The White Princess drops us in the middle of history with Henry VII taking the throne. Here’s what happened on the premiere, “In Bed With The Enemy.”
Before last night, I wasn’t familiar with The White Queen which is what comes before The White Princess. Being the good student I am, though, I took to the internet to learn all about the story that leads up to this one, so I wouldn’t be confused.
Starz was ready for curious minds like myself, and it didn’t take me long to find this awesome family tree video along with some explanation of events that set up for this series. After all, The White Princess picks up where The White Queen left off.
The episode starts with us at the home of Elizabeth of York. Henry’s soldiers have ridden up on the house and will be claiming Lizzie and the other family members then bringing them to Westminster. In all the clamor before the soldiers get in the house, Lizzie’s mother helps her son, Richard, hide. He’s supposed to be dead, and if the soldiers find him, he’ll really end up dead since he could challenge Henry for the throne. She tells him to runaway once they’re gone and pretend to be someone else’s son until they can help him claim the throne one day.
In the end, he hides and the Lizzie, her sisters, and her mother are all taken away.
Lizzie was supposed to marry King Richard III, but since he was killed in battle, and Henry is now King, she’s going to be married to him and unite the two warring houses. Lizzie doesn’t want to marry Henry because she killed the man she loved, who also happened to be her uncle, but we’re not even going to touch that one.
We switch locations to Wingfield Castle in Suffolk and the search for the Earl of Warwick. Since Henry declared that his reign began the day before Battle of Bosworth, that makes all men who fought for Richard traitors and they’re to be rounded up and brought to London.
Some of the men have been killed inside the castle, and Teddy, the Earl of Warwick, is a little too enthusiastic about being a fan of King Richard. His big sister tries to calm him down, but she can’t do much to stifle his loyalty. Plus, he’s probably about ten, and who among us can control a ten year old, especially a royal one?
The scenes move again to London this time, and we see Henry surveying his new home. He is calling for all the banners of the former King to be burned and nothing white to be left in England. His mother, Margaret Beaufort, is basically falling over herself because Henry is King, and she knew her entire life this would come to pass.
Henry says, “You always said God had chosen me. You’ve always known His will.”
Margaret is going to be a problem when it comes to Lizzie and the rest of the Yorks, obviously.
Back at Lizzie’s home, her mother and sisters are on horses and about to leave for London. Lizzie mentions Richard, and her mother tells her not to talk about him at all, and if they found out about how close her and Richard were, it wouldn’t be good at all for the family.
Lizzie asks if Richard got away, and her mother tells her that they must pray that he does. We see him huddle into a ball in the attic of the house as soliders ransack the rooms below.
Back in Westminster, we meet Jasper Tudor and he greets Henry and Margaret. There’s something there between Margaret and Jasper, but Margaret’s husband shows up, and they awkwardly break a part. I’m going to call it now, Margaret’s husband, and Henry’s stepfather, is a total creeper.
Down below, the Yorks all arrive and greet each other, not with hugs but whispers of Henry’s decision to hold them all as traitors since they fought on the side of Richard III. There are also some great cuts at Margaret for trying to destroy the House of York for half her life.
Elizabeth, Lizzie’s mother, ends with:
“We are Yorks, Eliza. We do not quake in fear. We must see how this plays out.”
This is setting the stage for the chess match that will be Henry and Lizzie’s marriage.
The Yorks are to appear before Henry and pledge fealty to him, but Lizzie and her mother and sisters are lead into other rooms. They’ll be seen after the other Yorks. When asked why Lizzie won’t be staying in the Queen’s quarters, they’re told that Henry’s mother is staying in them.
This prompts Lizzie to say to her mother, in private of course, that maybe he’s planning on marrying his mother. Lizzie doesn’t want to marry Henry and be the “spoils of war” and her sister Cecily makes a snide comment about Henry even wanting her.
We need to watch out for Cecily because that girl is going to be a snake.
Meanwhile, Henry is decreeing things left and right as the new King, all of which will hurt remaining York interests. He does pause to ask if the York princes are truly dead, to which his mother assures him that they are and that he is the only one for England now.
The other Yorks are gathered before Henry and prompted to pledge their fealty, and as one of them does (Richard III’s named heir), the slain King’s mother steps forward and tells Henry that he’s not the true King, and he’s descended from servants. Jasper Tudor tells her that she’s lucky she’s old and that she’ll either pledge fealty to Henry of be thrown in the Tower.
She says, “You wouldn’t dare.”
Then Jasper nods to the soldiers around the room, and they cart off Richard III’s mother to the tower. There won’t be any room for possible revolt, and the Tudors won’t tolerate anyone speaking against them. When it comes time for Teddy to come forward and pledge his fealty, the little boy says that one day he’ll be King, but his sister manages to keep him close and in line. She pledges her fealty then tries to talk Teddy into doing the same, but it seems like he doesn’t fully understand what’s happening or why.
That being said, they won’t allow this York to grow up if he doesn’t fall in line, so he needs to be controlled quickly.
Afterward, Henry gets into a bit of a disagreement with his mother and Jasper Tudor over marrying Lizzie. He calls her a whore and asks if any of the York girls wouldn’t work. Jasper reminds him that he raised his army under the promise that he would marry Elizabeth of York, and his mother tells him to meet her.
Elizabeth and Henry have dinner that night but it escalates very quickly.
They get into an argument over her relationship with Richard III, which makes Henry pull her toward the bed. Lizzie is very sure that he won’t rape her, but after he insults her again, she sits on the bed and yanks up her skirts.
Henry doesn’t say no and the two have sex for the first time, but is it sex or is it rape? Lizzie doesn’t want to participate, but feels she has no other option. She cries throughout the ordeal. Then when she mentions that he’s done rather quickly, he says it was because he was thinking of her sister, Cecily.
Their relationship is further complicated when that night Cecily goes to Henry and tells him that she will be with him, and he tells her that she should have more loyalty to her sister.
Throughout the episode, Elizabeth Woodville (Lizzie’s mom and the Dowager Queen), tries to make attempts to figure out where or if her young son escaped, but she has no luck in figuring it out.
Fast forward a little ways, and we see that Lizzie is in a bit of a predicament. She’s pregnant with Henry’s baby, but they’re still not married. She decides to take some mandrake root to terminate the pregnancy, but her mother stops her and tells her to reconsider.
After Henry is crowned King, without a Queen at his side, Lizzie tells them that she’s expecting a child and they must get married soon.
Margaret tells Lizzie that her motto as Queen will be “humble and pentitent.” Then before her wedding, Lizzie makes a stunning speech to her mother and sisters.
After their wedding, Henry doesn’t stay with Lizzie in her room. Instead, he takes out a dagger and knicks her ankle, letting blood drip to the bed.
He tells her that he’s saving her reputation and to ensure that his son isn’t considered a bastard. Lizzie sits on the bed, holding her ankle as the red stains the sheets.
Next Sunday’s episode of The White Princess, “Hearts and Minds”, will focus on Henry’s attempts to legitimize his sovereignty and Lizzie’s pregnancy.
King Henry VII sets out on Royal Progress, in an attempt to establish himself as the new sovereign, but finds a dangerous, deeply divided kingdom. Lizzie’s loyalties are further complicated by the child she is expecting. [Via Starz]
Needless to say, this series is going to have a lot of moving pieces on the board as the war between the Yorks and Tudors isn’t necessarily over. Will Lizzie fall in love with her King and vice versa? How will a child play into all of this as they move forward.
Here’s a look at what’s to come on The White Princess!
The White Princess airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.