The Best Episodes of The Tudors

Last Updated: Dec 11, 2018

The Tudors presents the rarely dramatized, tumultuous early years of King Henry VIII’s nearly 40-year omnipotent reign (1509-1547) of England. In addition to his famous female consorts, a 20+ year marriage to Catherine of Aragon and the infamous dalliance with Anne Boleyn, the series delves into Henry’s most notable political relationship and the deconstruction of the Roman Catholic Church in England.

Death of a Monarchy

#1 - Death of a Monarchy

Season 4 - Episode 10

Finale - Henry’s thoughts turn to his own mortality with the news that his long-time friend and sometimes foe King Francis, and his unshakable soldier Charles Brandon, are each dying. As he faces death, Henry encounters the ghosts of his former wives who each get a chance to confront him. Hans Holbein paints a last, iconic portrait of the Tudor King.

star 8.23
309 votes
Writers: Michael Hirst
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Destiny and Fortune

#2 - Destiny and Fortune

Season 2 - Episode 10

Queen Anne is imprisoned in the Tower, awaiting her execution. The king granted her wish for a special executioner, but he is delayed and the execution has to be postponed. King Henry proposes to Jane Seymour now that his marriage to Anne has been declared null and void. He hopes she will gave him a legitimate, male heir.

star 8.04
303 votes
Directors: Jon Amiel
Writers: Michael Hirst
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The Act of Treason

#3 - The Act of Treason

Season 2 - Episode 9

Anne has lost a son and with it her last chance at a lasting marriage with Henry. The King's affections are shifting anyway: the Seymour family are awarded rooms at court and seem likely to replace the Boleyns as royal favourites. Several in the court begin to move against Anne who is accused of adultery. Arrests are made of suspected lovers and of Anne herself. All, including the Queen, are sentenced to death.

star 7.95
292 votes
Writers: Michael Hirst
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The Death of Wolsey

#4 - The Death of Wolsey

Season 1 - Episode 10

Cardinal Wolsey is down but not yet out. Although exiled, he tries to gather last-minute support from his old enemy, Queen Katherine. She hesitantly agrees to his plan, as she finds herself in a situation similar to that of the fallen Cardinal. But their plot is intercepted by the King's new advisors and Wolsey must pay the ultimate price.

star 7.87
379 votes
Writers: Michael Hirst
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The Death of a Queen

#5 - The Death of a Queen

Season 3 - Episode 4

The leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace uprising are put to death, but Brandon is disturbed by the cruelty and mercilessness of the suppression; Henry celebrates the birth of a son but his joy is short-lived as Queen Jane dies within days.

star 7.80
308 votes
Writers: Michael Hirst
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His Majesty's Pleasure

#6 - His Majesty's Pleasure

Season 2 - Episode 5

Attempts to legitimise the King's marriage and increase his power hit unmovable obstacles as Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher insist that only God can be head of the church. Imprisoned in the Tower of London they face likely execution unless they take the Oath of Allegiance. Meanwhile Henry's wandering eye continues to roam.

star 7.76
318 votes
Writers: Michael Hirst
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Bottom of the Pot

#7 - Bottom of the Pot

Season 4 - Episode 5

Lord Hertford’s investigation into allegations of the Queen’s infidelities moves with speed. Deeply upset by revelations of his beloved young wife’s sexual past, Henry weeps. But once adultery is uncovered, his response is swift and decisive.

star 7.76
304 votes
Writers: Michael Hirst
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Secrets of the Heart

#8 - Secrets of the Heart

Season 4 - Episode 9

Henry VIII’s health is on the slide: the recent siege of Boulogne has taken its toll on his aging body and his ulcerous leg is constantly in pain. Bishop Gardiner and the Catholic Church are once again in the ascendant at court but, tired of conflict, Henry demonstrates little enthusiasm for the ambitious Bishop’s accusation that Catherine Parr is a heretic.

star 7.72
283 votes
Writers: Michael Hirst
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As it Should Be

#9 - As it Should Be

Season 4 - Episode 8

The siege of Boulogne is a long, expensive and difficult military campaign that is finally won by Henry’s troops at great financial and human cost. Rejuvenated, Henry rejects the idea of marching on to further conquests, preferring to return to England in triumph.

star 7.72
296 votes
Directors: Jeremy Podeswa
Writers: Michael Hirst
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True Love

#10 - True Love

Season 1 - Episode 6

As King Henry gains in confidence, his displeasure with the way the Catholic church handles his request for an annulment of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon grows. As a result, Cardinal Wolsey's position is weakening, leaving him vulnerable to his enemies.

star 7.72
409 votes
Directors: Brian Kirk
Writers: Michael Hirst
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Truth and Justice

#11 - Truth and Justice

Season 1 - Episode 8

A papal envoy has come to discuss the annulment of the King's marriage to Katherine of Aragon, as requested by the King. The outcome of these discussions will determine Cardinal Wolsey's future career as well as the King's romance with Anne Boleyn. These discussions will also influence the nature of the relationship between England and Rome.

star 7.70
410 votes
Directors: Alison Maclean
Writers: Michael Hirst
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Look to God First

#12 - Look to God First

Season 1 - Episode 9

Cardinal Wolsey's fall is quick and pitiless. Stripped of office and authority, he is banished from the court and sent far from his much-beloved King. His unlikely successor is Sir Thomas More, a man unlike the overbearing Wolsey in every way but one...his loyalty to Henry.

star 7.70
389 votes
Writers: Michael Hirst
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Arise, My Lord

#13 - Arise, My Lord

Season 1 - Episode 5

Henry is shocked when he learns that his ally, Emperor Charles V of Spain, has released France's King Francis I from prison. He's equally surprised when Anne Boleyn turns him down after offering to make her his sole mistress.

star 7.70
446 votes
Directors: Brian Kirk
Writers: Michael Hirst
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His Majesty, The King

#14 - His Majesty, The King

Season 1 - Episode 4

As a reward for his denunciation of Martin Luther, the Pope christens Henry “Defender of the Faith,” but a brush with death causes the king to seek a solution to his lack of an heir. Princess Margaret marries the decrepit King of Portugal reluctantly, but the union is short-lived; Henry's desire for Anne Boleyn intensifies when Anne goes home to her family estate.

star 7.70
460 votes
Directors: Steve Shill
Writers: Michael Hirst
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The Definition of Love

#15 - The Definition of Love

Season 2 - Episode 6

As the Reformation gathers pace Sir Thomas Cromwell becomes ever more powerful as propagandist-in-chief of a new moral order. Royal confidence has given way to doubt. Henry is haunted by the memory of the executed Thomas More while Queen Anne Boleyn's insecurities border on paranoia. Her husband's affairs continue and an effort to have her daughter Elizabeth betrothed to a French royal fails when the French King refuses to recognise that the infant Princess is of legitimate birth.

star 7.70
307 votes
Writers: Michael Hirst
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The Northern Uprising

#16 - The Northern Uprising

Season 3 - Episode 2

The uproar over the king's break with the Catholic Church turns into a full-blown rebellion that comes to be known as "The Pilgrimage of Grace." Immobilized by an old jousting injury, Henry sends Charles Brandon to deal with the uprising and focuses his attention on the Lady Ursula Misseldon.

star 7.70
287 votes
Writers: Michael Hirst
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The Undoing of Cromwell

#17 - The Undoing of Cromwell

Season 3 - Episode 8

Henry moves swiftly to annul his loveless marriage to Anne of Cleves, and beds a new mistress, 17-year-old Katherine Howard; Princess Mary falls in love with Duke Philip of Bavaria; Cromwell's fall from favor is sudden and dramatic.

star 7.69
283 votes
Directors: Jeremy Podeswa
Writers: Michael Hirst
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Civil Unrest

#18 - Civil Unrest

Season 3 - Episode 1

King Henry marries for the third time, taking as his queen the demure noblewoman Jane Seymour. A growing number of his subjects protest the king's decision to abandon the Catholic Church.

star 7.68
308 votes
Writers: Michael Hirst
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Lady in Waiting

#19 - Lady in Waiting

Season 2 - Episode 8

At Henry's command Jane Seymour is made a lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn, to the discomfort and suspicion of the Queen. When Henry is seriously injured in a jousting match all thoughts turn to who might succeed him. There will be far-reaching consequences if Anne's pregnancy does not deliver a healthy son.

star 7.67
301 votes
Directors: Dearbhla Walsh
Writers: Michael Hirst
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Natural Ally

#20 - Natural Ally

Season 4 - Episode 4

Rejuvenated by his tour of the north of England, Henry feels a new man and longs after his new Queen; unaware that her affections are diverted elsewhere. Katherine’s past begins to catch up as an old liaison comes looking for a job threatening to reveal all about their sexual history. Someone beats him to it when an anonymous letter is sent to the King containing accusations of adultery. Although unconvinced of the rumor, Henry confines Katherine to her apartments pending a thorough investigation.

star 7.66
292 votes
Writers: Michael Hirst
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Checkmate

#21 - Checkmate

Season 2 - Episode 3

Henry's patience finally wears out and he marries Anne in secret, appoints his Lutheran chaplain Thomas Cranmer the head of the Church of England, and strips Queen Katherine of her title and status; the king and new queen have their first child, and are disappointed that it's a girl...whom they christen Elizabeth.

star 7.65
337 votes
Directors: Colm McCarthy
Writers: Michael Hirst
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Message to the Emperor

#22 - Message to the Emperor

Season 1 - Episode 7

England's population is suffering, both from a lack of food and from a lethal plague called 'The Sweats'. As a result, King Henry feels depressed and not his usual, confident self. He starts having doubts about the future and his ability to rule the country. Fortunately for him, a change is coming up.

star 7.64
396 votes
Directors: Alison Maclean
Writers: Michael Hirst
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Something for You

#23 - Something for You

Season 4 - Episode 3

Buoyed by the happiness that a young wife brings an aging man, Henry is noticeably more tolerant and forgiving than he once was. Such goodwill is well appreciated by the peasants of the North who gratefully accept Henry’s forgiveness for the Pilgrimage of Grace revolt, during a Royal visit. But the King’s benevolence may yet be tested by his new Queen: Katherine Howard has submitted to seduction by the young and handsome Thomas Culpepper.

star 7.62
281 votes
Directors: Dearbhla Walsh
Writers: Michael Hirst
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Tears of Blood

#24 - Tears of Blood

Season 2 - Episode 2

Christmas at the Tudor court is a time for ringing in the new. Mistress Anne Boleyn has replaced the banished Queen Katherine. The King's chaplain, Thomas Cranmer, makes a fact-finding visit to Lutheran Germany while Henry withdraws both the authority and taxes of the Catholic Church at home. And a royal visit to France finally convinces Anne to consummate her relationship with Henry, even as his best friend Charles Brandon suggests that she is no virgin.

star 7.61
339 votes
Directors: Jeremy Podeswa
Writers: Michael Hirst
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Matters of State

#25 - Matters of State

Season 2 - Episode 7

The English Reformation is in full swing. Queen Anne suffers from nightmares and feels threatened by Katherine and her daughter. Henry pays an unplanned visit to an old friend, Sir John Seymour, father of Jane Seymour.

star 7.61
306 votes
Directors: Dearbhla Walsh
Writers: Michael Hirst
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