29 June 1536 – Thomas Boleyn is punished

Posted By on June 29, 2017

On this day in history, 29th June 1536, just over a month after the executions of his children, Queen Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire, was stripped of his office of Lord Privy Seal.

Three days later, the office was granted to Thomas Cromwell, the man who had been responsible for the legal machinery used to bring down Wiltshire’s son and daughter.

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14 thoughts on “29 June 1536 – Thomas Boleyn is punished”

  1. Banditqueen says:

    I don’t know whether to feel sorry for Sir Thomas Boleyn as he was in reality being punished for something which at the end of the day was not his fault and for as we know, his children were entirely innocent or to say that’s Tudor life. It seems the fate of the fallen courtier to hand over their honours and jobs as well as their homes and goods to the now loyal courtier who brought them down in the first place. Thomas Boleyn was afterall sharing in the spoils of war as Lord Privy Seal and so on as he gained the title after his own role in the fall of the unfortunate Cardinal Wolsey. I don’t believe in karma but we do from time to time reap what we so and if we get honour and title and fortune based on ambition and bringing down a rival then we run the risk of someone else jealousy doing the same to us if we get too powerful. Sadly for Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn, this happened to them with all too tragic consequences. Anne and George were executed on trumped up charges of treason, incest and adultery as Anne had risen higher than your normal Courtier and daughter by becoming Queen. Her family fell with much more disgrace and affect than Wolsey had done. They lost their lives, and yes, it is possible that Wolsey may have been executed but he died first so we don’t know, which meant the entire family were penalized. Henry didn’t always punish the next generation, but this was extreme and political necessity caused a factional shift at court. Henry had little regard for Sir Thomas and his years of service, he now lost one of the symbols of that service…the Lord Privy Seal.

    The new Lord Privy Seal was of course Thomas Cromwell, the architect of Anne’s fall and execution, the loyal obedient servant who took his masters orders and made up a load of rubbish to frame his innocent Queen and friends. This was his reward along with manors and a knighthood soon afterwards. He had also helped to promote and changed alliance to the Seymour faction and they also received honours over time. The fixer himself, however, would find this role to be cursed, for he too as Lord Privy Seal fell from grace and was executed after his role in finding Henry the wrong wife. With the companion role this honour often went with, Lord Chancellor this seems cursed as it had claimed many a good servant over the years. Archbishop Sudley and Thomas Becket, both brutally murdered held both roles, Cardinal Wolsey held both, More was Chancellor and he too fell from grace, the next two Lord Privy Seals, one in banishment and loss of fortune and one on the block, fall to its curse. If I was offered these high roles in court government I would say I am honoured but unwell and leave for a protracted holiday in Spain.

  2. Christine says:

    Talk about kicking a man when he’s down, yet in spite of his family’s disgrace he was soon back at court and carried the train at little prince Edwards christening, he would not let anything stand in the way of his climb for self advancement, however he was not a young man and depression must have sunk in from time to time, how did he feel coming face to face with the man who had engineered his children’s fall and who now held the office which had belonged to him, that of Lord Privy Seal? Cromwell had been his daughters enemy and morally speaking that meant he was Thomas’s also, but family values at the court of Henry V111 was not the same as now, but he must have thought was it all worth it when he pondered as he must have done at the brutal deaths of his children, his granddaughter had lost her status as Henrys heir and his family were ruined, now this losing his prized role was a further blow, I don’t know how he coped and he also had to comfort his wife as best he could, no wonder they both died shortly after, quite possibly overcome with grief.

  3. Ana Gomez says:

    I do wonder if Thomas Boleyn felt grief ? To lose the King’s favor was far harsher than having his son and daughter executed …..how extraordinary to our eyes today !

    1. Banditqueen says:

      We don’t know what Thomas Boleyn felt or if he grieved but I guess that both of Anne and George’s parents grieved in private. How could they not, especially after the terrible way they lost their beautiful talented and successful children? Elizabeth Boleyn was very close to her daughter and Anne showed concern over her mother, whose health was not too good while she was in the Tower. Elizabeth’s health declined further and she died eighteen months later. I have always believed it was the trauma of this unjust double execution which contributed to Elizabeth’s death. I believe Thomas mourned also in private, but his remaining family had to survive and like an old soldier he knew the only way that was possible was for him to eventually find his way back into royal service.

  4. Globerose says:

    OK, I have a quick question, only I’m having difficulty forming it. I guess my question is this – could Thomas Boleyn simply have retired to Hever and lived out his days in quietude and rest? Was this even an option? Would the king, Henry, have needed to ‘send him from court’, as it were, to retire him officially so that his duty to his king was officially severed?
    Although his court role had been withdrawn from him, did he even have the right to step back and away from his king? Did Thomas Boleyn have a choice? That’s what I don’t know and because I don’t know, how can I possibly judge him? Oh, and thanks for birthday wishes and I had a pizza and champagne evening with my sister and it was fun!

    1. Christine says:

      Hi Globerose that’s a good point, even had he wanted to would he have been able to retire from the court? He had been a valued servant of Henrys and I don’t believe he had a say If he wanted to retire, monarchs could dismiss whom they wanted when they wanted, also from his young days he had always served King Henry and his father faithfully so we could say his life was the court, he had never known anything else yet after his daughter and sons disgrace it was not the same, after losing his wife he must have felt like everything was lost as indeed it was, iv said this before and il say it again, it was a dreadful sad end to a brilliant family.

      1. Rosilyn Galea says:


        Watch Claire’s video on Thomas ~ it’s very informative, as always!

    2. Christine says:

      Happy belated birthday by the way.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        Hi Globerose and Christine, I don’t know if Henry was in the mood for merely allowing Thomas Boleyn retire. He wanted the entire family to feel his displeasure and although Thomas and Elizabeth had nothing to do with what Anne and George were alleged to have done, unfortunately their “crimes” of treason, adultery and incest which they had been found guilty of, under the law meant the family lost more than their two children. The guilty verdict = lose of goods and property and because Henry had given them their honours and titles as a consequence of their services during his relationship and marriage to Anne, he is punishing them by taking back his bounty. As Christine says Kings rewarded who they wished and dismissed people if they no longer needed their services. Someone high in favour may be allowed to retire with a generous pension in old age or with ill health, but if you went out of favour…well the consequences could be dire. You may merely be banished or allowed to live in the country, but you knew you were not in favour. With a family disgraced by treason they lost titles, property, goods, (with the exception of the wife’s Dower lands) and anything else if attained. Hever was confiscated by the crown and ended up being given to Anne of Cleves. Thomas was a valuable servant which is why he was able to get back into favour and attended the baptism of Edward Vi. There is some indication that Thomas was in favour again before his death in 1539 and that his daughter, Mary inherited what was left and a cousin also took over some of the remaining properties. It took more than two years to sort out her money and she only enjoyed it for six months before her own death.

        1. Globerose says:

          I see. Think I do, anyway. It is difficult to put aside 21st century liberal values, isn’t it. So there was not much else poor Thomas could do but to strap himself back in the saddle and ride off back to court to the service of his sovereign, eh?

        2. Christine says:

          Hi Bq, yes indeed the bill of attainder had been in force for centuries for those nobleman who transgressed the law, many had lost titles and property, however the bill could also be reversed in which case a mans property could be returned to him or his family if he were dead, it happened to the Le Despencer family after Hugh Le Despencer was brutally executed, by the orders of queen Isabella and her lover Mortimer, as mentioned Mary Boleyn was now Sir Thomas’s heir yet she too died young, most likely by grief in losing all her family in just four years though she was happily married to her second husband, it’s a mystery what happened to Mary she is the only member of the Boleyn family whose grave has never been discovered, this maybe a gloomy thought yet I’m wondering if she killed herself in which case she would have been buried in unconsecrated ground? Though she had a husband she very much loved and children, maybe she died in childbirth? In any case I’m hoping one day her grave will be discovered as I’m sure she deserved to have had a fitting memorial.

      2. Globerose says:

        Thanks Christine. I take the point. I’m not sure I quite grasp the power of a medieval king over his court, or that this is totally accepted! Hey ho!

        1. Christine says:

          Hi that’s ok, yes it’s very hard to imagine the sort of power the early Kings had but they still had to consult with parliament before they could pass bills etc, and if a King was shown to be inept he could be forced to abdicate, Henry V1 for example was a weak King and was deposed by Edward 1V, later coming to a rather sticky end in the Tower, Edward 11 was crushed by a rebel army comandered by his queen and her lover, he to was murdered quite possibly, so kings could only go so far themselves, yet it was Henry V111 who ruled absolutely having supreme power over the church after breaking with Rome and that power made him into a bit of a despot, imagine anyone trying to depose him it would be unheard of.

        2. Banditqueen says:

          I think that was the difference between the Tudors and the Plantagenet Kings. The use of Attainder was often to show a person had not accepted justice or to confirm justice. It could of course as Christine reminds us be reversed. This was of course at the will of the King to whom a formal petition was made or if a new King needed the service of family x the original attainment was reversed and everything restored. A family may regain favour via the next generation or pardon. Henry Vii of course, having given so many days for the leading fighters at Bosworth who had not been taken or made their peace. He let the ordinary people go home, but he predated his reign to before the battle and declared everyone who fought against him as traitors. He had some 30 officially attained but in fact most only lost liberty and property or were reduced in rank and most were released at some point. Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey was put in the Tower and then released after a few years as his soldier experience was needed. He proved himself useful and loyal to the first two Tudors and died as Second Duke of Norfolk in his 70s in 1524. Despite their parents executions the Stafford (Buckingham) and Cromwell heirs went on to prosper and suck it up under Henry Viii. Both were made peers and both received property, offices and good marriages. The young and very unfortunate Edward, Earl of Warwick, the young son of George, Duke of Clarence, whose execution and attainment barred him and his sister from the throne, never had that reversed, but he did receive the Earldome of Warwick and in theory, the revenue which went with it. Unfortunately, he was also deemed a threat by Henry Vii, housed in the Tower and in 1499, beheaded for trying to escape with Perkin Warbeck. However, some recent scholars have suggested that had Richard iii won at Bosworth he would have reversed the attainment as he lacked an heir. Nominated as his heir at this time was John de la Pole and the sons of Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk, his sister. Richard was planning to marry Joanna of Portugal, but the Lady was thirty four and may not have had any children, plus it was sensible to have some idea of an heir going into battle or until a true born son arrived. Richard had lost his wife and his ten year old son and heir so an alternative was needed. Traitors were also not always attained. Lord William Hastings, whose shock execution took everyone by surprise, was not ‘tried ‘ formally, although the law of arms is cited as justified his summary execution, but neither was he attained afterwards. His will was carried out and his tomb is even better than that of Edward iv at Windsor, next to whom his Chantry Chapel stands. Kings have whims as well as power and anger and are very strange creatures who gave and retracted favour and honour as they pleased, often with fatal consequences, although occasionally someone successfully made a come back.

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