3 May 1536 – Archbishop Cranmer Defends Queen Anne Boleyn
Posted By Claire on May 3, 2011
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.
- LP x.792
- Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, David Starkey, Chapter 69: The Tower
- LP x.793
See Courtly Love, Flirtation and the Fall of Anne Boleyn for more information on the courtly love tradition.