25 April – God will send unto Us heirs male – The Fall of Anne Boleyn

Posted By on April 25, 2021

On 25th April 1536, King Henry VIII wrote letters to his ambassadors abroad and the content was very interesting, and rather bizarre, for the king suddenly seemed very hopeful of a Prince of Wales. What was going on? Did he know something that everyone else didn’t?

Find out more about what the king wrote in this video from my Fall of Anne Boleyn series, or read the transcript below.

Yesterday, I told you about Lord Chancellor Audley setting up two commissions of oyer and terminer on 24th April 1536, the commissions that were used to try Norris, Weston, Brereton and Smeaton in May 1536 for sleeping with Queen Anne Boleyn and plotting with her to kill her husband, King Henry VIII.

Yet, on 25th April 1536, the king wrote letters to his ambassadors abroad: Richard Pate in Rome, and Stephen Gardiner and John Wallop in Paris. In these letters, he referred to Anne Boleyn as “our most dear and most entirely beloved wife the Queen” and wrote of his hope for a son: “[…] for as much as there is great likelihood and appearance that God will send unto Us heirs male to succeed Us[…].”

Taking that at face value, his words suggested that Henry VIII was still committed to Anne, but historian John Schofield, whose biography of Thomas Cromwell I would highly recommend, wonders whether Henry was actually referring to his hope of a son with a new wife, with Jane Seymour. Henry had, after all, reacted to Anne Boleyn’s recent miscarriage by saying “I see God will not give me male children” and he had been wooing Jane Seymour since at least January 1536. Was this “great likelihood” of a son and heir due to the fact that the king knew that Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Audley were turning his wish into reality, that Anne would soon be removed and replaced with a new, and hopefully more successful model. Perhaps so.

My own opinion, and it is just opinion, is that Henry VIII’s jousting accident in January 1536 had reminded him of his mortality and the fact that he did not have a surviving legitimate heir. Then, Anne miscarried a few days after his accident, and he could see history repeating itself. He’d been through all this with Catherine and he NEEDED a son. Perhaps God wasn’t blessing him with a son because this marriage was contrary to his will too, Henry had, afterall, slept with Anne’s sister, Mary.

And then there was the fact that Jane Seymour was one of ten children, including six sons, she came from fertile stock.

On this day in Tudor history, 25th April 1544, an English translation of John Fisher’s Latin work, “Psalms or Prayers”, was published. It had been translated by none other than Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife.

It was published anonymously, but there’s rather a lot of circumstantial evidence pointing towards Queen Catherine as the translator. Find out more…

Also on this day in Tudor history, 25th April 1557, Tudor troublemaker Thomas Stafford, grandson of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, proclaimed himself “Protector of the Realm”. It didn’t go down well! Find out what happened…

Happy St Mark’s Day!

How as St Mark’s Day celebrated in Tudor times?

Find out in this #TudorHistoryShorts video…