16 May 1536 – A visitor for Queen Anne Boleyn
Posted By Claire on May 16, 2016
On 16th May 1536, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the man who had once been Anne Boleyn’s family chaplain and a man she had helped rise to prominence at the English court, visited Anne at the Tower of London.
It was a visit that seemed to lift Anne’s spirits and give her hope that all was not lost, for that evening she spoke of her hope of going to a “nunnery”.
Click here to read more about this visit and the other events of 16th May 1536.
2 thoughts on “16 May 1536 – A visitor for Queen Anne Boleyn”
I kinda feel sorry for Cranmer in the middle of all this. He seems to have to set aside his feelings and support for Anne; he has been a key figure in the accomplishment of Anne’s queenship, he owes his own success to the King, but he must now feel conflicted as he takes Anne this strange news. Cranmer was also shocked to hear that Anne stands accused as immoral and treasonous behaviour, as his earlier letter to Henry shows, because he saw Anne as a champion for the reformation which is close to his heart. He begins his letter expressing his shock but concurs that the King would not have proceeded without just cause. Now this may seem harsh and sucking up to Henry, but given the situation and that he was in royal service, what else was he meant to do?
Whatever he tells Anne, I suspect that he genuinely wanted to comfort her and Henry had sent him with some offer in order to get Anne to agree that their marriage was unlawful. We know that Henry and Cromwell had told Harry Percy to say that she and he were contracted to marry before he married Anne. He now used his own relationship with Mary Boleyn as the excuse, anything to annul the marriage. Whatever Cranmers personal feelings, he was acting on the King’s orders and if he knew anything different, he had to bite his tongue and deliver a false message of hope.
I think Cranmer told Anne that if she agreed to an annulment she would not be executed, but reprived and allowed to live. Anne would not be free, the King could not allow an unfaithful Queen to allowed to live free, she would have to be controlled, to do penance, but she would be alive. That normally meant a life of penance and prayer in a convent. This is what Anne seems to have been led to believe would happen, was relieved that she would not die and took comfort from the visit and the news. What Anne could not know, and Cranmer may not have either, was that Henry had a reason to want the marriage annulled as well as the death sentence carried out. Henry did not want a. repeat of Katherine of Aragon.
Henry wanted to annul the marriage so as he could have Parliament declare Elizabeth illegitimate. He wanted the execution to go ahead because he believed Anne was guilty or no longer cared if she was or not and he would not risk having two wives alive at the same time, not when one was as demanding of her rights and innocence as Anne. Henry clearly believed Anne was dangerous, that she would cause trouble, he was not going to risk any threat to the legitimacy of his new marriage to Jane Seymour. Cranmer either kept his knowledge of Anne’s fate to himself or genuinely tried to bring her good news in this visit, we don’t know the details.
Nicely put, BanditQueen, and oh dear, yet again, we feel badly for Cranmer….but with his authoritative voice, his wonderful way with words, with a few perhaps and hints and carefully worded half truths and allusions, promises of promises…..who wouldn’t grasp at dangled straws.