New Show Recap: Wolf Hall 1×03, “Anna Regina”

In 1531, Henry is ready to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and asks parliament to declare him Supreme Head of the Church of England. There are many who are against the idea, including Thomas More, Henry VIII’s chancellor, who is a devout Catholic.

More is shown in his home praying for and torturing a heretic, which he was well-known for doing, as he wished to save heretics’ souls.

Cromwell goes to see Catherine of Aragon and young Princess Mary. Catherine confronts Cromwell about the bill to name Henry Supreme Head of the Church. Mary is clearly in pain from period cramps, and Cromwell is kind enough to procure a seat for her. Cromwell discusses the king’s progress, since Henry is going separately with Anne Boleyn. The king is sending Catherine and Mary to a separate house so that Anne will not need to bother with them. Catherine expected it, but she’s surprised Henry sent Cromwell to tell her.

Cromwell is still carrying on an affair with his sister-in-law Jane. She asks him if he’s afraid of the bill he is presenting to Parliament. A girl by the name of Elizabeth Barton, whom the crowds have called the Holy Maid, has predicted that Henry will not rule a year if he marries Anne Boleyn, based on the appearance of a comet. This frightens Jane, for the stars had been in the same alignment during the rule of King John. Cromwell is rather blasé about this, saying that they could always change their policy. Jane informs Cromwell that a barrister by the name of James Bainham has been arrested because he has been handing out the gospel in English. Jane is worried that Cromwell could be arrested for his Protestant activities, but Cromwell assures her not to worry.

The House of Commons declares Henry Supreme Head of the Church of England. The vote just needs to go through the House of Lords. Cromwell confronts the Bishop of Wareham about Elizabeth Barton and accuses him of harboring a fraud. The bishop insists that Elizabeth is a true prophetess.

Cromwell’s son returns from Antwerp, carrying a message for him from James Tyndal. Tyndal hates Thomas More but will not support Henry’s divorce. Cromwell tears up the letter and declares that More and Tyndal, both close-minded men, deserve each other.

While watching Anne and Henry play at archery, Cromwell recognizes Harry Percy. Mary Boleyn speaks to him and tells him that Anne and Henry haven’t had sex, though there is a rumor that Anne is pregnant already. Anne demands a favor for each sex act she lets Henry perform. Anne is peevish and tells Cromwell that she has been compared to Jezebel in a sermon. Cromwell asks Anne about James Bainham and she replies that she will intercede on Bainham’s behalf. Anne will make sure Bainham will recant and be released. Jane Seymour’s father, according to Anne, has been caught having an affair with his daughter-in-law, and Jane hasn’t been at court. Anne laughs that Jane ought to go into a nunnery, for no one will marry her now.

More confronts Cromwell about Bainham’s release. Cromwell knows that Bingham was tortured, and More would have done worse for Bainham’s soul. More believes that Cromwell is a heretic and that his faith could be bought by even the Turks. He knows about the letters Cromwell has received from Tyndal.

Jane tells Cromwell that her mother knows about their affair. She decides that they need to break it off, because she is still married. Francis Bryan, Anne Boleyn’s cousin, arrives at the Cromwell house with the news that Harry Percy’s wife is petitioning Parliament for a divorce. Harry Percy hasn’t slept with his wife because he states that he is married to Anne Boleyn. When Cromwell goes to the Boleyns, Anne declares there was no contract and no consummation. Mary Boleyn attests to this. Anne and Norfolk want Cromwell to act on their behalf, and Cromwell says that Harry Percy can be silenced. Norfolk tells Cromwell to do it by any means necessary.

Cromwell finds Harry Percy at a tavern, drunk. He is able to talk Percy alone. Percy insists that Anne slept with him, but Cromwell isn’t going to listen to him. Cromwell knows that Percy is in debt, and he threatens to use his connections among the bankers and merchants on the continent to keep Percy from borrowing any more money should Percy continue to speak of his engagement to Anne Boleyn. Further, Cromwell warns that the king would also retaliate by stripping Percy of his titles and fortune, and that the Duke of Norfolk could also take action against Percy.

Cromwell and Anne watch Henry VIII and More converse from the window, and Anne wants to know who ought to take More’s place. Cromwell recommends Thomas Cranmer for the position. The two are loving the thrill they’re getting out of playing politics. They go down to see Henry VIII, and after Anne and Henry leave to take a walk, Cromwell asks Henry VIII what he’ll do now. More says he will pray and write, and Cromwell tells him he ought to write a little and pray a lot.

A drunken Henry VIII is jubilant, and as he wanders down the hall with Cromwell, he tells him that he and Anne are going to Calais and that King Francis of France will make an announcement supporting their marriage. Henry VIII confides to Cromwell that he has not yet slept with Anne, though he has remained faithful to her. He sees this as a good sign. Henry VIII gives Cromwell the new post of Keeper of the Jewel-house, despite Cromwell’s protests. Henry promises to raise Cromwell high.

As the royal retinue passes through Canterbury to go to France, Elizabeth Barton approaches them and tells Henry to leave the company of heretics, of which Anne is one, or else his mother’s soul will burn in hell. Elizabeth is booed and whisked into the church. Cromwell goes to Elizabeth Barton and asks her if she could make a prophesy for him, but she tells Cromwell to return and ask her, as she can’t give a prophesy without asking the priest.

In Calais, Anne is presented at court as Henry’s new bride-to-be. We see that Anne is a horrible flirt and is in a deep conversation with a French courtier. Cromwell alerts Norfolk of this, and Norfolk drags Anne into a dance to stop the conversation. Anne is angry about this, and in the next room, they can hear her and Henry VIII arguing. Cromwell asks Jane Seymour’s brother about her, and it seems he’s interested in a match with her.

Mary Boleyn later tells Cromwell that Anne is sleeping with Henry VIII after making him swear on the Bible to marry her in England and crown her queen. Mary seems to be interested in Cromwell sexually, but it looks like she was only using him to make William Stafford, her future husband, jealous. Cromwell takes his leave of them.

Anne and Henry VIII are married. Master Seymour knows that Cromwell is interested in Jane Seymour and threatens him to stop writing letters and interfering with his family. Cromwell tells Master Seymour that these threats are a mistake and that he ought to quit while he’s ahead.

James Bainham is arrested for interrupting a Latin Mass with his own translation in English. Cromwell offers to have Bainham smuggled out of the Tower, but Bainham won’t have it. He would rather stand up for what be believes in.

Cromwell goes to see More about Bainham’s imprisonment. More has lost much of his money, and Margaret, More’s daughter, tells Cromwell that Elizabeth Barton has come to see them, but they won’t receive her. Cromwell begs More to intercede on Bainham’s behalf, for Bainham is scheduled to be burned.

Anne Boleyn, visibly pregnant, is crowned queen of England. Cromwell visits her after the ceremony. Anne is triumphant in her moment of glory. Anne insists that Catherine is plotting with other nobles against her, and that Cromwell must do something about it. Anne is confident she will have a son. Jane Seymour catches Cromwell in the hallway and the two catch up on things. Cromwell advises Jane Seymour to stay in Anne Boleyn’s service, since it seems she will make a good mistress. Jane laughs and says that she will keep her humble face, and Cromwell jokes that such a face will take her anywhere. When Cromwell returns home, he finds that Henry VIII has gifted him with a tapestry he had admired earlier.

Anne Boleyn is about to begin her confinement, and Cromwell is asked if they will announce the birth of a prince or the birth of a child. Everything is dependent upon whether or not Anne Boleyn gives birth to a prince now. Cromwell asks Anne whether or not she is happy, and she is, for before, Henry only desired her. Now, with the impending birth of her son, Henry VIII values her.

James Bainham is burned at the stake for heresy, and Cromwell witnesses it. He reflects in all of this as he watches Anne and her ladies float down the Thames on the royal barge to the place where she will wait out the final days of her pregnancy and hopefully give birth to the son she has promised Henry VIII.

There will no doubt be more intrigues and plots as the series progresses! I am really enjoying this series and will definitely read the books. Again, I like how everything is played out through Cromwell’s eyes, and that we’re getting Cromwell’s take on all of the players involved in this.

One thought on “New Show Recap: Wolf Hall 1×03, “Anna Regina””

  1. I think the writers have done a great job with Anne Boylen. On the one hand, she’s very shrewd and savvy. On the other, she’s arrogant and stupid. I mean, that level of flirting right in front of HVIII? Gurrrl…..

    Even knowing how it all ends, I find myself watching everything play out from the edge of my seat. Why can’t we do great TV like this in ‘murica?

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