The Tudors: What’s happened to Henry?

Something has happened to the Tudors. Something odd. We’re up to episode 9 of Series 4 – one to go, and things are not looking good for Henry.

He’s nearly bankrupted England, and wasted the lives of thousands of men in waging a campaign against France. He returned at the end of episode 8, to announce to his waiting countrymen that he’d captured (you could almost hear the drum roll) Boulogne! “What’s that, Henry – thought you’d said ‘Boulogne’ there  – You did say Boulogne? Oh. Great. Didn’t get as far as Disneyland Paris then?” The holiday dreams of a nation shattered.

'I'm Henery the Eighth I am, I am' I just hide the paunch well

The whole French trip left Henry a bit poorly, what with his ulcerated leg and all, and he collapsed at the end of episode 8. Now, here’s where it gets weird.   By the start of episode 9, which, can’t be, temporally, that much after the end of episode 8, Henry has aged about twenty years. He looks, in certain lights, like Galen from Planet of The Apes. What’s more, he’s developed a very strong staccato Irish accent, like he’s channelling Richard Harris as Dumbledore. It’s as if the producers suddenly realised that they’d forgotten to age Henry (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) in the previous three series, and crammed in two decades of wear and tear in a week. One wonders whether they might now also realise Rhys Meyers was miscast all along, and make him fatten up and go ginger for the final episode.

It’s not just Henry who’s had a rough week. The Duke of Suffolk (Henry Cavill) returned from Boulogne with a new French mistress (not a teacher – you know what I mean). In what sounded like a very 21st century conversation, he introduced her to his son this week; “She makes me happy, which your mother, the Duchess, hasn’t done for a long time.” Fair enough. The lad took it well. All the sex seems to be wearing the Duke out though, as he’s looking very tired. He’s also sporting a new bouffant hairstyle which we haven’t seen before. I suspect he’ll have a trim before playing Superman.

The Duke of Surrey, played with arrogant malevolence by David O’Hara (but with, this time, a Scottish accent), has also had a tough time. Found guilty of treason, and locked in the Tower, his attempt to escape via the lavatorial arrangements into the Thames (a royal flush?) was foiled, and he’s been carted off for execution. They certainly knew how to punish people in those days. Hanged, chopped up, and redistributed according to the King’s will. I dare say a bit will end up back in Boulogne.

Bishop Gardiner is busily rounding up heretics (the rules on what constitutes heresy seem to be fairly flexible). This week, in an attempt to implicate Queen Catherine (Joely Richardson) as being a reforming protestant (wasn’t Henry one of those?), he arrests and tortures a woman preacher – Anne Askew. An osteopath once told me how many patients say, when lying on the treatment couch; “What you need is one of those racks to stretch me out.” If they saw what happened to Anne Askew, they might think again. The poor broken woman was carried to the pyre, where her only relief was a bag of gunpowder thoughtfully tied round her neck.

The Queen is a sweetie, busily translating protestant works, and, I think, doing an Open University course, or something. We know she survives, so I’m not too worried about her (though, in actuality, she doesn’t survive that long after Henry, which is a shame).

Princess Mary is shaping up as a first class bitch, preparing to burn as many heretics as is needed to restore England to the true faith. It’s not looking good for poor old Blighty, with her feeble brother, Edward, the only thing between her and the throne. I think she needs some diversity awareness training.

So what will greet us in the final episode? Will Henry have morphed into a German? Will he finally get to wear that ginger wig? I’ve stuck with it this far, so I’ll see it through to the bitter end, but if they make another series, I hope they sort things out. A chap could almost suspect that it wasn’t entirely historically accurate.

Posted by Our Man in the South

5 Comments

Filed under Drama

5 responses to “The Tudors: What’s happened to Henry?

  1. Paul

    Nice amusing review – just wanted to talk about this one a bit:

    “This week, in an attempt to implicate Queen Catherine (Joely Richardson) as being a reforming protestant (wasn’t Henry one of those?)”

    Basically, no. Though he was a big fan of some of the earlier reformers, and of course he was grateful to Cranmer for coming up with a way to get his divorce, Henry believed in quite a lot of the same doctrines as the continental catholics, it’s just that he didn’t like his own subject having a different “superior” in Rome and therefore divided loyalties. To simplify immensely, Henry’s biggest problem with the catholic church was that he thought HE should be the only Pope for all the christians in England.

    And, of course, the other historically accurate thing that this last episode got right and portrayed well was that he did vacillate between the catholics and the reformers at his court, such that no-one ever really knew where they stood, or what his next decision would be.

    But at the end of the day, one of the protestants in the episode said it best when they said that Henry believed that he should be the only man with a conscience in the realm.

    • Our Man in the South

      Thanks Paul,

      It’s clear that Henry is devoted to just one true Church – The Church of Henry (which is, basically, Catholicism, but without the Pope). I think they actually convey this quite well in the series, with everyone tip toeing around him, not quite sure what the old Despot’s going to come up with next. There was a great bit in the last series, where Henry was berating Thomas Cromwell for demonstrating a lack of enthusiasm for arresting and burning a protestent preacher. He said “what exactly do you believe Thomas?” , to which Cromwell replied, “I believe, what you believe, Your Majesty.” It seemed the safest of bets, though, obviously, didn’t work in the long run.

  2. pauseliveaction

    Can I be rather shallow and just say Jonathan Rhys Meyers… gorgeous.

    And nice post, of course, Our Man in the South.

  3. Working the Look

    I’m so delighted someone has finally commented on the bizarritude of the Irishness of Henry’c court. This is important new historical information, surely? I can’t wait till little Edward pops in again in his leprechaun outfit, dancing a little jig in front of Katherine Parr. I’m learning so much!

    • Our Man in the South

      You’re dead right about young Edward. He sounds like Ruari off of the Archers to me. Could they, by any chance, be related? Better get Qwerty on the case.

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