Friday, April 11, 2008

The Tudors: Transformations and Assassins

It's the season for history on cable television - John Adams on HBO, the return of The Tudors on Showtime - and it's proving to be a wonderful season, indeed.

The Tudors this season is all about transformation.

Charles Brandon (well-played by Henry Cavill) was Henry's loyal buddy last year. But Princess Margaret died, Charles has remarried, and is changing his ways. He seems faithful to his new wife. He spends more time at home. And he is taking Queen Catherine's side...

What happened? I've "grown up," Brandon says. And this growing is putting him on an ever more dangerous collision course with Henry and his supporters, as the King at last officially proclaims Anne.

Thomas More is growing too. He can no longer serve as Chancellor, and is finding keeping quiet about his misgivings about Henry and Anne increasingly difficult. Henry is definitely "no longer Harry".

And the Church is changing too, both in England and Rome, though The Tudors takes some literacy license and compresses history just a bit. I don't mind - this is a dramatization not a history book. But if you're interested in real history vs. history on The Tudors, here's the long and the short of it:

In The Tudors and in history, Henry marries Anne in 1533. This is ordained by the new Archbishop of Canterbury. In The Tudors, Paul Paul III (brilliantly rendered by Peter O'Toole) sends a newly commissioned Jesuit on an assassination mission. This was all great television, with The Tudors almost taking a page from the Da Vinci Code.

In real history, however, the Jesuits weren't founded until 1534, didn't get to Rome until 1537, and didn't adopt the name Society of Jesus until 1540 (see the Wikipedia entry for more). There is certainly no record of the Pope sending out a Jesuit assassin - but, I of course have to admit that who knows what was said and done behind closed doors. (Full disclosure: I'm happily a Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, a Jesuit university. So far, no signs of assassins here....)

But The Tudors is throbbing with assassins, of the spirit and the flesh, of the heart and the mind, and these contests are precisely what make the show such a pleasure to behold.

Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Rent-a-Car, eBags, eHarmony, eMusic, Nutrisystem

See also ...

Tooling Up for The Tudors and The Tudors Continues, The First Amendment Abides ... The Tudors Concludes and America Begins ...

and my reviews of all of last season's episodes, beginning here ...

and more on the printing press and the Protestant Reformation in my book, The Soft Edge ...

and a bit of historical science fiction about another era ...

The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile

Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!
Post a Comment