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Episode One (2011)

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Set in April 1912. Robert, Earl of Grantham and his American wife Cora live with their three daughters and numerous servants in Downton Abbey. Though their way of life has existed for generations, suddenly news arrives that threatens their future. Lord Grantham’s cousin, James Crawley, who is Lord Grantham's heir presumptive, and his son, Patrick, both die in the sinking of the . With no male offspring, a distant cousin becomes heir. But what is worse for the family is that there is an entail on the estate which means that the heir to the title will inherit the land and all the money that Robert gained by marrying Cora. The eldest daughter, Lady Mary had been engaged to Patrick but now the land and wealth could no longer stay with the family. Violet, the Dowager Countess is determined to break the entail even though Lord Grantham and his lawyer seriously doubt it is possible. Meanwhile Lord Grantham hires lame John Bates to be his valet, to the consternation of the butler, Mr Carson and the other servants. However the housemaid Anna takes a liking to him. Thomas, a footman, who wanted the job, repeatedly tries to undermine Bates, with the help of Cora's maid, the ill-natured Miss O'Brien. Cora and Carson convince Robert that Bates is unsuitable for the job. Bates is extremely upset at this news. The family is pleased on learning that the young Duke of Crowborough plans to visit, seeing him as an excellent match for Mary but the Duke seems less interested in Mary than in prying in the servants' rooms and his manner cools completely when he learns that Robert does not intend to fight the entail. It is revealed that the Duke had a relationship with Thomas. Thomas had actually informed him about the possibility that Mary would now inherit hoping to get a job as valet in return. As the Duke cannot offer him the job Thomas tries to blackmail him but he reveals that he managed to retrieve his love letters that Thomas had kept and quickly burns them before Thomas can stop him. Robert has a change of heart and asks Bates not to leave. The episode ends with a glimpse of the new heir Matthew Crawley as he learns of his good fortune.


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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Saison 1 de Downton Abbey", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.