Synopsis: King Henry VIII’s uncle, England’s Ambassador in Urbino was assassinated by the French. This enrages the King that he decides to wage war against France more as an opportunity to bring him immortality if he ends victorious. His trusted adviser, Cardinal Wolsey, an ally of the French, dissuades the King from going to war with France, and proposes that they create a Treaty of Universal Peace instead, one that will too gain him popularity.
Episode Summary: England’s Ambassador in Urbino arrives in Ducal Palace irritated for having been dragged out of bed to attend the duke’s early meeting of the council. Seeing that the French are there as well, at once, he finds that something is amiss. On his way to the meeting, the French follow him hurriedly, and swiftly carries on their attack. The ambassador, left alone and defenseless, falls on the marble floor bathed with the pool of his blood.
At the Whitehall Palace in London, King Henry VIII calls upon his council to address the murder of the ambassador who also happens to be his uncle. Enraged with the news, King Henry VIII finds the incident to be a just cause to call for a war against the French. Lord Buckingham who had long since suggested waging war against the French agrees with King Henry VIII, but without letting it pass his annoyance with the King for using his personal tragedy as a cause for war. Lord Norfolk agrees with Lord Buckingham for he believes that the French throne rightfully belongs to the King of England. Cardinal Wolsey, though uneasy with the King’s decision, agrees to wage war against the French. Thomas More speaks with Cardinal Wolsey and learns that the cardinal only does what the King wants, and it is up to him to advise the King of his best interests.
With all in agreement with him, King Henry VIII puts the matter aside, and spends the day making love with Lady Blount. Lady Blount is a married woman whose husband she says is extremely jealous, and has threatened to put her in a nunnery. Moreover, he has warned to create a scandal of her affair with the King.
The French Ambassador and Bishop Bonnivet arrive at the Hampton Court in Surrey to speak with Cardinal Wolsey. The Cardinal demands an explanation in regard to the murder of the King’s uncle. Cardinal Wolsey who had long been an ally of the French finds it most unfortunate that they have done such a crime against England enough for the King to wage war against them. The French Ambassador insists that the King of France did not call for the assassination of the Ambassador, and that the men responsible for the murder have been punished. With the victim being the King’s uncle, Cardinal Wolsey finds that the French’s response will no longer suffice. King Henry VIII has an appetite for war, and the French had just given him reason to call for one. The French Ambassador is resolved with the two countries going to war, while Bishop Bonnivet looks on to Cardinal Wolsey to dissuade the King from doing so.
Clearly, King Henry has not yet taken the war against France seriously for he has time to play tennis with his friends. His tennis partner, philanderer Charles Brandon sets his eye on the daughter of Lord Buckingham. This amuses the King, and even bets that Charles will not succeed in luring her into his bed. Later, the King plays the role of husband, and dines with his wife Queen Catherine of Aragon. It pleases her to hear that the King finds their daughter, Mary, to be the pearl of his world. The Queen who also happens to be the aunt of the King of Spain urges her husband to sign a treaty with the Emperor, one where both England and Spain recognize France to be their mutual enemy. Moreover, she relays to him her nephew’s advise of not heeding to Wolsey’s advice knowing that the Cardinal is biased with the French. Henry is irked with his wife’s meddling with political issues, and embarrasses her for doing so. Catherine who has longed to fulfill every duty of a wife asks her husband if he will ever visit her bedchamber again. The King arrives at her bedchamber, but learns that the Queen is still at prayer. He then summons one of the Queen’s ladies-in-waiting to his bedchamber, and while Catherine is in prayer, Henry is in bed with another woman.
The King holds a jousting tournament, and Charles Brandon starts wooing the daughter of Lord Buckingham by asking her permission to wear her favours. Charles Brandon jousts against Lord Hallam, and wins. The Duke of Buckingham fights next, and demolishes the Earl of Newcastle. After winning ten courses, the Duke of Buckingham has not yet had enough, and reenters the list. Charles Brandon decides to take on the Duke, but King Henry VIII decides to challenge him instead. He takes his lance, and asks Queen Catherine of Aragon for her favour. The King dismounts Lord Buckingham, and proves to everyone that he is the King.
Cardinal Wolsey speaks once again with the French Ambassador and Bishop Bonnivet, and presents to him an outline of a new peace treaty that will unite England with France. Wolsey believes that all can rejoice if the two kings agree with the treaty. He asks nothing of the French Ambassador in return, but looks on to Bishop Bonnivet to grant him his desire.
King Henry VIII pays a visit to Thomas More and his family who lives outside of the court for he believes that the court is for more ambitious men. The King is anxious to hear of Thomas More’s opinion regarding the planned war against France. Thomas More finds himself a humanist who abhors war for he finds it beastly. The humanist in Henry agrees with Thomas, but as King, he disagrees. Thomas More though hesitated at first finally decides to advise the King to spend the money in the welfare of his people instead of wasting it away in a ruinous war. Unfortunately, Henry VIII has his own ambitions, and truly believes that he can only be remembered through the victory of war. He has seen it happen with Henry V who is most remembered for winning the Battle of Agincourt.
Lord Buckingham broods at having to watch Henry VIII with the crown he believes to be rightfully his for being the direct descendant of Edward II. He claims that Henry’s father stole the crown from his father who was then King of England. This he confides with Lord Norfolk who warns him of treason, but Lord Buckingham believes that soon he will reclaim his rightful throne as the King of England. In fact, some people in the court already recognize him as King, but not Charles Brandon. Lord Buckingham finds him in bed with his daughter, and claims that he has violated her. Charles nonchalantly declares that his daughter has already been with another man before him, and with a grin leaves her bedchamber. Enraged at his daughter’s unbecoming actions, Lord Buckingham slaps his daughter with the back of his hand leaving her with an unsightly bruise and scar.
Cardinal Wolsey receives a visit from Lady Blount who informs him of her pregnancy. Lady Blount is bearing the King’s child, but has yet to inform the King. Cardinal Wolsey advises her to keep the news to herself or risk death. He will take it upon himself to inform the King of the news. In nearing her term, Lady Blount is to be taken to a private place to give birth to the King’s bastard child.
Cardinal Wolsey arrives at the court, and receives updates from his secretary Richard Pace. Mr. Pace finds a filthy young man loitering at the court, and learns that he is Thomas Thallis, the musician referred to by the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral. The filthy young man despite his appearance is a man of many talents for he can play the organ and the flute, can sing more than moderately well, and is also a composer of music.
The King returns from hunting, and receives news from Wolsey that the preparations for war are in order, and that he can expect going to war in a matter of weeks. Cardinal Wolsey, however, has something else in his mind. Apparently, Wolsey has conducted discussions with ambassadors, representatives, and envoys about a treaty of universal and perpetual peace. This, he believes, would be a less costly way of gaining popularity. The treaty begins with a summit between the Kings of France and England where the King’s daughter will be formally betrothed to the French Dauphin with the end goal of the two kings signing the treaty. Thomas More supports the treaty, and promotes it as something that has not been done in the whole of Europe, and one that would lead the path in the creation of pan-European institutions. The King now appears to be more open to the idea, and asks of how it will be enforced. Cardinal Wolsey explains that if a country that signed the treaty becomes a victim of war, all other signatories will demand that the aggressor withdraw, and if within a month it refuses, all signatories will wage war against the aggressor until peace is restored. With two of his trusted advisers supporting the treaty, King Henry VIII accepts it.
Soon after, the Duke of Buckingham comes to inform him that he found Charles Brandon in flagrante delicto with his daughter. Enraged at what he has discovered, he demands that the King banish Charles Brandon from the court. Unbeknownst to him, King Henry VIII is fully aware of Charles Brandon’s intentions, and in fact, his bet encouraged the young man to pursue the Lord’s daughter. Henry declares that no punishment will be imposed unless the Lord’s daughter accuses Charles Brandon of rape. Lord Buckingham insists that there does not need to be a claim for the offense was not only against his daughter, but also against him and his family. King Henry VIII sees no offense has been made, and consequently upsets Lord Buckingham. Thomas More warns the King of Lord Buckingham’s stature, and ability to call upon a private army if he continues to provoke him.
Bishop Bonnivet informs Cardinal Wolsey that the King of France has agreed to sign the treaty, and host the summit. This delights Wolsey, but is infuriated to learn that Bishop Bonnivet has not yet arranged for his reward. With the coming summit, King Henry VIII writes a letter to the King of France showing his full support for the Treaty of Universal Peace, and informs him that as a token of his good will, he has decided not to shave again until they meet. Having seen Wolsey’s rage, Bonnivet immediately begins his quest to arrange for Wolsey’s reward. He informs the Cardinal that Pope Alexander is gravely ill, and assures him of the support of the French cardinals at the conclave when it is time to elect a new pope. Bishop Bonnivet believes that the vote of the French cardinals together with the English cardinals, Cardinal Wolsey will succeed Pope Alexander as the new Holy Father. Cardinal Wolsey could not be more delighted with the news.
Catherine of Aragon unaware of Lady Blount’s affair with her husband finds in her someone she can trust. Catherine of Aragon finds no one to talk to after Cardinal Wolsey dismissed her Spanish confessor, and her Spanish ladies for fear that they might be spies. Catherine of Aragon confides with Lady Blount of her inability to give the King a living son. Once she gave birth to a son, but he soon died. She believes that the King blames her for this tragic misfortune, what she does not know is that the King blames himself too. King Henry VIII speaks with his confessor about what has long preoccupied his mind. After the death of his brother Arthur, Henry upon the insistence of his father married his brother’s wife Catherine. Henry’s father whom he believes to have been afraid to lose Catherine’s dowry, and who was consumed by the prestige of a Spanish marriage, made it possible for the two to marry. Catherine of Aragon swore that her marriage with Arthur was never consummated, and so was given a papal dispensation that allowed her to marry Henry. After five miscarriages, and his wife’s inability to give birth to a son, Henry now questions whether his wife’s marriage to his brother was consummated. He remembers a passage in Leviticus that says that if a man marries his brother’s wife then they will die childless. In an attempt to end Henry’s anxiety, the priest reminds him that he and Catherine do have a child. Henry VIII in his grief states that he has a child, but not a son.
The Lord Buckingham calls Sir Thomas Boleyn to meet with him. Sir Thomas Boleyn like him comes from an old family, and finds in him someone whom he can trust. Lord Buckingham questions the King for filling his court with commoners. This brings unease to Thomas Boleyn who wants no part in a civil war against the King. The Lord Buckingham, however, introduces a matter that would pique Boleyn’s interest. Sir Thomas Boleyn dislikes Cardinal Wolsey whom they know to have a mistress and two children despite being a man of the cloth. Later, Sir Thomas Boleyn meets with King Henry VIII who is anxious to hear from him about the King of France whom he has not seen. King Henry VIII then entrusts Sir Thomas Boleyn, England’s Ambassador in France, with all the diplomatic negotiations for the summit. Thomas Boleyn returns to Paris with good news for his daughters. His new role allows for his daughters Mary and Anne Boleyn to meet with the King of England, an opportunity that delights them all.
Catherine of Aragon speaks with her husband about his beard, more so to the reason he is growing one. Catherine is enraged at discovering that her daughter will be betrothed to the Dauphin of France, a member of the Valois family who is a sworn enemy of Catherine’s family. Unfortunately for her, the King has made his decision.
King Henry VIII invites Cardinal Wolsey to eat with him. The King washes his hand in a bowl of water that the Lord Buckingham holds for him, but makes his way to leave when Cardinal Wolsey approaches him to do the same. Wolsey orders him to return to serve him, but Lord Buckingham decides to pour the water on the Cardinal’s feet. This upsets Henry and orders the Lord to apologize. Enraged with having to serve and apologize to Cardinal Wolsey, Lord Buckingham informs Lord Norfolk and Sir Thomas Boleyn that the time has come. He demonstrates to them how he plans to assassinate the King, one his father taught him when he planned to murder Richard III. Lord Buckingham plans to keep a knife he holds in his hand concealed as he kneels to kiss the King’s hand. He then will thrust the knife in the King’s body fatally injuring Henry.
Cardinal Wolsey informs King Henry VIII that everything is prepared for the summit that is to take place in the Pale of Calais that is located in an English territory in the Valley of Gold. The Palace of Illusions that some people regard as the 8th wonder of the world was constructed especially for the King. Cardinal Wolsey also takes this as an opportunity to inform the King that Lady Blount is bearing his child, and if he decides to keep the child, Wolsey will deal with her husband, and make arrangements to move Lady Blount to a house in Jericho. King Henry VIII could not dwell too much of this news for he is preoccupied with the excitement of the upcoming summit, and how this will gain him immortality.
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