Alphabetical Movie – Lady Jane
I have to wonder why anyone in England would have wanted to be born royalty. Seems to me that anyone who was Royalty in the 16th and 17th centuries came out of the womb with a dotted line across their necks to make it easier for the headsman to do his job.
Certainly a movie about the era is not complete without at least once character getting their head chopped off. Usually it’s the main character but at times, five or six secondary characters also get similar treatment.
They’re sort of collateral damage.
Given all this beheading of royals is historically accurate, I often think it’s something of a miracle there was anyone left to rule the country at all. They were so busy chopping off each others’ heads, they had very little time to govern. Kind of a Libertarian dream world.
At least it would be if the clergy wasn’t running everything anyway.
Knowing your life was likely to end in much the same way as a chicken couldn’t have made the life of a royal person very pleasant but on the other hand, the alternative was freezing, starving and possibly dying of the plague or some other nasty disease that could have been cured by washing your hands. Not in the Thames, though, because that was filled with excrement.
Elizabeth I was probably the luckiest monarch in the history of England. The fact she managed to ascend to the throne before someone had her killed would seem to be against all conceivable odds. That she managed to stay there for so long was a testament to a lot of things. Not the least of which was the number of heads that rolled to ensure hers would remain parked safely on her body.
So many of these movies about old England are really just historical cop dramas. The lengthy dialogue sequences are the chase scenes. Instead of crashing into medians and narrowly missing pedestrians, they embroider and talk in guarded metaphor about the church or croquet.
Then one of them is caught, cuffed and “read their rights” (you have the right to a beheading and you cannot waive this right). They go to jail (The Tower of London) and the cops try to figure out what the bigger picture is. Typically this will involve rampant speculation, paranoia, a complete lack of evidence, and political expediency.
Then there will be a shoot out. There’s just one shot and it sounds suspiciously like an axe hitting a big block of wood.
Quick aside – I’ve been watching a lot of Lethal Weapon movies lately. Does it show?
The one chase plays out over 3-5 hours and typically also includes a small amount of tasteful implied sex. There’s also at least one member of the clergy.
The biggest mystery in the film is not if anyone will get beheaded but who. If you don’t already know the textbook history, you can place bets on who is going to die next. Will it be from a public execution or from natural causes? Will they be beheaded at the tower or in the public square? Axe or sword?
Protip – Anne Boelyn was beheaded with a sword!
You can turn it into a drinking game! Drink every time someone argues that the Catholic Church is wrong! Drink every time someone lies to further their own political agenda! Drink every time you see someone make a mad grab for power!
And consider yourself lucky that you weren’t born royal in those times. Sure, you got a big drafty castle and your odds of dying from the plague were lower.
But the moment you were born, they put a pike up on tower bridge and carved your name into it. It wasn’t anything personal. They were just trying to save time.