Episode 9 begins with the incomparable Earl of Surrey getting himself into a rather deep mess.  Edward Seymour reports to the King that the Earl rashly attacked French supply forces in Boulogne, losing 600 men, including all of the captains and gentleman, having put them in the front lines.   The now very aged monarch looks disappointed at the news and says nothing at first.

While holding council, Henry relays the information he gained from Lord Hertford.  It is clear that the King is not pleased that the bold Earl risked his tenuous hold on Boulogne.  He commands Lord Surrey to return to England to be examined as to his conduct.  He appoints Lord Hertford as his replacement.  He also appoints Risley as Lord Chancellor and also creates him a Baron.   The Duke of Suffolk also tells the King that the Emperor is now seizing all English ships and properties in the low countries.  He has clearly betrayed England to side with France once again.  I must say, the way the Kings in Tudor times stabbed eachother in the back so frequently, it’s a wonder England held her own.  Always between France and Spain, always being the sort of “monkey in the middle” between the two.  It makes me glad Elizabeth played her own game with those two countries and gained the upper hand when she had power, lol!

Charles Brandon’s son comes to court to visit.  The Duke explains to his son that Brigitte has now become his “Official Mistress,” and explains that he is sorry the boy’s mother, the Duchess,  is displeased with his choice, but “there is no help for it.”  The Duke feels his son is old enough to know the plain truth, and the his son responds favorably, stating that whatever makes his father happy makes him happy.  It’s nice to see Brandon have some resemblance of a happier life now with Brigitte, as he was very miserable for quite sometime.

King Henry and Queen Katherine dine together along with her sister, Anne.  The King confesses he is not so happy as he was in France.  He waxes philosophical about people’s interpretations of the “real” facts, that everyone is full of guile, hypocrisy and dishonesty.  Catherine decides to present to him a book that she has written, “Lamentations of a Sinner.”  He seems a little surprised that she has gone so far as to write a book, but appreciates that she has dedicated the book to him in a most praising manner.  He sort of “tsks: her for her words about the Pope and Rome, although does not completely disagree.  Catherine seems nervous, and no wonder, no one ever knew exactly what the King would do next in terms of religion.  I don’t think even Henry himself knew what he really wanted, lol!

Enter the ever scheming Bishop Gardiner…. while Catherine and Henry are dining (still the same scene), he is granted an audience and asks the King’s permission to arrest and “examine” the known “heretic” Anne Askew in order to flush out her supporters at court.  It is clear that both the Queen and her sister know who this woman is and they are squirming in their seats.  I can’t help but really dislike the Bishop, who always seems to want to have someone arrested or killed, all in the name of religion.

Here is where things start to get intense.  While preaching, Anne Askew is arrested.  She is undeterred, shouting her beliefs while being dragged off to the Tower.  Historically, she was a woman who was very strongly in favor of the reform, denouncing the part of the mass where the priests turn bread into the body of Christ, etc.

The Earl of Surrey has returned from France, to be upbraided by the council, and examined as to his behavior while in command.  The Earl, for his part, defended himself extremely well.  The King is not moved by this reason and is more upset by the loss of so many and the potential loss of Boulogne.  Surrey is stripped of his title “Captain of Boulogne” and ordered NOT to return to France.  OUCH!  For a man as proud as Henry Howard, this had to stick in his craw in a huge way, especially since he felt it was unwarranted, that he had done his best in the situation.  He insists the King will see reason once he speaks with him, however the Earl is refused an audience.  I think at this point, Surrey knows his days may be numbered.

More saddening news comes from abroad as Sir Richard Rich reports to the Lady Mary that Eustace Chapuys has died.  I admit, I got choked up.  I always liked his character, as he was so good to Mary, and seemed to always try to do the right thing.  My heart just wanted to break for the poor, lonely princess as she tells Richard how remarkable he was and a true friend and that now she is alone.  He assures her that is not so, that there are many who share the Catholic faith and stand behind her.  He pledges allegiance to her on the spot.  He assures her that there is work afoot to stop the “heretics.”  Mary tells him that she will pray for their success and to send a message of support to Bishop Gardiner.  Quite frankly, all of this extreme madness in the name of Christianity just turns my stomach.  My own personal feelings, but they are there just the same, and it’s a bit frustrating to watch at times……

Bishop Gardiner and Richard Rich question Anne Askew as to her preachings of “heresy” and her connections with influential ladies at court, including Queen Catherine.  She refuses to name any supporters and they threaten to “make her speak” by means of torture.  You can tell the poor woman is frightened, however her resolve only grows stronger.  They bring her down to the lower level of the tower.  The Constable of the Tower is clearly in disagreement about torturing a woman, however, he does as ordered by the Bishop.

The Duke of Suffolk and Earl of Surrey sit down to have a chat about recent events, with the Earl claiming no fault in the recent battle in Boulogne.  I am not sure if Brandon really believes that the Earl will come out of everything okay and regain the King’s favor as he says, but he makes every effort to reassure Surrey nonetheless.  The Earl is now even more determined to bring Edward Seymour down, and says as much to the Duke.  The Duke advises him not to raise arms against the Seymours, but Surrey is certain he has no choice.  Again, there are questions of who will govern once the King dies.  It all comes down to who has “control” of the Prince.

The next part, my fellow Tudors fans, was pretty difficult to watch for me.  I am not a person who enjoys seeing a person tortured, even if it is just on TV for a drama series.  The Constable of the Tower is supervising the men binding Anne Askew to the rack, ordering them to just “pinch her, nothing more.”   I personally am horrified for her.  The men want to know which of the Queen’s ladies share her beliefs.  Risley keeps insisting that they need to stretch her further.  The men argue that they have the King’s permission, and the Constable refuses to go further, going off to report to the King.  Risley taunts her beliefs, calling her “stupid woman” and trying to belittle her.  She refuses to give in, and both Risley and Richard Rich pull harder, making the rack grow taut until she is basically suspended by the ropes.  It’s awful.  Just awful.

The Constable, being granted an audience with Henry, rushes to explain the situation, begging for amnesty for his part in the torture.  He does not get the response is expecting.  The King grants him pardon and the goes on to counter that the devil takes many forms and yet “it is always the devil”.  He thinks the explanation will “ease” the constable’s conscience.  I sincerely doubt it does.

Meanwhile, Risley and Rich rack Anne until she loses consciousness, throw water on her to wake her up and continue to question and torture her.  She never gives way or gives in to their demands, keeping her silence as to the Queen’s true beliefs.

King Henry presides over Parliment in December 1545, stating that he would like “perfect love and concord” in the realm.  He is unhappy with discord between the clergy, and the laity, slandering eachother and plotting against one another.  He wants the divisions to become extinct, for the realm to become one, become like brothers.  He speech is very well received by all, but it only seems to add to the confusion.

Thomas Seymour, Anne Stanhope and Queen Catherine discuss the King’s new demands of the kingdom, not sure how to proceed when the King changes him mind from day to day on religious reform.  Anne Stanhope has the best line in reference to the Reformation, saying glibly,  “Madame, the King has opened a Pandora’s Box, and whether he will it or not, he simply cannot close it now, whatever his complaints.”  Soooooooo true and so right on the money!

Charles Brandon and his mistress, Brigitte take a stroll through the gardens.  He confesses to her his concerns and fears of the machinations and the plots and plans of the men at court.  He feels as if he has no knowledge of what is going on and it leaves him feeling rather adrift.  On one hand, he is relieved, on the other, he is alarmed at what may come to light after the King’s death.  He knows Henry’s infirmities are growing worse day by day and that only increases his concerns.

Lord Hertford returns from France with terms from King Francis as to terms of peace between the two countries.  They are definitely NOT the kind of terms the King wants to hear.  In eight years, Francis wants Henry to hand Boulogne back to France in return for a payment of 2 million crowns.  Knowing how destitute the royal coffers are becoming, Henry concedes to the agreement, telling Hertford that he has negotiated well.

Bishop Gardiner strikes again!  He requests, via Risley, to have several of the Queen’s ladies arrested on suspicion of heresy, including the Queen’s own sister, Anne.  This had to be extremely frightening for Catherine, as she well knew that she could lose her head quite easily at any moment.

The Earl of Surrey attempts to have a secret meeting to plot the takedown of the Seymours.  He intends to overtake Windsor in an effort to gain control of the Prince, and therefore the realm.  Sticky, sticky, sticky!!!!!!

While Queen Catherine moves to warn Edward Seymour and his wife Anne about the Bishop arresting her ladies and her sister, Mary speaks with the Bishop to find out how his plans are proceeding.  The Bishop reminds me of a puffed up peacock as he reports that things are moving along swiftly and according to plan.  I am so conflicted about Mary’s part in all of this.  I can see why she would be so staunch about the Catholic faith, but she is really showing her ruthlessness.  It makes it very easy to see her transformation into “Bloody Mary,” that is for certain!  Gardiner also reports that Anne Askew has been condemned to be burned at Smithfield.

The Earl of Surrey is arrested for treason……

At Smithfield, Anne Stanhope comes into view, looking upset and rather frantic.  This is the most emotion I have ever seen out of this woman, so naturally, I am curious to see what she is about.  She privately speaks with the executioner, asking him to take a very large sack of gunpowder and tie it around Anne Askew’s neck.  She asks him to do it not for the money, but for the “love of God.”  She is very clearly broken up over this impending execution, and you get the sense that Anne Askew is of great importance to her.  The guards bring a very broken and tortured Anne, carrying her on a chair.  This is actually historically accurate, for they had stretched her so badly on the rack that she did not have use of her arms or legs.  So sad, so horrifying.  I actually debated with myself over whether or not to watch this part, but I did want to see how Michael Hirst put this scene together.

The poor woman cries out as they carry her to where she is to be burned.  While they bring her to the scaffold, the disgusting Risley decides to sidle up to Lady Hertford to inform her that Bishop Gardiner would like to see her very soon.  We can all guess what that means, right?  On the scaffold, they have Anne Askew tied to a large stake.  This part is the one thing that Michael Hirst made a mistake about, and I am not sure why he did.  They have her standing, which is not what actually happened.  Historically, when Anne was tied to the large stake on the scaffold, she was set astride a small seat attached to the stake.  As I said before, she did not have use of her limbs, so she could not stand.  The executioner places the bag of gunpowder around her neck and tells her it is from a friend.  There is a gutwrenching moment when she meets eyes with Lady Hertford and it’s almost like she is trying to help her through this and help her stay strong.  It’s both touching and sad.  Historically, she was burnt with three other men, but this was not the case in this episode.  I think Michael Hirst most likely wanted to give the Protestant Martyr her due, and devote the scene to just her.  Some accounts I have read about Anne Askew states that she made no sound until the flames reached her chest, some state that she shouted her beliefs and prayed until the flames consumed her.   The gunpowder explodes nearly immediately and she is gone in a great puff of smoke.

Sir Richard Rich is terribly busy these days!  Torturing Anne Askew… and now questioning the Earl of Surrey as to his treasonous activities involving his plots to gain control of the Prince.  They get one specific statement from the Earl which essentially undoes him.  He states that his malice goes much higher than his “lowly cousin.”  Henry is alarmed to hear of the Earl’s intentions, Hertford playing to the King’s paranoias.  Henry admits that he has always loved the Earl, but now Surrey has forfeited his love.

The Earl devises an escape plan, as he knows he will surely die if he does not.  He digs a hole in the stone that goes down to the Thames and asks a friend privately to bring him a boat.  Unfortunately, for the enterprising Surrey, he is found out and his escape plan is foiled.  Pity.  I almost wanted him to succeed.  The Earl of Surrey has been a very fun character to watch.  I loved his boldness and his sense of humor about things.

And so… the trial of the Earl of Surrey begins.  Most of the charges are very clearly trumped up.  The Earl once again defends himself rather well.  I felt he was most admirable to watch.  This was a very excellent scene, showing a sort of division between the nobility and the newly created men of “low birth”.  He accuses Charles Brandon of trapping and betraying him, without outright naming him, which you can see right away upsets the Duke.  You never know if Brandon had a true hand in his trial, but he seems to be sad that his one time friend may perish.  Surrey asks to be judged by God and by the country, meaning he will be tried by a jury of his peers.  The noblemen come back to Lord Hertford, explaining that they can see no real way to condemn the Earl as there is very little proof of treason or his other so called offenses.  Hertford quickly explains that the King is law and his wishes are set above everything, including lack of evidence.  The jury is basically ordered to condemn Surrey.

Queen Catherine senses that there is something not quite right between her and the Lady Mary.  She approaches her to get to the bottom of it.  You can see that here are two extremely intelligent women, both strong and shrewd and although they both know what eachother’s true intentions are, they never speak of it.  But, it’s there in the words that aren’t spoken, and the looks that they give eachother.  Catherine explains that she is aware that “for some reason”, Mary no longer loves her as she once did, but that she still loves her and always will.

The jury unwillingly finds the Earl of Surrey guilty.  The Duke of Suffolk looks very disheartened at this news, and I think it is one more thing that just makes him want to give up.  The Earl of Surrey is very dignified, asking what they have found him guilty of.  He keeps his head high, never failing to keep his composure, even as they sentence him to being hung, drawn and quartered.  Once again, Michael Hirst does a fantastic job of making you feel sorry for the accused.  I confess, I was feeling very melancholy during this scene.  As he leaves the courtroom, there is Surrey’s voice, reciting his own poem, “The Quiet Mind.”  It’s the last time we will ever see the Earl again, as he walks out proudly, a true nobleman to the very end.

King Henry decides to question the Queen himself as to her choices of reading and books.  He urges her to be cautious of the “low” people reading the Bible.  Catherine responds by becoming passionate on the subject, encouraging that he rid England of all of it’s “dregs.”  Henry dismisses everyone, claiming to be tired, which makes the Queen wonder if she went too far.  Gardiner stays on.  The King admits to being tired of being lectured on such subjects by none other than his own wife.  The Bishop accuses the Queen of heresy, asking the King’s permission to put Catherine on trial.  Henry agrees but tells Gardiner that he is resolved to sparing the Queen’s life……….

And so we come to the end of this episode…… the Final Episode coming soon!!!!!!!!

****All pictures for this post were found on the site – Showtime’s Tudors Wiki (which has been SUPER helpful to me!)  http://tudorswiki.sho.com/photos .

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