The King has not felt well since returning from France and he feels there is much about the current state of his realm to make him unhappy. One major source of consternation for King Henry is the war with France. Under Lord Surrey’s command the British forces have not fared well in France. King Henry asks Surrey to return to England and puts Lord Hartford in as his replacement in Boulogne. Lord Hartford is interested in resolving the differences between England and France quickly and peacefully. Later Hartford makes an arrangement with the French Ambassador who is also interested in peace. Hartford tells King the terms of peace with France: The King will give Boulogne back to France in eight years in exchange for a large payment. King Henry, knowing England is in a bad state financially, is in favor of this idea.
Queen Catherine is still steadily and stealthily working on her Protestant agenda. One of her methods is to write books about the goodness of her faith and to show them to her husband. While all this is going on Bishop Gardener is still working on his plans to get rid of all the heretics at Court. He now feels like there are heretics close to the Queen and that investigating these women may give him access to investigating the Queen herself.
Arrested first is a woman, Anne Askew, who is rather outspoken in her Protestant beliefs. Later she is questioned about preaching heresy. The men detaining her ask if any of the Queen’s ladies in waiting are also heretics. She doesn’t want to tell and is brought to the Tower and paraded in front of torture devices, including the rack. They tie her to the rack and stretch her. While this torture is occurring they ask her which ladies in waiting share her heretic beliefs, or if the Queen does. They torture her over a number of days and with the King’s full approval. As a result of the torture of Anne Askew the King is told that three of the Queen’s ladies in waiting should be arrested, including the Queen’s sister. The Queen comforts her sister while looking very nervous herself.
There is much discussion about the King’s failing health and the future of the realm. Many members of the nobility feel that control over Prince Edward is essential as he will be the next monarch. Lord Surrey and his companions take this a step further by trying to hatch a plot to gain control for themselves. Surrey says, “For he who possesses the heir to the throne will very soon possess the throne itself.” But before this plot can be carried out he is placed under arrest for treason.
Later it is announced that Anne Askew is condemned to die. Lady Hartford, a friend of Anne’s, gives Anne’s executioner a small bag of gunpowder to hang around Anne’s neck. Anne is to be burned and the gunpowder will ensure that she has a quick death rather than a horribly painful and drawn-out death. As Anne is carried to the pyre, clearly in extreme pain due to the injuries she suffered on the rack, Lady Hartford is told that Bishop Gardner wants to see her now too. Lady Hartford looks upset and nervous because she knows she too has a potential to suffer for her faith. The fire is lit, Anne screams and writhes in agony, and then everything explodes due to the gunpowder.
Elsewhere, Lord Surrey is imprisoned and caught as he tries to escape from the Tower. He is then put on trial for treason and pleads not guilty. After hearing all the evidence the members of the jury do not think the Earl should be condemned to die. Lord Hartford strongly disagrees with this judgement and says, “Whenever has innocence been cause to save a man’s life when the King deems him unfit to live in the commonwealth? The law is whatever his majesty says it is.” Eventually the jury finds him guilty. Surrey will be hanged, drawn, and quartered in London. The courtroom crowd’s anger swells to a near riot at this news.
At the end of the episode the King and Queen have a conversation where Catherine says they are lucky to be free from the tyranny of Rome and that Henry should “purge the Church of England of its dregs.” Bishop Gardener angrily observes this conversation. Later Gardener and the King are alone. Gardener says no one should argue with the King, not even his wife. He reminds the King that what she’s saying is the same as what the heretics have said and they are being condemned to die because of it. Gardener then says he has proof the Queen is a heretic and he wants her put on trial. The king says, “I am fully resolved to spare her life.”