13 May 1536 – Anne Boleyn’s Household is Broken Up

Anne Boleyn Dulwich Picture Gallery before 1620Anne Boleyn hadn’t even been tried and found guilty yet, but her household was broken up on this day in 1536. Chronicler Charles Wriothesley recorded:

“And the morrowe after, beinge Satterdaie, and the thirtenth daie of Maie, Maister Fittes-Williams [Sir William Fitzwilliam], Treasorer of the Kinges howse, and Mr. Controoler [Sir Edward Poynings], deposed and brooke upp the Queenes househoulde at Greenewich, and so discharged all of her servantes of their offices clearlye.”1

There was obviously no question of the Queen being acquitted.

Wriothesley mentions that all of her servants were discharged, but some of them went on to serve Jane Seymour, who became Queen eleven days after Anne’s execution. Those who served both Anne and Jane included William Coffin, Anne’s master of the horse; Sir Edward Baynton, Anne’s vice chamberlain; John Smith, Anne’s surveyor; Jane Boleyn, Anne’s sister-in-law; Anne Gainsford, Lady Zouche; Bess Holland and Margery Horsman.

Also on this day in 1536, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, wrote to Thomas Cromwell denying the existence of a pre-contract between himself and Anne Boleyn. He had been involved with Anne in around 1523, when she was serving Catherine of Aragon and he was part of Cardinal Wolsey’s household, but their relationship had been broken up by the Cardinal and Percy had married Mary Talbot – see The Early Life of Anne Boleyn Part Seven – The Butler, Chaplain, Courtier and Poet.

Percy had already denied the existence of a pre-contract in 1532 when his wife had sought an annulment of their unhappy marriage on the basis that their marriage was not valid because he had already been pre-contracted to Anne. Back then, Percy had sworn an oath on the sacrament in front of the Duke of Norfolk and the King’s canon lawyers, and the matter had been settled. The issue, however, was being resurrected in May 1536 in an effort to annul the King’s marriage to Anne.

Here is what Percy wrote to Cromwell on 13th May 1536:

“I perceive by Raynold Carnaby that there is supposed a pre-contract between the Queen and me; whereupon I was not only heretofore examined upon my oath before the archbishops of Canterbury and York, but also received the blessed sacrament upon the same before the duke of Norfolk and other the King’s highness’ council learned in the spiritual law, assuring you, Mr. Secretary, by the said oath and blessed body, which afore I received and hereafter intend to receive, that the same may be to my damnation if ever there were any contract or promise of marriage between her and me.”2

He was firm in his denial of the pre-contract and Cromwell was forced to give up on that idea.

Notes and Sources

  1. Wriothesley, A Chronicle of England During the Reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559, 37.
  2. LP x. 764

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30 thoughts on “13 May 1536 – Anne Boleyn’s Household is Broken Up”
  1. just wanted to ask what portrait was used above ,Im sorry to say it looks creepy to me and I could not look at that for long.

  2. This portrait was only done then just less than a century after her death. Eighty four years to be prescise.

  3. It is a creepy painting….I’m re-visiting the Tudor series this month since Queen Anne’s anniversary is approaching. I just love Natalie Dormer and in my opinion she is the only one that came close to bring Anne back to life for a brief time. I do not like “The other Boleyn Girl” the story was a good fiction but the person they had to play Anne was so irritating to me I couldn’t even enjoy the movie because of her.

    Since you know way more about Anne then I, do you think Natalie did a good job of putting Queen Anne out there? And if not, then why?

    1. Have you seen “Anne of the Thousand Days”? Genevieve Bujold was also a good Anne. I hated Natalie Portman as Anne, I like her as an actress but found her very wooden as Anne. Yes, I think Natalie Dormer did a fantastic job at portraying Anne as a strong, intelligent woman with flaws but who was innocent of the charges against her. I cannot watch the execution scene without welling up.

      1. I loved this version so much, of “Anne of the Thousand Days”, that I finally just got my own copy (two pack with Mary Queen of Scots). Ms. Bujold did a GREAT Anne. I liked Natalie Dormer as well (wish she had DARK eyes though, rather than blue) and that said, wish they would ALL get Catherine right for a change – she did NOT have black hair and brown eyes!

        1. In fact, I also liked the Tudors season 2 (with Anne) that I rather than getting season 1, then 2, so forth, I bought season 2 first! I have watched it repeatedly and the final episode, the execution lead-up and end get me every time.

        2. Oooh, which MQof Scots did you get GADawn, because I have just bought 2 films about her, Vanessa Redgrave as Mary, with Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth, (I think she was one of the best Elizabeth’s) 1971, and an old black and white one, ‘Mary of Scotland’ starring Katharine Hepburn, 1936!!! goodness just realised, 77 years old…

          Genevieve Bujold my fav Anne to date, Natalie very close behind, she really put the ‘va va voom’ into Anne…

      2. I have watched “Anne of a Thousand Days” and enjoyed it!! Genevieve was a spit fire playing Anne. And the way she got Henry told while she was in the tower was my favorite part. She said “MY Elizabeth will be Queen”, She and Natalie Dormer will always be Anne in my opinion. I’m such a huge Natalie fan and I just love the way she put Anne out there for us to see. Thank you for replying.

      3. Claire,No on came close too Ms.Bujold! Portman was the worst,Ms Doomer well she was ok,when I said if they made another flim use seasond Actorsn not kids too portray these very real people.TOBG was terrible!! Regards Baroness

  4. There’s something rather ironic about Cromwell trying to get Percy to admit to a pre-contract. After all the effort that went into making sure that there was no pre-contract which would have affected Percy’s marriage to Mary Talbot. to then expect Percy to refute his oath..

  5. The poor lady is still alive, yet they are already trying to remove every trace of her exsistance.
    They failed miserably there, they could destroy, remove and scrub away every physical thing that could be connected to Anne, but they could never remove the memory of her as a person, she was imbedded into everywhere she went, she left a lasting impression that followed her through history to this very day….and lets not forget Elizabeth.

    1. Just think all these centuries later and Anne Boleyn is one of the most talked about Queens in history. Wouldn’t it kill Henry viii to know!

  6. Have not seen Anne of a thousand days . But my favorite is Natalie dormer I liked her Anne because I think we got to know her gradually and not in one hour I also liked the other boleyn girl the Jodie may version might be the only one lol but I thought it was very real and not so Hollywood plus it portraited everyone with flaws which is how it is in real life no ones perfect.

  7. Claire, do you think the Tudor series is pretty accurate? I have bought seasons 1, 2 & 3 on DVD and really, really enjoyed them. I am about to buy season 4. Are there any other series that you know of on the Tudor times that are good?

    1. The Tudors is not very accurate, no. It is to a degree but not entirely but it is a good series well played. As for any other films or series I would recommend King Henry VIII and his six wives and Anne of a thousand days. They are good as well as accurate enough.

      1. Have either of you Ladies seen or hear of the 2 part Series Ray Winston played Henry in? (2003)
        It’s called Henry VIII, has Helen Bonham Carter as Anne, David Suchet, Sean Bean, Emillia Fox, a good cast. It’s about as accurate as historical drama can be, possibly, a little more than some :). When you get past Henry having a real strong ‘Cockney’ accent, I think it’s pretty good, and on DVD.

  8. No i never heard of the the two part series called Henry VIII. I will have to look at Amazon to see if they carry it.I’ve seen Anne of a Thousand Days which is very good.Have to look for that one too.The protrait might be a copy of an earlier one done during Anne’s lifetime.The artist was no Hans Holbein ,that’s for sure.

  9. If Henry Percy had admitted to a pre-contract at this stage, he too would have lost his head for deceiving the King. He knew it was too late to save Anne.

  10. Natalie Dormer did a fantastic job as a fictionalized Anne Boleyn. I think Anne was more religious than most portrayals of her in print and film, and it is my hope that was a comfort to her at a time when her world was collapsing.

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