cover_abf_sampler_thumbAs we’re focusing on Anne Boleyn’s imprisonment and execution at the moment, I thought you’d all be interested in an article from our 57 page special on Anne Boleyn from May’s Tudor Life magazine, the monthly magazine of The Tudor Society.

The article is by art historian and artist Roland Hui and is a fascinating look at Anne’s links with the Tower of London. I do hope you enjoy it. You can download a PDF of the article by clicking on either of the links below:

You can enjoy a further taster of the May magazine, which includes an article by Clare Cherry on the evidence leading to Anne Boleyn’s fall, by going to


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18 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn and the Tower of London by Roland Hui”
  1. I read Clare Cherry’s article about the evidences. Some remarks:

    We know only the sources that has been remained to us. We do not know whether there had been more, or whether they jury had been shown something that was not said openly in the court.

    There were also the dates that, as we know, are mostly impossible (but could the jury know it?) and lecherous details of which we know that the claim that Anne and George had kissed one’s tongue in another’s mouth (though we do not know who witnessed it)

    Cherry does not also mention Anne’s words to Norris about “dead men’s shoes” which made the charge of adultery to the charge of treason (imaging the king’s death which according to the thinking of the age lead to action).

    Cherry says that Henry knew Norris was innocent and Cromwell knew that Anne and George were innocent. In reality, we have no possibility to know either. Even today, we can never know for sure what other people think, so how could we know that in history. We can only have conclusions and opinions about the matter.

    1. “There were also the dates that, as we know, are mostly impossible ”

      No, we don’t know that. Hilary Mantel and others have pointed out that the distances would not be impossible and that people often are not where they are said to be – or they were supposed to be somewhere but weren’t either for the whole day or at all. I am not referring to her stories now, but to interviews she has give.

      Claire made the point that Anne had minders and Norris had a job, for example, but that fails to convince. Other people got round that as we know even after Anne’s fall.

      I totally agree with your other comments. In fact, I made all of them already on this board over time! 🙂 So I am glad to see you are in sync with me now on every single point with the exception of the above, but I feel confident you will get there. 🙂

      Doesn’t mean Anne was guilty or innocent of adultery, we don’t know. Sounds unlikely she was but it isn’t impossible. She did indeed make treasonous comments as per the law Cromwell put into place to protect her against evil tongues.

      The unproven and unsupported statements Clare Cherry continues to make are just embarrassing if she wants anyone who knows this period to take her seriously. Sorry, I just can’t.

      1. To Judith Rex

        Well, perhaps I would rather have said that in *modern* trial it is enough to say that you *could* have been in the crime scene, one must have evidence that you actually were there (and of course even that is not enough to the verdict).

        We have no sources whether Cromwell actually had that sort of information, or whether Anne could have call witnesses that could testify she indeed was where she was supposed to be and not alone (she had no right to call witnesses and the prosecutor did not present none).

        It seems probable that in Anne’s trial the jury evidently did not have time to search the dates and other things very closely but they simply trusted what was told to them and/or simply followed Cromwell’s orders.

        To the modern eyes, the evidence about adultery that is remained to us is simply gossip and hearsay. But what decides our opinion is above all our perception of Anne’s character.

        Of course one can never know for sure. We can have a friend whom we have known from childhood and we could almost swear that she would never betray her husband – yet she has!

        The historians, however, must deal with the facts and make conclusions what is likely, not what it is possible. That is the novelist’s job.

        1. Yes, things were very different at Tudor trials. As I said in a previous article about the men’s trial:
          “In their article, Law as the Engine of State: The Trial of Anne Boleyn, Margery and Frederick Schauer point out “Whether the jury was selected specifically is of little moment, because it was virtually impossible to be acquitted of treason, especially where, as here, the King’s wishes, although publicly unvoiced, were no secret” and that “the burden of proof was on the accused to prove their innocence of the charges contained in the indictment, and this the men could not do.” ”

          It is very hard to prove innocence. Today, it has to be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that someone is guilty of a crime, then they had to prove that they were completely innocent yet they were kept in the dark about the charges against them and what evidence was being used against them. They could not prepare.

      2. “Other people got round that as we know even after Anne’s fall.” Do you mean Catherine Howard and Culpeper? They didn’t meet in palaces miles away, they met while on royal progress and in the property that the court was staying in, even using Catherine’s privy at one point. Catherine also had Jane Boleyn to help her and to stand as a look-out. The indictments in 1536 listed dates and places that were impossible for a queen and men of the court to disappear to for hours. As I said before, they would have had to have horses prepared for them or prepare them themselves, then there’s the travelling time plus the time needed to actually commit adultery, then the time to travel back and take the horses back to the stable. I don’t see how a queen who was attended all of the time and a groom of the stool, who was Henry VIII’s closest servant and who needed to be on hand for when the King needed to go to the toilet, could race across London like that. It isn’t that they were “supposed to be somewhere”, the court is recorded as being at those places and the queen and these men were part of the court.

        1. In Catherine Howard’s case, there was also the exact dates. That was of course easy because both she, Culpeper and lady Rochford made a confession.

          In Anne Boleyn’s case the only one to confess was Mark Smeaton, and it is hard to believe that if he had slept with the Queen, he would not remember when it happened – any ordinary man would have gone through all the details in his mind thousand times.

          In general, that somebody betrays her husband (even the same husband), is no proof that some other does the same. And even Catherine Howard had an affair only with one man during her marriage – she did not sleep around!

        2. Hi Hannele,

          “In general, that somebody betrays her husband (even the same husband), is no proof that some other does the same. And even Catherine Howard had an affair only with one man during her marriage – she did not sleep around!”

          I’m not sure what you mean, I wasn’t saying that and I wasn’t implying that Catherine slept around, I was just using Catherine as an example because of the fact that she was assisted by a lady-in-waiting and she and Culpeper met locally, i.e. in the building where the court was staying.

      3. Hilary Mantel has not shown any such thing. She commented that it may be possible for people to have been elsewhere and state that they were elsewhere. Maybe, save these people had allibies and the dates don’t make sense for other reasons, Anne having just given birth or being pregnant for one thing and confided to rooms were no man was allowed. HM merely states a belief, she has not brought any evidence to support her theory, nor to disprove the case for the defence. The entire case was a stitch up and the majority of proper experts agree with the conclusion that the dates and circumstances are nonsense.

    2. There is nothing you have said which is evidence of incest/adultery. At best it is just accusations. If there had been evidence to prove a case against Anne and the others then I cannot believe we wouldn’t know it. All we have are unsubstanciated allegations, not evidence. As for the comments of JudithRex, she isn’t worth the effort of resonding to.

      1. To Clare

        In history, it is not enough to “believe”. As for material, that could have been destroyed during Elizabeth’s time or it could be vanished during fire etc.

        Of course, a historian must deal with the material which has been remained. But he can never be quite sure, he can also say what is likely or unlikely.

        And a historian must always remember that there are no facts without interpretation.

        1. We can’t say that, because we don’t know about any additional evidence, that it must have existed. That is supposition, and at best a very unlikely possibility. Historians have to deal with probabilities based on evidence. We can’t ‘suppose’ that evidence existed.
          If there had been evidence of guilt then it would have been shouted from the roof tops in triumph, not hidden from the public. All we have is a mish mash of allegations, and the only actual ‘evidence’ relied on is referred to in the article. Accusations do not equate to evidence, thank goodness.

        2. I do find it interesting, though, that historians tend to state their theories as facts, for example, both Alison Weir and Eric Ives write of how Cromwell plotted against Anne of his own volition and that the King either believed the charges or it was convenient for them to believe them. They don’t state that that is their opinion and that another theory is that Henry VIII ordered Cromwell to bring down Anne. They seem to interpret the sources, come to their conclusion and state it as fact. It’s not a criticism of them, Ives is one of my favourite historians, I just find that interesting.

  2. It seems to me that Cromwell didn’t attach much feeling to any of the actions he took, either on his own behalf or that of the King.

    As for Anne Boleyn’s charges of adultery being unprovable, that was very much beside the point. Her trial was a ramrod of injustice, shoved through the legal system.

    The surprise for me has always been Henry VIII’s short-sightedness about using a permanent solution to solve a temporary problem.
    He bemoaned and blamed others for the deaths of his close companions, yet sat on his hands at the time they begged him to reconsider their fates.
    He wasn’t sorry he had his friends and wives executed, he was only sorry for himself at how lonely he became once they were gone.
    What a tool.

    1. Yes, at least after Catherine Howard any other husband would have engaged in self-analysis: why did I again chose a wrong wife? why did I believe that she was chaste? what made me believe that a young woman would love me and be faithful to me?

  3. To Claire

    I do not mean that Catherine Howard sleep around, but the accusation that Anne did and that she did not even have an affair in succession with five men but that she slept with them by turns.

    Compared to this, Catherine seems to have been a model of caution and she was indeed safe so long as her past was not revealed. Instead, Anne would have been really foolish to believe that she was not going to be caught sooner or later – or so driven by her sex urge that she did not care of her position or that of her daughter.

    In her own time, the accusation of five lovers made Anne a so monstrous wh*re in people’s eyes that they did not question how it was possible. Nowadays it is quite the opposite.

  4. Claire, I also find it interesting that some historians state their theories as facts. I have never believed that Cromwell acted on his own in bringing allegations against Anne and the others. Henry was king and his word was law. I believe that Henry was the driving force and Cromwell was his instrument and his scapegoat. Cromwell’s survival absolutely depended on satisfying the kings wishes. Look at what happened to Wolsey when he could not get Henry an annulment. Surely Cromwell was glad to help, since Anne and her faction were a threat to him. Of course, I am only stating my opinion. There is no way to be sure, but it is fun to speculate. I am so enjoying the Anne Boleyn Files and I am happy to see there are so many who share the same interests. Thank You!

  5. To Claire

    In most cases, I do not need that the historian would constantly say “this is my opinion / interpretation” if only he or she also openly tells the sources, what he or she thinks of their reliability and and in what basis he or she has made such an interpretation.

    I am only angered or frustrated when somebody only states something without any proof, and especially when somebody did not use even an elementary source critique.

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