3 May 1536 – A shocked archbishop and concerns over the investigation – The Fall of Anne Boleyn

On this day in 1536, 3rd May, a shocked Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote to King Henry VIII regarding what he’d heard about Queen Anne Boleyn. Meanwhile, the investigation into the queen wasn’t quite going according to plan as the arrested men were not ‘playing ball’.

I give details on what happened on 3rd May 1536, including how Queen Anne Boleyn unwittingly got Sir Francis Weston into big trouble.

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 http://getbook.at/fallanneboleyn.

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 “3 May 1536 – A shocked archbishop and concerns over the investigation – The Fall of Anne Boleyn”
  1. I m not convinced Cranmer believed the charges. He knew Anne well and from the tone of the letter it was a ‘feeler’ to find out what happened. When he was told what he probably knew were lies he knew for his own safety not to pry further and said if true he would condemn her. I base this soley on how the letter to the king sounds to me.

  2. I doubt he did either Michael he knew the queen very well, how pious she was and his amazement was so great, he put quill to parchment and spoke of it to King, In Cranmers carefully worded letter we can see his need his desire to defend the queen, his friend and patron, yet he had no wish to offend his most divine majesty either, thus the somewhat sychopantic words, ‘ I do not believe your majesty would have gone that far unless you believe she was culpable’, he was the only one to defend the queen at this moment and had Anne heard of this she would have been grateful, he was he said ‘sheer amazed for he never had better opinion of woman than he had of her’, over the next few weeks he was to become embroiled in her fall, having to anull her marriage and there was a meeting ordered by the King later on, where she was taken to Cranmer but we know not what was said, however we can infer that it was to do with her anullment which she agreed to, Cranmer must have hated his work in the days to come, after her death he wept openly and we can see he was devastated at her fall, Anne when it came to young Francis Weston played directly into Cromwells dirty hands, in all innocence she was trying ascertain why she was in the Tower and why these charges why were these things being said about her? Her mind ran on and ran trying to remember snippets of conversation, unfortunately for him Weston’s name came up and the remarks Anne made were used against her and Weston, it was just courtly love banter yet Cromwell twisted them around to make them sound sinister and treasonous, it was as Bq attest’s the desperate workings of the prosecution to make a case stand against the queen which was very weak, for the charges were simply based on banter and gossip and of course her co accused were refusing to comply, why should they? Smeaton in his wretchedness had accused the queen of adultery but Norris and George the queens brother were nobleman, courtiers and men of honour, although Boleyn was to admit he had led an immoral life later on, but why should he admit to something he knew he was innocent of, he must have been as shocked as his sister and furious to at the way they were being treated, and Norris had offered to defend the queen in combat, Cromwell knew he had to get more men and so when his spies reported back to him about Weston he too was arrested over the next few days, to his also shocked amazement and the great distress of his wife and family, so desperate were they, they raised a huge sum of money as ransom in the hope the King would release him, but it did no good – Weston who was only in his early twenties was doomed like Anne and the others, the Tower ws filling up with Cromwells victims, whilst this fat sloth like figure with the cleverest brain in England sat back and waited for the Kings ‘justice’ to commence.

  3. Claire are you aware that from the 13th May until November this year, Hever Castle are exhibiting two costumes from Anne of the Thousand days. One worn by Richard Burton and the other by Genevieve Bujold. I just though you’d like to know, seeing as you’ll be there the day before. Love your website! Love Daniela

  4. Anne was still talking and trying to work things out in the Tower, but she should have held her peace because she was being spied on by the women appointed by the King and they told William Kingston everything she said. She should have worked out by now that she had to be cautious as these ladies were not her friends. She got poor Francis Weston into the soup because she talked about him admitting to loving her when she told him off for wanting her cousin, Madge Sheldon. He had told Anne that Norris came more into her chambers for her than Madge, which again points the finger at Henry Norris and making him look even more guilty. Anne’s foolish talk in her fear and stress and her half hysterical state she accidentally condemned an innocent man to death.

    At the same time this conversation was another innocent one and this again shows that the case of the prosecution was weak and as Claire said in the video is actually falling apart. Only Mark Smeaton had confessed, Norris had not, contradicting the earlier claims that Norris had confessed something which he later denied. George Boleyn had also refused to give up anything. The Chamberlain of the Queen had commented on this, it was clearly causing concern. Would the crown now break the law and use torture to get more confessions? No, gentlemen were exempt from torture, but Cromwell, Audley and others could still put the pressure on. Interrogation techniques probably haven’t changed very much in extreme cases, like treason and terrorism, special measures are still authorised today. Never let anyone tell you the government never uses torture, of course they do. Stress positions, water boarding and sensory deprivation are all used to question terror suspects, legally here and in the United States and many of the same things were standard methods 500 years ago. Both Norris and George Boleyn could well have been subjected to at least some form of highly pressured questioning, anything to get the King his much needed confessions, but no such confessions were forthcoming.

    Thomas Cramner wrote his famous and amazing letter, in which he first of all shows much sympathy for the King and the crisis of spirit he finds himself in. He tells Henry that God has sent him a trial but he will come through it by giving himself up to the grace and mercy of God. He says that what has happened against him is against his honour and now he must face that which has been sent to come through this great trial.

    He then writes of what he had learned about Queen Anne, the reports of her terrible and wild behaviour, her sexual escapades not with one man, but with three or four up to know and possibly with more arrests to come. Henry must know that his Archbishop is amazed at such reports and he tells Henry this. He also qualified his statement with “if these reports of the Queen be true” which tells us he may not believe the accusations against her. He has been in the debt of both Anne and the King and he tells Henry that he is greatly disappointed because he believed Anne as a defender of the Holy Gospel was painted as a lady of virtue and she was the last person he believed would do something like this. Cranmer was now being diplomatic, not wanting to inflame a delicate situation and not to offend the King. Henry would not have proceeded against the Queen in such a way if there had not been just cause and he showed great sympathy for the wronged King. He was indeed bound to Anne but now she had proved herself to be a common wh*re and he called her the enemy of the gospel in her behaviour, but of course he is speaking as if she was guilty, but he is doing so because this was what the King claimed and wanted everyone to believe. He found these charges hard to believe but he couldn’t write anything else to Henry Viii and now it seems he was given proof. Cranmer was summoned to the Star Chamber and given more information, but he didn’t change his letter. I don’t believe Thomas Cranmer believed these charges but he had to show that he was loyal and we know that he mourned Anne when she died.

    Who was this Margery Horsman named as having strange behaviour and being questioned about her friendship with Queen Anne? She was associated with Lady Lisle and she became very close to the Queen since 1532, serving in the Wardrobe and caring for her jewels. She served Queen Katherine and later Queen Jane and is mentioned in several letters from Lord and Lady Lisle and was apparently a very good friend, who may even have passed on the Queens little dog Porkey to her on behalf of Lady Lisle. She shared Anne’s distress when the dog died and helped to break the news to Anne when nobody else would tell her. It appears that Margery was questioned because they hoped she would know something of the alleged affairs but it is doubtful that she told them anything. Eric Ives for some reason identified Margery as the mysterious third woman who gave evidence along with Nan Cobham and Lady Worcester, mentioned in Lord Lisle’s letters at the trial. It isn’t known what any of these women said about Anne but they were more than likely pressurised into saying what the crown wanted to hear and we simply don’t have the records or know if they were even called as witnesses at the trials. We know that Chapuys was there and he wrote that the men were convicted on hearsay and very little evidence, so perhaps no witnesses were called, but testimonials may have been shown to the Court. We shouldn’t read too much into Margery Horsman going on to serve Queen Jane because most of her women did; this was their livelihoods after all and people had to carry on.

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