Anne Stanhope in The Tudors: Fact or Fiction? (2/?)
"Don’t expect me to be faithful to you."
In Episode 3x05, “Problems in the Reformation,” we get our first real (though pretty short) scene between Anne Stanhope and her husband, Edward Seymour. Here they’re eating dinner together privately at court, something that the real Anne and Edward definitely did. Although they owned a few estates in the country, they both spent most of their time at the royal court, where they shared fairly lavish apartments. Their conversation over dinner in this scene really sets up their relationship in the show, and particularly how Edward (whom we first met in the third season) views his marriage.
There are certainly a lot of problems with this scene. First of all, Edward is portrayed as a very cold and indifferent husband. He tells his wife, almost conversationally, “I’ve warned Sir Francis Bryan to stay away from you.” His reason for doing so, rather than any jealousy on his part, is that “He [Francis] is dangerous.” Edward means that Francis is dangerous politically because he’s a good friend of the king, and he threatens Edward’s new position as uncle to the infant Prince Edward. He has little to no feelings regarding his wife’s unfaithfulness, he’s merely disapproving of her choice in a lover. Anne responds, a bit sadly, “It’s a very small thing to you isn’t it, Edward?” To which he agrees that “there are more important things, yes.” Anne then tells him that as long as his feelings remain this way, he can’t expect her to be a faithful wife.
This scene sets up a marriage between Edward and Anne on the show that’s completely different from their historical relationship. We have letters between them demonstrating that they had much affection for one another. Anne rarely left Edward’s side, and they had ten children together. So it’s a shame that The Tudors felt the need to depict their relationship as so emotionally unhappy, though it does make Anne a more sympathetic character than she’s been in previous episodes.
There are some good things here too though. Although the show is erasing Anne and Edward’s love for each another, it is presenting their relationship as a political partnership - which it definitely was in history. Edward and Anne worked together at court, particularly to support religious reform, and he certainly would’ve shared his opinions with her. So the fact that, in this scene, he tells Anne that he’s planning to “destroy” Francis Bryan because “the king listens to him,” is a good example of their political partnership. (Although there’s no evidence that the real Edward Seymour and Francis Bryan had any problems with one another.)
So even though there is some good stuff here, The Tudors still does a poor job of depicting Anne and Edward’s marriage. And, like I said in my last post, there’s no evidence that Anne was ever unfaithful to her husband. So for screwing up what could have been a great couple on the show, I’d say that this scene is mostly fiction.