TV Review: The Six Wives of Henry XIII (4 of 4)

Title: The Six Wives of Henry XIII (Via Amazon Prime)
Episode: Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr (4 of 4)
Released: 2001

So we reach the end with the last two of Henry’s wives, both named Katherine.  Although I have to wonder how he felt that half his wives had the same first name for all intents and purposes.  The first Katherine is a bit weird, really.  At least her story.  She’s `is 16-17 when she marries Henry, whose 50+.  It’s hard to tell if the story is attempting to be sympatric or not, but it comes across as Starkey (who I assume directs the content of the piece) didn’t think highly of her.   She seems like she was just a typical teenager, perhaps too willing to fall in love and not quite understanding the consequences of her actions.  I also want to find out more about her, because there has to be more to the Queen then her at least emotional affairs.

Actually, while looking stuff up about this mini-series I found out that it is based on the book by Starkey, so I can confidently say that the tone of this miniseries is set by him, both as narrator and as the basis of the show itself.   His views on the Queen are apparent, although there are a few times where its close.

Catherine Parr seemed to be very well liked by Starkey, and his portrayal of her tended not to show any flaws she might have other than being overly zealous in her education (which isn’t really a flaw in any case).  She is published, so it might be interesting to read what she wrote.

The final episode gets an B, (so overall B-).  The epilogue sentence confuses me and I don’t understand it in context of the show, or history in general.  How is Elizabeth the greatest rumor?  Design wise I’m still bothered by the fonts used in the credit sequences, finding them not all easy to read.  But in general the mini-series was enjoyable, and worth the time even though it does require more looking into things if you really want to know the Queens.  However, as an overview, it’s not too bad.

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TV Review: The Six Wives of Henry XIII (3 of 4)

Title: The Six Wives of Henry XIII  (Via Amazon Prime)
Episode: Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves
Released:  2001

So the mini-series is only four episodes long, with the last four wives having the pair up for their episodes.  I’m kind of disappointed, but I can understand why they might want to use less time.  After all, with the exception of Jane Seymour, the last wives of Henry had less of an impact on Henry, England and history in general.  Still, part of me wishes they could have spent the same amount of time on these women.

I have to admit though, that the section on Jane Seymour was perhaps the most I’ve seen on her.  Most documentaries on the Tudors seem to pass her by as simply Edward’s mother.  This goes a little more in-depth.  I still think more could have been said.  Especially during her time as Catherine of Aragon’s lady-in-waiting and her relationship with Mary.

Anne of Cleves story just made me feel sorry for her.  Again, not much is usually said about Anne other than the fact that she and Harry annulled their marriage quickly out of displeasure with each other.  This documentary segment makes me wonder about it.  She’s another one of the Queens I wish I knew more of, and may add to my list of people to research and read about.

THis episode gets an B, as I feel it doesn’t really do justice to these two women, but it does a better job then the last at making you want to know more about them.

TV Review: The Six Wives of Henry XIII (2 of 4)

Title: The Six Wives of Henry XIII (Via Amazon Prime)
Episode Title:  Anne Boleyn (2 of 4)
Release date 2001

This episode was rather odd for me, because it was not very sympathetic towards Anne, and describes her as pretty much someone who manipulated Henry to get power.   Given how the first episode seemed sympathetic towards Catherine I was surprised, expected this to be the same for the second Queen, who, from all accounts I know of, was falsely accused because of her inability to give Henry a son.

I also wonder that they had no mention that one of Anne’s miscarriages was around the same time Henry had an accident.  Perhaps that was not a widely accepted connection.  I also feel that this episode didn’t really go much into Anne but those around her being mad that she was Queen, or being happy for the same reason.  Perhaps it is because Anne is often the most known of the Queens in pop culture due to her death, and the fact that she was Queen Elizabeth’s mother.

This episode gets a C, as it felt rather unbalanced in its reporting of Anne, but the overall series still gets an A.

TV Review: The Six Wives of Henry XIII (1 of 4)

Title: The Six Wives of Henry XIII (Via Amazon Prime)
Episode Title: Catherine of Aragon.
Release Date: 2001

This mini-series was a misdirection on my part, as I thought I was watching a program my friend had recommended to be, but it was the wrong one with the same title.   However, I decided to continue my plans of watching it and reviewing the various episodes (there are four) that I watched.

The premise of the series is a focus on the wives of King Henry XIII.  The first episode deals with the wife he had first and longest, Catherine of Aragon. He was married to her from 1509-1533 (24 years).  She died in 1536. Continue reading

Women of History: Emmeline Pankhurst

Today’s Woman of history topic is one that was requested, and I actually was not aware of till it was mentioned.  I found out quite a bit from my minor looking into her life. Emmeline Pankhurst was an early 19th century political activist in Great Britain. In particular she is known for her strong militant ways of promoting her cause and for helping bring along the vote for women in the UK as well as improve various other social problems she discovered through out her life.

Emmeline was born Emmeline Goulden on July 15, 1858 (according to her birth certificate, she always claimed the 14th) in a Manchester suburb. She was born into a family familiar with political activism for several generations. Her parents were active in their community and passed that down to their children. This included their interest in woman’s suffrage.

Her education was not as involved as her brothers, as at the time it was felt it was better she learn to be an attractive prospect as a wife rather than be educated on the scale of her brothers. However, she was an avid reader, and her time at Ecole Nomale de Neuilly helped her expand her influences and knowledge base. Continue reading

Book-it Review: Isabella: Braveheart of France

Title: Isabella: Braveheart of France
Author: Colin Falconer
Publication Date: April 21, 2015 (Kindle Unlimited Edition) (Famous Women series)
My Grade: C

It’s hard to write this review because it almost seems like I can’t put into words what I found wrong about this book.  The general story is good, but then its a story brought from real life.  The things wrong are found in other elements.

This story feels self Published in that it seems unedited.  The tenses shift, and the phrasing doesn’t flow well.  At first I thought perhaps it was written for a younger audience, but some of the language disagrees with that theory.

It also turns Roger Mortimer into a pedophile, openly desiring Isabella since she was 12 years old.  Edward the II sounds like a madman, and whether he was or not we really don’t get to know him at all except as Isabella points out the awkward moments in their relationship. Piers Gaveston has a large role but still we know nothing really about him except he was pretty, and Edward liked him a lot.  In fact there isn’t a lot of character development at all.  Isabella is the most developed, as one would hope from the sole POV character, but considering how big a role some of these characters play, I would have expected to know more about them.

It also has some time jumps, as the novel is less than 300 pages and it covers 17 years of her life.  It doesn’t even really cover her years as Queen Regent, ending with Edward’s death.

Still, I have read much worse, and it seems for the most part not to take too many literary licence with the history, though I am not knowledgeable enough to really take on that element of it.  I give it a C, because It didn’t make me want to throw it out the window, but it didn’t enthrall me either.  Perhaps, if given a proper editor, it could improved upon.

The Hung Parliament

Yesterday, The United Kingdom held a general election for Parliament, called for by Prime Minister Theresa May.  With the results in for the most part (one seat remains in the ether apparently) it appears that there is a “hung parliament.”  For Americans (and non-parliamentarians) this may be a confusing phrase.  So I decided today to look into it and write about it.  If you happen to be british, and want to expand or correct something in my essay, feel free to leave a comment.  I’m always willing to learn, and I’m using primarily online sources right now, which can be a bit vague or misleading at times. If you are not British or American, I apologise for the americentric viewpoint of this essay.  I’m doing this from the viewpoint of an US citizen trying to understand British government. If you want to share how your government compares, I’m also interested in hearing it.

The UK is a democracy that works under a parliamentary model.  Which the US does as well, although we added our own twists on things.  There are some similarities between Parliament and Congress.  For example, its bicameral, although how representatives are elected to both houses is different.  Parliament’s two houses are the House of Lords and the House of Commons.  The House of Lords, as the title suggests is members of noble families and members of the clergy of the Church of England, and they are appointed, rather than elected.  The House of Commons on the other hand is an elected body.

Within the House of Commons, there are several parties.  Unlike in the US, the UK is not a two-party system in practice or theory.  There are several parties, and 650 seats.  A party with a majority of more than 50% of the vote is considered the head of the government.  However, when there is no sure majority the parliament is known as a “hung parliament”.  In this case, two or more parties will join together to form a coalition government.

This is different from the United States, which uses a simple Majority style.  The party with the most seats is head of the house in which they are in(currently the Republican Party).  They in turn elect the person who would hold the senior positions in the house (Speaker of the House; President Pro Tempore) In the UK, even if a party has more seats, it does not automatically give it power.  They have to have a strong majority, with over half of the votes.  Once that is settled (or a coalition/minority government is formed), the Queen will choose a Prime Minister from the party which holds the majority.

Its near impossible for the United States to have a similar situation.  If the Senate (with 100 members) was equally divided) they would still have the President of the Senate – the Vice President.  This would create a majority for one party or another.  The House has 435 members, which makes it hard to really have a 50/50 vote.  On the other hand the United States also has a hard-stuck two-party system which has denied many other views/parties into the mainstream campaigning.

Elections are held every five years as of 2011 in the UK unless a vote is taken to make a special election (as what happened this year) and receives a 2/3rd majority vote in the House of Commons. Prior to yesterday’s election, the Conservative party (sometimes known as Tories) had the majority, and thus their prime Minister was Theresa May.  The Prime Minister appoints the rest of the cabinet as well, which is the government formed.

With a hung Parliament we will have to see which parties will join to create the coalition government. Coalition governments usually come in two forms – a formal arrangement where the two parties join together to pass legislation and both hold roles in the cabinet/government, or an informal one where the smaller party agrees to support the larger parties agenda without a strong role in the government.  Reports so far seem to be Conservatives (who have 49% of the vote and still a technical majority) and the Democratic Union party (who has 1.5)  will be joining together to form an informal coalition of 50.5 percent of the vote.  An unlikely but also possible scenario is that a re-election in August might be made if the Conservatives can not form enough of a working majority to push for their agenda.

It should be interesting to see what happens in the coming months as Brexit negotiations begin and the new government formed by Minster May gets working.

It also shows an interesting look into what may happen in the future elections in the US.  The Conservative rule that seemed to be elected in the last few elections in various countries seems to be swinging to a more moderate stance.  This could affect the United States too as it comes to mid-term elections next year.

Wikipedia: Parliament of the United Kingdom

Wikipedia: General Election 2017 Results

Guardian:  What is a hung parliament

BBC: General Election what you need to know

CBS: What happens if the Senate splits 50-50