5 May 1536 – Sir Thomas Wyatt, Sir Richard Page and Sir Francis Bryan
Posted By Claire on May 5, 2016
You may have heard that five men were executed on 17th May 1536 after being found guilty of high treason for sleeping with Queen Anne Boleyn and plotting with her to kill the King, but did you know that three other men were implicated in her fall?
These men were Anne’s relative, Sir Francis Bryan; Sir Richard Page, a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber and a former favourite of Thomas Cromwell; and Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, the poet and courtier. Bryan was ordered to London for questioning but not imprisoned, but the other two were thrown in the Tower and were there by 5th May 1536 because they are mentioned as prisoners in a letter written that day by Sir William Kingston to Thomas Cromwell. They were both later released, probably sometime in June 1536, but it must have been quite a scare for them.
You can read more about the men and what happened to them in my article 5 May 1536 – More interrogations and Arrests
Also on this day in history, 5th May 1542, Agnes Tilney, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, was pardoned after spending nearly five months imprisoned in the Tower of London following the fall of her step-granddaughter, Catherine Howard. Click here to read more.
1 thought on “5 May 1536 – Sir Thomas Wyatt, Sir Richard Page and Sir Francis Bryan”
Sir Thomas Wyatt was sure that he deserved to be arrested and felt guilty when his friends were executed and he saw them from executed. He felt what we today call survivors guilt, those who have been caught in a tragedy in which people they knew died but they survived, asking why he was spared. He expressed his feelings in moving, beautiful poetry and he said he alone was guilty, but he didn’t mean that he had slept with the Queen, but that he had long loved her. He was spared because he was a client of Thomas Cromwell and he had renounced any connection to Anne in his poems. He was too obvious a target and he was also in service to Cromwell, who appears to have helped Wyatt stay alive and also regain his freedom.
Sir Francis Bryan was a rogue but a man of value and his skills were used by Henry to spy and retrieve those who were enemies of the state, was a swift double talker and a relative of Jane Seymour and Anne Boleyn. He was questioned in London, but not arrested and he now fully supported and promoted the Seymour faction. This may or may not have saved him, but he wasn’t even put in the Tower, so clearly wasn’t a viable target.
Sir Richard Cage was also a former favourite of Thomas Cromwell and it is not clear how or why he was arrested, just that he was questioned, imprisoned and not released until June. Like Wyatt, it is possible that he was arrested merely to make up the numbers and to give the appearance of a fair investigation. Two people being found to be imprisoned although innocent would have added validity to the other charges.