How Accurate Is: The Tudors (TV Show, 2007-2010) S1E3

Charles V (and a dog).
Charles V (and a dog).

Hello everyone! Today I am going to do another post on The Tudors, this time on the third episode of the first season. There is less to discuss in this post than the previous one because it appears that the show is going to continue willfully changing history, as mentioned in my previous post. This episode, incidentally, took place directly after the previous one, which is evident because Charles V visited England to sign the Treaty of Windsor in 1522, while the Duke of Buckingham was executed in 1521.[1] Here, then, are some of the changes made by this episode.

  • For one thing, no sister of Henry VIII married or was intended to marry the King of Portugal, as depicted in this episode. In real life, Margaret spent most of her life in Scotland, having been the Queen of Scotland during the life of James IV, her husband, and the Queen Regent during the childhood of James V, her son.[2]
  • Charles Brandon was indeed made the Duke of Suffolk, as shown in this episode, but in 1514 after the successful war with Scotland, not in 1522 as depicted in this episode.[3]
  • While Henry did write a pamphlet denouncing Luther, it was published in 1521 and written even earlier; this would place the writing outside the scope of this episode. This is a fairly minor error but is an error nonetheless.[4]
  • Anne Boleyn only caught the eye of Henry in 1526, not 1522 as was depicted in this episode.[5]

For more, continue past the link

From my point of view, the first point I mentioned is the most perplexing mistake made so far in the show. So far as I can tell, there is no reason whatsoever to invent a marriage to the King of Portugal for Henry’s sister. The King of Portugal referred to would likely have been Manuel I (although he did die in 1521, just before the scope of this episode), who would certainly have been elderly by the events of this episode. However, this invention does not aid the story of the show in any way. The closest parallel from history is that Henry’s sister Mary was married to the King of France, whom she married in 1514 (again, not 1522).[5] In fact, Mary Tudor is the closest parallel to the fictionalized Margaret present in the show, a change that was likely made to avoid confusion with the princess Mary. It has become clear to me that this is a show that has no intention of being historically accurate. The creators of the show demonstrate no ability to restrain themselves from simply bending history whenever it suits them or the story, and in my opinion this is unacceptable in a show that wishes to appear to be historical. I hope that this show improves in later episodes, but I am not sure that I am willing to stick around and find out.


1 Encyclopedia Britannica. “Henry VIII, King of England.” Last modified February 2015.

2 Encyclopedia Britannica. “Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland.” Last modified August 2013.

3 Encyclopedia Britannica. “Charles Brandon, First Duke of Suffolk.” Last modified August 2013.

4 Williams, Neville. Henry VIII And His Court. Toronto, Ontario: Collier-Macmillan, 1971. 88.

5 Kings University. “Anne Boleyn.” Last modified March 2007.

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