10 Major Mistakes in 'the Tudors' ...


10 Major Mistakes in 'the Tudors' ...
10 Major Mistakes in 'the Tudors' ...

Have you watched the series "The Tudors"? It was certainly an entertaining programme, but being very familiar with this period of English history, I noticed a number of factual errors. These might not matter to most people, but when you've studied the era, it can be quite irritating to think that people will believe that the mistakes are facts! Here are some of the mistakes I picked out, and a few other things I think they got wrong.

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Maybe it's a necessity for dramatic purposes, but time was really messed with here. Actors were too young or too old (no way was Jonathan Rhys Meyer old enough to have an adult daughter!), and events happened at the wrong point.


The Tudors is a historical fiction television series about the life and reign of King Henry VIII of England. While the show was popular among viewers, it has been criticized for its numerous historical inaccuracies.

The show's chronology was particularly problematic. In some cases, characters were portrayed as being too young or too old. For example, Jonathan Rhys Meyer was significantly younger than the character he was playing, making it impossible for him to have an adult daughter. Additionally, events were often portrayed in the wrong order, with some events happening before they should have.

Other inaccuracies included the depiction of Henry VIII's courtiers. The show portrayed most of them as being loyal to the king, when in reality, many of them were more concerned with their own interests. Also, the show depicted the court as being more lavish than it actually was.

The show also failed to accurately portray the religious beliefs of the time. It showed Henry VIII as a devout Catholic, when in reality, he was more interested in political power than religion. Additionally, the show portrayed the Protestant Reformation as being more influential than it actually was.


Anne Boleyn's Eyes

Anne Boleyn's Eyes Photo Credit: dodobear1020

This is a minor niggle, as in every other way Natalie Dormer's superb portrayal of Anne is exactly as I would have imagined her to be. However, Dormer has blue eyes, and Anne was known for her dark eyes, at a time when blue-eyed blondes were considered desirable.


The Tudors was a popular television series that aired from 2007 to 2010 and was based on the reign of King Henry VIII of England. The series was praised for its historical accuracy and its portrayal of the Tudor court. However, there were some inaccuracies in the series that have been pointed out by historians and viewers alike. One of these inaccuracies was the casting of Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn.

Anne Boleyn was the second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I. She was known for her dark eyes, which were a stark contrast to her fair skin and blond hair. This was considered highly desirable at the time and was a feature that was used to attract potential suitors. However, Natalie Dormer has blue eyes, which is a major mistake in the series.

In addition to Dormer's eyes, there were other inaccuracies in the series that have been pointed out. For example, Anne's sister Mary was portrayed as a young woman in her twenties when she was actually in her forties. Additionally, the series was criticized for its depiction of Anne's execution, which was not historically accurate.


Henry VIII

Henry VIII Photo Credit: Sheep purple

The cliched image of Henry is as an obese old man, when for much of his life he was active and considered very handsome. However, it was a major mistake to cast Jonathan Rhys Meyer, he just didn't have the authority of the King, and was far too young to play him until the end of his life.


The choice of Jonathan Rhys Meyer sparked controversies among history buffs for his too-youthful portrayal of a ruler who reigned for nearly four decades. Henry VIII transformed considerably over his tenure, evolving from a chiseled, athletic youth into a portly monarch. This radical physical transformation reflects the tumultuous changes in his reign, including his numerous marriages and the establishment of the Church of England. Yet, the series opted for a consistent image, sidestepping the opportunity to depict the King's dramatic aging process and its impact on his rule and health.


The King's Sisters

Henry had two sisters, Mary and Margaret. The series combined them into one character. This meant that Margaret didn't marry the King of Scotland, and didn't become the grandmother of Mary Stuart. Although this had no bearing on the events in"The Tudors", which stopped with the death of Henry, it is a major discrepancy.


In the historical record, Mary wed Louis XII of France and later Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, while Margaret married James IV of Scotland, thereby initiating an important dynastic link. The Tudors sidesteps this lineage, simplifying the narrative but erasing a significant aspect of the Tudor dynasty's connections across Europe. This decision also neglects the complex web of alliances and bloodlines that profoundly influenced the era's political landscape. Consequently, some pivotal historical reverberations, such as the eventual Union of the Crowns, are not set into their proper context.


Wolsey's Death

Wolsey's Death Photo Credit: fluxxus1

Having Wolsey commit suicide while on his way to be arrested for treason might have made for a dramatic scene, but it didn't actually happen. The Cardinal died of natural causes, which did probably save him from execution.


Henry Fitzroy

In the series, Henry's illegitimate son dies at the age of around 5 or 6. This was presumably intended as a plot device to remind the King of the need for a male heir, but in reality Fitzroy survived until his late teens, although still predeceasing his father.


Henry and Anne of Cleves

Henry and Anne of Cleves Photo Credit: Swamibu

After his marriage to Katherine Howard, Henry asks her predecessor Anne of Cleves if he can sleep with her. Anne allows him to do so. This is highly implausible, given that Henry rejected Anne for being physically unappealing to him, and Anne was happy to agree to the divorce.


In the historical drama, The Tudors, creative liberties are taken with Henry VIII’s romantic pursuits, but the suggestion that he would return to Anne of Cleves's bed chambers is particularly perplexing. Not only was their marriage annulled due to a lack of consummation, spurred by Henry's distaste for Anne's appearance, but Anne had also received a generous settlement and the title of the King's sister for her compliance. The idea that she would have an intimate encounter with Henry after the annulment contradicts the mutually beneficial arrangement that allowed her to live independently, a freedom she seemed to cherish.



The Mary/Margaret character is shown murdering her first husband, the elderly King of Portugal, whom she finds repugnant. The real Mary married the King of France, who was indeed rather old and died barely a few months after the wedding, but it is hard to believe that the Queen would have resorted to murder to hasten his demise.


In the show, a malicious twist paints Mary as a venomous bride, which dramatically diverges from historical accounts. Mary of France was known to be a grieving widow, rather than a scheming femme fatale. Depicting her in this light not only unfairly maligns her reputation but also distorts the complex dynamics of political alliances and royal marriages of the time. By resorting to such fabrications, the series undermines the intricacies of Tudor history in favor of sensationalism.


Just a Few Words !

Just a Few Words ! Photo Credit: ell brown

Katherine Howard's execution scene shows her making a speech in which she declares "I die a Queen, but I would rather die the wife of Culpeper (one of her lovers)". It was long believed that she had made this speech, but there is no evidence that she did and it has been discredited. Condemned people would make a speech praising the King and admitting that they deserved their fate, for fear of their family suffering if they angered him.


Katherine Howard's portrayal in the show adds to a number of historical inaccuracies that fans have been quick to point out. In reality, the Queen's final moments were likely far more stoic and aligned with the customs of the time. These on-screen embellishments serve more to dramatize the event than to educate viewers on the true sobriety of Tudor-era executions. The show's creative liberties often overshadow the factual dignity and solemnity that characterized such grave proceedings.


Double Your Chances !

Both Anne's brother George and the musician Thomas Tallis are shown as bisexual, having affairs with both men and women. There is no evidence to support this, but presumably it was introduced to add even more spice.

Now, I must say that I did actually enjoy the series (although the first two were the best), and they did use a lot of speech known to have been made by the characters. To be fair, it is impossible to be 100% true to facts when making a film or series based on historical events. Ultimately it is entertainment, and not a documentary. Do you find such inaccuracies annoying?

Top Photo Credit: The Blue Forest Etsy Shoppe

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