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Henry or Cromwell the mastermind behind Anne's death?
September 22, 2010
2:50 pm
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Boleynfan
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Our September book club book, Wolf Hall, has a lot about Cromwell, and that plus the guest article Dr. Suzannah Lipscomb wrote about how she thinks Cromwell deceived Henry into believing Anne was truly guilty (whether you agree or not, I’d recommend checking it out, great article!) made me think about what I believe. I’m not quite sure yet, but as people respond I’m hoping to get a stronger opinion! So, Cromwell or Henry? Or both??

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

September 23, 2010
1:30 am
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Impish_Impulse
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I think it was both, but waver over whose idea it was.

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               "Don't knock at death's door. 

          Ring the bell and run. He hates that."    

September 23, 2010
9:54 am
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Sharon
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It was both. Henry wanted Anne gone.  Cromwell worked for Henry.  He came up with the charges making damn sure Anne would be gone for good. I don’t think Henry was deceived by Cromwell.  Henry had been in love with Anne for 10 years or so.  He knew everything about her.  I cannot believe that he actually believed she had done the horrible things Cromwell was charging her with.  If he said he believed the charges, it was because he didn’t want to take the blame for her death.  Better to let the world blame Anne for her own demise. After all she was always considered a whore by the world.  It wouldn’t have been much of a stretch to accuse her of adultery and incest, and have the rest of the world believe it.  Henry never took the blame for anything.

 Henry and Cromwell both knew what they were doing to her.  All Henry could see was that Anne was standing in the way of his next wife and his ever elusive son. As long as the charges did the job of getting rid of Anne, he was willing to say he believed anything of her. I think this is the reason he would not see her after the joust.  He knew she wasn’t guilty and he was unwilling to listen to her because she would have been able to refute any and all charges.  When Henry was done with someone, he never spoke to them again. He didn’t want to deal with the truth.

As you can probably tell, I do not blame Cromwell as much as I blame Henry. Cromwell was Henry’s atttorney(so to speak) and as such he did the best job he could do for his client.

 

September 23, 2010
12:35 pm
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Iguazu
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I couldn’t agree more with all you said.

Henry will have dropped hints to Cromwell and made it implicitly clear that he needed him to find a way to do away with Anne.

 

September 23, 2010
4:29 pm
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Boleynfan
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I agree. I believe there is a chance Henry hinted to Cromwell to get rid of Anne and when Cromwell found a way, Henry went “Oh, no! How could Anne have done this to me?” but his conscience always did seem to be active whenever he needed it to be. Dr. Suzanne Lipscomb doesn’t agree, but I have a very hard time believing that Cromwell was the sole conspirator in Anne’s death. And though I blame Cromwell, I too, Sharon, put more blame on Henry. By standing up for Anne, he could have risked his one life, so you can’t be too hard on him.

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

September 23, 2010
6:24 pm
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Bella44
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Oooh, I love topics like this – especially since I veer between blaming both of them!  In regards to the nature of the charges against Anne I tend to blame Cromwell as Henry surely would never have made himself look like such a laughing stock to the world (at least not intentionally!)  Henry may have been having doubts about his marriage to Anne but he also had a huge ego and I have trouble seeing him going along with the idea of him being made a fool of in such a way if he didn’t totally and completely believe in the charges against her. I think falling foul of Anne, Cromwell saw his chance and took it.

September 26, 2010
12:56 pm
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Iguazu
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But I think it is quite the other way round. Only by exposing Anne as a multiple adulteress and as a traitor could Henry get out of the marriage and the whole affair unscathed. He wanted to be rid of her but could never have divorced her because THIS would have made him a laughing stock indeed and would not have solved his problem – the need to produce an uncontested male heir with another wife. With Anne guilty of horrible crimes Henry could present himself as the poor victim of an evil woman who had deceived him all along. There was now no other way but to have her executed. How convenient . . . If Cromwell had been the prime mover there’s in my opinion no way Henry would have believed any of these supposed allegations. He knew Anne well enough.  

But it’s still quite possible Henry may in the end actually have believed Anne was guilty, simply because he wanted to believe it. Otherwise he would have sent an innocent woman to her death, and Henry always liked to have a clear conscience. If Anne had to die it was her own fault, certainly not Henry’s, who never believed he had to take the blame for anything.

September 26, 2010
4:18 pm
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AnneTheQueene
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I feel like Henry gave in the power of persuasion really-it was like many around him did not like Anne and with people constantly nagging at him and saying she’s a witch she committed adultery it started to drive him a bit crazy in the mind.  I suppose he had his doubts but maybe he wanted to get rid of her so bad he forced his mind to believe the accusations were true.  I know Henry liked to have a clear conscience but I feel like it was so foggy and not clear and he pressed all those into the back of his soul almost trying to erase them but they were really always there tormenting him.

September 26, 2010
5:31 pm
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Boleynfan
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I agree, AnneTheQueene: Henry wanted to have a clear conscience–many of his decisions were based on that–but he twisted his conscience, in my opinion, so that it was convenient for him to be conscience-noticing, if that makes sense. Basically, I blame both Henry and Cromwell for Anne’s downfall, and while Henry was not the complete instigator, I don’t believe he was a complete victim, although I do think it’s likely he was convinced (convinced, with his neatly-timed conscience etc. of course) that Anne was guilty.

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

September 26, 2010
8:49 pm
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Impish_Impulse
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OK guys, you’ve convinced me – Henry it was! I try to give him the benefit of the doubt because I know I’m prejudiced against him, but I’ve read some very convincing arguments here. I know Ives doesn’t agree, and I respect him immensely, but I disagree with him about the date of Anne’s birth as well, so this makes two points where I don’t agree with him.

I keep coming back to Henry being cannier than he’s often given credit for and manipulating the manipulators, such as the Katherine Parr arrest episode, and the attempts by Gardiner to take down Cranmer, etc. I can see him being the man pulling the strings of Cromwell and conveniently keeping his own hands clean.

Which squares nicely with Henry’s unfortunate tendency to never accept fault for anything, combined with the contrast in his behavior when Anne was accused vs Kathryn Howard. He was devastated by the accusations against KP (i.e., he believed them), whereas even Anne’s bitter enemy Chapuys commented that

“although everybody rejoices at the execution of the putain, there are some who murmur at the mode of procedure against her and the others, and people speak variously of the King.” He remarks in a letter to Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle that “you never saw a prince nor man who made greater show of his [cuckold’s] horns. Or bore them more pleasantly. I leave you to imagine the case.”¹

 The case I imagine here is that he knew the charges were false, but they got him what he wanted – Anne’s death.

 

¹/jane-seymour-redefining-the-myth/6204/

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          Ring the bell and run. He hates that."    

September 27, 2010
2:50 pm
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Bella44
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I think Henry had to believe in the charges, to do otherwise would imperil his soul by knowingly sending an innocent woman (even one he hated) to her death.  It would also go against his sense of chivalry.  I’m pretty sure he talked himself into it; his conscience after all, being what it was but he believed in Anne’s guilt 100%.  And if he thought that then I can totally see him making a great show of being the injured party completely without guilt and free to pursue Jane Seymour.  Henry had turned against Anne (even if otherwise it would have been only momentarily) and Cromwell saw an opportunity where it was win-win all around.

Just out of interest Impish – what makes you disagree with Ives’ conclusions on Annes birth? 

September 28, 2010
10:49 am
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wreckmasterjay
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I think they both wanted rid of her, and Cromwell provided the perfect opportunities for Henry to finally get rid of her so he can have Jane. I wonder if he’d have given it another year or two he might have had a son from Anne…who knows!!

Everyone remembers a hero.

September 29, 2010
4:10 am
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Impish_Impulse
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Bella, I’m not blowing off your question by not ticking the reasons off on a list, but I’ll just say that between this article:

http://garethrussellcidevant.b…..oleyn.html

and this one:

/when-was-anne-boleyn-born/5079/

I found the argument for 1507 more compelling than 1501. Read down through all the comments on both, as people raise very good questions on both sides of the issue.

Love Gareth Russell’s blog, Confessions of a Ci-Devant. Incidentally, the meaning of ci-devant is found here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ci-devant

 

Have fun reading and let me know what you think!

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               "Don't knock at death's door. 

          Ring the bell and run. He hates that."    

October 3, 2010
11:09 am
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Bella44
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I love Gareth Russell’s blog too!  And it’s a terrific article but I’m still more swayed by the 1501 birthdate, actually the first piece i ever read on Anne said she was born in 1502 which isn’t that big a difference but then it is possible she may have been born somewhere in the middle.  Perhaps if we knew for certain it would take half the fun away  Laugh

October 14, 2010
8:20 pm
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Kim
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I think Henry implied that he wanted Anne gotten rid of, and Cromwell was all too happy to help him do away with her. Cromwell, in my opinion, wasn’t just Henry’s lapdog, he had a pretty strong agenda of his own, and Anne was getting in the way of it. When Jane came onto the scene and Henry started hinting that he wanted Anne gone (I don’t think that there is any way Henry would have openly said “Can you just get rid of her for me, Tom? I’ve met this blonde girl, and I think she might finally give me that boy I’ve been after!”), Cromwell would have been all too happy to trump up some charges against her.

October 17, 2010
11:12 am
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Boleynfan
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Anne, I agree. I believe strongly that it was BOTH Henry and Cromwell: Henry wanted Anne out of the way, Cromwell did also. Together they got rid of her, and I also agree that Henry was smarter than he seemed, which makes me think he couldn’t have been blindly convinced by Cromwell, though I suppose you could argue Cromwell was very clever and a lawyer.

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

November 8, 2010
9:41 am
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Jasmine
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Cromwell would not have been successful if Henry had not backed him.  I cannot believe that Cromwell would have been so foolish as to have developed the whole plot on his own.  The prime mover had to have been Henry and Cromwell did his bidding. 

If Henry had not wanted Anne dead and discredited, it would not have mattered what “evidence” Cromwell came up with.  I agree with an earlier poster that Anne had to be executed as Henry could not have risked another divorce with a living former wife and her child to cause trouble in the future for any potential male heir.  The way it was done allowed Henry to present himself as a victim deserving of sympathy.

November 16, 2010
5:10 pm
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Boleynfan
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I agree, Jasmine. Has anyone here read Alison Weir's The Lady in the Tower? Ms. Weir thought Cromwell was the mastermind, but she gave the reader barely any evidence to support her theory, and it seemed flimsy to me.

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

November 17, 2010
12:51 am
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Jasmine
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I have not read Weir's latest book,  but judging by the ones I have read in the past, she has a rather “fast and loose” way with evidence, using it either to support her own personal bias, or by being rather vague when it doesn't quite fit, or by ignoring it altogether if it contradicts her view.   

November 22, 2010
5:46 pm
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Boleynfan
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I completely agree about Weir, Jasmine! Many people think she's the end-all-be-all historian, the classic and best Tudor one, but, ummm, so not the case! I would definitely say Eric Ives outranks her!

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

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