on 1 December 2007
Like another reviewer, I was somewhat appalled to find that history had been so altered. It is a question of cheering when something that is factual actually happens, rather than a question of spotting a few mistakes. It is not as if the REAL history events were not interesting either; indeed they were more so,thus I cannot see the point of the series having changed so much for apparently no reason at all.
Apart from the numerous "faux pas" about the sisters, they have the timing of events all wrong. The King had two sisters, the elder Margaret married the King of Scotland, James IV, years before, in Henry VII's reign, before Henry VIII was even King. The younger, Mary, was reputed a beauty and was legendary for it across Europe. She was betrothed by her father Henry VII to Charles V of Netherlands and Spain, who we see in the series. It is CHarles V's advisers who break off this marriage, just as it is about to take place. Henry VIII, angered by this, then betrothes and marries his sister Mary to the King of France ( NOT the King of Portugal). The King of France at the time is NOT Francois I but his father, who was aged 60 odd at the time, and this takes place several years before the book/TV series begins. The real Mary Tudor does not marry the King of Portugal, nor does she kill her husband... but she IS widowed early on, and Charles Brandon does go, on Henry's instruction to bring her back to England. IT is Mary who proposes to Charles Brandon, and persuades him to marry her. (Charles father, William Brandon, had been Henry VII's standard bearer at the Battle of Bosworthand was killed. His son Charles was then brought up with the royal children, so Charles Brandon and Mary would have known each other from a young age).
When Charles V of Spain and Netherland visits France, he sees Mary ( his ex-betrothed), now Mary Brandon and evidence from the time states that he cursed his advisers for breaking off the match because she was clearly so beautiful and he could see what he missed! It is at this stage that he accepted a betrothal to the OTHER Mary, the daughter.
Yet at this point in the series "the Tudors", the Mary/Margaret character had not yet left to marry the King of Portugal!! The real "sister" Mary was in fact in love with Brandon, yet in The Tudors book and series, she seems to be portrayed as disliking him to start with. Because they altered the timing, the "Margaret" in the series has to marry the "wrong" king, and appears older than Henry VIII when she was in fact, younger. The whole thing is a timing shambles.
Possibly it may give a view of Wolsey as a scheming diplomat, or of More as a carful and devout man, but in my view if the book follows the series, it will be fiction and not fact. A shame, as the real story is just as good. They also miss the fact that Mary Boleyn was married off by Henry and was in fact "around" as his mistress far longer than was suggested in this.
As if those inaccuracies weren't enough there are more!
Lady Bessie Blount's son did not die as a child, but as a young man, after he had married into the DUke of Norfolk's family, the Howards. In fact Henry VIII was considering putting a proposal to Parliament to make the young man his heir, which would have solved a number of problems!!
Nor did Anne Boleyn sleep with Henry VIII so early on. ON the contrary she held back until probably 1532, then fell pregant quickly. (Read Ives' biography of Anne for a more accurate view of her)- It as her pregnancy which forced Hnery's hand to decalre himself Head of the Church and reject papal authority , after the "enquiry" by Campeggio was parogued to Rome.
Anne had also been a lady in waiting to Mary ( the sister) when Mary was Queen of France, and returned to the English court later - Henry in fact pursued Anne Boleyn for a number of years, whereas this gives the impression it was less.
I agree that Starkey's history and Alison Weir's books are much better for an examiniation of the History. There are also books by David Loades and John Guy . (Or if you want an older classic biogrqaphy of Henry VIII, there is the famous one by J.J. Scarisbrick).
If you want a good read on Henry's two sisters, there is a fabulous book by Maria Perry "Sisters of the King" which is a more academic work and tells the TRUE stories, which are even more interesting and indeed scandalous, if that is what they think appeals to TV watchers who no doubt are those at whom the book is aimed.
The other problem about the "divorce" question, as portrayed in the series, is that Wolsey was working on betrothing HENRY VIII to a FRENCH princess, and THAT is why he got a shock to discover Henry had his eye on marrying Anne. A possible reason why Anne Boleyn dislikes Wolsey, was that Anne was engaged to marry Henry Percy of Northumberland, and it is suspected Wolsey,at the King's request, had Percy married off elsewhere, to prevent the match.There was also an Irish match (which would have solved a land inheritance question) proposed for Anne, which Wolsey also delays on... in order to leave Anne free to become the King's mistress...as her sister had been. He did not expect Henry to want to marry her.
(Perhaps the kING'S two sisters were amalgamated and given the name Margaret in The Tudors because the script writers thought the audience too stupid to be able to cope with the fact that there were two Marys - ie. that Henry VIII had a sister called Mary AND a daughter called Mary, and thought the audience would be unable to work out the difference..... depite the fact that they are vey different in age...!)
"The Tudors" may be someone's idea of history for a TV series, but it is not factual, and the many errors are counterproductive. As a teacher I am already having to correct my pupils, who think it is telling real history. I also mark A level and am dreading what I am going to read next year...
Books based on series like this, which alter history for their own purposes, do REAL history little service. Interpretation of historical facts is one thing -altering the facts themselves is another... Clearly the writers of the Tudors do not think that difference matters.