Anne Boleyn and the Reformation

Posted By on March 29, 2010

It seems fitting during Holy Week to look at Anne Boleyn’s role in the English Reformation. However, one of the mysteries surrounding Anne Boleyn is what Anne herself believed, i.e. her own personal faith, and what her role in the English Reformation actually was. Historians just can’t seem to agree!

"Le temps viendra, Je Anne Boleyn" - Anne's inscription in her Book of Hours

In his report, “Anne Boleyn’s Religion”, G W Bernard writes:-

“It has become fashionable to characterize Henry VIII’s second queen, Anne Boleyn, as evangelical in religion and as a patron of reformers. But this rests heavily on the later testimony of John Foxe and of one of Anne’s chaplains, William Latimer. Contemporary evidence of Anne’s activity, under critical scrutiny, turns out to offer a different impression, as does an analysis of episcopal appointments in the early 1530s. A remarkable sermon preached by John Skip, the queen’s almoner, a few weeks before her death, casts further doubt on the claims for Anne’s reformist zeal.”

So, let’s look at the different theories regarding Anne’s faith and later on this week I will examine Anne Boleyn’s personal faith and the people who may have influenced her.

Anne Boleyn the Protestant Martyr

This is the Anne Boleyn that martyrologist John Foxe wrote about in his book “Actes and Monuments”, or “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”. Foxe saw Anne Boleyn as a martyr of the “new religion” who was a “zealous defender” of the true Gospel, a woman who used her position as queen to further the Protestant cause. Foxe wrote of Anne:-

“Godly I call her, for sundry respects, whatsoever the cause was, or quarrel objected against her. First, her last words spoken at her death declared no less her sincere faith and trust in Christ, than did her quiet modesty utter forth the goodness of the cause and matter, whatsoever it was. Besides that to such as wisely can judge upon cases occurrent, this also may seem to give a great clearing unto her, that the king, the third day after, was married in his whites unto another. Certain this was, that for the rare and singular gifts of her mind, so well instructed, and given toward God, with such a fervent desire unto the truth and setting forth of sincere religion, joined with like gentleness, modesty, and pity toward all men, there have not many such queens before her borne the crown of England. Principally this one commendation she left behind her, that during her life, the religion of Christ most happily flourished, and had a right prosperous course.”

John Foxe also believed that Anne Boleyn’s execution was due to:-

“Some secret practising of the papists here not to be lacking, considering what a mighty stop she was to their purposes and proceedings, and on the contrary side, what a strong bulwark she was for the maintenance of Christ’s gospel, and sincere religion, which they then in no case could abide.”

So, in Foxe’s eyes, Anne Boleyn was a zealous reformer and someone who died for her faith, a true martyr. Foxe concluded his “Oration to Saint Anne Boleyn” by saying:-

“Furthermore, to all other sinister judgments and opinions, whatsoever can be conceived of man against that virtuous queen, I object and oppose again (as instead of answer) the evident demonstration of God’s favor, in maintaining, preserving, and advancing the offspring of her body, the lady ELIZABETH, now queen, whom the Lord hath so marvellously conserved from so manifold dangers, so royally hath exalted, so happily hath blessed with such virtuous patience, and with such a quiet reign hitherto, that neither the reign of her brother Edward, nor of her sister Mary, to hers is to be compared; whether we consider the number of the years of their reigns, or the peaceable-ness of their state. In whose royal and flourishing regiment we have to behold, not so much the natural disposition of her mother’s qualities, as the secret judgment of God in preserving and magnifying the fruit and offspring of that godly queen.”

showing that he believed that Elizabeth I had been protected by God and allowed to prosper because she was Anne Boleyn’s daughter.

Title page of John Foxes's Book of Martyrs

Anne Boleyn Passionate Reformer

Joanna Denny, one of Anne Boleyn’s biographers, writes of Anne’s faith:-

“Hers was no superficial faith. Since her education in France she had an abiding interest in the New Learning and the religious reformation that was spreading like a revolution in thinking across northern Europe. Her views were evangelical, many would later say “Lutheran”. She read the Bible daily and believed that everyone should be able to read God’s word in a language they could understand.”

Here are some of the reasons why Denny believes that Anne Boleyn was such a passionate reformer:-

  • Anne used her influence to save some victims of the heresy laws, people like the Prior of Reading, who had been found in possession of Lutheran books, and Nicholas Bourbon de Vandoeuvre, the French poet.
  • She kept in contact with people she had met during her time abroad and used these contacts to obtain evangelical works like Clément Marot’s “Epistle and Gospel for the Fifty-Two Sundays in the Year” and “Le Pasteur Evangélique”.
  • Anne sponsored Tyndale’s “New Testament” and owned his “The Obedience of a Christian Man”, the book which she persuaded Henry VIII to read.
  • Anne saw herself as having been called by God to marry the King, just like Esther in the Bible, a Queen who would save her people by promoting religious reform. Denny writes “she believed that God was with her, steering her towards her destiny. If it was God’s will that she should become England’s Queen, then the annulment would go through.” Denny also writes of how Anne told the Venetian ambassador that God had “inspired his Majesty to marry” her.
  • She gave each member of her household a book of Psalms in English.
  • Anne appointed evangelical chaplains to her household and influenced the election of reformist bishops – Alexander Alesius (Ales) described to Anne’s daughter Elizabeth I, during her reign, “the evangelical bishops whom your most holy mother had appointed from among those scholars who favoured the purer doctrine of the gospel”.
  • Some of Anne’s silkwomen were evangelicals who helped to import illegal Bibles.
  • Anne displayed a copy of Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament.
  • She supported exiles and refugees from abroad – Denny writes of how Anne wrote to Cromwell appealing for the release of an Antwerp merchant, Richard Herman, who had been imprisoned under Wolsey for his “help to the setting forth of the New Testament in English” (Anne’s words). Herman was released and went to work for Cromwell. Anne also secured the release of the poet Nicholas Bourbon.

Anne Boleyn's Book of Hours

Joanna Denny ends her chapter “A Renaissance Family” by saying:-

“Anne Boleyn was the catalyst for the Reformation, the initiator of the Protestant religion in England”

and she quotes P F M Zahl (“Five Women of the English Reformation”) as saying that Anne Boleyn “lived for one thing: to see the Reformed religion overcome the opposition to it both within the Church and outside it…[she] ached to see the Reformation triumph.”

Many discount Joanna Denny’s book as being anti-Catholic and too over-the-top in its defence of Anne Boleyn, but she does make some good points about Anne’s faith and her zeal for the new ideas coming out of Europe. Denny, however, is not the only historian or author to believe that Anne was a keen reformer, Eric Ives also writes of Anne Boleyn’s role in the English Reformation in his chapter “The Advent of Reform”. He writes that:-

“Anne played a major part in pushing Henry into asserting his headship of the Church…Yet over and beyond this, Anne was a strong supporter of the religious reform…Brief though Anne’s influence was, it was a thousand days of support for reform from the throne itself. And hindsight can say more. The breach in the dyke of tradition which she encouraged and protected made the flood first of reformed, and later of more specifically Protestant Christianity, unstoppable. Catholic hatred of Anne damned her for the break with Rome and for the entrance of heresy into England. It was right on both accounts.”

Ives agrees with Denny that Anne’s influence in the church can be proved by the appointment of evangelical bishops such as Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Shaxton and Thomas Goodrich. Both Ives and Denny point out that out of the ten elections to the episcopate from 1532 and 1536 seven were reformers with links to Anne

Ives also writes of how Nicholas Shaxton wrote to Cromwell after Anne’s death asking Cromwell to remain as diligent in promoting “the honour of God and his Holy Word than when the late queen was alive and often incited you thereto”, and how Alexander Ales (Alesius) said to Elizabeth that “true religion in England had its commencement and its end with your mother.”

Ives also agrees with Denny on Anne’s careful choice of reformist scholars, her habit of studying the Gospel, her displaying of the Bible in English, her protection of the illegal trade in Bibles and reformist literature, and her rescuing of refugees such as “Mistress Mary” and Bourbon. Her actions seem to suggest that she was an active defender of the new religion.

Anne the Conventional Catholic

G W Bernard sees Anne differently and actually argues that Anne Boleyn was a conventional Catholic, not a zealous reformer and certainly not a Protestant martyr.

In considering the words of Foxe and Latymer, who both wrote of Anne helping those who were persecuted and being responsible for the preferment of bishop with evangelical reviews, Bernard says that we should remember that they were writing propaganda:-

“First, they were trying to influence the developing Elizabethan religious settlement. Secondly, and more importantly, in presenting Anne as a modest and virtuous patron of religious reform, they were by implication suggesting that so devout a lady could not possibly have been guilty of those shocking adulteries for which she had been condemned. They were not just presenting Anne as a pious evangelical, they were attempting to retrieve her reputation in general. At the accession of Queen Elizabeth in I 559, her mother stood in great need of rehabilitation: that is what in effect Foxe and Latymer attempted to do. Both purposes may have encouraged them to exaggerate, invent or misinterpret Anne’s religion.”

John Foxe

Bernard does not think that we should rely on the reports of Foxe and Latymer because:-

  • It is known that Foxe exaggerated and presented distorted views and cites as an example his account of the Marian martyrs in Kent – Foxe “presented as true protestants and co-religionists men and women who were nothing of the kind but rather rank heretics of a more extreme and eclectic kind” (quoting P. Collinson from “Truth and Legend: the veracity of John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs).
  • Latymer is now thought to have suppressed anything relating to Anne Boleyn which did not fit in with his “portrait of a pious and solemn reformer” (Dowling “Latymer’s Cronickille”).
  • Both Foxe and Latymer describe Anne Boleyn’s household what Bernard terms “a centre of pious and godly living”, emphasising the Queen’s high standards and purity, yet there is other evidence that actually Anne’s household was pleasure-loving. We have evidence that there was flirtation and teasing, for example, Anne’s words to Sir Henry Norris:”you loke for ded mens showys, for yf owth came to the king but good you wold loke to have me”.
  • It is doubtful that Anne pushed Henry into breaking with Rome – Although John Foxe writes of Anne giving Henry VIII Simon Fish’s “Supplication for the Beggers” and John Louth (archdeacon of Nottingham in 1579) writes of how Anne persuaded Henry to read Tyndale’s “The Obedience of a Christian Man”, it actually seems that Anne lent Tyndale’s book to a servant who gave it to her suitor who had it confiscated from him and given to Cardinal Wolsey. It was when Anne went to Henry on her knees to get the book back that she persuaded the King to read the book, she never set out to give it to the King.
  • Although Chapuys called Anne and George Boleyn Lutherans, Bernard points out that anyone who supported a break with Rome was Lutheran in the ambassador’s eyes.
  • Anne’s possession of the Bible in English or French could be more to do with being “fashionably humanist” than a radical reformer.
  • Anne’s almsgiving and support of scholars can be taken as an attempt to gain popularity rather than evidence of Anne’s religious commitment.
  • Anne Boleyn did not write any religious works – Bernard points out the contrast between Anne and Catherine Parr, who wrote the “Lamentation of a Sinner”.
  • Anne’s patronage of evangelical bishops could be more to do with getting support for Henry VIII’s divorce than the furtherance of evangelical doctrine: a political, rather than religious, move.
  • It is not clear that Anne’s chaplain, John Skip, was actually a reformer.

This last point, put forward by Bernard, is particularly important because if the man that Anne Boleyn chose as her personal chaplain was not a reformer then that casts doubt on the view that Anne had radical religious views.

Skip’s Sermon

But, what is the evidence that Bernard uses to back up his theory that Skip was not a reformer? It is a sermon preached by John Skip on the 2nd April 1536 which was a mix of religious and political issues.In this sermon, Skip attacked the King, his council, the English nobility and the clergy, but his sermon was not a reformist sermon. In preaching about the abuses of ancient and traditional ceremonies, Skip said that it was right to get rid of the abuses of the ceremonies but that it would be a “greite pyte” if the ceremonies themselves were taken away: “As for theis litle ceremonys of the churiches (he sayde) I am suire their is none of you that wold haue them takon awey and no marvell therof for they cost you litle and litle ye shall gayne by the takyng awey of them.”

As G W Bernard points out, Skip seems to be “arguing not for their [ceremonies] rejection but rather in order to defend them from exaggerated criticism and precisely to protect them from outright abolition” and

“It is an astonishing sermon for the queen’s almoner to have preached. In attacking innovations he was implicitly attacking much that had been done in recent years: in defending ancient ceremonies he was taking the side of those who did not seek any radical reformation. The timing of his sermon was not accidental. In early 1536 a bill dissolving the smaller monasteries had gone through parliament. Edward Foxe, bishop of Hereford, led an English delegation which was negotiating on doctrine with Lutherans in Wittenberg. Most relevantly, in March a group of bishops had been meeting to determine certain articles and to reform ecclesiastical ceremonies, studies which were to result in the elaboration of the Ten Articles in Convocation in June. Skip’s sermon was surely a contribution to that debate, intended to halt the speed of reform. That such a man was Anne’s almoner – and was to be continually with her in the Tower as she awaited execution – must at the very least cast doubt on her own alleged radicalism.”

Further Evidence

G W Bernard also presents further evidence of Anne Boleyn’s conservative views:-

  • Anne refused a translation of Francis Lambertus’ “Farrago rerum theologicarum” which was offered to her by Tristram Revell in 1536, showing that she was orthodox in her views on the doctrine of the mass.
  • Anne was keen to have the sacrament when she was imprisoned in the Tower.
  • Her words to Sir William Kingston, “shall I be in heaven for I have done mony gud dedys in my days”, suggest that she did not believe in justification by faith alone.
  • After her trial, Anne spoke of entering a nunnery and of her desire to be shriven.
  • Some accounts (Chapuys and the French poem) of her words at her execution suggest that she believed in purgatory because they have her asking for prayers to be said to Jesus for her sins so that her soul would not be burdened by her sins after death.

Bernard concludes his report on Anne’s religion by saying:-

“But that dabbling with the new sects may for both Rochford and Anne have been more a matter of politics and radical chic than a matter of religious conviction. The break with Rome, which had made Anne’s marriage to Henry possible, had to be explained and defended; the very preachers like William Barlow, prior of Haverfordwest, who were willing to work against antichrist – the pope – were also keen on spreading the gospel of Christ, the Bible in English, attacking ‘abuses’ of the church. Whether Anne Boleyn went much beyond the conventional and the political is much more doubtful than the thrust of recent writing allows. Anne was much more secular than the Elizabethan or the modern portrait of her as a pious lady suggests; she (and Henry) distributed patronage because they sought support more than enlightenment; the undoubted recipients of that patronage included conservatives such as John Skip; and what she revealed in the Tower through her belief in good works and her attachment to the sacraments was a deeply conventional catholicism.”

Hmm..

Although Bernard makes some great points in his report and reminds us that we should not fully trust the reports by Foxe and Latymer which were written decades after Anne Boleyn’s death, I cannot believe that Anne’s religion, and that of her brother and father, were “more a matter of politics”. In times when you could be arrested and burnt at the stake for heresy, it was dangerous for Anne to possess heretical works, however much the King favoured her. Surely Anne would only risk her life and her relationship with the King for something that was important to her.

Also, Anne may have been keen to raise her profile and popularity by good deeds, almsgiving and aiding the poor, but when you combine this with her support of refugees and people in exile from persecution from abroad, her support of evangelical bishops, her habit of studying the Bible and encouraging her ladies to do the same etc. etc. then surely you have to conclude that Anne was acting out of more than selfish ambition, these actions came from her heart and her faith.

What do you think?

Sources

20 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn and the Reformation”

  1. gillyO says:

    I suspect that the truth of Anne’s religion lies somewhere in the middle. It’s often forgotten that during her lifetime things were in a state of flux; there were many who were devout Catholics who questioned the corruption that existed in the church. For many the church was seen to be going away from it’s true purpose, that those in power in the church were unfit, and that the practices of the clergy were hypocritical. If someone where devout, one might hate all of these things and work against them, and yet still be a loyal Catholic.

    When you think that it wasn’t long before Anne that a Borgia was Pope and used his power to advance his illegitimate children it isn’t unbelievable that someone like Henry VIII could perceive the Pope to be nothing more than another ruler like himself. The fact is that the corruption of the church was what started the Reformation, (notice the term “reform”). It was not originally intended to change the church completely or destroy the doctrines of the faith, but instead to root out the corruption and restore the church to it’s pure state.

    Once Henry took over the reins of the church in England he went in and dissolved the religious houses, where corruption was rampant. It could be said that it was done to confiscate the wealth of these houses, but that may have been a by-product of the original intent. Of course there were institutions that could have been left well enough alone, and there were many who profited from the destruction. However, there was an almost religious zeal attached to the whole affair. Could it be that the destroyers honestly believed they were doing the right thing for the sake of their Catholic faith? It’s entirely possible.

    Someone like Anne might feel like many devout Catholics do now with all of the abuse scandals happening. Most still believe in the Catholic faith but are disgusted with how the chuch is being managed. It doesn’t necessarily follow that they want the church destroyed, only “refomed.”

    I don’t find it unlikely that both sides of the issue are correct about Anne’s faith. She could still be a devout Catholic who participated and believed in the Mass, and yet had concerns about other aspects of the church’s policies. It would not have been unusual for the time for this to be the case. Of course, in Anne’s situation the “reform” position worked to her advantage politically, but that doesn’t mean that she still couldn’t believe in it and in the Mass at the same time. The positions aren’t irreconcilable.

  2. What a provocative article! Really interesting, conflicting views. I do think Anne was a reformer and very interested in the topic of the day, which was religion. She was intrigued with the New Learning to which she was introduced in France. She knew that for her to marry Henry, something drastic had to happen. Given the climate of the times, the break with Rome was almost inevitable. I think she was a true believer, though, like Henry, she might have kept much of the customs she’d grown up practicing. It is one thing to explore a subject intellectually and not out of question to keep the ritual of something quite different. I do think she liked the reformists ideas for lots of reasons; first, they supported Henry’s break with the church, they also challenged the status quo on intellectual grounds and Anne was very well-educated and had a sharp intelligence; she liked to challenge both sexually and with ideas. Also, she did appoint Matthew Parker to look after Elizabeth’s religious training and he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury during Elizabeth’s reign. He was difinitely a Protestant.
    Anyway, those are my thoughts–thanks for the great article!

  3. Claire says:

    Thanks for the comments, I will be exploring Anne’s personal faith later this week but it’s interesting how historians can view the same sources and come up with completely opposing views on Anne’s faith and her role in the Reformation.

  4. Xena says:

    I think Anne was merly an scape goat in a world of men.Obsessed with intrigued and cloak and dagger politics.The holy roman empire at the times.Was at constant war with the Muslim world at the times.As well as constant plague and financial woes And priests gouged the ignorant masses with faith taxes and money for salvation prayers.The bibles at the times were written in high latin and the average person could barely read in thier own languages.Let a lone latin ,by common or the gentry as well.
    Martin Luther wanted the church to stop these taxes and have the bible massed produced in the language of the country in which the citizenry lived.
    Anne’s only crime was agreeing with these reforms.So no doubt stirred on by Rome her self.Whisperers where sent into England to sway Henry about Anne.Who was looking for an out to his marriage to her anyways since No male heir had been born. 🙂

  5. ProudtobeCatholic says:

    I myself have often wondered whether Anne was really the passionate Protestant she’s often portrayed as. Especially after finding out that she believed in transubstantiation and in the Mass. I’ve also read somewhere that Anne had a devotion to the Virgin Mary. I really began to have doubts when I heard she may have been against the dissolution of the monasteries. And when she and Henry were on progress she inquired into the state of the religious houses and offed aid. I agree with Claire that Anne’s alms giving and aiding the poor was not just about gaining popularity. I believe Anne truly cared about the less fortunate, and helping the poor was a central part of her religion. I think that alone proves that she didn’t believe in justification by faith alone. After my own research on the subject, I have concluded that Anne was not a Protestant, but simply wanted to get rid of the abuses that were going on in the Church.

  6. Xena says:

    I believe there is enough evidence to write a letter.To the pope in Rome.I think is called a Regesta Pontificum Romanorum.Someone correct me please? To petition the holy father to seek guidance in er turning a saintly lady ovwronged by rumours and falsehoods.That resulted in an early death and excommunication.I was told only the person who was excommunicated can seek this reversal.I feel she is doing just that.Calling out to the generation to be born.To mettle in her affair as she put it.However; it has been over 500 years. And of course she has passed on.However I think our fascination with this lady goes beyond the dresses we love and her story of one woman executed over 500 years ago.I think she is calling us across the gulf of time for help.And if it is true as the proud catholic ‘s post that she feels that Anne had not given up her faith .Rather she merly wanted the abuses to be stopped with in the holy faith as stated in the posted.As she in the best of her ability to be a good mom to her people.To help the sick.To educate to sing and to lead with humbleness.As most goodly Queen’s would. 🙂

  7. Hannah says:

    I agree with those who think Anne was somewhere in the middle. In her time, the idea of “Protestants” that we have today did not yet exist. Obviously, until Luther’s 95 Theses, Anne would have only been exposed to Catholicism. However, being so intelligent and such an avid reader, I believe that Anne read the Gospel for herself and tried to live according to it while still respecting the mass and the idea of the Catholic church as holy. I think that she was a humanist and an idealist; she believed that the Catholic church could be a holy and pure thing and, when reformed, should minister to those of all classes. So basically, I think Anne was a Protestant, but she was was not protesting the existence of the Catholic church in itself.

  8. lisaannejane says:

    Something I always wondered about was how the English nobility would have reacted if Henry had made it clear that Mary was his heir. Would Thomas More support a woman on the throne? Did any of the nobility express a willingness to follow Mary who opposed Henry’s divorce? Henry knew his line would only continue with a male heir, and the rest of the country must have known this. The pope must have known of this problem, and yet did nothing for so long – did any pope understand that the “king’s great matter” would have to be solved and judging by their standards, women were not seen as equal rulers with men. Isabella seems to be the exception. I think that reformists ideas were bound to be used to solve Henry’s problem of the succession, since the pope was following Charles V’s lead.

  9. Melissa says:

    GREAT article Claire, as always : ) I have to agree with everyone here who says Anne must have been somewhere in between. It’s really a mistake to think of the Reformed or Protestant traditions of the 16th century with modern eyes because the doctrines are now codified, but at the time they were still figuring it all out. Any Protestant of the time would have seemed pretty Catholic to our modern eyes. Luther’s writings reveal that his own views changed a lot over his lifetime post-95 theses. Recently the Catholic Church has reached out to Anglicans and is in the process of creating some kind of rite for them, in which they would retain the Anglican liturgy and practices and remain in communion with Rome. Honestly, I feel like THAT is where Anne Boleyn would have belonged-had the pope not been in the way of her crown, obviously.

  10. Xena says:

    Here is the statement! Again by G.W. Bernard.Not given here by thought’s of theft.But in honor goodly given.

    “Furthermore, to all other sinister judgments and opinions, whatsoever can be conceived of man against that virtuous queen, I object and oppose again (as instead of answer) the evident demonstration of God’s favor, in maintaining, preserving, and advancing the offspring of her body, the lady ELIZABETH, now queen, whom the Lord hath so marvellously conserved from so manifold dangers, so royally hath exalted, so happily hath blessed with such virtuous patience, and with such a quiet reign hitherto, that neither the reign of her brother Edward, nor of her sister Mary, to hers is to be compared; whether we consider the number of the years of their reigns, or the peaceable-ness of their state. In whose royal and flourishing regiment we have to behold, not so much the natural disposition of her mother’s qualities, as the secret judgment of God in preserving and magnifying the fruit and offspring of that godly queen.”
    🙂

  11. Stephanie says:

    One note to make is that the monasteries were not corrupt. Just as Anne is not all good or all bad, the monastic movement in England was not corrupt; one should not make a blanket statement like that. Remember that Henry shut down other monasteries before the Visitation and Suppression actions of 1535-1541. He had the Carthusian wiped out by horrendous executions: not just hanging, drawing, and quartering, but starvation and exposure., because they would not take either Oath. Remember that Cromwell and Henry also closed down the Franciscan and Dominican friaries, which were manifestly living up their vows of poverty–the Crown gained little if anything from them. They were suppressed because the friars, like the monks, were loyal to the spiritual authority of the Pope, with connections to the universal Catholic Church.
    We know that the records of Cromwell’s visitors were tainted by their bias. One of them wrote him a very good report on the Abbot of Glastonbury and Cromwell replied that he was not to seek virtue but find vice in the Visitation–and make an accurate accounting of the treasures that were in the monasteries that the Crown would receive.
    As to Anne’s religious belief, I think we are most correct when we note that she wanted reform in the Church (as had Thomas More, John Fisher, John Colet, and other members of the humanist movement in England; the irony is that Henry executed one of the best reformers in his kingdom, Bishop John Fisher) and held conventional Catholic views of the Sacraments and their efficacy of grace–and of her soul’s immortal danger if she did not confess or communicate worthily, as we see from her actions and statements in the Tower before execution.
    Great discussion.

  12. Stephanie says:

    As to the nobility’s reaction to Mary as heir; she was the heir! She was the heir as soon as she was born. I have not seen any documentation that demonstrates Parliamentary disastifaction with her succession–but then everyone was still hoping that a son would be born and survive infancy. (And that was stil no guarantee that he would survive Henry!) And after Elizabeth was born, she was proclaimed as the rightful heir, and I have seen no documented negative reaction to the news that a baby girl was the heir.

    As to Thomas More accepting Mary as heir: he educated his daughters and other female wards as well as he did his son and any male wards–and he took great delight in his daughter Margaret’s intellectual accomplishments, even correcting Erasmus’s Latin grammar! I’d suggest John Guy’s study of Thomas and Margaret, A Daughter’s Love. I think he would have had faith in the humanist education Mary was receiving, and that, just like Henry, her rule would depend much on the advisers and counselors she had.

  13. Claire says:

    I apologise for my rather sweeping statement, I meant lots of corruption rather than full of corruption. Whatever we may think of Henry VIII, he had a passionate faith and I think it was his anger with some of the corruption in the Church that also led him to breaking with Rome and undertaking the Dissolution of the Monasteries, I think he became dissillusioned.

  14. lisaannejane says:

    To Stephanis – Sorry, I think I didn’t express myself well. What I was wondering was in the long run, if Henry had no other heirs but Mary, would she have married another English noblemen, thus making his family dominant or a foreign prince, making England a part of another country (her marriage to Phillip proved a disaster and Elizabeth stayed single). So my point was what were Catherine’s supporters thinking in the long run? Especially when it was clear she couldn’t have any more children? Henry VII won the crown after a civil war, so did anyone think the transition of power would lead to another war? I could be wrong, but the nobility seem more interested in themselves than in the country and more likely to quarrel than settle problems.

  15. lisaannejane says:

    P.S. Stephanie – sorry I got your name wrong! My glasses only work for driving.

  16. Stephanie says:

    I think one of the problems of holding out Henry as a great reformer, upset at corruption is that he executed on the holiest, least corrupt and greatest church reformer in his realm–John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester. Henry also condemned to death the Carthusians of the Charterhouse of London, a house that certainly could not be accused of corruption, luxury, or any failure in observance of the strict Carhusian rule. We should also remember that he and Cromwell closed the Franciscan and Dominican friaries, which were manifestly practicing their vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Cromwell planned the Visitation of the Monasteries to find exactly what he sought, especially an accounting of the riches. The Comperta of the Visitation is not to be believed.

  17. swagmaster says:

    One note to make is that the monasteries were not corrupt. Just as Anne is not all good or all bad, the monastic movement in England was not corrupt; one should not make a blanket statement like that. Remember that Henry shut down other monasteries before the Visitation and Suppression actions of 1535-1541. He had the Carthusian wiped out by horrendous executions: not just hanging, drawing, and quartering, but starvation and exposure., because they would not take either Oath. Remember that Cromwell and Henry also closed down the Franciscan and Dominican friaries, which were manifestly living up their vows of poverty–the Crown gained little if anything from them. They were suppressed because the friars, like the monks, were loyal to the spiritual authority of the Pope, with connections to the universal Catholic Church.
    We know that the records of Cromwell’s visitors were tainted by their bias. One of them wrote him a very good report on the Abbot of Glastonbury and Cromwell replied that he was not to seek virtue but find vice in the Visitation–and make an accurate accounting of the treasures that were in the monasteries that the Crown would receive.
    As to Anne’s religious belief, I think we are most correct when we note that she wanted reform in the Church (as had Thomas More, John Fisher, John Colet, and other members of the humanist movement in England; the irony is that Henry executed one of the best reformers in his kingdom, Bishop John Fisher) and held conventional Catholic views of the Sacraments and their efficacy of grace–and of her soul’s immortal danger if she did not confess or communicate worthily, as we see from her actions and statements in the Tower before execution.
    Great discussion.

  18. Holly Avila says:

    The Vatican is the Great Prostitute Babylon since they hacked the true religion at the Council of Nicea. Anne grew up with certain habitual beliefs but most certainly had an epiphany about the truth and fought bravely to bring the Bible to the people. The pope is anti christ.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      With respect your comments are biased, inappropriate and offensive. The Catholic Church is not the Anti Christ, it is the original Christian Church founded by Saint Peter. Today there is more understanding between Christians of all denominations and we have worked hard to further that understanding. Thankfully people with your narrow minded views are in a very tiny minority. I live in a city which suffered from sectarian violence but which overcame it decades ago and lead the way in Ecumenical unity. The Bible teaches love and forgiveness not your sort of nonsense. The creed from Nicea is said in every Christian Church today, with a few variations, but even where those variations exist the Catholic and Orthodox traditions are in communion today. Your hatred is what causes the sort of behaviour that rulers displayed during the Reformation. We live in the 21st century and there is no place for that nonsense today. Please try to find forgiveness from your local Catholic brothers and sisters and I pray you find peace in your heart. The Lord have mercy on you, dear sister. YNWA

  19. Alexei says:

    I woud say that Anne was an unconventional Catholic. I prefer to agree with Banditqueen about the depth of her faith. I see it as sincere and truly devoted. I don’t agree with G. W. Bernard in questions of Anne’s charge but in the light of the facts he gives on Anne’s religion she looks more like a humanist (like sir Thomas Mor himself) than a lutheran. At least there was nothing said of her religion during the trial ittself.

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