13 May 1536 – The Earl of Northumberland refuses to be bullied – The Fall of Anne Boleyn
Posted By Claire on May 13, 2021
On this day in Tudor history, 13th May 1536, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, a man who’d once planned to marry Anne Boleyn, got rather cross and exasperated with the king’s right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell.
Northumberland refused to be bullied in any way and would not do what Cromwell wanted him to do.
But what did Cromwell want the earl to do, and what did it have to do with the imprisoned Queen Anne Boleyn?
Here’s the transcript:
On this day in 1536, Saturday 13th May, Queen Anne Boleyn’s household was broken up by Sir William Fitzwilliam, Treasurer of the King’s Household, and Sir William Paulet, Comptroller of the Household. Her staff were also discharged, although some of them would soon be back at court serving her replacement, Queen Jane Seymour. Those who carried on in royal service included William Coffin, Anne’s former master of the horse and the husband of one of her attendants in the Tower; Sir Edward Baynton, Anne’s former vice chamberlain; John Smith, her surveyor; Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, Anne’s sister-in-law, Anne Gainsford, Lady Zouche; Bess Holland, mistress of the Duke of Norfolk, Anne’s uncle, and Margery Horsman.
Also, on this day in 1536, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland and a man with whom Queen Anne Boleyn had been romantically involved in the 1520s, wrote a rather exasperated letter to Thomas Cromwell regarding an alleged precontract between him and Anne Boleyn. He had already denied this precontract in 1532, when he was interrogated by the Duke of Norfolk and two archbishops, and had sworn on the blessed sacrament in front of them and the king’s canon lawyers that he had never been contracted to marry Anne Boleyn.
Cromwell had decided to resurrect this issue in May 1536, in an effort to get Anne’s marriage to the King annulled. He sent Sir Reynold Carnaby to exert some pressure on Percy and to try and make him confess that he and Anne had been pre-contracted to marry. Carnaby was a King’s officer in the north of England, and someone Percy knew well, but Percy refused to play ball. He would not be bullied into confessing something that just wasn’t true. His letter to Cromwell clearly shows his exasperation and annoyance that the issue had come up once again.