There are many theories of what brought about the fall of Queen Anne. Was it the Aragonese faction, the Seymours, Thomas Cromwell, King Henry, or was it Anne herself? There is no definite evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what or who brought about Anne’s downfall. In my opinion that has been formed by reading books about the subject I believe that it was a mixture of all these. We will examine each reason.
The Aragonese faction was the Catholic supporters of the late Queen Katherine and her daughter the Lady Mary. England was a very strong Catholic nation. They blamed Anne for the Reformation of their churches, the divorce and public humility given to Queen Katherine, and the ill treatment that the Lady Mary received from her father King Henry. To them Anne was the reason that the churches were being investigated and their goods taken. She was the one and only reason why King Henry would leave such a loving and caring wife. She was also the reason why his daughter was declared illegitimate and was given the cold shoulder. Some of the group’s most prominent members are Lady Mary, Chapuys who was her friend and strongest ally, Lord Darcy, the Seymours, Lord Hussey, and even the Duke of Norfolk who was Anne Boleyn’s uncle.
The Duke of Norfolk was a Catholic at heart and had fallen out of favor with his niece. A lot of people today couldn’t understand why an Uncle would betray his own niece. Anne and Thomas did not see eye to eye. She found him to be untrustworthy and selfish. He did not like the way that she treated him or the other nobles. He felt that she thought herself to be invincible and had a harsh tongue. The Aragonese faction decided that the only way for the Lady Mary to be restored to the succession was that Anne could not be in the way. For with Anne in power Mary did not stand a chance.
The Aragonese faction wanted to restore the Lady Mary to the succession in hopes that one day she would be crowned Queen. They knew that the only way that this could be done was that Anne had to go. Mary held Anne accountable for everything that had been done to her. It is no secret that Anne did mistreat Mary for she was Queen Katherine’s daughter and was felt as a threat to Anne’s daughter Elizabeth. Anne is said to have tried several times to reconcile her relationship with Mary but was denied each and every time.
The Seymours played a very important role in taking down Anne. They joined forces with the Aragonese faction and decided that Anne had to be taken down. The Aragonese faction joined with the Seymours because the Seymours were supporters of Katherine and Mary. They believed that once Jane was Queen Mary would be restored to the succession. However, once Anne was gone it wasn’t until Mary signed the papers declaring her mother’s marriage unlawful and her father Supreme Head of the Church was she restored to favor.
Jane has been depicted in many different ways. She has been seen as a sweet, naïve person who was used by her family to get ahead. The other portrayal of her having a sweet demeanor on the outside but was just as vicious and sneaky as her brothers on the inside seems more plausible. Yes, Anne did do the same thing some years before to her mistress Queen Katherine but Jane was to earn her title literally over Anne’s dead body. There is no plausible way that Jane achieved this and agreed to this if she was as sweet and innocent as people thought. True Anne did achieve the same goal some years earlier but she did not do it over the lifeless body of Queen Katherine.
She pushed off the King’s advances just as Anne had done before her and blackened the Queen’s reputation. Of course with her brothers, Chapuys, Cromwell and others giving her advice on what to do she had a good chance of becoming Queen. They had the ear of the king through his infatuation with Jane Seymour and would stop at nothing to bring about Anne’s fall. Jane told the King that Anne would never be accepted in a mostly Catholic Europe to be the King’s legitimate wife. His kingdom would never be at peace with Anne on the throne. Historians believed that she would only slander her mistress in the presence of others so that they could justify these accusations.
It is said that Henry was attracted to Jane because she was the complete opposite of her mistress. She was blonde and had a light complexion while Anne had dark hair and an olive complexion. Jane was quiet and meek while Anne was outspoken and challenged her husband. Jane was the quintessential wife of Tudor times. She obeyed her husband and didn’t challenge or question him.
Thomas Cromwell once an ally and member of the Boleyn faction is the person who most believe brought about the fall of Anne. He and Anne had fallen out over the Dissolutions of the Monasteries. He was breaking up the churches and distributing their wealth to other courtiers who had given him a contribution. However, Anne believed that the money should be put to better uses as for educational institutions and charitable reasons.
Eric Ives tells of a possible scenario in which in church Anne made public her feelings of the distribution when a sermon was read about the story of Esther which implied that Anne herself was Esther and Cromwell was the evil councilor. By doing this Anne made her feelings public and she may not have made Cromwell angry but she made also have angered the King. For, Cromwell was not only filling his pockets from the distribution of the monasteries but he was also filling those of the King. The King by this time was already trying to find some means to get rid of his wife. There were other factors as well that contributed to Cromwell turning on Anne. Some historians believe that she favored a French Alliance while Cromwell wanted an Imperial one. Some historians believe that Cromwell fearing for his life and seeing how Henry had fallen in love with Jane turned on Anne and began to plot her downfall.
Cromwell worked fast in bringing down Anne. He had Brereton, Smeaton, Norris, Weston, and Rochford all arrested for treason. Was it not for the Queen herself relating conversations that were taken out of context, Smeaton’s confession, and Jane Rochford’s testimony Cromwell would not have had the evidence to take down Anne. Not only did Cromwell and the King want her dead they also wanted to destroy her character and for her to be seen as evil by the people so as to prevent and uprisings on her behalf. That is why historians believe that the Queen was charged with incest with her brother.
King Henry’s reasons to supplant his second wife are evident. She was becoming old in Tudor times. No one knew how much longer she had to give the king what he wanted most a son. She had been replaced in the King’s affections by Jane and she was not liked in England. Henry wanted a son more than anything and would stop at nothing to get a male heir. So far the king had been disappointed by his Queen. All she had given him was a daughter. The Queen is to believe to have miscarried at least two times. The last is to believe to have been a male son in January of 1536. Without the security of a son Anne had no other hope of remaining in the king’s good graces. She did not have a powerful influential family as Katherine had to fight for her. Anne was in the most part alone and she knew it. The miscarriage in 1536 was a huge blow to Anne and made her realize how fragile her situation really was. Without the male heir Anne had promised to give to him Henry decided to dispose of his wife by any means. So he gave Cromwell permission to find evidence against her in order to bring her down.
Anne herself may have played a part in her own downfall. She was not a popular Queen. The people of England believed her to be the reason why Henry left his most loving and gracious wife Katherine. She was the reason why the Lady Mary was no longer princess and was declared illegitimate. She was the reason for the reformation and the dissolution of the churches. Not only was she not popular for the reasons stated but Anne had a sharp tongue. She was not the usual meek, quiet, and adoring wife that people were use to back then. She spoke her mind whether it offended people or not. She was very rash and harsh. She also was said to have a short temper. It was said that when she was in favor no one dared to upset her not even the King of England. Her sharp tongue and her not fearing to express her opinion was the very thing that first attracted Henry but it was also the very thing that made him resent marrying her. Everything that Henry had loved about Anne was great qualities in a mistress but was not qualities Henry wanted in a wife. He hoped that she would have changed once he finally married her and crowned her Queen. In Henry’s opinion he destroyed a nation in order to marry her.
Anne’s sharp tongue may have had a part in her downfall. She was felt to not behave as a Queen should. Courtly love was a part of English society. It was a game and never was taken seriously or taken to the next level. However, Anne’s game of courtly love was used against her as evidence in her trial. After she was arrested and taken to the tower she became nervous and started babbling incriminating evidence against herself. One such story was when she confronted Norris about looking for dead man’s shoes. This is suppose to have taken place when Anne confronted Norris about why he has not yet asked her cousin Madge to marry him. He said that marriage is not something to be taken lightly. Anne replied that she looks for dead man’s shoes. This meant that if the king were to die he meant to have her.
This was used as evidence in her trial. Cromwell needed evidence to prove that not only did she cheat on Henry but that she also plotted his death. The story was misconstrued so that it was believed that Anne had planned to marry Norris and reign as regent for Elizabeth once Henry was assassinated. Anne also was very jealous. The King of England was expected to have mistresses and the Queens did not say anything. However, Anne did not stand by while Henry cheated.
There are many reasons and factors for Anne’s fall. I believe that is was the broken promise of a male heir, love for Jane Seymour, and Thomas Cromwell were the reasons why Anne was brought down. I believe also that death was chosen instead of a divorce because Cromwell convinced Henry that if he were to divorce Anne she and her group were still powerful enough to rise up against him. Anne would always be a threat so instead of a divorce in a means to get rid of her death was the only option. No matter how cruel some people believe Anne to have been no one deserved her fate. She did not get a fair trial, was condemned on false accusations, and was innocently put to death. Her fall was so swift.
I am a huge supporter of Queen Anne and believe her to have been unjustly condemned. Justice was served though and Anne eventually got her revenge. Some of those who helped in condemning and sentencing her in return met unjustly ends. Thomas Cromwell, Edward Seymour, Thomas Seymour, Sir Nicholas Carew, were all later executed. Anne could not give Henry the son and heir he always wanted but she gave birth to who is considered the greatest monarch and the leader of “A Golden Age”. Queen Anne Boleyn gave Henry Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth I was one of the greatest monarchs and is considered to be above her father the very man who unjustly condemned had executed her mother. Anne in return got her revenge and if she were alive to see her daughter crowned she would have in doubt been The Most Happy.
Ives, Eric “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”