Tomorrow is a wild and crazy date in Tudor history — On 28 January 1457, Henry VII was born and on 28 January 1547, Henry VIII died. Two kings in a row, father and son, same date, birth for one, death for the other, two transposed numbers at the end. Wicked!
The popular rumour (and you know how I feel about those) is that Henry VIII’s last words were “Monks! Monks! Monks!” But in reality Henry was speechless at the end of his life, although he did give Archbishop Cranmer’s hand a little squeeze when the Archbishop asked the king for a sign that he trusted in the Lord.
The only people around him in his last days were the Archbishop and the men from his Privy Council and Privy Chamber. He’d called for his last wife, Catherine Parr, a few days earlier but that was her final goodbye. The king was 55 years old at the time of his death.
I wanted to share with you the opening credits of the series finale of “The Tudors” for a few reasons. First, it is just beautifully done, as was the entire series. You can’t deny the aesthetics of that show, no matter if you think there were too many inaccuracies, too much nudity, not enough nudity! or whatever your reasons may be.
Also, you’ve got to love the Curtain Call of the Dead at the very end. The series actually did this with every episode, the final flashes of the opening credits being those we’d lost up until that point in the story. For the finale, we start with an extended shot of Katherine Howard and her girls, marvelling out the window at a snowfall, and then flash by the rest of the dearly departed favourites: Thomas Cromwell, Catherine of Aragon, Thomas More, Anne Boleyn, and Cardinal Wolsey. (Jane Seymour is earlier in the credits.)
The most poignant touches, however, are the shots of Charles Brandon (who was actually dead by then, but nevermind), Princess Mary, Edward Seymour, and Catherine Parr standing beside The Empty Throne. If you watched the series, you know that the throne motif in the opening set the tone for Henry’s place in life for that season.
For Season One, he’s in control, young, hot, doing the flashing-eyes thing, flanked by admirers and accepting reassuring touches from his loyal queen, Catherine of Aragon. For Season Two, he’s all eyes-flashing again but taking The Touch from Anne Boleyn this time round. My personal favourite is for Season Three, where he does the standing-up “surprised to see you” bit that reminds me so much of Christopher Walken’s “The Continental” skit on Saturday Night Live. “Come! Sit and have some sham-PAHN-yah!”
This weekend, you may want to raise a glass of sham-PAHN-yah yourself, first for Henry VII who started this whole big shebang, and second for Henry VIII. He may have left England with a mess to clean up after his death, but his life, loves, and legacy were so complex as to inspire books, movies, songs, documentaries, blogs, Facebook pages, and similar gates to immortality. 😉