically ended up being a massive pillage that enabled Henry to keep partying. That said, what does this man think is going to happen to that famous library when the house is suppressed? Surely he’d rather have the books go to the royal library, where they’ll be protected and preserved, than left to molder in an abandoned monastery?

At the palace, Anne’s taking a stroll through the gardens and reading a book. She looks up when Lady Bryan calls out to her, and Anne happily runs over and embraces little Elizabeth, lifting her out of Lady Bryan’s arms. As she sweetly talks and cuddles the girl and shows her fish in the nearby pond, Brereton watches her menacingly from an upper floor window. It’s not clear whether he catches Anne’s face crumble as she tries not to cry while she plays with toddler Elizabeth.

Inside, and later, Boleyn pulls his son aside and asks him what the deal is with Anne. George guesses she’s afraid. Boleyn mocks George for going softheaded and says, nonsensically, that successful people only recognize fear in others. He snaps at George to go talk to Anne again.

George obeys and heads to Anne’s room, where there’s a party in progress. We’re only at the 21-minute mark on the StP meter, so they’ve done better than the last episode. Smeaton’s fiddling, ladies and gents are dancing, and a drunken Anne asks George to dance with her. He refuses and goes to join Wyatt, who’s moodily watching the proceedings from the side. George teases him for still being in love with Anne, but Wyatt denies it. In the midst of the party, Anne finds herself momentarily disconcerted to be dancing with Brereton, but then someone else calls to her, and she gaily jumps into his arms, just as Henry throws open the door. The music stops, Anne’s partner sets her down, and everyone bows. Henry wanders in, a goblet in one hand, and makes his way over to Smeaton, where he gets all into his personal space and purrs “play a volta.” He tosses his goblet aside and partners Anne, who starts dancing sexily around him. The others watch as the king and queen seduce each other through dance, and this is soon intercut with scenes of them having fairly rough and passionate sex. Interestingly, Anne slapping Henry right across the face gets him really turned on, as does her dominating him in general. The guy has an orgasm so violent I thought she might have broken something. Once they’re done, Anne tells him she wants to conceive a son to be the living image of his father, but she can’t as long as Katherine and Mary are alive. Henry is not cool with the direction this conversation’s going, but Anne shuts him up with a little fellatio.

"We need to party more often"

Katherine herself is in bed, looking terrible. Elizabeth comes in with a basin of water and begins to sponge off Katherine’s face as Katherine mourns not having seen her daughter in years. She asks Elizabeth to read the pope’s judgment to her again. Elizabeth pulls it out of a drawer and reads the proclamation of Katherine’s lawful marriage aloud. When she’s done, Katherine takes it and kisses it.

In Rome, the pope and several cardinals are in a meeting when some flunky brings in a young boy who looks to be about ten years old. The pope greets him enthusiastically, calling him Allesandro, and kisses the child on both cheeks. Pope asks if the boy’s honest and clean and the boy reassures his grandfather (!!) that he is. I’d act more shocked by that, but I have to save something for The Borgias, you know? The pope calls him a good boy and sends him on his way. One of the other cardinals smiles indulgently, and as the boy goes, the pope observes that he’ll make a fine cardinal someday. Campeggio, who’s now just a total kiss ass, starts to applaud at the thought, and of course the other cardinals join in.

Back to business—there’s some discussion of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, which happened decades before, so let’s ignore it. Campeggio asks what they should do about England, and the pope goes into a long-winded story that basically adds up to his belief that Henry will try to go it alone, without the church, for a while, but then he’ll realize that’s not such a good idea and he’ll come crawling back.

But not this week: the monastery from earlier’s being plundered by Huguenots brought over from France for just this purpose. Um, ok. They’re collecting up anything of value, pulling down buildings, and driving away the animals. The Abbott guesses Cromwell didn’t trust Englishmen to destroy their own heritage and churches. Fair enough.

At court, Anne strides through the great hall towards Henry’s throne room, where an older man we’ve never seen is playing gatekeeper. He tells Anne Henry’s not in—he went out hunting with Suffolk and other nobles earlier. Anne is more upset than she should be at the idea of Henry being out with Suffolk, of all people. I know he’s not her biggest fan and all, but she acts like this is a big deal. Suffolk’s Henry’s best friend, who else is he going to go hunting with?

And he is, actually, hunting, as we jump into the woods, where Henry’s slaughtering a deer, roughly. Brandon compliments him on the kill and asks if Henry wants to go back to the palace. Henry says no, they can stay somewhere around there. Brandon suggests Wolf Hall, the home of the Seymours. Henry vaguely remembers Sir John Seymour and he and Charles go to surprise him.

The poor Abbott takes one look around his now ruined monastery before sadly heading out and taking to the road to go God-knows-where.

Henry and Charles arrive at Wolf Hall, a nice but modestly sized manor house. Charles goes right in and starts shouting for Sir John. When the proprietor emerges, asking what the ruckus is about, Charles tells him he has a visitor. Henry comes in and Sir John greets him happily. Henry embraces both him and Charles tightly, looking happier than he has in a while.

Meanwhile, Smeaton plays his violin while Anne stares into the fire, and Lady Elizabeth prays over Katherine.

At Wolf Hall, Sir John’s set out a lovely repast and the boys are reminiscing about their glory days in France. Henry offers a toast to past victories, but as he drinks he looks depressed.

Little does he know that his wife/sister-in-law Katherine is very much on her deathbed. Through the gossamer curtains around her bed, she sees Mary approach, wearing a crown. Mary parts the curtains and throws herself tearfully into her mother’s arms. Katherine’s delighted, because she doesn’t realize this is some sort of dream/hallucination. Lady Elizabeth approaches the bed and Katherine tells her Mary was there. Elizabeth says she knows, and offers to fetch a doctor. Katherine tells her no, although such a devout Catholic would have definitely called for a priest if she knew she was this close to death.

In Anne’s room, Mark finishes his song and she tells him she’s sad because she doesn’t have a son. If she did, it would bring about a golden world. So, she and Katherine have that in common, at least. Anne stupidly turns and kisses Mark on the cheek as one of her ladies comes in.

The boys are still reminiscing at Wolf Hall when Henry’s distracted by the sight of a pretty blonde head peeking around a corner. Sir John follows his gaze and introduces his daughter: Lady Jane Seymour. Lady Jane enters the room, dressed all in white, her blonde hair loose over her shoulders. Henry is enchanted and goes to meet her. She curtsies deeply and Henry strokes her cheek for a moment and murmurs her name.

"No, seriously, we didn't plan this at all"

Anne seems to have perked up a bit and is once again reading, though this time she’s in her room. A lady-in-waiting comes in to announce Cromwell, and she puts the book aside as he enters. She gets right down to business—she’s heard Cromwell wants to close every religious house in England. Is that true? Cromwell says it is, since fraud, laxity, and abuse were rife. Anne’s no dummy, and she knows that some houses received perfectly good reports in the audit. She also knows that all the money from these houses will be diverted right into Henry’s treasury. Cromwell admits he plans to make Henry the richest and most powerful monarch in Europe. Anne points out that some of that money could be put to better use, say, by supporting charities and education. Cromwell says he’s surprised to hear her question Henry’s judgment in the matter, which both her father and her brother support. Anne starts to get mad and says she questions it only because she doesn’t think it really is the king’s policy. She warns Cromwell that he’s too high handed and he should be careful, lest he be cropped at the neck. As he turns to go, she smiles triumphantly, happy to have a little power, at least.

Ahh, I guess Katherine did ask for a priest. One is saying last rites as three maidservants (hey, where were these women when Elizabeth was scrubbing the floor? You see what I mean about that being stupid?) weep nearby. Katherine’s giving final instructions about her burial to Lady Elizabeth. She’s also dictating her last will and testament to a secretary nearby. She tells him she needs to write to the king and he immediately pulls out a fresh sheet of parchment. She begins to dictate a very sweet and touching letter, which Henry reads while sitting on the floor in his study. She chastises and forgives him for his treatment of her, begs him to be a good father to Mary, and wishes she could have seen him one last time. As she finishes, Lady Elizabeth helps her sign it: Katherine, Queen. She dies, and Elizabeth and the servants burst into tears. In his study, Henry clutches the letter and weeps himself.

"I'm done the floors, you want me to sort the laundry now?"

Not weeping: Anne. She’s reading again, in front of the fire, when one of her ladies bursts in and whispers the news of Katherine’s death in her ear. Anne smiles and murmurs that she’s now, indeed, queen.

Wyatt gallops up to The More and heads inside, where the furniture’s all be draped with sheets and there are no candles or anything lit, even though it’s dark out. He calls for Elizabeth, but gets no response. That’s because she’s hanging dead in one of the rooms. I thought she was a devout Catholic? Very devout Catholics view suicide as a one-way ticket to hell (since it’s essentially murder) so why’d she do this? Whatever. In real life she remained Wyatt’s lover the rest of his life, so I can’t say we were spared having to keep enduring her holier-than-thou presence. Wyatt’s eyes fill with tears and he drops to his knees in horror.

In her sad little room at Hatfield, Mary opens a box that’s been sent to her with her mother’s bequests: a rosary, some trimmings, and the proclamation from the pope. Like her mother, Mary kisses that, and looks out the window, weeping.

Two parties in one episode! It’s May Day, so there’s a little fete being held in the palace gardens. Brandon’s there with his wife, so I guess they’ve patched things up. Trumpeters herald the arrival of Anne and Henry, and they stride in, Henry wearing black and Anne in brilliant yellow. Sigh. This is actually historically accurate—Anne (and Henry, in real life) dressed up in bright yellow when they heard that Katherine had died, a move so effed up it still shocks people, so imagine how people felt back then. They claimed yellow was the official color of mourning at the Spanish court, so they were showing respect, but I think they were either showing their extreme stupidity or their contempt. It was stupid either way—you’re not in Spain, you’re in a country where people wear black to show respect for someone who’s died. Put some thought into what you do, morons.

As Henry and Anne sweep past him, George sends his wife off to see the cockfights, and then he joins Smeaton, asking if he’s performing that day. No, not at the party, but maybe later? George says he isn’t sure, nodding subtly in the direction of his wife. Smeaton asks if George has told her about him. Since George is still alive and all, I’m guessing no. Smeaton gets all upset, like a jealous girlfriend and George snaps at him to stuff it (but not in a sexy way).

Henry ditches Anne with some friends and snags Sir John, thanking him again for his hospitality. Sir John is gracious about it, and he’s excited when Henry invites Jane to court to be a lady-in-waiting to Anne. I’m sure Anne will be delighted. Henry moves on to sweep up Elizabeth in his arms. The two little boys she’s playing with (I’m guessing one of them is Brandon’s son) playfully swordfight around him, and Henry joins in the fun. It may be worth noting that Elizabeth’s wearing yellow too. She waves to her mother, and then adorably hugs Henry.

Boleyn pulls Anne aside for a chat—he’s heard she had an argument with Cromwell. Anne corrects him to say that they just disagreed. Boleyn shows he’s a man of his time by saying he didn’t raise her to have opinions, express them, or to quarrel with those close to the king. She points out that she’s pretty damn close to the king, and Boleyn brutally grabs her arm and tells her to remember how she got there. She yanks her arm back and says she knows how she got there, and it wasn’t because of a bunch of men, it was mostly because of her. And anyway, things are all hunky dory, because she’s pregnant again. Boleyn grins and laughs, delighted as Anne twirls away from him in her golden dress of hubris.

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