Unpicking the Tudors; S1 E3


Good morrow, costume fiends! Welcome to your insight into Henrican politics for the week!

1

Wolsey, Wolsey, Wolsey!++++

The King asks Charles to escort his sister, Margaret, to her betrothed and promotes him to Duke of Suffolk. The envoys from the Holy Roman-Emperor meet with Cardinal Wolsey and determine how to cement the treaty between the two nations. Anne catches the King’s notice in a play. The Emperor is invited to the King’s court. It is learned that the King of France knows of the treaty talks- and the Cardinal is quick to find a scapegoat. We learn more of why Anne’s father and uncle want her to seduce the King.

As usual, the pace is really rattling on. Each episode covers a truly huge amount of events and many different plotlines. To be honest, it does work. It makes the Tudor court seem very vibrant, busy, and a potboiler of intrigue. It just means I have a lot of history to cover!

Begot by Butchers, But By Bishops Bred

Wolsey, you see, is evil.

After the French cardinals screwed him over, Wolsey has now entered into a secret treaty with the Holy Roman Empire. Wolsey, in real life. mediated between the Holy Roman Empire and France in 1519, but this treaty is clearly the Treaty of Bruges from 1521. This started to be debated during the Field of Cloth of Gold, and it’s often seen as Wolsey’s finest work in international politics. It joined Henry and Charles in a mutual treaty if France would not sign a peace treaty. Wolsey had ambitions of a peaceful Europe, with England acting as an arbitrator, and it was a masterstroke of international diplomacy.

However, in the show it’s evidence that Wolsey is EEEEEEVILLLLLLL.

2.png

He’s taking money from the Emperor! He’s evil!

3.png

He has an innocent man sent to death! He accuses this man of spying for the French but it’s actually…. Wolsey!

4.png

Wolsey has a secret mistress! He’s EEEEEEVVVVILLLL. Evil! That’s his whole motivation!

Okay, I see your game, show. The show needs a Big Bad. It’s a easy system of protagonist-to-antagonist narrative brought in by the highly developed and arc system of story telling brought in by Buffy. Unfortunately, it does not work here. Creating a narrative out of Tudor history is a necessity of making a fictional television show about these events, but having Wolsey as an arch manipulator and secretly evil minister is based on some incredibly old historiography that has been mostly revised and dismissed by modern historians. Obviously, I’m a little biased as my adviser during university was a scholar and defender of Cardinal Wolsey, but the idea of Wolsey as manipulator and Henry VIII as puppet is incredibly old-fashioned and not really in-keeping with modern Tudor academia.

I’ll talk more about it as the seasons progress. But, needless to say, Wolsey as being this evil minister is old fashioned, lazy, and a waste of Sam Neil’s talents.

EUSTACCEEEEEEE

This treaty with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, brings in one of my favourite figures of the period.

5.png

Eustace Chapuys. This guy. This guy is one of my favourite people of the sixteenth century. He worked as Imperial Ambassador to the English Court from 1529 to 1545, and he’s notable for his wonderful legacy – incredibly detailed correspondence. He had a head for gossip and reported everything that he heard, and it’s such a goldmine of intrigue and whisperings and I love reading them and I love him.

We’ll ignore that he’s nine years early.

6.png

To commemorate and sign the treaty, Charles V actually arrives in England to sign it himself, not through a proxy. It was pretty unusual for foreign royalty to visit England for things like this – being that England is pretty out of the way in Europe – but he actually visited England a number of times.

0585_01

This is contemporary artwork of Charles V visiting England in 1520. The events the show is depicting took place in 1522, however. Vague timelines of vagueness strike again, but I appreciate that the show made efforts to depict the Hapsburg jaw.

Barend_van_Orley_-_Portrait_of_Charles_V_(1519)_-_Google_Art_Project

This is Charles V in 1519. As you can see, he has a deformation of the jaw. The Hapsburg jaw is a pretty famous example of the effects of inbreeding on a family, and this is not even the worst example of it.

7.png

As part of the treaty, Charles V is engaged to the Princess Mary. This also happened in real life; in 1522, the six year old Mary was engaged to the twenty two year old Charles. The two, while they never married, remained close for their entire lives.

Katherine is pleased with England aligning their interests with the Empire. Considering that she is fearful that Henry will divorce her, having her powerful nephew on side can only help her. And, in another element that is true, Katherine and Charles were very close and kept in constant contact.

8.png

She swears to being a virgin whilst married to Arthur, the elder brother of Henry VIII who died in his teens (and whose death ensured that Henry would be king) and to her unwavering love and devotion to her husband and king. Maria Doyle Kennedy is pure class as Katherine. Her performance is excellent, sincerity and fire balanced with such a nuanced sadness. She acts Henners out of the water, every time.

A Historic Meeting

She’s right to be worried about her marriage as one particularly famous lady is ready to make her court debut.

9.png

This is something else that both pleases and frustrates me. The masquerade of Chateau Vert was really where Anne Boleyn made her debut at the English court. It was really conducted to entertain the Imperial delegation for celebrating the Treaty of Bruges in 1522. However, it was not where Henry became interested in Anne. His romantic and sexual interest would not start for about another four years.

But it does make a suitably dramatic set-piece.

10.png

There are also guns. I don’t know why. This guy just starts shooting a gun at the rehearsal, for reasons I can’t begin to fathom.

11

Couldn’t say it better myself, Mister Master of the Revels. Who is wearing a ruff. In 1522.

12.png

The theme of the masquerade is that noble virtues are held captive and must be rescued by brave gentlemen. The female participants actually did wear white satin dresses. However, I highly doubt that they really wore wispy things that exposed their nip nips and had stupid little ruffs that do not match the period at all. Those dresses are very inappropriate. Sure, they’re ‘sexy’ and ‘risque’ I guess, but they look awful.

13

The men have Henry disguised amongst them. In real life, it’d be pretty easy to see which one was Henry. After all, he was red haired and, oh yeah, about a foot taller than everyone else. Here, Henners is actually one of the shorter men in the cast. And I think those tights are some really cheap costuming. I doubt polyester tights were available in the 1520s.

15

That’s some accurate Tudor body glitter these ladies are wearing.

14

And Henry and Anne lock eyes for the very first time. Very dramatic and breathtaking, but all I can think is that winged eyeliner is really not right. This moment is ruined by Anne’s incredibly fashion forward makeup choices.

16

So Anne is flirty and sexy and keeps putting herself in the way of Henry throughout the episode. I find her use of face glitter perplexing, but I guess it’s the key to a early modern king’s heart.

17

Henry has a dream sequence with Anne that is sort of French sixties dreamscape cinematography, but that I hate because in any form of fiction I really dislike OVERLY! SIGNIFICANT! AND MEANINGFUL! DREAM! SEQUENCES! I find them a really lazy means to continue and express plot points. I take it as a sign that the writer couldn’t think of a better way to get from point A to point B.

18

My sheets are wet? But how…

A Sexy Plot

19.png

Only Anne’s interactions with Henry aren’t natural. Her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, and her father are contriving Anne’s relationship with Henry. Why? For land? Jewels? The Earldom of Ormonde that Thomas Boleyn really, really wanted? Uh, no. It’s all to get red of Thomas Wolsey. Because he’s common and too powerful and clearly Anne can badger Henry into getting rid of Wolsey.

Yeah, no. Even if you buy into the ludicrous theory that the Boleyn affair was manipulated into happening by a family who wanted political power, the idea that Anne Boleyn could ‘trick’ Henry into getting rid of Thomas Wolsey doesn’t work. That’s not how one talked or worked with a sixteenth century monarch. They are not a modern politician to be manipulated and petitioned and debate with. A sixteenth century monarch is literally a figure of God – a person who is divinely ordained to be a ruler. You don’t manipulate or try to badger a person you literally believe was chosen by God to be in charge.

These Are Strange Castles

The show also has a weird problem with research of estates and homes.

20.png

This is not Framlingham Castle.

galleryeeframlingham01

This is Framlingham.

21

This is not Hever Castle.

Hever_Castle_2014_06_20_1

This is Hever Castle.

I appreciate that it was probably impossible and far too expensive to film at the actual locations. I get that and I’m not cross that they’re not filming a two minute scene at the actual location. But why go to the expense of creating CGI and then not actually CGI the correct building? Google, man. Google is your friend.

You Simply Must Meet Thomas

Thomas More has been quietly simmering away as a character, but now he’s getting a bit more prominence and it’s clear why; he’s the Thomas that isn’t EEEEEVVVVILLLLLLLL.

22.png

He helps Henry edit Defence of the Seven Sacraments!

2324

Wolsey cuts him out of the negotiations with the Imperial court and look how hurt Thomas More is! Booooo Wolsey!

2526

Henry makes Thomas More gather up copies of Martin Luther’s works and burn them and it makes Thomas sad!

Yeah, let’s ignore how happy and willing Thomas More was to round up reformers and have them tortured and burned alive.

FYI, I do not like Thomas More. I’ll admit my bias straight out. I think he was a sanctimonious hypocrite and I’ve never liked him. I can appreciate how important he was as a statesman and architect of the English renaissance but I don’t like how he’s played as being Mister Goody-Goody.

There’s Something About Margaret

The last element of this week’s episode is Henry’s ongoing drama surrounding his sister, Margaret. You see, she’s due to be married to the old and ailing King of Portugal and she’s not happy about this.

27.png

There are a lot of problems with this.

For a start, this plotline is based on Henry’s sister Mary. His sister Margaret was married off at the age of twelve to the King of Scotland many years previously, but she apparently does not exist for the purposes of the show. Mary was married in 1514 to the King of France, Louis XII, a man thirty years her senior, at the age of eighteen.

So, wrong sister, wrong king, wrong year, and I’m sorry to say, wrong choice of actress. The actress does a fine job, but she’s not an eighteen year old getting married for the first time.

She is to be sent to Portugal escorted by Charles Brandon, Henry’s friend. Margaret is very rude to him (despite Charles Brandon being a companion to the royal nursery since childhood) and Henry makes him Duke of Suffolk to make Brandon seem suitably grand. In actuality, he was made Duke of Suffolk around 1514 as part of a scheme to marry him to Margaret of Savoy.

I have read that the show writers decided to mix up Henry’s sisters because they felt that there were too many Marys and viewers may confuse the elder Princess Mary for Henry’s daughter, Mary. Generally, when I see a forty year old woman I don’t confuse her for a six year old. But I can’t speak for everyone.

It’s All About The Sleeves, Bout The Sleeves, They’re Not Right

The fashion of The Tudors this week seems to be focused on sleeves.

28.png

The show seems to be obsessed with really weird sleeve fashions. Why are her sleeves just hanging there like that? Why are they so thin? Why are they like long cuffs for her arms?

29

Anne is really deep into her scene phase RN. And that dress… it’s not only hideous, it’s just so wrong. The sleeves, the bodice, the shoulder thing, the weird puffed bits, the lack of petticoat – there is nothing right about this garment. Not a single thing.

30

Margaret is continuing the weird off the shoulder puffed roll thing. I don’t like it. Ont the other hand, I like the slashes of purple on Charles’s doublet. Nice little nod to his imperial power.

31

And, again, what’s with the off-the-shoulder with ties arm cuff thing? It’s ugly and a really weird design choice. The brown gown worn by the extra in the far left corner is actually one of the most accurate dresses I’ve seen on the show so far.

32

36

It’s me, grandma, Anastasia

For reasons beyond me, Thomas Boleyn continues to be the only guy who appears period accurate. It really stands out amongst the guys, as they’re all dressed in weird 1580s/1590s clothes.

33

When this came up, I actually shouted at my screen. That hat, that doublet, is so from the 1590s. He’s ready to start committing a plot to have Elizabeth I swapped for James of Scotland. The thinness of the doublet, the lack of slashing, the short cloaks, the tall hat – none of it is right for 1522.

34

Did you wrap a bolster cushion around your head?

35

It’s Katherine and her Elizabethan back-up dancers.

800px-Attributed_to_Marcus_Gheeraerts_II_-_Portrait_of_an_Unknown_Lady_-_Google_Art_Project

This is a painting from 1600. You see her hair? The style of her dress? The way it falls around the waist, the largeness of her sleeves, the way the pearls fall around the bodice?

Yeah, those dresses for the extras would be great – for an Elizabethan costume drama! Those dresses are eighty years too fashion forward!

38

They keep insisting on putting really weird shit on the front of Katherine of Aragon’s dresses, and I don’t get it.

Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_Mary,_Lady_Guildford_(Saint_Louis_Art_Museum)

Does Mary Wotten, Lady Guildenford have a weird applique on the front of her dress? No. Because the colour and decoration comes from her sleeves and her petticoat. Katherine’s dresses are so ugly and I have no idea why.

7ed9cc086abd80a71a1bae8f91cd482c.jpg

This is Katherine depicted in the BBC’s Wolf Hall. This is a beautiful costume, well-researched and accurate to the period. It’s elegant and beautiful, while also showing Katherine as an older woman as compared to, say, her daughter (who is stood next to her).

In The Tudors, Katherine basically wears a variety of sacks with weird headbands. I don’t get it.

37

On the runway, your couture high was more of a bargain basin low. I’m sorry my dear, you are up for elimination.

And that concludes ‘Wolsey, Wolsey, Wolsey’. See you next week, nerds.

 

Update


Well, it’s been a while. My last post on this blog was made way back in October.

I wasn’t very well in October. To put it mildly, I was in the worst depressive spiral I’ve ever been in. I really wasn’t handling losing my father – at all. I was miserable, isolated, and wishing I was dead every single day. I didn’t know how I was ever going to get better. I didn’t see a future where I could possibly be better. The pain of my loss was so intense that I felt it would devour me with it.

But I have gotten better.

I sat down with myself and thought that I just couldn’t go on any more. I couldn’t force myself to feel this much pain any more. I realised just how much I needed help – so I got it. I forced myself to go to group therapy, to go back on anti-depressants, to go out and meet people, to go to counselling. I am working to rebuild myself, to rebuild my armour, make myself a stronger person, and to fix the hole that the loss of my father punched into me.

I am not 100% better. But I am 100% better than where I was.

I don’t know whether I’ll be posting again soon. I do miss Anita – but I’m not sure I miss how negative Anita is. Going through LKH’s bullshit is hilarious but exhausting, and I’ve got my own problems to deal with.

Dottie xx

So Long and Thanks For All The Fish


It was my Dad’s funeral yesterday. It felt like closure, in part, but I still think that I’m going to get a text from him at any minute, complaining about something, telling me about his day, wanting to make sure I’m okay. I miss his hugs.

He was helped in the end by a local charity called Treetops Hospice. I’m hoping to do some fund-raising for them in the future – when I’m in a better head space – but I’ll post a link in case anyone would like to make any donations. My Dad wanted people to donate money to them in his memory, so I’ll pimp the link as much as I can. They’re great people, they really made things so much better for him.

I’ll hopefully get back to posting properly soon.

Dottie x

Personal update


Hey guys,

My update schedule has been terrible since last September. I’ve dropped from posting mostly everyday to barely posting at all, and most of you know why. I told you all that a relative developed a serious illness last year and I was too distracted to focus on the blog as well.

At the beginning of this month, I learnt that my father’s cancer is terminal. It is very likely that he will die in a few months. I had no desire to talk about it publicly before now because my father has always been private and because I hoped that his cancer would go into remission, and I could just forget all about this. It would be just this thing that had happened to my family once, and it wouldn’t have to be something I’d ever have to think about again.

But now it’s something that will always be part of our family’s history. It will have to be something that I think about with each passing day, with each passing moment. Whenever and wherever I go in my life, whether I marry, whether I have children, whether I ever live the dream and become the totes bigshot author with the book deal and the film rights and the huge cult following, I will have to do this all without my father supporting me and getting to see me grow and be happy. Contemplating a life without my dad is impossible, unthinkable – if you were to ever meet my Dad, you would understand exactly why I am the way I am. We have the same sense of humour, the same need to critique and pull things apart, the same stubbornness; in our own way, we have the same seam of melancholy inside us and the same way of seeing the world around us. (Apart from evolution, surprisingly. We always fight about that!)

I am coping as well as can be expected. We are all coping as well as can be expected. I guess I just need to try and talk about it more. My mental state is not great, but I’m trying to keep as strong as I can. It’s not something you ever get prepared for, really. It’s something that happens to us all, but you never expect it until the worst happens.

I’ll try and get to trashing Anita Blake soon. I find it therapeutic and a lot of fun, which is something I do need right now. I’m trying to get more productive (because I haven’t done anything since I found out) and try to get some sleep (which, again, I haven’t really done since I found out).

Until then, go and educate yourselves on bowel cancer. It’s the third most common cancer, and it doesn’t get much attention. It can be very aggressive in the under fifties. Help raise awareness. Donate if you can to any local charities. That’s all I am going to say for now. Anything else and this will descend into a blubbery mess of not-words.

Dottie x

Crimbo Time


I’m going to be away at Le Papa Smith’s over Christmas Day, so I’m not sure when I’ll next have t’internet. So, to all my lovely readers, followers, commenters, leerers, drive-by readers, and everyone who enjoys my weirdness, my obsession with butts, and my really lax militant asexuality, I want to wish you a most excellent Crimbo time, a super smashing New Year’s, and hope you have a totally brill holiday. It’s been a really hard year for me, but you all have helped me get to another day. Laughing at bad fiction with you is really fun, so let’s hope we can keep the snark up for another year!

PS It looks like the blog is set to break a new stats record and reach over 100,000 hits by the end of the year. That’s rather cool. I might have to get swish adverts and shit.

Dottie xx

TPhoto_00112