Fall From Grace
By Kimberly Eve
and as for myne offences, I here accuse no man, God knoweth them;
I remitt them to God, beseeching him to have mercye on my sowle
It is very hard for me to place blame with Anne Boleyn for I admire her greatly as a woman of strength, confidence, who with great courage chose to live her life on her own terms. She spoke her mind even when she knew it could bring about her own downfall or fall from grace. I do believe that between the months of January through the 19th of May, 1536, Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, brought upon her own ‘fall from grace’. However, she had no idea to what extent her own husband and his right hand man, Vicar-General in Church matters Thomas Cromwell would swiftly bring about her downfall. Ironically, Thomas Cromwell was a supporter of Anne Boleyn’s until they disagreed over the direction of foreign policy and the best use for proceeds from the dissolution of the monasteries.
Two factors would bring about Anne Boleyn’s fall from grace prompting Henry VIII to fall out of love with his wife and be open to the conspiring suggestions of Thomas Cromwell.
Towards the end of January, 1536, Anne Boleyn miscarried a three and half month old fetus. Upon hearing the news Henry complained, ‘I see that God will not give me male children’(Doran, 178). This statement signalled the beginning of the end of the royal marriage. Henry fearing he would never have a male son moved his new mistress, Jane Seymour, into the royal apartments.
The final stroke of the sword came when Anne decided to get involved with the dissolution of the monastaries. Thomas Cromwell paid ecclesiastical visits in order to calculate the taxable wealth of the Church to which the King was now Supreme Head. As a result, Thomas Cromwell insisted on filling the King’s depleted coffers, while taking a cut for himself instead of an imperial alliance. Anne differed with Cromwell over the redistribution of Church revenues and foreign policy. She advocated that revenues be distributed to charitable and educational institutions; and she favoured a French alliance.
Unfortunately for Anne Boleyn she lived in a time when the role of a woman was mainly as a wife and mother. Women were subservient and viewed as property by which they had no rights. Even as Queen of England this was the expectation of Henry VIII, King of England. When Anne Boleyn could not deliver on her promises or when she demonstrated a brain and viewpoints that differed to the powerful men of the sixteenth century she was disposed of. However, Anne Boleyn lives on as a dynamic woman ahead of her time who left an outstanding legacy in her daughter, Elizabeth I, Queen of England (1558-1603).
Henry VIII: Man and Monarch. Author, Exhibition guest curated by David Starkey, Catalogue edited by Susan Doran. Publisher: The British Library, London, April-September 2009.