On Passion Sunday 1536, the fifth Sunday of Lent, which fell on 2nd April, Queen Anne Boleyn’s almoner, John Skip, preached a rather controversial sermon in the presence of King Henry VIII.

The sermon’s topic was the Old Testament story of Queen Esther saving the Jews, as told in the Book of Esther. In a nutshell, King Ahasuerus (also known as Xerxes) had been convinced by his wicked minister Haman to issue a command killing all of the Jews in his kingdom. The Jews were, however, saved because Queen Esther went before the king and petitioned him to spare her people. Her husband granted this request and Haman came to a rather nasty end.

I agree with historians Eric Ives and Diarmaid MacCulloch that this sermon was not just a simple Bible story, it was an attack on the advice that King Henry VIII’s advisers were giving him and it was a petition from Anne Boleyn (Queen Esther) to Henry VIII (King Ahasuerus).

Click here to read more or watch my video on Skip and his sermon below.

Picture: Detail of Queen Esther from a painting by Edwin Long; Anne Boleyn by John Hoskins.

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