Friday, April 17, 2009

Confinement – Episode 10: Television Reviews

I supposed that technically this should be Episode 11, but I wasn’t really thinking of doing that when I wrote yesterday’s post. I was just baked.

Last night I got a great night’s sleep. I know that because I had a really weird sequence of dreams. They made no sense, but they were in color and I remember faces. Some of them were of people I’ve worked with or for over my career. Others were strangers; probably composites of people I’ve encountered. At one point it was raining.

Very strange indeed.

I have been following “The Tudors” on Showtime. It is about Henry VIII and his rule of England – and his wives – during the sixteenth century. Martha and I packed the first two seasons into about 10 days of marathon viewing, and we are going to be catching up on season 3. That should be easy, though; the season started this past Sunday, and I expect there will be at least one more re-broadcast of the season premiere episode between now and Sunday night.

The filming is being done on location in Ireland, the storyline (at least to me) is riveting, and the casting is superb. Some of the historical stuff seems to me to be questionable, however. There is one thing in particular: were firearms prevalent in sixteenth century life? There have been both the standard late middle-ages weapons (swords, bows and arrows, shields, lances) and firearms – both long weapons and handguns featured in the storyline. Powder-and-ball style. The long guns almost looked liked muskets or flintlock-style weapons.

As I don’t know what was appropriate or not in that period, it’s possible that there wasn’t a liberty taken with the technologies of that time. But I am not certain about that. And I’m curious, and I plan to research that. With that said, if anyone does know, I would welcome comments about this question.

I’ve liked the character development. There are two in particular that have caught my interest: One is Henry’s chancellor, Thomas Cromwell, a man who history regarded as a somewhat monstrous figure but who is portrayed as a rather complex man. He was mainly responsible for causing the suppression of monasteries and mendicants during the English Reformation. The lands and properties were all turned over to the Crown treasury, making Henry a rather wealthy monarch. He was also portrayed as being instrumental in the events leading to the arrest of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife. He is supposed to have fallen out of favor with Henry due to issues surrounding the king’s marriage to Anne of Cleves. This got Cromwell executed.

The other character is Thomas More. A faithful Catholic throughout his life, he was Henry’s chancellor prior to Cromwell. He had been an occasional advisor to Henry as well as a long-time friend to him. He was educated as a lawyer with an impressive list of published work, even in that time. And because he would not swear an oath affirming Henry as the supreme spiritual and temporal authority in England, among other things, he was tried and found guilty of high treason, and executed soon afterward. Both More and Cardinal John Fisher, who also would not accept Henry’s primacy in England and was also executed, were both canonized as saints by the Catholic Church because of their martyrdom to their faith.

I recommend this series highly. Whether or not it is truly historically accurate, it is really good drama.

1 comment:

TOTWTYTR said...

Yes, firearms were beginning to become quite common by the 16th century. Of course 100 years is a long time.

Here's one site with some information.

From my reading of Texas and Commanche history, I know that firearms of the 1500's were very slow to reload. A well trained archer could fire several arrows in the time it took a rifleman to load one round.