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Why ‘The Tudors’ Could Never Continue Past Henry VIII

Updated on May 29, 2014
The box set of the first season of 'The Tudors'
The box set of the first season of 'The Tudors' | Source

I’ve been going back and forth about whether to write this or not. It’s been on my mind for a while, but I recently saw a post on a forum where someone asked why The Tudors never went on after Henry VIII. It was called The Tudors, so surely it should have covered the whole dynasty. I understood by the first season that it would never continue, and there are a few reasons for that.

So, why did The Tudors never continue after the reign of Henry VIII?

Buy the First Season of 'The Tudors' on DVD

It Never Started with Henry VII

It was clear from the first episode that this was going to be all about Henry VIII and his six wives. If it was going to be about the full Tudor dynasty, it would have started with Henry VII. The question would have been which part of Henry VII’s life would it have started with: his win at the Battle of Bosworth, his first day at court as king or some other important part of his life?

Instead, the writers decided to focus on Henry VIII and it wasn’t even the start of the second Tudor king’s reign. It started with the middle of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. One of the first things that happened was the birth of his illegitimate heir, Henry FitzRoy, and Mary Tudor was already born. The writers tried to make it very clear from the beginning that it was not about the whole of the Tudor dynasty.

Margaret Tudor was the Queen Consort of Scotland and grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Margaret Tudor was the Queen Consort of Scotland and grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots.

The First Problem With Only One Sister: No Mary, Queen of Scots

The parts of Margaret and Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s sisters, were joined into one role called Margaret. She was older then her brother and named after the elder sister, but she followed part of the life of the younger sister. Margaret ended up marrying Charles Brandon, but that is where the similarities between either of the two historical counterparts end and it meant that The Tudors simply could not continue.

First of all, Margaret Tudor (in real life) married James IV of Scotland before Henry VIII’s ascension to the throne. Now, had the character Margaret been called Mary instead, I could have seen this work. There would have been no real need to bring Margaret in at a later date and Henry VIII could have just mentioned her in passing. But without this Scottish/English union, there was a major issue. It meant that James V was not born, which meant that Mary, Queen of Scots would never be born. There was also the issue of no Henry Stuart, and there for now James VI of Scotland.

Why would leaving out these two characters be a problem for the rest of the show? Just how could leaving the characters out cause an issue for Edward, Mary and Elizabeth? Well, it causes a major problem for the time of Elizabeth I. One of the biggest controversies in history is the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, at the hands of her cousin, Elizabeth I. While the two never met, Mary was imprisoned for 19 years of her life in England and there were regular letters while Mary tried to succeed as Elizabeth’s heir. While the two would never been shown on screen together, that storyline would have had to play a major part in Elizabeth’s story.

There was also the issue of no James VI of Scotland. James became James I of England after Elizabeth’s death. Even though this wouldn’t have caused a direct problem for Elizabeth’s story, it would have led to many questions at the end when the show finished.

Mary Tudor was the scandalous sister of Henry VIII and grandmother of Lady Jane Grey.
Mary Tudor was the scandalous sister of Henry VIII and grandmother of Lady Jane Grey.

The Second Problem of Only One Sister: No Lady Jane Grey

Only having Margaret Tudor led to another issue: there was no Lady Jane Grey.

Now, I had a big problem with the storyline surrounding Margaret Tudor and Charles Brandon in The Tudors. Charles continually had affairs and while there is no evidence that didn’t happen, there is also no evidence that it did. In fact, in history Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon were said to have had a happy marriage. But that wasn’t the worst part. According to The Tudors the couple never had any children.

This is where the second problem comes in. Without the two having any children, Lady Jane Grey couldn’t have been born and this means the show could never continue. You see, without Jane, there would be no uncertainty over the throne after the death of Edward VI. One of the biggest storylines between Edward VI and Mary I would be Edward’s decision to make Jane his heir and Mary’s rally to gain her crown back. The Wyatt rebellion in 1554 wouldn’t have had the same ending that it did with the execution of Lady Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley.

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The Death of Ambassador Eustace Chapuys

This isn’t as big of an issue, but it would have been a problem for Mary I’s storyline in part. During The Tudors, Eustace Chapuys dies and Mary is informed by Richard Rich. This was before the death of Henry VIII in the show. However, that didn’t happy in the real world. Chapuys actually died in 1556, which was during Mary’s reign.

I’m not sure how his death would have affected Mary, but he would have been an important part at court up until 1549 when he actually fully retired (he retired much earlier in The Tudors). He would have continued to offer support to Mary, and regularly supported her claim to the throne.

There is no evidence to support Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves has a relationship after their marriage was annulled.
There is no evidence to support Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves has a relationship after their marriage was annulled.

A Relationship Between Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves

The show has Henry VIII have an affair with Anne of Cleves after their divorce. While this didn’t lead to anything, that’s only because the show ended. There is the possibility that it would have ended up with Anne having Henry VIII’s baby, had the writers wanted that.

The whole relationship was fabricated. There is no evidence that Anne of Cleves had a relationship with anyone after Henry VIII, let alone the king himself. Anne became one of the wealthiest women in the whole of England because she agreed to Henry VIII’s annulment terms. Most historians believe she spent the rest of her years playing cards and drinking ale.

Trailer of Season 1 of 'The Tudors'

The Suicide of Elizabeth Darrell

This goes back to Season 2 and I’m not sure what type of affect it would have had on the series, but is worth pointing out. Elizabeth Darrell was a mistress of Catherine of Aragon, even after the queen’s fall in 1532. She was a love interest for Thomas Wyatt in The Tudors and in real life.

In the show, Elizabeth hangs herself shortly after the death of Catherine of Aragon. Thomas Wyatt is the one to find her and is heartbroken. However, in real life, Elizabeth and Thomas had three children, but they were never married. Elizabeth lived as Thomas’ mistress and outlived him.

The one part that I could see this being an issue is that Elizabeth was left a legacy by Catherine of Aragon. That was given to her by Queen Mary I sometime in 1554, when she married Robert Strowd. Of course, the writers could have changed this slightly and had someone else receive the legacy, but it would have caused some more historical inaccuracies.

The Tudors was a work of fiction, but the writers gave themselves no choice but to end the show after Henry VIII’s death. There were some major historical inaccuracies. Not all would have caused a problem, but the fact that Margaret and Mary Tudor became one and had no children in the show meant that there were no necessary cousins for Edward, Mary and Elizabeth. Many people wanted to see The Tudors continue, but it simply could not have happened.


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    • aingham86 profile image

      Alexandria Ingham 4 years ago from UK

      Thank you, Bronwyn. I'm really glad you found it interesting and well researched.

      I hope I haven't spoilt too much for you, Amie. If I took the history away from Margaret and Charles' relationship, I enjoyed it. But looking at it from a historical point of view, it annoyed me.

      You're right about the earlier seasons being better, thewritingowl. I'm did start a rewatch a few months ago, but then got Lost and started rewatching that instead because some of the historical inaccuracies were annoying me too much by the middle of the second season. Once I'm finished with Lost (I'm onto season 3 out of 6) I'm going to go back to it. I may even review each episode at a time. 'The Other Boleyn Girl' was just something I couldn't enjoy. The historical inaccuracies throughout really annoyed me. It was worse than 'The Tudors' personally. 'Reign' has been the same, which is supposed to be about Mary, Queen of Scots. I've ended up pretending that has nothing to do with the real Mary Stewart, just to be able to watch it and see the Sebastian/Pagan story through to the end.

    • thewritingowl profile image

      Mary Kelly Godley 4 years ago from Ireland

      I loved the Tudor's and while the historical accuracy of it was completely off and the earlier seasons were better than the late ones it was still a great show. I read the book too 'The Other Boleyn Girl, about the story from the perspective of Anne Boleyn's sister Mary ' but apparently too this was not historically accurate either.

    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 4 years ago from Warwick, NY

      I am watching the Tudors now and am only on season 1, but this all really helped me put history in perspective. I am loving the relationship between Margaret and Charles Brandon right now, probably because the show makes them both so beautiful to look at! It is interesting to know none of it was factually true.