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"The fact is, Campeggio, the Kings of Europe have power, but no morality; I must act as their conscience. They are my willful children, and I, their father, leading them along the path of righteousness."- Pope Paul III to Cardinal Campeggio

Pope Paul III is Bishop of Rome and Head of the Catholic Church during Season Two of The Tudors.  Acclaimed actor Peter O'Toole portrays him in a recurring role.  Paul is a sterner, more direct and charismatic presence than his predecessor, Clement VII (albeit with a very cynical sense of humor), but again he gravely underestimates King Henry's willingness to overturn Catholic doctrine in order to marry Anne Boleyn.  Paul takes stiffer and sterner measures to counter the Reformation in England, but he is usually one step behind Henry and his Lutheran first minister, Thomas Cromwell.

Season Two[]

In episode 2.01, Pope Paul III is shown to retain Clement's previous advisor, Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio.  He is rather exasperated by Henry's demands on his 'Great Matter' but admits he can understand Henry's frustration with the actions of his predecessor, calling Clement "a terrible procrastinator... he was never very popular".  Nonetheless, he stands by Clement's decree to decide on Henry's annulment with the Papal Curia in Rome, which has not yet delivered its' judgement; also, he is uncertain of how it will affect foreign policy, remembering the Imperial sacking of Rome in Clement's time.  On the matter of Henry's newly betrothed, Anne Boleyn, Paul- referring to her as 'the King's whore'- asks Campeggio, "Why doesn't someone just get rid of her?" indicating that they should send an assassin to remove her from the picture.  Campeggio passes this message to Imperial Ambassador Chapuys in London, who promptly recruits William Brereton in Henry's household. 

Paul blesses the crowds outside St. Peter's Basilica

In episode 2.03, Paul signs a document prohibiting the enslavement of the peoples of the New World.  He remarks to Campeggio- rather pompously- that he must act as the conscience of the Kings of Europe, speaking of them as his "willful children, and I their father leading them along the paths of righteousness".  When they recieve Henry's nomination of Thomas Cranmer as Archbishop of Canterbury, Paul and Campeggio are both surprised, since Henry previously displayed complete indifference to Paul's oppinion.  Despite Cranmer being a 'nobody' and strongly suspected of Lutheranism, Paul agrees to appoint him as Archbishop as a potential means of reconcilliation to Henry, reasoning "What harm can a nobody inflict on our Holy Church?" 

"What better way to please the King than to appoint a nobody...after all, what harm can a nobody inflict upon our Holy Church?"

Paul threatens to excommunicate Henry unless he returns to Catherine

However, this backfires spectacularly in the Pope's face when, later in the same episode, Henry secretly marries Anne Boleyn and crowns her Queen of England.  The newly-conferred Archbishop Cranmer, making no attempt to hide his support of the Reformation, promptly declares Henry's marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon null and void, while validating his subsequent marriage to Anne.  Infuriated, Paul summons the English Ambassadors to Rome and nullifies Henry and Anne's marriage, ordering Henry to return to Catherine within the month or be excommunicated.  With Anne now pregnant, Henry- not surprisingly- ignores the Pope.  When the edict from the Curia arrives- having found in favor of Catherine- he tears it in half.  Meanwhile, the would-be-assassin, William Brereton, arrives in Rome to apologize for his failure.  Paul blesses him for his efforts, encouraging him to return to England as a Jesuit and attempt again "even at the risk of martyrdom." 

Paul's anger at Henry for his actions against Fisher and More

Paul subsequently takes steps to combat the Reformation, excommunicating Henry and throwing his support behind the Catholic noblemen and clergy who continue to speak out against the King's actions.  Unfortunately, Paul's support invariably comes too late and usually makes Henry and Cromwell crack down harder on the Catholic church in England.  The two most prominent speakers, Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher, are arrested in episode 2.04 despite Paul appointing Fisher a Cardinal and More being one of Henry's oldest friends.  Paul and Campeggio are horrified when, in 2.05, both men are beheaded for refusing to take the oath recognizing Henry as Head of the Church of England.  The Pope almost immediately declares More and Fisher both martyrs and Saints, condemning Henry for his bloody actions.  In the meantime, Paul and Campeggio observe Michaelangelo's progress of the Sistine Chapel. Paul's condemnation of Henry is briefly interrupted by a visit by his grandson Alessandro (a future Cardinal), hinting at the Pope's lack of celibacy, in ironic contrast to his earlier statements.

Later in Season Two, Paul is visited by King Francis I of France, who is dressed humbly as a peasant.  Paul urges him to do what the unarmed forces of the Papacy cannot, and invade England with the purpose of toppling the Reformation and restoring true Catholicism, now that Henry is no longer recognized as a monarch by the Catholic Church.  Although France is still very Catholic, Francis is clearly unwilling to do this even for the Pope, as he values England's support in foreign policy (and a foreign invasion of England would likely be extremely costly in blood and treasure), but denounces Henry in front of the Pope claiming that "he is the hardest king in Europe to deal with and a difficult friend".

Season Three[]

Paul is mentioned several times in Season Three despite not actually appearing; his decisions are usually expressed by Cardinal Von Walthburg.  It seems he withdrew the bull of excommunication when the "Pilgrimage of Grace"- a Catholic-led rebellion against Henry's rule- occured in Northern England, seeing it (according to Cardinal Von Walthburg) as a "divine opportunity for reconcilliation" which he hoped Henry would grasp; this was encouraged in Paul's eyes by the fact that Henry's new Queen, Jane Seymour, was a devoted Catholic.  However, Henry instead doled out even more brutal reprisals against his Catholic subjects, prompting Paul to renew his excommunication from Catholicism and again call for an invasion of England by France and/or Spain.  However, while neither country ultimately does this, it does come close. When Spain enters into an alliance with France, both share their combined disdain for England by engaging in "power projection" having both their navies patrol the English Channel and frightening Henry with the potential of amphibious assault.


  • "Sit down Cardinal Campeggio, I know you are a martyr to gout- and my feet are killing me"
  • "He meant my predecessor, and to be fair, he has a point.  Clement was a terrible procrastinator.  Althought it was very wrong of some people to dig up his dead body and stab it in the street, I can well understand their sentiment- he was never popular.  In Place Requiescat."
  • Pope Paul III: "We must try not to offend one monarch over another- after all, they have swords and guns whereas we must make do with beauty and truth. (pause) What of this girl, this putain, the King's whore?" Cardinal Campeggio: "Anne Boleyn?" Pope Paul III: "Yes. Why doesn't someone just get rid of her?"
  •  (reading a letter from William Brereton concerning Anne Boleyn)" Our English friend writes that 'The Lady is not to have a child after all'- he also says 'The King has already been unfaithful to her, but all this may mean nothing, considering  the changeable character of the King and the craft of the Lady, who well knows how to manage him.'(tosses the letter across his desk and sighs in exasperation) You and I, Campeggio, have done well to avoid the 'craft' of women.  Celebacy is an immense relief."

(Pope Paul III has discovered Michelangelo swearing drukenly at the men working on the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo staggers behind the curtain, notices the Pope staring at him, shrugs with impatience, and walks away. Cardinal Campeggio comes up behind the Pope)

  • Cardinal Campeggio: ...Holy Father?
  • Pope Paul III: Do you know who that was?
  • Cardinal Campeggio: No.
  • Pope Paul III: Michelangelo di Lodovico di Leonardo Buonarroti Simoni.
  • Cardinal Campeggio: Michelangelo?! That was him?!
  • Pope Paul III: That was him. We forgive him, because he is a genius... whatever that means.
  • "The King of England has been carried far from the shore, but he does not realize it yet.  He does not ask for God's help; he does not ask for our help.  He thinks he can swim alone- but very soon, he will realize he is not swimming, but drowning."
  • (To King Francis I): "My son, surely you realize , if I excommunicate a Prince, then that Prince is not only sepparated from God, but also from the communion of the faithful?  His rule becomes invalid, and it is a religious imperative  to overthrow  him.  You are a great Catholic Prince- you have armies, you have ships, you have guns!  So- I ask you, in all humility, as your Holy Father: will you invade England?!  Will you remove and kill the Apostate?!  And, will you return that country to our common faith?!" (applause from the Cardinals; Paul makes the sign of the cross, while Francis looks shocked)