Something was definitely going on at the court of Henry VIII by 28th April 1536!

Long council meetings, experts consulted, the Lady Mary being given hope for the future… Anne Boleyn was definitely in danger.

What do the primary sources tell us about what was going on?

In today’s video, I share what the sources say about the goings-on at court.

I’m doing these “Fall of Anne Boleyn” videos daily until 19th May and I started on 24th April. You can catch up with them on the Anne Boleyn Files and Tudor Society Youtube Channel.

You can find out more about my book The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown at

If you prefer reading articles to watching videos, you can click here to read my article from a few years ago.

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6 thoughts on “28 April 1536 – Meetings and hope for the Princess – The Fall of Anne Boleyn”
  1. I just find it so dreadful that the fate of a living breathing human being was being decided whilst that person was not even consulted, why did not Henry V111 say to Anne he believed their marriage was cursed the lack of male sons was proof of that and he believed they should be divorced ? He did not want a slanging match which he knew would occur and which Anne would undoubtedly win, no he had to act like the coward and resort to skullduggery, he told Cromwell to seek out all other avenues to rid himself of her, and Cromwell now her enemy was quite happy to do that, Henry knew it would be a complicated business trying to end his marriage as we have discussed in other posts, she was a crowned and anointed queen, lengthy discussions with the canon lawyer and as Claire mentions, the convene of Parliament the proceedings of oyer and terminar all point to Anne, what Henry Cromwell and the canon lawyer all spoke about we will never know, but I should imagine the result was that divorce or anullment was not the answer, Henry was thinking of any future children he would have with Jane Seymour so here we see that alive Anne posed a threat to this, therefore Anne must be found guilty of high treason and warrant the death penalty, but he went one step further and had his marriage annulled anyway, Henry did not care if he looked like a hypocrite because with the charges against her, Anne was going to look very black indeed, Sir Nicholas Carewe who was a supporter of Katherine and her daughter Mary even wrote the latter a letter, telling her she would soon be in good cheer, Mary must have been warned by this letter but it has a chilling undertone to it, Mary loathed her stepmother and Anne had incurred many enemies, but the whole shady business of how this was conducted by Henry V111 and Cromwell ranks of hypocrisy and injustice, it was not done in a fair manner and even her enemies said so, she was aware of something but not the dreadful travesty that was to unfold around her, the letter Lord and Lady Lisle received about entertaining the King and queen at Calais is odd as by this, we can suppose Henry V111 was still openly supporting his wife but as we know, that also was a sham, in the public interest and his own personal interest he must be seen to be supporting Anne, whilst in secret he was discussing with his lawyers how to get rid of her, he was also courting Jane and discussing their future together, soon to come into fruition over the dead body of his wife.

    1. Every thing you said was obvious at the time and still is. That is why she is still being defended centuries after the fact. There have been bad English king’s but he really abused the judicial system. Anne is thought well of and Henry is not. The opposite of his intentions and all of his own doing.

  2. I’m imagining that during the three plus weeks leading up to Anne’s execution due to this matter touching the King personally, that being around Henry would have been more terrifying than normal and most had to walk on egg shells hoping to not get cought up in this mess. I also imagine immediately after her murder he returned to his normal scary self. I certainly would not want to have been part of his court during this time.

    1. I agree I bet it was dreadful having to wait on him and just generally be around him, in the same room etc at this fraught moment, Henry V111 really wielded absolute power and his misuse of the judicial system is evident as to what lengths he would actually go to get what he wanted, and is proof that absolute power does corrupt, Henry V111 is a prime example of that.

  3. Anne wasn’t daft. She was a very intelligent woman and I believe she “knew” something was up.

    Henry and Anne had planned to go to Calais on a State visit to France but later on this was cancelled. The arrangements here are still being put in place for the coming visit but in the meantime we have a lot of odd stuff going on. Cue Pink Panther music as everyone is sneaking about and being secretive and suspicious. Nicholas Carew was elected a Knight of the Garter and Privy Councillor in place of George Boleyn, which could mean nothing or it could mean the Seymour faction is being promoted. Henry is holding night time Council Meetings, something he would only do in an emergency or crisis and in fact Henry didn’t always attend them. Here we have meetings which presumably excluded the Boleyn family. Here too are unusual circumstances because the Court at night feasted and danced, it didn’t normally do business. This happened when Henry ordered investigations into the alleged pre marital affairs of Kathryn Howard. We also have some of the eminent names in English Canon Law and of the Church, Edmund Bonner and Dr Sampson who met with Thomas Cromwell. What did they discus?

    They either discussed more on how to get an annulment or if a future annulment could be granted, even if Anne was arrested and found guilty of adultery. Henry did force her to accept an annulment in order to make Elizabeth illegitimate. Could he have been hedging his bets here and looking to the Court to find her guilty but annul their marriage rather than execute her? Was Henry still in two minds? Did he still love Anne and it was only the confession of Smeaton and the criminal conversation about his death which persuaded him she was guilty, so he had to proceed with the prosecution? One theory supports this being based on unfortunate events and a bunch of mishaps and misconstrued conversations. However, all of the legal preparation for a judicial investigation contradicts this. Cromwell was getting ready and it was all very hush hush and the meetings are in secret. Nobody, not even the usually well informed Chapuys really knows what is happening. He was probably given a clue however by Nicholas Carew and went to Mary with the news that Anne was about to be set aside.

    I still think that part of the reason for the confusion in these letters to Lord and Lady Lisle is that Henry was still putting on the public face, carrying on as usual, but behind the scenes he and Cromwell are bringing matters to a head. In the meantime Chapuys declared to Princess Mary that she need not worry any more and the Princess was happy at this news. Chapuys didn’t realise Anne was going to be executed after a fixed trial but he did suspect that given the meetings with the lawyers and the Council that her marriage was at an end and that Jane Seymour would soon be Queen. Jane would favour Mary and had already invested time promoting her interests and was being prepared by a Marian supporter, Nicholas Carew for the role of Queen. In other words Jane was preparing for her wedding. Henry had sent him to do so. Anne was responsible for Mary’s mistreatment but Henry had consented to it and kept Mary from her own mother. However, Mary believed her poor treatment would cease if Henry married again, she had been given reason to hope for this and she blamed Anne for everything. This was naive. After Anne died things got worse, not in daily insults, but in that a commission was sent to her to demand her submission to her father’s will. It was only then that she saw her beloved father, whom she idolized was as much to blame as Anne. It was only with the help of Chapuys and Cromwell that Mary finally submitted and reconciled to the King.

    Anne herself must have suspected something was going on and had been for a few days at least because she had met with her chaplain and we assume commended Elizabeth to him or asked him to watch out for her. She may have felt the stress and tension growing and had Elizabeth brought to her and her guard was certainly down as she fell into Cromwell’s trap.

  4. Yes poor Mary was very naive and did not really know her father at all, she believed he had been under an enchantment like a prince in the fairytale, a spell put on him by the seductive enchantress and after the wicked step mother was dead the spell was effectively broken, Mary had lived a sheltered life and knew nothing about the relationships between men and women, now Anne was gone she thought all would be as it were before and happily wrote to her father for an audience but none came, she then wrote again and still silence, she could not understand why her father did not respond, she wrote to Cromwell begging for help and the result was a retinue of dour faced men sent from the king to get her to sign the document relating to his act of supremacy and her acknowledgment of her parents invalid marriage, poor Mary! Henry V111 had had enough of her disobedience during the years when she had sided with her mother and her tantrums when she had refused to acknowledge Anne as queen, and Elizabeth as the true princess and their fathers rightful heir, because Anne was now dead and disgraced did not change Henry’s opinion of his rebellious daughter, a bill was passed to make it treason to defy Henry’s status as head of the new Church of England and Mary must be made to understand this, we can feel for this poor girl who had known nothing but misery for most of her teenage years and it seemed still as if her misery would continue, by signing away the validity of her beloved mother’s marriage she felt as if she had committed the ultimate betrayal but her mother was dead, her father was alive and to him she owed her position and future well being, Chapyus that doyenne of common sense persuaded her to sign but it was something she never forgave herself for, however in the circumstances there was nothing she could do, and thankfully she found herself back in the family fold because of it.

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