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.