Did Anne Boleyn Commit Incest with Her Brother?

Posted By on February 23, 2010

Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions (UK version)

If you’re like me, you are eagerly awaiting the publication of G W Bernard’s “Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions” which comes out in April (May in the USA).


Because this is one historian who believes that Anne could actually have been guilty of adultery and worse, incest.

Most historians these days are sympathetic to Anne’s cause and believe that Anne Boleyn, Mark Smeaton, Sir Henry Norris, Sir William Brereton, Sir Francis Weston and Anne’s brother George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, were framed in a successful attempt to get rid of Anne and bring down the whole Boleyn faction. However, there are those who think there is truth in the charges against Anne, that there’s no smoke without a fire and that she was partially guilty.

The Fall of Anne Boleyn Report

While I cannot comment on Bernard’s book, as it’s not yet in circulation, I have read a report by Bernard entitled “The Fall of Anne Boleyn”, which was published in 1991 in which he says:-

“What happened, then, was no monstrous casting off of an unwanted wife by an utterly selfish king, no cynical and ingenious manipulation of a weak king by a conservative faction or a calculating minister, but a quarrel between one of the Queen’s ladies and her brother, provoked by a chance, yet leading tragically, ineluctably, to accusations of conduct that no king could accept.”

and he concludes by saying:-

“What we have then is the likelihood that Anne and at least some of her friends were guilty of the charges brought against them. But why should Anne have done it?

One explanation might be, as Sir John Neale suggested long ago, that aware of Henry’s at least intermittent impotence, Anne was trying to beget a child by other men, in order to produce Henry’s much wanted heir. Another might be that she was indeed a loose-living lady. Yet another, and perhaps the most plausible, might be her jealousy of Henry VIII’s continuing affairs, a defiant resentment of the double standard which allowed that freedom to men but not to women. The French poem records her saying of the King: ‘Et que souvent je n’aye prins fantasie/ Encontre luy de quelque jalousye.’

To the charge that the general interpretation advanced here is just the surmise of a man lacking in understanding of female psychology, just a ‘wicked women’ view of history which sees nymphomaniacs everywhere, it could be countered that Anne’s behaviour has been presented as defiant rather than passive, and Jane Seymour’s very differently interpreted. Above all, it has been an analysis of the evidence, not any prejudice, which has raised the possibility that Anne was unfaithful to her husband. That information came into the ‘public domain’ by chance, by the accident of a quarrel between one of the Queen’s ladies and her brother. In explaining what happened next, there is no need to portray Henry as a monster, no need to invent deformed foetuses, no need to elaborate ‘factional’ explanations: Anne’s fall was surely inevitable once what she had been doing became known, once a prima facie case against her was accepted by the King.

The fall of Anne Boleyn is not just a salacious whodunnit: it has implications for our understanding of early Tudor politics. Perhaps Henry’s reactions were harsh by our standards, but they were not irrational. Nor should we assume in advance of a critical scrutiny of the evidence that people who did unusual things must have been manipulated. The explanation offered here thus casts further doubt on the validity of the influential notion of faction as an explanation of political crisis in early Tudor England and raises the possibility that, on this and other occasions, Henry VIII was more in control and less the victim of factional manipulation than some recent accounts would claim.”

Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions – Case for the Prosecution

An article in today’s Daily Mail discusses how G W Bernard believes that a French poem written just a few days after Anne Boleyn’s execution in May 1536 reveals the truth about the Queen’s infidelities. According to Bernard, the 1,000 line poem written by Lancelot de Carles calls Anne a “common whore” and names Mark Smeaton, Henry Norris and Anne’s brother George as her lovers. Here is an extract:-

“She never stops her daily round
Lubricious fun with one by one
Just like a common whore
When one is over for the day
Another comes along on time
And then another…
Norris and Mark could not deny
That they have often passed with her
Many a night”

Professor Bernard believes that this poem can be backed up with evidence and should not be discounted as just a salacious literary work. In the poem, de Carles writes of how the accusations of infidelity against Anne first came to light in a quarrel between a pregnant lady of the Queen’s privy chamber and her brother, who was a privy councillor. In this argument, the brother accuses his sister of being promiscuous and she replies that her behaviour is nothing compared to her mistress the Queen who is committing adultery with her own brother. The sister then goes on to say that Smeaton and Norris have been seduced by Anne’s “caresses”.

Bernard identifies the pregnant lady-in-waiting as the Countess of Worcester, a woman who has often been talked of as providing evidence against Anne Boleyn and who is identified in a 16th century letter as Anne’s main accuser. Eric Ives, in “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”, writes of how John Husssey wrote to Lord Lisle and listed Anne Cobham, “my Lady Worcester” and “one maid more” as sources of information against Anne. Ives then goes on to explain that Elizabeth Browne, Countess of Worcester, was the sister of Sir Anthony Browne of the privy chamber and that Thomas Cromwell presented Lady Worcester’s evidence “as the first warning of Anne’s offences.

Bernard concludes that the fact that Anne Boleyn’s ladies-in-waiting knew of and spoke of their mistress’s affairs make her infidelities more believable:-

“Some scholars have claimed that the very idea that a queen could have committed adultery is preposterous, but if the queen’s ladies were indeed aware and complicit, then it becomes easier to see how it could happen. It was not unthinkable that in some circumstances they would reveal the truth. No historian has questioned the guilt of Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, who was convicted of adultery a few years later. Why should the charges against Anne not be taken equally seriously?…If things went wrong we might expect to find the ladies of the queen’s household at the centre of any investigations and that is exactly what has happened here.”

But why would Anne risk everything for these affairs?

Professor Bernard believes that she took lovers because of Henry VIII’s on-off impotency problems and that the affairs were her way of getting pregnant and providing the King with an heir.

In his report of 1991, Bernard cites the French poem as evidence against Anne, along with Mark Smeaton’s confession, Anne’s flirtatious behaviour with Norris and Weston, and the talk of Norris being Elizabeth’s father. Bernard then writes:-

“the safest guess for a modern historian is that Anne had indeed committed adultery with Norris, and briefly with Mark Smeaton; and that there was enough circumstantial evidence to cast reasonable doubt on the denials of the others.
It must also be remembered that not everyone involved was tried and punished. This reinforces the suggestion that the accusations were not indiscriminate, and that some attention was paid to the reliability of the evidence against those accused…That Henry and his ministers were genuinely examining the evidence is further suggested by the arrest and subsequent release of Sir Thomas Wyatt.”

The Case for the Defence

If I say “tommyrot” and “poppycock”, people won’t take me very seriously will they? But that’s how I feel!

There is nothing new in Bernard producing the poetry of Lancelot de Carles as evidence against Anne Boleyn, particularly as it is mentioned in his report of 1991. Eric Ives also quotes de Carles as saying:-

“when at night you retire, she has her toy boys [mignons] already lined up. Her brother is by no means last in queue. Norris and Mark would not deny that they have spent many nights with her without having to persuade her, for she herself urged them on and invited them with presents and caresses”

and Ives calls it “moonshine, of a piece with the spin which would appear in the indictments”. He also discounts the argument between Lady Worcester and her brother as evidence, by saying:-

“This sounds very much like exaggeration of a altercation in which Anthony Browne criticized his sister’s involvement in the lively society of the queen’s chamber and she hit back that she was no more, or even less, of a flirt than the queen.”

Ives also says that Justice Spelman, a man who heard all of the evidence against Anne, made no mention of Lady Worcester and that he said that “all of the evidence was of bawdry and lechery”. If Lady Worcester’s evidence was so damning then why was she not mentioned?

Alison Weir, in “The Lady in the Tower”, also mentions de Carles and the Countess of Worcester story and in her notes on Chapter 4 Weir mentions that the Countess may well have “bowed to pressure from her relatives to betray Anne, and that she was worried about that hundred pounds she had borrowed [from Anne] without her husband’s knowledge.” Weir also wonders if de Carles got his facts mixed up in naming Lady Worcester as the source of the incest story when most sources agree that this story came only from Jane Parker, Lady Rochford, the wife of George Boleyn.

One interesting theory in Bernard’s report “The Fall of Anne Boleyn”, is the suggestion that the Countess of Worcester was Thomas Cromwell’s mistress!

Obviously I haven’t got Bernard’s book to read his full theory but to use a “gossipy” poem as evidence strong enough to convict and execute a person just does not make sense to me. If this poem was based on fact, if Lady Worcester really gave the crown concrete evidence, then I need answers to the following questions:-

  • Why were no ladies-in-waiting convicted alongside Anne Boleyn? – In the case of Catherine Howard, Lady Rochford was convicted and executed for being an accomplice, a go-between  and helping Catherine meet Culpeper, so why weren’t Anne’s ladies charged as accomplices? They would have been helping the Queen to commit treason and so would have been traitors too.
  • Why don’t the dates in the indictments make sense? – If there was evidence of Anne’s infidelity then the dates cited should have surely made sense. Instead, as Eric Ives points out, “three quarters of these specific allegations can be disproved. In twelve cases Anne was elsewhere or else the man was.”
  • Why wasn’t Henry VIII completely distraught like he was when he heard of Catherine Howard’s infidelities? – He wept in front of his council when he was given evidence against Catherine, yet he had pursued Anne for seven years, broke with Rome to marry her, been excommunicated by the Pope, been married to her for 3 years and yet he seemed indifferent to the allegations against his wife.

When talking of G W Bernard’s past opinion “that Anne and at least some of her friends were guilty of the charges brought against them”, Ives writes:-

“The evidence, however, justifies nothing of this. Two days before Anne appeared to plead “not guilty” the crown began breaking up her household and, according to Chapuys, Henry told Jane on the morning of the trial that Anne would be condemned by three in the afternoon. His wife was the victim of a struggle for power, and Henry at his rare moments of honesty admitted it. When he told Jane Seymour not to meddle in affairs of state, he pointedly advised her to take Anne as a warning.”


Gossip and slander, that’s all it seems to me. I don’t put Anne Boleyn up on a pedestal, I don’t believe that she was a martyr or saint, but I do believe that she was innocent of all of the charges against her, that she was a victim of a political struggle and that her death was a tragic example of injustice and should be classed as murder, along with the deaths of George Boleyn, Mark Smeaton, Henry Norris, William Brereton and Sir Francis Weston.

There is no way that this intelligent woman, who had waited so long to be Queen, would risk everything, her crown and her life, for some fun on the side. Even if she was desperate for a child, she knew that the child needed to be Henry’s, and that she couldn’t risk the child being a spitting image of Henry Norris, the King’s best friend! And to accuse her of incest is to deny the strong faith that both Anne and George had. Incest was an abomination, an offence against God, and both Anne and George were highly religious. They were reformers who risked their lives by owning reformist texts and tracts at times when people were being killed as heretics for owning such things, they would not have risked their souls in such a way.

OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now!!

I will be reading Professor Bernard’s book as soon as it comes out, something I’m looking forward to.


Anne Boleyn Tour – July 2010

Great news for those of you who were too late to book The Anne Boleyn Experience 2010 or who couldn’t make May – I am able to book a week in July (12th-16th) and run a similar tour then.


I need to know ASAP so please email me at claire@theanneboleynfiles.com – itinerary, costs etc. would be similar to the May one (see http://tour.theanneboleynfiles.com). This will only be running if I have enough interest in it so please get in touch.

87 thoughts on “Did Anne Boleyn Commit Incest with Her Brother?”

  1. Jenny says:

    In defence of Claire who was insulted in December, Matterhorn wrote in December, “People say – Where there’s smoke, there’s fire – and often it is tru. But sometimes the fire i the work of arsonists”

    I thought that was a brilliant statement!!!

    It will be interesting to read the forthcoming book but I am of the opinion that Anne, from rather humble beginnings, who attracted the eye of H8, was forced y her family to go through with the whole thing, but was also attracted and side-tracked by the power it brought to her, and as a feisty woman by nature increased her arrogance and therefore her logical train of thought. In a number of ways, knowing the world she was taken to live in, she must have been on tenterhooks all the time and taking care not to do anything so foolish as have an affair with anyone – but her arrogance and her “hangers-on” would have attracted a malice from those not in the “inner circle”

  2. Kristen says:

    Here here! Just because a poem was written at the time of Anne’s death claiming her to be an adultress desn’t mean what it is claiming was true! This man was obviously a hater of the Queen. He was probably screaming for her blood along with hundreds of others at her beheading.

  3. sylvia says:

    Bernard is just harping on AGAIN about that posthumous poem! By all means, she was no saint and she had a problem keeping her thoughts to herself, but Anne was raised well, and would not , forsaking every principle , make the same mistake as her sister, Mary. She became Queen of England in her own right and , not withstanding a few jealousies here and there,her honesty was turned against her and she walked right into her enemies hands, whch were aplenty. Henry was desperate, wanted a son, and didn`t want to wste time, just in case Anne produced another girl, or had more miscarriages. Anne was indiscreet in her thoughts and actions and was not`clever`enough to hide her feelings, but that was her only `heinous`crime. And she made peopple feel uncomfortable because she spoke how she felt, at the moment in time.

  4. Claire says:

    That was a great quote from Matterhorn and I so agree with him, if we were to believe “there’s no smoke without a fire” then there would be an awful lot of people in jail who shouldn’t be. We’re always hearing about horrendous miscarriages of justice.

    I do think that the Bernard book will be a brilliant read and I’m always open to new theories and opinions but his report of 1991 didn’t make me change my mind and the bit cited in the Daily Mail article didn’t make sense to me either.

  5. Henry Wiggins says:

    Disappointing that Bernard’s new “evidence” is a poem he’s been peddling as evidence since 1991. Bernard does seem to have something of a vendetta against Anne – his book on the Reformation does its best to erase Anne’s role in it and puts Henry in the driving seat of the decision not to consummate his relationship with Anne, which is psychologically unconvincing and is supported by no real evidence. I think it says something that no other modern Tudor historian (of which there are many) supports Bernard’s spurious claim that Anne was guilty of adultery. However, I wonder whether perhaps it’s a deliberate ploy in order to get a book published on the subject – given the multiplicity of recent biographies on Anne, the only way to mark his out as different and viable is its “controversial” approach. I will read the book, but I don’t expect it to be at all convincing…

  6. lisaannejane says:

    I’ve heard better stories about Area 54 and the existence of aliens. Scientists have a belief that the more extraordinary the claim, the more extraordinary the evidence should be, and a quarrel and a poem hardly come up to these standards. From what you wrote about this book Claire, I think I might throw it across the room and throw it out with a National Enquirer for good measure!

  7. Cynthia says:

    Oh, stay on your soapbox, Claire and make way for the rest of us.

    You are exactly right to say that no ladies in waiting were implicated, imprisoned, and executed as in the case of Catherine Howard. The dates listed in the indictments don’t bear out for the majority of them, plus Anne was constantly either pregnant or had miscarried of brought a stillborn babe to term. Her success depended on a viable heir, but to suggest she would bring her brother into her bed to produce one is implausible–apparently, even then they had an inkling that incest might bring about deformed children, so that just puts the theory on very unsteady ground.

    If Anne had been less shrewish, and that she was, she might have been merely divorced and put away. I suspect there is truth to the rumor that the “unmanned” Henry verbally by suggesting that he couldn’t function sexually or father sons–that would have been enough for Henry to turn from her.

    Being a bitch shouldn’t be punishable by death.

  8. “If I say “tommyrot”, “poppycock” and “cow manure”, people won’t take me very seriously will they? But that’s how I feel!”

    LOL!!! Ok, I just read your piece here and I see we are on the same page! I was just Tweeting that to me it seems like this horny guy at court was taking out his frustrations/fantasies with his poetry. 😀

  9. Claire says:

    So love your tweet, Barb, spot on! For those who missed it, Barb said “So some horny court dude writes a poem & now Anne Boleyn is back up for Harlot of the Year? I dunno about this.” Ha!

    1. JudithRex says:

      I don’t think that is an accurate description of the poem. He described how a queen surrounded by her women could have been having sex with somebody without them all knowing. He also points out how the original accusation came to pass and even Alison Weir thinks it has merit as a description of the possible source if the original accusation.

      By the way, the author was a French servant of the French ambassador who had no reason to slur Anne. The French did not seem to think she was very virtuous woman, but they didn’t have any reason to smear her after she was dead.

      1. Claire says:

        He may not have had reason to smear Anne but the ambassadors were all fed information by Cromwell and it was the information he and the King wanted them to have. Have you read the poem? It’s very interesting and very long!
        The only woman mentioned as providing any evidence, by Justice Spelman, who reported on the case, was Lady Wingfield, who was dead by that point but whose correspondence was used.

        1. JudithRex says:

          we do not have any of the evidence from the trial so unless it pops up lost in a box behind a secret wall we’ve no way of knowing what her maids said or didn’t, or what Norris confessed to but took back saying he was tricked.

          I have only read those parts that have been used by Weir and Bernard in their books. It didn’t strike me as horny on the part of the writer, per se. I should give it a read if you think it worth it. Thanks for the idea! Amd thank you for your thoughtful response.

        2. JudithRex says:

          we do not have any of the evidence from the trial so unless it pops up lost in a box behind a secret wall we’ve no way of knowing what her maids said or didn’t, or what Norris confessed to but took back saying he was tricked.

          I have only read those parts that have been used by Weir and Bernard and Ives in their books. It didn’t strike me as horny on the part of the writer, per se. I should give it a read if you think it worth it. Thanks for the idea! Amd thank you for your thoughtful response.

  10. su says:

    I don’t think this proves anything!
    anyway we’ve had this once in “The other Boleyn girl” by Phillipa Gregory!
    personally I think Ane Boleyn was much too clever to engage in affairs!

    1. Marlette says:

      Anne was probably clever, but her emotional intelligence might not have matched her intellectual abilities,

  11. Christina says:

    This is a topic I’ve struggled with for some time now. It’s so hard to know what Anne did, how she thought and felt. Based on her enemies, we’re led to believe all these accusations, but we’ll never really know if any of them have some truth.

    The thing I struggle with is that Anne was so intelligent. She was smart enough to know what she had to do to be queen and she wouldn’t have been so stupid to risk everything she had over a couple affairs. But then I think… Anne was so full of life, so vivacious, such a free-spirit. She was bold and was stubborn. If that was me, and I had spent 7 years getting pursued by a man that I potentially never really loved, and wasn’t getting the attention I needed from him, who can deny that she might have longed for others??? It was clear that she felt strongly for women’s rights and for them to be strong, so is it possible that she felt she had a right to have affairs, like any other man at that time? I think that this enters my mind because that’s how our current time women may think… it’s hard to know how times were 500 years ago.

    I think that Henry weeped for Catherine because he had convinced himself the whole time that she was faultless, innocent little angel. Whether she was or not, that’s why he wept. I think he did not for Anne because she had fire. Catherine never talked back to him!

  12. Nasim says:

    Though I share the scepticism of most posters here regarding Professor G.W. Bernard’s main theory, can I sort of stand up for Bernard on the accusation that he has some form of vendetta against Anne Boleyn? I had the pleasure of having a meeting with Prof. Bernard two weeks ago. Though the subject of our meeting did not involve his upcoming study I nonetheless had to ask him a few questions about his work. It became very clear to me that his research was not motivated by any distaste for Anne Boleyn, or another figure. Rather he sincerely believes that the source material points to the conclusion which he reached. Admittedly I disagree, though I think he has some interesting views regarding Anne Boleyn’s faith (as I also tend to think she was far more conservative than most historians argue). However I don’t think he writes out of any malicious intention. He approached the subject of Anne Boleyn’s downfall some years ago with an open mind and came to the conclusion that he did. Bernard’s re-examination of events and persons of that period and his unwillingness to merely accept traditionally affirmed approach, sometimes assumptions, of various matters without proper research, is notable. At times he can be controversial, though even his critics have to concede that Bernard is not lazy when it comes to research.

    I will be disappointed if the study contains little new material. We all know about his theories which have been explored in several articles (for those who are unfamiliar with Bernard’s theory I recommend his essay ‘The Fall of Anne Boleyn’ in G.W. Bernard (ed.), ‘Power and Politics in Tudor England’). I have a suspicion that on one particular matter he will not be added much new, though as I have yet to read the book and only discussed certain aspects with him I shouldn’t make assumptions. Nonetheless it is bound to be a good read and though I highly doubt he will change my mind on the subject of Anne Boleyn’s innocence he may strengthen my opinion on the subject of Anne’s faith.

  13. Claire says:

    Hi Nasim,
    Oh, I agree with you, I don’t think that Bernard has any vendetta against Anne or even that it is a publicity stunt as he was saying the same in 1991, before the current Tudor wave of popularity. I agree with Starkey when he says that he doesn’t agree with Bernard but “there will undoubtedly be something in what Professor Bernard has got to say. He’s a very serious scholar with a profound knowledge of the period”.
    I too will be disappointed if the book is just the 1991 report revisited but the de Carles poem is all that The Daily Mail article picked up on and that is one of the key pieces of evidence in his 91 report. I really do hope there’s something new.
    It will be interesting to read what he says about Anne’s faith. Weir makes the point that people make Anne out to be a Protestant heroine, yet she died in the Catholic faith, so it will be good to know what Bernard thinks. I will definitely be buying this book and I’m sure it will be one that sits on my desk alongside Eric Ives’s biography.

  14. Farin says:

    Most of the responses on the Daily Mail website are along your line that this proves nothing, and I thoroughly agree. An historian’s first duty is to think about the agenda behind a primary or secondary source. Even if these people didn’t personally hate the queen, they conveniently came out with their information immediately prior to and following Anne’s fall, when slandering her would have been extremely beneficial as an endorsement of Henry’s actions. I can see that, and I only have a BA in History. Unfortunately, I think that more than a few people will be eager to give credence to this argument, especially with the popularity of The Other Boleyn Girl. I will maintain that it’s utterly ridiculous.

  15. Fabulous Post!
    I have to admit to always wondering about this question since the idea of George and Anne seems to be brought in many books and movies. I just added Bernard’s book to my Amazon basket – I had Elizabeth Norton’s book in the cart but slid that to”buy later”. You have simply no idea how much I would love to go on the Hever expedition this summer. I keep playing the lottery – I need to do this tour before I make an exit of this life’sw go- around!

  16. Claire says:

    Two more newspapers are reporting on Bernard’s book, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/23/anne-boleyn-guilty-adultery-biography-claims and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/7295739/Poem-provides-evidence-that-Anne-Boleyn-had-numerous-affairs.html

    The Guardian has this:-
    “Of the conclusions he draws from this latest evidence, Bernard says, “It’s a hypothesis – not a proof. In a court of law you might not condemn her for the crime, but I don’t think you’d acquit her either.”

    His biography, Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions, due out from Yale University Press in April, also disputes the view that Anne held back from sexual relations with Henry until he agreed to make her his queen, claiming that it is “highly implausible”. He believes that it was Henry, not Anne, who held back, on the grounds that he wanted their children to be his legitimate heirs. “He would, I suspect, have been astonished and horrified to discover that later generations have supposed he did not sleep with Anne in those years because she would not let him,” Bernard says.”

    and The Telegraph just quotes from the Daily Mail article.

    So, was it Henry that said no to sex, not Anne?

    1. Alice Rey says:

      No offence to Bernard, he is a good historian and I admire his works, but I have read the book and most of it is quite far-fetched, shall we say, and based on minor evidence. Particularly the part about Henry refusing sex with Anne. Really? Ermm… what about Mary Boleyn and Bessie Blount? He was “in love” with them, once upon a time, yet he never refused sec with them and even had a son on the latter. There are countless reports of him summoning Anne to the royal bed, and her refusing. Really, I don’t know where the hell he got all this from.

  17. Nasim says:

    Hi Claire!

    Bernard’s views on Anne Boleyn’s faith were discussed in an article for the Historical Journal (entitled ‘Anne Boleyn’s Religion’). Weir’s own take on the matter seems to have been borrowed heavily from Bernard’s (and, disappointingly in my opinion, she did not properly reference her source here and presented her ideas as somewhat original).

    When I spoke to Bernard he remarked that for sometime there was an assumption that Katherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, was certainly guilty of adultery though historians did not regard Anne Boleyn in a similar critical and certain manner which lead to his interest in her downfall. Though I disagree with his conclusions I do think the subject of re-examination should be applied, albeit to another issue – Anne’s faith. Bernard has already done so, and will continue to do so in the new book, but I think this needs to be the subject of more debate amongst academics. It always surprises me when some historians use the words ‘Catholics’ and ‘Protestants’ in connections to groups and individuals at the Henrician court without any proper consideration of contemporary understanding and usage of the words. Anne, I think, is an individual who has been treated in such a way.

    (BTW – I’m a postgrad student and have access to numerous journals through my uni; if anyone would like the Bernard article I would be happy to download and email it to them.)

  18. Claire says:

    I think the whole incest idea makes for good TV and fiction but I just don’t buy it.

    I wish you could come too, Marie, perhaps next year?

  19. Claire says:

    Hi Nasim,
    I have the 91 “The Fall of Anne Boleyn” but I don’t have “Anne Boleyn’s Religion” and would love that one if you could please email it to me at claire@theanneboleynfiles.com – thanks so much.
    Yes, it is rather simplistic to say Catholics and Protestants as I think people would have seen themselves as reformers of the Catholic faith, rather than a whole new group. Even Luther was simply trying to get rid of what he saw as corruption and wrong teaching, after all there was no sale of indulgences in the Bible, and I don’t think he saw himself as developing a whole new “denomination” as we see it today.

  20. Nasim says:

    “His biography, Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions, due out from Yale University Press in April, also disputes the view that Anne held back from sexual relations with Henry until he agreed to make her his queen, claiming that it is “highly implausible”. He believes that it was Henry, not Anne, who held back, on the grounds that he wanted their children to be his legitimate heirs. “He would, I suspect, have been astonished and horrified to discover that later generations have supposed he did not sleep with Anne in those years because she would not let him,” Bernard says.”

    Yep; this is an argument he mentioned in the beginning of his ‘The King’s Reformation’. Bernard attributes the idea that Anne was the one to refuse to sleep with Henry prior to marriage, to hostile contemporary and later writers. I certainly think Henry’s involvement in the decision to abstain from sex until marriage needs to be considered. But as of yet I remain unconvinced by Bernard’s reading of the love letters and his implication that Anne merely confirmed to Henry’s wishes, sleeping with him one minute and then agreeing to abstain until marriage when he wanted to.

    It is an interesting and different take on the situation though. Some historians have argued for the incorrect view that Henry and Anne’s relationship instantly broke down upon the consummation of their relationship (frequently dated to late 1532) and marriage. Bernard instead argues that sex was certainly not what Henry was solely after!

  21. Nasim says:

    Hi Claire! I’ve sent the article (I used my hotmail email)

  22. Claire says:

    Thank you! By the way, love your YouTube channel, lots of brilliant history documentaries. For those who don’t know it, see http://www.youtube.com/user/littlemisssunnydale – wonderful!

  23. Louise says:

    Hello Claire,
    As you always do, you have set out brilliantly exactly what most people think. Bernard’s “newly found evidence” of Anne and George’s guilt has been around forever. It is not new evidence. All that is new about it is Bernard’s interpretation of it. Bernard has re-interpreted de Carles in the same way that Warnicke and Weir re-interpreted Cavendish to come up with their perverse theories relating to George Boleyn’s sexuality. Bernard’s theories can be dismissed in a similar way just as easily as their’s have been.
    There are so many books out there about Anne that in order to sell a new book and make a name for themselves historians have to come up with a new slant to the story. Bernard has been flogging his theories since 1991, and has put himself on the map by doing so. I’m sure he’ll make alot of money out of this enterprise in addition to raising his profile, but does he honestly believe it?
    What he appears to be doing in his book is setting out the official version of events at the time of the trials, because that is presicely what de Carles does in his poem. But just because it is the official version doesn’t make it true. That is like saying we should believe everything politicians tell us!
    The truth is that no evidence of guilt has come down to us, and if there had have been evidence of direct wrongdoing it would have been paraded in triumph. It certainly wouldn’t have been “lost”
    None of Anne’s ladies gave direct evidence whatever the crown suggested and whatever Bernard chooses to believe.
    Thank you Claire for summarising the truth so succinctly. I couldn’t have done what you have done above as quickly and well beause when I read the report in the Daily Mail I was so angry that I felt sick. Bernard seems to have spun the evidence to make his point in the same way that Weir did in The Lady in the Tower.
    I’m sorry if I come across as Mrs Angry, but the truth is I am.

  24. Lexy says:

    The infamous poem was written at th time of Anne’s death, so it was surely influenced by the King’s propanganda, or maybe part of it! Even in those time, people knew that incest produced babies with health problem, and I don’t think that Anne would have taken the risk of presenting Henry a deformed baby, even a son! And since I’m sure she was thinking of her future as queen mother, she surely remembered the fact that Edward prince of Wales, son of Henry VI and Edward IV were accused of being bastards: could she take the risk of seeing her son disputed and made losing his crown? BTW, since she grow up in France,she probably heard the story of two daughters in law of king Philip the Fair, whose adultery was discovered: they were shaven and put into a cold fortress where the eldest was possibly murdered when her husband became king in order to marry another wife: do you think it wouldn’t disgust any queen thinking of adultery?

  25. Jill says:

    We need to remember that we get to live in a highly charged sexual society muchl like that of Tudor times. People’s fantasies and the reality of it really should be set aside from the truth. As Claire has said that Anne was a very religious person and the idea of begetting a child from her brother was probably repulsive to her. After all, you grow up with a brother, see him grow from a child to a man and there are issues there. A great deal of shame as with now must be attached to it. What I object to the new criticisms of Anne are that the author is trying to relate in a way that may not be the same as relating to people of these times. I’m pretty sure then as now as science tells us that children brought about by a close relative may not be altogether good for the advancement of society. There is a reason there was a religious dictate to this. Retardation, insanity and all of the other good things that are biological in nature. I read the other day from the History Channel from someone making a blanket statement without investigating the history behind it that Mary Tudor was a monster. It is what I truly object to. And the reason why I enjoy Claire’s site so much in that it separates fact from fantasy and hearsay. Blanket statements like that muddy the truth if what I am to read from this site that she was far more lenient to her people. But again politics always enters into it. We need to remember that.

  26. lisaannejane says:

    To Nasim – are you behind “littlemisssunnydale” on u-tube? I love it! I subscribed to it a while ago and am always hoping for more.

  27. Anne says:

    To all who have posted, and especially of course to Claire, thanks for the thoughtful comments. Reading about this new book, I admit my hackles raised a bit. It feels good, though, that so many are motivated to look into the surviving historical details, review the debate, draw sensible conclusions, and not be taken in by such speculative opinions. Anne, her brother and friends certainly have many passionate defenders, who happen to have the facts on their side.

  28. Jenny says:

    Now this comment is really showing my age!!!! When I was younger, my elder brother and sisters plus their respective friends had long engagements (sometimes up to 10 years) and they were watched like hawks by the respective families in case of any “naughties”. A lot actually did believe that sex before marriage was a sin. BUT quite a lot of those marriages failed quite quickly although many couples stayed together and later on I discovered the reason why – sexual incompatibility!!!!

  29. lisaannejane says:

    To Jenny – love your comment! Have to admit that I laughed out loud and then I remembered the old saying why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free! But I do think you have a good point and your friends didn’t have Dr. Phil or Oprah to watch. As Mark Twain said about age: age is a matter of mind – if you don’t mind, then it doesn’t matter. I will be 49 this coming April 29 and all I care about is a good chocolate cake.

  30. Sheena says:

    Like lisaannejane, I too believe that the Lancelot de Carles poem almost seems like the sort of stuff that supermarket tabloids are made of. In a time where books were expensive, , and verbal storytelling was alive and well, I am sure something like a poem could reach more of the masses, and therefore quickly sway any public opinion out there that went against what the monarchy had decided. Then there was the whole thing about the fight with George Boleyn- wasn’t he in some circles considered to be a “ladies’ man?” Perhaps it was a lover’s spat between those two, and not a fight about him seeing Anne…guess we’ll never know.

    I also agree with those who talked about putting a label of Catholic/ Prostestant on the whole reformation movement- the changes that occurred through Vatican 2 (the modernization of the Catholic church) was all that the reformers were really trying to do. There was so much corruption in the Catholic church- from the reign of the harlots to the reign of the Borgias- those in Anne’s camp were just wanting to see things like that stopped. I also seriously doubt that a woman as religious as her would lie at her final confession.

    The book seems like it would be interesting, but I would need more than one poem and a supposed argument between George and a Lady in Waiting…

  31. Carolyn says:

    I must agree with most (if not all) of you – the things Anne has been accused of are, IMO, BS. No way would she commit what she (and we) would have considered heinous sins, much less risk everything for such a distasteful ‘solution’ to Henry’s assumed impotence issues (he did manage to get Jane preggers within a year. Although he was hoping it would happen sooner, but that’s not considered infertility by today’s standards).

    When the lack of evidence, or even exculpatory evidence against the charges Anne was accused of could be ‘explained away’ by the belief that “well, witches can be in more than one place at a time, so…”, then I don’t think there was any way Anne could get a fair hearing. The result was decided before the trial was ever held. Anne was innocent! I will always believe that.

    It will be nice to see Anne’s faith explored more, for the reasons listed above. We use terms like Catholic and Protestant because that is our terminology. It would have meant nothing to them. Anne and Henry both died in what they considered the Catholic faith; they felt Rome (exemplified by the Pope), had led the church into error. They weren’t trying to create a new denomination, they were trying to reform the faith they already subscribed to. That’s an important point to consider in the conversation.

  32. Jenny says:

    Hi Lisaanne,

    Must admit I have never heard that saying before – but a good one to keep in mind. Coming to to 49? Well you are still a spring chicken – In my youth they said that life begins at 40 and I have to say my 40s were the best years I ever had — One has reached the stage that one knows what one doesn’t want (which is a good part of the battle) but as Mark Twain inferred age is a matter of mind and quite often I swerve from 18 to 1800 years old. Keep on with that choc. cake!!!

    But on another serious note, being a Scorpio with a Gemini Ascendant I am super curious and the Gemeni part of me makes me like a grasshopper when it comes to information. I have Googled various questions because I have now become interested in TUDOR Hygiene and not getting that much real nittu gritty. Know that the average life of a woman was 30 and that of a man 35 (although quite a few people lived over those ages), I know that (well in Spain where I live) that washing was actually considered to be heretical (a thing of the Moors) – I know that all sorts of wierd and wonderful potions were used by ladies for their faces including lead – Nothing about hair washing thoough, which I find strange (apparently Hiv’s hair was alive with gnits when he was crowned!). I am obsessed with teeth (have a brill. Norwegian dentist) and have read somewhere about false teeth in wooden brackets but some of the methods supposedly used in Tudor ties make the hair curl especially “MOuse head Tooth Powder”

    And clothes washing – Know the rich wore linen (which could be washed) under their clothes but am sure that the rest of the stuff had to bee beaten like carpets but again very little info.

    If anyone can give me any sites would be grateful.

    Which brings me to the original idea – If the Tudors were not that hygenic – what was the attraction between the sexes other than “rutting” or, perhaps intelllgence? Maybe I am missing something somewhere

  33. Sally says:

    Dear All,

    Two thing I feel a need to comment on. The first relates to the poem that G. W. Bernard is using as his “primary source.” I can’t help but wonder if there might be a connection between that poem and the tragic play that Henry VIII wrote at the time of Anne’s fall and tried to pressure other folks to read. Maybe the poem is King Henry’s justification for murdering his wife.

    Also, has anyone else read the excellent article by Greg Walker titled “Rethinking the Fall of Anne Boleyn.” He thinks the entire debacle came about very quickly in the day or two before her arrest, and was propelled by the confession of Mark Smeaton who may have had delusions/fanasies about his relationship with Anne that may have been more like a stalkers mentality. That would explain why Henry interrogated Norris himself. Henry was totally emotionally caught up in the events and filled with anger and hatred toward Anne. Thus his cruel treatment of her. Whereas, with Catherine Howard, he had others handling the interogations, and kept his distance. Perhaps Anne and friends were railroaded so rapidly because Henry was out of control. But with Catherine Howard, the men surrounding him were prepared for his reaction and managed him and his anger.

    Just a thought, but do read the article by Walker. It explains things better than I can.


  34. Claire says:

    Hi Sally,
    Yes, I downloaded the Greg Walker report from Cambridge Journals a few months ago and will be discussing his thoughts next week as I think it follows on quite nicely from this article and the theme of Anne’s fall.

    Anyway, I’ll definitely be buying G W Bernard’s book as I want to know more about why he thinks this poem is such key evidence and also why he thinks it was Henry who was the one who said “no” to sex. Sounds like it will be an interesting read.

  35. Carolyn says:

    I had to giggle a little at the thought of Henry saying ‘no’ to sex. He strikes me as having been too self-indulgent for that. Did he ever really tell himself ‘no’ about anything? I keep picturing JRM from The Tudors bellowing, “I’m the King of England!”

  36. lisaannejane says:

    To Jenny: thanks for the encouragement! I must admit that I was also curious about Tudor health habits and often wondered what those beautiful dresses really smelled like! I suppose everyone had the same bad health habits so they would have thought it normal.

    To Carolyn: LOL! Now I’m picturing JRM and can’t believe he ever learned to say no sex!

  37. Anne's fan says:

    I feel like I’m defending Anne 574 years later! Sex with her brother? I don’t think so! How disgusting to even think, that that really happened and that she had sex with the other men! Henry was still capable of sex. Her miscarriage in January of that year and the fact that Jane Seymour was pregnant by him, not too long after they were married.

    Anne was one class act and I feel sure that she did not lower and demean herself by having sex with the others.

  38. Luvprue1 says:

    What constitute an affair back than.? The Tudor era was a time period in which nearly imagining the king’s death was consider treason. So what constitute a affair in that Era might be totally different than today standard. a affair back than could be a harmless kiss, or just thinking about someone who isn’t your husband. simple flirtation could be taken in the wrong way. I would love to know what exactly did Anne’s own almoner (John Skip) confess to the king?

    As far as Anne risking everything. Prior to queen Katherine ‘s death, (before Anne was pregnant) there was rumors that Anne would be cast aside. Plus, up until Anne’s trial and beheading no queen was ever beheaded for adultery…hell, some queen even tried to overthrow there husband , and they only wound up in prison. so how could she know that harmless flirtation would land her on trial?

  39. Sharon says:

    “Tommyrot” and “poppycock.” Good words. BullCrap…another good word for this theory.
    This Lancelot person was definitely not a friend of Anne’s. It sees to me it was written to make fun of Anne and to stroke Ol’ King Henry’s gigantic ego. As to Henry’s impotence… If he was impotent how did Miss Jane get pregnant?
    Anne was too intelligent to have been playing the whore. “When one is over for the day, another comes along on time, and then another”…give me a break. That is an awful lot of sex in one day. This poem makes my stomach turn. It also shows how much some people truly hated Anne. I bet the new Court with Jane had a good laugh over this ditty.

  40. Fiz says:

    If Anne was having affairs to try and get pregnant, she was singularly unsuccessful! In other works it is a load of b-s! Always remember history is written by the winners , and they don’t care how they vilify the dead.

  41. Olivia Peyton says:

    Perhaps this “proof-in-the-poppycock” pudding poet was paid by Rome, or worse, by Anne’s former friend, Marguerite de Navarre.
    Anne Boleyn and her entire family were playing a game of high-stakes politics against Charles V and the Vatican. Really, think about it – enemies abounded.
    Anyway, it is historical naivete at best to assume that Anne Boleyn was a “whore” when a virtuous queen before her, the French Anne of Brittany, not only was one of the first royals to keep a retinue called maids-of-honor, but also who maintained a household of Breton gentlemen who stood at the ready, if necessary, to defend their sovereign lady.
    If Rome was sending agents into my chambers to steal love letters, you better bet your assets I would have kept some muscle around in case the situation turned to assassination plot.

  42. amanda says:

    i enjoyed your perspective about anne and king henry V111, very well thought out. I believe the reason henry wept over catherined howard more than anne boleyn, is the fact that he was convinced anne boleyn was involved with witchcraft to seduce him all those years and that she wouldnt sleep with him claiming to be a virgin and the baby that was premature and deformed proving more of incest conceived baby then one of his own. Plus the relationship he had with catherine howard was young and fresh and more innocent, she didnt pretend to be a virgin until he would marry her, less sceeming, more young and innocent and more believable that catherine was tricked. Absolutely love the tudors series, the movie also was good in that it made sense that anne was trying to “stay” pregnant and slept with her brother. The anne boleyn in the tudors is portrayed a little too innocent.

  43. paige says:

    as far as im concerned the people who accused her of incest were just the product of their time, they didnt have the medical knowledge we do today. for goodness sake the people thought bleeding themselves was healthy. their water supply wasnt that pure and was definitely bacteria ridden. and as most of us know in that time period people were wasted all the time. pregnant women drank wine….alot. and as we know in our present day……pregnancy + alcohol = mutant offspring. so thats my opinion and im sticking to it. i dont believe someone of even the faintest bit of religious beliefs could ever bring themselves to do something that atrocious. it doesnt matter how desperate she was for a son, she risked everything to be queen and i believe she truly did love Henry.

  44. Bandit Queen says:

    Bernard based his conclusions on a French poem and the talk of the Tudor court. He also seems to believe that the fact that Elizabeth, Countess of Worcester who had a shady reputation herself, and according to an earlier paper was the lover of Cromwell, also means that her testament is to be taken seriously. I think it should be the other way around. He also seems to think that the charges are not as ridiculous as they sound, but he forgets the times and dates of the allegations. 100 pages of legal charges are not going to be examined by the court, they are going to be taken for granted. Cromwell was also very persuasive in his arguments and the detailed statements given to the court of the confessions of three of the men, must have sounded like overwhelming evidence. Who was not going to believe it?

    However, Anne was accused of adultery in the time after she had just given birth to Elizabeth and this was not possible. The room would have been shut up, she as in attendance and she did not have access to male company at this time. It would not have been safe or wise to get pregnant again so soon in any event. By Christmas 1534, however, Anne was again pregnant and the king was the undoubted father at the time, which means that he must have been having regular sex with his wife. So where did she get the time to sleep with five other men as well?

    Anne had a rash and very flighty nature and she flirted a lot, but this was not frowned on and would not have even been commented on if she had not have been charged with adultery. It was part of the life of the court to be open and to flirt and to pay court to the Queen. Gifts were often given to musicians and so the gifts given to Smeaton were not unusual. Henry is recorded as giving him gifts of tunics and coats and chains, and this was part of the obligation to enable him to dress well at court. It did not mean he was being rewarded for sexual favours with the Queen.

    As to the charge of incest with her brother, well here she had the opportunity, but personally I find it offensive that she was accused thus as Anne and George were always close, and brothers and sisters were closer in those days and people had closer contact than they do today. She may have acted with some inappropriate gestures or speaking to him alone or flirted with him, but I do not believe this charge and both of them denied it at their state trial.

    Treason is a different matter and here Anne could be guilty of malice and of plotting the King’s death or of imagining the death of the King. Just what specifics she is meant to have done is not clear, but talking about life without the king is not a sensible thing to do, and she knew that this was treason. Careless talk that she heard should have been reported, not encouraged and there is some evidence that Anne is guilty of treason. The five men she was accused with, seem to have been useful for the purpose of getting rid of her at the time. One thing she is guilty of, however, is plotting to murder Princess Mary and for that she does deserve to die.

  45. bwade says:

    Hey everyone iam new to this page. I have been doing alot of research of henry viii and all of his wives especialy anne. to my conclusin for now is that anne eas faithful to the king the whole marriage. But she did get depress because she knew henry wonted a son. ANNE knew that if she didint produce a son her time on the throne was done. thats why her last pregnacey she went into panick mood all out. may just maybe she wonted her brother to sleep with her. then at the last minute change her mind.

    1. Reena says:

      Just what made time so precious for Anne? She was dogged by Henry, him begging her not to leave him, as she was getting really annoyed and upset waiting several years for his divorce with Katherine to be over with. She even said to him that her time and youth are wasted, that by than she would be married to a ready man and have kids, too. If anything else, Henry’s time to just marry her was running out. Once Anne became Queen, I doubt time was an immediate issue anymore. Their main concern was to have healthy children. Anne’s downfall, then, could obviously been set up by those who disliked her. She was smart and they feared that. She had power, and she was a woman, they used those two things, twisted them against her. They dirtied Anne with their lies, then made it so no truth at the time could help her come clean.

  46. Jen says:

    Of course Anne was a virgin; not only was she a virtuous christian which took her faith very seriously, but she learned long ago from her sister Mary the repercussions of a loose lady and what it brought about. And furthermore why did Elizabeth Boleyn chaperon her daughter when she visited Henry, if she was a ‘whore’?! Please!!! And as far as Katherine Howard went I dont believe he loved her anymore than Anne, if anything maybe between the 2 wives he beheaded maybe it was his guilt finally catching up to him!!! After all being 1st cousins Im sure theres some kind of uncanny family resemblance there.

    1. JudithRex says:

      um, she slept with Henry and was pregnant before she was married (and um, he was still married) so not sure what your virgin timeline is.

  47. WilesWales says:

    I am interested in Bernard’s book on Anne’s wandering eye, but I really don’t think she was guilty as Henry was not old enough at that time to have been impotent, plus she never admitted guilt even at her speech on the scaffold. Maybe by 1540 he might have been, and Catherine as advised by the evil 3rd Duke of Norfolk, and Lady Rochford’s help (most probably under the orders of the Duke separately without Catherine knowing), to have a son, and this is how she got involved with Culpepper.

  48. carc says:

    Looks like Anne Boleyn got the last laugh when her daughter Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth I

  49. JADE says:

    I respect and love the memory of Anne Boleyn, because I think her life was a tragedy. BUT……. could she have been guilty? She never wanted Henry, as she was in love with Lord Percy of Northumberland, but when Henry met Anne, he ordered Cardinal Wolsey to break Anne and Percy’s engagement. Anne’s family no doubt encouraged her romance with the King;it would bring them great privileges. Anne knew that she HAD to give Henry a son; she was a clever Woman, and she probably knew that if she did not succed in this, she would be gotten rid of. Henry was certainly NOT too young to be impotent….men much younger than him, in their 20s and 30s can be impotent, and Anne did tell her brother George that Henry often could not perform. When Anne gave Henry a daughter, Elizabeth, Henry was deeply disappointed, but he believed that boys would follow; instead, Anne had several miscarriages. With each disappointment, Henry’s once rapturous love of Anne, began to die. The desperation that Anne felt can only be guessed at, but she must have been in turmoil at her predicament. She HAD TO PROVIDE A SON, but Henry was increasingly impotent; would Anne have DARED to try to get a son from other men to secure her place as Henry’s Queen? Anne was incredibly courageous and headstrong, and perhaps she WOULD have been brave enough to betray Henry to beget a son. Anne had many enemies at court, so there were very few people that she could trust absolutely. The few that she could trust were her inner circle…Norris, Weston and the others…..one of which was her brother George Boleyn. Did these 5 men, who were perhaps the ONLY people TRULY on Anne’s side, have intimate relations with Anne to try to give her the son that would save her from Henry’s wrath? It is possible. And would Anne and her brother George have really committed incest for this purpose? The 2 siblings were very close, they had a deep love for each other, so perhaps George Boleyn would have done this to save his sister, and desperation and fear can make people do strange things; Anne was undoubtedly desperate AND fearful.
    George Boleyn’s wife Jane Parker, gave evidence that her husband had an UNNATURAL relationship with his sister. Was Jane simply jealous of the closeness that her husband and his sister shared? was she threatened in to giving damning evidence by Cromwell? OR…….was she telling the truth? Much has been said about the fact that Anne never confessed to any wrong doing, either to a priest or on the scaffold, even though the people of that time were extremely superstitious and afraid to ‘face God’ having not been completely honest about their sins. Many have pointed to this as being an indicator of Anne’s innocence; however, there is one thing that Anne would have
    protected even more than her own soul, something she would have GLADly lied for, even if it meant lying to God; her beloved daughter, ELIZABETH. Anne knew that if she admitted to adultery, everyone, especially Henry, would wonder if Elizabeth was in fact, his child. Anne knew that if people believed this, then her Elizabeth would NEVER inherit the throne of England. Anne would have been DETERMINED that her daughter’s chances of succession would not be ruined. For this reason, Anne would have gladly lied. We will probably never know if Anne was guilty or not, but even if she did do the things she was accused of, can anyone honestly condemn her for it? Her state of mind at constantly ‘disappointing’ Henry must have been one of increasing terror. And her ‘failure’ at presenting Henry with a daughter, ultimately became Anne’s greatest success; England has never had such a great monarch as Elizabeth the first, and we never will again. And Anne herself? whatever her alleged crimes or sins, she has endurable charisma, and I for one, am a fan!

    1. margaret says:

      i believe the above commenter jade makes a very valid point,you have to also try to imagine what it was like for anne living under that strain ,well a person could go quite mad even thinking about it never mind living it,i also think henry did believe anne had been guilty of everything she was charged with and became very very angry thinking of what he had gone through for her ,im not excusing him at all,but he must have felt very humiliated andhurt thinking anne had been discussing very personal details about their marriage to her brother and possibly others as well ,this was a very foolish way for anne to behave and despite her supposed intelligence ,she should have known better .

    2. Jenna says:

      Great post. I think what people have to remember, is not to let their judgement be clouded by the fact that most people think her case was mishandled, and she was put to death on accusations with no concrete evidence. But does that mean it didn’t happen? No one here can make that assertive claim. All I can say as fact, is Anne Boleyn married a man who was already married, like it or not. THAT is what happened. So I don’t think anyone can say what Anne Boleyn did or didn’t do with any facts backing it up, nor use some claim that she was religious and she wouldn’t do that……etc……..nobody knows what she would have done. We ALL have done things we wish we didn’t. All I can say in my opinion is, she did not deserve death. Henry was an adulterer, and he abused his power given to him by God.

    3. Banditqueen says:

      No, Anne didn’t sleep with anyone other than Henry.
      No there isn’t any evidence for Henry Viii being impotent at this time. Even if there was, that makes it even more unlikely she would cheat as the King would know that the kid wasn’t his. That was treason.
      No Jane Boleyn didn’t give evidence that George and Anne committed incest, that’s a myth and she wasn’t mentioned in any contemporary sources on who gave testimonials for the trial. Read Julia Foxes biography not Philippa Gregory and her fantasy history. There are articles on here debunking those claims as well. Jane Boleyn did nothing to condemn her husband.
      Anne didn’t expect Elizabeth to become Queen and we only know that she was because of hindsight. Anne did not see Elizabeth as Queen. Forget Anne of 1000 Days. That scene in the Tower never happened.
      Anne wouldn’t have lied hours before her death on the Blessed Sacrament and condemned her soul, nobody would. Everyone who witnessed her confession believed her to be innocent. A priest cannot tell anyone what is said at confession but Anne made sure she had witnesses to her denials. She gave permission for her confession and her innocence to be spread around. Her confession didn’t save her life and Elizabeth wasn’t in any danger. She was made illegitimate, but nothing else. She only succeeded because of Mary’s success at making female rule respected.
      Henry wasn’t daft enough to leave the country in a precarious state. He had two healthy adult children and a young son. He never anticipated either of his daughters on the throne but he knew it was a real possibility. In 1544 he changed the succession to include them and included them in his will. Legally still illegitimate, that didn’t matter, Parliament agreed. In 1536 nobody could forsee Elizabeth I or Mary as Queen.

  50. Reena says:

    Honestly, had Anne really been sleeping around with men, as that poem Bernard keeps pecking on, like this crow I’ve seen pecking away a dry bone, than wouldn’t she HAVE produced healthy children, and eventually a son? Anne was clever for her time, so to resort to such risky methods to produce an heir, and after only being married to Henry for a short time- they could’ve tried for years to come, it doesn’t seem she’d stoop that low, even out of jealousy. Plus, she would always be surrounded by her ladies in waiting, and other people of court. Imagine how loud and quick those rumors would reach her enemies ears and they’d run with them straight to the King! Like I’ve said, Henry and Anne would’ve been together for many more years, her enemies likely knew that- they’d already been together more than seven years, they saw how one king changed an entire country for her- they feared her and the king together. Does it than not make sense as to just how Anne was deliberately put to death? They couldn’t risk having her around, and at one point or another she would produce an heir. Her enemies were like arsonists, spread rumors like fuel, and Henry, their burning torch, used him to set fire to someone he loved. I guess once the fire was set, it couldn’t be put out, it had to die out. They killed an innocent person.
    Bernard clearly has enjoys scandalizing this innocent woman who, lucky for him, can’t come back from the dead and have his hands cut off. He’s isn’t any better than any tabloid writer, spreading hurtful lies about people using little to no evidence as actual proof. getting paid for writing garbage some people will enjoy and never question.

  51. Abayomi says:

    I believe Anne Boleyn was manipulated by her father in his quest for power, but she really loved King Henry, also she was innocent for adultery but guilty for manipulating the King.

  52. Anne absolutely (apparently…although we only know this through reading history) adored George, and they were extremely close. I think that would work in the opposite direction. She would never do anything that would cause him harm or regret, and I seriously doubt he would ever go along with something as horrible as incest. They loved each other too much as siblings to ever put the other one in any kind of jeopardy. And they both would have been very aware of what something like that could cause. It is easy, I think, especially in those times, to look on a situation as something completely different than what it was, & it would have been the ideal trump card for Cromwell. What a wonderful plan to fall right into his lap!!!!

  53. Student says:

    Just inputing my opinions, so don’t mind me.
    Have anyone ever consider that Jane Seymour was unfaithful? Maybe her son, King Edward VI was someone else’s son. Think about it, Queen Catherine Howard did not conceive, even after 2 years. Neither did Catherine Parr. Doesn’t that raise any suspicion? Just a thought after reading the comments on this site. Everyone here have great insights.

  54. JudithRex says:

    Here is the thing…if Anne needed a son, then incest makes sense;if the child looked like her brother it would look like her. Also, if people thought Elizabeth might have been either smeaton’s or norris’, then they both must have had similar coloring to Henry as Elizabeth looked just like him. If Anne had the men come one after another (not being rude here) then it could be so none of them would know who the father was if she did get pregnant. So I can see a case for her doing this if she thought she was safe from anyone telling. Remember, the women in her employ were often relatives.

    I do think that the things she and her brother said were close to treason. They were disparaging the potency of their King in a time when sonless monarchs were an invitation to rebellion. His own wife was telling people and her brother was making jokes. no wonder people didnt like them.

    Do I think they were guilty? I dont know. But I do think we sometimes get mushy and forget what ruthless people they all were.

    Love reading here!

  55. Melissa Catherine says:

    These ridiculous poems and rumors remind me so much of the slanderous pamphlets put about France in the days of Marie Antoinette. Aboslutely absurd! Marie Antoinette was even accused of incest with her own son! These poor women were so vilified, how can anyone believe such accusations? Anne was certainly no saint bu I highly doubt she was quite the demon shes been made out to be!

    1. JudithRex says:

      I like the comparison because while Marie had no reason to be disgusting with her son, she was guilty of treason for sure against France. It is open to debate if Anne had anything to gain by being sexually disloyal, but I do think an argument can be made for her being guilty of betraying her husband with other than her body, which she herself admitted. She was not a demon and I dont know of anyone calling her that here or elsewhere, but she seems to have limited control of her temper and her behavior once she got the prize. How did she make so many enemies?

      I think Anne was looking for a way to protect herself from immediate execution should Henry suddenly die and she may well have reached out to people in France. Henry locked people up just for dating (see Margaret Douglas) and his father killed people just for saying they would not take arms if one of the lost Princes of the tower suddenly showed up. So take her attacks upon his manhood, the mockery of her brother and her sleazy and dangerous banter with her underlings and you have the makings of a case for her breaking the current laws for treason.

      I think writers will agree to this over time that Anne was guilty of treason, whatever conclusion the sexual stuff, just based on the then laws. Unless the evidence pops up though, we’re ALL just speculating. Which is totes fun.

  56. Even in those long ago days , people had to be aware that a child produced by incest would most likely be deformed. WHY would Anne OR George even risk that happening? These are not stupid people we are talking about, here. Both George & Anne were quite intelligent, I think, from the sound of it. They were probably also very aware of what the charge of incest would bring upon each of them. They would not put each other in that kind of peril.

  57. Kelsey says:

    I completely agree with you! There is NO evidence that Anne actually committed adultery. She had many enemies at court and the people who testified against her were tortured, so you can’t believe what they said. I think Henry just wanted Anne dead and to marry Jane, so he had her and her friends at court executed. The poem proves nothing, other than passing along the rumors.

  58. Christine says:

    Incest was more common among siblings who lived in close proximity together, hardly met any members of their own sex and led rather squalid lives, eg the lower classes, it happened more in the poorest households were prostitution and drunkeness were rife, as in 18thc London, here you have two normal adults who mixed in court circles and met hundreds of attractive men and women, the whole idea is nonsense, to even entertain the idea is wrong, to make out Anne and her brother were sexual deviants is slander at it’s very worst, she is the most maligned Queen in history Bernard is putting to much emphasis on a silly poem and blown it all out of proportion, he does Anne as much of an injustice as everyone else did in 1536.

  59. Francess A. says:

    Queen Anne was innocent….She is too intelligent to do wat she was accused of….Her fall was due to her ambitious nature and she stepped on peoples toes.She is not guilty for all i care

  60. Miss kitty says:

    I don’t think Anne was guilty of her crimes I think the only thing she was guilty of was having a temper and not always holding her tongue. I think she might have flirted with men but that’s all she wasn’t silly and I don’t think her male friends were bad either. I think it was because Cromwell turned against her and I think she would have been a great queen if she had been more discreet maybe she was very rude to Henry he couldn’t take it anymore and got rid of her. He wanted a Queen who was docile did her duty and that’s all

  61. Miss kitty says:

    I don’t think the writer is bad as a newspaper hack he wants to find out the truth of what really happened to Anne he thinks she was guilty that’s ok that’s just his opinion. I think she didn’t deserve to die because she was a bit nasty

  62. Barbara Wilmot says:

    Anne was guilty of marital infidelity. She was desperate for a son, an heir to the throne

    1. Claire says:

      I don’t know many historians who would agree with you there. There’s no evidence that Anne actually did commit adultery or incest.

      1. Jenna says:

        Some affairs have no evidence. There is no evidence she didn’t have these affairs either. However, I do agree, in a court of law, there must be evidence. And let us all remember, none of us were actually there during the period either. All we have is our opinions and speculations. I will state I don’t believe in the incest charges. That was a stretch…..somebody stupid back then thought that was an icing on the cake. It’s pretty clear to me, they used Anne’s personality and behaviors against her, and nobody was going to go against the King and what he wanted to happen. That seems pretty obvious to me.

  63. Samantha Lascelles says:

    In an era that valued female beauty above most things, everybody at court raved about Anne Boleyn, and she knew it. While Henry’s monstruous eating and drinking caused him to fail in the bedroom and declining ability to perform, Anne was in her prime and sorrounded by courtiers that could provide a healthy son and pass him as Henry’s,but In spite of her frantic wish and desire to conceive, all her efforts resulted in failures, that is why she kept changing partners, looking for a fertile result. When the reality of her declining fertility began to settle in, and the emotional strain took over, she could do nothing more, she was prepared out of desperation for the worst illicit sexual undertaking: incest

    1. Christine says:

      Just because Anne was accused of incest does not mean she was guilty of it, you are stating that she was desperate for a male heir and so chose her brother as the popular theory goes she could trust him above all others, but you have to think would George have agreed to that? You have to be pretty sick individuals to consider sleeping with your own sibling and none of the allegations against her were ever proven to be true the evidence supplied in court was just a tissue of lies based on gossip and hearsay, in a modern court the judge would throw the case out, the allegations made against Anne was just an attempt to discredit her and provide the King with an excuse to execute her the headsman had already been ordered before her trial, this is truth that the whole trial was just a charade, she was going to die and the jury were ordered to find her guilty, she had to be seen to be capable of the most odious crimes ever to make her execution seem justified, there’s no evidence either that Henrys appetite made him impotent, stress is a contributing factor in impotency and both Henry and Anne were anxious to have a healthy son.

  64. Frances says:

    “No historian has questioned the guilt of Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, who was convicted of adultery a few years later. Why should the charges against Anne not be taken equally seriously?”

    Hmmm…I don’t know, maybe because Katherine Howard’s implicit letters to Culpepper was found?!

    Also, “enough circumstantial evidence to cast reasonable doubt on the denials of the others” in fundamentally flawed as reasonable doubt is cast upon the accusations of guilt, to acquit people…and not the other way around.

    I agree with the conclusion. Even in 2016, the best way to slander a woman is to accuse her of promiscuity and adultery. Surely in the 16th country this would have been the easiest and most convincing way to drag Queen Anne down.

  65. Dhar says:

    Sons are not splitting images of dads. Look at William and Henry. A despearate and ambitious woman will have sex to have children. She was ambitious with steely determination not to sleep with Henry until marriage. She had the same determination that she would get pregnant.
    Was there very limited opportunities to have sex without anyone knowing. She could have just demanded five minute quickie sessions and given the presents before or after.
    Her stupidity was letting others catch wind of any sex she was doing.
    Just could have settled with your own daughter Anne, and lived on a fat pension, riding horses for the rest of your life!

    1. Claire says:

      A virtuous woman who knows her Bible inside and out would not commit incest or adultery however desperate she was. The Anne you`re talking about is straight out of “The Other Boleyn Girl” rather than the historical sources, it seems to me.

  66. Jenna says:

    I find it interesting, those that champion how religious Anne Boleyn was, The woman thought nothing of marrying a man that was already married. That being said, never say never. I’m not supporting a poem as proof of any sort, but Anne Boleyn was not above adultery either. The fact is, Henry the VIII was a married man, and Anne Boleyn encouraged him to break his vows to his wife, and the Catholic Church. She was a Reformer after all. I also think there was enough proof of her behavior towards men, whether she actually slept with them or not. The whole period of this is tremendously sad. The higher you rise, the harder you may fall. Don’t lose objectivity. I believe she did not deserve death by any means, but she was no virtuous woman either. She got what she wanted, and suffered the consequences.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      So because she married Henry Viii, who wanted to annul his marriage before he met Anne Boleyn, because she was a Reformer and may or may not have slept with him before October 1532, because she made enemies, she deserved to die, even though she was innocent as the evidence was invented?

      Nobody deserves to die a brutal death in front of over 1000 people, especially if they are innocent, just because they made a poor marriage choice.

  67. Banditqueen says:

    I am reading this article again as I am researching the accusations against Anne in depth. I have recently read again the book and articles by Professor Bernard and find his arguments shallow. I can’t actually believe that he takes seriously the gossip between Lady Worcester and her brother and even though Lady Worcester was named by Judge Spielman in his report it is very unclear as to what her actual testimony was or under what circumstances it was extracted. Was she told that she would hang if she didn’t tell the truth, based on the conversation she had with her brother? Anthony Browne was an old friend of King Henry Viii, a minion, very close and he reported his conversation to Cromwell. However, the context is interesting as it involved him accusing his own sister of loose living and of her baby not being her husband’s. Elizabeth replied that if he thought she was bad then he should hear what the Queen was up to.

    This was the angry response of a sister defending herself in the light of accusations of adultery against her own husband. Whether she had slept with another man is not known but her testimony is regarded as nothing but malicious gossip. However, a closer read of the report by the Judge and you can see that Lady Worcester is not a key witness and her evidence appears to have been of little importance. She would have been horrified to find that whatever she said was used to try and execute the Queen, her mistress. We can be pretty certain that more than one or two of Anne’s ladies were asked about her alleged nocturnal happenings, but that little if anything was gleaned from them. None of them were called as witnesses and none of them were blamed for helping the Queen or hiding knowledge of adultery. She couldn’t have committed adultery without help and her ladies knowing.

    I have read the poem by Lancelot de Carles and it is eye watering but it is also very fanciful. The poem makes out that Anne was having many affairs but it is not highly regarded by most historians. The evidence is based on gossip. The evidence that was brought to Henry Viii was planted. A closer examination of the list of charges shows that Anne and the men had alibies for two thirds of the dates, or Anne was pregnant or recovering from pregnancy, in confinement and she was attended only by women, unable to leave her rooms. On the progress in 1535 when Anne became pregnant for the last time, Henry stayed below her rooms and would have heard everything or next door. Anne was attended at all times and it was not a private world. To commit adultery with a commoner or a gentleman would need them to be brought to her, for others to look tge other way and helping her would be treason. Nobody was ever accused of having knowledge thus misprison of treason. The dates are made up.

    Anne was the victim of either a conspiracy led by Henry and Cromwell, with much of the so called evidence and legal apparatus being put in place in advance or an unfortunate, but misunderstood set of circumstances. Anne herself let her guard down when she joked with Sir Henry Norris of him fancying her and looking to have her if anything happened to the King. This was careless talk and it triggered a full investigation but this incident was not used at her trial or in the indictment.

    Mark Smeaton was not of the gentry and so not immune to torture. His position in the King and Queen’s household was of a well paid and successful musician. He was well dressed because he was paid in clothing. This was normal, but Cromwell was under pressure to make a case which would stick. I don’t believe he was tortured, although George Constantine, a servant of Sir Henry Norris heard that he was, but he was not an eye witness, plus no warrant for torture was issued. However, he was questioned over and over for 24 hours, most likely without food or drink, without sleep, in Cromwell’s home and stress we know now can cause people to imagine all sorts of things, so the mere pressure could break him. He confessed to sleeping with the Queen three times, never changing his story, one of the reasons Bernard thinks she slept with him. Anne had barely spoken to him, rebuking Smeaton for daring to gaze at her let alone sleeping with him. He was beneath her and hardly someone to father a future King of England. He was granted a merciful death to which he was not entitled and most historians believe he was promised this if he stood by his story.

    As Greg Walker pointed out no matter how desperate you are for a son, you don’t sleep with your brother. Anne liked to dance and flirt and play at romantic love, part of the game at Court, so she was an easy target for the gossip of the malicious kind used in her trial. She could be easily made to look guilty. This, however, let’s Henry and Cromwell off the hoof and ignores the fact that everything was in place for a trial long before Anne was arrested. The charges against her appear numerous but many are spurious and would normally be ignored. They are based on snippets of meaningless conversations. The other charges are made because adultery was not a crime and Henry wanted her dead. If she was plotting to kill him and take over with one of her lovers, putting his illegitimate child on the throne, then this was treason. Anne had to be painted as evil as possible. The people had to be shocked into believing the worst and that the King was the wronged party and justified in killing his wife. No Queen had previously been executed. Henry had to show his authority was supreme and those who had conspired against him were guilty of the most heinous of crimes. Anne would not have slept with someone even to get a child, even if Henry did have occasional erectile dysfunction, because it was too risky and we only have the evidence George Boleyn read out to back this claim. We don’t even know it is true. Anne would have been doing nothing else but sleeping with men if these false accusations were true and her women implicated as well. No, none of the dates make any sense and she was the victim of a vicious and wholly invented conspiracy by her husband and Cromwell, acting for him, to destroy her and put her from history.

    No matter how many people Anne had upset, what her exact role may or may not have been in Henry’s annulment from Catherine of Aragon, she didn’t deserve to be set up on false charges and executed and I am sorry if this sounds disrespectful, but anyone who thinks she got what she deserved need to seriously evaluate their ideas.

  68. There are a lot of poems about Marie Antoinette having all sorts of salacious affairs. They were not true either.

    In fact, modern politicians suffer from the same sort of slander. There are agendas.

  69. sosomoto says:

    The above (academically intimidating) comments offer an inspiring reminder of how a proper education and/or generous frame of reference encourages the objective examination of information, and an ability to identify possible flaws within an argument – even if we indeed are in accordance with the speakers overall point of view.
    I agree with my betters regarding Bernards belief that AB’s guilt is revealed in a poem. An interesting idea, but despite how learned, speculation based on artistic expression cannot be introduced as ‘evidence.’
    I am inclined to believe that a woman like AB – able to hold the interest of a notoriously changeable king for 7 years – would approach an affair (whether as an attempt to produce an heir, or out of desire – the latter I find doubtful) with the required intellect, discretion and craft that earned her the status of Queen.
    I think it is difficult for many male scholars to accept that the multitude of shifts and uprisings in our history can be traced directly back to the boners of some very important men.

  70. mohammed shadid says:

    So in the end there’s no evidence connotated to Ann , and i think king Henry start to hate her when Ann can’t bring to him heir ……. of course with the beauty Jane Semour around, he change a lot… for me Ann stated as the woman Henry VIII loved most.

    what a woman

Please note: Comment moderation is currently enabled so there will be a delay between when you post your comment and when it shows up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *