16 May 1536 – A Visit from Archbishop Cranmer

Cranmer and AnneOn 16th May 1536, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was sent to the Tower of London to act as Queen Anne Boleyn’s confessor.

Sir William Kingston recorded his visit in a letter to Cromwell and also wrote of how at dinner that day, following Cranmer’s visit, Anne spoke of how she would be going to “anonre” (a nunnery) and that she was “in hope of life”. Did Cranmer offer Anne a deal? It appears that the main reason for his visit was to get Anne to confess to an impediment to her marriage to Henry VIII, so that the marriage could be annulled, so perhaps the deal was “confess to an impediment and you can avoid death and be sent to a nunnery instead”. It is impossible to know whether this was the case but something gave Anne renewed hope that day.

While Cranmer was visiting Anne in the Tower, Jane Seymour was settling into her new home at Chelsea and receiving guests there. Henry VIII, meanwhile, was signing death warrants. It was a busy day.

Notes and Sources

  • LP x. 890

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21 thoughts on “16 May 1536 – A Visit from Archbishop Cranmer”
  1. Cranmer being as cautious as he was, it’s hard to imagine him doing anything more than dropping a hint which Anne’s imagination may have expanded on. I do wonder about Jane Seymour’s visitors, though — it’s not surprising that she had them, since people will always flock towards whomever is in the ascendant, but what on earth did they talk about? I mean, there’s always the fallback of discussing the weather, but even so…

    1. I suppose people were already asking Jane future favours… and they tried to be on her good side… Talking about their estimation for her.. Truly horrible.

  2. I’m always a bit puzzled by the possibility of Cranmer’s visit being to secure information from Anne that would justify an annulment.

    True, it’s hard to imagine it was just a social visit, but given that the rest of the proceedings against Anne appear to have been a fait accompli and had been largely carried out without involving her directly (the trial comes across as something of a rubber stamp on proceedings), if an annulment was wanted, couldn’t they just have relied on Henry’s word that there was some impediment rather than needing Anne to confirm it?

    Presumably, if she was asked to provide the necessary evidence and didn’t, this wouldn’t have stopped Henry from securing an annulment anyway?

      1. Mary was still in disgrace and in the country. She didn’t return to court until well after the marriage when she had recluctantly signed the various acts regarding the annulment of her parent’s marriage and the Kings Supremecy . IIRC it was in October 1536 when she was recalled.

  3. not at all nice if cranmer offered anne a deal ie her going to a nunnery, and then did not follow through ,that’s very nasty and downright disgusting to do that to someone at such a low ebb ,but im not surprised by the dirty tactics,and not surprised either by cranmers hand in it ,he was looking out for himself as they all were prone to do it seems.

  4. ‘Anne spoke of how she would be going to “anonre” (a nunnery) and that she was “in hope of life”. ‘

    How sad those words are – “in hope of life”. I wonder where this deal originated? I somehow don’t see Cranmer offering anything to her without Henry’s approval. Henry had no intention of keeping her alive, how wicked.

    1. Leslie,Your too right!!A nunnery me thinks NOT!! The King was a busy boy,mean while so was,the Lady Jane Seymour,nesting in her new home!! I try too like Lady Jane Seymour,but it tis a little hard,as she new from the get go, that she too was going too have,Henry for her own one day very soon.As I said in the past ,I feel sorry for all of H,V111s ,Queens as each and every paid a high price too him, in one way or the other. Kind Regards Baroness x

  5. it could not have been anything to do with alledged pre contract with percy ,he would have ended up in the tower himself for lying about this in the first place so doubt if that was it.

    1. IMO, Henry would have wanted to use the alleged pre-contract with Percy …because that theory means that the king is an injured innocent, lured into an invalid marriage by the lies of Anne and Percy. If that meant Percy would be imprisoned for perjury, king Henry wouldn’t care. Also, Anne’s statement would be essential for this grounds. Annulling the marriage to Anne based on Henry’s relationship with Mary Boleyn would not require a statement from Anne … and it makes Henry look bad. Henry’s desire to be “the good guy” or the “injured innocent” bordered on the pathological.

    2. The betrothal between Percy and Anne had already been formally dissolved, by no less than Cardinal Wolsey. In fact, at some point, Mary Talbot wanted out of her marriage to Percy, and tried to use Percy’s former relationship with Anne in court (sometime around 1530ish) and Henry investigated it thoroughly, to make sure there was NO impediment to his own marriage to Anne.

      Esther is bang on right – Henry wanted to come out of this marriage as the injured party, the “innocent.”

  6. most of all that’s the bit that gets to me the worst ,anne waiting at a low ebb ,and being given false promise of maybe her life ,this must have been the worst kind of torture going ,,being lied to and being given hope where none exists .

  7. Jane Seymour’s visitors, if they were hoping to curry favor with her as their future Queen, had their hopes dashed fairly quickly when she died shortly after producing the sole legitimate male heir.

    Henry VIII had some SERIOUS mental issues. Almost sociopathic in his ability to divorce himself from feeling anything about those he’d loved and held close, even as he destroyed them. And he destroyed everyone he purported to care about. What a guy!

  8. Poor woman. I read that Ann and her courtiers laughed at the king at his expense, i.e the size of his underwear, his dim sexual performance amongst some other little things. I guess that this was Henry ‘having the last laugh.’ A kind of, ‘who’s laughing now, bitch’.
    Not a man to joke about with, for sure.

    As for Jane Seymour – the mind boggles.

  9. Cranmer would have done exactly what he was told to do. Can’t displease Cromwell. Just another deviant way of trying to get what they wanted. This man may have been the Archbishop of Canterbury, but he would’ve always been looking over his shoulder.
    Poor Anne. Imagine holding onto a last thread of salvation, but it never eventuated.

  10. I have a very old framed needlepoint tapestry of a scene with Anne Boleyn in the Tower with Bishop Crammer the night before her execution. Does anyone know of this or similar items? I am trying to locate the origin and age of the piece.

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