Has it ever happened to you that, suddenly, one year, you have a different wedding every weekend? Everyone decides to get married at once and you have to juggle with presents, different outfits to wear and which of your friends are going to be there. Well, luckily, I have never experienced it, but on this week’s episode of Carlos, Rey Emperador, the same thing happened, but with death! Honestly, it was death season. Not one, not two, but four! Five, if we include that Isabel almost died of heartbreak at one point. The early 1530s were definitely a bad time to live at court.
Well, this story technically starts in Bologne, where Carlos’s coronation takes place. Don’t you think he looks sleeker now? With his new haircut and that pointy beard, he is the spitting image of the emperor. Oh God, there is only drama after this.
When Carlos arrives at court after the coronation, everything is happiness: he hugs his aunt Margarita, he finally reunites with his siblings María and Fernando; they hold hands, they laugh, everything is perfect. But no! As soon as there is the slight hint of bliss, tragedy strikes, as Gattinara faints and acknowledges, while in his deathbed, that he has been sick for some time but still wanted to witness something he has been fighting for for so long. But alas, he soon dies, not before telling Carlos that he must name a successor for the empire soon, and that the obvious and wise choice would be his brother Fernando –it will be a recurring theme.
With his advisor gone, Carlos’s first decision is to solve the Luther problem with a council. But then Luther and his smug face ruin it all by dedicating his new script to María. This, of course, makes the Pope cancel every hope of a council (but let’s be honest, it was just the excuse he needed). As for María, she only agrees to have her name on it because it is the way of making sure her marriage to James V of Scotland doesn’t take place (what with James being super Catholic and all that).
But there is another side to this particular drama, and that would be entitled “Sibling Rivalry, Part XXVI”. Carlos should listen to his brother Fernando more often, because while Carlos was “council this, council that”, Fernando saw that the Pope would never agree and there would be conflict in the end. But since Carlos largely ignores him, that tricky Frederick III, Elector of Saxony approaches Fernando with a plan: to make the Habsburg their leader to fight Carlos when the time comes. That is, when the emperor decides to attack all the Luther sympathisers. Needless to say, Fernando is never going to betray his brother, but this comes at a time when he has just fled court after a disagreement and he is a bit ‘weak’. During this time, María has written to Leonor asking for help to fix this brotherly quarrel, and when Leonor replies with news about Fernando’s plot, this infuriates the emperor. And this is when Carlos makes the impulsive mistake of sending Toledo (the Duke of Alba from now on, since his grandfather has died off-screen) to arrest Fernando. Of course, as soon as the younger Habsburg arrives, he tells Carlos that he was never going to betray him, and was in fact heading towards court when he was arrested to let Carlos know of everything that was happening behind his back. Carlos’s solution? Summon Saxony and ask him to set aside their differences for a while to join forces against the Turks, who at that point had invaded Vienna. They agree (for now) and head to the Austrian city, only to find the Turks running away. Easy victory! Carlos even names Fernando his successor for the empire, finally, with the condition of having Carlos’s son Felipe become the emperor after Fernando. Sure, that is definitely going to happen…
And I left the most dramatic thing for the end, because while all this was happening, poor Margarita was having to walk around with a cane due to a wound in her foot. But this is the 16th century, ladies and gentlemen. Injuries are never easy, and Margarita’s foot ends up poisoning the rest of her leg and giving her a high fever. Carlos breaks the news for her: they will have to amputate the leg. But one night, Margarita can’t stand it anymore and drinks the whole content of a bottle of a…remedy? My personal theory is that she was in so much pain that she wasn’t thinking “I’m going to kill myself”, but rather “this hurts so much, so if drinking this whole thing takes the pain away, I will drink it, no matter the consequences, even if I die. At least it won’t hurt anymore.” I’m rather sad about her death, though. She was a key figure in Carlos’s life, now he is all alone! No more paternal/maternal figures left. Margarita’s housecoat was fabulous, by the way.
Oh Lord, François is a terrible father! You would think that I’d have realised this by the time he sent his own sons to a prison for who-knows-how-long without giving a damn, but this was the episode that made me see that it’s actually Leonor the one raising them.
Of course, don’t be surprised if I tell you that his main concern right now is that, without other enemies, Carlos might want to turn his views to France and conquer some of it. François is really obsessed with this. So much that he gives a push to the armies of the Turk Barbarossa to invade Algiers and sail towards the Spanish dominions. Sneaky. But all the French monarch wants is to put everyone against Carlos. For starters, he accepts the Pope’s proposition of marrying his niece Caterina to the infant Henri.
But that’s not all! Now that Leonor is living there, François and his mother are all about intercepting her letters, so when her sister María writes to warn her of the dispute between their brothers, François decides to take advantage of this to benefit himself. Needless to say, Leonor is not stupid and instantly notices that the letter has been resealed, so when young Henri tells her all he has heard about Fernando joining Saxony to fight Carlos, she begs him to smuggle a letter from her to the emperor without François finding out. Which is a small win for Leonor. I mean, poor woman: François hasn’t even consummated the marriage! He must hate Carlos a great deal to avoid a bed scene. Seriously.
Because Hernán Cortés must be too busy this week getting himself a wife and getting a ship ready to sail back to New Spain, we get to meet a new character, Bartolomé de las Casas. So this is the friar’s story in a nutshell: he arrives in Veracruz, only to be shocked to find out that the Spaniards are enslaving the natives and treating them like crap, like you should expect anyone to react. Bartolomé decides to condemn them and writes a letter to Spain to inform the regent of what is going on. But the friar testes the colonists by doing two things: first, he refuses to absolve a dying Spaniard on his deathbed because he doesn’t regret his sins, and second, he himself frees a native who was lying tied to a pole, which gets him locked up. That is, of course, until a missive from Spain comes, which condemns the use of slaves and changes the laws in New Spain. It will be interesting to see what happens when he meets Cortés.
I said last week that this would be the only episode in which Isabel wouldn’t get pregnant and give birth, and I was wrong! Carlos obviously had time for a quickie before he left, because as soon as the episode begins, we see Isabel has given birth to the infant Fernando. Unfortunately, the baby lives only a few months. I told you, it’s death season.
Isabel’s first problem as a regent is the nuisance of Barbarossa trying to get to them through Algiers, so when Carlos writes back saying they have to delay the attacks on that front, Isabel gets a bit angry and decides to ignore her husband completely. There is no money? Well, she will be very nice to the nobles and they will surely give her what she needs, which is exactly what happens.
But all problems come in two, so when Isabel finds out about the siege in Vienna, she decides to make the correct decision and sends all that money and gold to fight Barbarossa to the Austrian cause. There you go, nice choice.
In the end, Carlos returns to Spain after three years of absence! So you know what that means: another baby next week. But don’t get your hopes up. Sorryyyy!!!
If you want to know more about all the deaths and all the conflicts, and most importantly, what the hell was in that phial Margarita drank from, don’t miss this week’s episode of El Mundo de Carlos! Next week there is going to be a lot of drama surrounding poor Katherine of Aragon.