After last week’s episode, Anne is now left bitterly disappointed with the birth of a baby girl, Elizabeth. This frustration is equally felt by Henry, who desperately needs to have a male heir to secure his dynasty.
The Devil’s Spit sees Anne become increasingly paranoid about her position at court and on the throne. She knows she needs to have another baby, and quick, in order to silence those in government who wish to overturn her position as Queen and her family’s prominence at court.
After Sister Elizabeth Barton’s (popularly known as the ‘Holy Maid of Kent’) prophesies regarding Henry’s marriage to Anne in last week’s episode, this sparks off increasing hostility to the new Queen. Cromwell employs his spies to investigate her prophesies, finding that Barton is in fact attempting to influence those with Plantagenet blood or ties to Rome and Katherine of Aragon to challenge Henry VIII’s throne and overthrow the Tudors altogether.
Cromwell himself interviews Barton, and attempts to persuade the King to pardon anyone who supports her allegations surrounding these prophesies. However, for as long as Henry does not have a son to succeed him, then the Tudor line is at risk of being overthrown. The pressure of this threat leads Cromwell to make an Oath of Supremacy, which results in everyone having to pledge their allegiance to both Henry VIII and Anne, and recognise Henry as the head of the Church of England.
Whilst Thomas More informs his family to take the oath, More himself vows to not recognise Henry as head of the church, and he is condemned to The Tower of London. Only one outcome can come from More’s rejection of the oath…
After a bout of serious illness, Cromwell begins to plan the King’s royal progress, deciding to propose that the King should stop off at Wolf Hall, the seat of Sir John Seymour and his timid daughter, Jane.
The Devil’s Spit will be broadcast on Wednesday 11th February at 9pm on BBC Two. It will be available to watch online shortly after.
This episode was adapted by Peter Straughan, directed by Peter Kosminsky and produced by Mark Pybus.
Photo credit: BBC/Company Productions Ltd