Cranmer_etchingAfter hearing the news of Queen Anne Boleyn’s arrest, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer wrote a letter to Henry VIII. In it, he was very diplomatic; he expressed his shock at the news of his patroness anf friend, but also expressed his full support of the King:

“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.”

There was nothing he could do to help Anne, her fate was in the hands of Cromwell and the King.

Notes and Sources

  • LP x. 792

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2 thoughts on “3 May 1536 – Archbishop Cranmer writes to the King”
  1. This letter is very diplomatic and Cranmer is obviously torn between shock at the arrest of a lady that he saw as a champion of the reformed gospel, and a lady of virtue; and attempting to show the King that if she is guilty that he cannot defend such actions. The letter shows that the Archbishop is very upset about what has happened, but at the same time he has to be careful what he writes to the King. He cannot be seen to say that he thinks Anne is innocent without saying that he is amazed that she is charged with such crimes and he cannot say he is shocked without assuring the King that he would not have proceeded unjustly. There must have been just as many who were surprised at the actions of the last few days as had either plotted it or expected it or even deligted in it; the arrest of a Queen was an extraordianry act; let alone her trial for treason and adultery; the arrest of four prominent members of the inner court with her must have caused real concern amongst everyone. The arrest of a court musician may not have been remarked upon but the arrest of the Queen, her brother, the person in charge of the Kings intimate actions, a senior member of his private chambers; and two other personal friends and companions of the King with the Queen must have caused something of a stir to say the least. Cranmer must have raised an eyebrow or two and been very concerned indeed. I am certain that he believed the Queen to be innocent; but how to write to the King at such a time must have been difficult for him; using just the right words as he does shows he took time over this letter.

  2. If Cranmer thought Anne innocent then he was a complete coward whose betrayal of her is the most noxious. Moral leader? Phooey.

    Of course, he may well have believed her guilty.

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