2 April 1536 – Henry VIII, King Ahasuerus, Anne Boleyn and Queen Esther

Esther_Denouncing_HamanOn 2nd April 1536, Passion Sunday, Anne Boleyn’s almoner, John Skip, preached a rather controversial sermon in the presence of King Henry VIII.

Skip’s sermon was based on the Old Testament story of King Ahasuerus “who was moved by a wicked minister to destroy the Jews” but Queen Esther stepped in with different advice and saved the Jews. As I say in my book On This Day in Tudor History, “In Skip’s sermon, Henry VIII was Ahasuerus, Anne Boleyn was Queen Esther and Thomas Cromwell, who had just introduced the “Act of Suppression of the Lesser Monasteries” into Parliament, was Haman, the “wicked minister”. The sermon was an attack on what had been debated in Parliament and it was a statement on Anne’s stance and her beliefs.”

Click here to read more about this sermon and what happened to Skip as a result. Just four years earlier Henry VIII had had to sit through a displeasing sermon on Easter Sunday – click here – in which he had been compared to Ahab! What was it with these preachers?!

Also on this day in history…

  • 1502 – Death of Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, son and heir of King Henry VII, at Ludlow Castle. Click here to read Sarah Bryson’s article The Death of Arthur Tudor and you can read more about Arthur’s life in my article Prince Arthur.
  • 1552 – Fourteen year-old King Edward VI fell ill with smallpox and measles. Fortunately, he survived, but his biographer, Chris Skidmore, believes that it was this bout of illness which suppressed the King’s immune system and which led to him dying of consumption (tuberculosis) on the 6th July 1553.

Picture: Esther denouncing Haman by Ernest Normand.

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5 thoughts on “2 April 1536 – Henry VIII, King Ahasuerus, Anne Boleyn and Queen Esther”
  1. On 2nd April 1536, the Queen’s almoner flags up that Cromwell is a Haman to Henry’s Ahasuerus. Then on the 2nd May, the Queen is arrested for treason and incest, charges that any Roman, who endured the uncertain times of the Emperors, would instantly recognise as a fatal blackening of character to ensure the charges would stick. If I were a conspiracy theorist, wouldn’t my bells be ringing?

  2. In Eric Ives’s article, “Anne Boleyn and the Early Reformation: the Contemporary Evidence”, discusses the sermon in detail. the article says that the sermon attacked Henry’s counsellors (plural — all of them) for wanting the wealth of the monasteries, and, that the bit about Haman was a common tactic — Wolsey had once been described the same way. . Schoenfeld points out that Skip was interrogated by the counsel on various specific points about his sermon, such as his assumption that the motive was greed, but that Cromwell-as-Haman was not one of the points that warranted the counsel’s interest.


  3. Thank you Esther, for the reasoned argument. Now that we are in the countdown period to the fall of Queen Anne Boleyn, I feel again and always do feel that, if it were fiction, no-one could believe in it, so how can it possibly be true? And why does it appear that she alienated so many people? Or is it quite simply that she lost the King’s love and the wolf pack set in on her and brought her down?

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