Anne BoleynOn 10th May 1536, Giles Heron, foreman of the Grand Jury of Middlesex and son-in-law of the late Sir Thomas More, announced that the jury had decided that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that Anne Boleyn, George Boleyn, Mark Smeaton, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston and Sir William Brereton were guilty of the alleged crimes carried out at Hampton Court Palace and Whitehall, and that they should be indicted and sent to trial before a jury.

Click here to read the Middlesex indictment listing the charges against Queen Anne and the men.

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14 thoughts on “10 May 1536 – Sufficient evidence for trial”
  1. I learn that Roman Law declared the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies. Could our lawyer contributors explain how that seems to have got lost in the Medieval Age to appear to be the reverse? This is awfully interesting. We went backwards?

  2. and boleyn isnt buried in st.peters church either she is buried at the back of the church over 30 feet deep. I know because i have a diary i found ia carving i had it tested by professionals and they say its about 480 years ago and if you dont believe me start digging becasue i have the carving it was carved by a tom willison.

  3. I’m a California lawyer. Currently, in California, a grand jury only sees the prosecution’s evidence and decides whether that evidence warrants sending the defendant to trial. This is a comparatively low standard of proof (no “beyond a reasonable doubt” for the grand jury) — and since only the prosecution’s evidence is being studied, the defendant’s denial is irrelevant. It is only at trial that the prosecution has to prove things beyond a reasonable doubt. If the current system were applied to Anne Boleyn’s case, her grand jury would hear only the evidence Cromwell presented … and Anne (and the men) would not be present to deny things. I don’t think that we went backwards in this regard; instead, it is the procedure governing grand juries rather than trials. Of course, if Anne had been taken before a modern grand jury, she would not have to worry about the fore-man being the son-in-law of a man whom she is blamed for killing (to be precise — she was blamed for encouraging Henry to kill More)

  4. The jury probably did not require actual proof, just testimony or enough allegations with viable details to make the stories seem plausible. Anne had to prove that she was innocent, not the other way around. There is no innocent until proven guilty as yet, let alone the idea that the defence may actually have rights. Of course if you take a good look at the dates and places they don’t all make sense, as in at least two thirds Anne was elsewhere when the events happened, but the details are so shocking and so detailed that a jury could be persuaded that they have some truth in them and are solid enough to bring charges with. The evidence is obviously expanded upon in court and there may even be witnesses to these allegations that the jury could question. With Thomas Cromwell as the head villen of this deadly play it is highly possible that these jurers were afraid not to find that the allegations are true enough to proceed on. Also some of these jurers have connections to the Duke of Suffolk and others who later sat as Anne’s judges. The entire thing is a set up, the make up of the juries, the court, the so called witnesses, the Judges, are all connected in some way; it is all a phony set up.

    1. Thank you Esther, thanks BanditQeen. I was only thinking that, once that Tudor ball starts rolling, there doesn’t seem any way out but one, which makes a decision to ‘kick off’, as t’were, pivotal. But you seem to be saying B that, irrespective of the adequacies or not of the law, there was complicit determination to bring down the Boleyn queen and her family?

      1. In the Tudor court and in this period in general there was a system called patronage which meant that you got ahead by finding someone to be your patron and either employ you or recommend and ensure that your career was a good one, either in royal, noble or service of the gentry or the church. You owed that person or family an allegiance and were bound to them. There was also affiliation to great families through marriage or through blood or through other close connections. There were members of these juries who had close contacts to the familes at court who could and would assist in the downfall of the Boleyn family. There were some who were related by marriage to the Duke of Suffolk or others who later sat on the Queens jury at her trial. I would not go as far to say that there was a complicit determination to bring down the Queen, but yes, the juries were chosen in such a manner that they would be more likely to find against her. It was so at her trial as well, with several judges having some connection through marriage, patronage, affiliation or blood to the queens enemies. Anne, whether she desired to or not and George Boleyn rubbed people at court up the wrong way; the old nobility certainly resented the rise of her family; the Duke of Suffolk had bitten his tongue for the last three years, and although there is no direct evidence that he had any actual partipation in bringing down Anne, he took advantage of what he saw as a stroke of good luck. Brandon it seems was only too happy to convict Anne and the trial and to a lesser extent the juries contained people who would be obligated to his family and so would support Anne’s fall. Elizabeth Wheeler in her book on the falls of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard believes that they were both grand conspiracies. I would not go as far as that, but certainly there was a determination that once the royal wheels of justice had been dragged down the road by Cromwell, to ensure that the right verdict was found: to bring down the Queen. George Boleyn may have been an accidental but added bonus.

  5. Sufficient evidence what a joke, sufficient lies that means, it was just a kangaroo court and everyone knew it then as they do now.

    1. I doubt that everyone knew it was a kangaroo court back then … simply because they didn’t have the modern idea of trial procedures that are supposed to secure the truth, such as counsel or the right to cross-examine the witnesses. No one in Tudor times had those rights — not commoners (such as Thomas More) or monarchs (Anne Boleyn; Mary Queen of Scots) That people back then may have suspected that the charges against Anne were not true is totally separate from the idea that they would have doubts about the trial procedures.

  6. Anne had never been popular with the people although she had tried to win them over sewing clothes for the poor and making charitable donations, however most of Europe thought she was a wh*re and she had antagonised many people at court so Henry thought that they would be more in his favour when she was arrested, but he had not counted on the English peoples sympathy for the underdog and after her shock arrest and those of the men the mood of the people did in fact turn in her favour, Henry done himself no favours by carrying on blithely wining and dining with Jane Seymour instead of acting like the aggrieved husband who had just discovered his wife had cuckolded him, Chapyus didn’t think Anne was guilty of the charges against her which says a lot as he was never her friend, another observer said ‘Henry wore his horns lightly’, so the mood at the time was that Henry wanted rid of her and now he had her where he wanted her, locked up and under sentence of death, Jane Seymour meanwhile was wafting around at court acting ‘proud and haughty’ puffed up with her own sense of importance which also done her no favours, so even Anne’s enemies and those who had never liked her or her family felt that here was a sense of injustice being done.

    1. I thought Anne’s confession to cranmer and Kingston was made public crammed worded his response to her innocence as best he could. As for Jane she played her part as a schemer perfectly. No conscience for a queens death or a motherless child. But karma made her son motherless. Not being heartless. Anne won with Elizabeth the greatest rulerlo

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