"Wolsey, Wolsey, Wolsey!" is the third episode of season one of The Tudors, and the third episode overall. Shortly after Elizabeth Blount has Henry's bastard son, Thomas More is knighted by Henry and charged with destroying any copies of the Lutheran "heresy" he can seize, obviously paining More (although he himself considers it heretical). Meanwhile, the King's sister Princess Margaret Tudor is betrothed to the King of Portugal, something which will end very badly for the elderly man when his new wife decides she no longer wants to be in the marriage. As Henry prepares to make an alliance with Queen Catherine's nephew, the King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, he comes face-to-face with Anne Boleyn for the first time.
At the start of the episode, all plans are going towards a masquerade in Whitehall Palace, which is to be held in honor of the arriving Spanish delegates, although the rehearsals are going a bit sloppy. Master Cornish, the director, rebukes his choreographers, reminding them that the King himself will be participating. On the balcony overhead, Thomas Tallis watches amusedly while he works patiently with his musicians.
King Henry is out hunting with Charles Brandon. He mentions how his sister, Princess Margaret, is betrothed to marry the King of Portugal, and he wants Charles to escort her there, saying he needs someone he can trust. Charles jokes, "You trust me with a beautiful woman?" and Henry stops and glares at him, saying, "With my sister? Of course I do- why shoudn't I?". Charles backtracks, saying he's honored but he's not important enough to give away a King's sister. Henry then cheerfully reveals he's making Charles the Duke of Suffolk, which surprises and delights Charles. Both of them resume the hunt.
The Spanish-Imperial envoys, Ambassador Mendoza and his deputy Eustace Chapuys, are traveling to London by coach with Thomas More. Thomas mentions how they will have to see Cardinal Wolsey in order to see the King, and Chapuys doubtfully mentions he's heard that Wolsey advocates French interests. "Only when they coincide with ours," Thomas reassures him. He asks about whether the Emperor is repressing Lutheranism within his territories, boasting that Henry is writing a pamphlet condemning and demolishing Luther's arguments. Wolsey receives the envoys at Hampton Palace and promptly takes them out of Thomas's earshot, privately inquiring if the Emperor is truly serious about the alliance with England. Mendoza assures him that he is, and that he will supply the Cardinal with a pension and support Wolsey's ambition to be Pope. Pleased, Wolsey adds that they should betroth Charles to his cousin (and Henry's daughter) Princess Mary, thus undoing England's alliance with France and linking Mary more firmly to her Spanish relatives. He pours wine and they toast to the alliance.
Later, Wolsey, More and the Imperial ambassadors attend the pageant/masquerade. A group of young women in angelic white gowns-Kindness, Honor, Constance, Mercy, Pity, Perserverence, etc. (the Graces) are imprisoned in a castle by more unpleasant female spirits in black- Danger, Jealousy, Unkindness, Scorn, Disdain, etc. More points out to the envoys that one of the two women in the castle tower is Margaret Tudor, Henry's sister.
A group of masked young princes arrives to rescue the Graces; it is an open secret that King Henry is one of them. When the young men storm the fortress, Henry climbs the tower to rescue his sister, but instead finds himself caught off-guard by the Grace next to her, who stares back at him intensely through her mask. "Perserverence, you are my prisoner now." he whispers to her, before climbing into the tower and taking Margaret's hand. As the Spanish envoys applaud, the young men and the Graces file out of the castle, remove their masks and then perform a dance. Henry dances with Margaret at first, irritably brushing her off when she implores him not to marry her off to the King of Portugal; his eyes are on the young woman who played Perserverance, now unmasked. When he changes partners and dances with her, he whispers, "And who are you?" She replies, "Anne... Anne Boleyn." When the dance stops, Henry is still watching Anne. Thomas Boleyn is seen handing a pouch of gold to Master Cornish.
Mendoza and Chapuys are first presented to Queen Catherine of Aragon, the Emperor's aunt; they are delighted to see her and vice versa. She welcomes them, but warns them before they see the King, not to trust Cardinal Wolsey entirely. They then formally call on King Henry, who promptly gives them the opposite advice: to trust Wolsey, who speaks for him "in all things". Henry then tells them to send Emperor Charles V an invitation to visit him as soon as possible, which pleases them.
Later, Henry is target-practicing with a firearm on his grounds, while Wolsey briefs him on the status of the English army and navy, in preparation for their war with France. He explains that the Imperial forces will first attack French-occupied territory in Italy, and then jointly invade France proper with England. Henry mentions he wants more warships constructed, but Wolsey warns him this will be expensive; Henry argues they need a formidable navy to compensate for their smaller army, and that his father left him plenty of money and that he intends to spend it. As Wolsey leaves, Henry talks with Thomas Boleyn, abruptly rewarding him with a Knighthood of the Garter and the post of Comptroller of the Royal House. Boleyn is flattered, but the real reason for this is quickly revealed: Henry wants to see Boleyn's daughter Anne again. Boleyn mentions she is soon to come to court as a lady-in-waiting for Catherine. As he departs, he shares a glance with the Duke of Norfolk. Their plan is working.
Back at the Boleyn family castle of Heaver, the poet Thomas Wyatt reads his latest work to Anne, describing his lamentations that she is leaving him; she is flattered, but refuses his attempt to kiss her. He asks why she will no longer return his affections, and she bluntly tells him he's married and has no claim on her. Wyatt asks her if she loves someone else. "Never ask of me- and never, if you value your life, speak of me to others." She replies firmly, and leaves.
Some time later at a party in Whitehall, William Compton and Anthony Knivert are getting very drunk and making fun of Charles in abstentia. They are clearly resentful that he's gotten a Dukedom. Anthony mentions that they should find women, but William answers- somewhat hesitantly- "even if she was a complete Venus, I couln't satisfy her in my dejected state." Meanwhile, Henry and Catherine have an awkward dinner; Catherine is very happy about the successful visit with the Spanish Ambassadors and that she will see her nephew Charles soon (and about the new betrothat of their daughter), but Henry is visibly distracted. When Catherine mentions a dream she had of her and Henry reconciled, and professes her love for him, Henry comes over to her and seems about to embrace her passionately. But he pauses, gives her a kiss on the forehead, and quickly leaves the room, leaving Catherine saddened. While Catherine puts her beloved daughter Mary to bed, Henry sleeps with another of her ladies-in-waiting.
A few weeks later, the Queen's new ladies arrive; Anne Boleyn is among them, turning heads all around with her exotic features and stylish, French-patterned dress, in contrast to the more rigid outfits of the others. Henry is having Thomas More read over the final drafts of his anti-Lutheran pamphlet; Thomas mentions that he uses rather strong language, but he wholeheartedly approves the pamphlet's condemnation of Luther and praise for the Pope. Henry credits Thomas's teachings and honesty as inspiring his writing, saying "if there is anything good and true there, it is because of you, Sir Thomas More", bestowing him with a knighthood. He asks Thomas to take a copy to Rome, and to destroy all copies of Luther's writings that he can find. Thomas sets out at once.
Meanwhile, Wolsey (who is unusually stressed) is brough news that King Francis has discovered Henry's new secret agreement with the Emperor and is threatening them. He muses aloud to his messenger how Francis could have discovered their accord.
At last, the young Emperor Charles arrives in England and is enthusiastically greeted by King Henry. While they are doing so, Wolsey isolates Henry's secretary, Mr. Pace, and privately accuses him of spying for the French. He strips Pace of his office and orders him thrown in the Tower of London. Pace frantically pleads his innocence as he is dragged away. The next morning, Henry shows off his battlefleet to Charles, who is amazed by the caliber of English warships. Henry remarks that his fleets and Charles' vast armies compliment each other well; Charles declares that together, there is nothing they cannot conquer. "I like you already." Henry remarks. "Except for the chin, what is there not to like?" Charles jokes, referring to his Hapsburg jaw; the two monarchs laugh heartily.
A few days later, Charles comes to meet his aunt Catherine and his cousin/betrothed Mary; Henry notices Anne Boleyn among Catherine's ladies. Charles exchanges a loving greeting with both of them, explaining to Mary that their marriage will be put off until she is old enough; Mary makes a gift of four fine horses to him, and he is very sweet towards her. At an outdoor party, Charles discusses his war plans with Henry, with Catherine, Mary and Margaret sitting nearby. William and Anthony mock Charles Brandon for not giving them any favor, now that he's a Duke; Charles sarcastically tells them to respect him and maybe he will. Thomas Boleyn tells Anne to put herself in the King's path.
Emperor Charles explains how he plans to reclaim his italian territories, then they will invade France and oust Francis- allowing Henry to reclaim his 'title' of King of France. Charles goes to dance with Mary and Henry dances with Margaret, still put out over her betrothal to the ancient, decrepit King of Portugal. She tells Henry to promise her that, after the King dies, she can marry whom she likes; Henry gives an ambiguous response. As he is walking away from the dance floor, he nearly walks into Anne Boleyn; he watches her again as he walks away.
Catherine talks privately with her nephew, telling him she is glad to see him because she's often lonely; her Spanish ladies were sent away, and there has been a deep rift between her and Henry for a long time. Henry's current show of affection for his wife, therefore, is mainly for Emperor Charles' benefit, and Catherine even fears he may ask her for a divorce. Shocked, Charles tells her it's impossible. "Is it?" She wonders, watching Henry and Anne Boleyn.
Henry later has a dream in which he is walking through a deserted Whitehall and sees Anne; she flees, and he pursues her. He corners her in an enclosed room, finding her standing naked. She discourages him from groping her, telling him to seduce her and write her letters and poems, to "ravish me with your words"
When Charles departs after signing an official betrothal alliance and trade agreement with Henry, he tells Catherine she may count on him and should trust him. Henry asks Wolsey where Mr. Pace is, and Wolsey says Pace was a French spy. The King tells Wolsey he'll need to find a replacement. The Duke of Norfolk talks with Thomas Boleyn, who says the King is definitely interested in Anne, whom they hope will sleep with Henry and denouce Wolsey; Norfolk muses it is a start, but is clearly impatient. The more patient Boleyn pacifies him, suggesting they ally with Charles Brandon, now officially Duke of Suffolk; Norfolk dislikes him,but Boleyn points out that he hates Wolsey (like them) and is King Henry's best friend.
During a tournament, Henry (for once) sits out the action until his royal jeweler arrives with some pieces Henry requested. They are a set of four exquisite brooches, adorned with 'jewels fit for a queen'- but they are clearly not intended for Queen Catherine, but Anne Boleyn.
In the final scene, in the Tower of London, Mr. Pace recoils in horror as the straw near his feet moves, revealing rats. He hammers at his cell door, screaming that he's innocent, that it was someone else, that "IT WAS WOLSEY! WOLSEY! WOLSEY!"
- Emperor Charles: "Together we shall invade France and bring to an end the adventures of that libertine monarch, King Francis."
Henry:"That would make me very happy."
Emperor Charles: "It will also make you King of France"