Sunday, August 23, 2009

the tudors

Lately I've taken to watching the TV show The Tudors. While Jonathan Rhys Meyers isn't exactly what I envision Henry VIII to have been (starting with the fact that he's far too scrawny), he does a decent (though not great) job catching his tempestuous nature.

Anyways, I'm not looking to critique the show.. it's entertaining enough as is. What does strike me about the show is related more to historical accuracy. Watching the show makes me wonder about the accuracy of the re-creation and about the truly astounding success of Elizabeth I's rise out of such an environment. If you read historical accounts of Henry VIII's reign, they all talk about how his time was a period of enlightenment and humanism, though I'd be pressed to believe that that's what the average person recalls when they think of his reign vs Elizabeth I's reign.

I would wager that despite all of his great achievements, history will always remember him as the fickle, womanizer who left one wife after another in his quest for a son and to appease his lust. For all that he accomplished, he is remembered for having been ruled by his dick. Maybe that is crass, but true nonetheless.

What really strikes me as I watch the show (accuracy issues aside) is how hard it must have been for both Mary and Elizabeth to have reigned when then men around them were so determined to undermine them. That Elizabeth rose to such greatness is a testimony in and of itself. I know she had her flaws but I think history has been far gentler to her memory than that of her father. Just random thoughts, prompted by watching the show...

1 comment:

  1. Henry does indeed get the short end of the stick. Though it's hard to tell what he actually accomplished from what a king might get credit for in order to aggrandize his reputation, by all accounts he was actually quite an enlightened individual, promoting scientific inquiry, philosophy, and the arts.

    Of course, people only remember him for all his wives and for his war with the church, but if you think about the fact that he was forced to marry his brother's widow at something like 17 and then actually lived as her husband for some 15 years before Anne ever came along, it gives a little perspective to the situation. Also, the Tudors makes it seem like all this happened over maybe 5-10 years, whereas the actual timeline is something like 45.

    It must have been really hard for Elizabeth and Mary, both. Little wonder that Elizabeth had to create this almost immaculate image of herself in order to be taken seriously. That probably has as much to do with the way we characterize the Elizabethan era as the fact that she was a woman. Though it does say a lot for having a woman in power!

    Less promiscuity, more steadfastness. Perhaps that's the real conspiracy perpetuated by the patriarchy, they stay in power in order to continue to justify their bad behavior!

    -V. ;D



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