29 January 1536 – Queen Anne Boleyn loses a male child

On this day in history, 29th January 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII miscarried “a male child which she had not borne 3½ months”.

This was just five days after the king had suffered a jousting accident, a reminder of his mortality, and his hopes of a legitimate male heir were now dashed. He must surely have thought that history was repeating itself, that there was something wrong with this marriage too.

You can find out more about Anne Boleyn’s miscarriage in the following videos:

And on the very same day that Anne Boleyn suffered her miscarriage, her predecessor, Catherine of Aragon, was laid to rest at Peterborough Abbey:

If you prefer to read articles, rather than watch videos, here are links to articles:

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13 thoughts on “29 January 1536 – Queen Anne Boleyn loses a male child”
  1. There were rumours that Anne had previously suffered another miscarriage the previous year, she was pregnant or thought she was, then we hear no more, sadly, after giving birth to a daughter, then if the rumours of the first miscarriage are true, followed by the last and fatal one on the 29th January, that would make Henry V111 all the more inclined to believe that Anne was not able to give him a male child, storm clouds were gathering over Anne Boleyn, we are told the Duke of Norfolk relayed the news of the kings fall most gently, this must be true he would not wish to alarm Anne, even though he disliked her and she disliked him, she was after all carrying whom everyone hoped was a prince, the heir to the realm, but she could have been unnaturally alarmed thinking what would happen to her if the king her protector was dead, the miscarriage was so very sad and tragic because I believe it did sound the death knell on her marriage, if we can put ourselves in Anne’s position, she knew there were enemies ready to strike everywhere, she knew the kings eye had wondered and everything rested on her giving birth to a son, all this would have made her neurotic bad tempered and fearful, she was not blessed either, with a calm disposition, maybe Jane Seymours presence at court upset her more than everyone thought, certainly the king who was selfish he was after all the king, and could do what he wished, expected the queen to look the other way and it was up to her to take care of herself, however when she told him in floods of tears, having just lost her baby, that she was grieved because she saw he loved others more than her, his conscience must have pricked him a little, we are told Henry was very upset at this, all women we know need the support and love of their husbands more when they are pregnant, it certainly does not help when you know they are dallying with some floozie, hormones play a part in the emotions to, stress is also a factor which was unknown in Tudor times, knowledge of the psychological state of the human mind was in the far distant future, had Henry V111 been on better terms with his queen and left Madame Seymour alone, had he made sure Anne did not get upset too much she may well have carried her baby to full term, but the blame game continued and the atmosphere in the queens bed chamber must have been awful, they were devastated at the birth of the child whose appearance looked male, the poor little mite was wrapped up and where he went we do not know, as a royal baby he may have been buried, maybe he was buried in the tomb of her grandparents , Henry V11 and Elizabeth of York, sources do not tell us what happened to the dead infants of kings, Anne had to contend with another failure and she must have then known she was doomed, Henry was said then to have muttered to some courtier that he had been bewitched into marrying Anne, certainly it must have seemed to him that he had ripped the kingdom apart for nothing, it was this remark made in anger and grief, that has endured down the centuries and led many to believe Anne was charged with witchcraft, it was also the basis for Retha Warnickes claim that Nicholas Sanders writings were correct, half a century later, that the dead infant was deformed, and Anne had indulged in depraved sexual orgies with her own brother and others, these men she claimed were sexual deviants, there is no foundation to Sanders claims that the baby was deformed, he was an enemy of Anne’s daughter Elizabeth a Catholic, and Catholics deplored Elizabeth being a Protestant, and no one at court ever said the baby was anything other than a normal child, but Henry V111 I think was determined that his screeching barren virago of a wife had to go, he now had two useless daughters and still no son, this was proof to him that this second marriage of his was cursed just like his first, and just like Katherine of Aragon was tossed aside so must Anne be, however here was a crowned and anointed queen, and another annulment was out of the question, whilst Anne tried to pick up the pieces off her shattered world, Henry’s mind must have been searching for avenues to rid himself of her, he spent several months closeted with his councillors, and although outwardly he was still supporting her, it was merely a front, Anne was by then we believe older than was originally thought, she was around thirty five or thirty six, past the age when women were considered their childbearing best, Jane Seymour was about nine years younger and had several brothers, all these factors made her appear very attractive to Henry, as Anne’s star continued to fall so did Jane Seymours rise, four months later Anne’s fall when it came was shocking and unprecedented in English history, she had indeed miscarried of her saviour, and it must have seemed to her enemies those supporters of Queen Katherine, that losing her baby on the day her rival was interred, that God was showing his displeasure at the woman who had brazenly usurped her throne.

  2. With the mass of flesh why not add claws and teeth and scales and have the baby in the womb for two years and emerge unformed and not quite made up? Oh hang on a moment, that’s John Rous and his amended story on the birth of Richard iii, exaggerated by first Holinshead and then William Shakespeare, not Anne but I use this example to emphasis just what one could do to malign a person for the sake of propaganda. Nicholas Sander wrote in a similar vein with the same purpose of Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I. However, he stopped short of the claws and teeth with scales on the back but the damage was done. Instead we have a monstrous mass of shapeless flesh and he attacked the sexual characters of these two women instead because the misfortune of a miscarriage of such a child in his mind is associated with sexual deviance.

    Retha Warnicke did indeed put an emphasis on this not so widely held belief and upheld the testimonial of Father Sander rather than Eustace Chapyrus and others despite the fact he wrote 60 years after the fact and was extremely biased. Chapyrus may have been biased but he also strove as much as possible to be accurate. Warnicke didn’t believe that Anne committed adultery with these five men or that her brother and she were guilty of the shocking crime of incest, but she does argue that the five men were targeted because they were sexual deviants in other ways. Two treatise were around at the time that raised the idea that if a woman had a baby who was deformed in any way or miscarriage of the same, it was as the result of sexual sin. She links this miscarriage directly to Anne’s demise.

    However, hold on a moment, Anne didn’t give birth to any deformed children or a mass of flesh and in fact Chapyrus who would have had a field day with such an event is supported by at least three other contemporary writers who all say that she simply had a miscarriage of a baby boy. Had Anne indeed delivered a monstrous looking child I can well imagine that Henry would not have waited another four months to get rid of her but would have had her dragged out then and there and disposed off. Witchcraft was punished with death and if Henry was starting to think he had married a witch, it was a simple matter to arrest and try her for this crime.

    Henry and Anne were both extremely distressed at what was the normal but sad loss of another child, this time identified as a boy and the miscarriage made public. Terrible rows followed, they accused each other of dreadful things and Anne was left extremely vulnerable. Anne was distressed that Henry slept with other women and was clearly in love with her husband while Henry saw his marriage as cursed and blamed Anne. He spoke in private with friends about his distress and he was devastated. Henry questioned the legitimacy of his marriage, had Anne put a spell on him? I don’t believe he meant this literally and his words were those of a grieving husband and father. Anne was never accused of witchcraft, even by people who spoke of her in gossip. There is no literature about it either. Plenty of people called her a sexual deviant and a goggle eyed wh*re but never a witch. The rumours that Anne gave birth to a monster are from many years later and are used for political reasons to blacken her name and that of her daughter. When we read a source we must always ask why it was written, when and by whom and what do they really want to tell us? The background to a story is important and if the story has changed at all. Contemporary writers are the best, especially ones on the spot but even then we must remember all of them had an agenda. Here Chapyrus had an agenda to report everything to his master Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. He was a devoted friend of Katherine of Aragon and her funeral had just taken place. Yet even he was honest and he simply reported the miscarriage as an event, that the baby was male or looked male and the reaction of the King to all of this. Yes, Chapyrus writes with some glee that Henry has a new mistress and has hardly spoken to Anne but he doesn’t mention any mass of flesh.

    Anne must have been heartbroken at the loss of another baby as any mother would be but she was probably afraid as well. If Henry was speaking about not having any sons with her, then he must have been thinking about an annulment. In fact over the following weeks Henry did consult with canon law experts but there were also signs of reconciliation between Anne and Henry. From this moment onwards their relationship was fragile and to those observing it was a matter of when, not if, and how Anne would be removed.

  3. Yes that is correct, Miss Warnicke thought Anne was innocent, yet believed that Henry V111 thought she was a sexual deviant because of the deformed foetus, she alone thinks this tale bruited abroad by Nicholas Sander has the ring of truth in it, she has put too much into this story, yes why not add claws and scales, one eye and webbed feet also? it is the most heartbreaking loss of all to lose a child, and poor poor Anne had not even the support of her husband, he may have made up with her afterwards, they may have got drunk together afterwards and both apologised for their harsh words together, we only know what the sources tell us, what they said to each other behind closed doors, in the privacy of the bedchamber we will never know, all we know is that Anne’s position became even more insecure after the loss of her baby, and that within four months she had been arrested tried and judicially murdered.

    1. I really agree with you and I used the Richard iii example because it illustrated how stories grew and those who wanted to exploit things could really blow nonsense into a good story for their own ends. You only need a person with an already poor reputation, a monarch with a good propaganda outlet, i. e the media and that’s it, you can say anything you want about them. Anne was executed as an adultress, traitor and worse she had committed incest with her brother. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t true, Henry Viii was regarded as a great King in the decades after his death and Anne was seen in very negative terms. Nobody had witnessed her tragic miscarriage by the 1580s and was still alive so why not write a load of rubbish about it?

      We now believe Cecilly Neville may have had a difficult delivery when it came to Richard her fourteenth child and five children died before him shortly after birth and she had been ill that year as well. John Rous rewrote his Chronicle which was dedicated to the Neville family in the Tudor period so by the time of Elizabeth I claws and so on are added. If you are going to say someone was a monster at birth, you might as well add various things to make them sound worse.

      Anne and Henry suffered the worst thing any couple could, the loss of a child, they were naturally devastated. The problem was that Henry had been through it all with Katharina and he was going through it all again. His killing of Anne was truly dreadful and disgusting and really the act of a brutal man. Yo put the emphasis on the writing of a man who needed to criticise the reign of Elizabeth as illegitimate and barbaric as true is mind boggling.

  4. I have Amy License’s book on Cecily Neville and iv yet to read it, but yes there were silly takes that Richard had been in his mother’s womb for two years, something which is medically impossible, that he was born feet first with hair right down to his feet, many people have by their enemies been the victim of character assassination, and we can see how Sanders tried to portray Anne Boleyn as a sorceress by painting her like witches were supposed to look, with warts and extra fingers, moles etc, all these very common human abnormalities were in superstitious times, said to be marks of the devil, by describing her thus he was saying she was indeed the evil sorceress who had destroyed Catholicism in England, it was a direct attack on Elizabeth 1st.

  5. I have to apologise as I had to cut my post short because I had a fantastic crowdcast which is similar to zoom live talk with Matt Lewis on the Princes in the Tower and their possible survival. Before that I was zooming with Sarah Gristwood on Katherine of Aragon from Peterborough Cathedral where the Queen is buried. This is the Festival weekend. My brain is aching after so many talks, one last night on the Battle of Stoke by Julian Humphries on the Tudor Society and catching up on the two talks by him. I am currently listening to an Eight Part podcast on History Extra on the Princes in the Tower. My brain will need a month off afterwards.

    To get back to Anne and her miscarriage from the point of view of a mother she must have been absolutely devastated and Henry’s first words are to say he will only speak with her when she is up and then they had a row. Their words stung and have gone down in history and this miscarriage was made public. Before Henry kept the loss of Anne’s baby in 1534 quiet and we hear nothing about it. Pregnancy was often only written about very little in those days and yet now we have Henry declaring that his marriage is again cursed and God won’t grant him male children and he blamed Anne for everything. Anne cries that she loves Henry and that she was heartbroken to see him with other women. She blamed Norfolk and the fright she took from her husband’s fall and everyone knows about their arguments. This miscarriage was devastating and it broke the marriage of Henry and Anne Boleyn as never before. I suspect that Anne was aware that this might be her last chance to have a living child as she was in her mid thirties. Henry was no spring chicken, being 44 and after 27 years of married life he only had two living legitimate children, both of them girls, neither of whom were ideal to him as his heir. Even Anne acknowledged that a boy was required for stability as ruler of not just England, but any Kingdom. Henry was growing older and was more and more paranoid. All of this trauma fed into his decision later in the year to be rid of Anne permanently.

    Nicholas Sander has the grim task of writing an unflattering account of life under Elizabeth I and he began with her illegitimacy, the fact thatvher father and mother committed bigamy because Henry was married to Katherine of Aragon, the Holy and legitimate Queen and also Elizabeth is a heretic. We don’t know really what he had read but he didn’t make everything up, he merely twists a lot of stuff before adding his own invention. Sander is writing at a time when men and women are being tortured and executed for their Catholic Faith and the alternative ruler, Mary Q of Scots is a captive in England. Sander has the agenda to encourage rebellion and an invasion and he makes the accusations that Elizabeth isn’t the rightful ruler and that she is unfit as a ruler. By blackening the name of her mother and showing her as not only an adultress but a monster, a witch with six fingers and goggle eyes full of moles and by saying look she cursed her own child and gave birth to a mass of flesh, he is adding to the belief that Elizabeth too might be an evil witch who has no right to the crown. This is why we can’t take this description as anything but propaganda by an apologist. That an accomplished academic like Professor Warnicke has done so is unfortunate and its this later story which has come down to us. Anne’s miscarriage was sad and tragic but natural and four sources attest to those facts. Tragically for Anne, this loss also left her vulnerable and set her on course for her own traumatic downfall.

  6. I also have to feel something for the men here as well because unfortunately the theories raised by Retha Warnicke have been misused by those down in the bottom of the pond of fictional writing, especially Philippa Gregory, to say that they led sexually dangerous lives. It is nad enough that the five men, Francis Weston, William Brereton, George Boleyn, Henry Norris and Mark Smeaton are overlooked every May or that they were accused of malicious and terrible criminal acts with the Queen of England, but they have unsubstantiated accusations of deviance aimed at them as well. Warnicke believes that the men were chosen specifically because they were sexually deviant.

    Now the Tudors and other drama also ran with the ideas that George Boleyn and at least one other person was homosexual and married because it was required. The list of men added included William Compton and Thomas Tallis who had a relationship even though they were not at Court at the same time. Warnicke says this circle of men fell into various categories of illegal sexual behaviour, including rape, sex outside of marriage and homosexuality. The term sodimy would also have included anything outside of marriage but especially male on male annal sex. The Tudors passed a new Buggery Act the same year which made this a capital offence. The first high status person executed was in 1540, William Lord Hungerford on the same scaffold as Thomas Cromwell for abusing his daughter, sodimy, many more sexual crimes. It would have been just as easy yo be rid of this group of miscreants under this legislation. However, the aim was to be rid of the Queen, who by witchcraft had aborted her baby or because of sexual misbehaving with this same group of deviants. That at least is the basis of the theory and the sexual politics comes into play to bring down the Queen who is morally loose and these men are chosen as undesirable. Anne it is argued adds to this deviant behaviour through criminal incest with her brother. The confessions of these men on the scaffold are brought into play as confessing either guilt or as proof of bad illegal sexual crimes all of their lives.

    The poems of George Cavendish tell of George Boleyn and a life of rape and raveshing women gor example as well as calling all four gentlemen of either homosexual or womanising behaviour. However, this is an extremely biased source and some of the verses are very open to interpretation. The poem has been mostly dismissed as an unreliable source. Confessing on the scaffold followed a formula, basically you told everyone that you were great sinners as you faced Divine Judgment and acceptance of your situation was a good thing. The King is a wonderful guy was also required and you prayed for everyone. Very little should be read into the confessions of George Boleyn or that of William Brereton or anyone else, nor should we take them as an admission of their guilt.

    Although Professor Warnicke tells us that Anne Boleyn and the five men condemned with her, the examination of their sexual past and association with this legislation and illicit sexual practices during their lives previously has set their reputation on fire. In the public imagination the OBG and the Tudors these men either practised homosexuality with each other and others, or in the case of George Boleyn raped their wife and had a baby with their sister. Crimes long proven not to true are suddenly revived. The evidence in the indictments is nonsense and we can demonstrate that all of the men or Anne were elsewhere than in the place named. Anne was pregnant or had just given birth at the other times and there was no way she would sleep with her brother. Incest was a terrible crime, it was a sin which condemned the soul to hell, it was totally forbidden and it was horrific to think about.

    I am not saying George or anyone of the men were not gay, it is possible but they were not on trial for this. They were on trial for sleeping with the Queen on many occasions and plotting to kill the King. Neither was Anne tried for witchcraft or killing her unborn child. There isn’t any evidence about the sexuality of the men and there is no evidence that George raped his wife. However, it is these very things which have been revived and highlighted every time the names of these five innocent men are mentioned. None of them were sexually pure, they had made mistakes in their past, but these things were not a criminal offence. Having a gay relationship was dealt with in many different ways and the Church usually did so before the Buggery Act. It wasn’t something one made public because the Church and in some countries the State said it was wrong. In some places you could be put to death but in others attitudes were more fluid. We do not have evidence to support making these claims about this particular group of men and until we do, perhaps more efforts should be made to leave their reputation in tact.

    Finally, regardless of their sexual preferences and behaviour in their personal lives, we must remember that none of these men, nor Queen Anne Boleyn were guilty of the crimes for which they were brutally slain so as a paranoid King could sort out his love life. They were not guilty of adultery with the Queen, they were not guilty of treason and Anne and George did not commit incest. They were all innocent of those false crimes and that is what matters, not whether the men slept with each other or not.

  7. It is so easy to tell a lie that can’t be misproven. As politicians could besmirch the monster fetus sibling of Elizabeth I, and therefore the mother of Eliz I, it would cast a deep shadow on Eliz I, as bearing the stigma of sin, passed through her birth mother.
    It brings me back to the tradition of giving birth in public or with public witnesses, which of course, would prove that the child born was the legitimate son and therefore the heir to the reigning king in England. Were there official witnesses at the birth/miscarriage at this time in the royal household?

    1. Hi Madonna, Henry V111’s grandmother Lady Margaret Beaufort ordained that a certain protocol should happen over royal births, she herself having had a particularly difficult birth as a child of only thirteen, the expectant mother was to enter the birthing chamber about a six weeks before the birth and no man was allowed, not only her husband only women servants to wait on her, the midwives and her mother and any sisters she may have, the news of Anne’s dead infant being only three months old was reported to the king and he was naturally devastated, we have reports from witnesses that he declared he had been bewitched into marrying Anne, and he and the queen both argued,each blaming the other for their tragic loss, in ambassador Chapyus’s report that he wrote to his master the Emperor, it was a dead foetus that had the appearance of a male, very sad and tragic for both the king and queen and the hope of the nation was again raised and dashed, Chapyus was a reliable source of information and had been at court a long time, he had been serving Katherine of Aragon before the king petitioned for a divorce and knew many of the courtiers ambassadors and servants who were there, therefore we do have sound proof that the baby lost was just a normal baby with no abnormalities, it was Catholic propaganda that painted him as deformed many years later.

    2. Hi, yes official births of high born ladies, especially Her Majesty, were witnessed as was the act of consummation in some places. The bride and groom were definitely put to bed and sometimes the bed sheets were shown. In the cases of miscarriage it’s more difficult to say as it could have occurred anywhere and may have been quick or after a long while. The Queen didn’t sleep alone and her women were trained to react to emergency situations so they would have instantly brought help and Anne certainly would have had help come quickly. The doctor would have come as would the midwife, most married women helped others during pregnancy, the commotion wasn’t missed, the foetus in this case was examined as at least four male writers knew about it, so the ladies knew about it and the description was very precise. I am guessing Henry made certain the baby was examined and this time the humiliation of loss was made public. The loss of a miscarriage was not always recorded but this one was because of the importance of the loss. We actually know more about the losses of the children of Katharina of Aragon than Anne Boleyn but this time there was no hiding it and Henry made no secret of the fact Anne had lost a baby boy. We are even told that the foetus was about three to four months in appearance so an examination took place. The argument between Henry and Anne was head and witnessed and obviously repeated.

      There is a very odd and sad incident in the seventeenth century that tells us how, even though it was a very public event, the press can use propaganda to tell lies and how people are generally gullible and believe anything. During the reign of James ii, our last Stuart and Catholic King, his wife Mary of Modena gave birth publicly in Whitehall Palace. The birth of a son was really public, even two Archbishops were present, but soon nobody believed James, the healthy baby boy, was their son. Why? The warming pan story.
      Basically, a pamphlet and then the papers, published a ridiculous story saying that the baby was born dead and a live baby was smuggled into the palace via a side door into the bedroom in a warming pan. I don’t know if you know what it is, but you can’t fit a baby inside. They were bronze pans on a large handle filled with hot water and put in the bed like a hot water bottle. They are covered by a lid. The warming pan was brought via a side door, through the many corridors, up to the second floor, where the state rooms are, through four more bedrooms and the baby then smuggled into the bed, in front of all these people and somehow is produced in secret as the live Prince of Wales. The press had a field day and a broadsheet showed illustrations of it all. Fake news before Twitter and Donald Trump.

      Elizabeth must have been incandescent with rage at the tales of Father Sander as it would have destroyed her reputation at home and abroad. However, we know Elizabeth was an astute politician and no doubt she had a couple of paintings done to deflect these lies and insults. She probably had her own response as well. Elizabeth was a spin expert and no doubt her reaction was swift, brutal and clever.

      1. Yes I too have heard of the warming pan baby story, utterly ridiculous, the warming pans were not large enough to accommodate a baby, that’s a good point raised about Elizabeth having paintings of Anne commissioned, there were quite a few done in her daughters lifetime, and this could have been to prove she was not the monster Sanders had claimed she was, all the paintings I have seen of Anne show a fresh faced lady with large fine dark eyes and high cheekbones, features Elizabeth possessed, there is only painting of Anne I do not like, and that is the Nidd Hall one, because the queen looks rather harshly featured and ageing, it is not an attracting portrait at all.

  8. Yes Cavendish in one line of his poem has George declaring he was a wretched sinner, ‘maidens I did deflower’, he confessed, laughable really, and Professor Warnicke maybe a respected academic historian but I cannot understand her theories regarding the men who fell with Anne, to say they could have been chosen because they were sexual deviants is way of the mark, when there is no basis to it, there are no contemporary claims made at the time about any of these courtiers, the poor things just happened to be chosen because they were in Anne’s household or the kings, Norris was a likely candidate because he came often to see his fiancée Madge Anne’s cousin, flirting and banter no doubt went on, he was also in conversation with Anne when she recklessly made that remark to him about the kings death, Brereton was an older man and not, like the others in the queens set, Cromwell chose him because he found him a political nuisance, Weston a young man was a friend of the kings like Norris, and married with a child, only about twenty one he often played bowls and other sports with the king gambling and cards, possibly he was handsome, all these men mixed together and must have been on friendly terms with the queen as well as the king, certainly she was fond of Norris and Wyatt to, her old beau, he was arrested but later released, we have to consider also Chapyus who as Bq mentions, was at court at the time and although an enemy of the Boleyn’s was fair minded in his judgements, and himself later said he did not think the queen was guilty at all, if there had been gossip about these men of a sexual nature, surely Chapyus would have heard, he kept his eyes and ears to the ground, he was a most reliable source of information, Nicholas Sanders lurid tales about the queen can be and should be dismissed because he was biased, why does Warnicke give him credence, she relies too much on the superstious belief that abnormal sexual acts resulted in the birth of a deformed or handicapped baby, thus such a tale was woven around the poor mite that Anne miscarried, it’s mother was a sorceress her lovers were sexual deviants, her brother copulated with her and the result was the queen brought forth a hideous monster, Sander was just politically motivated, no doubt he probably thought as well that Queen Elizabeth turned into a serpent at night, like Melisande, the ancestor of the old Plantagenet dynasty, maybe he thought she walked out into the fields at full moon and cackled round her cooking pot, the typical offspring of that cursed concubine the witch Queen Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth really did come in for a lot of bias against her because of her mother, Anne was called the wet nurse of heresy, she was also considered a bastard because the pope had not given the dispensation allowing her parents to marry, Henry did commit bigamy when he married Anne, and the stain of illegitimacy haunted Elizabeth all her life, getting back to Warnickes belief about Anne’s alleged lovers being homosexuals etc, it’s true to say as Bq mentions, that they were not charged with sodomy just adultery with the queen and plotting to murder the king, yes what they did in their private life was private and they should not be called to account for it, but I find it highly unlikely they were anything other than normal, Norris was been married before and had two sons, Weston newly married, George was married and I am not aware if Brereton was, Smeaton was very young, we know however that just because they were married does not mean they were straight, all nobleman married they had to provide an heir to inherit their titles and manage.
    their estates, their marriages were often of convenience so they may well have indulged in homosexual acts, but there is no evidence to suggest they were or could have been, Warnicke is really reading too much into Sanders rubbishy writings of Anne fifty years, half a century later, when the queen and most of all who had known her and loved her, were dead, only Elizabeth had to contend with the vile slanderous accusations against her mother, fostered by the hatred of the Catholics against whom they deemed as a heretic queen.

  9. Most historians pour scorn on the theory that any of the five men were homosexual. There is no real evidence for it, and though people didn’t understand sexuality then as we profess to in modern times, there would have undoubtedly been court gossip if any of them had been. George Boleyn is often pointed to as possibly being secretly homosexual, but I’ve never seen any real evidence.

    I would refer any of you to Diarmaid MacCulloch’s biography of Thomas Cromwell for possible reasons for why those five were chosen alongside Anne. His thoughts in the book are not fully developed, but he strongly hints that it was not an accident. He develops his idea further in a YouTube video about the biography, where, amongst other things, he backs up some of the ideas Hilary Mantel uses in her Wolf Hall trilogy. Sure, she uses a Masque in Wolf Hall to make her point, and I know some get caught up in that and argue that the mask didn’t happen at Henry’s court and the 5 didn’t take part anyway, but what Mantel, who does know her Tudor history, is saying, and what MacCulloch is suggesting in the YouTube video, is that all of the men had mocked or otherwise insulted Cardinal Wolsey after his death and this could have been a catalyst for Cromwell’s resentment and anger, because of the grief he felt over Wolsey’s death. I think people struggle with that, possibly because they don’t consider Cromwell capable of such feelings, but MacCulloch points very often to Cromwell’s abiding and deep loyalty, respect and affection for Wolsey. However different those times were compared to now, grief is still grief. I think it is plausible that Cromwell, given that he openly admitted to Eustace Chapuys that he had planned Anne’s downfall (though it was Henry who wanted her out of his way and Henry who could have spared her by just having his marriage annulled and didn’t), used the opportunity to avenge Wolsey by destroying people who didn’t show Wolsey the respect he was due.

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