20 May 1536 – Henry VIII wastes no time…

If I could go back in time and give Henry VIII a piece of mind, I would… well, perhaps not. It might not be safe to do that!

The speed of events in May 1536 never fails to shock me, and the speed with which Henry VIII moved on to wife number 3 disgusts me. Whatever his involvement in Anne Boleyn’s fall, to get a dispensation to marry wife number 3 on the very day Anne was executed is unseemly, and then to get betrothed the next day… Well, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I know that I’m looking at it with my 21st century values, but 16th century people were shocked too. Henry VIII had to reassure Jane that he was taking action regarding a pamphlet that had been published deriding their relationship while Anne was still alive and imprisoned in the Tower, and Chapuys wrote of gossip about the king and Jane. It was just as unseemly to Tudor people.

Here’s my video talk on this day in 1536:

And you can read more about the king and Jane’s relationship in my article here.

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106 thoughts on “20 May 1536 – Henry VIII wastes no time…”
  1. I am so thankful that I have never known anyone lacking empathy or as selfish as Henry VIII. Six people that he knew were 100% innocent were put to death under his signature within the last 4 days and he continues his life as if nothing happened. I wonder what Jane thought? Did she know the truth or had she been convinced that the lies were real? Do we have any real information on her personality? We know when she was born, where she lived, what she looked like, a report of her attempt to reconcile Henry with his eldest daughter but it seems the only thing I can recall coming from her is her response to the king trying to entice her with a bag of coins. I have never felt nor have I blamed Jane Seymour for what happened to Anne. That was all Henry and Cromwell. I just can’t fathom her being as callous as her new betrothed.

  2. If I could go back in time… I’d kill the monster!
    Save ANNE and all the others he murdered!

  3. If I could go back in time… I’d kill the monster!
    Save ANNE and all the others he murdered!
    You’re right it would be a mistake to confront him, youd end up dead too!

    1. Doesn’t that actually make you no better than Henry Viii? I am not defending Henry’s actions but comments about wanting to kill people either now or in the past are unacceptable and hardly intelligent debate.

      1. This is of course a forum for intelligent debate, but I think it is OK to break out into an emotional statement once in a while, especially around this time of year. I have been guilty of making some bloodthirsty comments about Henry, but I don’t think they make me by any means his equal in wickedness.

  4. Well, when we went back in time we’d do it in a Tardis and be able to step into it and fly away from his wrath! I don’t think Henry is unique in his selfishness and cruelty. I’ve heard of how some exes behave to former spouses. But Henry had the resources to carry it to extremes. He seems less like a lion than a bull in a china shop and no one to stop him.

  5. I wouldn’t want to change history because it would cause too many consequences, but if I could get away with it, perhaps spirit Anne away on 1st May before all this happened. Mind you, knowing my luck I would succeed in moving Anne to safety only to get myself stuck there instead. It’s important though to try to keep a balanced point of view rather than judging Henry Viii through support for one of his wives. I personally don’t agree he was a monster, there was far more to this than the simple act of hatred or callousness. There was the fact that Henry’s mind had been affected through injury, the potential conspiracy, the power struggle of the last few months and Henry had changed and become more and more paranoid. Again, I am not defending him, but he wasn’t simply a monster who enjoyed killing his wives and making such statements is 21st century misunderstanding and an emotional reaction. We have to attempt to be careful of such judgements especially when we don’t have all of the facts. This was a terrible act, the death of six innocent people is inexcusable, of course it is, but it doesn’t necessarily make Henry Viii a monster. In fact the Henry we meet when we look at him through the eyes of those who knew him best, the men of his Court we find a completely different man. Personally I believe a lot of psychological and neurological damage had been done to Henry and that effected his judgment. He had also gained too much power and become corrupted by it. He was responsible for what happened, yes, but I don’t really believe it’s something that is easy to get to grips with after 500 years.

    1. Perhaps your words read more strongly than you meant them to, but for someone who says she is not going to defend Henry you are doing a pretty good job.

      1. Thank you. I am just trying to understand him, as a historian, which isn’t any easier than understanding his bizarre behaviour at the time or why any of these events happened for those who were there.

        1. Yeah, I want to let Anne and Elizabeth escape to somewhere nice. Let Henry sort out the succesion.

  6. The events of the last 48 hours must have appeared very strange and difficult for the people of London, the people of England. In fact the events of the last week must have shaken them to the core. First four men close to the King, had been tried and executed on charges of treason, adultery and conspiracy to kill the King, then the Queen herself and her own brother had been tried on the same charges, a few days later and on the shocking charge of incest. The five men had all been executed, one after the other, much to the shock and excitement of the London crowd and two days later Anne herself had just been executed. The Queen had been executed by a sword, by the hand of an expert executioner, sent for at great expense days before the hearings and now she too lay with them in the grounds of the Tower, but in the Chapel, not the graveyard. She was executed in private, but 1000 people still witnessed her end. Anne had made a moving but conventional speech but her end had affected those who witnessed it. It was unprecedented and people began to mumble.

    The King was the reason for this attention because he was acting as if he was no longer married, as if he had never been married in fact and that is why they now murmured against him with discontent. Thomas Cranmer had asked the Convocation to declare his marriage to Anne done and to issue a dispensation so he could marry Jane Seymour the day of Anne’s execution. The next day Henry moved to be with Jane and they were betrothed to be married and according to Chapuys it was the unseemly haste of this that caused people to complain about his actions. Henry may have been selfish and callous and this was indecent haste but to him he was free to marry and had no time to waste. Some historians have wondered if Jane was indeed pregnant and that this was the reason behind his haste, he may soon have a son. However, there isn’t any evidence of this, but there might certainly have been gossip. No mention has been made of any miscarriage but it was certainly some time before Jane actually became pregnant and Henry apparently did wonder if he would indeed have more children. Whatever was going on, Henry and Jane’s union was commented on and it wasn’t a popular decision to marry so quickly. Jane herself would become popular because of her support for Princess Mary and the old traditional Catholic Faith but having watched one Queen be executed and within 24 hours, another promoted in her place, it’s very understandable that people would be unhappy and several sources refer to the mumbles which went on.

    Sources say that Henry was acting like an idiot, like a merry bachelor in fact and was going up and down in his barge to visit ladies, dining with them and staying out until after midnight. Goodness knows what Jane Seymour thought about him gallivanting up and down the Thames, while she was being prepared for her wedding and what his people thought, well that’s another matter. Henry frequently made a fool of himself, but this really was uncalled for. It wasn’t just unseemly, it was unexplainable and beyond acceptable. Henry was partly out of control, he appears to have lost it. If these reports are true his celebrations were not just cruel but they were without regard for Anne, his friends, his own loss and it was as if he was acting out sexually. Some forms of brain injury after several blows to the head have lead to extremely strange random behaviour, including sexual encounters that are inappropriate and their memories were affected the next day. It’s actually a rare form of dementia and is a neurological problem. This is only a theory but his behaviour was out of character. His behaviour in fact had been out of the ordinary and unpredictable as had his emotions and moods and his ability to make decisions. Henry was increasingly paranoid. In all of this Anne had been the victim of love turned to hatred and anger and of an all consuming whirlwind of power and passion gone wrong. Henry could only express the errors of the last four years, his errors of the last four years that is in the terms of Anne’s manipulation, betrayal and deceit, but his reaction to her death must have bemused everyone who knew him. I find it totally baffling.

    1. Something I still don’t understand is that if Anne and Henry’s marriage was declared to have never taken place how on Earth did she commit treason? Was the execution based solely on conspiracy to kill the king? Please clarify this for me.

      1. Anne wasn’t executed for adultery, it wasn’t a crime, although the men could be condemned for violating her as the Queen. That’s why the additional charges of conspiring or imagining the Kings death and all of them plotting the King’s death were brought. That made it treason.

        Yes I can’t quite get my head around that either, but her being guilty of conspiring to kill the king didn’t affect the legality of her marriage. Her execution didn’t affect the legality of her marriage either. Anne’s execution still left Henry with the inconvenience of a female heir to the throne, Elizabeth, so his marriage to Anne was dissolved in order to make Elizabeth illegitimate, the same status as her sister, Mary, which was ratified in Parliament in the Summer. It was only treason because the men and Anne were indicted as conspiring to plan the King’s death. That didn’t require him to be married to her, but it made it worse because she was. It doesn’t make much sense, I agree, the working out must have needed a Philadelphia lawyer. Anne couldn’t commit adultery if she wasn’t Henry’s lawful wife, but as his subject she could commit treason by planning or imagining his death. Otherwise adultery was a sin. It wasn’t a criminal offence, not yet anyway. It became one after 1542 as did not telling the King about your earlier lovers if he was going to marry you. That was to do with Kathryn Howard. Of course, if you are a but cynical one might say it was all designed as a matter of convenience, which it was. Henry was free to have children with a new wife and not concern himself about a challenge to the throne from an older child. A son of course would always be first in line over either of his two daughters, with both of his first two marriages now being declared null and void. In the case of Mary her legitimacy might normally have been preserved by Church Law, by a principle called good faith, that is if one or both parties entered the marriage and didn’t realise there was an impediment any children were declared legitimate even if the marriage was later found to be null and void. However, Henry didn’t have his marriage nullified by the Catholic Church, it was ended by a Church Commission under English Law and then by Parliament. Mary was declared illegitimate by Parliament, without the good faith clause being preserved. Parliament would decide the same thing on the part of Elizabeth and in fact it was cited in the article a few days ago from the sources that Anne’s execution made it impossible for any good faith clause to be included. Whether that was strictly the case under canon law, I don’t really know. Parliament also confirmed that Mary was illegitimate and would have considered Henry Fitzroy as a potential heir had he not passed away before it sat. Henry’s two daughters would have been the same status, both barred at the moment from the succession and the only legitimate children Henry would have had were now by law with Jane Seymour.

        1. Hi BQ. Thanks, that almost helped. (I’m exaggerating). What a strange world was Henry’s mind. I would not have wanted to live in there.

        1. And we must have a collection for him as well, I mean the poor man was begged by Parliament to enter once more into matrimony and he must have felt really depressed at the very idea. I mean he was having such a good time out with all those ladies every night. And until after midnight. He was obviously having a terrible time.

          Do you think we should buy him a wedding present? Maybe not, it might be the wrong thing. You are quite right, it is all rather illogical. I was wondering if his leg was hurting after all those banquets and dancing yesterday. Imagine all those nobles going down on their knees to sympathise and beg Henry to remarry! Now that would be well worth flying the Tardis into witness. Not that I believe anything like that happened but they had to put something in the Chronicle. He must have been some sight going up and down on his barge, visiting here, there and everywhere. The onlookers must have been amazed and rather shocked I imagine, what’s the phrase “clean amazed”. What was it one said, he had seen 12 ladies in one week? I thought he was supposed to be getting married. That’s some bachelor party. No wonder everyone was murmuring and complaining. Not exactly discreet is it? When you consider that this was a man who was once so secret about his odd affairs during his first wife’s pregnancies that nobody was even certain when they happened, let alone how long they lasted and here he is secretly getting engaged to wife no three and running around all over the place with several ladies in plain sight. Yes, I think he has a case of some kind of temporary insanity. At least that’s how it might have looked, certainly very strange, one poor Queen just being killed, another lady being told to prepare and a bunch of others being wined and dined and not even a hint that he has just lost a woman he was passionately obsessed with for ten years. Anne was meant to be the woman he was completely dedicated to and he didn’t even take time to mourn her. I don’t believe Henry was a monster, not yet anyway, but his head and behaviour are almost impossible to unravel. I think he settled down to some degree of normality with Jane Seymour but there were times when everyone must have wondered what bizarre thing Henry was going to do next.

    2. I actually have pondered that idea about Jane being pregnant and that was the real reason for the haste with which the trail was pushed through and the executions, but as one historian says Jane was chaperoned every time Henry paid court to her and she and her family guarded her virtue very carefully, there is a story that Anne caught Jane sitting on his knee and flew into a rage, but that has been denounced as a myth as we have seen, she guarded her virtue well, what upset Anne was when she discovered Cromwell had given the Seymour clan his own suite of rooms at the palace, not sure if it was Hampton Court?, but this led to more animosity between them, it is true the way Anne was treated and the five courtiers all of whom had been long at court, and Smeaton even though he was just the musician their deaths shocked a lot of people and Henry V111’s behaviour was strange, but to actually become engaged the day after was a disgrace as even those who had never liked the Boleyn family thought it was really unacceptable, if ever there were doubts about the queens guilt then they must have increased ten fold, because by his very actions all Henry V111 succeeded in doing was to make people wonder if the queen had actually died, not through any wrongdoing, but merely because he wished to marry another, no wonder there were grumblings and yes many must thought Jane was pregnant yet she wasn’t in fact to fall pregnant till about a year after, and her tenure as queen was to be very short as she died through complications in childbirth, Henry was bereft at her death and he chose to lie beside her for all eternity, not I feel out of any deep love, merely out of gratitude because she had given him his longed for son and heir.

  7. As Henry justified himself through his betrothal to Jane Seymour at his lodgings, the reaction to Anne’s death was spreading quickly and was varied. George Constantine and Eustace Chapuys wrote of the people reacting by murmuring and a poem being written against Jane, but the international reactions are interesting. Mary of Hungary wrote that the future of international relations with England would improve now that “this woman has gone” but expressed the belief that Anne had been gotten rid of through conspiracy and false accusations. Even Chapuys had told them that the trials had been based on gossip and very little substance and no testimony or witnesses. If even her enemies doubted her guilt then for me that says it all, it was a conspiracy and it was designed to ensure Henry came out well, but that’s not exactly what happened.

    Etienne Dolet, the printer and scholar and writer, wrote a treatise to praise Anne and to put her point of view and to portray her innocence and Nicholas Bourbon, a member of her staff who had come from France and been a tutor to Henry Carey, a great friend of hers spoke often of Anne and her positive characteristics. Cranmer, John Fox and George Wyatt, grandson of Thomas Wyatt all wrote of Anne’s innocence. People found it hard to work out what was going on and the way that they spoke among themselves proves Henry had miscalculated, despite the Cromwell Tudor propaganda machine putting it out there that he was the victim of a shocking and terrible conspiracy by his own wife to kill him and was out of control, sleeping with his friends and possibly many more members of his Court.

    To Henry this wasn’t a time to mourn. It was a time to move on, to celebrate even because now he was free. I seriously think half of what Henry did publicly was a front for a man who was insecure and had to justify everything with grand gestures. Yes maybe it was cold and callous, but it was also something which a man who was detached from reality might do, a man running, hiding from the horrors of death, a man who felt righteous and justified as King, yet we know was far from sure of himself as a man. Henry just wanted to move on, he was free and he did everything his own way. Henry had turned into a man whose brutality was astounding, he was a great departure from the man Anne had been courted by, maybe that man no longer existed. I doubt we can ever understand Henry Viii, can ever understand these events, they are too raw and too emotional and one of the victims has our deepest sympathy. Anne and the others were innocent, they were sacrificed so Henry could be free and such disregard and apparent disrespect for fragile human life, is very hard to reconcile. Yes, I believe Henry did regret the execution of Anne Boleyn but not for a long long time. Now all he wanted to do was to marry again, he was free to marry again and even then his propaganda machine said that his Council had begged him to once again venture into matrimony. If Henry really did attempt to have Anne’s memory eradicated, then we also have to ask why? Did he simply want to get rid of everything to do with a woman he blamed for all of his mistakes and misfortunes or was there something deeper going on? Could it be that her memory actually hurt him and aroused lost feelings in him? I know that doesn’t really seem very likely but I believe part of Anne actually did haunt Henry for the rest of his life.

    1. I to believe Henry was haunted by Anne for the rest of his life, he had pursued her relentlessly they had had a passionate relationship, as Ives wrote ‘sunshine followed storm‘, they argued a lot but made up passionately afterwards, she had been the love of his life and proof of the intensity of his feelings lie hundreds of miles away in the archives of the Vatican, I have always thought, surely a love as deep as this a love that moved mountains would endure? He had moved heaven and earth to marry her, he had broke with Rome and discarded his loyal queen of over twenty years to be with her, he had risked the threat of war with Spain and unrest in his own country all to be with her, she was also blamed for the reformation and Henry effectively set up a new church and became its head because of her, yet sadly his love for Anne fizzled out and part I believe is because the thrill of the chase was gone, Anne had been an exciting mistress, though sadly she made a dreadful queen consort, as Bq mentions she had not been schooled to be queen unlike her predecessor and her very nature meant she found it difficult to make the adjustment from mistress to queen, she was so used to having the kings attention and unswerving loyalty all the time, that she could not accept him having mistresses although he probably only did when she was pregnant, this was acceptable in a monarch who was denied the pleasures of the marital bed, yet Anne could not accept this, he had a brief affair with her cousin Madge Shelton engineered by Anne as she was related to her and not a mistress who was Anne’s political enemy, yet that fling probably made Anne jealous to, though I do not believe it was her temper tantrums that ruined her marriage to the king, wearisome though the king must have found them, but as we all know she failed to give him a son, and this is what she had promised him, this was the very reason Henry had left Katherine, apart from his obsession with Anne Boleyn was Henry V111’s other obsession – a need for sons and here sadly spectacularly Anne failed, she was also it is estimated around thirty five to thirty six when she died and Henry after her last and fatal miscarriage thought her days as a brood mare was over, yes I agree with Bq he just wanted to move on and to hell with what people thought, for any man to become engaged to another woman whilst the body of his dead wife was still warm shows a shocking lack of decorum and taste and no consideration for the family of his dead queen, but here we have Henry V111, England’s Bluebeard who was not a conventional monarch anyway, and yes the English must have thought what on earth was going on, the court was a hot bed of gossip with most showing some sympathy towards the dead queen and in fact there was a dinner party which took place several days later at a private residence, where one observer noted the talk was all of Anne Boleyn and how badly she had been treated, the common folk were murmuring in the city to, and a rather derisory ballad was bruited about concerning the king and Jane Seymour, Henry was furious over this and told Jane not to worry when he finds the fellow or fellows who were responsible they will be severely dealt with, as Ives remarks ‘there is some satisfaction that he or they never were’, the fall and death of Anne Boleyn was too swift to avoid suspicion and many believed she had been innocent likewise her alleged lovers, as Michael notes it was completely different with his fifth queen, Anne’s arrest had been so sudden she had been sent to the Tower immediately following Smeatons confession, her pleas of innocence fell on deaf ears, the gathering of the two courts in Kent and Middlesex were hastily put together and we can see here how quickly Cromwell and the king were rushing the whole legal matter, yet with his fifth queen he did not believe it at first after reading Cranmers note he had been given him in the chapel, he ordered a full investigation which was the correct thing to do, any slander against the queen must be investigated so he could punish the perpetrators, and Catherine was merely confined to quarters whilst it was going on, not so with Anne, he was weary of her we do know and he had fallen out of love with her but I believe he still had some feelings for her, they had a healthy daughter and yet I think Cromwell coerced him into believing Anne had betrayed him, and because he did not love her anymore he was quite happy to proceed with her trial and execution, Chapyus wrote he wears his horns lightly, he was far from behaving like the betrayed wounded and grieving cuckolded husband, but more like a man who had his wife where he wanted her securely locked up so he could play the field with all and sundry, this also is how he behaved whilst Catherine Howard was destined in the Tower, but this time he was broken hearted and was trying to lose his hurt in the company of a bevy of lovely ladies, soon Jane Seymour was to appear in public as the new Queen consort of England, with her beaming husband at her side, I wished I’d been a fly on the wall then.

      1. Hi Christine. Are you aware of any instance when Henry blamed others for his putting Anne to death? I was just thinking about a few years later after Cromwell’s execution when he blamed his council for putting the idea in his head.

        1. No I haven’t heard of any source that he blamed others, but in private he could have felt a smattering of resentment towards Cromwell who after all, was responsible for the investigation, he later was to abandon his chief minister like he abandoned Anne, maybe he was not over fond of him when he left him to his fate but he was annoyed over the Anne of Cleves marriage, Henry according to one source expressed regret when he was older for sending Anne to her death, after all even though he tried to scrub out any memory of her he had a living one in his daughter Elizabeth, if any could make Henry V111 feel guilty than surely it was she, especially when he saw those dark eyes fixed on him, the same eyes that had belonged to her mother.

  8. I agree with you about the grand gestures due to insecurities and such but I also see that those gestures and his not acting genuinely shocked and grieved help plant suspicion in people, such as his enemies who otherwise may have accepted the official line had he have behaved otherwise. I think the reputation of Henry VIII that he has today was caused as much by his reactions as by his many horrific actions. I think that man would be a real challenge for modern psychoanalysts.

    1. I agree and that is why there are so many books, movies, etc. about him. However the idea that he only became cruel later in life ignores the fate of several men who had served his father faithfully but as soon as Henry VIII came to power he killed them via silly treason charges. He did it all his life, it’s just that it got more spectacular as he got older. Frankly, I don’t think he was too bright.

      1. I read somewhere someone calling him malleable and I agree; he wasn’t so easily persuaded at one time, he really hesitated in his early reign over executions, but he was very easily persuaded once someone was left open to criticism by one faction or another. He was stubborn once he determined to do something. He just became more easily persuaded someone was planning his downfall and it didn’t matter how long they had been in his service. His last decade certainly saw an increase in the numbers of people executed and on a more regular basis. There were five or six state trials and executions including Epsom and Dudley up to 1532 and here we have six people in one go. The last three years during his marriage to Anne Boleyn (not her fault, his laws) had seen the execution of groups of monks, two leading Councillors in Thomas More and John Fisher and the Holy Maid of Kent and three others, plus now this mass execution with Anne herself. The next few years would see 18 monks executed for denying the Supremacy, the destruction of the Poles, the dreadful execution of Margaret Pole, the downfall of the Howard family, the Neville family, even the execution of Nicholas Carew, the gentleman who was supporting and caring for Jane Seymour and of course, a second wife would go to her death, despite his grief, Kathryn Howard. The more powerful he had become, the more paranoid, the more he quickly accepted something was wrong, the more readily he was to sign death warrants. I almost forgot, even Thomas Cromwell was thrown under the axe after Henry’s affections were withdrawn and his enemies were able to gang up on him. Henry was by this point suffering from a variety of health issues and he didn’t even remember how or why Cromwell had died. He was full of or feigned regret and blamed his Council for forcing him by deception to execute Cromwell. Whatever life experience and Henry had several to choose from and health problems combined to affect Henry’s personality, he wasn’t the same man earlier in his reign as he was during the mid 1530s onwards, but it’s definitely not just one thing but several. I don’t believe Henry was evil either. I believe he was ruthless yes, his behaviour became tyrannical, but there was a lot more to him and his decline than simply being evil or wickedness. I also believe he is too easily condemned as the worst monarch who ever lived when actually there are others far worse or just as bad. His achievements are often overlooked because of his marriage problems. Other Kings have even been called Great by historians and by contemporaries and yet their crimes and tyranny was far worse than that of Henry Viii. Why for example is Peter I of Russia called the Great? His achievements are numerous, he did modernise Russia, he was involved in science and Western ideas, he modernised the army and navy and built some of the greatest cities and palaces of his age. He helped to bring Russia into the modern age, but at a terrible human cost. He executed far more people than Henry Viii, several thousand of them at the same time. His brutality was legendary, his secret police were effectively ruthless, several thousand people died building Saint Petersburg, his own people rebelled against the changes, yet he is regarded as one of two great Tsars, Catherine being the other. I accept much of what we see as Henry’s reputation, but I also have studied him for years and know the evidence for the other side of him. That other Henry has been unfortunately forgotten because of the execution of Anne Boleyn and others. He is too often seen through the eyes of his wives and there isn’t anything wrong with that, but we must also be balanced, if we can, difficult though it is, and try to understand the man behind the mask of royalty. That man wasn’t the secure and self confident or self assured person his public face allowed the world to see and that was part of his problem. Whether or not he was easily manipulated is open to debate but he certainly allowed himself to be persuaded of treason a bit too easily as he grew older and was less capable of discerning the value of friends and those he professed to love. Anne was the victim of that failure to see and know the true nature of the person before him, the failure of Henry to know his wife and the victim of love turned to hate, a hate which blinded him and led him to disregard her as his Queen and allowed him to see her merely as an obstacle to be removed.

        1. Aliso Weir called Henry V111 very suggestible and he certainly was over the drama surrounding his second queen, he seemed to accept without any doubt that she and the five men were guilty, he never believed Henry Norris when he told him he had never slept with the queen, his old friend and companion for many years it is hard to understand why he never believed him, he was showing I think signs of paranoia caused possibly by his fatal head injury, that could well have affected his mood, but I have always thought that he also accepted Anne’s guilt as it was an easy way out for him, a way out of his marriage and to rid himself of a woman he found increasing tiresome and barren, however the way he went about it was shocking he was the first king in English history to send a queen to the block, and she was not just any queen, but a crowned and anointed one, she had even been crowned with St Edwards crown – the crown of the Confessor to show the world of her worthiness to be Henry’s true queen consort, she had had honours heaped upon her only to be abandoned completely by her once adoring husband, as he grew older Henry V111 was to display more paranoia, he had the young Earl of Surrey arrested and beheaded for treason all because he had displayed the arms of King Edward in the third quarter of the Howard’s coat of arms, this was not illegal as they were not displayed in the first quarter, yet according to Henry it was treason and the young man went to the block, as time went by his temper grew worse which ill health did not help and he was to send another young wife to the block, this action was totally unacceptable like with Anne Boleyn, she could have just been pardoned and banished to a nunnery, her extreme youth should have made him more merciful, there was no need to shed blood over the queens immoral past, banishment from court and have her title of queen and honours stripped from her would have been enough, likewise Lady Rochford who fell ill with the stress of it all, none of these women deserved to die through making errors of ill judgement, yet by this stage in his life the kings anger and paranoia was so great no mercy could be forthcoming.

  9. I agree with the psychological and neurological damage done to Henry V111 as his character did darken prior to Anne’s fall, and he was not the same man who had met and fallen in love with her, then he had still been a pleasant and benign king yet when we look at the blood he had shed by the time he had married his third queen, we can see the alterations in his behaviour over the years, it is true power corrupts and Anne really was partly responsible for this as she had told him he was answerable to none but god, it was to be her downfall and yet although the senseless butchery of six individuals horrifies us, Henry V111 did act merciful towards his second queen by hiring a highly skilled French swordsman, and the men were simply decapitated and another telling thing, none of their heads were displayed on Tower Bridge either, one can see guilt in this omission if we believe that Henry V111 knew these men and his queen to be innocent after all, but then there is his odd and totally insensitive behaviour barely twenty four hours after the body of his wife was buried, he had Cranmer issue a dispensation between himself and Jane Seymour allowing them to marry, and of course he promptly became engaged to her, she who had been his wife’s maid! He displayed no consideration of feelings towards his ex in laws and one wonders what on earth did they think when they heard this latest bit of news? They could only say what they wished to in secret yet Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn must have condemned the king in their hearts and Jane Seymour to, their bright and vivacious daughter had been killed so she could not be an impediment to the kings next marriage, yet such a hasty action on behalf of the king shocked the court and Europe to, Chapyus was busy with his quill informing his master of the latest carrying on at Henry’s court, and Jane was acting as if she was queen already, I agree with Claire it is disgusting and people thought so at the time, here was a king who had just ordered the execution of his queen and yet whilst her body was still decomposing he became betrothed to his third yet to be wife and queen, the court must have been agog with gossip, the arrest fall and death of Queen Anne had happened so quickly many people must have felt they hadn’t time to draw breath, not only that but four courtiers had died too, and some must have been popular, one victim was only a young lad the queens lute player, now their king was going about with a new woman on his arm, they must have felt like they were in a surreal situation, soon Jane was to be introduced as queen after their forthcoming hasty and indecent marriage!

    1. Dorothy’s right that Henry had a cruel streak from the very beginning but at this point people became disposable, something to toss when you were done with them.

  10. As a Carey descendant, I felt led to express my feelings on this topic. Was Henry Tudor a narcissist? Most likely. Did Anne know in what she was getting involved? I think so. She was not a stupid person, by all accounts. There’s a saying that goes around in mental health circles, that if someone does something WITH you, they will do it TO you. Anne played an active role in encouraging Henry to deal despicably with his first wife, such that, she died from neglect. So, she was an accomplice. Why would she think that things would go differently for her having made a devil’s bargain? She wanted to characterize herself as a good Christian, but her behavior proves otherwise. This includes her poor treatment of those who were in service to her. Since the Carey name is included in the first settlements of the Puritans in North America, it is seemly to me to discuss the incongruence between her behavior and stated beliefs. My opinion, of course, and it strikes me as strange that she is characterized as a martyr.

    1. As a descendant of Puritans (the first of them came in 1637) I feel it is my place to state that they and all decent people would pity those who are unjustly accused and condemned without resorting to “She was asking for it.” To quote Hamlet, “Use every man after his desert, and who shall ‘scape whipping?”

      1. Anne knew it was a big risk being Queen and unlike Katherine, she wasn’t trained to rule from the age of three, but that doesn’t mean she deserved what happened to her. Anne was a human being, she wasn’t a saint and she definitely wasn’t any martyr. John Fox the Protestant martyrtologist believed she was a martyr for the reformed cause and of course Cranmer knew her well and praised her as a “friend if the Gospel” to quote from his letter. He too saw Anne as promoting a true Christian cause and that when she died she died as a baptised Christian and was innocent of the charges against her. Anne Boleyn is a controversial figure and exactly what role she played in many aspects of Henry’s actions is open to debate and question. However, I don’t believe its entirely fair to blame her to actively encouraging Henry to mistreat his first wife, Katherine, although its true that some of her remarks about Katherine and Mary are not what one would expect from a Christian woman, no. However, many sources of that information are themselves hostile and therefore the information may not be entirely reliable. It was Henry Viii, however, who banished Katherine, not Anne and it was Henry who had her moved to premises which affected her health and where she lived in restricted conditions ad under house arrest. However, Katherine didn’t die of neglect, she died of cancer, although some of the conditions she lived under, the separation from her daughter, etc and the stress of those years of separation and harassment contributed to her health problems. Anne was more involved in the treatment aimed at forcing Princess Mary to acknowledge her as Queen and in Mary having to serve her daughter, although this was Henry’s decision as well. Mary and Anne gave each other as good as they got, but Anne did give orders for her to be hit and confined to her rooms. She also attempted on occasion to reach out and to mitigate her original demands to Mary just making an acknowledgement. Mary was unable to do so as Katherine was lawfully married to her father as far as she was concerned. Mary blamed Anne for all of this but was in for a shock when her mistreatment carried on after Anne’s death. Her living conditions improved, she was treated with more respect and less restrictions but Henry sent a delegation to bully her into submission and would only allow her back to Court once she accepted him as Head of the Church and his marriage to Katherine as null and void. Henry approved off some of the orders Anne gave concerning his daughter and only intervened when necessary i.e. when she complained she was ill. Anne was defending the rights of her own daughter, the same as Katherine. Actually Katherine and Anne were not that dissimilar in a lot of ways, they were both stubborn and passionate and strong women. Reports of threats against Katherine or Mary of a more sinister nature should not be taken too seriously and within the context of a lady under tremendous pressure and possibly suffering from post natal depression. Anne wasn’t a saint as I said, but a lot has been written about her which simply isn’t true or which has been taken out of context.

        Where for example, did you get the information that Anne mistreated her household staff? There simply isn’t any evidence for this. On the contrary, Anne appears to have been good to those who served her and to have personally helped them. She was very generous to many of them. Yes, Anne kept a very strict and moral household, made rules for them to follow, dismissed them if they swore or conducted themselves in an immortal way, which was her prerogative as a Christian Queen. She also told the men not to go to brothels and allowed her staff to read a New Testament which she kept open in her quarters for their free use. She received many letters from people she had helped. Anne also enjoyed herself and kept a merry Court, following the rules and games of Courtly love, which was partly why she was targeted. However, she didn’t do anything to cross the line and why shouldn’t she have standards? Anne had a falling out with Jane Seymour and allegedly tore a locked off her neck her lovely husband had given to Jane. I don’t blame her. Anne could be jealous and the one thing that did get her into trouble was courtly love gone too far, that is her conversation with Henry Norris over dead men’s shoes. It could have been twisted into treason but it wasn’t even mentioned in the indictments because it was so ridiculous. Anne didn’t intend anything by it and I think everyone knew it. She was totally innocent of everything she was accused off and so were the five innocent men executed with her.

        Anne had no idea that her Queenship would end in such a terrible manner, she might have taken warnings from the way Henry was starting to act, but she believed that she was carrying his son and heir and so did he. Had Elizabeth been a boy Anne would have been untouchable. Her last pregnancy ended in the loss of a male child, not deformed, but maybe not a viable pregnancy, Anne was more vulnerable to her enemies and when Henry wanted her gone, Cromwell and a number of others were only too willing to oblige. Anne’s behaviour may have been controversial at times, but it certainly didn’t equate to her causing her own downfall or deserving the brutal death that she suffered. Now I am sure Henry had his reasons for not wanting to go through another long annulment and he certainly would have looked a fool if he acknowledged his marriage to Anne was a mistake, but the alternative, a trial on totally made up charges and the execution of his wife and five innocent men, some of whom were his close friends and associates, members of his inner circle for many years, is totally beyond belief and understanding and was unnecessary and ruthless. Anne did nothing to deserve any of that. Because a woman accepted a proposal to become Queen, didn’t mean that she knew what fate had in store for her. Yes, Anne had ambitions and wanted to be Queen, Henry wanted her as his Queen and they had been in a relationship for six years. Yes, it was a risk, but one which both Henry and Anne saw as worth taking and they believed they were meant to be together and nobody could have foreseen it going baldly wrong. Regardless of any involvement in the banishment of Katherine or anything else mythology has thrown at Anne Boleyn, she didn’t ask for what happened to her. Anne was the innocent victim of the paranoia of a husband who now hated her and wanted her out of the way. A conspiracy may have been part of her downfall, that again is open to interpretation by a number of historians but in the end it was her husband who gave the go ahead and her husband who let them know his will. It was Henry’s decision, regardless of the events which led up to her arrest and trial and execution. I really don’t see how marriage to the King is making a “Devil’s bargain” which leads to an innocent woman having her head cut off by a sword.

        1. I think the Reply feature has got this mixed up, as what you are saying doesn’t go with my Comment. I certainly never said Anne mistreated her people or struct a “Devil’s bargain.” It’s a shame that the Reply feature has not worked because it’s possible the person who actually said those things may not see your response.

        2. Hello Dorothy, I was actually responding to Susanna, sorry, the reply buttons do weird things. This one will probably be in the wrong place as well. I should have indicated who my response in the thread was to. Apologies for the confusion.

  11. Your mention of malleability really manifested clearly with the execution of Thomas Cromwell. Henry got rid of him because he was convinced to do so. Afterwards he regretted his decision and blamed others. All they did was plant the idea. The final decision was his. A decade or so earlier I can’t see Henry being that easily persuaded by others.

    1. I am reminded of the statement attributed to Cardinal Wolsey, “Be very, very careful what you put into that head, because you will never, ever get it out.”

      1. Very good point. And also More’s warning to Cromwell about not letting Henry know everything he could do. That warning wasn’t heeded and look what was unleashed.

    2. Henry signed death sentences for Empson and Dudley at the beginning of his reign … and they weren’t guilty of the crimes charged against them, either. In fact, they had only followed Henry VII’s policies … and using one’s place to feather one’s own nest was quite common. I don’t think the issue was Henry being easy to persuade; I think, instead, that Henry had no sense of anything being right or wrong, other than what he wanted things to be.

      1. Hi Esther. I do agree with you that Empson and Dudley had done nothing. They had followed the orders of their master. But at least in this case Henry VIII had something to grab onto as an accusation. It may not have been illegal but at least there was something. Henry did this as a goodwill gesture towards his people and as a way to cap off the rule of his father his predecessor. I don’t agree with what he did I think it was brutal and illegal. But as I said he had something to grab onto. Unlike what happened in May 1536 when all of the accusations were made up out of whole cloth. This this is what I’m talking about that he didn’t even have real accusations against Anne. He just had stuff made up in order to execute his wife and the men died so that the accusations against her could look legitimate. We know now that none of it looks legitimate. According to Gareth Russell in his book Young and Damned and Fair about Catherine Howard, and I agree with him, here the investigation into the accusations against Catherine Howard were very thorough and aboveboard because they knew how poorly the whole thing against Anne and the five men looked a few years earlier.

        1. No one made up Anne’s comment to Norris that “if aught came to the king but good, you would look to have me”. That comment, on its face, looks like “imagining the death of the king” … which fit the definition of treason existing at the time. I am aware that Anne is innocent. However, her words and actions were not made up but twisted — which is what happened to Empson and Dudley. In other words, I do not believe that what happened to Anne (or later to Cromwell) is based on a change in Henry’s character. I think from day 1 he would kill if that was the best way to get what he wanted, whether it be popularity or a son.

        2. Henry executed Epsom and Dudley because they were unpopular with the people, so really it was more to do with pleasing them, although of course they were only acting under the orders of Henry V11 his father.

  12. I want to think about Thomas Cranmer a little bit here and go back one day, to the 19th May when he had first heard about the death of Queen Anne and he had the terrible visit from Anne’s friend Alexander Aleius (Ales, Aleis, various spellings have been used) who came to see him in his garden at Lambeth that morning very early, possibly before Anne had been executed. Aleius had had a frightening vision of the severed head of Queen Anne over night and he came to Cranmer very upset, really not knowing what to do, because he hadn’t known about the condemnation of Anne, because he had been at home since her trial. Cranmer met him and asked him did he not heard about what was to happen later that day, that “She who was a Queen on Earth would this day be a Queen in Heaven” and told him of her execution. Cranmer then wept. His heart was broken and he probably felt a bit guilty at the job he had been assigned that day as well as the visit two days earlier to get her consent and annul her marriage. Cranmer was in a terrible bind and he was genuinely upset.

    Thomas Cranmer was her friend and had been a family friend also and Anne had acted as his patron, although he was also in the King’s debt for his position and in his service. He had done as he was told but cannot have felt entirely happy about it. His letter to Henry showed he really didn’t believe these charges but he was also diplomatic in his response. He was caught in the middle and for him that day and in the coming days worse was to come. Henry needed a dispensation in order to marry Jane Seymour because she was related to Anne through a great grandmother or something and also to the King. Any sexual relationship related linked them and he needed permission to get around it. Cranmer was required to issue that dispensation on the same day Anne was executed, especially as the wedding was in eleven days time. How he must have felt! He must have been devastated! His feelings must have been very difficult to hide and he might even have felt that same disgust and shock as the rest of us. Such actions would leave a bitter taste in the mouth. It’s very hard to understand how he felt deep down and how he brought himself to do such a thing with the woman he had felt beholden to and loved only hours in her grave. Cranmer was pragmatic, he conformed with remarkable ease to some readers no doubt, but I believe his heart was still broken and his choices very limited. He had nothing personal against Jane Seymour, he received and wrote a few affectionate letters from and to her, their relationship was fine but for now he must have felt like resisting with his entire being. Afterwards he must have gone home and wept bitterly. I really feel for him during this time and just wanted to mention the way he was torn by duty and affection to both the late Queen and his King. He was in a very tight spot, torn between the deep respect and love he had for Anne, whom he knew was innocent and the duty he had to perform for the King, whom he was bound to serve and who he also apparently thought of fondly. Like so many Thomas Cranmer would have to mourn in private and pray for the soul of a lady he called a “friend to the Gospel”, a woman who had shared his passion for reform, who was a patron to many from reformed houses, was good to those she knew well, was a personal friend I feel and take some comfort that her soul was in Heaven. Like so many others, he also had to submerge those feelings and carry on in the King’s services or retire, the latter probably not a good or realistic option.

    I also wanted to add that I believe Thomas Cranmer is sometimes wrongly blamed for not doing more, and yes, he could have the same poorly human qualities as everyone, yes, he did sometimes put his own safety first, but he really didn’t have a choice. Well he did, he could say no and go to the Tower, but that didn’t usually end well so it wasn’t a realistic choice. There wasn’t anything he could do. Yes, he might intervene and he possibly did make an appeal but by then it was too late and Henry didn’t listen. The ball was already rolling and the end result set when he was called back to London on 3rd May. His letter showed he was a man in deep shock at the terrible charges against Anne and the others and hints at his disbelief. He hoped Anne would clear herself. He didn’t understand the conspiracy going on and that it was all something which was being set up from the very beginning. By the time of her trial, however, he was probably aware of all that and realised the trap into which Anne had stepped. However, the deception he played a part in, the brief hope and comfortable words he gave Anne, he may have believed, but not realising he was unwittingly part of an on going device by King Henry to achieve his own will. Cranmer could not even save Anne after he took her final confession and her innocence in his eyes was confirmed. Henry’s mind was set. The reaction of people around Europe confirmed that, even those who had no love for her saying the charges were based on presumption and a devise to be rid of her. The Venetian Ambassador who called her an “unjustly called” Queen even had problems with accepting that she was guilty. The people were mumbling and complaining in the streets about the indecent haste and shocking events and now Henry was with his soon to be new wife. If Thomas Cranmer could not save Anne Boleyn, nobody could. Therefore we must find forgiveness and understanding for this man who loved Anne Boleyn but was tasked with making the way clear for her successor. He was put in a spot he obviously didn’t want to be in and I feel very real compassion for him. It’s not a position I would want to find myself in.

    1. Thomas Boleyn attending the christening of the son of the man who miurdered two of his children.
      Intervening was not an option. Henry had made up his mind. Best case scenario was being imprisoned for who knows how long. Worst case, and more than likely here was getting your head lopped off. Or worse. In either case the executions of the six would have proceeded and there may have been more heads rolling in the straw. I’m sure Thomas Cranmer felt helpless. He knew his master well and doing his bidding wasn’t just a matter of keeping his position, it was the only decision if he wanted to live. A terrible position to be in.

    2. I have always rather liked Thomas Cranmer. He seems to have been a decent man caught in indecent situations. He didn’t have the physical courage to be a martyr until the end, but I’ve always thought his final act was meant to repudiate all the dishonest things he had done throughout his life to survive.

  13. I also wanted to mention the forgotten victims of this tragedy, the parents of Anne and George Boleyn, Elizabeth and Thomas Boleyn. I recommend Claire’s video for full information and the best assessment, but briefly I just wanted to add some reflections. The biggest question at this time is a natural one from our point of view and is always asked about this time, is how could Anne’s parents have left her to die and not helped her? It is a very difficult question but a human one, because indeed parents should protect their children, but what if they come across a situation so dangerous and so powerful that they cannot save them, no matter how much they wanted to? Elizabeth and Thomas Boleyn in fact could do nothing to save Anne or George and there isn’t any evidence to support accusations that they abandoned their children. We have no records of them pleading for them, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t try. Henry wasn’t going to listen anyway, he had closed his mind and his heart to Anne and wanted to walk away. Neither Thomas or Elizabeth could do anything, not as he was now. Henry was not interested. Elizabeth was also quite ill and Anne showed deep concern for her mother at this time, Thomas had to think about his surviving family and possibly about Lady Elizabeth. Anne really didn’t stand a chance and her family were helpless to save her. Neither did they abandon her. They moved to Hever to mourn. We hear nothing from them for the next month but they must have been devastated and their health was affected by the traumatic experience they had suffered, their inestimable loss. It’s extremely unfair to judge them or their ultimate decision to return to Court, because we are doing so from 21st century views and don’t understand their duty or role in society. Thomas wrote a letter to Cromwell in which he praised his wife at the time of their early years of marriage, he was very fond of her and he was as good a father as he could be. He was curt in another letter to Cromwell and the King regarding the production of an income for Jane, as the widow of George, that he would do it, but more or less, leave me alone.

    Elizabeth Boleyn as I said was ill and died with less than two years, possibly made worse by the loss of her son and daughter. Thomas had little choice but to return to royal service, something else he is unjustly criticised for. He was a courtier for many years before Anne was born and many years since. He had been in royal service for at least four and a half decades. Elizabeth had also served both Elizabeth of York and Katherine of Aragon and her daughter and the family were like so many others depending upon royal favour to survive and for employment. They were fortunate not to have lost their property and goods, they couldn’t afford not to return to the King’s services after a time of mourning. Anne’s own household moved on to serve Jane Seymour. Thomas was a man of many talents and was a capable administrator both in the Court and his own county, where he had authority. One of his first tasks was to raise an armed militia to be ready to face the rebels in the Pilgrimage of Grace who were threatening to march South. They weren’t needed but he raised them, despite the delay by Cromwell in sending the instructions to him. A cruel request came in October 1537,_one which must have left Thomas Boleyn with very mixed feelings, the command to attend the baptism of Prince Edward, the son of the woman who had replaced his daughter. Thomas had also lost his political position as Lord Privy Seal, which went instead to Cromwell as his reward for fixing the King’s mess. Thomas was a Knight of the Garter and even had to lend Cromwell one of his garments for his own enrolment. We don’t know how he really felt but this must have been difficult. On the other hand it was an opportunity to show his loyalty and to regain something of the family fortunes. It’s hard to understand, I accept that, how one could continue to serve the man who had destroyed your family and ordered the brutal execution of your son and daughter, but it was a question of having very little option, of survival, loyalty, service and honour and the protection of other family members. In fact, Thomas was welcomed back very warmly and later, when he himself died less than 14 months after his wife, the King paid for Masses for his soul and expressed affection and mourning for his old friend and courtier. He was a good age, in his 60s, but I can’t help but think he was deeply affected by all of this tragedy and loss.

    Finally a thought for the one person who would have really been deeply affected by her mother’s death, Lady Elizabeth as she now was, away from Court for the time being and now without a mother who was very fond of her. Anne was an amazing mother, considering the protocols of the day which took royal children away to their own establishment a few months after their birth. Both Henry and Anne visited Elizabeth when they could, but Anne had Elizabeth with her during audiences and was attentive to meeting her physical needs and clothing. A letter from Lady Sheldon which is often misinterpreted as only part of it is quoted, gives the idea that Elizabeth was neglected by the King and had no clothes. This was utterly nonsense. Elizabeth was a growing child and bound to start growing out of her clothes. A large batch of clothes had been ordered for her in April by her mother which obviously had not lasted as long as expected. More money for clothes was actually expected very soon afterwards. The full letter and the response, never ever quoted by critics, the investigation that followed reads of an internal household quarrel and maladministration not a case of neglect. As it turned out the money was already authorised and was waiting for the right warrants to be sent to Elizabeth’s household. Yes, Lady Sheldon did complain but she was actually part of the problem and complaints had actually been made against her as well. It wasn’t a case of neglect but of a growing child, growing fast and the money for her clothes being needed earlier than expected. It was soon forthcoming and everything was resolved. Anne wasn’t there to keep a regular check on things and send regular gifts of clothes as parents do, ahead of them being needed by growing children. Henry was busy with his new Queen and the truth is Elizabeth wasn’t a priority for some time. She wasn’t the golden haired heir to the throne, her status was very much reduced, even though she was slowly reinergrated back into the family, being present that Christmas. She did have to remain more in her rooms away from the entertainment, after the meals, but over time she did receive more attention from her father. He was still proud of the achievements of both of his daughters and once Mary had made her submission, his affection and relationship with her was fully restored. Mary was also shocked to find that Anne wasn’t quite the wicked stepmother she had imagined and her father had allowed her mistreatment to continue.

    We have no idea how, who, when, or what Elizabeth was told about the truth of her mother’s execution. She had some people who cared around her and it’s certain that as she grew older the truth emerged. Elizabeth was so young when her mother was executed, her world turned upside down, she would have been traumatised by it all. She was also partly in exile but that wasn’t unusual given her change of status and the fact she was the child of a King. Elizabeth must have missed her mother but she had people who kept her mother alive with stories and memories. Elizabeth later honoured Anne’s memory, with her falcon badge and the portrait she had made in her locked ring, with the letters she received from her chaplain and through those she had in her service. Eventually both Mary and Elizabeth were restored to the Succession, if not made legitimate again in 1544,_via the Third Act of Succession and the King named them in his will. They received land and property and were shown affection by later wives, Mary was particularly fond of Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr was particularly fobd of Elizabeth and brought the entire family together.

    Even when writing from abroad, others sometimes rejoiced in her death, others highlighted that these trials and processes were merely in order to be rid of Anne. At least we know the truth and she wasn’t forgotten.

  14. As for Elizabeth’s knowledge of her mother’s story, and her own, I always remember her comment that she was born to affairs of state from her cradle and the remark she was said to have made, “how haps it, Governor, yesterday my Lady Princess, and today but my Lady Elizabeth?” She was formidably intelligent.

  15. Hi Esther. Yes that comment I do agree with you it is the only thing she said that could even be remotely taken as possibly treason. But everything else, all of these affairs, all these time she slept with these five men including her brother are absolutely provably false and made up. If her comment was so treasonable why wasn’t she prosecuted and condemned on that alone? Why did 5 100% innocent men have to die with her? I’m guessing because that single charge wasn’t enough to execute her on. Mirevwas needed a.ndbso it was made up.

    1. I think that the charges against the other guys were intended to prevent people from giving her comment an innocent interpretation. However, I also think that Henry VIII was fully capable of killing people for one comment, if he thought it sufficient. Thomas More is an example one comment, allegedly made during a discussion of legal hypotheticals, that Henry couldn’t be head of the church was enough for Henry to have him killed.

  16. I, too find it disgusting.
    And I belong to those who firmly believe that Anne
    was executed on completely false and trumped up
    charges. And although Henry tried to eradicate
    every trace of Anne’s existence. There was of course
    Elizabeth. And I strongly suspect that for Elizabeth
    how she felt about Anne was an extremely private
    matter. But somehow she managed to figure out
    the truth about her mother.

    Rest in peace, Queen Anne Boleyn, Lord Rochford,
    Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton
    and Mark Smeaton.


      1. Amen to that. Very well put and beautiful. Every time Henry looked at Elizabeth, he must have seen something of Anne in her eyes, her manners, her intelligence and so many other things our children do which remind us of us and our partners and Elizabeth looked like a miniature female Henry as well. She would have a lot of Anne and Henry in her as an adult and ultimately as Queen. The famous temper she displayed and also steely determination to be her own person. Maybe a bit of Anne’s sense of style as well was passed on to Elizabeth who certainly used clothing as powerful propaganda. Portraits of the young Elizabeth show a stylish young woman who looked very much like her father but I think her mother’s eyes are very present. Yes, maybe we don’t know what Anne looked like but we can get an idea through her daughter.

        1. Henry, to his credit, was a good father to Elizabeth.

          According to a foreign envoy, she was brought to court when Jane Seymour was Queen, and the King was described as being ‘very affectionate’ towards Elizabeth, and ‘loves her much’.

          See: ‘Letter and Papers of Henry VIII’, XI, no. 860.

        2. Thanks for the reference, Roland. Henry certainly made sure Elizabeth had a good education, as he did all of his children and it seems to me she was often at Court. Elizabeth, herself, wasn’t afraid to state she admired her father. I love the two portraits of her when she is a young woman, they are stunning.

        3. There is no “Reply” for the Comment containing the remark, “Henry, to his credit, was a good father to Elizabeth.” So I am posting here and hoping for the best.

          In my opinion that remark I quoted above ranks right along with “Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”

          “Sure he murdered her mother and her uncle, but he clothed and fed and educated her. What more could she ask?”

  17. I was re reading an article from a few years ago on the trial of Anne Boleyn in relation to the legal process of Tudor Trials, and I would agree with the conclusion that by the standards of the day, Anne and her co accused had a trial which followed the correct and fair due process known at the time and in that sense wasn’t any different to other Tudor Treason trials from the era of the 1530s. For me though I still have a great deal of difficulty because the pre trial process and the extent to which the evidence in the indictments was manufactured which pushes it over the edge. The fact six completely innocent people were charged with falsehoods in the first place, or at least the amount of perfectly innocent conversation which was twisted really gets to me. Even though Mark confessed, its unlikely that he was tortured, although some reports which are second hand believed he was, because it wasn’t a normal part of information extraction under Henry Viii. Having said that we use certain techniques today which are controversial and don’t call them torture, although they certainly may be considered as such. Torture wasn’t illegal in Tudor England but it could only be authorised by the King and was used under strict conditions. That doesn’t preclude the breaking of those rules, but the fact that he didn’t withdraw his confession also may preclude the use of torture. Cromwell was an effective and efficient lawyer and administrator and personality:he knew how to remain within the law and still gain a confession from someone who was frightened and an easy target. The other factors in many Tudor trials of course gave the prosecution a big advantage, the presumption of guilt, the training of the prosecution legal team, the lack of live evidence, the none compulsion of witnesses to attend, the voice of the sovereign being made known that the right verdict was found, the allowance of hearsay evidence in the first half of the reign and the lack of fore knowledge of what the prosecution was actually going to produce against you. There was also a question of whether Judges packed the jury or not, which is something that many believe was a factor here. The paper, however, argues that there isn’t any evidence that Norfolk as Lord High Steward packed the jury of 23 peers. I am not so sure, given their affiliation, but that wasn’t unusual either. For me, again, it was the fact that this process was put into motion in the first place, knowing the accused to be innocent of most things but presumptuous treasonous conversations, which were then either invented, twisted or exaggerated to fit the frame. Every legal process was followed, it’s the details that bother me.

    The article does conclude with the innocence of all parties. It’s a fascinating article and as far as I know its still available. Here are the details.

    Law as the Engine of State:The Trial of Anne Boleyn. William and Mary Law Review. Article 3 Volume 22:Issue One by Margery S. Schauer
    Frederick Schauer.

    If you think that our reaction to Henry’s behaviour has brought up feelings of disgust, shocking, disturbing, unbelievable, unable to get our heads around his banqueting and total disregard and disrespectful attitudes, and deeply felt emotions, just imagine what his people felt when this was raw 484 years ago. They witnessed this first hand. The total shock and horror must have hit them to the pits of their stomach, the sheer disbelief and trauma, the whole thing must have even seemed unreal to some people, so unprecedented was the execution of a Queen and the that Henry had just moved on so completely the next day, I am sure many felt sickened by the whole thing.

    Anne and the others won’t be forgotten while sites like this one remember every year, not even now while people cannot visit her resting place. Even in the middle of lockdown we can at least pause and think of how terrible this was and how so needless. Today is the Anniversary of the Manchester bombings a couple of years ago when so many young lives were lost. May they also rest in peace.

  18. Interesting what you brought up regarding Jane being pregnant nin May 1536. I’d not run across that talk. As you say Christine, impossible because she was always surrounded by chaperones but also for a more obvious reason. We know she didn’t have Edward until October 1537, a whole seventeen months later. If she was pregnant back in May 1536 she obviously miscarried and I cannot imagine that staying secret for almost 500 yrs. Also, when she and Henry married at the end of May did anyone observe her being pregnant? I wonder how this started.

  19. Its a thing that pops up every now and again in some recent articles and Janet Wertman included early miscarriages in her first book on the Seymour family. She admits it was just rumours with no real substance but decided to use it as a potential story line. According to Antonia Fraser there were contemporary rumours of a pregnancy and possibly a miscarriage before Edward was conceived and there was some concerns over the time it took for Jane to conceive, but her pregnancy was unlikely and Henry was rumoured at this time in his life to be at the start of his period of infrequent bouts of impotence, so there is one reason for a delay in conception. As far as I know there doesn’t appear to be any real evidence of a pregnancy before Jane had Edward, but his haste in marrying her could easily have given rise to gossip.

    1. Thank you BQ. I was not aware of those contemporary rumours. I’m always learning something new here.

    2. Apparently the letters and papers of the Marquis of Rutland drawn together in the nineteenth century refer to Jane being pregnant by the Autumn of 1536,_losing her child, but being pregnant again by Christmas. I haven’t seen a contemporary record which to my knowledge supported that but then again so many papers have gone missing over the years, so it may be correct or not. Other than that, it’s speculative.

      1. Speculation or not that is very intriguing. I’d love to be able to trace it back to the source.

        1. So would I, Michael, it’s an interesting bit of information that has been around for a time and a couple of famous novelists have used the device, Jean Plaidy, in Murder Most Royal back in 1972 and Cynthia Harrod Eagles in her series on the Morton family and in Pour the Dark Wine by Dyryn Lake both from the 1990s. I am wondering if its origins are Jane Dormer, who was born in 1538 but whose life contains a number of reflections on Jane Seymour. It’s very interesting that a source mentioned by the Wikicoms Article is the Papers of the Marquis of Rutland as one of Lady Lisles daughters who was to go into her service was lodged with the Lady Rutland. A family story? I have just been listening to how Janet Wertman did her research on the Tudor Society which was fascinating and to another talk by Gareth Russell, who I really think should do a biography on her, because he has some very interesting and insightful information about how she controlled her household and was a shrewd political survivor. You would need to be to marry a man who had just executed one wife and banished another in such circumstances as she died from cancer which was made worse by the conditions in which she lived.

          As Christine of Milan said, it was indeed strange that the King of England was so lately bereft of three wives in so little a time, one through banishment and neglect, one innocently put to death and one died for want of proper care in her child bed. She then made her famous remark that she would be delighted to marry the King of England if she had two heads but alas, she only had one. Very astute observations from a young lady of 16 or 17.

      2. I actually read that in Murder Most Royal, Jean Plaidy did do a lot of research for her books and I recall her mentioning Jane had had a miscarriage so her source could have been from the Marquis of Rutland letters, but I think due to Henry V111’s poor fertility record it’s probably unlikely,

        1. Actually Jane Dormer isn’t really a very good source of information as she maintained that Anne Boleyn was only about twenty nine when she died when in fact she was older in her mid thirties, she was also responsible for the tale that Anne found Jane on her husbands knee one day and flew into a rage, but this tale has often been dismissed by historians as I said in my earlier post, Janes reputation was guarded very carefully by both herself and her family, so it is hardly unlikely she would put herself in such a situation, it is true Christina of Milan did make those comments about Henry V111’s marital history and really what did he expect? Her aunt had been Katherine of Aragon and all the world knew how shabbily she had been treated, then he executed his second wife, hardly good reference for a forthcoming marriage proposal, there were rumours about Jane Seymours lack of care in childbirth but they were unfounded, Jane had the best care of the day and she died possibly from an infected placenta, problem is Henry sent his doctors in to assist her after her delivery went on for another day and the midwives were dismissed, this was an error as the midwives were more experienced, it could be rumours abounded because of this decision but it did not look good for Henry, as Christina was probably just saying what everyone else was saying, he had had three wives in so little a time well the last two at least, and he had married his third wife just two weeks after he had beheaded his second, after a very short and hasty engagement, that had occurred the day after her death, in fact I have always been amazed that Duke William of Cleves was happy enough to have one of his sisters wed Henry V111, considering his poor track record.

  20. This in reply to a comment above.

    Henry VIII, though we may judge him as a complete package nowadays, when taken in context and by the standards of the time, would be considered a good father to Elizabeth. He gave no thought to the rumours that she was actually Henry Norris’ daughter, had her well educated, treated her lovingly as according to the account quoted, restored her to the Succession, etc.

    People are not simply one thing or the other – they have nuances. So yes, while Henry was terrible in many respects, his personal relationship with Elizabeth would have been seen as good. Elizabeth herself apparently thought so. We assume she loved the King as her father and as her subject as she was supposed to. And again, by the standards of his time, Henry was generally – and I stress generally – considered a ‘great’ king by his contemporaries.

    And about the Lincoln joke, ‘Our American Cousin’ taken in context on its own apart from the tragedy afterwards, was said to be a good play. : )

    1. One contemporary of Elizabeth’s when she was queen told her that her father always believed she was his daughter, he certainly always knew she was his, indeed her very colouring was that of a Tudor, the most arresting portrait of Elizabeth which has always been my favourite is the full length one where she is standing in front of heavy drapes holding a book in her long delicate fingers, she is young only about twelve and her nose is still quite small, she is so slender and has narrow shoulders and white translucent skin, her gown is like a rosey red in colour and she wears pearls which could well have belonged to her mother, her eyes are definitely Boleyn eyes they are dark wide apart and heavy lidded, she was a most precocious child and grew up into a formidable ruler.

    2. The point of my joke is that to think Henry VIII was a good father to Elizabeth is to compartmentalize one’s perception to a point beyond the reach of most people. Mrs. Lincoln would have not been able to give a opinion of the play as distinct from the events she experienced while watching it.

      You apparently are able to do it, but I can’t. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it and there is not much sense in arguing.

      By the way, there is another joke I think applies to Henry VIII. A few years ago there were two teenage sons who murdered their parents. At the trial their attorney asked the jury to be merciful to two orphans.

      1. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

        Your point about Mary Lincoln is well taken. The play will always understandably have a bad connotation to her. However, with someone like Princess Elizabeth, she apparently didn’t feel this well about her father. The tragedy of her mother, we think, did not affect on the same level. She was too young to remember Anne, though later in life, there’s good evidence that she did revere her memory.

        As I said, with someone like Henry VIII, who was certainly tyrannical in many respects, there are still shades of gray to him. It’s not black and white. And he has to be viewed by contemporary standards.

        And take Anne Boleyn for example, the reason why we’re all here on this website. Even though 99.9% of us here are ‘Team Anne’ – we admire/love her, we commemorate her, we see her as a heroine, a genuinely devout woman dedicated to religious reform, a lady of style and taste, a feminist icon, a poster girl for ‘grrl power’, etc., etc., yet there was also another side of her that wasn’t very nice. Anne could be very vindictive when crossed. She headed a faction to crush Cardinal Wolsey, and she was mean to Queen Katherine and Princess Mary. At one point, she even threatened to have them executed should the King leave the country. Yet still, we love her! How’s that?! We emotionally respond to Anne on a positive level.

        Same with Elizabeth I, whom I’m sure many of us admire also as the great ‘Gloriana’ and as ‘Good Queen Bess’. Yet this was the same woman who as Queen did her share of executions (like her cousin the Queen of Scots), was involved in the slave trade, tried to expel Africans from England (there ‘too many’ of them), was said to physically abuse her maids, and was cruel to her relatives Katherine and Mary Grey. Well, because of this, should she not be revered anymore? Should we have boycotted the two Cate Blanchett movies and the recent Mary Queen of Scots one?

        Sure, we should recognize people’s flaws, but also see the good in them when it’s there.

        1. In my opinion there is a good deal of distance between the behaviors you ascribe to Elizabeth and systematic judicial murder.

          As for how Henry felt about Elizabeth and how she felt about him, nothing can be proven and you are welcome to think of them in any way that makes you happy. I know if my father had murdered my mother and done his best to murder her reputation it would take a lot of Christmas gifts to make me forget that.

          By the way, I have not seen any of the movies you mention. I read the reviews and decided there were too many historical inaccuracies for me.

        2. J Neale one of Elizabeth’s earlier biographers said that death by decapitation on the scaffold did not matter much as it was a sign they were of noble blood, it was the mind set of the time, and I do agree I do think that Elizabeth was much too young for her mothers death to have affected her, even though Anne was an attentive mother, she was not with her daughter all the time as Elizabeth had her own household and she possibly could only have had a vague memory of her, or hardly any, she had grown up with her father the great Harry and he was the centre of her world, we know she also did keep faith with her mother throughout the years so she had forgotten her, I feel Elizabeth told herself her mother had been the victim of a political coup whose death was necessary, and her father was betrayed into thinking she had been unfaithful to him, she would have been told a lot when she was old enough and would have made up her own mind, it was a violent age and the court was full of plots and intrigues, I think Elizabeth told herself her mother had tragically fallen victim to one of them, her father she absolutely adored and must have felt he had been deceived by his political advisers, chief of whom was Thomas Cromwell.

  21. Sure, if your dad killed your mom, I’m sure you’ll be upset, and have every reason to be. I would be too if that happened to me.

    But projecting your experience/feelings upon others, in this case Princess Elizabeth is another thing. I’m sure she was upset on some level, but on another, she did revere Henry VIII all the same.

    And I’m ‘happy’ to say this, because it can be proven. Have you looked at original sources?? Have you read ‘Elizabeth I: Her Life in Letters’ by Felix Pryor (2003) for example?? If you did, you would see on pages 18 -19 (and reproduced as a photo) a letter written by Elizabeth to Henry in 1545 where she writes: ‘To the most illustrious and most mighty King Henry VIII… Elizabeth, his Majesty’s most humble daughter wishes all happiness, and begs his blessing…’

    The note was part of beautiful book – she even handmade it – intended as a New Year’s gift to him. She took the time to translate Katharine Parr’s book of prayers to him. This hardly sounds like a girl would have nothing to do with her father.

    And as for Henry’s feelings towards Elizabeth, that is documented in the ‘Letters and Papers’ report I had quoted above. Did you bother to read that?

    ‘Nothing can be proven’ you say? Please do your research, and show us a letter/report that the two absolutely hated each other.

    I did my research, so yep, I AM happy. Thanks for saying so (said with sincerity).

    1. I am sure the letters and the dedication of the book were sincere. Just as sure as I am that the speeches made on the scaffold by those about to die were sincere.

      I’m not going to post any more on this, as I think we are at a dead — no joke intended — end.

  22. It sounds like Jane Dormer could be a possibility but where would she have gotten it? If 1538 is her birth year that’s well after Jane’s death. Who could she have heard it it from? The passage of so much time is quite frustrating. I am enjoying learning about this mystery however.

  23. I’m not aware of any rumours that Henry swiftly married Jane because it was thought that she was pregnant.

    I think it was historian Susannah Liscombe who proposed that the reason for the quick wedding was that it was all about Henry’s manhood. Whether he himself had instigated Anne Boleyn’s fall or not, the whole affair turned out to be a big embarrassment for him. Was Anne allegedly sleeping with other men because Henry couldn’t satisfy her in bed, and was he impotent? He was becoming a laughing stock.

    Susannah Liscombe doesn’t think Henry was madly in love in Jane, and that was desperate to have her. The quickie wedding had to do with him needing to assert his virility again right away on the public stage. He had to ensure his subjects that he was indeed capable of sexually fulfilling a woman and bearing children.

    It’s like when he was trying to get rid of Anne of Cleves. In the medical report used as evidence of why the marriage should be annulled, the King claimed that even though he was impotent with Anne, he could still have wet dreams. It was important that this was stressed. Anne, as he was insinuating, was the problem, NOT him. He was the good old randy Henry he always was!

    1. A lot of people seemed to know something was wrong. I believe the doubt that we are discussing now started on that sad day in May 1536, maybe even a bit sooner, at least after the trial verdicts.

    2. Indeed, Rose, Chapuys made some very telling remarks about the hearing being based on presumption and no evidence and no witnesses, although this wasn’t unusual, but there was definitely something off and Chapuys was on the spot this time. He didn’t exactly like Anne or those around her, even though he only saw her the one time, at the famous Mass on Easter Monday, which started this entire saga. His dislike of Anne was very well documented, but just as much influenced by the fact he was in the service of the nephew of Katherine of Aragon, the wife Anne replaced and therefore his mission was to help her cause. If he noted something was wrong, something very fishy was up. It gives more support to the theory of this being a setup. As I have said, the legal process was pretty normal for Tudor treason trials but the evidence was invented and the parties were targeted, although they were innocent to begin with. That was the worst of it; all six people were known, at least within certain circles to be innocent, although the population in general probably took things at face value. The one thing I find very weird about the indictments, though, is just how detailed they are, how over the top, as if the crown was appealing its case a bit too much.

  24. Talking Tudors podcast episode posted yesterday: ‘Boleyn Supporters at court’ w/Dr. Lauren Mackay.

    1. Hi Michael, are you looking forward to the astronauts going up in the new rocket to the space station later today?

      The first manned launch on American soil, in a historic rocket, which can land and first for a long time, even if the mission is to the space station, which is fantastic in itself and I was hoping to catch it on line later. The space station is actually visible at the moment and we have had three great passes from our garden last night and the night before. It was especially bright last night. Looking forward to the launch.


  25. I entirely understand one would be upset and justifiably so, one might even want revenge, you would be very messed up as an individual as well, need years of therapy, would distance yourself from that parent at the earliest opportunity, who was hopefully doing a life sentence or on death row for the murder, how a child might turn out we can’t say, but children who have experienced this kind of trauma often go on to very sadly be drawn into crime, drugs, and the cycle of damage goes on. Intervention is of course possible and a better outcome is possible, especially if the children are quite young and are immediately removed to a better environment. There are plenty of experts on the various sites who can give more information but I believe Dorothy makes a good point.

    However, there is also historical evidence of events and the evidence does point to the very quick mending of Henry’s relationship with Elizabeth, although a number of controversial items do also give a different impression. Roland is perfectly correct so, there is plenty of evidence from Elizabeth herself that she wasn’t bitter towards her father and held him in high regard. We also have to remember that Henry didn’t actually murder Anne Boleyn, at least not in the literal sense of the word, although a modern equivalent might be conspiracy as he gave the order. Judicial murder as state killing/execution is followed then as it does now, in the majority of cases, some form of legal process. It might not be a trial as we would recognise it, but it followed every legal process of the day. Even an Act of Attainer was considered a lawful process, the evidence being read, the vote in Parliament taken and the person condemned or not, usually the former. The Sovereign then accepted or rejected the sentence appropriately and the death warrants were signed. Basically sanitised murder, but via a code of law, rather than a cold blooded or angry action committed by the person themselves. Ivan the Terrible for example, killed his son with his own bare hands. I understand sending six people one knows to be innocent to their deaths can constitute murder but this act would have been seen as a lawful act against six traitors, with little difference than any other treason trials, except the Queen was one of the accused. I doubt very many people would have not seen this as anything else. The Boleyn faction were not popular, Anne for all of her efforts wasn’t that popular, treason was seen as a totally heinous crime and outside of the inner circle the spin would have made sure it read that way. Just because we can look at things with hindsight doesn’t mean England in May 1536 saw the charges in the same light. Many in the public would have seen the five men as guilty and deserving of death. Some would have been sympathetic, others complaining as we have noted, but basically most people didn’t care, this was a great day out, entertainment, the axe man did a good job, the speeches were good and conventional, apart from George who did preach a sermon, everything went o.k, the traitors are dead and justice has been done.

    A good number of people had been sympathetic to Anne and her brother at their trials so as I said some watching were also sympathetic. Anne had won people around and her execution does seem to have shocked, but then it was a lot more private. The reaction was partly positive, partly negative, some did write that the “heinous traitors” had been put to death. The Ambassador from Vienna was far less sympathetic and complimentary than others and more or less stated she got everything she deserved. Anne was of course shown support by a number of notable people as cited in an earlier post, but what was shocking was the fact a Queen had been executed in the first place. The second shock was the speed with which Henry was getting himself hitched again and that he was wining and dining a number of ladies at various banquets afterwards.

    The fact that Anne was judicially beheaded after a trial, however, meant that Henry could control the spin, whereas if he had killed her himself, that was unlikely. That meant he could spin how this was presented even to his own daughter. Anne had enough enemies around the Court for people to confirm the lies and rumours to whoever asked. Henry wanted everyone on the same page but it wasn’t quite working out that way.

    We don’t really know how Elizabeth felt at first because she was so young and we just don’t have any information. For Elizabeth the main thing would have been the interaction she had with Henry and Anne and Anne’s regular gifts of clothing, many of which came in April, but there was a problem later in the year. A confusing letter about a row in her household led to a complaint that Elizabeth was outgrowing her clothes and needed new ones. True, she was a toddler, they tend to grow very quickly. This is often used to say Henry neglected his daughter. Not true, its only one part of a bigger row over household authority and management. Elizabeth was due a payment for clothes and other items, it had been delayed, not by the King but by the muddle in her household. As soon as the letter arrived action was taken, Cromwell sorted it, the money arrived, oh and the household was reorganised. The payments were not yet due.

    Elizabeth wasn’t the apple of either Jane or Henry’s eye at first and Jane put her energies into attempting to help Mary, whose relationship with her father was now a complete nightmare. However, here we can see Henry definitely wasn’t father of the year, in his response to Mary. Unless she submitted to all of his demands, the marriage of her parents not being lawful etc, she was in big trouble. Now, if Elizabeth was like Henry, Mary certainly was. Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Princess Mary and Lady Elizabeth were all pig headed, strong personalities who didn’t know how to back down and inevitably clashed. Mary was terrified into acceptance and almost as if someone had waved a magic wand, Henry forgave her. Yes, I can hear the cynical laughter from here. The poor girl had done nothing wrong, but who is King? That’s right, daddy is! Not a great period in his credentials as a parent. However, Jane arranged for visits to Hudson, Mary’s home and her allowance was increased. She sent her a huge diamond and later in the year she was received formerly at Court. Ironically, her relationship with her father was mended and Henry went out of his way to make certain she was treated with the highest honour. Mary didn’t hold her father responsible either.

    A number of letters to and from Elizabeth as a child from the age of ten, when she was regularly at Court, plus those we have during her reign and teenage years show a warm relationship with her father and she thought of him with affection and was content to be in his presence. Like all children, she sought his approval and here we do see some hints of anxiety in not or perception of not having that. However, the letter in Italian, was to her stepmother Katherine Parr and it actually hides the truth. Elizabeth was recently at Court and was waiting to join Katherine on progress:_she was not in exile. Elizabeth was also at Court during the Christmas celebrations of 1536 as was Mary and on numerous other occasions afterwards. She was enough like her father in later life to have been influenced by his presence.

    Henry was ruthless, the execution of Anne who wasn’t the loveliest person around, but was totally innocent of these charges and didn’t do anything to bring them about was one of a number of black marks on his name. Anne was, however, a woman who did things her way and made enemies. Those enemies would continue to impugn her name. However, she also had supporters and friends and some of them came into the household of Elizabeth as she became older and no doubt they told her the truth of her mother’s death and the real circumstances. They helped her to keep her mother’s image and memory alive and we know Elizabeth did honour Anne during her life. Elizabeth was also partly affected in a negative way by Henry….his many wife fest and the second execution, that of Katherine Howard is one reason why she may never have married. The other reason is that allegedly she was groomed and possibly abused in the household of Katherine Parr by Thomas Seymour at Sudeley when she was just fourteen. Elizabeth wasn’t put off men, but she could never accept them as having authority over her, which as her husband, legally they would have done. Elizabeth I was as much obsessed by the idea of total power as the rest of the Tudors. She had to be a goddess, not merely a Queen, a woman, yes, but also an object of worship. Elizabeth was proud of her parents, both of them, despite the traumatic experience of her mother’s death and the evidence points to her being much like them in her actions, mind, scholarship, outlook, temperament, philosophy and her strengths, but also in her weaknesses.

    Mary we might also believe had much of her parents in her, especially her courageous mother. She was clearly upset and affected by their divorce and being exiled away from them for four years. Mary’s character is controversial because her reign was controversial. However, she was much more astutely aware and wise than she is generally given credit for and her reign was not the blood bath of myth or the disaster of propaganda. Despite her own suffering, she maintained a good deal of mercy and warmth. Like Elizabeth she was fashionable and knew how to use the idea of majesty to win people over. Yes, her religious policy is one which cannot be condoned but then neither can that of her father or sister. Both women actually had far more in common than popular history or drama likes us to realise. Elizabeth actually learned a great deal from Mary as well as her father. Both girls were to lose their mothers in dramatic and traumatic circumstances:yes,their father has the responsibility for all of that, but we can’t second guess how they felt by our own experience or feelings. It’s clearer because she was a lot older the anger and disappointed and rejection which was felt very deeply by Princess Mary. However, both sisters were keen to re -establish and maintain a close and meaningful relationship with their family, partly because that might bring them back into the Succession, which eventually it did, but also because they loved their father, despite his many faults and the evidence points to a warm and beneficial relationship with him during the last nine years of his life.

    1. I realize I am in a minority. I was watching a TV mystery the other day — Midsosmer or Endeavour or something — and the characters were shocked that a man could still hate the person who murdered his son. After all, it had been 18 years. Time to forgive and forget.

      The fact is people differ and there is no way to tell their true thoughts by their words or behavior. Those are my final words on the subject, and those who wish to play Happy Families with the Tudors can get on with it.

      1. Yes, this is very true, people respond to every situation differently. You cannot reason how one might act if something that terrible happened or your capacity to forgive or hate, because nobody knows until such terrible and traumatic circumstances are a reality in our lives.

        With history, however, we can only interpret events and relationships based on the evidence available to us. Unfortunately there are gaps in that evidence, so we speculate based on the best construction we can, which is why healthy debate is good. Don’t worry about being in the minority, Dorothy, I find myself in the same position all too often. I actually enjoy it. Every opinion is important. That’s the beauty of history, half of it is missing and the rest is interpretation of sources with an agenda. Having said that, the contemporary evidence is what gives us the best information, even so called hostile sources, because they take us to the moment as closely as possible. I believe the evidence points to a very difficult and complex relationship between Henry and both of his daughters, especially with Mary, which was deeply torn apart by his treatment of her mother and demands that she obey his new laws, his supremacy and accept that she was now legally illegitimate, which of course she couldn’t do. However, Mary blamed Anne and was rather shaken by the fact her father was as guilty and continued to make the same demands as the only unconditional basis of her being accepted back into his graces. Mary was horrified but gave in. Her life was being threatened, according to her advisors, although I doubt it. Astoundingly Mary did rebuild her relationship with Henry, that’s what the evidence shows, although I suspect it wasn’t as easy as that and Mary may well have been protecting her true feelings. That’s were debate comes in because we really don’t know. Elizabeth is the same, we don’t have enough information to talk about how she felt through the next few years, she was too young to really appreciate the truth in any case. Its later on that we get glimpses of her relationship with Henry and the evidence doesn’t point to her hating him. If she did, then she kept it cleverly to herself and played her cards close to her chest. Elizabeth might have wanted to hate Henry, but his treatment of her made it impossible. You don’t normally repay kindness and affection with hatred. Don’t worry if you disagree, that’s fine and part of the beauty of this and other sites. Every opinion is valuable.

        1. Thank you for your good manners. I wish all those who post would be polite.

        2. I think Henry V111 had a kind of love/hate relationship with Mary she had been his adored daughter, ‘his pearl’ as he was won’t to call her, and even through the turbulent times when she was at loggerheads with him, through siding with her mother he still spoke of her with deep affection, according to one contemporary he had tears in his eyes when he spoke of her, she had been the only child who had survived out of a twenty four year marriage, I believe although loving her the way he did, she did exasperate him many a time and he had no choice but to treat her harshly over the acknowledgment of him being Head Of The Church, as it was by then treason not to acknowledge the king as such, Mary was stubborn and did herself no favours on many an occasion, she slighted Anne Boleyn and evening after Anne had made friendly overtures to her she still refused to back down, but she was only young, today we would call her a rebellious teenager and being a teenager is a difficult time for any person, it was not known then but hormones play a part in ones behaviour and she did have difficult periods which also would have affected her mood, after Anne’s death she naively thought she would be welcomed back into the fold but it was not to be, unless she kowtowed to him absolutely, when parents split up children sometimes take sides as it was easy for Mary to blame the ‘the other woman’ rather then her adored father, Anne was a scheming trollop who dripped poison in her fathers ear she was to blame for his harsh treatment, in fact had she been that much older she would have been able to look at it from a more balanced view, Mary’s behaviour was downright intransigent, when an ambassador came to visit the Princess Elizabeth Mary demanded she see him as she was the only true princess, she also refused to travel to Hatfield when her baby sister went there to establish her new household, and she had to be bodily picked up and dumped rather unceremoniously in the carriage, her behaviour drove Anne Shelton to despair and it was then that Anne Boleyn told her aunt to box her ears for being the cursed bastard she was, harsh words but by now both Anne and the king were losing patience with this difficult young girl, however she was still his daughter and in spite of everything they both loved each other, there was a touching reunion when Henry welcomed her back to court and in the presence of his new queen, Jane Seymour he embraced her and they walked around chatting amicably, they were like one big happy family, Henry had his obedient daughter back they could forget the past, he was happy with his new queen and soon she may present him with a son, with Elizabeth first he was a remote and distant father, although he was very taken with her, even Chapyus whilst calling ‘ the little bastard’ noted she was a pretty child, one can just see Elizabeth being carried around the court by her father her red gold curls swinging, it was noted he was always very affectIonate towards her and, no matter about her mothers disgrace, Henry V111 always acknowledged her as his child, indeed she was very like him, she was fair with the auburn hair of the Tudors and had her fathers long aquiline nose, facially she resembled her mother and had inherited her large dark eyes, she grew into a tall slender woman striking looking but not conventionally pretty, her complexion was said to be very fine and her sister also, as a young girl was known for her very fine complexion, but the years of misery had taken its toll on Mary and she had begun to lose her looks by the time she took the throne, Elizabeth also revered her father and whilst in private she must have wept for her mother, she centred her whole world around the parent who was living, Elizabeth and Mary also appeared to have a love / hate relationship as well, fond of her baby sister as they both grew older they grew apart, their differing attitudes towards religion did not help and Elizabeth often angered Mary, as she grew older she maybe reminded her of Anne Boleyn and she despaired leaving her kingdom to this half sister who was a Protestant as well, she made a comment about her parentage saying she believed Elizabeth was Mark Smeatons child, this could have been made after an occasion when her sister had annoyed her, but it just goes to show that there was not really much love lost between them, the affectionate big sister had vanished and Mary viewed Elizabeth with suspicion, it was sad that this had happened but the Wyatt plot certainly did not help matters either.

  26. It’s NOT about ‘playing’ happy families. It’s about making informed guesses or opinions based on available historical evidence. Ignoring evidence when it’s there, is hiding one’s head in the sand.

    No one is doubting that Elizabeth perhaps/probably felt resentment towards Henry VIII, but there is no denying that she also had affection for him as well. Again, look at the evidence.

  27. Well put as always, Christine, so very true. It seems to have been a pattern between Royal parents and their children, Royal siblings and Mary really did push the boundaries a bit, but who could blame her? She was seventeen when Henry married Anne and banned her from seeing Katherine and vice versa, a time in her young life when her mother’s guidance would have been especially needed. Ironically this is the time of her life Mary should have been married by but her status was taken away from her. She was reduced from the heir presumptive to the throne, learning to govern in Ludlow and returning to the heart of the Court, constantly praised by her father, his pearl, to an illegitimate daughter, the servant of her sister. To Henry Mary’s stubbornness was merely defiance, to Anne her refusal to acknowledge her as Queen was insulting, to Mary it was impossible because her mother was the rightful Queen, the lawfully crowned Queen, the only Queen, her father’s lawful and true wife, so for Mary there was no way she could accept Anne as Queen. Anne made overtures to Mary, several times, but everything was conditional on accepting her as Queen. Anne had also been crowned, with both the Kings crown and Queens, an emphasis on her legitimacy as Henry’s true wife and Queen. A young teenager saying it wasn’t so didn’t go down well, but there was nothing Mary could say other than her true beliefs. Unfortunately, Mary paid the consequences, yet, she always tried to seek her father’s favour and blessings, children want their parents approval, no matter what. Mary believed Anne alone was to blame for her mistreatment and a lot of her orders were concerning that mistreatment out of frustration and anger. Mary was now about to find out the truth. Henry had at least approved or agreed with Anne’s decisions. On 26th May 1536 Mary wrote a letter seeking Henry’s blessing and congratulations on his forthcoming marriage and wishing the new Queen well and hopefully she would be taken back into favour. Henry’s response was harsh. If Mary wanted to come back to Court she had to accept him as Supreme Head of the Church, agree that she was not born into a lawful marriage and that his decisions were correct and even that she was illegitimate. Mary asked both Cromwell and Chapuys for help because Norfolk and others were sent to make threats that she must sign the documents or face the consequences, which might be fatal as she was now committing treason. Mary was shaken and terrified. Reluctantly she signed and made her total submission. Then everything changed, she received a visit from Jane and her father and an increasingly generous allowance and later in the year she returned to Court. She must have felt very troubled by her father’s use of threats and waking up to the fact that Anne wasn’t the wicked stepmother or the only one to blame for her problems and banishment was an eye opener. It took time to recover from the shock and great courage to even attempt to rebuild her relationship with Henry, but somehow it was rebuilt and flourishing. Mary also knew were her own best interests lay. She remained determined to fight for her rights as best she could, this time through submission and affection, because the Succession wasn’t yet determined. Mary was very like her mother in her fighting spirit, but unlike poor Katherine, Mary knew when it was useless to fight on. Four years separation from her father and mother must have taken its toll, however, and Mary would “correct” history by reversing the matter of her parents marriage annulment and her legally declared illegitimacy. She did, however, stop short of reversing Henry’s religious politics in full, although England was reconciled to the See of Rome. In fact a number of his policies were confirmed, if adjusted. It wasn’t practical for example to return monastic land but the orders were briefly restored.

    I agree about Mary and Elizabeth as well, they had a lot in common which is what drew them together. I believe Mary, although she thought of Elizabeth as illegitimate and said so in private, recognised that her half sister was now in the same boat as she was, stripped off her Royal status and barred from the Succession. On a personal level the older girl, now a woman, found a fondness for her little sibling and they became quite close. They shared households and their relationship was very positive even during the reign of their brother, Edward. That inevitably changed after Mary’s coronation, although not at first. After the threats posed by the Grey family, in the person of Lady Jane Grey or Queen Jane, whom Mary saw as an innocent in the conspiracy against her, Elizabeth became a rival. Mary’s hand was turned against Jane after the attempt by Thomas Wyatt the Younger to put Elizabeth on the throne and stop the Spanish marriage. Elizabeth was implicated in the plot and her exact role is a bit hazy to say the least. The Council believed she had been contacted by Wyatt and indeed she probably was, but any such evidence vanished, she knew more than she admitted and Mary was definitely persuaded her half sister was at least a pawn in the plot to kill and remove her from the throne. Elizabeth and Mary exchanged correspondence at this point in March 1554, a summons was sent to bring Elizabeth to London, but ignored. Elizabeth said she was ill and eventually set out dillying and dallying all the way and by the time she got there, it was decided that she was deeply under suspicion and she was removed to the same Royal apartments her mother had occupied before her coronation and these latest tragic events, her trial and execution. Elizabeth we know wrote the famous Tide Letter in which she presented her cause but Mary either never responded. From her point of view, her sister was under reasonable suspicion of planning with traitors and rebels to kill and remove her from her crown or at least was guilty of misprison of treason, hiding knowledge of Wyatt and his plots. He is supposed to have exonerated Elizabeth or at least didn’t implicate her on the scaffold and nothing solid was found against her. Mary eventually released Elizabeth to house arrest at Woodstock in Oxfordshire on 19th May 1554,_the Anniversary of Anne’s death, although this was more likely a coincidence than anything sinister and she was released to her own establishment a year later. Mary never trusted Elizabeth afterwards, their relationship was completely shattered, unsurprisingly and although Elizabeth sent her baby clothes, few actions of affection followed. Elizabeth used her own cunning to play fast and lose when asked by Mary to attend Mass, pretending to go and then saying she was ill when the day came. Elizabeth would also borrow Mary’s “wedded to my country” speech as her own, used to rally the people of London against Wyatt , by showing them her coronation ring as their mother and the bride of her country. Elizabeth watched, learning what Mary and her father did well and from their mistakes. That is what made her a good politician. As a survivor, Elizabeth put all of that new found strength into the challenges of her own reign. It’s a great pity these two women were the daughters of Kings because as rivals their relationship was inevitably shattered and has become something of a dark legend. In other circumstances a friendship which began with shared loss and rejection may have possibly have been the binding force for the rest of their lives. Henry’s marks on his children both scarred and shaped them, in good ways, but also in a triangle of trauma and mistrust.

    1. Thank you Bq, Elizabeth it is true learnt from her sisters mistakes and she did it is true borrow her wedded to her country speech, I have read Mary’s speech and it is a very heartening one, no wonder Elizabeth used it, time was not on Mary’s side as I am sure apart from the Smithfield fires she would have been a good ruler, Elizabeth had the advantage of youth on her side and as far as religion was concerned she was quite tolerant, it was only years later when the Catholic rebellions occurred she took a more draconian view of her Catholic subjects.

    2. Your description of the family interrelationships remind me of what I have heard of in modern families when a first wife of many years is divorced and a new wife put in her place. Children often have a hard time dealing with their father and the new stepmother. You say in the case of Henry VIII “It took time to recover from the shock and great courage to even attempt to rebuild her relationship with Henry, but somehow it was rebuilt and flourishing.” I wonder how it was accomplished. The modern examples I am thinking of usually end with lasting bad feelings all around.

      1. Hi Dorothy. I don’t know if this will help at all but this is the closest thing I have to an analogy.
        My father died 4 months before my 8th bd in April 1970. In December of that year (the 24th of all days) my mom married a man she was introduced to by a mutual friend. They had a wonderful marriage until her death from cancer in 1999.
        It took me 30 or more years to accept him. He treated my mom well, he treated me well but I refused to accept him because I saw him replacing my father which of course he wasn’t doing. He was a very good man and my problem with him was entirely on me. I regret that. He died in 2007 and It wasn’t until I found out he had emphysema that I realized how happy he made my mom and how I as a selfish person closed myself off to him. My loss.
        Like I said not a perfect analogy. I’m a son, not a daughter. Death not divorce. New father, not mother. Biological parent died of natural causes, not divorce or beheading

        The point of all this is that the problem with the step-parent was entirely on me. My stepdad was a wonderful man and I wished I’d seen that as a kid. He wasn’t trying to replace by own father but I wouldn’t use logic and see the truth. I’m referring to Mary here of course. She blamed Anne for all her problems but when Anne was gone she found out it was her father. All about point of view and acceptance, not necessarily the reality of the situation. That’s enough rambling. I’m sure I’ve gotten of track.

        1. Your comment reminds me of the late Princess Diana who resented her stepmother as a child, believing she had taken her mothers place and resented her, Countess Raine who was Barbara Cartland’s daughter was her fathers second wife and all three of the Spencer children resented her, but she had not split up their parents as the Earl and his wife had been divorced but the children were all young, and here again as I said earlier it is youth that is to blame for their attitude, years later Diana and Raine renewed their acquaintance and found they got on rather well, Raine had made her father very happy and had cared for him when he had his stroke, you do see things differently when you are older, you was only young when you lost your father Michael had you been an adult, you would have been pleased for both your mother and her new husband, Mary Tudor was on the onset of puberty when she discovered ‘the kings great matter’ and it could be that she witnessed her mothers tears and bitterness, Mary believed she had a very moral legitimate right to stand against her father, but it brought her years of unhappiness, had she been much older she would have realised it was futile to fight, it could be when she was much older and queen, she regretted her earlier attitude towards her father and wished she had acted differently, had she been a dutiful daughter towards her father, he may have allowed her to visit her mother now and then, he could cope with a stubborn ex wife but not a stubborn wilful daughter either.

        2. Thank you for telling your story. I can see how it colors your reaction to the Tudor situation. However I don’t think you should draw the parallel too closely. Your stepfather was a decent man and didn’t mistreat anyone, and the situation was due to a childish immaturity you now deeply regret. But the daughters of Henry VIII had lost their mothers because of him. Mary in particular had had ten years or so of being Daddy’s Girl and suddenly lost that and was forced to see her mother pushed toward the grave. Nothing in your case — thank goodness — can compare to that.

  28. These comments illustrate what I meant about the story being parallel to many modern families. The difference lies in the fact that no one in the cases you cite has died of the treatment.

  29. Hi Dorothy. I agree. My story doesn’t parallel that closely. I just wanted to use my story as an illustration of how when we’re younger we may not see situations as they are but how we pre- conceive them. In my case I was absolutely wrong.

    1. I understand. I think in your case you may have been looking for someone to blame for the loss of your father (We all want to blame someone when something bad happens.) and your stepfather was an easy target. In the case of Henry VIII everyone knew what he had done, he was proud of it. I have always felt extremely sorry for Mary in spite of the fact that my family has been protestant every since it was possible to be so. I don’t excuse her cruelties, but I can understand her logic. Her father has not got her extenuating circumstances. It must have been terribly hard for her to submit in the end, poor woman.

  30. Hi Christine. I didn’t know any of that about Diana’s background. Very interesting. Thank you.

  31. Hi Dorothy. You very well might be right. Looking back with a clear head half a century ago I have no idea what my thought process was then.

    I feel terrible for Mary. To be brought up for so many years as a princess and knowing who her parents were only to have her own father strip her of everything including her birthright and religion. He ruined her chances for a good marriage match also by making her a bastard. It’s no wonder she was resentful. Most of that animosity was put on Anne and after her death what a shock it must’ve been when she realized bit was primarily her own father.

  32. Mary’s submission to her father was the only way she was going to be accepted by her father, it came after a month of extremely difficult exchange of letters, via Thomas Cromwell to her father and the delegation of Norfolk and the others sent to obtain her signature on the documents Henry had sent to her. Physical threats were made by them, probably crossing the line, but it had Henry’s desired effect. Mary was frightened, shocked, stressed and ill and didn’t know what to do. She had blamed Anne for her ill treatment, because of course she adored her father, she had last seen him during a time when she was still his darling little Princess, his dearest daughter. It was impossible to reconcile the idea of the man who was turning into a tyrant with the father that she had revered. Now the realisation that Henry was part of that banishment and exile from her mother, the assignment to serve her baby sister and whatever orders Anne had given regarding her. It was her letter on 26th May which opened the negotiations that led to Mary’s return to favour but it was also that which led to the next nine letters and delegation that shook Mary deeply to the core and forced her into the most difficult decision of her life.

    Through the help of Chapuys Mary came to the pragmatic decision to submit to her father. Mary was upset at having to deny her legitimacy, at betraying her mother’s memory, which she had upheld for the last four years or more and at denying her birth right. However, Chapuys persuaded her in order to save her life because he was genuinely worried for her safety and to be honest support from Charles V was waning because Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn had died and the Emperor no longer had a stake in English politics. Besides which Charles had his own problems with wars in Italy and other parts of Europe. Mary could no longer depend on his intervention. She was promised absolution from the Holy Father if she signed these documents because she did so under extreme duress and she made a protest to Rome in secret that revoked this submission. Mary signed the papers and Henry accepted her back as his daughter. It wasn’t an immediate or an easy process and both sides had a bit of negotiation and adapting to go through but Mary was once again in favour and reconciliation went ahead.

    For Mary it was particularly hard, although this was something she had sought for some time, something she deeply desired. She was actually depressed and ill for a time and it was by personal acts of kindness and assurance that she was able to find forgiveness for her father. Henry’s reception of Mary was to lavish her with kindness and affection and to at first meet with her in the privacy of her own establishment. As with Elizabeth her fuller integration back into her family was helped through the input into her life of various step mothers and ministers like Cromwell. It was also her own gentle nature and desire that won over hearts at Court. Mary was loved in all circles. Henry’s own affection helped as well and the way she was treated, her elevation, her status and her resumption of her life at the heart of the Court, the heart of life there and the ceremony and honour shown to her. It was only the title Lady Mary, rather than Princess, which betrayed her legal status, that of being legally illegitimate. Mary had every privilege restored and Henry praised her at every opportunity. Difficult that it was at times, Mary was able, after a nervous start, to find favour with Henry again and repair the relationship between father and daughter, which became affectionate and beneficial to them both.

    Elizabeth found Henry a deeply proud father, one who praised her growing accomplishments, she began to spend more and more time with him and again with the help of others she was fond of and various step mothers, she was restored to favour and found both affection and contentment in her relationship with her Royal father. As the memory of her mother’s death faded, so did her anxiety around him and he visibly drew closer to her. Henry invested much in the education of all of his children and children were taught to worship and revere their parents and Elizabeth was most certainly her father’s daughter. By 1542 she was spending more time with him and the last few years of his life were her happiest according to Dr David Starkey. Elizabeth found an affinity with Henry and there are several letters from the age of ten onwards that show Elizabeth wanted to spend time with him, thought of him with great fondness and affection and reverence and wished him health and for his blessing. Her letters and his actions towards her show that Elizabeth and Mary were both now at Court for long periods of time and in high favour with the King. The best information we have comes from the time of Katherine Parr, who brought the family together as a proper family. Times were not perfect, but at least during these years we see evidence that Henry was still a human being, at least in the eyes of his children.

  33. If anyone is interested in reading more about the young Elizabeth, Mary and Edward, who also had to follow protocol when writing to his father, via an intermediary which everyone followed, unless the King wrote to them, and the illegitimate son Henry recognised, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, here are some books I would recommend.

    Young Elizabeth by Alison Plowden
    The King’s Pearl Henry Viii and His Daughter Mary by Melita Thomas
    Children of England by Alison Weir
    Elizabeth Apprenticeship by David Starkey
    The Lady Mary by Milton Waldman
    The Bastard Prince Henry Viii’s Lost Son by Beverley A Murphy

    A number of the sources found can be found in collections online and in the studies above.

    1. Thank you for those BQ. A couple of days ago I purchased Lauren Mackay’s book on Eustice Chapuy. One thing about being stuck inside, lots of time for new books.

    2. I have read Children of England by Weir, and I have Apprenticeship by Starkey, I have always been very interested in Henry’s bastard son so I will read The Bastard Prince by Murphy, thank you Bq.

  34. I have no sympathy for Henry VIII. He bullied his 1st wife. He made his two daughters bastards
    He had another woman in line to marry after Anne Bolyen was executed. He probably would have
    got rid of Jane Seymour had she not given him a son.

  35. Henry VIII, a total digust! He has one wife killed, then he wasted
    no time on getting married to Jane Seymour. He got his 4th
    marriage annulled, then he quickly married a teenager, Katherine
    Howard. He killed her to. The Monster wasted no time getting
    Rid of wife’s, a nun, noble men and women. He was never punished
    For his crimes.

  36. Henry VIII, he is a total digust. I can’t understand why any lady at
    court would want to be married to Henry VIII after he had Anne
    Bolyen executed. He wasted no time getting engaged to Jane
    Seymour. Then he was married to her before the end of May.

    He had no feeling for either of his two daughters. Both of them
    were Motherless. All the old goat had on his mind was a male heir.

    He got a son off of Jane, then she died. Had I been a lady at court,
    I would have got on the list ship out of England.

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