Episode Summary: Cardinal Campeggio has arrived in England and meets with Cardinal Wolsey for the first time. Campeggio makes it very clear that he will make the decision about the king’s marriage, and his decision will be final. He asks Wolsey if it would not be better to try and change the Henry’s mind about the divorce. Wolsey warns Campeggio if Henry is not granted his divorce he will get rid of papal authority in England.
Henry and Lady Anne Boleyn are taking a stroll through the garden. Anne asks Henry if there is any chance his marriage to Catherine could be declared valid. Henry says no, that Wolsey has already assured him the Pope has agreed to the annulment and the court is just for show. He then tells Anne that while the court is in session he must pretend to be a good husband to Catherine and share her table and bed. Anne is upset by the news and Henry questions her trust. (Henry must pretend to be a good husband? Does he even know what that looks like? I love Anne’s response to this, “You think it’s no big deal to go back to bed with your wife?” Spoken like a true mistress, Anne.)
Henry meets with Campeggio and plays the “we broke God’s law” card. Campeggio asks if instead of an annulment, they might convince Catherine to abdicate the marriage herself and retire to a nunnery. When Campeggio approaches Catherine with this she agrees to think on the matter but before she has a chance Wolsey pushes himself in front of her, begging her to accept the offer. Catherine has no kind words for Wolsey. (Wolsey is starting to get more desperate. He knows his status is tied to the annulment.)
Catherine and Henry have dinner together. When Henry asks her what she will tell Campeggio, she replies she will tell him the truth. This angers Henry. He threatens that if Catherine does not leave their marriage willingly, he will force her out. (Why does it upset Henry that Catherine will tell the truth? Because he knows as well as we do that their marriage was indeed valid!)
Anne is visited by Thomas Cromwell. He gives her The Obedience of the Christian Man by William Tyndale. It is a book about the crimes and lies of the Catholic church. He warns her to be careful who she shows it to.
And now we see the surviving twin, Jane, chasing a chicken around the kitchen. She has left court and apparently doesn’t know how to survive well on her own. Thomas Tallis visits and asks if she has left court because her sister is gone. Jane replies that her sister isn’t gone, that she can’t leave her, and we see the ghost of her twin standing in the corner. Apparently the fact that Jane has lost her mind doesn’t bother Thomas. He asks Jane to marry him.
Catherine is confessing to Campeggio. She tells him about her first marriage to Henry’s older brother, Arthur. She swears that Arthur never had sexual interaction with her, and she was still a virgin when she became Henry’s wife. She tells Campeggio she cannot accept his offer because she is Henry’s true wife and will live and die as such. She also tells him that he may tell the world of her confession.
Meanwhile, Margaret is telling her husband, Charles Brandon, that she doesn’t want to return to court because she does not approve of Henry’s actions with Anne. She then informs Brandon that she knows that he does not love her and has been sleeping with other women.
There’s a dance. Lots of talking and plotting are taking place. Campeggio is getting to know the English court. Henry informs Wolsey that he must do better.
Catherine meets with her lawyers. They accuse her of plotting to have Henry murdered and being too friendly with the common people of England. It becomes clear that the court will find any reason they can to put Catherine in a negative light. (This is one of Catherine’s strongest moments. She continues to hold her ground and while everyone around her, even the people who are supposed to be defending her, bend to Henry’s will, she does not waiver. Even in this moment, when anyone else would be in tears or screaming in anger, Catherine keeps her composure and puts them in their place. She is the true Queen of England.)
Henry visits Catherine in her bed. He tells her that her refusal to grant his wishes means that she no longer loves him. He threatens to keep her from their daughter, Princess Mary, so she cannot poison Mary against him. Catherine cannot believe Henry could act in such a way after all they have shared.
Anne is spending time with Henry, and tries to convince him that Wolsey is the one keeping the annulment from happening. She tells Henry her new motto, “That’s how it’s going to be. Let them grumble.” Henry goes to Wolsey and accuses him of stalling. Wolsey flips out and begins to cry at Henry’s feet. Henry retracts his accusation and assures Wolsey of his friendship. (Remember Wolsey, Henry is always the nicest before he strikes.)
Henry sends Cromwell to Rome. He tells Cromwell to force the Pope to grant his annulment and if he refuses, tell the Pope that England will no longer be loyal to him. He then sends Brandon to France to find out everything he can about Campeggio and Wolsey.
Thomas More brings Catherine a new advisor, Bishop Fisher. It is obvious More still supports Catherine. Fisher explains his arguments in Catherine’s favor. Catherine is very comforted by him.
Henry is playing cards with Anne. He tells her that he has heard from Cromwell, and the Pope will do nothing about Henry’s situation. Brandon finds out from the King of France that Campeggio is not to be trusted. He also tells him to not trust the matter to Wolsey but to take the matter into his own hands.
Holy Cardinals! Wolsey physically attacks Campeggio. He threatens him to make the court rule in favor of the king. Wolsey knows that he will be destroyed if Henry’s wishes aren’t granted.
Brandon meets with Sir Thomas Boleyn and the Duke of Norfolk. They agree it is time to take Wolsey down.
The trial begins. The people of England come out to watch the court go in and cheer for Queen Catherine. Henry begins claiming it was a sin to marry his brother’s wife. When it’s Catherine’s turn to speak she kneels at Henry’s feet and appeals only to him. She gives a stirring speech, publicly shaming Henry and leaves. The court erupts in confusion; Henry is devastated. Outside Catherine receives more applause from the people. Henry’s wrath is now upon Wolsey.
Jen Says: What’s really interesting about this episode is how historically accurate it is. The “courtroom” scene we witness in this episode actually took place on Monday, June 21 in 1529. Cardinals Wolsey and Campeggio oversaw the proceedings, although this was difficult for Campeggio who understood almost no English. Henry did speak first and his main argument was his “certain scrupulosity [on the subject of his marriage] that pricked his conscience” which had been brought to his attention by several members of the church. Henry did also promise that if the court found the marriage to be valid he would happily take the Queen back as his wife. Bishop Fisher’s outburst when Henry declares that all his bishops signed the petition sharing his doubts is also accurate.
However, nothing that happened that day matters as much as the actions of Queen Catherine of Aragon. Catherine did kneel at the feet of the king, even though he tried to raise her several times, and made the heartfelt plea we see in this episode. When she finished, she curtsied to the king, and left the room even though she was called back several times. In Antonia Fraiser’s The Wives of Henry VIII, she describes Catherine’s exit, “The women – ordinary women – who had hailed her at her entrance, now greeted her at her departure, ‘telling her to care nothing and other such words’. As du Bellay reported, ‘if the matter were to be decided by women’ the English King ‘would lose the battle’. But of course it was not.” Everyone was greatly affected by Catherine’s speech. So much so that almost eighty years later it became one of the main focuses for Shakespeare’s play Henry VIII.
If you weren’t a fan of Catherine of Aragon, you are now. Actress, Maria Conan Doyle, also in Downton Abbey, does an amazing job. She is able to show the desperation and anger Catherine has about the matter without losing her regality and absolute belief that she is Henry’s true wife.
Unfortunately, we know how Catherine’s story ends. If she would have accepted Henry’s offer to become a nun she may have continued to live a comfortable life, but Catherine had lived through difficulty before and would never give up this fight. How different would history be if Catherine would have stayed Queen?