On this day in Tudor history, 8th May 1536, some very distasteful behaviour, downright greed, was being displayed by some of Henry VIII’s courtiers.

They were like vultures circling, wanting to take advantage of the fall of Queen Anne Boleyn and their fellow courtiers.

What were they doing? What were they after?

Find out in this Fall of Anne Boleyn video.

You can read the letters at here.

Here’s a transcript of the video:

By this day in 1536, the 8th May, Queen Anne Boleyn, Mark Smeaton, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton, George Boleyn, Sir Richard Page and Sir Thomas Wyatt had all been arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Their arrests were a shock to those at the royal court of King Henry VIII, but some people got over the shock quickly and made their move on the possessions of these prisoners. Rubbing their hands with glee, people like Lord Lisle, Richard Staverton of Berkshire, and the king’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Somerset and Richmond, set about writing letters to try and get their hands on the prisoners’ grants, offices and lands.

These people had not even been tried yet, but it was important to move quickly at court, as Fitzroy found out when the stewardship of Banbury, which had belonged to Henry Norris, couldn’t be obtained by him because it had already been given to Thomas Cromwell!

Reading these men’s letters makes me think of vultures circling, it’s just horrible!

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4 thoughts on “8 May 1536 – Courtiers take advantage of the situation – The Fall of Anne Boleyn”
  1. Vultures circling indeed is the correct phrase, but how distasteful how opportunistic and a complete lack of regard and feeling, to dare request the offices and positions of those poor men languishing in the Tower, whose trials have not even begun and so their fates undetermined, Richard Staverton even requested Henry Norris’s rooms at Windsor Castle on the 2nd of May just the day after his arrest, how did he not even know he might be released? And he goes onto say he has fourteen children, whose fault was that then, really it’s nauseating, Arthur Plantagenet also the bastard son of Edward 1V was greedy to get his hands on some of the spoils and Henry Fitzroy, it just goes to show that the Tudor court was merely a hotbed of ‘sod you Jack I’m alright’, and power was the only thing that mattered, the king himself was the perfect example of this, wedding his third queen two weeks after his wife’s body was lowered into her grave, poor Norris and the other men would have been aware of what was happening, knowing the times they lived in they knew the hounds would be baying at the door, a very distasteful thing to do but it was a reflection of the age, and the Tudor courtier was merely a product of that age.

  2. Talk about vultures is right, and vultures don’t actually wait until you are dead, they test the waters if you like, diving down to have a peck and test if the person is dead. They are known to hunt for carrion for days, being able to smell it from miles away, but they also like their meat fresh. We had a Medieval fair in the business quarter of Liverpool in 2007 because this marked the City Charter year of 1207 by King John and someone brought not only a display of raptors and falcons but on its own a huge vulture. It wasn’t too bad to look at, but they are rather frightening looking birds, a bit like a dinosaur. Vultures can sense death and waited on Medieval battlefields long before the two armies engaged. The Griffin is the most famous as is the Egyptian and Black Vulture. Few English griffins survive, but like the eagle they are making a comeback. It seems Henry Viii had a few at his Court.

    The choicest land and titles of Henry Norris and the others are up for grabs, although technically the law prohibited and seizures of lands and goods, without the prisoners on trial being condemned. Titles and offices are within the King’s gift as were any lands and titles granted by him, but they had to wait as well and there was a process. Unfortunately, treason trials normally only ended one way and that left a long list of rich pickings ready for redistribution. The man to apply to was Thomas Cromwell and he had already earmarked several offices himself and made promises no doubt to the highest bidders or those most useful to him and would get a number of juicy state administration posts. Here we have Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, Henry’s illegitimate son, Arthur Plantagenet, Lord Lisle, the illegitimate son of Edward iv and Richard Staverston wrote separate letters asking for favours, land, goods and titles, mostly belonging to Henry Norris or in his influence as if they knew the outcome was inevitable. I find something unpalatable and seedy about such behaviour, without honour or morality and it turns my stomach. This was the worst behaviour, brought out in the backstabbing atmosphere of the Tudor Court, the intriguing and betrayal of factional cat fighting.

  3. Harsh lifestyle, bro. If you moved on the estate of the not-yet condemned person and were wrong (think of when Mary I was ailing and suddenly Lady Elizabeth was everyone’s favorite) the repercussions were real.
    If, on the other hand, you hesitated, you lost the opportunity for advancement.
    Horns of a dilemma indeed.

    1. Not saying Mary I was condemned, by the way. Catherine Parr’s near fall from grace would have been a better example.

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