Breaking news just in from court. The Scottish Lutheran, Alexander Alesius (also known as Alexander Ales and Alexander Alane), who is at court to see Thomas Cromwell, has just told Sir Tim of a scene he witnessed between the King and Queen. Sir Tim recorded his account and I have transcribed it here:-

“I saw the most serene queen, carrying the Princess Elizabeth, a little baby, in her arms and entreating the most serene king, in Greenwich Palace, from the open window of which he was looking into the courtyard, when she brought the Princess Elizabeth to him. I did not perfectly understand what had been going on, but the faces and gestures of the speakers plainly showed that the king was angry, although he could conceal his anger wonderfully well.”

Angry words between the King and Queen are definitely not uncommon, their relationship is one of storms followed by sunshine, and this scene does show that Queen Anne Boleyn has gone into damage control and has realised that the argument between her and Henry Norris is being turned into something it wasn’t by the Chinese whispers at court. The King knows the rumour mill which is the Royal Court these days so I’m sure that his wife appealing to him in this manner will have set the record straight.



The above “transcript” is based on the words that Alexander Ales wrote to Elizabeth I on 1st September 1559, recorded on the Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 1: 1558-1559, 1303:-

“Never shall I forget the sorrow which I felt when I saw the most serene queen, your most religious mother, carrying you, still a baby, in her arms and entreating the most serene king your father, in Greenwich Palace, from the open window of which he was looking into the courtyard, when she brought you to him. I did not perfectly understand what had been going on, but the faces and gestures of the speakers plainly showed that the king was angry, although he could conceal his anger wonderfully well. Yet from the protracted conference of the council (for whom the crowd was waiting until it was quite dark, expecting that they would return to London), it was most obvious to everyone that some deep and difficult question was being discussed.”

Eric Ives describes the relationship of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn as one where “storm followed sunshine, sunshine followed storm” – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives, p196.

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15 thoughts on “30 April 1536 Queen Anne Boleyn Appeals to Henry VIII”
  1. This has always been one of those scenes that I’ve thought about for years, ever since first reading about it ages ago. I’d have given anything to have been a fly on the wall (or flower) to have overheard what words were said. But like all of us, I want to know what brought it all on, especially with Anne pleading with Henry while holding their child in her arms. Was Henry starting to “hear” the rumors? (Carefully nourished by the supporters of Mistress Seymour). Had the Anne/Norris disagreement already been told to him, and Anne was in defensive mode?

    Of course as someone who has always suspected that Henry was involved in Anne’s downfall — even if it was simply to tell Cromwell, et al to develop a plan while he ‘looked through his fingers’ — I wonder if it was a public performance on his part so that if there were witnesses, those people could later say that the King likely had his own suspicions. Without knowing what the disagreement was about, we can only propose suppositions based on the goings-on at the court during that period. No matter what, it had to scared Anne and perhaps had her wondering just how tenuous her position now was. It’s frightening when you’re being accused of something you know you did not do, especially when you’re not allowed to defend yourself. (Can’t you imagine Henry telling her that they can’t talk over top of each other, so she ought to be the one to shut up? Having been in that position myself, you do feel intimidated, especially when it’s a higher authority).

    Thanks Lady Claire and Sir Tim for the nerve-wracking update.

  2. It sickens me to think Anne boleyn might have been pleading for her own life and/or her daughter’s welfare to a man who gave her no peace and persued her relentlessly for years while remaining married to another woman.

    Poor Anne. By now she must have seen the real Henry and recognized the potential danger to herself and to her own family.

  3. I agree with Tina, just imagining this scene breaks my heart.. Anne with little Elizabeth in her arms pleading with the King.. She must have felt really afraid for her future to make a gesture like this.

    Looking forward to more breaking news from court!

    1. Chinese whispers is a children’s game. Children get in a circle, one whispers a sentence to the next child and then the whispered sentence is carried on round the circle from child to child. When it gets to the last child it is generally completely different to the starting sentence because kids have misheard bits of it. Just like how rumours and gossip start, people tend to elaborate the story before they pass it on!

      1. We called it the telephone game. My Dad once amused himself by starting a pretty crazy rumor at work just to see how long it took to get back to him, and how much it had been embellished along the way. It had been embellished a LOT.

        (Dad was a coal miner and said he’d heard a rumor that the mine was going to plant grapes on the reclaimed land – gently rolling hills, usually. By the time it got back to him, the mine was supposedly engaged in talks with Napa Valley wineries to come and set up vinyards, they were hoping to make the area where I grew up a new power in American wineries, etc. Which is hysterically funny for this area, but apparently some people will believe anything. It also didn’t take long for someone to suggest the mine owners were hoping to cash in big while performing their legal duty to put the land back the way it was, as much as possible.)

  4. This is such a powerful scene. I wish we could know what was said between them. How hard-hearted must Henry have been to turn away from Anne and his own child the way he did! But perhaps he had been persuaded Elizabeth was not his, though he never really indicated that–he would have a hart time disowning her–she was like him from her fiery hair to her fiery temper. To lose a mother at such a young age…what does that do to a child?

    1. Anne knew very well how hard-hearted Henry could be when his children didn’t do what he wanted when he wanted it done … look what he did to Mary. However, I have grave doubts that Elizabeth would have become the iconic queen she did if she didn’t lose her mother (and so many step mothers) to marriage related deaths (childbirth as well as beheadings) … IMO, if she hadn’t been so traumatized, she would not have been able to avoid marriage so well.

    2. Yes, it damaged her. It made her wary and cautious, and difficult to let her guard down. By her father’s and Seymour’s examples, it made her unwilling to let anyone wield that kind of power over her, as she’d seen how quickly one’s fortune could rise and fall for the slightest cause.

      And I agree that it was, in hindsight, perfect training for treading very carefully through the snake pit of the Tudor court long enough to finally take the throne.

      I might even go so far as to say this scene was the beginning of her fear of uncertainty and not being in control. Maybe this was the cause of her endless procrastinations and notoriously changeable mind as queen? If she dithered long enough, a lot of problems might fix themselves or not matter in time.

  5. I liked this scene from season 2, even though the whole season and the whole series was good, great to watch 🙂 . It was very disheartening though to see and to watch, this was just the prelude to her downfall. Very sad.

    Anne could not of known what was to come or to become of her then and afterwards, she just probably put it down to a lovers quarrel as they were known to have had quarrels like every couple does.

  6. The intrigue builds. Anne must have felt fear. And little Elizabeth… old would she have been at this time? How much would she understand? Did she have to watch her mother die? Cromwell was the real traitor looking out only for his future.

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