Yes, you read that right! That is the question I’m posing today – Was Anne Boleyn in love with her husband’s friend and groom of the stool, Henry Norris? It’s an article that I’ve been working on, on and off for a while, but decided to finish it after it was brought up on a thread I was following on the British Sovereigns and Royals Facebook page yesterday – thank you to followers of the page for spurring me into action.1

First off, before I go into this topic in detail, I have to post a disclaimer. I have to say that there is no way that I can answer that question definitively. I am not a reincarnation of Anne Boleyn, I am not a time traveller ( I wish! Jamie Fraser…..[sigh]), I have not found a letter or journal where Anne or Norris share their personal feelings for each other, there is no document I have found that is evidence of their personal feelings on this matter… I just cannot say one way or the other for sure. What I can do is explain why one author has come to the conclusion that Anne may well have loved Norris in a romantic way, and then explain why I don’t give credence to the idea.

Sorry, that’s the best I can do.

The theory

In the author’s note section of her forthcoming novel Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession, Alison Weir writes of “the unacknowledged – until near the end – attraction between Anne and Norris” and goes on to explain that “this was suggested by the wording of her last confession. From her insistence that ‘she had never offended with her body’ against the King, it might be inferred that she had offended in her heart or her thoughts, and that she secretly loved another but had never gone so far as to consummate that love.” Weir then states that “of the men accused with her, Norris was the likeliest of her affections.” Weir then says that her theory, is just that, a theory, but that it’s “a compelling one” because we know that Norris did confess to something that he later retracted.2

So, Weir is not saying Anne and Norris were definitely in love, she’s putting the idea forward as a “compelling” theory. It’s not a new theory, Weir says the same in her book The Lady in the Tower, which was published back in 2010.3

The evidence

In her 2010 book, Alison Weir quotes Chapuys, citing “LP” (Letters and Papers), who records that he had heard from one of the ladies attending Anne Boleyn in the Tower that “before and after receiving the Sacrament, [Anne] affirmed to her, on the damnation of her soul, that she had never offended with her body against the King.” This can, indeed, be found in Letters and Papers, in a letter written by Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador, to Emperor Charles V, on 19th May 1536.4 It has been translated from French.

It also appears in the Calendar of State Papers, Spain, with a slightly different translation:

“The lady in whose keeping she has been sends me word, in great secrecy, that before and after her receiving the Holy Sacrament, she affirmed, on peril of her soul’s damnation, that she had not misconducted herself so far as her husband the King was concerned.”

There, the editor notes that the dispatch was originally in French and “Mostly in cipher”. The original French is also given:

“La dame qui la eu en garde, ma envoye dire en grant secret que la dicte concubiuc, auant et apres la reception du sainct sacrament, luy a affirme sur la dampnation de son ame quelle ne sestait meffaicte de son corps envers ce roy.”5

The key words are “quelle ne sestait meffaicte de son corps envers ce roy.” Historian and academic G W Bernard has translated these as “she had not misused herself with her body towards the king” and that seems a more accurate translation to me.6

The other piece of evidence Alison Weir uses to back up her theory is the story of Sir Henry Norris’s retracted confession. Norris’s servant, George Constantine, wrote of how Norris’s chaplain told him that Norris had confessed after being taken to the Tower of London but that when this confession was laid before him at his trial, Norris stated that “he was deceaved to do the same by the Erle of Hampton that now ys.”7 Constantine is referring to Sir William Fitzwilliam, Treasurer of the King’s Household.

The challenge

Now it’s time for me to challenge this theory…

First, let’s handle Norris’s alleged confession as recorded by George Constantine. Although Constantine mentions this retracted confession, he also writes of the king examining Norris on their ride back from the May Day joust and how Norris “wold confess no thinge to the Kynge” even though the King promised him a pardon “in case he wolde utter the trewth.”8 We also know that Norris pleaded innocent at his trial and that he claimed to have been deceived when Fitzwilliam interrogated him. Constantine does not give any more details. Other sources make no mention of Norris confessing, mentioning only Mark Smeaton’s confession, and Sir Edward Baynton was concerned about this, writing in a letter to Fitzwilliam:

“this shallbe to advertyse yow that here is myche communycacion that nomam will confesse any thynge agaynst her, but allonly Marke of any actuell thynge. Wherefore (in my folishe conceyte) it shulde myche toche the King’s honor if it shulde no farther appeere. And I cannot beleve but that the other two bee as…culpapull as ever was hee.”9

Baynton is clearly saying here that only Mark has confessed to anything.

Historian Eric Ives, in his notes on Norris withdrawing the statement he made to Fitzwilliam, makes the point that Norris may have been confessing to his conversation with Anne – the one regarding “dead men’s shoes” (see later) – “but denied the implication”, i.e. that they were plotting against the king. Ives also cites a letter from Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower of London, which is badly mutilated but mentions Kingston sending a knave to Norris in the Tower. It reads “he assured hym agayn …….ay thyng of my confession he ys worthye to have ….. hyt I defy hym;” which Ives believes “can be reconstructed as ‘[whoever tries to take advantage of] anything of my confession, he is worthy to have [my place here; and if he stand to] it, I defy him.'” which does make sense.10

It’s impossible to know exactly what happened when Norris was taken to the Tower, what was said, what he allegedly confessed and how he was deceived, but he retracted whatever was said and pleaded innocent. Ths story cannot, I feel, be used as evidence that Norris was in love with Anne or vice versa.

But the main point I’d like to make here is regarding Anne’s words when she swore on the sacrament. I am of the opinion that it’s quite a leap to take someone saying that they had not offended the king with their body to mean that they had offended him with their heart or mind. That’s reading far too much into it as far as I’m concerned and twisting someone’s words.

Anne had been accused of offending the king with her body. She’d been accused of committing adultery with five men, those were offences concerning physical actions, offences she’d committed against the king using her body. It, therefore, stands to reason that she would answer that accusation and deny it. Her oath on the sacrament makes perfect sense, she is swearing her innocence.11

If we are to read anything further into her words, and I don’t like doing so, then it makes more sense with what we know of Anne, her behaviour and other things that she said, that she would be suggesting that she had offended the king with her words. At their fall in 1536, it was said that Anne Boleyn and her brother, George, had made fun of ballads that the king had composed and that Anne had discussed the king’s sexual problems with her sister-in-law, Jane.12 Lancelot de Carles, secretary to the French ambassador, wrote a poem about Anne Boleyn’s life and death and in it he recorded a speech she made at her trial, quoting her as saying that she had not always given the king the “deference” and “humility” that he deserved and that she had shown jealousy, adding “In this I know that I lacked virtue”. De Carles has her admitting that she had offended the king in this way.13

We also know that Anne’s relationship with the king was volatile, one that saw them “merry” one minute and then arguing the next. Their marriage was a real one based on love and passion, and that, of course, led to disagreements and cross words being spoken. Anne also showed jealousy when she noticed the king showing interest in other ladies at court. She even tried to get a particular lady removed from court in 1534.14 Anne probably did offend the king with her words and was not as submissive as a queen consort perhaps should have been.

At her trial on 15th May 1536, Anne gave a spirited defence. Chronicler Charles Wriothesley, recorded that after her indictment was read out, Anne “made so wise and discreet aunsweres to all thinges layde against her, excusing herselfe with her wordes so clearlie, as thoughe she had never bene faultie to the same.”15 She argued her innocence. In Lancelot de Carles’ account of her speech at her trial, Anne states that she has “always been faithful to the King”. While admitting to jealousy, not showing him the deference he deserved, she states:

“But for the rest of it, God knows
That my wrongdoings did not go beyond this:
And I will certainly not confess more.”

I’m sure that being in love with another man would have been a “wrongdoing”.

Anne Boleyn was also a woman that knew her Bible. She was a woman with a keen interest in religious reform, a woman who encouraged the publication of the Bible in English and who read texts about how the Church should be focusing on the authority of Scripture. Anne owned a copy of William Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament, in which can be found these words:

“Ye haue hearde howe it was sayde to the of olde tyme: Thou shalt not comitt advoutrie. But I say vnto you that whosoeuer looketh on a wyfe lustynge after her hathe comitted advoutrie with hir alredy in his hert.” Matthew 5: 27-28

Here, Jesus is saying that a person who lusts after someone who is married has already committed adultery even if they have not had sexual relations. Anne was married, for her to have been in love with or to have had lustful thoughts about another man would have constituted adultery in the mind of someone who believed in the authority of scriptures, as Anne did, and I doubt that she would have felt that she could claim to be innocent if she had truly been in love with one of her husband’s best friends.

Another point is that we don’t actually know what Anne said when she swore her innocence on the sacrament on that May day in 1536. Chapuys writes that one of her ladies told him, so that’s second-hand information, and we don’t know whether Anne’s words were paraphrased rather than quoted accurately. Sir William Kingston’s report to Thomas Cromwell on 18th May 1536, which is about Anne sending for him to witness her taking the sacrament, is damaged and all we can read is:

“she sent for me that I myght be with hyr at [soche tyme] asshe reysayved the gud lord to the in tent I shuld here hy[r speke as] towchyng her innosensy alway to be clere.”16

So no details of her words but it appears that she was swearing to her innocence.

My final point is that there is nothing linking Anne Boleyn and Henry Norris in a romantic way before Anne’s fall. On 29th April 1536, three days before her arrest, it is reported that Anne had an altercation with Norris. At this time, Norris, a widower, was courting Anne’s cousin, Madge Shelton. Anne is said to have asked Norris why he was taking so long in marrying her cousin, and when he replied that he “would tarry a time” she rebuked him, saying, “You look for dead men’s shoes, for if aught came to the King but good, you would look to have me”, thus accusing Norris of delaying his marriage to Madge because he fancied her. A horrified Norris replied that “if he [should have any such thought] he would his head were off.”17 As I’ve said in previous articles, this exchange started off as a game of courtly love, where a knight was meant to woo his queen and be a little in love with her, but ended up with Anne speaking recklessly of the king’s death, something which could be construed as treason. A game of courtly love gone too far, not a romantic exchange by any stretch of the imagination and certainly not proof that they were in love.18 Norris was courting Anne’s cousin and Anne seems to want him to get his act together and marry her soon. I can’t see this conversation as two sweethearts flirting.

Did Anne Boleyn love Sir Henry Norris?

Who knows? It’s impossible to say. However, I don’t find it a compelling theory. I think Anne Boleyn and Henry Norris were completely innocent, and that noble Norris went to his death rather than confess to something that he didn’t do.

What are your thoughts? Please do comment below.

Notes and Sources

Picture: Anne Boleyn, National Portrait Gallery, and Luke Roberts as Sir Henry Norris in the BBC series “Wolf Hall”.

  1. British Sovereigns and Royals, Facebook group.
  2. Weir, Alison (2017) Six Tudor Queens: Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession, taken from “Author’s Note”, p.511 in an ARC.
  3. Weir, Alison (2009) The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, Jonathan Cape, p. 252. Weir says “Nonetheless the wording of her confession is interesting. It may be that she merely wished to emphasise that she had been faithful to the King, but from her insistence that ‘she had never offended with her body against him, it might be inferred that she had offended in other ways, perhaps with her heart or her thoughts, and that she had perhaps secretly loved another, possibly Norris, but had never gone so far as to consummate that love.”
  4. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 10, 908.
  5. Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 5, 55. See Note 26 at
  6. Bernard, G. W. (2010) Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions,Yale University Press, p. 172.
  7. Archaeologia: Or Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity, Published by the Society of Antiquities, Volume XXIII (1831) p. 64.
  8. Ibid.
  9. ed. Ellis, Sir Henry (1825) Original letters, illustrative of English history…, Volume II, p. 61.
  10. Ives, Eric (2004,2005) The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Blackwell Publishing, p. 420; Cavendish,
    George (1825) The Life of Cardinal Wolsey and Metrical Visions from the Original Autograph Manuscript,
    Samuel Weller Singer, p. 223.
  11. For a list of charges see 10 May 1536 – The Middlesex Indictment and 11 May 1536 – The Kent Indictment
  12. LP x. 908.
  13. Lancelot de Carles’ poem “De la Royne d’Angleterre” is from Ascoli, Georges, La Grande-Bretagne Devant L’opinion Française Depuis La Guerre de Cent Ans Jusqu’à La Fin Du XVIe Siècle, my translation was done at my request by Paolo Dagonnier.
  14. LP vii. 1257.
  15. Wriothesley, Charles (1875) A Chronicle of England During the Reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559, Volume I, p. 37-38.
  16. Cavendish, p. 229.
  17. LP x. 793.
  18. See my articles Courtly love, flirtation and the fall of Anne Boleyn Part One and Courtly love, flirtation and the fall of Anne Boleyn Part Two

Related Post

83 thoughts on “Was Anne Boleyn in love with Henry Norris?”
  1. A theory can quickly become ‘fact’, irrespective of lack of evidence, especially when spouted by someone like Weir who many people respect. George Boleyn the sexual deviant/rapist is given credence in this fictional account of Anne by Weir referencing her own non-fiction in which she suggests there is evidence to give that characterisation merit. It has been repeated so often now that it’s become fact. Probably Norris/Anne in love, when regurgitated time and time again, will likewise become fact. Some writers/historians are desperate to come up with something new, and if they can’t then why not just make something up? Many of their readers will probably end up believing it eventually anyway.

        1. I have read G. W. Bernard’s book, Anne Boleyn, Fatal Attractions and I have read other books on Anne Boleyn over the last forty four years. I am a History fanatic. I love a lot of history. The history of England, the history of Scotland, the history of Ireland, the history of Castile, the history of Aragon, the history of Catalonia, then then the history of United Spain, the history of Naples, the history of various Italian states, especially Ferrara, the history of the Ukraine as it was, the history of Poland, the history of Russia, and other histories but there are certain periods in History, that I fancy and the history of Henry the Seventh, Henry the Eight, Edward the Sixth and Mary the First of England are among my favorites as well as the history of Edward the Fourth, King of England, the period of Edward the Fourth, the period of Henry the Third, King of England and the period of Richard the First, King of England and some of Henry the Second’s reign and the reign of Henry the First, King of England are among my favorites. After all I have read on Anne Boleyn, I do not know if she is innocent or not. And as to her being in love with Sir Henry Norris, I do believe it is extremely possible. The Norris family and the Boleyn family were close. Anne Boleyn knew Sir Henry Norris all her life as she had known Sir Thomas Wyatt. Was she in love with Sir Thomas Wyatt? That, too, many have been possible but her great love was Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. She wanted to wed with him, badly. Henry the Eight came as an after thing as C. W. Bernard says. Of all that I have read on Anne Boleyn, my most favorite is C. W. Bernard because he makes the most sense. I do believe that Anne Boleyn may have loved Sir Henry Norris greatly but she was extremely discreet about it.

        2. It is possible that she was is love with Henry Norris in the same way that it’s also possible that she was in love with any man she came into contact with, but I don’t see it as probable. For something to be probable, we need evidence and there is no evidence that Anne was in love with Norris. He was a member of the circle closest to the king and queen, being Henry VIII’s groom of the stool and good friend, and he was courting Anne’s cousin and lady. He spent a lot of time with the royal couple, but there is nothing to suggest that there was anything between him and Anne. He denied it even though he was offered a pardon if they were involved, and there is nothing in any of what Anne said to suggest any love between them. Theories need to be based on something substantial.

  2. I find it interesting that Anne’s admission that she did offend the king with her words did address some issues, but not her words to Henry Norris. IMO, the sole basis of any “romance” between Norris and Anne is the idea that the conversation of the 29th is so different from any other conversation that it must mean something more than mere courtly love gone wrong. After all,, even if Weir is right and Anne’s denial that she offended the king with her body does support an inference that she did offend the king in some other way (heart, words, etc.), it still doesn’t establish a romance with Norris. Weir’s interpretation of her words would be equally consistent with the idea that she married the king while still in love with Henry Percy.

  3. Alison Weir said this in the documentary Last Days of Anne Boleyn which saw a collection of historians, David Starkey, Susanna Lipscombe, Garath Russell, Hilary Mantel and Alison Weir and Professor Bernard analysing various theories and evidence for the reasons behind Anne’s fall and execution. Theories included the usual suspects, did Cromwell or Henry make up a conspiracy against Anne, was she guilty or the victim of circumstances. Alison Weir does state that she thinks Anne was innocent of the charges which included physical adultery and incest, but does allude to Anne’s very specific final confession. Anne makes it clear that although she has not shown Henry respect at times, she has never offended against him with her body. Claire rightly points out that the charges against Anne are physical sexual crimes, not thought crimes. Even the one crime to constitute treason as adultery was a sin, not a crime, imagining the King’s death means an action or talk which constitutes planning or appearing to contemplate the King’s death. Talk of death in general or the King being at a funeral has nothing to do with imagining the King’s death, even if this was stated in the Tudors. Anne had done two things which could be directly interpreted as hoping the King would die so as she could marry a lover. She had laughed with Norris, chiding him to be looking to step into her husband ‘s place if Henry were dead and secondly she had talked, foolishly about him loving her. However, Anne had been telling Norris off, plus he was outraged and had denied her suggestions. Besides, Anne was never charged with anything to do with this, but with a more general crime of wanting to use one of her alleged lovers to place an unborn child on the throne. Henry had said he believed Elizabeth to be the son of Henry Norris in order to justify his temporary rejection of her after Anne’s death. Anne also argued with Henry viii before her arrest, a quarrel which was witnessed, but nobody knows what it was about. All we know is that Henry was angry and Anne was trying to appease him with Elizabeth in her arms. Anne also got it that her silly talk could get Norris into serious trouble because she sent her almoner to make things right. Norris was named by the terrified Mark Smeaton, later recanted any alleged confession of his own, denied any adultery to the King and also in court. When you recant you withdraw your previous declaration. Anne made her confession on the Blessed Sacrament, the presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus, in which she believed and to lie in such an oath just as she was about to die would have, everyone believed and Christians still believe, condemned her soul to eternal damnation. Anne is believed to have been a good Christian, whether reformed or Catholic and believed this too. Her confession was specifically witnessed at Anne’s request by the Constable of the Tower and she gave Cranmer leave to break the seal of Confession and bade Kingston to tell the world the content of her final Confession. This is how we know what Anne said, word for word. Anne stated herself innocent of adultery twice. She may have used an odd phrase that she had not offended Henry with her body, but this is in direct reply to the accusations against her. She also swears she is innocent. You cannot say that Anne may have betrayed Henry with her thoughts because she specifically says body. That is pure speculation and sounds good in a novel. This is not what the witnesses thought. Many accepted this as proof that Anne Boleyn was innocent. Finally, I go with Chapyus who believed Anne was innocent and said so: Ives tells us Chayus said she was ” condemned on presumption and not evidence, without any witnesses or valid confession”. (Ives, page 350, 2008 paperback, citing Cal S.P. Spanish, 1536-1538 p125, RO, PRO 31/8 f.85 LP x 908, 965….note 39 in chapter 23 Judgement of the above Book). Ives also notes that Margaret of Austria wrote a letter showing she was cynical about Anne’s trial and the French reformer Etienne Dolet also declared his belief in her innocence. As we all know Chapyus was no friend to Anne Boleyn, but even he thought all this was ridiculous.

    Did Anne have feelings for Henry Norris? Well as Claire says we don’t know, but I doubt it. He was courting someone else, Madge Shelton and was a widower. He admired Anne as a courtier, may have been smitten, his family shared an interest in reform, but he was actually older than Henry. Perhaps she found him charming but her reaction to learning that he may be coming to her rooms with the others more for her than Madge seems angry and like outrage to me. Anne told him off. I don’t believe she was in love with him or that any attention he paid her was anything more than courtly love.

      1. Hello, yes that was a big part of the whole problems, although she didn’t die because of her last miscarriage, but this made her vulnerable and love turned to hate. Henry only believed a son could rule, but it was more and more of an intensive obsession. Happy Easter.

  4. In my opinion, Anne Boleyn specifically referred to sinning “with my body” because the indictments had emphasised her sexual betrayal of the king – and sexual betrayal involves sexual intercourse, which as we all know, is committed with the BODY. That is why, in my opinion, she would have focused on her body. The charges of adultery and incest were designed to cause widespread revulsion, so I think we should view Anne’s statement as a powerful refutation of the accusations. In my opinion, it is very imaginative and speculative to infer from this statement that Anne was tacitly admitting that she had loved another man in her mind.

    I also agree with all of the other points you have raised in this article.

    Regarding Alison Weir’s theories about Anne Boleyn, I would take anything she has said with a hefty pinch of salt. In previous books, she has accused Anne of being involved in Katherine of Aragon’s death, of plotting to murder her stepdaughter Mary, of being corrupted in France and losing her virginity there, and then deceiving Henry VIII about it; she has accused Anne of repelling Henry with her French sexual practices; goodness, she even claimed that Anne was visibly ageing and growing more ugly in 1535-6 based on the Nidd Hall portrait – a portrait that is not contemporary, a portrait which dates to Elizabeth I’s reign, and was thus painted half a century after Anne’s death!

    Putting forward a theory that Anne Boleyn loved another man, and thus deceived Henry VIII during her marriage, merely fits into Weir’s overall picture of Anne as a deceitful, vindictive and sexually suspect woman who manipulated and deceived her poor husband from the moment she met him. From Weir’s perspective, Henry wasn’t even responsible for Anne’s downfall and was as much a victim as she was – both he and Anne were outmaneuvered by Cromwell!

    At the end of the day, Weir is not a trained historian and I am more willing to trust the word of Eric Ives or Retha Warnicke, two academic historians that devoted their lives to researching Anne and wrote about her with respect and sympathy, rather than advancing outlandish theories motivated by dislike and hostility to a historical figure. I have never understood why historians write about people that they personally do not like. Weir does not like Anne Boleyn (as shown in The Six Wives of Henry VIII, The Lady in the Tower and her Mary Boleyn book); nor does she like Catherine Howard (how on earth is that poor woman going to be portrayed in Weir’s novel about her?)

    1. Weir actually has a very real passion in Anne Boleyn it’s just she does not make excuses for her, in her book ‘The Lady In The Tower’ she writes how her interest in Henrys second wife has never abated from when she first heard her story, regarding Annes adventures in the French court she is only going on the remark made by Henry when he said he thought she had been corrupted in France, and he would never have a French wife after Anne but if you actually consider Anne when young was said to be very attractive, she was at the French court and would have had ample opportunity for indulging in post marital adventures so it does seem very unlikely she did succumb to temptation, it was such an immoral court and the atmosphere would have been heady, she would have been caught up in the excitement of it all but that does not mean she was immoral when she arrived in England and became one of Katherines ladies, Anne was vindictive but only when after years of frustration ensued and she must have felt she was never going to be queen, frustration and anxiety did turn her from a rather amiable good natured girl into a hard headed woman and it had altered Henry too, I think the long hard won battle for them to marry which after all had taken many years, had prematurely aged them both.

    2. I haven’t read either novel, although I am aware of the statement from documentary and other works by Alison Weir. I agree that she does make a number of speculative and questionable statements. I would not go as far as to say her work should be taken with a pinch of salt as she has also written books that are well researched. Some of her references can be a bit annoying as she doesn’t give full references for the extensive letters and papers, which as anyone knows makes finding and verifying facts difficult. There are simply volumes and volumes of royal papers, so just LP is not helpful. I agree that more academic historians do a much better job and Ives was an expert on Anne Boleyn. However, as a popular historian I find Weir approachable for a lot of readers who find Ives far too complex. I don’t agree with Weirs interpretation of Anne’s confession of innocence, but her theory still dserves respect and valid debate. You don’t need any ‘training ‘ or academic degrees to be a good historian, although learning how to reference correctly should be taken up by any none fiction writer in any field. There are perfectly good historians with no official academic training who have written well for years. Alison Weir may not have interpreted this evidence to everyone’s taste, but saying you must take anything she says with a pinch of salt is disrespectful.

      1. Bandit queen, forgive me but I don’t think it is. I have just listed above every accusation she has made against Anne; accusing a historical person of poisoning, murder and lying about her virginity is slander, in my opinion, if there is no evidence to support the accusations. Relying on Chapuys wholesale is wrong.

        And forgive me, again, but trained historians usually ARE more objective and even-handed in their use of sources. You can look at Weir’s books about Queen Isabella and the Princes in the Tower if you don’t believe me when I say that prejudice gets in the way of historical analysis.

        1. Yes, obviously the better training you have, the better analysis and interpretation of sources, but professional historians can also be biased. Dr David Starkey is a well respected historian but at times he is far from unbiased. Yes, prejudices do get in the way of objectivity, but that happens even with academic historians, because they are human and we all interpret evidence according to knowledge and reasoning. While training helps, experience is just as valuable and having worked with several none academic and academic historians and researchers over the years I have found that there are times that they make the same mistakes. I have read the book on the Princes in the Tower and I don’t find it prejudiced in any way. I don’t necessarily agree with her conclusion or see the same things in circumstantial evidence, which can have a number of interpretations, but I don’t believe her interpretation is biased. I assume you refer to Isabella the wife of Edward ii? I can’t comment on her interpretation here as it is a long time since reading this. What I will say is a number of writers have a bias against Isabella the Fair, a few historians have probably presented her according to the pre conceptions presented by Medieval writers and sources on female Queens who were forced to act with strength and power. However, reinterpreted biographies now are emerging. For years, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard have been viewed as either victims or women who broke the mould. Ives is just one of many historians to look deeper and present a truer picture of Anne Boleyn. Katherine Howard has been the subject of four or five reinterpretations in the last twenty years or so, all of them completely different. The same evidence is reinterpreted according to a variety of theories, such as abuse, her youth, whether the author believed in her innocence or guilt, etc and not all are totally without some human bias or judgement or desire to prove a theory. That doesn’t make the books any better or worse than others just because their interpretation is new or different, nor is it less or more balanced. You can also be too sympathetic towards a subject. Weir in this case is not saying Anne is guilty of anything, she is merely looking for a possibility of a romantic connection. It’s a theory, one that’s a bit of a stretch but it’s an interesting interpretation which adds to intellectual debate. Professor Bernard thinks Anne Boleyn could possibly have been guilty of something and he uses a poem by Lancelot Carlos as his interpretation as well as looking closely at the evidence gleaned from the poem concerning Lady Worcester against Anne, stating that he sees something in her accusations to her brother regarding the Queen as worth investigation. Now most historians dismiss his book and work out of hand and disagree with his findings, because close examination of the charges against Anne shows them to be nonsense. The talk between Lady Worcester and her brother in the poem is of course gossip by an angry woman being told off for having herself committed adultery. Like most people I don’t agree with Bernards interpretation, but I respect his work. Is he being any less correct in his use of a controversial source than Alison Weir is in her personal interpretation of Anne’s remarks when she takes the Blessed Sacrament? Both are just theories based on one interpretation, but because Professor Bernard is an academic, his view correct or not adds to the debate and Alison Weir is dismissed out of hand. Weir, I have found is sympathetic towards Anne Boleyn and her book Lady in the Tower is excellent. She sees Anne as being set up by Cromwell as part of a conspiracy. Her question about Anne possibly having romantic feelings for Henry Norris is theoretical. For reasons set out above I doubt very much that Anne was in love with anyone let alone Henry Norris and was making it perfectly clear to all present that she had not committed adultery as the accusations were specifically sexual and physical. While it does take a stretch of the imagination to turn that into did she love Norris, it’s perfectly reasonable for Weir to examine this possibility if she wishes, especially as nobody can answer the question for certain. Weir is not saying Anne wanted to have an affair with Norris or anyone else, she is just expressing an abstract theory about her feelings.

      1. Don’t ever recall her accusing someone of compassing murder, trying to poison someone, lying about her virginity or repelling a man with French practices, but if you have then please enlighten me.

        1. How do you know Anne didn’t lie about her virginity? I am not saying Anne wasn’t a virgin when she accepted Henry into her bed in 1532, but nobody knows for certain, only her. Anne Boleyn was known for modesty and she refused to have casual sex with the King as his mistress after her sister had been, but we don’t know for certain that she didn’t consummate her relationship with Henry Percy. There are a few years in between the end of this relationship and her relationship with Henry Viii. She was in love with Percy and they hoped to marry. The relationship could have been consummated or not, we don’t know. Yes, under controversial circumstances Percy swore they were not contracted, but just because no formal betrothal took place, sex can’t be ruled out. Young people had raging hormones then just as now. Sex outside of marriage took place a lot more often than some historians care to admit. Even a betrothal could be broken off and Anne’s with Percy was, before it became formal. Anne was very pious, but this may have developed later on. She did have a pious education in the court of Queen Claude of France and speculation that she must have learned all sorts of sexy stuff in France is probably nonsense. Henry Viii was not a sexual prude either, he was just private. We know few details of Anne and Henry’s sex lives that it’s impossible to know what turned them on. Anne is accused of claiming her husband had sexual problems, confiding in her sister in law, Jane Boleyn, but is this more gossip? Again, there is some medical evidence that Henry had problems later on, but we only have Anne’s word at this time. Yet again a question nobody can definitely answer. This does not mean as historians and researchers we shouldn’t speculate. Life would be very boring if we didn’t.

        2. Anne surrounded by homosexual men, Anne’s downfall caused by a deformed child, Catherine Howard raped and abused by every man she ever met. Warnicke’s theories are not based on evidence. So yes, in my opinion she does make it up as she goes along. Warnicke is as bad as Weir for fanciful theories. Are you enlightened?

      2. Retha Warnicke does not make things up, her work is well researched and well referenced and respected. In recent years, however, it has been considered controversial due to questions raised concerning the sexuality of George Boleyn and others and their sexual practices. Focus has been on interpretation of his death speech and the writing of Cavendish and poems by Thomas Wyatt after their deaths. The professor is very well respected and maybe her work is taken out of context, but nobody’s work is or should be beyond criticism or scrutiny or reappraisal in the light of new evidence or fresh ideas.

        1. Banditqueen, I agree with you that historians are entitled to speculate and consider possibilities, but to confidently claim that Anne Boleyn was corrupted in France and disillusioned Henry VIII as a result of her sexual experience is based on a very imaginative reading of the sources, and is a theory that should be challenged. Claire has already demolished that theory on this very website. Henry never claimed that Anne had been corrupted during her childhood.

          Also, I would like to point out that if a historian is going to put forward a theory, they should be required to have evidence available to support and back up that theory. There is no evidence for Anne’s alleged corruption, so I don’t see how we can claim she was corrupted. Such an idea can be explored in historical fiction but not in non fiction.

          “Life would be very boring if we didn’t” – okay, maybe, but sometimes we forget that these individuals are not fictional characters, they really existed and were real people. If you want to imaginatively speculate, then write a novel, write a bodice ripper and throw all objectivity out of the window. But if you are a historian, you have a duty to respect those whom you write about. We have evidence we can use to construct a narrative of their lives, but much of the evidence has been lost or destroyed; we can only do the best we can. We can speculate, of course, but coming up with theories that are salacious and imaginative is counter productive. I also have to question why some are so obsessed with Anne Boleyn’s sex life.

        2. Yes, AB, I don’t agree that Anne was corrupted in France and just how that speculation has become a subject of fascination, even for a novel is beyond me as there is practically 0 information about her time in France anyway. Anne went to France, Anne wrote a letter, possibly from France, possibly from elsewhere, Anne was educated in France, Anne came back from France….that’s it. Yet all sorts of claims have come forth in connection with France…including she interpreted for Katherine of Aragon. Did she? I doubt it. Sources please. Oh, that’s right this is speculation. I agree, some evidence should be available for any theory or reconstruction, but in the case we are discussing, Anne may love someone it’s just a vague theory or question, not a statement of belief or fact. It’s impossible to examine the thoughts of another person without them being expressed any way. It’s definitely a stretch to defuse Anne may have had feelings or thoughts of love for someone from I didn’t betray my husband with my body, but to be fair, all Weir does is ask a question.

        3. See my comment above. She is worse than Weir, and that’s saying something. Weir is well respected too.

      3. Warnicke never claimed that Katherine was raped and abused by every man she met. She argued that Katherine was molested by Manox and Dereham during her teenage years and later blackmailed by Culpeper: three men. Warnicke puts forward a valid argument that is backed up by a wealth of evidence and it is unfair and disrespectful to suggest that she is making up things as she goes along.

        1. There is no evidence to suggest any of this. Where’s the ‘wealth of evidence’ to suggest Catherine was blackmailed by Culpeper or molested by Dereham? Warnicke comes up with baseless theories. Anyone can do that. I’m disrespectful to Warnicke because I don’t respect her. Why should I?

        2. Hi Clare, apologies but I don’t believe Warnicke is worse than Weir and I do feel it is disrespectful to someone of her credentials to claim that she makes things up as she goes along. It’s bordering on slander and I don’t think it’s fair for you to say that. I already listed earlier all the baseless assertions Weir has made about Anne from just two of her books, which in my opinion makes her very close to Philippa Gregory in her approach and methods. Warnicke is entitled to her theories, Claire is the first person to tell you that her references are exhaustive, her research brilliant, she draws on a wide range of surviving sources to back up her arguments.

          Just because you don’t agree with her doesn’t mean you can accuse her of making things up. I don’t agree with Weir on a lot of things, including her assertion that Anne Boleyn plotted to murder Katherine of Aragon and Mary, but I backed up my arguments with extant sources. I didn’t just slander her and not back up what I was saying. I know that you and Claire have spent a lot of time researching George Boleyn, and I agree with you re the issues with Warnicke’s theories about him, but I don’t think you can then rubbish all of her other theories and interpretations regarding individuals like Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Mary Stuart just because you don’t like her interpretation of George Boleyn and his career.

          I don’t like Weir’s interpretation of Anne Boleyn and her accusations against her, but that does not mean I reject some of her other ideas. I recently read her biography of Lady Margaret Douglas and enjoyed it; likewise her biography of Elizabeth I. Warnicke’s work is professionally peer-reviewed, she has given many conferences and academic papers, and in an academic environment, you are harshly scrutinised by other professors and lecturers. Many of her books have been praised by them, and I think some of her theories are valid, others less so.

        3. I completely agree, Conor. There are a number of notions that Professor Warnicke presents which are not sustainable with contemporary evidence, but later theories which she prefers and has interpreted in a way most other historians disagree with, but she does back up most of her ideas with research. I don’t agree with many of her conclusions, but I am reading her book on Anne Boleyn at the moment and her research is well documented and certainly not made up. My husband worked with several professors and always joked about many of them being more like being in the presence of oddness than greatness, but he always respected their work. You don’t become a respected academic with tenure and honours by making things up. I can disagree and still respect the academic research behind the work.

          Katherine Howard may have been abused by Mannox, but I don’t believe she was abused by Dereham or Thomas Culpepper as the evidence appears to suggest consent. However, I agree with you, there is evidence which can be interpreted either way and has been by different historians. There is also as you say debate on how old Katherine was and this tends to influence how she has been seen. I don’t believe Katherine was a sex mad flussey who simply enjoyed sex and she actually didn’t have that many sexual partners. She had two or three relationships before marriage, one of which was not her choice and maybe one or two, including her husband afterwards. There is a lot of confusion about her relationship with Thomas Culpepper as there were two of them. Historians have from time to time merged the two so we cannot be certain if our Culpepper was a rapist or not. There are aspects of his relationship with Katherine which are disturbing and others which point to consensual encounters. Historians, as indicated in the list below are well and truly divided over whether or not he bribed and bullied Katherine into meeting him or whether she invited him because she wanted to befriend him. There are numerous interpretations of the same evidence and the biographies by yourself, Gareth Russell and Josephine Wilkinson have tried to get rid of the myths and get to the truth of the matter. I would recommend all three books, although I won’t agree with all of the conclusions. One thing I will say, it is good to see new perspectives on Katherine which question the old notions that she did commit adultery, when no there isn’t any definative evidence that she did, that she had no education, when she had tutors in music and how to run a great household, that she only took an interest in herself, when she was active as a Queen who intervened and fulfilled her duties, plus even though she loved clothing and dancing, could have a mean streak, she was also very generous.

          I know certain authors have picked up on some ideas which raise potential questions about sexuality of the Boleyn family and factions raised in some of Professor Warnicke’s work, but these ideas are taken wildly out of context and ran with in works of fantasy, not by the professor, but authors of fiction, such as Philippa Gregory. Professor Warnicke is studying how these forbidden sexual practices would have been regarded and is assessing and interpreting the Metrical Visions and in the last speeches of the five men accused with Anne Boleyn. However, the nonsense in the Tudors and Other Boleyn Girl, goes much too far, for we don’t have any supporting evidence for a deviant life style. It was thought George Boleyn was a womanizer, but what evidence is there for that or his preference for male partners? The idea of incest with his sister is one taken for granted by some modern novels but this is their misinterpretation, not necessarily what was intended in the original studies. Whatever flaws are in Professor Warnicke’s work, I certainly dismiss any suggestion that she makes things up.

      4. Some of the men at court may have committed sodomy, George among them. You weren’t there so how would you know?

        1. I’m sorry, but that argument doesn’t make sense. If you’re going to say something could have happened because we weren’t there, so can’t know, then anything is possible. Henry VIII could have too. Just because something is possible, it doesn’t make it probable.

        2. I find it sad that these men who were accused and condemned along with Anne and all lost their lives because of it, are now the victim of character assassination nearly five hundred years later over their sexual leanings, whose to say they were not all heterosexual ? Both Weston and Brereton were happily married, Weston with a young son only a year old, Brereton also was a father and both their wives believed firmly in their innocence, Norris was engaged to Annes cousin who was said to be a pretty young woman, no doubt they both loved each other and just because Warnicke wrote of how she believed they were homosexual ( sodomites) because of her assessment of the Tudor belief in sexual practices and fact that deformed children were born because of it, these poor men are now under scrutiny, they were just courtiers who were unfortunate to be at the court of Henry V111 and part of his queens circle at a time when Cromwell and possibly the King were plotting to get rid of her, that was their tragedy it was not their fault they were chosen as scapegoats, Brereton was around 49 when he died quite old by the standards of the day and his wife and family were devoted to him, both he and Weston held important offices at court, gentleman and groom of the stool, it shows they were well respected and trusted by Henry, Norris had been a friend of Henrys for many years, he also held the very important role of groom of the stool, he alone was offered a pardon if he made a confession of his alleged adultery, he refused which enraged Henry, Norris was a man of principals and courage, he was not going to land Anne in it even if it meant saving his life, they were both innocent, George Boleyn was accused of incest and that was far worse as he and his sister then both appeared sexual deviants, unnatural monsters, they were wicked and Annes miscarriage was no doubt her brothers and died because of their wickedness and sexual depravity, Smeaton the hapless young musician who possibly under torture and the promise of a merciful death was the one who gave Cromwell their names we do not know much about, only that he was favoured by Anne because of his skill as a mucisian and beautiful singing voice, he apparantly annoyed some of Annes circle by strutting about preening in the fashionable outfits she had given him, (we have to remember he was young and it went to his head) and he also had some fine saddles she had given him for his horse, he was from a poor family and he had done well at court rising to become the queens favoured mucisian, there could have been some jealousy there as the other men were nobleman so they could have found it a bit of an insult that this lowly person was lording it about them, but it’s only speculation, they were all caught up in Annes fall from grace and were quite probably decent people, they had been at court a long time and no other scandal was attached to them but by the second week of May all were under the most dreadful suspicion and in two weeks time all were dead, six people who were all innocent and just wanted to live their lives happily and no doubt peacefully, I know Warnicke is a respected historian but I must admit I think her theories on these unfortunate men are rubbish and also for giving Cavendish any credence at all, but she’s entitled to her view as is Proffessor Bernard when he says he thinks it likely that Anne slept with Norris and Smeaton, her witnessed confession he blithely ignores, we will be in May in a few weeks the most traumatic month of these tragic people’s lives, it is a lovely month when the trees are in blossom and lambs are frolicking in the warm sunshine, the hope of summer bursting just around the corner, but it was not for these six victims, they are distant historical figures, just names in old parchment, a painting on a wall, yet they were real flesh and blood people who lived loved, suffered and died, let’s not tarnish their memory by believing they were these wicked immoral sexual perverts, just hopeless victims of a dreadful miscarriage of justice.

    3. You query Weir’s baseless assertions, and challenge her on those, which I agree with, but you fail to recognise Warnicke’s baseless assumptions. I find it incredible that on the one hand you criticise Weir but defend Warnicke for exactly the same thing. Unbelievable!

      1. And as for brilliant research; what research? Please give an example of her brilliant research which in any way backs up any of her theories.

        1. Conor, I know you say there’s plenty of evidence, but what? That’s my problem. It’s not just interpretation, because you can always fit the evidence to suit a theory if you want. Weir is an expert at that. Gareth Russell is highly damning of Warnicke’s theories relating to Catherine, and I must say I agree with him. I just need something stronger than a theory. I need to have evidence to back it up, rather than ‘we don’t know so this may have been.’ To me that’s not enough.

      2. That is not what I said. I said:

        “I think some of her theories are valid, others less so.”

        I do not believe that Anne Boleyn gave birth to a deformed foetus in 1536. I do not believe that Henry VIII thought that Cromwell was involved with a witch, preventing him from consummating his marriage to Anne of Cleves. I do not think Mary Boleyn was born in 1508. I do not believe that George and Smeaton were lovers.

        All of the above are theories put forward by Warnicke. And yet I do not agree with any of them.

        Weir accuses a historical personality of murder, poisoning, lying about virginity. Please tell me where Warnicke accuses anyone of anything? The furthest she goes is suggests that George may have committed sodomy with Smeaton or another man. That is IT. I cannot think of anything else. Even the late Irene Rheinwald, a well known Boleyn scholar, noted that Warnicke’s theories are legitimate historical revisionism. Just because you disagree with Warnicke that George and some of the men accused might have been guilty of unnatural sexual offences, does not mean you can then say that she is worse than Weir. Warnicke never accuses anyone of murder, poisoning or deceit.

        And as I said in my above comment, her references are exhaustive and everything she says is backed up. Weir does not back up her statements. She simply states ‘LP’ or ‘SC’.

        I am criticising Weir for character assassination and for poor referencing. Warnicke does neither of these things.

        Her idea that George might have been guilty of buggery is not character assassination, it is a theory that has been questioned by Ives and other scholars. Bernard accused Anne of committing adultery and of being a sexually loose woman, yet I do not see you outraged by his interpretation of the events? Or Starkey’s interpretation of Anne as an unhinged huntress capable even of murder?

        1. Warnicke accuses Dereham of sexually abusing Catherine Howard and Culpeper of blackmailing her. Evidence?
          I reiterate, where is the research to back her theories. It doesn’t exist, hence she and Weir are on a par.
          Warnicke like Weir does not back up her statements, irrespective of referencing. She references Cavendish to show George was gay. It makes no sense, so referencing or not becomes irrelevant.
          I have no respect for anyone who puts forwards baseless theory. Of course I’m outraged by Bernard, Gregory and Mantel. This isn’t about them. It’s about you knocking Weir, who I loath, while defending Warnicke. I don’t see the difference between the two.

        2. Hi Clare, regarding Katherine Howard, the idea that she was sexually abused actually originated in the nineteenth-century with Agnes Strickland. It is not a newfangled or trendy theory, as some on this website have insinuated. It is a scholarly issue that has been considered in detail for almost two hundred years.

          I am aware that you disagree with my interpretation and that you disagree with Warnicke, and probably Denny, because she also theorised that Katherine’s sexual encounters, begun when she was eleven or twelve, were involuntary. (I believe that Katherine was probably at least thirteen when she became involved with Manox, rather than eleven). But the evidence is there and it is based on a close and detailed reading of Katherine’s letter to Culpeper in 1541, alongside her remarks about the Dereham affair and her encounters with Manox. I have also corresponded with Professor Warnicke about these issue and there is plentiful evidence that she puts forward in her book Wicked Women of Tudor England. I also discuss this in detail in my book, as does Denny and as does Josephine Wilkinson, whose biography was published last year.

          It ultimately depends on when you think Katherine was born. Denny and Wilkinson have both proposed that she was born in around 1525, which would have made her only eleven when she became involved with Manox. Sixteenth-century individuals lacked the notion of child abuse that we have today, and which is punished by law, but they did recognise that those of a certain age were not “ripe”, ie. not ready for sexual intercourse, and unequal encounters between those with a great age disparity were discouraged. Of course, if you go with the more traditional idea that Katherine was born around 1520, then the idea that she was sexually mistreated is harder to sustain.

          I personally believe that she was born in around 1523, as does Warnicke and Gareth Russell. This would suggest she was about thirteen when she became involved with Manox and about fourteen when she met with Dereham. The idea that she was manipulated by Culpeper is a credible one, especially since no-one knows what actually happened during their secret meetings or why these even took place. The traditional suggestion is that the two were conducting an adulterous relationship, but neither admitted to adultery and there is zero evidence that they ever had sexual intercourse. Some have suggested that they were meeting merely as friends, while others have proposed that they were engaging in a courtly flirtation.

          I understand that you disagree with myself and Warnicke re the sexual abuse theory, but it is not true to say that there is no evidence. There is and much of it is open to interpretation. That’s the great thing about history, we can continue to debate these issues in great detail.

        3. “The idea that she was manipulated by Culpeper is a credible one, especially since no-one knows what actually happened during their secret meetings or why these even took place.”
          Conor, isn’t that confirming there’s no evidence. And what evidence she was abused by Dereham? I don’t care whether Warnicke took her theory from Denny or Strictland, or you took it from Warnicke. Ultimately it all boils down to, and all that matters, is what evidence other than a theory?

        4. But Clare as I said, there’s plenty of evidence, indeed much of it is the same evidence traditionally used by writers to construct their notion of Katherine as a flighty young woman who was the dominant party in all of her liaisons. The Culpeper letter, the 1541 interrogations, the court testimony. What it boils down to is interpretation. How that evidence is interpreted. Proponents of the abuse theory do not lack evidence, they are using the same evidence as proponents of the flighty adulteress who was totally guilty theory. The key issue is interpretation.

          I appreciate that you disagree with my interpretation of the evidence and you disagree with Warnicke’s interpretation. But this interpretation does not lack evidence. It is based on as much evidence as the traditional guilty as charged theory.

  5. That is true, Anne was condemned on hearsay and it would not stand up in a court today, I also watched that documentary several times and saw what Weir said regarding Annes last confession, maybe she did commit adultery in her thoughts but her thoughts were her own no doubt belonged in fantasy, we will never know if Anne was attracted to Norris or he to her but Annes rather suggestive remark about dead men’s shoes does seem to imply that she was telling him she knew he fancied her but then again, she could well have just been joking who knows? Anne was clever but she was also known for her reckless tongue and I believe that conversation with Norris was the reason she was trying to pacify Henry, he had most likely heard about it and was quite rightly upset and angry, Anne realised it was a daft remark and implored Norris to go to his confessional but some one had heard Anne make that remark and somehow it had got back to Henry, Mantel said in the documentary that both Norris and Anne were very close to speaking treason and Anne knew this, she had quite effectively given Cromwell the chance to bring her down, it’s a pity we have no record what they said but years later the whole sorry scene was described to Elizabeth 1st by a Scottish contemporary and he said it was a scene that had moved him quite deeply, Anne could well have fancied Norris he was said to be handsome and indeed there must have been plenty good looking men around at the court that caught her eye, by this time Henry was aging quite rapidly, he was still handsome but was going bald and a bit paunchy, though he was far from being the grossly overweight person he eventually became, it’s only natural that Anne would notice other men the way Henry ogled the women, she was possibly feeling upset and frightened of her position because he was courting Jane Seymour and could well have said, ‘what’s good for the goose….. But what Henry could do and what Anne could do were two completely different things, Anne did not commit adultery but she obviously went a bit far in flirting that day with Henry Norris, she needed a man to make her feel attractive again after her husbands dalliance with Jane and really I think it was just an ego boost, it makes a woman feel good when she’s been rejected, her rashly chosen words do not mean she was attracted to or in love with Norris, but those watching inferred of it what they will, if only Anne was here so we could ask her, but we can only infer of it how we will also.

    1. Hello, Christine I always enjoy reading Alison Weir as I believe her analysis shows insight. Maybe she speculates a bit and some of her references could be better (Matthew Lewis could do with putting reference notes in completely especially as he cites several original sources) but her ideas are fresh and sensitive. I have never read that she accused Anne Boleyn of plotting to murder Mary. We know that Anne had a bad time during 1534 when she possible suffered a couple of miscarriages (the sources are confusing and opinion is varied on this) and it was during this time that she displayed some odd and erratic behaviour. There are sources which support Anne being advised strongly by her father and brother over her public behaviour at a visit from the French Ambassador, her distraught claims that she feared Mary and Katherine and couldn’t conceive while they were alive as well as stating that if Henry went abroad leaving Anne as regent she could order her death. Chapyus seems to have been increasingly worried about the safety of Mary and Katherine and rumours persisted in 1536 that Anne had mumbled about poisoning Mary. There is no evidence that Anne gave any orders or that these rumours had merit, but during periods of high stress and strain Anne did make suggestions that she feared Mary and about ordering her death. These mutterings can be put down to her state of mind and should not be taken too seriously. Weir has most probably taken these threats as serious and analysed them. Isn’t that her progative to interpret Anne’s words. I would need to read what Weir says, but as she has written several books on this period, that may take a day or two as AB has not provided an actual reference to back up their claims regarding Weir. Anne’s words regarding Mary can be interpreted as either a frightened woman lashing out, serious but deluded threats or words of someone under tremendous physical, psychological and personal pressure and who is desperate and insecure. Either way I don’t believe Anne was actually intending a murderous threat against Mary and I don’t believe Weir accused her of this either. Miss Weir has always come across as someone who treats her subjects fairly and with sympathy without excusing or hiding their humanity. I believe she tries to get to the heart of the matter which may result in a bit of over speculation, but then again exploring unanswered questions makes history more interesting.

      In her question about what Anne meant by not betraying Henry with her body Weir is not saying that Anne is at all guilty of anything, she is really asking a question that it is possible that Anne may have had romantic thought but asks us to consider the possibility, not that this is what she absolutely believes. Like a lawyer she is saying that at the time inference could be made to mean attraction existed if nothing else. I know it’s a big stretch, personally I don’t believe Anne meant this, but it’s an interesting idea. That’s what analysis is about. Anne merely responded to state quite categorically that she had never sinned with her body because she was accused of terrible, heinous crimes of a sexual nature and incest with her brother. She was making the point that she was pure and had not committed adultery. Her Last Confession was believed far and wide and even Chapyus stated she was condemned with no evidence and no witnesses and false confessions. Weir believed that Anne was the victim of a conspiracy, mainly set up by Cromwell. I believe that her fall was due to a number of things, but that both Henry and Cromwell are equally culpable. I may not agree with Weirs conclusions in all of her books, but I find them honest and well argued. Yes, with Ives and Wilkinson and Russell you get academic treasures, but you sometimes want a lighter more flowing narrative with a feel for their subjects and I find that in Weir. I respect her as an author, even if there are points to question at times.

      1. I believe that also, Anne had been convicted of dreadful wicked crimes and sexual perversion, that of incest therefore she only needed to declare that she had never sinned with her body, her mind never came into it there was no need to mention that, and over the centuries people have inferred and debated what they will, I know this is a very late posting but I havnt been able to sleep and have just come of the phone to my friend who couldn’t sleep either, so I thought I’d turn to the AB files again, Cromwell had her name blackened to such an extant that death was the only possible action to take against this odious woman, yet not many truly believed she was guilty and really it was such a sham from the minute she was arrested down to the kangaroo court she was hauled before, the hasty annulment of her marriage and the way her household was disbanded and the jovial gleeful behaviour of the King that made people mutter, the very hastiness of it all shows the dreadful and shabby way this anointed queen was treated, they had to get rid of her, it was not a case of investigating slanderous rumours about the queen but creating a situation that made the rumours appear true, the swordsman had even been sent for before Anne was even tried, how could any fair minded person think she would have a fair trial? This treatment of Anne Boleyn put a stain on Henry more than anything he ever did before or since, the sacking of the monasteries, the treatment he meted out to the rebellions in the north, the way he sent his troops to ravage Scotland after they did not agree to let their child queen marry his son Edward, the executions of Fisher More and Buckingham, even the burning of Anne Askew which was horrendous in itself especially after she had been tortured to, it was the treatment which his second wife was subjected to that really puts a slur on his memory, it made the world think of him as a tyrant, a despot, Ives writes that after her death his further marriages bought him little happiness well if karma exists it was certainly what Henry deserved.

        1. Hello Christine and Happy Easter or Passover or Holiday…hope you get a better sleep tonight. I completely agree, it was Henry in the end who ruined Anne’s reputation and his own by his terrible treatment of his wife. Although Chayus made several offensive remarks about Anne, he wasn’t always impolite and in the end he was one of the few who defended her and didn’t believe the false charges. It’s very clear Anne specifically made reference to offending with her body and anything else would not enter her head as the horrible charges accused her of all sorts of vile things that sound more appropriate for a p*rn movie. The vile perversion of sleeping with her brother would have been horrifyingly shocking. There are plenty of theories about why this particular charge, but it could be just that Cromwell had a perverted mind. Whether Cromwell had the ideas to make charges that were particularly horrible or Henry had them, their mission was to make Anne appear capable of anything. Why? She was also accused of treason, in plotting to kill the King and it’s at this time that Henry is told that Anne plotted to kill his illegitimate son, Richmond, which seems remarkable as Anne had a lot to do with Henry Fitzroy marrying Mary Howard. Of course Anne was high in favour and pregnant with a possible future heir at the time. If you can blacken the Queens name without getting into trouble for perjury as slander was treason if against the Queen or royal family, then she can be seen as capable of anything and Anne had to be accused of treason in order to face a death penalty. Adultery was a sin (sorry to repeat what we know) but add imagination of the King’s death and you can presume treason. A thought crime did exist in the 1534 Treason Act that allows prosecution on what someone may do to endanger the King, Queen and heirs, ironically a phrase included to protect Anne from slander against her. This may also explain Anne’s final Confession but it cannot be inferred in a modern context, although I do believe Alison Weir makes an interesting deduction, worthy of debate, which is what analysis is about. She is only speculating of course, but as an author, that’s her prerogative. Weir is not attempting to sell her idea as a fact, but raises an interesting question. Let’s face it, we are having a very illuminating debate so that is something good. I know Weir makes some speculative and questionable deductions, plus sometimes her references need to be more specific, but generally her books are well researched and she quotes numerous sources extensively and her books are very accessible. Not everyone can cope with academic texts. I enjoy her books because they are easy to read and thought provoking. I may be happy with academic reads, but I dont always want this. I also love that many historians are now somewhere in the middle, combining good academic references with accessible popular style narrative. History is open to everyone, not the elite and I’m sorry but most people can’t fully get into the late Eric Ives or Retha Warnicke or many other academic writers. A new generation of writers and historians are challenging many of the accepted myths and the way in which academic texts have made history and standard books on Anne more complex than they need to be for the average reader. Fine historian as the late Eric Ives was, (yes he wrote the Anne Boleyn Bible as I have nicknamed my copy) he is not the only authority on Anne Boleyn and a number of reviews find him hard to get into, while still praising his fine research. Newly graduated and new authors who have spent years studying the sources but dont have official history degrees (which you dont need) have produced new studies on Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey and produced fine debut biographies. Claire has written three or four books and produced numerous articles here and elsewhere and studies the original sources. She gives a balanced and two sided view, looking at even obscure or unfriendly sources with an open mind and has written on Anne for years. She is considered an expert authority and indeed she is. New scholars on the Tudor history stage include Conor Bryne and Nichola Tallis and Lauren Mackey. Susanna Lipscombe and Lucy Worsley are two female academics who are popular and have produced well written books, but even they are not totally uninfluenced, no-one is. Dan Jones is a new historian who is controversial but popular and unfortunately plays to the modern audience. Giles Tremelet comes from a journalist background but his biographies of Katherine of Aragon and Isabella of Castile are as authoritative and well researched and referenced as any other authority. I consider him the equivalent of Eric Ives. Garath Russell has written a masterful and exellent biography of Katherine Howard which is academic, authoritative, challenged the old fashioned as well as some less conservative views on her earlier sexual encounters, but which is based fully on exhaustive research, while being easy in the narrative and an accesdible read. In other words today there is a historian who can and will appeal to everyone, with or without formal academic qualifications. Will they all be free from bias? No. They like everyone have their own theories. I can read and respect, even if I dont agree, as some even if biased are thought provoking and entertaining. There are numerous theories for example on the Princes, all from the same vague evidence, none of which tells us anything conclusive. Alison Weir wrote that she believes Richard killed the Princes, so she is called biased by some readers. However, Professor Pollard also believes this, but is not called biased. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed both books. The evidence is sifted through, sources analised closely and both books are well presented and argued with an open mind. The fact that Weir states she now believed in Richards guilt does not make her biased, it means she has a firm opinion. Her book is very evidenced and reads like a detective trying to solve a crime, but she is not biased. I have read every theory on the Princes and believe me there’s a new book every year. I enjoy Alison Weir and I enjoy Eric Ives. They both have valid contributions to Anne’s study and rehabilitation.

          Henry was determined to find Anne guilty, regardless of any investigation, any ridiculously listed charges which a close look at shows her not in the places named or the men not….in modern term, she had an alibi. The jury was rigged, the external juries loaded with people connected to her judges, the sword as you say ordered and there were no called witnesses as far as we know, gossip was allowed, although hearsay was allowed anyway if you swore to it, the King had a party, his behaviour was very bizarre and he didn’t seem shocked. With Katherine Howard Henry broke down. He definitely rigged this one. Cromwell may have been behind the actual details but Henry gave the nod and the orders. Cromwell couldn’t simply think it all up, he had to at least get one confession, at least one other name that made sense, someone close to the Queen and the rest he could just make to look convincing, but he would need royal approval as he would be given the same punishment as the accused as a perjurer. Perjury may bring anything as light as a fine or as severe as death. A heresy trial which was later proven to be based on perjury called the Westminster Heresy Trial as all the people involved were in royal service, resulting in death by burning for five of the seven accused, ended with four people charged for perjury and sentenced to death. However, the four were lucky as the King reduced their sentence to public whipping and a fine. Cromwell had to make a good case. The problem was, it wasn’t a good case, it could have been challenged. Henry was determined Anne had to die and I agree she was set up before she was even arrested. Although no Queen had before been executed, few anywhere had, and ladies like Eleanor Cobbam, set up on false charges of summoning the dead, plotting the death of the young King and co regent by witchcraft and of attempted poison, were imprisoned, Anne was terrified. For some reason everything, everyone, including her husband were against her. Anne didn’t stand a chance, but in her final Confession she saw a chance to get the message out one last time that she was innocent, choosing words which directly answered the vile charges against her.

          Have a Happy Holidays and sorry for my long reply.

        2. Hi Banditqueen, no need to apologise, it’s always a pleasure to read your posts, I have read Giles Tremletts book on Katherine Of Aragon and it is very good very informative I agree, I also possess Paul Friedmanns two volumes on Anne Boleyn which I flick thru now and then, they are very old which I ordered from Amazon and I consider myself lucky to own them, I use them for reference as I find them a bit heavy going, I much prefer proper biographies of Anne not the historical fiction as they don’t give you the true Anne, merely the authors own version of her, there are such a lot about and I have read several but now not interested, and Jane Rochford is always portrayed as a bitter angry woman, but I do love Norah Lofts ‘The Concubine’ she seems to capture Annes spirit and the strange hold she had over the King, her boigraphy I love the best even though it is quite short compared with Ives but she had such a lovely way of writing, her pen seemed to flow, anyway bye for now and enjoy your Easter eggs!

        3. Hi Chris, thanks, I love her biographies as well and have lost count of how many I have. I could never get hold of the original Friedman, you are lucky.
          However, I do have the reprinted modern edition, composed by Josephine Wilkinson from a few years ago and the original has been reformulated for Kindle. I am in love with old books. Yes, I too find the more modern literature, if you can call them that, novels very lacking in any real understanding of Anne. There are the good ones written and rewritten and still in print by Norah Lofts, Jean Plaidy and Margaret Cambell Barnes., although Lofts biography has a bit too much thought about Anne and witchcraft, but her novels are wonderful. Brief Gaudy Hour is a very old classic, well worth a read. I don’t agree with Philippa Gregory ‘s theories, her interpretation is off key, but as entertaining novels they are a good read. There are some splendid early 20th century novels which are treasures. All I can say is maybe Retha Warnicke, who should only be studied in context has influenced a number of once debunked ideas or the modern reader prefers sex at the centre of their entertainment: we don’t know, but yes, modern fiction fails, with a few good exceptions to capture the real Anne Boleyn. Sarah Vasoli’s two novels from her point of view are excellent and I can recommend the two books J’ Anne Boleyn, which are hauntingly beautiful and sad, based on a modern woman who finds herself living in the body of Anne Boleyn and we see everything through her eyes. I will go back to my telly now. Dr Who is back.

      2. The accusation is made in the Lady in the Tower book, drawn from Chapuys. Weir then refers to Strickland’s condemnation of Jane Seymour’s behaviour and writes that Strickland forgets that Anne had been scheming to murder Katherine of Aragon during her years of courtship. In at least two of her books, she charges Anne with losing her virginity in France and then deceiving him about it. She speculates that Anne learned French sexual practices which disillusioned and disgusted her husband.

        These theories are based on little to no evidence. Forgive me but j do not believe that accusing someone of planning murder, lying about her virginity and deceiving her husband, as well as having a dubious sexual history, is “sympathetic”. These theories belong to the novels of Philippa Gregory. They surely do not belong in a work that purports to be history and intends to be taken seriously. Eric Ives never came up with such salacious theories, and since he is an acknowledged expert on Anne, I will take his word rather than Weir’s, thank you very much, especially since his understanding of the sixteenth-century is more well informed.

        1. The accusations are not Weir, but Weir examining the reputation of Anne Boleyn which was not at its best among people who believed they had good reasons not to support her. Chapyus believed that Anne was partly to blame for the mistreatment of Mary and Katherine, who had died less than five months earlier. The reference is in the Spanish Calander of Papers and is also cited in Six Wives of Henry Viii and in David Starkey and other scholars. None of these are made up accusations by Weir, nor does she make most of them. This particular one is Henry talking to the Spanish Ambassador, not Weir or Chapyus making a bland accusation. I can’t go back in time and ask Henry, who may deny it or agree, we don’t know, so we can only report what sources we have, whether we believe them or not. You have to give both sides and immediately afterwards Alison Weir states that Anne aptly defended her reputation quoting from what we do have in her court records and George Cavendish, who is obviously liked by Retha Warnicke, your heroine, whose work on the Metrical Visions has come under a lot of critical scrutiny in recent articles here and on other sites. I don’t agree with many of the conclusions of this eminent scholar, but her work was in the context of sexual politics of the Tudor court and era and how it was used. Any scholars work has to be set in context, not merely attacked without understanding that context. I can disagree and still regard and respect her work.

          You don’t need to be so disparaging of Alison Weir and you shouldn’t expect everyone to agree, they won’t. You don’t like Alison Weir, we get it.

          Happy Easter all the same.

        2. I am not being disparaging of her but I take issue with her when she makes claims like this. I have provided page numbers so you can check them yourself if you wish:

          “Strickland conveniently forgot that Anne, only a decade earlier, had begun scheming to supplant her royal mistress, and had later tried to compass that lady’s death.” (Lady in the Tower, page 255)

          “Earlier still, Anne had spent years at the French court, which was a byword for promiscuity; after marrying her, Henry had discovered that she had been corrupted there and become quickly disillusioned.” (Lady in the Tower, page 80)

          “Nor had her much-vaunted virtue, employed as a tactical weapon in holding off the King’s advances, been genuine.” (Lady in the Tower, page 12)

          “He believed she had lied to him, now knew her to be capable of sustained duplicity, and he may also have been suspicious of her naturally coquettish behaviour with the men in her circle.” (Lady in the Tower, pages 12 and 13)

          “She had probably lied about her virginity” (Six Wives, page 276).

          “…she told Henry early in 1535 that God had revealed to her in a dream that it would be impossible for her to conceive a child while Katherine and Mary lived. They were rebels and traitresses, she said, and deserved death.” (Six Wives, page 276)

          “Anne Boleyn’s pregnancy brought Katherine and Mary nearer than ever to being put to death by judicial process or less lawful means. Anne, with the interests of her coming child to protect, now began a campaign to eliminate them both.” (Six Wives, page 294)

          In view of all of these examples I have given to you, from only two books, I believe I rest my case. Warnicke is not my heroine, neither is Eric Ives and nor is Susan Bordo, but all of them are more understanding to Anne and do not accuse her of the vilest of crimes attributed to her only by Chapuys and Nicholas Sander, who did not even meet Anne.

          Every historian has the right to put forward their own perspective, it is true, and most of the sources can be read from a variety of perspectives, but to accuse someone of trying to murder her rivals, of lying to her husband and deceiving him about her virginity, is unfair and goes too far. If the only source for these accusations is Chapuys, then he should not be relied upon. We need corroborative evidence.

        3. To your further response, yes I found the reference last night. Alison Weir is not the only historian to cite Chapyus and if his is the only source yes you proceed with caution, especially as he is reporting what is said by Henry. He is not the only source to talk about Anne muttering about wanting Katherine or Mary out of the way and Weir is not the only historian to discuss this either. Her books are well researched and in most cases she does have evidence,. However, I agree she doesn’t always reference all of her sources fully and that makes it hard to track things down. Her interpretation may not be to your taste but as you said, that is your opinion, which does not make what you claim, her accusing Anne of things, correct, only your opinion. I have read the references and she is not making accusations, only reporting and discussing a source. A good historian reports a source even if they don’t agree, they don’t just put their opinion and hide the fact that someone said something different. Take Claire for example. Her articles are well balanced. She puts an argument, backs it up and then tells us if there is another source or authority with a different view, says why she disagrees and then shares all the sources and asks our opinion. This is an excellent site for that reason. Her work is well researched and has been for several years, but she doesn’t hide the fact that other people had a far less balanced view of Anne Boleyn. Anne was not perfect, she had plenty of faults and here we seek for the truth, not sainthood. You can’t tell people to take an author with a total pinch of salt just because they see Anne Boleyn as a human being and you disagree. Alison Weir is very fair in her assessment and a popular and respected author because of this. I respect her as muct as Ives and I try to balance what both say in my assessment of history. I’m sorry this upsets you. You don’t like Alison Weir, that’s your privilege and I wish you the best, but we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

        4. Chapuys does not accuse Anne of vile crimes. He said Anne had been unfairly condemned and that she had been set up without any evidence, any confession, only false ones and no witnesses. Chapuys didn’t believe the accusations and said so. He may have written things which give a poor impression of Anne, but he wrote from the point of view of an ambassador who was also a close confidante of Katherine of Aragon and almost a father figure to Princess Mary, for whom he had real concerns.

          Anne was not always given negative press by Chapuys either. Nor did he always refer to her as concubine or other degrading titles. Mostly he called her ‘the lady’ or Lady Anna. He believed Katherine had been poisoned in January 1536 and was at her deathbed, partly because her doctor told him this, although her enbalmer was not a doctor and didn’t have to be. He later revised that view. Referring to Henry’s fall in 1536, which his description that Henry was out for two hours may or not be accurate, as its disputed in another source, the Ambassador calls Henry a tyrant. He also clearly believed Henry responsible for his own mess and for Katherines demise. He correctly reported several references to Anne wishing Mary or Katherine dead. He wasn’t the only one and there were incidents that appeared at the time to back up the rumours. Lady Sheldon was given herbs to make Mary sick which she believed came from Anne. She was really worried when Mary became so ill that she almost died and later Mary was removed by her father for her health and comfort. Both Mary and Katherine feared poison, although this is not an accusation against Anne. Talk was also rumoured that Henry may order his daughter’s death, although this was unlikely. Even less likely is that Henry would allow Anne to, even though in a mad moment she said she would do so if Henry went abroad and made her regent, something also unlikely as Anne was insecure at this time and not always stable. The pressure to conceive also got to her and she didn’t believe she could conceive while Mary and Katherine lived. Katherine was in poor health, so perhaps Anne merely hoped the poor ex Queen would simply die so she would be undoubted as Queen. We don’t know what was going through her mind but Anne was afraid and insecure at this time. Anne had made attempts to reach out to Mary, but Anne had been rejected as Queen for Mary refused to acknowledge any Queen but her mother. Anne tried a carrot and stick approach, trying to make friends, then responding to rebuttal with cruelty, orders to beat, pinch and humiliate the poor girl. Anne was mainly blamed for Mary’s mistreatment, but after Anne’s death, it came out that Henry was behind it or at least turned a blind eye to it because her persecution continued. Henry now declared Mary and Elizabeth illegitimate and sent delegates to Mary demanding that she totally submit to his will, accepting herself as illegitimate and her parents marriage void. Mary was horrified, but Chayus persuaded her to sign the articles as he genuinely feared her death if she did not. He said she could protest to the Holy Father for that she signed under duress. Although your reference is not on page 255 or anywhere else Weir would have been merely summing up and revisiting the detailed numerous references on pages 40 to 48.

          I believe I have already answered your comments on Anne’s perceived sexual activity in France and have found your reference to them. Henry did say to the Spanish Ambassador that he didn’t accept Anne was a virgin when they married, that she learnt things in France and he questioned several other things at the same time. So what? He was having a man rant about his wife with whom he has had a serious fall out and he has also wondered about his marriage being cursed. Chapuys is reporting this in his letters home. It is not Weir making it up or using it as an accusation. Even if Weir does not believe Anne was totally unscathed by the court of France, she is not the first and won’t be the last to ask if she had a sexual experience in France. Maybe it’s time they did, but well the court had a reputation and you cannot regulate what people write. Weir doesn’t say Anne did anything in France, merely mentioned it’s reputation. Anne was at the court of Queen Claude where she got a sophisticated and strict education. I don’t believe, however, that Anne was totally inexperienced when she married Henry, because she had a loving relationship with Harry Percy. But that is my belief and I admit it’s only that. This is an over taxed debate on Anne, but it was an important part of what sort of character you believed she had in the context of her affair and marriage to Henry.

          Anne most certainly did believe that she couldn’t conceive while Mary and Katherine were alive and Weir is not far of the mark when she states that Anne’s pregnancy put Mary in danger. Henry needed a male heir who would supplant Mary and his demands that she submit to Anne as Queen put her in danger. Legislation made it treason to speak against the children of Anne and Henry as the only legitimate heirs, so if Mary continued to do so, her life under those laws may be used against her. Weir is not accusing Anne of murder, but merely making a correct observation of the political reality as she sees it.

          Nice debating with you. As it’s Easter and I am resting now, I rest my case.

      3. Hi bandit queen, Henry never said anything to the Spanish ambassador about Anne’s sexual experience. Claire has debunked that so called theory on this very website. All Henry did was complain of her upbringing when it was suggested that he marry a French bride. He did not want to marry another woman who had been brought up in France. I think to then extrapolate from that that Anne had been corrupted in France and deceived entry about her lack of virginity is wild speculation and is not supported by the evidence.

        I am not disputing that Chapuys could be fair to Anne and showed admiration of her final days in the Tower. I have read Lauren Mackay’s book and I enjoyed it. My point was that Chapuys accused Anne of seeking to murder Mary and Katherine – you can read this in his dispatches, for example in the compilation edited by Elizabeth Norton – and Weir then took this further to claim that Anne was planning the deaths of her rivals. She also accused Anne of losing her virginity and then deceiving Henry. This is based on no evidence so I don’t regard it as a fair observation.

        We are going around in circles now so I think I’ll leave this here. Hope you have a wonderful Easter.

        1. Chapuys was genuinely afraid that Anne sought to seek to kill Katherine and Mary and may have poisoned Katherine, a view he later revised, but he didn’t actually accuse her of murder. He reported several rumours and confirmed reports that Anne, desperate and under strain remarked that she could order Mary’s death and she could not conceive if they were still alive. We put this down to the strain Anne faced but they were a bit more alarming at the time. I don’t believe Anne could plot to kill her rivals, even if she wanted to, but it was not invented by Chapuys or others, it was a genuine fear and valid concern. It’s well recorded as you say in his correspondence, which Norton and Mackey have studied in detail, so Weir is not making it up, she is interpreting the evidence and does so fairly. I will rest my case. Enjoy your bank holidays.

        2. Chapuys referred to Anne as “that accursed Anne” and he believed that she was behind Henry’s increasingly harsh treatment of Katherine and Mary. Whether Anne actually influenced Henry’s actions is a controversial issue and is likely never to be resolved. Maybe she egged him on but I think Henry was an intelligent man more than capable of reaching his own decisions and creating his own policies. I don’t believe he was manipulated or bullied by Anne, I think this is a nonsensical theory that Susan Bordo has comprehensively debunked. Kyra Kramer has also written very fairly about the difficult situation facing Anne during her unmarried years when she was blamed by virtually everyone.

          Weir does accuse Anne of seeking to murder Katherine and possibly Mary and I have provided a full list of quotations above. I don’t believe there is anymore evidence I can marshal. In my opinion she goes further than Chapuys did and I have already said that Bordo has taken Weir’s theories apart. I do not mind Philippa Gregory’s novels because they are entertaining and the author is careful to note that they are fiction rather than fact, but I will say that Gregory and Weir are really not that different in the approaches they take to Anne and her rise to power.

        3. First Alison Weir doesn’t deliberately distort history in a novel for her own theories, to pass off as history. I don’t mind Gregory as a novelist because unlike many of her readers, I am intelligent enough to realize she is selling fiction. As a good read, they are entertainment just as Shakespeare is entertainment, not history. The problem is Philippa Gregory forgets that others will take her theories seriously since she is well known. There is a world between Weir and Gregory, because Weir is not deliberately distorting history, but sometimes mis interpretation can be found and she also interprets from a previous interpretation, sometimes leading to reference errors and misunderstanding. Yes, she may also stretch an interpretation or extrapolate what others may not see in her research. That is her prerogative, but it doesn’t mean the judgement is hers, but her analysis and I still find a great deal of accuracy in most of her work. Her work is honest and accessible.

          I am looking more into the sources and found Claire’s explanation in her article which does not debunk Weir but explains her interpretation very well which is partly based on Friedman and partly on a discourse of Francis I to Rodolfo Pio Bishop of Faenza in a letter to M Ambrosio 4th July 1535, cited in Mary Boleyn in letters and papers, viii 985, in which reference is made to Norfolk conveying Henry’s wish not to marry another French woman and Anne being too much full of French ways. This was interpreted to infer sexual experience. The reference in Chapuys although he did make other reference to Henry complaining about Anne’s past and his view of her had darkened, may be more problematic as it is actually an interpretation of a letter remarked upon by Friedman. There is a reference to Chapyus and Correction and Extension to Calander of State Papers Spanish 5 part 2 1536 to 1538, when in a letter he reports Henry not wishing to marry Madeleine de Valois, daughter of King Francis as her manners and ways were too French, she is also too young and he doesn’t want another French woman, meaning another Lady Anne. There is some confusion over the letter as it’s date is wrong, but it still is still referring to Madeleine and another woman with French upbringing and manners. Now Claire is quite right, it does not say sexual experience, but Friedman points out that the original French can also mean decay, corrupt, upbringing. Chapuys is cited as meaning Anne or ‘the concubine’ in his comparison. Weir is interpreting Friedman and while a stretch it is not invented. She is still referring to concerns about Anne’s French connection in the letter by Rodolfo Pio which is in the Letters and Papers.

          Alison Weir is, however, spot on when she speaks about Anne being heard to make threats to get rid of Mary and to order her death and this is certainly well documented and several historians agree about these threats, overheard and warned about even by her own family. Yes, there are psychiatric reasons that can explain this and other strange behaviour in 1534_and 1535, but it doesn’t make those threats less dangerous. I am sorry but Anne Boleyn was not a saint and she had some unlikable qualities. However, she also had many redeeming ones and these are also mentioned by Weir and even, Chapuys. He actually writes with some mellowing and sympathy towards her in 1536. The Lady in the Tower shows a lot of sympathy towards Anne and is forensic in it’s approach. Her question about what Anne meant in her last confession in no way says that Anne was guilty of anything. Weir is asking a question, maybe she sees something we don’t see, but her opinion is valid just the same. Anne had been accused of vile things by her husband who was responsible for her fate, even if Cromwell did have a large hand in it, so of course she was specific in her denials. It’s a big leap to think someone is in love from silence in their thoughts, but Weir is merely theorizing, asking an interesting pondering question, not making accusations.

        4. P.S. I said in my previous post that Chapuys believed Mary and Katherine were in danger from Anne, nobody is arguing with you over that. I also stated that there is clear evidence that although Anne mistreated Mary when she refused her as Queen, plus that the later evidence shows Henry was behind that mistreatment, not that Anne bullied Henry. Where are you getting all this nonsense? I also stated that Henry used his courtiers to act as delegates in order to threaten Mary after Henry’s death and it was finally Chapuys who persuaded Mary to submit as he was worried that the death sentence attached to refusal would now be used against her. Weir is perfectly correct, each of Anne’s pregnancies were a threat to Mary, especially the last one. As Lauren Mackey has shown, at this time the Acts of Succession and Supremacy were being enforced and Mary would be summoned to swear to the articles, especially if Anne had a son. I don’t believe Weir is exaggerating, the threat and fear were real.

  6. So, maybe she had a little “crush” on Henry Norris and liked and needed his attentions. I mean, she just lost another child, her hormones were probably running amok, and her husband was being a dog. She could still love her husband and be faithful to him. Unfortunately she was blindsided by the charges against her by the court and it may have caused her to panic about her “flirtations” with Mr Norris.

  7. I like Alison Weir, iv read several of her books and they are very informative, you can tell there very well researched as for each of her subjects she produces a load of evidence concerning places and times and dates, she has her own theories on what happened with the murder of Lord Darnley, who was behind Anne Boleyns fall, the disappearance of the princes in the tower etc, but that’s her perogative as an historian and she’s entitled to that like we as individuals are, what she did say about Anne Boleyn was although she finds her fascinating, had she known her she probably wouldn’t have liked her very much, and that is so true because you can admire someone but not like them, she also says she was a woman of remarkable audacity and courage, I never saw evidence that she dislikes Catherine Howard, rather I got the impression that she felt very sorry for her.

  8. I actually communicated with Ms. Weir about some of this. Anne was acknowledging that she had been ungrateful and harsh with the King at times. It is pretty clear she is not admitting to adultery in any form. It is Anne saying she got too big for her britches, not admitting to cheating. Any admission of cheating would have ruined Elizabeth permanently. Was Anne guilty? No, I have never thought so. She was indiscreet, not having been raised to be Queen. She remained on some levels, a courtier, and a flirtatious one, at that, but I don’t think she ever even contemplated adultery. I think when the King was amusing himself elsewhere, she may have soothed her ego with the flattery of the men in his circle. Human, unwise, but not really any kind of crime.

  9. Anne went from a time when she could do no wrong in Henry’s eyes to a position of possible over-confidence. The 16th century court seems to have been a dangerous place indeed and she had many enemies.

  10. Hi Banditqueen, yes the Friedmann volumes I own are actually the original printed in 1884 and I recall I paid quite a lot for them, about a £100 I think, I dug them out last night just to check on the date, I treasure them more than my other books as Friedmann was a notable historian on Anne and his name often pops up as a reliable source, but what would I give to own something that Anne actually possessed, her book of hours I’d love as her signature is on it, or a piece of her jewellery, just to have the prestige to look at them now and then and say to myself, ‘ that belonged to Queen Anne Boleyn’ – absolutely wonderful!.

    1. Wonderful. I have just been looking through my Friedman (modern) and am completely amazed at his completely thorough analysis and notes and references and his honesty. I have a very old collection of Agnus and Elizabeth Strickland Princesses and Queens in several volumes, my husband brought me several years ago. It was delivered in an old large boot box, well padded by hand and they are well treasured. Wouldn’t it be excellent to have something of Anne’s? Really cool. I don’t know everything we have, but have seen her prayer book and hours. I would just love to find something. I love that medallion of Anne, which some scientists have done facial recognition on to see if it matches the Nidd Hall portrait . Although it is traditionally believed to be from the Elizabethan era the portrait has been examined more recently and some people think it’s earlier. Lisa Holloway did an excellent article on this website on the work of the team involved and they had quite a bit of work to do, but some initial results showed a match to Anne was possible. I am open minded but facial recognition is only one method to reidentify portraits and a fair number have changed identification over the years: Queen Jane Grey for one. It would be lovely if a genuine portrait or drawing of Anne was discovered. The nearest we have is the miniature drawing of her in nightgown and cap, possibly made by Holbein in 1534_or 1535. Henry, it is assumed, had all her portraits destroyed, but what if one survived? What if we had a small drawing or signed portrait? What if a devoted servant hid one? Has anyone ever actually tried seriously to hunt high and low and identify Anne’s likeness? It can be done, but perhaps the myth that nothing survived is too strong. We find historical documents and artefacts all the time. Who knows? It would be so precious. Oh, well, time to go. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

      1. I just hope one day a lost painting of her will turn up, Henry was mean to destroy her portraits, utter sacrilege to destroys works of art which took the artist a long time to execute and sketch first before finally painting, given them several coats before varnishing, especially if they were done by that master of Tudor portraiture, Hans Holbein himself, yes some works of art listed as lost have turned up rarely, but yes they have turned up, on the Antiques Roadshow a beautiful work of art was bought in by an elderly couple who had found it in their loft, it turned out to be a painting by the Victorian artist Richard Dadd, listed as lost and it was very valuable, so I pray that one day an original painting of Anne will appear, it seems all we have to go on are the Hever one with her holding the Rose, this is my favourite, and the sketch you mention by Holbein, the one which appeared on e bay I thought was her but now not so sure, though the sitter does resemble Anne slightly round the eyes her chin is smaller than the Hever one and the Nat Portrait one, and the rather unattractive Nidd Hall painting, this one I don’t like at all, anyway you enjoy your Sunday evening to.

  11. I’ve enjoyed reading the comments here. I’ve found Alison Weir does show bias in some of her book, particularly in her biography of Isabella of France, whereby she accuses Despencer of raping Isabella without a shred of evidence. It all comes down to interpretation. There has been very little new evidence on Anne Boleyn for many, many years. Yet writing both fiction and non-fiction – sometimes with blurred lines – about the Tudors is BIG business. A lot of it is based on interpretation and opinions, which can be interesting, though more often it’s money for old rope.

    1. I haven’t read Isabella but I have read Paul Doherty and he gives a long discussion of Isabella and her sexual encounters, which he seems obsessed about, but is simply misinformed and misinterpreting the letters Edward ii wrote to her brother after she refused to come home from France. I would recommend the book by an expert scholar who has also written a fantastic biography of Edward ii, Karen Warner. She has a fantastic blogspot which examines the very question you raised about evidence in Weir of rape, who used the phrase ‘sexual misconduct ” due to a complaint by the Queen about De Spenser being overly aggressive to her. Karen Warner thinks the idea arose in an Irish novel in 1974 and has taken off over the last few decades. A selection of letters from Edward to Charles and Isabella and her response which indicates her fear of Hugh Despenser and her disgust of him, his harassment and disrespect towards her. Some of the choicier phrases have been untranslated and taken out of context to arise at an accusation of rape. The article is well worth a read and I fully recommend it. hugh despenser the younger rape Isabella of France by Karen Warner.

      Hope you find it interesting and helpful.

  12. What bothered Henry the most, I believe after Anne’s death was how shock and disbelief was widespread. He probably hoped everyone would believe and accept the charges at face value, but a few high status people were more than willing to criticise and speak out. Chapuys criticised the strength of the so called confessions, the lack of witnesses and evidence and believed the charges to be false. Cramner, while not making any stand on Anne’s innocence or guilt, was torn between duty and his personal feelings. While being shocked and horrified at the arrest of a woman he greatly admired as a patroness of reform and new learning, he had also said he knew the King would not bring these charges without cause. However, he put his true feelings aside and did as he was told. News of Anne’s true last confession got out and people were amazed and disturbed as Anne had specifically denied the vile charges on the Blessed Sacrament. This meant that on the risk to her immortal soul Anne declared her innocence before witnesses and gave Master Kingston leave to tell everyone. Cranmer must have been deeply troubled, but could do nothing. The Evangelical Bishops had also failed to intervene and help her. Everyone just wafted off to pay court to Jane Seymour. Henry acted like an idiot, having a banquet and visiting his bride to be. Chayus criticised this too. However, there were some prepared to be critical and show Henry was not the innocent wronged husband he thought he was. Etienne Dolet, the French reformer dedicated a work declaring the innocence of Anne Boleyn, George Constantine, a friend of William Brereton and servant of Henry Norris, expressed doubts and believed Mark Smeaton was tortured, Thomas Wyatt indicated his doubt and disgust at the execution, in his poems and laments, Margaret of Hungary, niece to Margaret of Austria, who knew Anne in her youth was cynical and even Cromwell later praised her intelligence and courage, while confessing to Chapuys that he made the whole thing up. Unfortunately, all this was eclipsed by the fact that just about everyone went over and wrote favourable stuff about Henry now being with Jane Seymour. Henry and Jane were married within two weeks, the court carried on and poor Anne was forgotten. The dramatic events of 19 days, yes 19 days, in May 1536, were meant never to have happened!!! Would you believe it? Henry and the world moved on!!!! I doubt it was quite that simple for the survivors. Anne’s family, her parents and one surviving sister, her true friends, all had to pretend that Anne was guilty, couldn’t even mourn, save in private, had to accept being further persecuted by loss of goods and land and if they wanted to eat, to fawn up to the same man who had killed their son and daughter on the arrival of his heir. If execution was not enough, Anne was then all but airbrushed out of history and her memory destroyed. Her daughter and Mary were then bastarized by a statute which reversed the succession and treason penalties that protected her marriage to Henry. Her legacy only began to be restored privately during her daughter’s reign, in the form of Elizabeth herself succeeding, the heir that Henry had set his first two wives aside for being dead and in the form of a letter to Elizabeth about her mother. Alexander Ales wrote a beautiful and moving account of Anne, who he called her serene mother, which describes the last time Anne spoke to Henry, appealing to her husband with Elizabeth in her arms. He recalled the argument with Henry and Anne with sorrow, because of course he couldn’t know what was about to pass, but he sadly recounted that day to Elizabeth in 1559. It was two days Anne’s arrest and she had gone to see Henry in the gardens, but they argued, probably over the rumours about her. Ales, a Scottish Lutheran, was distressed by what he saw and Annes arrest and execution. He wrote to Elizabeth calling her mother “your most religious mother”, carrying Elizabeth as a baby in her arms, but admits he could not understand the gestures and exchanges, but it was obvious Henry was angry. He then speaks of the council meetings and of the dark schemes going on. It was clear even now that Henry and his cronnies were involved in an attempt to conspiracy and a royal coup. Elizabeth also later had a ring which many believe to contain a portrait of herself and Elizabeth. Anne’s legacy may have been her daughter, but it was a long struggle before authors began to restore her reputation. Unfortunately, although many myths have been dismissed, some aspects of her life are still sullied in film and drama, even when not true and her reputation needs to be restored and fought for all over again.

  13. Too true, a few days after her execution some courtiers were dining at a private address and the discussion was all of the dead queen, many were sympathetic, what made people believe there was something not quite right about it was the fact that it was all rushed, over and done with as you say 19 days, Alexander Ales that’s who I was trying to think of, he described to Elizabeth that sorry scene where Anne was pleading with the King holding Elizabeth in her arms, Henrys reputation was sullied by Annes death and I don’t think it ever really recovered, after Janes death he began seeking for a bride amongst the European princesses but one made rather jokey remark about her neck being small and the duchess of Milan said if she had two heads one would be at Henrys disposal! I wonder if their words were ever carried back to him, certainly Cromwell must of heard of their comments, in the end his 4th unfortunate bride turned out to be the gauche and unsophisticated Anne Of Cleves, we all know how he felt about her.

    1. Yes, it’s a moving letter and a rare contemporary glimpse of the real Anne from an extant source and it always moves me very much. I thought it was William Latymer her chaplain who also remembered Anne fondly. Etienne Dolet was informed about Anne of the false charges by Nicholas Bourbon, a French Ambassador at Anne’s court and he wrote a literary work declaring that the charges are false. I had to look in Ives three times as I couldn’t remember the name. I love Christine of Milan refusal but she would if she had two heads. Great insight and wisdom from a sixteen year old young woman.

      Henry acted as if he was a bachelor and had always been a bachelor and poor Katherine and Anna had never existed. He had one long stag night for two weeks. Anne of Cleves was probably too good for him and had a lucky escape. I don’t usually feel sorry for Cromwell, but losing his head and having to sort out all of Henry’s marriage messes, he has my respect.

      1. I have no doubt that Henry would have enjoyed a long and successful marriage to Katherine of Aragon if she had provided him with a living male heir. I think their marriage, on a surface level at least, would have been similar to Henry VII’s union with Elizabeth of York: peaceful, prosperous, happy. Mary would probably never have become queen regnant but she might have become queen of a neighbouring kingdom, perhaps Spain, perhaps France, perhaps Scotland.

        Anne Boleyn would have been nothing more than a footnote. Or perhaps she would have become Henry’s mistress, as was conventionally expected at the time. Perhaps they would have had a short romance and then she would have returned to her husband. Katherine of Aragon looking fondly on, knowing that she was secure, knowing that her son would become king, knowing that she enjoyed her husband’s love even if he had dalliances with her ladies. Jane Seymour too probably would have been married off to a minor gentleman and both Anne and Jane would have had their own households in country houses, perhaps they would have continued to serve in Katherine’s household until her death, but we would not be as interested in them as we are today.

        Anne of Cleves maybe would have married the duke of Lorraine or a German prince. Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr would also be similarly obscure, although perhaps both would have served at court in the queen’s household. But if Katherine of Aragon had given birth to a surviving son, there would not have been six wives. There would only have been one true wife: Katherine, queen of England. Her daughter Mary would not be known today as Mary I, but as Queen Mary of Spain, or Queen Mary of France, or perhaps Queen Mary of Scotland.

        Of course, in Henry’s eyes he was never married to six women. At the most, he was married to three: Seymour, Howard, Parr, and more probably he was only married to two: Seymour and Parr. Isn’t it odd how those two women later became sisters-in-law, although of course Jane was not to know it, dying before her brother married Katherine Parr.

      2. That is true Cromwell had the rather unlucky job of having to get rid of his second queen for Henry then his fourth what a carry on! He had a brilliant mind this son of a blacksmith who had risen high from humble beginnings, becoming a member of Wolselys household to the Kings chief adviser, Wolsley himself was also of lowly origins, the son of a butcher to great Cardinal, they were both quite unpopular as was only to be expected from the noblemen at court, where Cromwell went wrong was his keenness to arrange a Protestant marriage for the King but Henry was not looking for a wife just yet, he had just lost Jane and was still grieving, I think Cromwell pushed him into it really and then when he did agree to marry the Duke Of Cleves sister, after some months of negotiations when he met Anne after an embarrassing meeting when she failed to notice him, Henry completely went of her, his anger he took out on his secretary, I can feel sorry for Cromwell to in a way, even though he engineered Anne Boleyns death, he tried his best to serve his most capricious master well but like many others before him, it was not enough and he to lost his head, he had a most dreadful execution to with the headsman bungling it, few mourned him but Henry was heard to mutter much later he had lost a most trusted servant.

      3. Her ladies also were devoted to her, they would not let any of the men handle her after her sad ending, her old nurse Mrs. Orchard loved her and Katherine Parry who later went onto serve her daughter Elizabeth 1st was also a friend and was very devoted to Elizabeth, it’s true her chaplain respected her and Cranmer also, her household was run very strictly and she abhorred any immorality carrying on among her ladies and men, she was held in high esteem by many because of her virtue and her deep religious learning and piety, she had a copy of Tyndales bible and recommended all her household read it, she and her ladies also sewed for hours clothes for the poor, she was aware of how the poor suffered and although it could have been firstly to win them round after their outrage at the supplanting of Katherine, I believe she did have a genuine feeling for the misfortune of others, she had some close friends in Margaret Wyatt and Lady Worcester, she also many times tried to become friends with Mary, she even said she could walk beside her and not carry her train, this was very generous of Anne who by doing this would have elevated Mary next to her in rank, it was only after Marys stubbornness in refusing to accept her as queen and Elizabeth as her fathers legal heir, did Anne lose her temper and was so sick of her she told her aunt to treat her most harshly, records show she did not look for enemies but only defended herself from her critics, the treatment by her of Wolsley though was quite I think uncalled for, but Anne possibly had an old grudge against him there, going back years before when he had broken off her love affair with Henry Percy, one of her early letters to him was quite warm and friendly yet about a year later she berated him for not securing the divorce, and had grown to dislike him after his failure at doing so, she had a sarcastic tongue and argued with her uncle who called her a great wh*re, who started yelling at each other? Thomas Howard is often portrayed as an ambitious steely faced man who bossed his nieces around and acted like the head of the household yet Lacey Baldwin Smith describes him as quite affable yet he somehow got on the wrong side of Anne, she was his sisters child and he must have cared for her also, at her trial he read out the sentence and it was noted, he had tears in his eyes, Anne did upset many but there were many who loved her also, I’m not trying to make her look like a goody goody she was only human, she had many enemies, mostly people who never knew her but just disliked her because of Katherine and Mary, also the die hard Catholics but she was not this dreadful evil immoral harridan who people like Nicholas Sander slandered so dreadfully fifty years later, what she became was because of what happened to her, circumstance etc, call it what you like, had the King never noticed her she would have been married of to some courtier and had some children possibly enjoying a long but uneventful old age, she may have been allowed to marry her first love, Henry Percy and would have been happily married to him, she was hated by many because of the break with Rome but here she was not alone, that was partly due to Henry also, everything that happened to England in the tumultuous years of the 16th century was in the end down to him, Anne was just the catalyst behind it.

        1. Thomas Howard, third Duke of Norfolk was the head of their house and he did advance her and he expected her to respect him. As for her being his niece, he had many nieces and nephews. The second Duke of Norfolk had wed twice and with both wives had many children. Anne Boleyn was just one of those nieces. And I suppose Mary the First was suppose to bow down and acknowledge her as Queen?! That would have been all right, right. When Mary the First has seen her mother, Queen Katherine of Aragon and her father, King Henry the Eight actually be happy and she knew that Katherine of Aragon was her father, the King’s wife and Queen and that she was the heiress. It is so, so sad how Queen Mary the First is so hated and yet she was hated by Anne Boleyn because of who and what she was. Anne Boleyn did say that the Princess Mary will be her death or she will be the Princess Mary’s death. After Anne Boleyn was executed and the Princess Mary was welcomed back to Court after Henry the Eight married Jane Seymour, he told her that Anne Boleyn wished her death.

          She only signed that Oath of Succession and Oath of Supermacy for England and because
          Caphuys convinced her to. He told her that Henry the Eight would execute her if she did not. She was terrified of being sent to the Tower and who would not be in those days. Yes, there were those few who left the Tower alive but very, very few.

  14. I read C. W. Bernard’s book on Anne Boleyn which I happen to think is the best book on Anne Boleyn and I happen to agree that Anne Boleyn was in love with Sir Henry Norris and that Sir Henry Norris was in love with Anne Boleyn and that they may have possibly gone to bed with each other. Anne Boleyn knew Sir Henry Norris for years. Their families were close to each other and Sir Henry Norris was going to marry the Lady Mary Shelton who was a cousin of Anne Boleyn’s. One of the daughters of Sir Thomas Boleyn’s sister, the Lady Anne Shelton and her husband, Sir John Shelton.

    1. The problem with this theory is that the charges with dates and places can be picked apart. Anne and the Norris family did know each other well, she knew all of the gentleman well or their families and with Norris and the Sheldon family she shared an interest in reform. I am not knocking Professor Bernard’s book as he raises some interesting questions about sources and evidence and identified Lady Worcester as a possible accuser of Anne Boleyn. However, the poem he studied by Lancelot de Carlos which mentions the discussion between Elizabeth Countess of Worcester and Sir Anthony Brown, her brother is a man and wife having a quarrel about her being unfaithful to her husband. The story then goes on to tell us that Lady Worcester accused the Queen by saying she was up to no good and have you not heard the rumours. This is not evidence, it’s gossip, although some of the rumours may well have reached Cromwell or the King. As Christine points out Anne did her best to win over courtiers and her subjects. She genuinely had an interest in improving the lives of the poor and fell out with Cromwell over her objection to selling monastic lands for profit, instead of for social purposes. She did make an enemy with Mary, which is not surprising as a seventeen year old Princess, up to now heir to the throne is not going to accept the woman that she sees as taking her father away from her and her mother. Anne did make attempts, but naturally Mary would not acknowledge her as Queen. Mary was not merely being stubborn, she was making a stand for everything she had been taught to believe. Her beloved mother, Katherine was the only true Queen and her father had married this strange woman, who had been a servant to her mother and who would now see both herself and Katherine banished. Anne had a good side, but she also had a ruthless streak, possibly needed to survive in the royal court. She took her temper out and made orders to hit and pinch Mary while in Elizabeth’s household. This behaviour, however, was overlooked by the King and Mary’s ill treatment continued after Anne’s death. Anne tried a few times, but gt nowhere. Yes, Anne had support at court, some of her relatives, but Norfolk wasn’t always supportive. He and the other nobles paid homage to Mary on one of their visits with Queen Anne and Norfolk had doubts at times over her being Queen. Even her father had doubts about marriage to the King, for as a subject, this step caused resentment and factions, festering jealousy and plots by enemies. However, once Anne was crowned and had the King behind her, her father and uncle supported her and acted as ambassadors on behalf of both Anne and Henry. The Boleyns were well known at court, so yes, the second Duke had several children, but Thomas Howard and Elizabeth were amongst the most prominent. Norfolk had regular contact with Anne’s family and her father was a prominent courtier, so Anne, Mary and George Boleyn were more than just another two nieces or another nephew. Norfolk even allowed a group of his retainers to have a dangerous quarrel with the retainers of the Duke of Suffolk, which ended in the death of Pembelton one of Suffolk’s men. Suffolk hated Anne for various reasons, including her alleged rumours that he had inappropriate relationship with his daughter and simply because Anne rocked the boat. His wife, Mary, the King’s sister, opposed Henry’s relationship with Anne and made her opposition clear. Anne was raised over the other ladies, save the Queen and this caused more resentment, especially amongst Katherine’s supporters. Even with all this, there is evidence that Anne made an effort to be gracious and made a reasonable Queen. Anne’s sadness was that like Katherine, she lost her children. Anne sadly appears to have lost one child in 1534, possibly another in 1535 and lost a son at four months in January 1536. This made her vulnerable and the legal framework was put in place before Anne or anyone was arrested. The confession of Mark Smeaton was coersed and according to George Constantine, a retainer of Henry Norris, he was tortured, although other evidence suggests he wasn’t. Let’s just say he was roughly questioned. Norris, who is believed to have confessed to something, later recanted his statement and said he was tricked. He denied adultery to Henry who offered him his life if he owned up and again at his trial. Norris was named by Smeaton, but that is meaningless as his confession was tainted and he also fantasized about sleeping with the Queen, a woman who spoke scornfully to him when he mooned after her to rebuke him and why would she risk her own security and life for a musician? Anne wanted to have her husband’s son, not that of a mere servant. Norris may have bern accidentally dragged into things after Anne teased him about dead mans shoes, but that incident was not brought up in evidence or the charges. Norris was shocked by the Queens words and Anne tried to make amends. He denied the charges at his trial and the so called dates show that either the Queen or the men were elsewhere at the time. Anne said she was innocent on the Blessed Sacrament, the Body and Blood of Jesus, her last Communion and Confession, the day before her execution. Anne also exhonorated the five innocent men accused with her. Cromwell and Henry cooked the whole thing up to get Anne, an obstacle to their plans out of the way. Her final confession was witnessed not just by Cranmer, but by Kingston and others present, who now believed she was innocent. She was very specific and denied adultery with her body as the charges were vile and physical in nature. You cannot say she thought about adultery and was in love with Norris. Norris admired Anne, as a courtier admires a gracious Queen, but proving a love match, even from afar is mere speculation. It certainly doesn’t put Anne in his bed or in bed with anyone else. When later wroters spoke of Elizabeth as a bastard they meant she was Henry’s child, but that Anne was not his lawful wife. Contemporary doubts focused on Henry possibly not being her father, but there is no sustainable evidence that Elizabeth was not Henry’s child. Numerous people denied that the charges were true, even Chapuys, wrote that Anne and the five men were executed on false charges and no evidence. I found Professor Bernard interesting, but don’t agree that Anne slept with Henry Norris or a yone else.

    2. C.W. Bernard alone believes Anne could have slept with Norris and Smeaton but there’s no evidence to support his theory, just because she made that unwise remark to the former and she had been told that he came to her chamber to see her more than his fiancé does not mean she was in love with him or any of the men in her circle, as for Smeaton Anne was very aware of her position and I doubt she would have slept with someone who was so far below her in status, however what gave the charges against her some credence was that remark to her sister in law about Henrys poor performance between the sheets, it was that which makes adultery plausible, did she sleep with someone just to get pregnant if she believed Henry could not sire a healthy son? Norah Lofts said she could in desperation have taken another man to her bed but it would have been an extremely dangerous thing to do and I doubt if Anne would have been that reckless, she had waited a decade to be queen why throw it all away for a quick fumble, also she would have to be absolutely 100% sure that she could trust her lover, and some of her women would have had to be in her trust also, it really was impossible for a queen to commit adultery as she was surrounded by people all the time, even asleep they had servants with them, Bernard’s theory’s are quite wide of the mark I would not bother to read his book, I highly recommend you read ‘The Life And Death Of Anne Boleyn’ by Eric Ives as for Queen Mary she was not hated, she was in fact very popular amongst the people and she had many friends at court, she was pious warm hearted, kind and generous when you consider what she went through, she made a mistake in burning lots of Protestants but she did many good deeds to, Mary has been maligned through history and she does not deserve the awful reputation she has.

      1. Hi Christine, yes I agree Anne made some very foolish and dangerous remarks but I doubt that she intended any sort of treason or thought anyone would take them seriously. Her remarks to Henry Norris, whom she knew very well through their families connection and interest in reform, were a tease. He was obviously taking his time to marry again, tarrying as men do, especially when they don’t know what they want and Anne teased him. However, her teasing went too far. Henry Norris admired the Queen, not because he was in love, but because he was in her service and admired Anne as his Queen as a courtier. He and Madge were also from reformation families and Madge was the Queen’s cousin. He saw Anne as a champion of the new learning and she possibly misunderstood and teased him for loving her as as if she was on a pedestal. Foolishly Anne made her remark about Norris wanting her and seeking dead mens shoes and wanting her if the King died. This, taken out of this context could have been called treason, but it definitely wasn’t included as such in the indictments against him or Anne. Rumours of this conversation obviously reached Henry and Cromwell, for Henry argued with Anne in the garden. Cromwell arrested Mark Smeaton at his home the next day and he confessed after 24 hours interrogation of adultery with Anne. Norris was horrified about Anne’s dangerous talk and protested that if he even said such a thing, let his head be cut off. Anne realized that she had made a terrible mistake and sent her almonder to make amends. Cromwell doesn’t seem to have thought anything of this conversation but it was still enough if he wanted to build a case for treason if not adultery. Cromwell would have to take his cue from Henry, but how would this be done? Everything was falling into place for Cromwell, without the confession of anyone else, but he was not satisfied with one victim, he had to look or invent more lies to make his case seem airtight. He couldn’t use Anne’s words because he couldn’t prove they were said. We don’t know what Anne and Henry argued about in the garden. All we know is that they argued, perhaps Anne wanted them to try again as man and wife for the sake of little Elizabeth who was in her arms. Unfortunately, when Mark confessed he named Henry Norris and sealed his fate. Anne must have been terrified and she still didn’t really know what was going on. Did Anne’s words spear Cromwell into action? Unfortunately, there are gaps in our knowledge and there is no evidence that can give us a clue here. All we know is that this conversation wasn’t used at Anne or Norris’s trial. The more ridiculous statement that Anne is accused of saying, but for which there is unreliable evidence concerns the King having sexual problems. Who was the real source of this rumour and should credence be given to it? Anne is supposed to have confided this to her sister-in-law, Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford. But who told Cromwell? Traditional drama and fiction and even some historians have Jane make this slur on the King and provide other false testimony against her husband, George Boleyn, but on what reliable evidence? There is very little, if any and Jane wasn’t named as Anne’s accuser or in the report of Judge Spellman as being called as a witness. We don’t even know if Jane or any of Anne’s ladies were questioned by Cromwell or Audley or anyone else which adds to the theory that the entire thing was made up. Well someone obviously passed the tittle tattle about the King’s performance in bed to the court because this was held against George Boleyn who was given a piece of paper and told not to read it’s contents out but of course he did to the amusement of the crowded hall. Another accusation was that George had spread it about that the King was not the father of Princess Elizabeth. Nonsense! Why would George deframe his own niece? The gossip and all the dangerous talk is now being turned around to bring down Anne, regardless of it being nonsense or a joke. The note about Henry’s bedtime performance is embarrassing but it shouldn’t be taken as actual evidence that there was anything wrong and I feel too much seriousness is placed on this as evidence that Henry occasionally suffered erectile dysfunction.

        Gareth Russell makes the same point when this problem appears as a real possibility between Henry and Katherine Howard. There is tentative medical evidence that Henry had bedroom problems from time to time at this latter part of his life, but dismisses suggestions that Katherine or any other Queen might sleep with another man to get pregnant at times like this, because it would be foolish, risky and hit and miss. What if she thought the King was impotent at one encounter and slept with someone else and the King recovered so she also slept with him and became pregnant? How reliable would infrequent impotency be to risk getting caught? The suggestion makes no sense. Tempting as it may be, cheating on a royal spouse in these or any circumstances was just too dangerous. I agree with you, Anne wouldn’t risk it, no matter what Cromwell had in his mind. She wasn’t that sort of woman anyhow and these accusations were insulting.

        Professor George Bernard identified Lady Worcester as the lady who gave evidence against Anne Boleyn, but this is based on a reported conversation between herself and her brother, Sir Anthony Brown in which he accuses her of immoral behaviour. She is pregnant and he thinks her husband is not the father. Elizabeth Lady Worcester responded that if he thinks she is up to no good he should look at the Queen’s behaviour. I can’t recall but I think according to the poem by Lancelot de Carlos who reported this information, Sir Anthony goes to Cromwell and then tells the King. He can’t hide his wife’s accusations but if it’s just slander, he could get into trouble. Quite a dilemma. Even if this conversation took place, which is what Professor Bernard says, this is not evidence, it’s gossip. It’s nonsense, just a woman snapping at her nosy brother. Further investigation would have revealed it as nothing more than this, yet from this strange source the professor has a whole book based on the idea that this proves Anne slept with Sir Henry Norris and Mark Smeaton. Yes, read Eric Ives for a balanced view and proper examination of the evidence, masterfully taken apart and debunked, providing real evidence for Anne and the men falsely accused with her being innocent. Her last Confession, made on the Blessed Sacrament, the day before her death was a clear and precise declaration of total innocence, not a veiled expression of love for Henry Norris.

  15. Hi Banditqueen yes I thought that accusation against George questioning Elizabeths paternity was ridiculous, as you mention why would he slander his own sister and risk her position and that of her daughters, his own niece? As for the plot to kill Henry why should Anne wish him dead, they had to make her guilty of something so vile that only the death sentence would suffice, so day by day more horrendous accusations were piled against her, iv also pondered if Lady Rochford did blab to Cromwell about Henrys alleged impotence but Anne would only have told her in the strictest confidence and even if she was taken in for questioning I doubt she would have imparted to Cromwell this juicy piece of gossip, gossip then as now is dangerous and the trouble is we are all guilty of it, how many times has a friend said to you, ‘iv got something to tell you but it’s a secret, cross your heart and hope to die’,… but sometimes you cannot risk telling someone else because you cannot bear keeping it to yourself, and you also can tell someone a secret yet in a couple of days half a dozen people know and often the story changes, is this what happened with Anne and Jane, did Jane whilst being a bit tipsy maybe tell George and he one evening also having had too much ale or wine blurt it out to a friend, or did Jane tell it to one of Annes ladies? This is how rumour and gossip is spread, maybe then Cromwell interrogated Jane and quite possibly frightened her into saying something she did not intend to, if others had said they had heard the rumour through her then Jane would have had no chance but to confess that yes, the queen had told her that her hubby was no good in bed, and he had something else to throw against Anne, Jane has had a bad name ever since and she did nothing to better that name as when several years later she foolishly aided and abetted Queen Catherine in her illicit trysts with Culpeper, Jane was I think a rather silly woman as she is also said to have told Cromwell that her husband and Anne were sleeping together, as you say where is the evidence for any of this, she has there is no evidence for the charges against Anne because she was not in any of the places where she allegedly slept with her so called lovers and in fact on one occasion she was recovering in bed after the birth of Elizabeth, before she was even churched, a cleansing and spiritual ceremony that occurred in those days before a woman could commence relations with her husband, so much for evidence! As for Lady Worcester all she did was say to her bossy big brother to mind his own business, it was a silly remark saying the queens no better but all she meant was she’s a dreadful flirt I guess, she would not have accused the queen of adultery and her off the cuff remark was just meant to silence her brother, nothing more nothing less, yet it was not the most wisest of remarks, the most innocent conversations were twisted out of all proportion yet really that’s all they were, foolish yes, said without thinking undoubtedly but with no evil intent, Cromwell reminds me of a huge spider and the hapless people of the court buzzing around like flies, waiting for him to pounce on his next victim, it must have been a terrifying scene at court with people wondering who would be the next to be arrested, even Wyatt because of his long association with the queen was taken in but as Cromwell had a soft spot for him, he was released lucky man! As for Lady Rochford she wrote to her husband telling him she would do all what she could for him and I believe it was Weston’s family put up a huge sum of money for his release but it was not to be, however Nemesis came for Cromwell the orchestrata of these poor souls deaths over the Kings ill advised marriage to Anne Of Cleves, but it was not enough when his head lay on the block to atone for the innocent shedding of five people’s blood on the 17th and the 19th of May in 1536.

  16. I think it is fun when an author speculates about a person like Anne Boleyn and admits they are doing it is ok we can’t know if Anne was a virgin or not and I don’t think she was in love with Henry Norris I think he was an honorable man and he was after someone else maybe King Henry was a bit jealous of her circle of friends I don’t think they were gay but who knows how they were perceived at court but King Henry met Jane who was quieter plainer not so fiery he waited like a spider for Anne to make a mistake it is such a shame innocent people had to die because of him

    Alison weir in her book about Anne mentions a brother called Henry I thought he died as a baby not sure though

  17. I think Lady Worcester might not have said what she did to be nasty she named her daughter Anne after the queen and I’m not sure about Jane Rochford I don’t think she was an evil schemer just a silly lady who got caught up in things and was used by Cromwell to get the Queen. I am a romantic I like to think that Anne felt love for King Henry some of those letters he sent were very nice they gave each other gifts and he had paintings made of her he must have felt something for her

  18. I think it’s possible that Katherine Howard could have been at least harassed by men when she was a young girl she was under slack supervision by a female relative that is true

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