People often say that in today's mediated world, celebrities have no privacy. Whether in politics or entertainment, once you've been noticed by the public eye, it takes a long time to turn away or even blink.
Episode 4 of Showtime's The Tudors, which continues to present a compelling tableau of social history, shows this is nothing new. If what we saw with Henry's sister Margaret (played appealingly by Gabrielle Anwar) is any indication, being married to a monarch - in her case, the aged and repulsive King of Portugal, at Henry's implacable order - was not only no bargain. It was living in a gilded fish bowl.
Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette made this same point. Not only does everyone and their grandmother at the court watch you eat, but a select group watch you go to bed. The witnesses even keep a cocked ear to hear how well a marriage is consummated.
As amazing as these scenes were between Marie Antoinette and Louis, I found the bedroom of poor Margaret and the Portuguese King even more eye-opening. Better to be a dirt-poor peasant, and be spared having to tell a Cardinal waiting just outside the curtain, and listening to every sound, that the union was successful. Fortunately for Margaret, there is an option....
Meanwhile, back in olde England, Henry's undergoing a transformation. He gets scant satisfaction from the Pope's making him "Defender of the Faith" as reward for his polemic against Martin Luther, and moves ever closer to getting a divorce from Catherine.
This is something the Pope will certainly not want to reward Henry for, and will lead to consequences that will change the course of history.
Derriere and Bosom on The Tudors: More of What the FCC Would Deprive Us Of
The King's Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church G. W. Bernard's 2005 book
The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the Information Revolution my 1998 book
The Tudors Michael Hirst's brand new book!
my latest novel: The Plot to Save Socrates
my reviews of other episodes of The Tudors: Episodes 1 and 2: History So Colorful You Can Taste It, Episode 3: History So Real You Can Feel It, Episode 5: Madrigal Musical Chairs, Episode 6: Tectonic Chess, Episode 7: Henry's Imperfect Apothecary
The Plot to Save Socrates
"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News
"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book