In a letter to Cromwell, dated the 16th May, Sir William Kingston, the Constable of the Tower, mentions the visit that day of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Kingston writes of how the King had informed him that the Archbishop was to be Anne’s confessor, but that was not the reason for Cranmer’s visit.

As Alison Weir writes, in “The Lady in the Tower”, Cranmer was actually visiting Anne Boleyn to get her to confess to an impediment to her marriage and to obtain her consent to dissolve the marriage and to disinherit and bastardise her daughter Elizabeth. Weir theorises that Anne was offered some kind of deal to get her to agree to this and I have to agree with her. What she was offered we just don’t know – it may have been the more merciful death by sword (something that Henry had already arranged anyway) or perhaps she was offered some hope of escape. In the same letter to Cromwell, Kingston reported that “Yet this day at dinner the Queen said she would go to “anonre” [a nunnery], and is in hope of life”, which suggests that Anne was offered a deal by Cranmer, a deal that would be broken of she really was promised a new life in a nunnery.

I guess we’ll never know if Cranmer was himself  being misled by Cromwell and the King, or whether he was lying to Anne.

While Cranmer was visiting Anne in the Tower, Jane Seymour was receiving guests at her lodgings in Chelsea – courtiers who were there to court favour with the woman who was sure to be their new queen. As for Henry, he was signing death warrants, one of them his wife’s.


  1. LP x.890, Letter from Kingston to Cromwell, 16th May 1536
  2. “The Lady in the Tower” by Alison Weir

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6 thoughts on “16th May 1536 – The Archbishop’s Visit”
  1. This just disgusts me. I definitely think that Anne was offered some kind of deal, and how sad if she thought she’d be given a chance at life until the last minute.

  2. Claire, there is something I don’t understand. Did Anne ever confess to an impediment to her marriage, such as a pre-contract to marry Henry Percy? And if she did, why was it that Cranmer got the annullement on the grounds of the king’s past relationship with Mary Boleyn?

  3. I agree. How awful to have that bit of hope, and then find out she was going to die anyway. Very cruel!

  4. Cranmer was one of the few to come close to telling Henry he was making a mistake – he owed his rise to Anne, and was close friends with her, to judge by “I never had higher opinion of woman than in her” (poor paraphrase, I know).

    He was probably duped by Cromwell into thinking that Anne would be reprieved and sent to a nunnery, or something like that. It must have gutted him to realize he was used to get her agreement to an annulment for a deal that would never come through, and she would be executed.

  5. well, i guess she just sacrified herself for elizabeth. if she would had agreed to any deal offered, elisabeth would be official illegitimate child and would have lost her place in the succession line forever. she died for her, and probably because she wasnt able to keep her mouth shut an Henry was aleady tired of it. And of course Cromwell and his interests.

  6. It is the most cruel thing, to give a person hope of living and then take it away just like this. Anne had this awful thing done to her twice.. The nunnery promise and again the postponement of her execution -twice! She thought that maybe Henry was testing her.. How cruel!

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