25 April 1536 – God will send unto Us heirs male – The Fall of Anne Boleyn
Posted By Claire on April 25, 2019
On this day in 1536, King Henry VIII suddenly seemed very hopeful of a Prince of Wales to succeed him. Did he know something that everyone else didn’t?
Was Henry VIII hopeful that Queen Anne Boleyn could still give him a son, or had he, in his mind, moved onto his new flame, Jane Seymour?
Find out more about what Henry VIII said in today’s video, which is part of a series counting down to Queen Anne Boleyn’s execution on 19th May 1536.
If you’re interested in my book (very cheeky plug!), then you can find out more at http://getbook.at/fallanneboleyn.
If you prefer articles to videos, you can click here to read an article on this.
5 thoughts on “25 April 1536 – God will send unto Us heirs male – The Fall of Anne Boleyn”
I don’t think Henry was committed to his second wife but has made a formal declaration of Anne being his “entirely beloved wife” and he is hoping for children in the future with Jane Seymour, not with Anne Boleyn as he has put the legal apparatus into action. Henry was putting on his public face in this document because he didn’t want Anne or the foreigners getting wind of the behind the scenes going on. Henry knew that he was going to possibly prosecute his wife, Cromwell was hot on the case and it was a case of waiting for someone to do or say something which comes trigger the first arrests and investigation. The term of endearment is used formally in most royal marriages because that is how people talked and wrote. Henry isn’t going to write ” my dearest whore of a cheating wife whom I want rid off” now is he? Sorry being sarcastic. No, he has a public face to show the world and as he can’t have a son with Kathryn and Anne and is now almost 45, he is hoping his new wife with no complications will give him a son. This is also why Henry wanted to execute Anne. He had Katherine of Aragon around for three years, refusing to accept she was no longer Queen, calling herself Queen and being acknowledged as Queen while he was married to Anne. What if Anne did a Katherine, even after an annulment, poking around the place and calling herself Queen? Anne and Katherine had both been crowned, Anne with the crown of Saint Edward or a version of the original and she was anointed as a Queen. That made an annulment more complicated and Henry look like a twit. He had pursued Anne for seven years, broken from Rome to have her and left a faithful wife after 24 years, all because he felt his first marriage wasn’t valid and he wanted a son. All of his hopes and dreams had been in Anne and she had invested everything in Henry as well, her youth and children she could have had, she was under pressure and their marriage had not been everything they hoped. Henry saw the same sad pattern happening with Anne, the loss of child after child, although Anne may have only lost two children, the birth of girls not boys and he was fed up and felt cursed. There is no way he was thinking Anne was pregnant, there had been no indication of pregnancy after her miscarriage, he wanted a fresh start with no complications, he wanted a permanent end to his marriage with Anne and hopefully he could now have sons with the potentially fruitful, and maybe not so troublesome, Jane Seymour. Jane, however, wasn’t quite as none troublesome as he hoped.
I agree, he was merely putting on a show of publicly supporting his queen as he did not want her or anyone else getting suspicious, after her last miscarriage he had blurted out that God did not want him to have any sons, and he then made the much debated comment about Anne seducing him into marriage by witchcraft, he was grief stricken sick of Anne and he wanted out, I actually believe he had got fed up with her long before but because she was pregnant had stuck by her, just to see if she would give him a son, so we can deduct by his statement of having heirs that he was thinking of Jane Seymour, Anne was grieving for her lost child as well as Henry and she must have been devastated by the death of another child, more so if it was a boy which the doctors believed, with all the trauma she was feeling she was also having to cope with the fact that she had disappointed Henry again, her position was very shaky and she knew the King was seeing one of her ladies in waiting the ever virtuous Jane Seymour behind her back, that’s a good point also about Anne having been crowned with the crown of King Edward, through doing that he had made a public statement that she was the real queen not a fake one which was how he had portrayed his first wife, Anne had been crowned and anointed, was he now about to say he had made a mistake, Henry did not want to look a fool in front of the crowned heads of Europe, therefore the only way to rid himself of his troublesome wife was to rig charges against her so diabolical death was the only option, alive she would pose a threat as there would always be those who would question her coronation and the anullment or divorce, if Henry decided to go down that road, he had to make sure that his third marriage would be seen as legal his next child legitimate, that could only happen if Anne were dead, thus was she doomed and so were five men, Anne herself believed she may go into a nunnery and was content to do so when the alternative was death, but it was all a ploy, she was tricked into agreeing her marriage was not valid and then was still told she was to die, it was a dreadful shocking way to treat any person let alone a woman whom had been loved so passionately by a King of England, those hands who had caressed her so many times were the same hands who would sign her death warrant.
I am just trying to imagine Anne finding out what he was up to and confronting him. She would be both terrified and angry. She did confront him to plead with him over something on 29th with Elizabeth in her arms, possibly because he had heard about Anne’s conversation with Henry Norris and was telling her it was over. We don’t know this for certain, but it is a good bet. Anne had a temper so I can imagine her confronting Henry and demanding to know why he believed such things about her. I can even imagine her throwing a few things back at him. They had a few stand up rows, Anne was no shrinking violet. No charges had been brought as yet, so who knows, maybe she could have saved herself, at least for now. I know it sounds unlikely, Henry may as well have become even more determined to kill her, but his investigation would be out of the can. If I could write a scene were Anne confronted Henry she would definitely hit him over the head with a rolling pin and do a lot of screaming at him as he shrinks further into himself. Of course Henry could use threats to scare her, he had done so before, he could be brutally frightening and he was at the end of the day the King. Maybe that’s the point. No matter what Anne did, she really couldn’t save herself. However, keeping this from her and everyone else must have done some doing and it wasn’t a chance he could take.
The Courts of Europe got the spin doctor version, the polished version after the arrests had been made and the Queen and her alleged lovers were in custody. The Queen of England had betrayed the mighty King Henry who had raised her up from a daughter of a knight to the crown of England and she was sleeping her way around the court. It was shocking. She was out of control, sleeping with at least five men that the prosecution could prove, but probably slept with a lot more, up to 100 men. Not only that but Anne plotted with her alleged lovers to kill His most excellent Majesty, who had treated her with every dignity and honour and she used his friends to get to him, humiliating His Majesty and putting the succession in jeopardy. Worst of all, this terrible woman had slept with her own brother. The King was in deep shock at the betrayal of a woman he loved and had given up everything for. His Majesty was in withdrawal and had taken himself away from the world, such was his grief and deep hurt at this terrible betrayal and attempt on his life. Anne may even have attempted or conspired to murder Princess Mary and Henry Fitzroy, the King’s illegitimate son. This was the sanitized and official version, the actual indictments were more like the latest version of the Maquise de Sade. Henry had to preserve his dignity, his masculinity and his honour because he had lost control of his wife, something no husband should do in the sixteenth century. Sexual dominance belonged to the man and a cuckold was a laughing stock, but a woman who had a lot of lovers was deemed to be a sexual predator and a Jezabel and to be living an unchaste and deviant life. There was something more going on, she was a seductress who used unnatural powers to procure men to her evil and unnatural purposes. Now we know Anne wasn’t charged with witchcraft but the sexual terminology used in the salacious indictments wasn’t much different. Henry could gain sympathy because there was nothing he could do to stop such a Siren and she had wined and dined and partied with her lovers and got them to agree to assassinate the King, sinning against the sacred person of the King. Add the more terrible and damming charges of incest with her own brother and Anne was capable of anything. The charges of conspiracy and treason were added for the death penalty to be certain and you could not really have the other charges without them, not in this case. Anne had to be seen as evil personified. The incest charges helped to ruin her reputation for good and to blacken the name of the entire Boleyn family and to give veracity to her adultery and attempted regicide. If she was capable of one terrible thing, she was capable of everything and vice versa. Anne was accused of planning to kill her husband with each man separately, but oddly not all of them together, which means the prosecution wasn’t as certain of its case as it may actually appear. With no linking of the accused as part of a wider conspiracy each person had to be found guilty, but with the trial a complete fix, that wasn’t going to be a problem.
The problem for Henry was this wasn’t quite as clean as Cromwell hoped it would be. As I have said before the accused, especially Anne and George gave good accounts of themselves, a steady defence and won public sympathy from those in the packed hall. A number of notable people didn’t believe the charges and comments from abroad show the spin didn’t work. It was shocking alright, but it was Henry who was criticised, not Anne and it was his actions which created shock and amazement. He was hunting and visiting his future brothers and father in law and remained out of sight while his wife awaited execution. He prepared his next wife for her marriage. It was noted that Henry moved to a house close to hers and dined with her family. Eleven days after Anne was executed Henry and Jane Seymour were married. She may have been accepted after a time because she favoured Princess Mary, but people talked. This sudden turn of events wasn’t the most popular move in the world, although Jane did win people over. The speed of Henry’s third marriage was horrifying.
IMO, Henry’s reference to Anne as his “entirely beloved wife” should not be taken at face value, since he lied during his speech at Blackfriars, where he said that he hoped desperately that his marriage to Katherine of Aragon would be found valid.– showing that his word isn’t good, especially when there are political issues involved. I don’t think he was worried about Anne imitating Katherine of Aragon overmuch, though — Katherine’s nephew was the most powerful man in Europe, whereas Anne had no influential relatives to help her.
Henry stood there at Blackfriars and came out with the most unexpected pompus nonsense anyone has ever had the audacity to declare before a Court of Law and I think he actually believed it. I think he would have accepted the verdict for Katherine back in 1524, but five years on he was well and truly on the verge of doing something dangerous if he didn’t get out of a marriage he was absolutely convinced was null and void. I don’t believe he would be doing all this otherwise. He had granted Katherine the right of a public hearing, without realising her real intention, although after some twenty years of marriage you would think he would have some idea what his wife was like. Katherine had him pretty much weighed up, well to a point as she was being naive thinking he was going to see reason at some point. After five years, Anne was still there, she obviously wasn’t just another mistress. But Katherine had a master stroke lined up and Henry and the entire gathering were in for a command performance. I do think he still respected Katherine at this point, but his honeycomb words were a lie, or at least a bluff to hide his true intentions. However, both the King and Queen were petitioning the Court for justice and a decision so he had to sound like a petitioner, not making demands, but asking for consideration of his cause, although the Cardinal had instructions to make certain it went in his favour. Had Katherine and he had a couple of healthy sons, he wouldn’t have been looking for another wife, and I believe Henry was trying to convey that in his opening remarks but then his next words are an outright lie. He stood there under oath and committed perjury. I can’t remember the exact words but he told the Court that if his marriage was declared valid it was his dearest wish and he would be a good and loving husband to Katherine again. He told the truth he had no displeasure in the Queens person and I believe that much to be true because it was a lack of male heirs, not his wife’s age which worried him, but he lied about everything else. Henry wanted a decision in his favour. He believed what was convenient and he and Anne thought this was it. He had his witnesses lined up, the signatories on a document of support from the clergy and Lords, but had forged that of Bishop John Fisher, he was practically told everything would go his way and he probably had a wedding day in mind. He was so confident that he gave the impression that he was content to remain married to Katherine should the Court judge his marriage lawful. Of course this was a lie, a blatant cover story to create a good impression. He couldn’t wait to be free and marry Anne Boleyn. We don’t know at what stage Henry ceased caring whether his marriage really was valid or not, but I suspect it was long before Blackfriars and he was now determined to do everything it took to force through an annulment, if he could. However, Henry and the Cardinals got the shock of their lives when Katherine rose, appealing to Henry, made her heart felt and triumphant famous speech and then appealed to Rome. A higher authority would now her her case and Henry would have to wait. He would try all kinds of tricks to intervene and force the Pope to make up his mind but Clement was reluctant to do so because he was in the power of the Emperor Charles V, Katherine’s nephew. Henry gave up, declared himself Supreme Head of the Church and forced through the annulment himself.
I don’t think Henry feared Anne’s behaviour as such if she remained alive, as you say she didn’t have a power base or powerful foreign relatives, but he couldn’t be bothered with the inconvenience. Anne and Elizabeth were two much of an inconvenience and a threat to the legitimacy of his new marriage and future heirs with Jane Seymour. The Supremacy was part of his decision because he had gained so much power through it that anything such as a defiant or argumentative wife threatened that power and he acted against Anne and the men accused with her because he felt that position being questioned. Henry could now more or less do as he pleased and fed up with Anne, fed up with the lack of sons and having fallen out of love with her, he told Cromwell he wanted her gone and Cromwell did the rest, although he had his own reasons for obliging his master.