The new season of Showtime's The Tudors premieres this weekend, and if you haven't watched, all you need to know is that it's an awesomely overheated soap opera of 16th-century English history starring young, beautiful cast members portraying historical figures who were...shall we say...less beautiful. How less beautiful? Let's take a look!
Henry VIII was an accomplished athlete and horseman who became, late in life, "grossly overweight (with a waist measurement of 54 inches/137 cm), and had to be moved about with the help of mechanical inventions. He was covered with suppurating boils and possibly suffered from gout." Jonathan Rhys Meyers is somewhat more beautiful than young Henry VIII; in twenty years, unless he really screws himself up, he will be one thousand times as beautiful as old Henry VIII.
Anne Boleyn, according to contemporary sources, was "not one of the handsomest women in the world. She is of middling stature, swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, bosom not much raised." Natalie Dormer, on the other hand, is totally gorgeous, and her bosom is much raised. (High-five!)
As this picture suggests, Catherine was cute in her youth, but did not age well; in later years she was described as "rather ugly than otherwise; of low stature and rather stout." Maria Doyle Kennedy, on the other hand, looks like a television star!
Historians assure us that Thomas More looked exactly like handsome Jeremy Northam. And they're pretty sure these guys are dead ringers too: