Well this is rather late, and I apologize to everyone for that, ESPECIALLY Christine. However, here is the final post for TSP S1!
The Spanish Princess
Episode 8: “Destiny”
By: Christine Morgan
Can you believe it? Season 1 is in the books and what a great addition The Spanish Princess has been to our Tudor show canon. I know that I’ve personally learned a plethora of new facts and finally spent time researching influential men and women in history that I’ve always wanted to spend time with. I sure hope you have too! We get to see how many of the dramatic storylines of the season are wrapped up and we were given an unexpected ending. I can always appreciate a good cliffhanger, can’t you? This has truly been a special series and I know I’m not alone in anticipating a second season of total Tudor fun.
The perseverance of Katherine of Aragon is key to this finale. She has managed to survive emotionally and financially for 7 years and is poised and ready to strike when it is revealed that Henry VII has passed away. She has shown loyalty to her ladies, her lovers, and her God, proving once and for all she was born to be a queen. The only obstacle that remains is Margaret Beaufort. It’s immediately clear that Prince Harry will not defer to Beaufort in the same way that Henry VII did. Katherine knows this and makes the smart decision to meet Harry on the road as he returns from Hatfield. She not only delivers the news of Harry’s elevation, but this is also her chance to get the answers she needs about her future in England. She is direct in her approach and the innuendo-filled conversations of new love are long gone.
The episode does have to resolve the issue of Harry’s engagement to Eleanor of Castile and show runners make a couple of creative choices with this storyline that certainly add drama, but were not totally necessary for a happy ending. In fact, the choices made here lead us to a less-than-happy final scene when it is revealed that King Ferdinand ended this marriage agreement based on Harry’s sexual encounter with Juana of Castile, Katherine’s sister- (an encounter that never happened). This creative choice puts Harry and Katherine on equal ground in terms of them both hiding illicit pre-marital affairs, which shifts their newlywed dynamic away from joy and closer to the realization that they will have to live with the decisions they’ve made on their journey to marital bliss. However, any viewers who have trouble with “plot holes” are likely to ask why one engagement was cancelled based on a concern over incest, yet Katherine’s wasn’t prohibited? For me, this choice evens the playing field on paper, but didn’t quite make sense in the larger historical scheme of the series. It was actually Ferdinand who continually advocated for this marriage time and again.
A Secret Ceremony
Following the death of Henry VII in April 1509, it took several months for Harry and Katherine to get out from underneath a complicated transition and funeral preparations. However, on June 11, 1509, the couple was married in the queen’s closet at Greenwich Palace with only two witnesses. From there, they attended mass at the Church of the Observant Friars outside the palace. The second wedding dress for Katherine was stunning and, again, we have to credit Phoebe de Gaye for her costume storytelling. This dress was more mature, fitting for an older Katherine, and was primarily a gray/white color palette as opposed to the gold/ivory aesthetic of the first wedding. According to records Katherine wore virginal white, with her long hair loose under a gold circlet.
The Unraveling of Margaret Beaufort
Never one to take the easy way out, Beaufort becomes increasingly unhinged as her power and influence at court disappears overnight, which is coupled with the realization that she has to cover her tracks about illegal taxation and her shady working relationship with Dudley. This is actually accurate! There were certainly elements of illegal taxation that Beaufort would have been aware of. It has been suggested that the actual date of death for Henry VII is still contested because it’s likely that Beaufort took not one, but two days to get her affairs in order before announcing the news. Dudley was imprisoned in the tower, but his immediate execution was not accurate. Dudley was in the tower so long that he actually wrote a novel!
**Did anyone else notice that it was William Compton who helped Beaufort move the king’s body?**
An Officer and a Lady
Another story that finally got some resolution was the love affair of Lina and Oviedo. After Margaret Beaufort realizes Oviedo gave Katherine the opportunity to meet Prince Harry on the road back to London, her rage leads her to accuse Oviedo of stealing the Book of Hours she gave him as a gift. He is sentenced to death by hanging.
Motivated by the idea that she may lose the love of her life, Lina makes the *very logical decision to marry Oviedo just moments before he is executed. Once again, Lina is making emotional choices that cannot possibly benefit her in the long run, but hey, whatever floats her boat! I suppose this does solve the Muslim vs. Catholic wedding argument though. Thankfully Harry and Katherine are able to stop the execution right at the last minute, a moment that proves Harry is refusing to allow his grandmother to give orders that should only come from a king.
A Royal Pardon
As we saw in the last scene of last week’s episode, Maggie Pole and her children have been captured because of their involvement in an uprising (which Maggie was not actually involved in). She and her children are escorted to the Tower of London and kept in the same cell where her brother Teddy was imprisoned. This is certainly an indication that Maggie may perish in a similar way. Historically, when a new king ascended to the throne, mass pardons were one way to garner favor with their new subjects. In this episode, Harry agrees to issue a pardon for Maggie and her children, effectively releasing them from the tower. Of course we know that Maggie Pole was never in the Tower at this time. Additionally, if she had been imprisoned for this, it would have been considered treason and a new king’s royal pardon would not have applied to her. I can only hope that her fortunes change in season 2 and we get to see her working for the royal family, her rightful place.
All in all, this finale was full of nuance and the “unhappy” ending infuses this story with a bit of reality. I’m sure there was quite of bit of uncertainty between them when they finally married- perhaps that’s one of the reasons for such a small, private (read: fast) wedding. It has been such a joy to watch this series and interact with all of you, readers! What fun it is to have the chance to write and learn more about the Tudors. For all its inaccuracies and creative freedoms, this show has given us great acting performances, stellar production value, and has encouraged the curiosity of its viewers- after all, that’s the point of historical fiction. I’d like to raise a glass to “cheers” our newly crowned QUEEN of England and a second season.
Questions or comments? Find Christine on Twitter @msChristinemo or on Facebook at her page Untitled History Project! Thanks for a fun season, everyone ☺