16 May 1536 – Archbishop Cranmer Visits Queen Anne Boleyn
Posted By Claire on May 16, 2011
According to a letter we have intercepted from Sir William Kingston to Thomas Cromwell, Queen Anne Boleyn has today received a visit from her good friend, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, who has been appointed as her confessor at this time. We do not know what the Queen and Archbishop spoke about, but the Queen did tell Kingston at dinner that night that she was “in hope of life” and that she may be going to a nunnery1.
Before readers get excited about this dramatic turn of events and the possibility of the Queen being saved, we should point out that there are no rumours of a pardon or a “deal” at court and Lady Alison Weir, a Tudor court expert, wonders if Archbishop Cranmer was offering the Queen a deal to get her to confess to an impediment to her marriage to the King2. Perhaps he had been instructed to do this so that the marriage could more easily be annulled and so that Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, can be bastardised. We just don’t now what’s going on but the Queen’s words must be based on some kind of promise being made to her, surely.
Notes and Sources
- LP x.890, Letter from Kingston to Cromwell, 16th May 1536
- The Lady in the Tower, Alison Weir, p234
8 thoughts on “16 May 1536 – Archbishop Cranmer Visits Queen Anne Boleyn”
Giving Anne false hope was so cruel.. I don’t think there was ever a chance that she went to a nunnery.
I honestly don’t see what threat Anne represented to Henry that he was determined to kill her. Even if he honestly believed every charge against her, Anne was in no position to do him harm. He would have lost nothing by exiling Anne or confining her to the religious life. I just don’t get it. He could afford to be merciful; why not show mercy?
Could there be another explanation for Anne’s comment, such as over-optimism after Anne asked Cranmer to ask the king for such an arrangement? Otherwise, I’m not sure why any “offer” would be made. If Henry wanted some kind of “deal” (such as “don’t object to adultery charges on grounds that adultery can’t exist if Henry and Anne weren’t legally married”), he could have threatened to burn her, instead of the comparatively merciful sword. Henry was well aware of all potential impediments (both the alleged pre-contract with Percy, and his affair with Mary), and there was no way that his request for the annulment would be refused, anyway.
Such a sad time. She could have stayed alive, but that would have made Elizabeth illegitimate — like Mary.. but even so they remained illegitimate until both became queen’s. This story always makes me want to cry. Poor woman! Excuse me, poor women.
Henry had no intention of showing mercy to anyone, especially after those so called trials. He probably was afraid of having to deal with another ex-wife and what Henry wants, Henry got. You can not commit adultery if you are not married – the whole thing becomes a joke and just shows what absolute power had done to Henry at this time.
I’ve always wondered why Cranmer did this–it does seem very cruel to raise her hopes, knowing the King would not have mercy. How frightening it all must have been. I’m going to watch Anne of a Thousand Days tonight–will be thinking of you all on the tour!
It is indeed cruelty to offer the Queen banishment to a nunnery. But how much was reported back to the King? Is it not possible that Cromwell and his cronies would in fact only tell the King what they wanted the King to hear? Cromwell wanted Anne out of the way and did not want the King to feel any mercy toward Anne and wanted to make sure that she could not influence the King in the future. Such tragedy.
I thought that Cromwell was Anne’s friend too?