Synopsis: King Henry VIII commands Sir Thomas Cromwell to present a bill to the House of Parliament that bestows the succession to his children with Anne Boleyn and to no one else. Moreover, he mandates all subjects to take the oath that accepts the succession and that recognizes him as the supreme head of the Church of England. High treason, imprisonment, and forfeiture of goods are the punishment to any man who refuses to take the oath. Meanwhile, Anne Boleyn learns that King Henry VIII has taken up Lady Eleanor as his mistress. She sets in motion a plan that will eliminate Lady Eleanor or anyone who poses a danger to her.
Episode Summary: The daughter of Anne Boleyn is baptized as Elizabeth, the Princess of England. King Henry VIII commands Thomas Cromwell to put forth a bill to Parliament that will state that the line of succession is now firmly vested in his children with Anne Boleyn and no one else. The bill is in response to the Pope’s declaration that all children born out of Anne Boleyn are illegitimate. Moreover, King Henry would soon admonish those who still question the validity of his marriage to Anne Boleyn.
Sir Thomas More receives an unexpected visit from Bishop Tunstall in the pretense of his concern for his welfare. He learns soon enough that King Henry VIII sent the bishop to inquire about his absence at the coronation of Anne Boleyn. He answers the bishop with the story about Emperor Tiberius, who enacted a law that exacted death for a certain crime except when the offender was a virgin. Eventually, a virgin was accused of the crime leaving Emperor Tiberius perplexed and unable to proceed until one of his council proposed to deflower the virgin that she can be devoured. Sir Thomas More likens his situation to the virgin believing that his attendance at the coronation sets a precedent that will oblige him to preach and to write books defending the validity of Anne rising up to become Queen of England. Sir Thomas declares that he will never be corrupted. Later, he addresses his family of his inability to support all of them any longer given his significantly reduced income following his retirement from public life. He orders his children who can manage to live on their own to do so. Moreover, he presages of worse things to come.
Cromwell speaks with Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk, who is a known sympathizer of the Dowager Princess to inquire of his support for the bill that will vest the succession with the King’s children with Anne Boleyn. In fact, notwithstanding his disappointment at fathering a daughter instead of the son he expected, the King gives Elizabeth her own establishment at Hatfield where Lady Mary will wait on her among other servants. The thought of the daughter of the King’s previous wife waiting on her daughter troubles Anne. Adding to her anxiety is her husband’s lack of lust for her and his perceptible desire for Lady Eleanor. Her brother confirms that Lady Eleanor Luke is King Henry’s mistress. Anne orders George to get rid of her. Sir George Boleyn plants Anne’s jewels in Lady Eleanor’s quarters and accuses her of theft. In the authority to be believed, he threatens to publicize the accusation despite its falsehood if Lady Eleanor does not leave court to her family.
Ambassador Chapuys visits Lady Mary at the Ludlow Castle in The Welsh Marches and speaks to her about the great disappointment of Anne having given birth to a daughter instead of the son she promised the King. Lady Mary, who is forbidden to communicate with her mother, Queen Catherine of Aragon, eagerly asks about her. Regrettably, Ambassador Chapuys is prohibited to speak to her as well. He, however, heard that the Queen is still strong. Moreover, she continues to beg the King to allow her to see her daughter. Lady Mary is hopeful that the King will one day relent due to her belief that her father still loves and cares for her. She arrives at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire where the governess of Princess Elizabeth, Lady Margaret Bryan informs her that she is to serve as a lady-in-waiting for the new princess. In the privacy of her austere room, the unperturbed Lady Mary finally breaks down at having severely fallen from grace. Lady Mary must serve the new daughter of the King who now carries the title and status she once enjoyed. Her new role destroys her belief that her father still loves and cares for her. Her father, however, shows some sign that might restore her belief in him. King Henry VIII, in his journey, drops by to see Princess Elizabeth and although he did not ask for Lady Mary, he did bow to her after sensing her presence from the balcony of the Ludlow Castle. Anne Boleyn arrives there at another time to pay a visit to her beloved daughter, Elizabeth. She speaks to Lady Mary about persuading the King to accept her back in court if only she accepts her as Queen. Lady Mary bravely declares that she recognizes no other queen but her mother. Moreover, she refers to Anne as the King’s mistress. Lady Mary falls ill and Queen Catherine of Aragon hears of this prompting her to write to the King pleading for mercy to allow her to nurse her sick child. Henry, although troubled at the news of her daughter falling ill, rejects Catherine’s request fearing that mother and daughter will conspire against him when brought together. King Henry argues that Catherine would want her daughter to be Queen above all else. Moreover, she is capable of waging a war against him just as her mother, Queen Isabella, had the courage to do so in Spain.
Ambassador Chapuys watches with great annoyance King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn as they publicly display their affection for each other. The incompetent assassin, Brereton, asserts his ability to poison her despite his many failures. Ambassador Chapuys advises against it for his master, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles I, who is preoccupied with a war against the Turks, will receive the blame for her death. He does not need England to wage war against him. Brereton vows to die a martyred death and claims never to surrender information about the assassination. Ambassador Chapuys doubts Brereton’s resolve when he faces torture for his crime. He orders him not to pursue his plan. So it seems that Anne will remain Queen after all especially with Charles Brandon’s decision to vote in favor of bestowing the succession to his children with Anne Boleyn. It is indeed a happy Christmas to Anne and King Henry, who learns that Anne is with child again.
Cromwell presents to King Henry VIII and his councilors the Act of Succession that nominates the children born of His Majesty and Queen Anne as first rightful heirs to the throne. The act claims to protect the kingdom from divisions it suffered in the past due to several different titles that contended for the throne. It warns that any act or writing against the lawful matrimony between the King and Queen Anne and their heirs will be guilty of high treason that is punishable by death and forfeiture of goods to the Crown. The act mandates all subjects to take an oath genuinely accepting the whole contents and effect of the bill. The oath, however, also requires acknowledgement of the King’s supremacy in all matters, spiritual and temporal. Refusal to take the oath will result in treason and imprisonment. News of the mandate to all subjects of England requiring them to swear an oath that the King is the head of the English church reaches the Pope. Pope Paul III responds by making the imprisoned Bishop Fisher a cardinal believing that King Henry will hesitate to prosecute and torture a Prince of the Church. Cromwell pays Bishop Fisher a visit in his prison cell to question his refusal to take the oath. The bishop asserts that he continues to believe that the King’s marriage to Queen Catherine is still valid and cannot be undone by any man not even Archbishop Cranmer. Moreover, he rejects the King as the Supreme Head of the Church of England. He, however, makes a mistake of inquiring about Sir Thomas More, who at that time has been living peacefully.
Anne Boleyn’s new status as Queen does not only favor her and her daughter, but also of her immediate family. Her brother, Sir George Boleyn, has received several titles since her coronation, as he is now the Master of Buckhounds and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. There is one title he is not quite keen at flaunting and that is Master of the Bedlam Hospital for the insane. Sir Thomas Wyatt, another recipient of the good graces of the Queen, derides Sir George for the unflattering title. Moreover, he finds all of their rise to power ludicrous that he has written a satire about life in court. Annoyed at the insinuation, Sir George threatens Sir Thomas Wyatt about poking fun at those with authority. One night, the giggling of Queen Anne’s ladies-in-waiting awakens her. She finds that her cousin, Lady Madge Sheldon, is the instigator of this giggling as she reads a poem by Sir Thomas Wyatt. She scolds her cousin for reading trifles and instructs her to read the Tyndale bible instead.
The father of Anne Boleyn, Lord Rochford, now the Earl of Wiltshire, returns from his visit to Paris. Anne learns that King Francis, despite the wedding gifts he sent to her, still would not recognize her as Queen as long as Catherine of Aragon remains alive. Sir Thomas Boleyn is not too concerned about the King of France’s refusal to recognize Anne as the new Queen of England especially since she is with child again. However, he learns that the King has taken up a mistress the last time Anne was pregnant given that she could not copulate with him during her pregnancy fearful that the intercourse will put their unborn child in danger. Her father informs her that it is natural for a man to find pleasure elsewhere while his wife is with child and it must be expected of kings. He discloses that the danger to her and to her family is not that the King takes a mistress, but that the King takes the wrong one, somebody whom they cannot control or worse somebody who could control the King. Sir Thomas Boleyn advises that Anne make the choice for the King. King Henry learns of the dismissal of Lady Eleanor and asks his wife about it. Queen Anne asserts that she has evidence that Lady Eleanor stole something precious from her, which is true in essence. She then presents to the King, her slightly corpulent and unwitting cousin, Lady Sheldon. Later, she informs Lady Sheldon, Madge as she is fondly called, that the King has become one of her admirers. Moreover, she gives her the blessing of becoming his mistress. The request frightens Madge, but Anne is persuasive and honest of her wish. She confides that she would rather have the King lie with a woman whom she can trust given that she cannot satisfy his needs during her pregnancy. Anne is feeling indisposed to go riding with her husband that she sadly but willingly sends Madge in her place fully aware of the outcome of her decision. True enough, King Henry and Madge begin their affair.
Cromwell presents a bill calling for the dissolution of small monastic institutions run by monks who refuse to take the oath. King Henry VIII signs the bill that not only dissolves the rebellious monasteries, but also transfers their very considerable wealth to his Exchequer. Cromwell then informs the King of the Pope’s decision to make Bishop Fisher a cardinal, but this news only made the King laugh. He, however, starts to ask about Sir Thomas More anxious to know if he will take the oath. Cromwell summons Sir Thomas More to his office and asks him of his opinion regarding the King’s new marriage. Sir Thomas answers that he has no opinion about it. Cromwell then asks him about the King’s supremacy over the Church in England to which he confesses to have been unsure about it until he reread King Henry VIII’s Assertio septum Sacramentorum that asserts the divine origin of the papacy stating that the Pope’s supremacy descends directly from the rock of St. Peter. Cromwell asks Sir Thomas to take the oath, but the man refuses to do so. He instead asks him to impart his faithfulness, truthfulness, and loyalty to the King. In addition, Sir Thomas conveys his lack of desire to live in a world where a man’s goodwill is not enough to keep him alive. Soon after, Sir Thomas More is summoned to take the oath at the Lambeth Palace. He speaks to his family of the summons and of his imprisonment soon afterwards for they are fully aware of his stand. Sir Thomas leaves for Lambeth Palace certain that he will never return. He appears before the council and swears to the validity of the succession, but not to the rest of the contents of the oath. Archbishop Cranmer calls him the most villainous and traitorous servant of the King and accuses him of bullying the King into writing the Assertio septum Sacramentorum against his conscience. Sir Thomas denies doing so for he will never persuade anyone to act against his conscience. Moreover, he states that it is King Henry, who persuaded him of the paramount importance of the papacy. Sir Thomas denies Archbishop Cranmer the pleasure of learning his reason for rejecting the oath. He is immediately imprisoned in a cell above Bishop Fisher’s prison cell.
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