Henry has returned in time for Easter and the season of rebirth. Where have you been Big Guy? I was just starting to feel better seeing the blossoms on the trees and listening to the birds sing.
Anne Boleyn is gone after telling the crowd at her beheading to pray for the King ” for a gentler and more merciful prince there never was . . . “
I’ve added Will Durant’s commentary here in a few places. And according to Mr. Durant she did say these words as she went to meet her executioner. Jane Seymour is waiting in the wings and she is “no special beauty, but she impressed all with her intelligence, kindness, even modesty”.
Henry seems to like her but he is soon up to his old tricks. He tells her to stay out of politics in his charming way (Remember what happened to Anne?) and gives her dark looks when she hasn’t produced an heir at the first opportunity.
She seems to take it in stride. I wonder how she will react when Henry starts culling the population out in the countryside? Because his Reformation is less and less popular the further you get from the big cities. London and Edinburgh are more concerned with the future prices of cattle and mirrors. But the people who farm and raise those cattle are very disturbed. They begin to revolt in short order.
Were they not paying attention when Henry had his wife and the mother of his child executed? He does not hesitate here and soon the country is at war with itself.
Henry is not happy with Thomas Cromwell either. His heavy handed minister manages to become the most unpopular person in the kingdom and eventually has his head handed to him. Much bloodshed could have been averted if he had not enraged the peasants with his policies.
I enjoyed the moment last night when Henry smacks Cromwell in the back of the head. But this was as close to comedy and The Three Stooges as we will ever get here. There is nothing funny about the reign of terror that found its way into England when Henry was King.
Durant seems to feel, however, that the groundwork was laid at this time for the much happier reign of Queen Elizabeth. Henry built “the first permanent royal navy” with some of the funds he stole from the Church. It cleared out the pirates and defended the country when Spain attacked years later. He modernized the army. He knew how to fight his enemies!
And you didn’t want to become one of those whether you were a foreign leader, a wife or a daughter. “To his friends, however, he remained kind and generous, jovially amiable, and capable of winning affection and devotion”.
Anne Boleyn referred to these qualities as she died.
He was a very contradictory fellow and Showtime does a good job of showing both sides of this leader whose mind was “keen” and judgement of men “penetrating”.
It also shows him suffering from an incurable ulcer in his leg. Also he had “syphilis, never quite cured”.
Henry is older in this third season of the Tutors. He has settled down a bit and his looks are fading. He is in constant pain and lives in the cauldron of fear that is his own creation.
One can only thank our many ancestors who managed to wrestle power away from the autocratic personality and give us a chance to enjoy the better world we have today.
Long live the King! But first let’s talk about a few changes.
The Story of Civilization Volume Six