Anne Boleyn Court Records Go Online
Posted By Claire on April 10, 2009
As part of the 500th Anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne, the National Archives have set up a special website as an online exhibition of documents from Henry’s reign. Included in these documents is Roll KB8/9, the “Baga de Secretis” or Bag of Secrets, which includes records of the opening of the trial of Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, in 1536, for high treason, adultery and incest.
You can request copies of these records from the National Archives website, either as paper copies or digital copies, or you can reserve them so that you can go in and look at the real thing. You can also use the “digitital express” service, to view these documents if nobody else is using them.
I have ordered my own copies but have not received them yet, but, according to an article in The Telegraph, these records contain “salacious details” of the alleged incest between Anne Boleyn and her brother George.
The records of the trial are written in Latin and contain information about the court procedure and the charges against Anne and George. Claims put forward in the trial include:-
- A claim that Anne Boleyn “tempted her brother with her tongue in the said George’s mouth and the said George’s tongue in hers”.
- The claim that she seduced George with gifts before sleeping with him “contrary to all human laws”.
Of course, the majority of historians believe these claims to be lies made up to get rid of Anne. As I have said in previous blog posts, it is thought that Anne actually had solid alibis for the dates in question, but obviously the court’s job was to find her guilty.
The National Archives special Henry VIII website, http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/henryviii/, is a great resource for armchair historians and Tudor fans. Not only does it include the records of the Anne Boleyn trial, it also has other records from Henry VIII’s reign, including:-
- Letters and Papers Henry VIII 1509-1547
- Letters and Papers Henry VIII 1516-1539
- Signatures by Stamp, Henry VIII, 1545-1547
- Valor Ecclesiasticus – A valuation of the Church of England and Wales.
- Theological Tracts Henry VIII
- Certificate from the Legatine Court deliberating over Henry’s decision to annul his marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.
- Letter from Henry VIII to Anne of Cleves before his application for divorce.
- Lisle Papers, 1533-1540 – Papers of Lord Lisle, Deputy of Calais
- Papers relating to the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the General Surveyors
- Wriothesley Papers, 1536-1540 – Letters to Thomas Wriothesley, clerk of the signet and Cromwell’s secretary
- Henry VIII’s will
See the National Archives “Resources” page for details of research guides, documents, podcasts and more.
14 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn Court Records Go Online”
can you email the trial transcripts?
The National Archives can do digitized copies of documents for around £8.50 but they told me that these documents were too big to do this – perhaps if you just wanted to copy bits of them. If you tell them exactly which parts you need then they will give you a quote. I still haven’t got round to ordering mine because I was waiting for them to become available digitally (some historian had them before so their digital service was not available) but it was around £55 to get copies done of everything in the Baga de Secretis pertaining to Anne with a DVD.
Have you posted an update since reading the transcripts? I haven’t seen one
I’ve done lots and lots of articles since then on Anne’s trial where I have used the Baga de Secretis as a source. Although it was lovely to have these digitized copies of the originals, I still use the transcribed copies in the Appendix of Charles Wriothesley’s Chronicle as they are far easier to read.
Hi there…I requested an estimate of Anne’s trial from national archives…if I order them to send me a paper copy as they are unable ‘digitally’ copy the papers…Then a paper copy is £450 approx!!!!!!..Doesnt look like i’m going to get a chance to see it..they included a note to say that membrane 17 was on loan and not included..bet that is the most important bit too!!…Oh well…sigh…
Ouch! That’s so expensive!
Do you know anywhere that I can get access to a transcript of the charges and possibly the verdicts?
I’m doing a 5000 word investigation into the evidence and guilt/innocence.
I don’t read latin [yet!] and I can only find small extracts but I need a complete record of the charges and details of the charges.
I don’t have the money to use NA copying service, and I can’t go there as I’m bed bound.
If you go to http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=75430 – Volume 10 of the Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, and scroll down to 15th May (876 on the page), you will see details of the trial of Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn. If you want the trial of Weston, Norris, Brereton and Smeaton, that’s higher up the page – 12th May (848). The only trouble with the Letters and Papers is that you get completely sucked in – I’ve spent hours browsing them!
Anyway, I hope that these help you with your investigation and I’m so sorry that you’re bed bound, thankfully there are more and more online resources.
RE: NA and their attitude/policy on historical documents.
I don’t know where to start, £450 for paper copies of Baga de Secretis. What were they smoking?
As for digital copies not being available, one of the documents is on the ‘Wives’ section of the Henry VIII stub, so that’s clearly untrue.
I can’t see how they can justify the cost of the DVDs either. All it take is for someone to punch in the ref numbers of the documents then shove a disk in the drive and hit ‘burn’.
It seems the NA have got themselves a nice little earner here. When will they realise that the documents which they are the custodians of belong to us, the nation, not them. In this century there is no possible justifiable reason that important historical documents of this nature should not be freely available online.
The charges against the queen are ridiculous and schmucks. It was clearly a pre-planned murder arranged by the King through a kangaroo court. The King was a mean, stone-hearted, cruel person!
The ‘Baga de Secretis’ is transcribed (in Latin) in the Appendix of Charles Wriothesley’s ‘Chronicle of England’, beginning on page 191:
Yes, I mostly use that, but it’s lovely to have copies of the original.
Just came across your blog. Thank you very much for your work, and for your generosity with information. It is a huge help.
Thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate them.