Season Three of The Tudors focuses on Henry VIII, twenty-seven years into his reign: his third marriage to Jane Seymour, his brutal suppression of the Pilgrimage of Grace, and the birth of his son Edward. It also highlights his depression following Jane Seymour's death, leading to his ill-fated marriage to Anne of Cleves, his subsequent sexual interest in Katherine Howard, and the downfall of his Protestant chief minister, Thomas Cromwell.
The third season focuses on Henry's marriages to Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves, the birth of his son Prince Edward, his ruthless suppression of the Pilgrimage of Grace, the downfall of Thomas Cromwell, and the beginnings of Henry's relationship with the free-spirited Catherine Howard.
Henry happily marries his third wife but his honeymoon period is soon spoilt by a growing resentment against the Reformation in the north and east of England. The growing band of rebels disperses in Lincolnshire but gathers strength in Yorkshire, primarily because of its able leaders such as Robert Aske and Lord Darcy. The royal troops, commanded by the Duke of Suffolk, are severely outnumbered and are forced to parley, whilst on the Continent the papacy sends a newly appointed English cardinal to persuade the Spanish and French monarchs to support the English rebellion, deemed the Pilgrimage of Grace by its followers as their objective is to restore the old Catholic religious practices.
In Episode 3 Henry is determined to stop at nothing to suppress the revolt, his fears stirred by remembrances of the Cornish uprising during his father's reign. He deceitfully persuades the rebel leaders to lay down their arms and disperse their followers, promising to hold a Parliament in York to answer all their grievances, which is never convoked. A second uprising is savagely suppressed and the leaders executed as Henry, via Cromwell, instructs Suffolk to shed quantities of blood to act as an example. Jane Seymour goes into labor and produces a baby boy, but she dies soon after as a result of her protracted labors. In Episode 5, Henry retires from public view, bereft by the loss of his Queen, but finally emerges: his first act is to get the church leaders to agree on a new Protestant doctrine, one that threatens to undermine Cromwell's Reformation.
In the ensuing episodes, the King has the last remaining Plantagenet heirs, the Pole family, put to death (mother, son and grandson) as a result of Cardinal Reginald Pole's actions to undermine his rule. This creates a schism with Spain and France and, upon Cromwell's urging, Henry agrees to an alliance with the Protestant League by marrying Anne of Cleves after first dispatching the English Ambassador to Holland to negotiate terms, followed by Hans Holbein to paint her likeness. However, Cromwell's plans to bolster the Reformation are undone by Henry's dislike for Anne, whom he calls a 'Flanders mare'. He is unable to consummate his marriage and vents his frustration on his Lord Privy Seal, which is encouraged by the Duke of Suffolk in league with Edward Seymour, as both want Cromwell removed from office. With his enemies encircling him, Cromwell pleads with Anne of Cleves to submit herself to her husband, but she is powerless to deflect King Henry's antipathy towards her. Finally, Cromwell is dragged off to the Tower after being accused of being a traitor by the King's Council and, despite writing a letter begging his master's forgiveness, is gruesomely beheaded by a drunken executioner.
In the meantime, Sir Francis Bryan is instructed by the Duke of Suffolk to find a woman to rekindle Henry's jaded love interest, and the beautiful and very young Catherine Howard, a distant relation of the Duke of Norfolk, is introduced at court and, catching the King's interest, he beds her in secret and a new romance begins.
3.01 - Civil Unrest
3.02 - The Northern Uprising
3.03 - Dissension and Punishment
3.04 - The Death of a Queen
3.05 - Problems in the Reformation
3.06 - Search for a New Queen
3.07 - Protestant Anne of Cleves
3.08 - The Undoing of Cromwell
Alan van Sprang-Sir Francis Bryan
Max Brown- Edward Seymour
Anthony Brophy-Ambassador Chapuys
Tamzin Mercheant-Katherine Howard
- guest star Max von Syndow- Cardinal Von Walthburg
Simon Ward- Bishop Gardiner
Andrew McNair- Thomas Seymour
Rod Hallett- Sir Richard Riche
Joanne King- Lady Jane Rochford
Character deaths in Season Three
John Constable (episode 3.03)
Lord Thomas Darcy (episode 3.03)
Robert Aske (epsiode 3.04)
Jane Seymour (episode 3.04)
Margaret Pole (episode 3.06)
Thomas Cromwell (episode 3.08)