Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio is a recurring character in seasons 1 and 2 of The Tudors. A diplomatic-natured Italian Cardinal and former associate and friend of Cardinal Wolsey, he acts as the mouthpiece of Pope Clement in Season 1 and assistant to his successor, Pope Paul III, in Season 2. He is played by Irish actor John Kavanagh.
During Season 1, Campeggio first appears in episode 2 at the side of the dying Pope Alexander in Rome. He learns from the French Cardinals that they planned to support Cardinal Wolsey's bid for the papacy on Alexander's death, in exchange for a perpetual peace treaty and alliance with France. However, the Cardinals withdrew their support of Wolsey when King Henry broke his pact with King Francis. Campeggio agrees with them, reasoning that since there was one English pope who suffered from insanity, they cannot risk another, and that Popes should always be Italian (which stayed fact until A.D. 1978).
In episode 7 Campeggio appears again when Wolsey's lawyers go to negotiate with Pope Clement, who is under house arrest in Italy by Imperial soldiers. Clement, skeptical of Henry's actual motives to divorce Catherine of Aragon- since he is already clearly planning to marry Anne Boleyn afterwards- sends Campeggio to England to represent him at an Ecclesiastical court, since he himself can neither leave Italy nor summon the other Cardinals to debate the matter.
In the next episode, Campeggio discusses the matter in depth with Cardinal Wolsey and later with King Henry himself. Campeggio- who, like Wolsey, secretly has a common-law wife and children- believes the King's passion for Anne Boleyn will fade with time, and initially hopes they can appease Henry in a different way than divorce. Wolsey, however, knows even if Henry were to lose his love for Anne, he would still insist on the divorce just to prove that the Church has no real power over him; he starkly warns Campeggio that if the King is not appeased, Papal authority in England will be destroyed just as it has in much of Germany. As this would also result in Wolsey's utter loss of power, he is determined to fight for Henry's cause at all costs, even threatening and manhandling the enfeebled Campeggio repeatedly.
After speaking with the King, who insists his motive for divorcing Queen Catherine of Aragon is over the fact that he married his brother's wife (technically a sin in fundamentalist Catholic dogma) Campeggio suggests an easier alternative might be to persuade Catherine to enter a convent, giving her a dignified retirement in the church she is so faithful to. Henry and Wolsey like the idea, but Catherine adamantly refuses when it is put to her, since she still loves Henry and refuses to accept his plans for divorce. She asks Campeggio to hear her confession, in which she states her marriage to Henry's brother was never consummated. Campeggio hears more words in favor of her cause from Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher, and learns from Ambassador Mendoza of Spain that the very Catholic Emperor Charles- who continues to hold the Pope hostage in Italy- is furious with Henry's treatment of Catherine, his aunt. At the same time, Campeggio receives secret instructions from the captive Pope. Moved by Catherine's testimony at the trial, he suspends it in favor of the next meeting of the conclave of Cardinals in Rome- but this delay is clearly a decision in Catherine's favor. Henry is enraged, and Wolsey, also angry but mostly frightened of Henry's wrath, calls Campeggio a 'stupid cunt'. Campeggio goes to his lodgings with Wolsey; since Wolsey is now out of favor with the King, he is not given lodgings or servants. Campeggio closes the door to his rooms in Wolsey's face with a look of smug satisfaction. The next day, he takes his formal leave of Henry and departs for Rome.
Campeggio is seen less frequently in Season Two and only in Rome; he is an assistant to Pope Clement's successor Paul, who takes a sterner and more direct approach to Henry's break with Catholicism. However, they are both shocked by the ease with which Henry overturns the English clergy, with only Bishop Fisher and Thomas More unwilling to submit; both are soon martyred.