We decided to
give "Wolf Hall" a try, boxing it just in case I hit the ten minute
"that's enough" barrier that often happens these days. We lasted the hour; the fact that it was yet
another Tudor item was a concern.
It is a world
so far away from our own that it passeth all understanding, which is why much
criticism can amount to nit picking.
Sadly, this is not an awareness
of the ubiquity of lice and fleas etc. at that time, but looking for minor
errors and such.
There are some
interesting touches. When Richard
late in the episode, son of Thomas Cromwell's elder sister Katharine of her
marriage to Morgan Williams, asks if he might take the name Cromwell we know
that the later Oliver Cromwell, Regicide and Protector, would be his great
grandson. This might emerge later.
is made of the humble origins of some of the people, notably Wolsey. Cromwell
and other, they may indeed have been "trade" but are rather more
businessmen, aka merchants, who did very well, survived and married into
families of higher degree.
I doubt if
Cromwell's father did much shoeing of horses, if any, it looks more like one of
those biting jokes they went in for those days when the sense of humour was
more robust. To take the Boleyn (Bullen)
family, said to be lowly. There was a
triple whammy of marriages into the greatest in the land.
Look at the
picture above and you will see some of the great magnates of the earlier
century in the marriages. The Hoo and
the Welles failed in the male lines and serious money went down to the
daughters as well as fine lineages.
Not only did all
six of Henry's wives descend from King Edward I but so did his known mistresses
as well. He is portrayed as a serial
womaniser, it may be that there were a number but he was fastidious in his
If the series
does command and hold a large audience one intriguing feature is the large
numbers of them who have a connection to these major families of the Tudor era
and are not aware of this part, if only a very small part, of their family
history. If you run the numbers then you
can see how this might be possible.
There are two
routes, one back through the generations and the other down from the relevant
and related families of the period. The
period is around 15 to 20 generations back allowing for slippage between older
and younger people in one or another.
for the usual inter marriage among particular networks of families among classes
or localities at four and a half centuries back at the time of King Henry VIII
you will have thousands of ancestors alive at that time.
are such that they cannot be confined within limited groups either in terms of
place, class, religion and others. If
you were able to trace them all you would be in for some surprises and not all
ones that may suit you.
In the period
in question there the Royals and near Royals, much given to mutual
attrition. But enmeshed were many minor
aristocracy, higher gentry, lower gentry and a raft of rich persons in various
fields. The result is a number of family
networks and these in turn connect.
sons of younger sons and younger daughters of younger daughters etc and the
high rate of downward social mobility among them. You need only one person, the
"gateway", to take you into them.
Typically or statistically, by the time you get back to the early 18th
or late 17th Centuries the chances of having one are increasing sharply.
inevitably that among the viewers seeing this strange and inexplicable Tudor world
they are not looking at something apart from them, there is someone or more
swinging through the branches of the family tree. They may be in the field or kitchens or
servants, but they might be at the high table.
It works the
other way as well. The late Queen Mother
had some decidedly rough looking Derbyshire lead miners and other northern industrial
families in her ancestry as well as Staffordshire and Lancashire gentry.
And follow the