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Mark Smeaton

Mark Smeaton is a charming common-born musician and 'dancing master' from Flanders (today Belgium) who is patronized by the Boleyn family in Season Two of The Tudors and becomes the court musician; he is initially introduced to court by his friend Thomas Wyatt. He is played by Canadian actor David Alpay.

Although he befriends Queen Anne Boleyn and acts as her (sometimes bemused) confidant, Smeaton does not seem to support either the Catholic or Protestant factions involved in the Reformation; he is simply a passionate artist who will take patronage where he can find it. Smeaton is depicted as homosexual in the series, and begins a secret relationship with Viscount George Boleyn of Rochford early in the Season.  

Unfortunately for the innocent Smeaton, his closeness to Anne causes him to be used as a scapegoat when Thomas Cromwell hatches his plot to destroy her. Smeaton truthfully denies allegations of adultery with Anne when he is arrested at his home, but after Cromwell's agents brutally torture him for days, he confesses. Smeaton is beheaded for treason in episode 2.09 alongside George Boleyn, Sir Henry Norris and William Brereton.

Season Two[]

Smeaton shows Anne Boleyn how to play the violin

Mark Smeaton is first introduced in episode 2.01, when the poet Thomas Wyatt, his friend, introduces him to Anne Boleyn, who is now unofficially King Henry's betrothed.  Wyatt comments on how he just likes to be called plain 'Mark' when Anne greets him as 'Master Smeaton', and Anne jokingly responds, "Now, how could he be referred to as 'plain'?"  Anne takes an immediate liking to Smeaton and his violin music and flirts with him a little, to the jealousy of Wyatt (who was Anne's former lover before she fell in love with Henry); the charming musician is likewise friendly towards her.  

Wyatt and Smeaton are shown to spend much of their time together, both being artists. In episode 2.02 Smeaton is surprised by the rather empty atmosphere at Whitehall around Christmas, and Wyatt explains it's because Catherine of Aragon and her ladies are not there. Smeaton is later introduced to King Henry by Anne at a party and dazzles the court with his music. Henry names him court musician, and Mark joins their entourage for the visit to France in the same episode. There, he meets with Anne's sister Mary Boleyn (whom he has apparently met before) and sympathizes with her recent widowhood from a man they describe, respectively, as 'dull' and 'impotent'.

Smeaton's concealed homosexuality is revealed in episode 2.03 when he openly flirts with George Boleyn after thanking him and the Boleyn family for their patronage. In the next episode, he is shown playing his violin undressed in George's house, and they start kissing. He also leads the musical performace at another Christmas party in Whitehall in 2.04. 

Mark Smeaton with his lover, George Boleyn, at George's wedding to Jane Parker

Mark increasingly finds himself in awkward situations with the Boleyn family, as George gets married in episode 2.06 and Anne starts treating him as her private confidant, whose fears and problems he has no answer for; nonetheless, he tries to be loyal.  Unfortunately, Anne's physical gestures of affection towards him (which are not intended romantically but which are dangerously indiscreet) are often noticed and misinterpreted by her ladies-in-waiting. Smeaton begins to become annoyed with George for concealing their relationship from his wife Jane, but George tells him to leave off.  When news of Henry's serious injuries are brought to a pregnant Anne in 2.08, she is horrified and hugs Smeaton for reassurance, putting him in an awkward situation right in front of her ladies-in-waiting.

Smeaton being tortured on the rack

In the next episode, Mark is shown to live a comfortable life despite the fact that his patrons, the Boleyns, have just lost Henry's favor due to Anne's miscarriage. Thomas Cromwell, the King's chancellor, is determined to get rid of Anne and sees Smeaton as a scapegoat due to his close association with her (and supported by Anne's casually flirting attitude towards him, as has been noticed by some of her handmaidens). Cromwell and a few agents visit Smeaton in his luxurious quarters and attempt to force him to admit he comitted adultery with the Queen. Smeaton desperately pleads his innocence (which is true) as he is tortured via a knotted rope being twisted into his eye (commoners could be tortured with impunity, so Smeaton was the only one who was tortured).  Later, he is taken to the Tower of London and stretched on the rack for several days until he falsely confesses to the adultery charge, probably to avoid continued agony.  Anne herself learns of Smeaton's arrest several days before she herself is arrested.  Both are falsely found guilty of treason and sentenced to death, along with three other innocent scapegoats: Sir Henry Norris, William Brereton (who hated Anne Boleyn and deliberately confessed falsely) and George Boleyn.  Smeaton- now a bloody wreck of a man- is the last of the four to be beheaded at the end of 2.09; Anne watches the beheadings of her friends and brother from the Tower window, sobbing with grief.


Mark Smeaton: "Of course you can do something about it!  You're George Boleyn; you're like a bloody God around here!"

George Boleyn: "If you could read Greek, Master Smeaton, you'd know that even the Gods have trouble with their wives!"