3 May 1536 – Archbishop Cranmer Defends Queen Anne Boleyn

Posted By on May 3, 2011

Archbishop Cranmer These are dark times and it feels like there is a dark cloud hanging permanently over London at the moment. The Queen, Mark Smeaton, Henry Norris and Lord Rochford are all still in the Tower and there are rumours that there will be further arrests.

Like many at court, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer is shocked at the news of Queen Anne Boleyn’s arrest. The Queen is his patron and he owes his position and influence as Archbishop in a large part to her. Sir Tim Ridgway, our roving reporter, has contacts at the Archbishop’s office and we have been able to get hold of a copy of the letter written today by the Archbishop to His Majesty, King Henry VIII:-

“Have come to Lambeth, according to Mr. Secretary’s letters, to know your Grace’s pleasure. Dare not, contrary to the said letters, presume to come to your presence, but of my bounden duty I beg you “somewhat to suppress the deep sorrows of your Grace’s heart,” and take adversity patiently. Cannot deny that you have great causes of heaviness, and that your honor is highly touched. God never sent you a like trial; but if He find you no less patient and thankful than when all things succeeded to your wish, I suppose you never did thing more acceptable to Him. You will give Him occasion to increase His benefits, as He did to Job.

If the reports of the Queen be true, they are only to her dishonor, not yours. I am clean amazed, for I had never better opinion of woman; but I think your Highness would not have gone so far if she had not been culpable. I was most bound to her of all creatures living, and therefore beg that I may, with your Grace’s favor, wish and pray that she may declare herself innocent. Yet if she be found guilty, I repute him not a faithful subject who would not wish her punished without mercy. “And as I loved her not a little for the love which I judged her to bear towards God and His Gospel, so if she be proved culpable there is not one that loveth God and His Gospel that ever will favor her, but must hate her above all other; and the more they favor the Gospel the more they will hate her, for then there was never creature in our time that so much slandered the Gospel; and God hath sent her this punishment for that she feignedly hath professed his Gospel in her mouth and not in heart and deed.” And though she have so offended, yet God has shown His goodness towards your Grace and never offended you. “But your Grace, I am sure, knowledgeth that you have offended Him.” I trust, therefore, you will bear no less zeal to the Gospel than you did before, as your favor to the Gospel was not led by affection to her. Lambeth, 3 May.

Since writing, my lords Chancellor, Oxford, Sussex, and my Lord Chamberlain of your Grace’s house, sent for me to come to the Star Chamber, and there declared to me such things as you wished to make me privy to. For this I am much bounden to your Grace. They will report our conference. I am sorry such faults can be proved against the Queen as they report.”1

The Archbishop is understandably careful in what he says, writing of his amazement at the news of Queen Anne’s arrest and his love and respect for her whilst also pledging his full support to the King. Like Archbishop Cranmer, we pray that the Queen will soon be able to prove her innocence.

Here at The Anne Boleyn Files we have just received a message that the Queen has been quite hysterical in the Tower and that she has started “babbling” in “a desperate quest for meaning”2, an attempt to figure out why she, her brother, Smeaton and Norris have been imprisoned. Our sources report that she has now implicated Sir Francis Weston, a gentleman of the Privy Chamber and one of the King’s favourites. Our source has just given us the following report, please excuse the spelling!:-

“The Quene spake of Wes[ton, saying that she] had spoke to hym bycause he did love hyr kynswoman [Mrs. Skelton, and] sayd he loved not hys wyf, and he made ansere to hyr [again that h]e loved wone in hyr howse better then them bothe. And [the Queen said, Who is] that? It ys yourself. And then she defyed hym, as [she said to me].”3

Oh no! We are not the only ones privy to this report, the Queen’s words are also being fed back to Sir William Kingston who, in turn, is reporting them to Thomas Cromwell. These words, said to have been spoken in May last year, are obviously part of the Courtly Love tradition but they could be twisted into something else by those who we now feel are determined to bring down Queen Anne Boleyn. Will Sir Francis Weston now be arrested, we expect so.

Sources

See Courtly Love, Flirtation and the Fall of Anne Boleyn for more information on the courtly love tradition.

6 thoughts on “3 May 1536 – Archbishop Cranmer Defends Queen Anne Boleyn”

  1. Cranmer was 2-faced….playing his own game to maintain his power. He owed his position to the Boleyn family and turns on Queen Ann. Oh well, just wait Archbishop Cranmer…..your time is coming.
    …..Robert

    1. Claire says:

      I don’t believe that Cranmer was two-faced or that he turned on Anne. This letter shows his shock at what is happening but his support for the King if the rumours are true. We know from Kingston’s reports to Cromwell that Cranmer visited Anne on the 16th May and Anne spoke, after this meeting, of being spared and being sent to a nunnery. That suggests that Cranmer may have tried to strike some kind of deal with Anne but what we don’t know is whether he was being misled by Cromwell or the King or whether he knew that Anne would never be spared. I think that Cranmer was being misled and that he was trying to save Anne by getting her to confess to an impediment to the marriage so that it could be annulled, I don’t think he realised that he and Anne were being ‘played’.

  2. lisaannejane says:

    I really feel for Anne, being put in the tower and no information. Of course she would be upset but to actually write down what someone says when they are really in a state of shock? To think of gathering evidence this way really makes a mockery of the justice system.

  3. Carolyn says:

    What we might see as Cranmer abandoning Anne is actually the closest anyone came to defending her at the time. Everyone else was afraid for their own skin and kept their heads down and their mouths shut. That’s really sad.

  4. Anne Barnhill says:

    I agree with Carolyn–I don’t think we can quite get how scary all this was at the time and how terrified people were that they would be NEXT–after all, the reasons for the arrests had not yet been revealed to all and so who knew who the King would throw into the Tower? Cranmer owed everything to the Boleyns and he tried to stand up for Anne but then, couched it in terms that would sooth the King–self-serving perhaps but he was also trying to get the Protestant faith up and going–and he is the ONLY one we know of to speak up for her–her own father didn’t do that!

  5. Maya says:

    I think Cramner writing to the king on Anne’s behalf in the first place was an extremely brave thing to do–though you couldn’t exactly blame him for recanting his statement at the end of his letter. There was no reason for him to lose his head as well, and it’s doubtful Anne would have wanted him sacrificing his life for her. He was a reformer in a high position, who could continue furthering the cause of Church Reform even if she could not.

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