Whenever there’s a conflict, whether it is a war or the smallest of problems, common sense eventually takes over and, seeing that there is no other way to solve it, the only solution is to leave it to the ladies. If it weren’t for women, the Italian wars would still be ongoing nowadays. Men…
If the Renaissance had had social media (thank God it didn’t, it’s bad enough as it is nowadays), Rome would have released the hashtag #FreeThePope. It was what everyone in the episode was trying to do! Although it was more a matter of being able to say “I freed him” than actual concern for his safety.
Anyway, Pope Clement VIII sends a letter to all the royals asking for help. Remember why, right? Carlos’s soldiers got fed up of not getting paid and decided to plunder the city of Rome. Quite an awful thing to do, but Carlos didn’t give the order! Waiting for someone to free him, Clement receives the visit of Gattinara and Toledo, who basically tell him that the siege will end when he abandons the League of Cognac. The Pope, of course, is rebellious because he is envious of Carlos’s power. In the end, things work out, but we’ll get to that later.
Catalina’s struggle is leaving me heart-broken after each episode, even knowing that this was going to happen! Henry is officially going mad, and he doesn’t even care about wars and alliances anymore: he just wants to annul the marriage. Cromwell showed up for the first time, by the way, which foreshadows the unavoidable fate that awaits Wolsey.
Because Wolsey is starting to be a pain in the ass. Not just for Henry, who sees him as a failure who cannot fulfil his one wish, but for Catalina as well. The poor woman is being kept isolated, away from her daughter Mary, whose letters she is not receiving anymore. And all of this is Wolsey’s fault, who even smirks at Catalina’s pain.
The main event here would be Catalina’s trial at the Tower of London, a stupid trial that Henry forced just to acknowledge that the queen did consummate her marriage with his brother Arthur, which wasn’t true, of course. Catalina, being the strong woman that she is, tells Henry on the very first day of the trial that he knows very well that she was still a virgin when they married, and then storms off. Good for you! She has nothing left to lose. When Henry realises that the Pope’s envoys are not going to make the decision he wants (thanks to Carlos, who has threatened the Pope so that Catalina is safe), he blames Wolsey for everything, and pretty much lets him know that his days are counted. Bye!
My pal François is so fickle when it comes to war. It depends on whether Carlos makes something that annoys him or not. This time, he is all about killing that bastard and whatnot because Montmorency has visited the princes in Spain, and apparently they have forgotten their native tongue. Louise, though, is all about calming down and looking for peace. Like he cares. François is the rock star of this show: he behaves like one, he talks like one, and he throws tantrums like one.
His decision here is simple: head towards Naples and invade it (remember how hard King Fernando fought for that?) with the help of Andrea Doria’s army, and freeing, if he feels like it, the Pope. But things go wrong when Doria switches sides and becomes part of Carlos’s army! That’s what I call a total defeat.
Of course this could only be solved by women! Seeing that Carlos and François hate each other’s guts, their only solution is to send Margarita and Louise to talk and sign a peace treaty. The French woman is quite sneaky here, and when she finds out that Doria has abandoned them and Naples is still Carlos’s, she tries to get Margarita to sign a treaty that benefits France before she finds out about Naples. But Carlos’s aunt is no fool, and soon calls her bluff. In the end, Carlos wins, Naples stays where it should be and there is no more war. For now…
I’m honestly not surprised that Carlos only got to live 58 years. Can’t he have a moment for himself? I don’t know, play cards, do some gardening, read a YA trilogy… Instead, the poor guy has one problem after the other.
So let’s start from the beginning. While the conflict in Rome occupies his mind all the time, he has a nuisance on the way: yes, Hernán Cortés has arrived in Valladolid with plenty of gold and presents to suck up to Carlos and make him forget that Cortés basically acted like a king in New Spain and perhaps please give him his position as governor of the entire thing back? But Carlos is all about making people suffer by waiting in this episode, so he decides to make Cortés wait, and he will see him only when he gets the reports from New Spain about his behaviour that is about to receive. Not even Cortés’s cousin Pizarro seems able to convince the king, so he does the only thing he can think of: talk to the queen. After unsuccessfully sending her a letter via Francisco de Borja, he approaches her and begs for clemency. Needless to say, Carlos is furious after finding out, but in the end he meets him and lets him know that he won’t be condemned, but he will keep an eye on him. Then Cortés decides to find himself a nice, new wife and head off to America as soon as possible. There you go, that was quick.
And back to Carlos’s European problems! Oh my, the drama. Because the same way he keeps Cortés waiting, he decides to do the same with the Pope at first: it wasn’t his fault that he is under siege, but he is not going to hurry to help someone who is against him and allied with France and England.
Carlos is growing smarter by the day, though. When Montmorency and Wolsey visit him to demand that he free the Pope (they do it to look good for the Vatican, you know it), he decides that he is done with their shit and sends them away. Then, his again-pregnant wife suggests that it might be a good idea if he is the one who negotiates with the Pope to rescue him from his own men –that is when he decides to send Gattinara and Toledo to tell the Pope that Carlos will only help of he leaves the League.
Everything is so stressful. Carlos realises that he will probably have to run to Italy, so he makes two decisions: one, to name Isabel the regent while he is away, and two, make Borja equerry to the queen –needless to say, Borja at one point sort of confesses his love to the queen. Well, it had to happen eventually. Oh, and if you want to know, the baby born in this episode, María, would eventually marry his cousin Maximilian, the son of Fernando. Small world.
Never mind! Even though Carlos is not on board with Isabel’s idea at first, things change when he is told that François is heading to Naples. He makes a final decision: if the French monarch doesn’t rescue the Pope, he will be the one to do it. But after that problem is solved, Toledo tells him a hard truth: he and François will always be fighting, and the war will never end, because it is a war of egos. So then Carlos decides to challenge the French king to a duel. I’m not even joking. Luckily, when Toledo goes to France to make the challenge on his behalf, François is “not home right now”, which is when Louise has the brilliant idea of taking control and having a nice, peaceful talk with Margarita to solve things -Margarita, by the way, was her former sister-in-law.
When the peace treaty is fiiiiiiinally signed, all that Carlos has left to do is go to Italy so that the Pope can crown him. Although I thought he had already been crowned? Anyway, Carlos releases the French princes, and a very angry Henri tells him that he will never forget what he’s done to them, which, okay, it was actually their father’s fault, but he is a teenager, he is allowed to be angry. Although wait four or five episodes, and we’ll see a very annoyed Henri II continuing his father’s eternal war against Carlos! Poor Leonor also travels with them to finally consummate her second marriage, although I don’t think she is that happy about it now. At least she tells Carlos that she will do all she can to keep peace afloat.
And off he goes to Italy. Next episode will probably be the only one in which Isabel won’t get pregnant and/or give birth. By the way, did you like Carlos’s haircut by the end of the episode? It really strengthens the resemblance with the portraits of the emperor as an adult!
Oh, get ready for next week, because we will see Carlos and Fernando together, and now that they both have beards, they are going to look like twins!
Of course, don’t miss El Mundo de Carlos! There is much needed information about the war.