The Tudors

The Tudors is a Showtime Original Series loosely based on the controversial monarch King Henry VIII, his six wives, his many mistresses, his corrupt court, and his "religious" struggles which led to his break from the Roman Catholic Church.

It's good to be King...

Just The Facts

  1. The Tudors is filmed in Ireland by Reveille and Working Title and presented in association with Peace Arch Entertainment.
  2. King Henry VIII is portrayed by Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
  3. There is at least one sex scene in every single episode.

Cracked on The Tudors

The series is riddled with historcial inaccuracies, the writers having taken the liberty of changing several of the names, physical features, and relationships of the characters, as well as drastically rearranging the timeline of events, for the purpose of making the show more entertaining to watch and breathing new life into a story that has since become stale in comparasion.

For instance, King Henry VIII actually looked like this:

The dress and knee high look ...that's hot.
And now, thanks to the magic of television, King Henry VIII is transformed into this:
His sword is bigger, too.
Just think, if they intended to go with the more historically accurate depiction of King Henry VIII, they could have just gone with this guy:
John Rhys-Davies (No, he's NOT related to Jonathan Rhys Meyers, although their names do kind-of sound alike).
Hmm...how successful do you think the show would be if the audience had to sit through all those sex scenes watching the guy who played Gimli in Lord of the Rings as the infamously womanizing monarch instead?

The Plot:

Season 1

The series begins with a restless King Henry VIII, who is extremely unhappy with the fact that his wife has been unable to produce him with a male heir after several years of marriage. He begins to believe that he is cursed because his wife, Queen Katherine of Aragon (Maria Doyle Kennedy), was married to Henry's brother Arthur for a short time before his eventual death due to illness. To prove his suspicion, he goes around quoting the book of Leviticus in the Bible saying, "If a brother is to marry the wife of a brother they will remain childless." Though Henry and Katherine have a daughter together, Princess Mary, and Katherine had a total of six pregnancies (of which 2 were boys) throughout their marriage, none of their other children survied past infancy. Henry soon concludes that Katherine must have been lying when she said that the marriage to his brother had not been consummated. He becomes disgusted by her and refuses to share a bed with her ever again.

She looks way too innocent to actually be that innocent...

When Henry's mistress, Lady Elizabeth Blount (Ruda Gedmintas), gives birth to a son named Henry Fitzroy (and he doesn't die right away), he openly celebrates and further rationalizes that he is clearly able to produce healthy sons on his own, so he deems his wife Katherine at fault for not being able to provide him with a legitimate male heir and sets out to have their marriage annulled. At the same time, he becomes obsessed with the younger and much hotter Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer) and sets out to conquer her as his mistress. Anne turns him down, saying she refuses to become the "Kings Whore" like her sister Mary was before her, and vows that she will not have sex with him...unless he marries her.

Thus, Anne became history's finest example of a "royal cock tease"

Eager to marry Anne and finally get into her pants, Henry commissions his chief advisor, Cardinal Wolsey (Sam Neil), to persuade the Catholic Church to grant him a divorce from Queen Katherine. Unbeknownst to Henry, the corrupt Wolsey has been cleverly and ruthlessly manipulating him into using all the power and influence behind the crown in service of the Cardinal's own agenda, policies, and rise to power. The Catholic Church, aware of Wolsey's shenanigans, and unimpressed by his pathetic attempts to win them over on behalf of the King, vows to use their authority to back Queen Katherine (an extremely beloved and devout Catholic figure) by any means necessary.

The shiteth is about to hiteth the fan, Cardinal...

Once the Cardinal fails to convince the Catholic Church to grant the King a divorce so he can marry Anne, Wolsey's deceptions are exposed as treason and he kills himself, avoiding King Henry's wrath. Henry, refusing to take no for an answer, begins the process of breaking his country's ties with Catholicism, establishing the Church of England and declaring himself its supreme leader by divine right.

...because I am the King and I said so, dammit!

Throughout the first season, we are introduced to several members of King Henry's Court, their widely-ranged stories are kept close to the central plot and prove to be just as entertaining to watch unfold. Notable members of the cast include: the King's good friend and equally over-sexed (if there is such a thing) Charles Brandon the Duke of Suffolk (played by Henry Cavill), who becomes involved with (and later marries) Henry's sister Margaret (the fictionalized melding of King Henry's two actual sisters, played by Gabrielle Anwar), the scheming Duke of Norfolk Thomas Howard (uncle to Anne, played by Henry Czerny), the devout and level-headed Sir Thomas More (Jeremy Northam), the ambitious Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and father to Anne (played by Nick Dunning). Each week leaves you further on the edge of your seat, wondering which poor soul will slip up next and be sent to the gallows or prison, or worse! The season ends with lots of big changes hanging in the balance, all of which could fall through at any moment, depending on what crazy whim King Henry decides to act upon next...

Season 2

King Henry begins the season with several new changes in effect, most notably: his newly budding beard.

Awwwwe....isn't it just precious?

After losing his patience with the Catholic Church's repeated denials, Henry declares his marriage to Katherine invalid and marries a pregnant Anne in secrecy. Queen Katherine and Princess Mary are banished from the court and stripped of their titles, to the subjects' dismay. Henry creates the title "Marquess of Pembroke" for Anne, and she is introduced to all as the future Queen. King Henry succeeds in naming himself "Supreme Head of the Church and Clergy in England," thus stripping the Catholic Church of all its influence in England. Angered, Pope Paul III threatens Henry with excommunication unless he returns to Katherine, and when that doesn't work, he appoints an assassin to get rid of Anne at her coronation and fails. Anne is crowned Queen in front of a small and unreceptive crowd. When Anne later gives birth to daughter Elizabeth instead of a son, Henry is more than a little pissed off...

"I don't know where his penis went, honey. It must have fallen off, or maybe he lost it...yeah, that's it..."

Meanwhile, Thomas More steps down as Chancellor and Henry appoints Thomas Cromwell (played by James Frain) as More's successor. King Henry passes a law where every royal subject must take an oath recognizing the validity of the King's new marriage and his supremacy in all matters on pain of death. Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More refuse to sign the oath, which includes declaring King Henry a higher authority than the Pope, so Henry has them arrested for treason and beheaded.

I can fly! I can fly! I can f--

Pregnant again, Anne gets a bitter taste of her own medicine when Henry resumes his womanizing ways. Following the advice of her father, Anne shows Henry her approval by arranging his next mistress, one who doesn't pose a threat to her position as Queen. For a little while, everything is going their way...King Henry and Queen Anne are on top of the world.

"Just don't lose this baby's penis, or you'll lose your head, capiche?"

Next, royal confidence turns into self-doubt as Henry becomes haunted by his hasty decision to execute his once trusted friend (Thomas More), while Anne's insecurities begin to develop into full-blown paranoia. Henry's first wife, Katherine, dies in seclusion and half-sister Mary (Sarah Bolger) becomes baby Princess Elizabeth's caretaker. Queen Anne has a nightmare and becomes panicked that Mary is trying to kill her. Threatened by the idea of Mary's possible reinstatement as Princess (should Henry have a change of heart and once again accept Mary as his legitimate daughter), Anne decides that her next move is to preemptively kill Mary. Anne's derangement deepens and she begins behaving erratically. She decides that as Queen she deserves to have a little fun and starts throwing parties at all hours in her private chambers to de-stress and help calm her nerves.

Loosen up, Anne...no one dies from letting themselves have a little fun now, do they?

Anne's attempt at playing "the understanding wife" also blows up in her face when Henry loses interest in her chosen mistress and instead, becomes smitten with yet another woman. Henry names his new obsession, Lady Jane Seymour (Annabelle Wallis), as Queen Anne's new lady-in waiting, a move all too familiar to Anne. When Henry is seriously injured during a jousting match, the question of who would succeed the King upon his death arises, and Henry becomes more determined than ever to produce a son and legitimate male heir. Anne seals her fate with the miscarriage of her son, following the shock of catching her husband with Lady Jane Seymour "nursing his wounded majesty" following the jousting accident.

Show me where it hurts, so I can kiss and make it better...

Henry accuses Anne of witchcraft to explain his misfortunes, and declares their marriage null and void. Henry appoints his chancellor, Thomas Cromwell to build up a case of treason against Anne, accusing her of adultery. Queen Anne and her "lovers" are all sentenced to death. As Anne Boleyn awaits her death, which is painfully delayed by the executioner's late arrival, Henry visits Jane Seymour and asks for her hand in marriage. Elizabeth becomes illegitimate and is no longer in line to the throne, clearing the way for a legitimate heir to come from his marriage with Jane. The season ends with Anne Boleyn's beheading.

Oh...so that's what he meant....I thought it was just kinky pillow talk...

Season 3

King Henry hopes that the third time is the charm as he marries Lady Jane Seymour. Once loyal to the King, subjects begin the "Pilgrimage of Grace" and revolt against the anti-Catholic crusade created by Henry. Charles Brandon, Henry's most trusted friend is sent to deal with the uprising. Henry makes a deal with the leaders of the Catholic revolution, only to betray them and then quickly have them murdered. Brandon is disturbed by his friend's cruelty.

Poor bastards...better you than me, though.

The new Queen begins a crusade of her own, restoring Henry's relationships with his estranged daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, by requesting their return to court in time for a Christmas celebration. Jane also becomes pregnant with the King's child. Meanwhile, Henry takes on a new mistress, Lady Ursula Misseldon (Charlotte Salt) while on bedrest from his old jousting injury.

Oh baby, the oozing stank of your manhood really turns me on...

Queen Jane gives birth and King Henry is overjoyed with the arrival of his long-awaited son. His happiness is short-lived, as Queen Jane dies from puerperal fever within days of Prince Edward's birth. Henry is devastated, and goes into seclusion. Brandon is appointed the King's representative at court by Henry while he is away. While in seclusion, Henry distracts himself mainly by writing his religious doctrine, the "Six Articles of Faith." Enemies of the crown decide to seize the opportunity of their King's misfortune, and murder several members of his court. France and Spain align against England for his break with Rome and the Catholic Church, sparking utterings of war. Cromwell begins to worry about what may become of him.

Well, maybe the King is too distracted to notice that I am actually a big douche...

Cromwell, trying desperately to save his ass, hurriedly arranges a fourth marriage for Henry to German aristocrat Anne of Cleaves (Joss Stone), which promises to be a good political match for the King. Henry agrees to the marriage, even though he has never met her. When Anne arrives to meet the King just before their wedding, Henry is displeased. He finds her plain, unworldly, and difficult to converse with, as she barely speaks a word of English. Henry reluctantly decides to go through with the wedding, but refuses to consummate the marriage because he is repulsed by her.

Oh, crap...he's gonna kill me if I piss him off, isn't he?
Henry moves quickly to have his marriage to Anne of Cleaves annuled, and this signals the beginning of the end for Cromwell. Brandon finds the King another mistress, the young Katherine Howard (played by Tazmin Merchant) to help Henry "re-kindle his passions." Princess Mary falls in love with the charming Duke Phillip of Bavaria, who is immediately sent back to his home country by the King. The season ends with yep, you guessed it, another beheading.
Don't feel too badly, Cromwell...it wasn't me, it was you...
Season 4
The next season of The Tudors will be it's last, and will most likely cover King Henry's short-lived marriage to Katherine Howard (number 5 for those of you keeping track) and the affairs that lead to her downfall (I bet you can guess how her story ends). The fate of many in King Henry's court will also be addressed, and season four will introduce the viewers to Henry VIII's sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr. The final season will also touch on the relationships between Henry and his three children, Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward. The death of King Henry VIII is to end the series, though it has been rumored that there may be at least one spin-off series in the works. At this point, one can only guess. The Tudors Season 4 will premiere in Spring 2010.