"Here is...the submission of the Clergy... to Your Majesty's will."- Warham, on surrendering leadership of the English Church to King Henry.
William Warham is the Archbishop of Canterbury (and thus, head of the Church of England until declaring King Henry VIII Supreme Head of the Church) during Season One and part of Season Two of The Tudors. A friend of Bishop of Rochester John Fisher, Warham is depicted as a moderate who truly wishes to remove the corruption of the Church and appease the King, but is against the separation of the Church from Rome and wishes to defend the authority of the Clergy. However, as his health fails he caves to pressure from the pro-Reformation faction (perhaps hoping the new generation can repair the religious divisions) and formally submits the Clergy of England to Henry, marking the start of the English Reformation. Warham dies soon after, and is replaced by the Protestant Thomas Cranmer as Archbishop. He is played by Irish actor Philip O'Sullivan.
Season OneEditArchbishop Warham is first seen in episode 1.05 at a private ecclesiastical court, co-presiding with the King's first minister and Bishop of York Cardinal Wolsey; they are attempting to debate on the legitimacy of Henry's case for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Warham is careful to remain neutral and to invite opinions. However, Wolsey's case is quickly opposed by Bishop John Fisher of Rochester, claiming he sees no merit in the case. The debate forces Wolsey to reveal that Henry is motivated to end his marriage because he interprets his lack of an heir as having broken God's law, since Catherine was previously married to his brother (though the marriage was unconsummated and the Pope gave Henry dispensation to marry Catherine). Warham interjects sharply, pointing out that Catherine and Henry's daughter Mary is entirely legitimate, but Wolsey counters that England has a history of collapsing into anarchy whenever a daughter attempts to claim the throne. Warham has no more to say, but Fisher argues that Wolsey does not have the authority to make a judgement, nor carry out the annulment; it must be decided in Rome.
Warham is later seen with Bishop Tunstall briefly in episode 1.08, arguing with Catherine on behalf of the King to relent in her resistance to his annulment; now that the Papal legat has actually arrived to decide the matter, Warham and Tunstall clearly want to appease the King. Catherine sees through their feeble arguments and calls them out on their immoral actions, dismissing them both as her legal council and replacing them with Bishop Fisher. Warham attends the trial, which ultimately is postponed to be decided in Rome, effectively deciding in Catherine's favor.
At the start of Season Two, Warham is seen co-presiding over the debate in Westchester over whether or not the King should be made Head of the Church. Sensing the uncertainty of the Clergy, Warham cunningly suggests Henry be declared "Supreme Head of the Church of England... as far as the law of Christ allows" which could be used to invalidate the vote as a whole. The vote is rejected, as Henry knew it would be, trying his patience still further. George Boleyn and Thomas Cranmer puzzle over Warham's sudden switch of alliegance back the the Church, though George thinks it's because he wants to win God's favor in his old age, to garuantee him a place in heaven.
During episode 2.02, Warham is quietly listening to a choir in his cathedral (his health has visibly taken a turn for worse) when he is approached by the Royal Secretary, Thomas Cromwell, who is secretly a Lutheran. Warham asserts the clergy are defending the rights of their Church and the protection they receive from Rome, but Cromwell berates him for defending a church which is greedy and corrupt, and which takes away from poor, hard-working people. He leaves Warham to his thoughts.
Later, when the decision is finally to be made in Westchester, Warham appears bearing a scroll. He sets it at Henry's feet, claiming it is the submission of the Clergy to Henry's will, to the horror of Fisher and Sir Thomas More. Henry smiles in satisfaction. At the end of the episode, Fisher and More (who has resigned as High Chancellor) attend a funeral service for Warham, who has recently died. More mentions that it's perhaps best that Warham died now, so he won't have to witness the destruction of the Church he loved and served. Warham would soon be replaced as Archbishop of Canterbury by Thomas Cranmer, a fervent Protestant clergyman.