Sunday, November 14, 2010

A bloody Saturday night

If we had English TV, we’d have probably watched the excruciating X Factor last night. As it is, we have Digital Plus and so were able to follow the next two episodes of the last series of The Tudors. The intrigue, the smouldering sexuality and the brilliant acting make it compelling viewing for Pam and I.

For those who haven’t seen it, the series portrays the brutality as well as the passion of life in the court of Henry VIII.

Last night Henry discovered that his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, had a lover before they met and worse still, she was busy having an affair during their marriage with Thomas Culpeper, page (paje) to the king.

The previous lover, Francis Dereham, who the queen had rather foolishly employed as her secretary was tortured (they removed his fingernails) to confess to his sins. Later, as the torturer was about to remove Dereham’s teeth (without an anaesthetic), he revealed the truth about Culpeper.

Obviously all three along with the queen’s maid who had colluded with her, had to be executed.

In the bloodiest scenes in the programme so far, Culpeper had his head removed then Derehem was hung drawn and quartered*. Next was the turn of Catherine and her maid. The maid went first whilst Catherine stood and watched. When it was her turn, Catherine had to place her head on the block in the pool of her maid’s blood.

Actually when I think about it, the programmes we watched probably had a great deal in common with the X Factor except for the blood.

PS My daughters were delighted to see Take That on the X-Facor especially since they have tickets to go and see them in Manchester next year.

* To be hung, drawn and quartered was the penalty for men guilty of high treason.

The convicted were drawn by horse on a wooden hurdle to the place of execution. Once there, they were ritually hanged (almost to the point of death), emasculated, disembowelled, beheaded and quartered (chopped into four pieces). As a warning against further dissent, their remains were often displayed at prominent places, such as London Bridge.

In those days it was best to be either prudent or at least keep your mouth shut. You also had to know who your true friends were otherwise you could end up being betrayed.

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