9 May 1536 – Lots going on at the royal court


By this day in Tudor history, 9th May 1536, there were eight new prisoners in the Tower of London. All had been arrested between 30th April and 5th May, and things were moving fast.

On Tuesday 9th May 1536, King Henry VIII wrote to his principal secretary and right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell, “commanding him to repair to the King to treat of matters relating to the surety of his person, his honor, and the tranquillity of the realm”. He wanted an update. On the same day, a council meeting was summoned.

Meanwhile, the Justices of the King’s Bench were sending orders to the sheriffs of London to assemble a grand jury at Westminster on 10th May. They were to rule on offences alleged to have taken place in the county of Middlesex.

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6 thoughts on “9 May 1536 – Lots going on at the royal court”
  1. I’m sure Cromwell wanted to get this over with before too many irregularities in the case were discovered and so his master could remarry as soon as possible. I’m being a bit flippant but this whole charade of ‘justice’ really angers me.

  2. Henrys bizzare letter baffles me, he writes of the surety of his person and his honour, was this his way of telling Cromwell he was aware of murmurings against him, he was no fool and the sudden arrest of the queen and her co accused made just on the flimsy evidence of a musician, (who could have had a grudge against the queen and or her so called lovers) he knew was done with undue haste, as the post says it was all rather quick regarding Anne had only been arrested a week before, all knew as well that she had not had a chance to explain herself to her husband as he had had no contact with her since that fatal May Day, it was such a hasty state of affairs I’m not surprised Henry must have had misgivings about what his own people were saying about him and abroad also, as for the grand jury, they were busy shifting through Cromwells so called evidence to decide wether there was enough to bring the queen and the other prisoners to trial, this reeks of hypocrisy as nothing was going to stop the trial going ahead and all this was just carefully staged so it would appear that the Queen of England was going to have a proper trial in a court of law by learned and respected peers of the realm, as several of Annes later biographers have said, she was tried and condemned before a grand jury, but that does not make her guilty and all it means is that the King and his sham of a court were involved in a big conspiracy to murder, whilst this most tragic of England’s queens was passing away hour after gloomy hour in her lonely prison, not knowing what would happen to her, her once devoted husband was going about at court bewailing his fate at being married to such an evil woman, a woman who fornicated with her own brother, an immoral loathsome woman who had threatened to poison his darling daughter Mary, how deceived he had been by her feminine wiles…..

  3. I’m not so sure Henry was decieved. I think he was acting that way to cover his owy involvement in what was happening to her and the others.

    1. Hi Michael, I meant that was the rubbish he was spouting off about her he was trying to act the wronged husband, he knew deep down his wife was innocent, maybe he believed she had flirted with the men accused with her, and maybe after hearing of her conversation with Norris, he thought she rather fancied him and perhaps he thought she fancied quite a few of the courtiers but, he knew as King that queens were always surrounded with people, their lives were not private right down to when they went to their toilet, they were always with some one therefore it was just not possible for Anne to have slept around the amount of times she was alleged to, unless she was the invisible woman.

  4. Had murmurs gotten up against the arrest of the Queen? Did Henry feel he wasn’t getting the party line across as effectively as he had hoped? Unfortunately, we don’t have a clue and the letter to Cromwell makes no sense whatsoever. The Council meeting and juries are obviously called to put both the legal apparatus together and the nobles and Council summoned to make plans. The important matters discussed, I would guess would be the upcoming trial, the charges against the Queen and her alleged lovers, the alleged threat to the King, the future end of the marriage and possibly his future plans. The security of the Tower and the Palace and Capital may also have been an issue that was on his mind as these were tense days and the atmosphere in the City must have been on a knife edge. When the trials were held, they would be in public, in front of at least 2000 people, they could be a time of unease and security would be high to prevent trouble. This was no normal treason trial, it was one involving a crowned and anointed Queen, with charges that are spectacular and scandalous and, whether Anne was popular or not, this was bound to attract great public interest. It was also something which had the potential to attract trouble and discontent. When we remember that on the actual day of her trial, Anne gave a good account of herself and gained much sympathy, this sort of concern would be justified.

    In addition to the public trials, the executions would be either at Tyburn before hungry baying crowds or on Tower Hill, again before hungry baying crowds, huge in numbers. Not only that, there would be at least five of them and the accused were probably famous in any event. George Boleyn certainly was. The crowds would need to be watched and controlled and the nobles had to attend the executions, especially if the Queen was executed as they witnessed it on the behalf of the state. Protocols had to be put in place also regarding Anne as no Queen had as yet ever been executed. I am guessing all of these concerns were discussed at this meeting.

    The Jury was also sworn in the Grand Jury and called upon to look at the evidence and if there was a case to answer. The Indictment they would eventually bring the next couple of days laid down charges of conspiracy with each man separately, then together to kill the King and that Anne procured each man to do her bidding and to be her lover, in some horrible details, making her out as a seductress and wh*re. She was painted in terrible terms and the magnitude of the charges shocking.

    The dates that each offence allegedly took place on were clearly invented and don’t make any sense. Anne or her co accused were either in different places to those on the Indictment, they were elsewhere on the dates given, or the Queen had just had a baby. For example two dates in November 1535 don’t make any sense as Anne was already well into her final pregnancy. It was not advised that a woman had sexual relations with their husbands as it might harm the child. Anne was desperate to provide Henry with a male heir and it is unlikely that she would take a lover and risk harming her unborn child. Henry and Anne had just returned from a triumphant and joyful progress and were apparently of one mind at this time, so this made it doubly impossible that she took a lover.

    Anne was accused of incestuous adultery with her own brother, simply because George visited her regularly, as a brother would a sister, with one theory being that she did so in order to gain a son. Why on earth would a pious woman, who had refused to sleep with the King of England unless she had a ring on her finger, sleep with her own brother, especially knowing how shocking a sin this would be and that her children would probably be disformed? This makes no sense and would have horrified everyone at this time who heard of this. This was shocking, but it had a point, for if Anne was guilty of this, she was guilty of anything, no matter how scandalous.

    Another date, when Anne was meant to have taken a fancy to a mere musician, Mark Smeaton, was immediately after she had just given birth to Princess Elizabeth. Apart from hardly being likely to feel like such an activity, it is totally impossible. Anne, like most Noble or Royal ladies had to withdraw to have her children, she was joined by women only and in the birthing chambers, where no men were allowed. A woman also had to remain confined for six more weeks until she was churched, the formal time when she came and was blessed and cleansed and thanks given for her survival and then she returned to life in public. Anne could not go out of this room during that time and no man could enter, so just how did she have this torrid affair with Mark Smeaton of all people? This again of course was a ridiculous invention.

    Even had Anne wanted to meet lovers in various palaces, she would need assistance to do so. She would need help from at least one or two of her ladies that she could trust and to leave the Palace unseen, help from a guard and maybe someone to go with her for protection. It was not plausible for a Queen to leave the Palace without an escort or someone knowing. Her life was not lived in private. That none of her women were ever brought up on charges for helping Anne makes the idea that she snuck out at night for some nucky several miles away total nonsense. Katherine Howard was only meant to have one lover during her reign and he was escorted to her, in the same palace, by her ladies and with a look out on the door, not from another place. Anne was accused of making love to at least five men, in several different places, over three years on many occasions, without any help at all. What was she, an escape artist? Did she have several doubles? Could she magically be in two places at the same time? No, of course not!. Again, it was all made up by Thomas Cromwell and nobody cared if it was true or possible or not, because Henry wanted it so. These Council meetings may well have been to ensure nobody asked any questions but did their duty and with a number of those on the Jury and as the Judges being enemies of Anne and the Boleyn factions or connected to the leading nobles in the case or to Cromwell, it was certain nobody would fail to bring the expected outcomes about.

    In short, it was one big fat stitch up and the Queen and five innocent men were doomed.

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