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Did Henry VIII conspire against Anne?
February 25, 2010
5:58 pm
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Impish_Impulse
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Oh, I don't think you sound mean at all! I'm enjoying the give and take.

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February 25, 2010
7:09 pm
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AnnesAdmire1024
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Lol Me too Im glad you feel that way I was actually feeling bad cause I thought I was being really mean But I really wasnt trying to beWink

Anne's Admirer

February 25, 2010
9:50 pm
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Impish_Impulse
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We do get passionate here, but that's why we like it, right? Soapboxes R Us

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February 26, 2010
12:41 am
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Sabrina
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LOL.. yes we do tend to get passionate here. but it's all good!!!!!

Let not my enemies sit as my jury

February 26, 2010
5:42 am
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Claire
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Perhaps I ought to list folding and collapsible soap boxes on the Products Page!!

I love that we're all so passionate about this stuff, it's wonderful! And we manage to do it in a polite and friendly manner, we're so mature! I really love this discussion because really there's no right answer, we just don't know.

I have been struggling with this question for a long time and still can't completely get my head round it. However, here are a few thoughts and issue that are bugging me:-

  • When Henry VIII was told of Catherine Howard's colourful past, he launched an investigation to disprove it and find the person muddying his good wife's name, he did not launch an investigation or set up a sessions of oyer and terminer to investigate the Queen.
  • When Henry VIII was given evidence of Catherine's past, her betrothal to Dereham and possible adultery etc. he wept in front of his councillors and went from being angry and grabbing his sword to kill her to weeping uncontrollably. We have no record of him being upset or angry over Anne.
  • Would Cromwell have the nerve to investigate or act against the Queen without the King's say-so?
  • The King's behaviour with Jane Seymour and his indifference to Anne's plight
  • The King's indifference to the fact that men of his privy chamber, his best friends, were being accused of adultery with his wife and were going to be executed
  • The fact that the King offered Sir Henry Norris a pardon if he would confess to adultery with Anne

I'm coming round to the idea that Henry was not the innocent victim that Weir paints him as and that he ordered Cromwell to bring Anne down whatever the cost. Just like he had been so obsessed with getting rid of Catherine of Aragon, a woman whom he had once loved and “rescued” by marrying, because of Anne, he now wanted to replace Anne. I think Henry saw it as business and was able to separate his feelings from his “job”. Anne was a babymaking machine that just wasn't up to the job, she needed to go in the trash and be replaced with a new model, an update piece of machinery – it was a business decision. Henry needed to do his job as King and continue the Tudor line, that was his priority. Anne had failed him, she had to go and he couldn't go through another divorce, he needed another solution and Cromwell provided this solution. It worked because it was based on Anne's own personality. She enjoyed the whole courtly love tradition and was a flirt, as a good Renaissance Queen should be, but she was also rash and reckless and said things before thinking, all Cromwell had to do was turn this against her. Easy!

Anyway, I'm not sure about any of this but I think seeing Henry as a business man who had to weed out a bad employee or replace a broken piece of machinery that was getting in the way of success might be another way of looking at it. What do you think?

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

February 26, 2010
7:26 am
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AnnesAdmire1024
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You make a great point Claire. Maybe he was anxious to get over Anne and thats why he acted the way he did towards Jane. Henry was a playboy he liked variety. Also with Catherine Howard he was alot older and his mental state was even worse (Or so Ive heard) He was always back and forth with his emotions and wasnt there more proof of her adultry then with Anne's? Someone had to put the idea in his head or maybe not I think it was thrown to him so he ordered an investigation and those who despised Anne were the ones who were closest to the king therefore had more influence over him. I think with Catherine Howard he was tired of fighting for the Queens in his life and it was a great disappointment when he found out she was unfaithful I think he wanted to have a peaceful relationship not one full of turmoil anymore and she let him down. Ive heard that she hated him and didnt really want anything to do with him. I think he just wanted someone to love he was getting old he wasnt as atheltic as he used to be and Catherine was young and perhaps reminded him of that time where he did have his youth and passion for life. I really dont know too much about her Ive focused more on Anne than anything The only thing I know is she was suposedly having an affair with Thomas culppeper the king found out was devestated and having done it once before had to pass the sentence down again. Im not sure what do you guys think?

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February 26, 2010
9:34 pm
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Impish_Impulse
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I think he was a lot more indifferent and unemotional about Anne's downfall, and that strikes me as odd, considering the lengths he went to in order to have her. Under 'normal' circumstances (right – what am I saying?), you'd expect great love to swing to great hate or great rage or great grief or some similarly violent emotional response. Instead, we seemingly get nothing, which is surprising. 

That was an excellent comparison to Henry simply throwing out the trash, Claire. It seemed as if killing his wife was just another chore to check off his list: “Line up replacement wife – check. Arrest Anne and her brother, torture musician – check. Tell Norris I'll kill him unless he confesses to sleeping with Anne – check. Arrange betrothal party for Jane (ask her where she wants to get married) – check. Hire executioner – check. Make Elizabeth a bastard – check. (Get Jane a puppy?).”

Henry's violently emotional response to Katherine Howard's downfall is in stark contrast to that. To me, the increase in emotion seems more than one might write off to an old man feeling foolish, humiliated and used. And that makes me believe that he couldn't have believed Anne to be guilty or he would have been raging and screaming worse than he did with KH. *sigh* He makes my head hurt.

Makes you wish for a time machine to either go back and spy, or pull Henry forward and grill him, doesn't it? And now I know I'm tired, because I just got a visual of that Jay Leno interview years ago with Hugh Grant (after the prostitute incident) – “What the hell were you thinking?” So I'll see you tomorrow, ladies!

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February 26, 2010
10:17 pm
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Sabrina
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I don't think Henry was innocent in all this.. He just simply cut himself off from the whole incident, and looked to his “new” life with Jane Seymour. He executed Anne for not providing an heir and other ridiculous charges, while the one wife who was his “true wife” died. I'm sorry, that's karma..

*sorry, i'm just a firm believer in what goes around, comes around. It's sad that Jane died the way she did, but Henry got a bit of payback..*

Let not my enemies sit as my jury

February 27, 2010
1:35 am
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Jasmine
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I think that what happened to Anne was also down to Henry “saving face”.  In order to get her, he had risked everything (in his eyes) – marriage links with the Holy Roman Empire, a powerful state, his immortal soul by severing links with Rome, his image as king.  If Anne had borne a son, everything would have been fine

As it was, after all that effort, all he had was another daughter and dead sons.

He couldn't use the same tactics he had with Katherine and send Anne to a remote castle etc as he would have been the laughing stock of Europe.  You can image the diplomatic small talk.

However, if it could be proved that Anne was a dangerous woman with “supernatural” powers who had “stolen” the king and then betrayed him with all and sundry, none of it would have been Henry's fault.  He didn't need to worry about a divorce, she could be tried and suffer the usual penalty in these cases. 

He was free and unencumbered with living wives, so third time lucky.

The thing which destroys Henry's case, I think, is the fact that he had his marriage dissolved before Anne's execution.  If they had never been married in the eyes of the law, then she had not committed treason against the king.

February 27, 2010
7:17 am
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AnnesAdmire1024
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Ok you guys knew  I was going to jump in on this! lol I need a soapbox Claire! We all agree Henry was not innocent in helping carry out Annes death or even did anything to stop it but the thing is there was a lot of people who did not like Anne they despised her and once they saw that Henry was furstrated with her they saw the perfect opportunity to help get rid of her. Now we all know Anne had this spirit in her that made henry fall in love with her but it was spirit that destroyed her. I think the reason why he dissolved his marriage is so there would be no doubts when he married someone else and regonizing  her as queen  or their children like the problems he encountered with Anne being queen and our people reconginzing elizabeth. I dont know Im gonna have to get back to you guys My thought s arent together at the momentEmbarassed

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February 28, 2010
12:10 pm
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Sharon
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Is the Pope Catholic?   Henry was very angry when Anne miscarried.  Angry enough to order an investigation.  I can just hear him telling Cromwell..”Get rid of her any way you can.”  There is no proof he said anything of the sort, I know.  He did tell Chapuys he thought Anne was a witch.  Was he setting her up?  I think so.  At Easter, everything seemed hunky- dory between Anne and Henry.  Chapuys was ordered by Henry to give respect to Anne and he did.  Seems to me this was Henry's MO.  Lull the target (who at this point was Anne) into a false sense of security before the strike.  Snakelike.  He had moved on to Jane.  Anne was simply in the way.  She would not have gone gentle into the good night.  There was no shipping her off to a castle in the middle of nowhere.  She would never have stood for it.  It is my belief that Cromwell would never have approached Henry with the so-called evidence without Henry being aware of what he was trying to do.  When Cromell left Court at Easter time, everyone thought it was because Henry had bawled him out.  But I think he went home with Henry's orders to find evidence needed to rid himself of Anne. There is no proof of this either. But…  Wouldn't Henry want everyone to believe he was not involved in bringing down a second wife?  Let others take the blame?  Did Henry ever take the blame for anything?  Henry's lack of remorse proves to me he was involved up to his eyeballs in getting rid of Anne.

July 10, 2011
4:35 am
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E
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What made him turn? He had loved her so much. Sigh. I think you're right, Sharon, he surely must have been involved. If he were not, he would have demanded evidence and actually looked at it- discovering that Anne and her “lovers” were not even in the same town when the alleged misdeeds were claimed to be done! It would have and should have been her enemies whose heads rolled. But Henry did suffer afterward. Such an athletic, vain man to be reduced to screams of agony, and obesity and the smell!.. He must of hated it!

"A fresh young damsel, who could trip and go"

July 10, 2011
8:35 am
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Louise
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I could never accept that Henry was the innocent victim of Cromwell's scheme. The most overwhelming reason why I think he was the main instigator is because if Cromwell had been acting without Henry's blessing, then at some point he would have had to have gone to the King to inform him of Anne's alleged offences. If, by May 1536, Henry was still in love with Anne then I agree with E that there had to be a risk that he wouldn't have accepted the allegations unquestioningly. There was a huge risk Henry would have spoken to Anne and given her the opportunity to defend herself, in which case the outcome would have been very different. But he didn't.

For Cromwell to have risked going to the King with these allegations he would have had to have been 100% certain that Henry would swallow them without question, and without a proper investigation and without giving Anne the chance to defend herself. The only way he could have been 100% certain is if Henry had already shown a desire to be rid of Anne. Without that indication I don't think Cromwell would have been foolish enough to risk Henry's wrath at accusing his wife of adultery and incest.

Henry was many things, but he wasn't stupid. If he was convinced by people like Cromwell of Anne's guilt, and if he was as intelligent as his apologists give him credit for, then it was only because he let them convince him.   

July 13, 2011
11:08 am
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I think the difference between Henry's reaction to Anne's 'betrayal' and his attitude to Catherine Howard's is explained by Chapuys writing after CH's downfall when he says that the difference is that Henry hadn't got the next one lined up (he puts it a bit more gently than that – but not much!).

 

I was reading a piece about Rupert Murdoch this week which made the point that tyrants do not do their dirty deeds themselves, others do the deeds for them because they think that is the way to please the tyrant. So it's possible that the people around Henry, seeing his pursuit of Jane, knowing Anne had just had a miscarriage thought they would please him by displacing her.

 

I like the theory but I'm not sure it fits the facts:

 

The writs of oyer and terminer were issued on 24 April – although not frequently used they were still standard court writs and had been since the reign of Henry II, so they wouldn't have required the king's signature, only the seal. No difficulty there then in exonerating Henry.

25 April, Henry writes to his ambassadors, including the one who is negotiating the Imperial alliance, referring to Anne as his most entirely beloved wife. So the day after the writs are issued, Henry is still committed to Anne.

30 April further instructions to France wanting Francis to end the French alliance with the Pope unless the Pope stopped all actions against England. As Ives says, if Henry knew about the moves against Anne at this point why on earth do this? Her death would change everything.

But 30 April is the date when Henry cancelled a proposed trip to Calais with Anne – Ives points to the argument between Anne and Norris in which she said if anything happened to the king Norris would look to have her. Anne, through holding Elizabeth, and Norris manage to pacify Henry enough for life to continue as normal but he's now suspicious.

Cromwell, who has been looking for an opportunity to bring down Anne as they now disagree on policy, seizes his chance to play on the king's suspicions and interrogates Smeaton, who eventually confesses and is carted off to the Tower and clapped in irons. Henry then succumbs to his suspicions and his own particularly attractive brand of maudlin self-pity. As it happens Anne breaks down and so Cromwell needn't have ordered the oyer and terminer writs to be sent out when he did.  Also Anne is giving him all the evidence he needs and he is able to further feed Henry's self-pity.

A few years later Henry himself admitted to Cranmer that once the judicial machinery starts it's very difficult to stop it – even for him. As in this case it was started without his knowledge that applies even more.

So, by that reckoning Cromwell is guilty of the plot but Henry is guilty of not stepping back and considering whether it could be true or not. Cromwell does seem to have got lucky but I suspect that Smeaton had been making a fool of himself over Anne and he always planned to strike there.

Working on the principle that Cromwell has effectively framed Anne, Henry's guilt lies in the fact he didn't demand to see the evidence and insist that better evidence was brought. If the best part of 500 years later we can find evidence that Anne and the men were in different places or that she was ill, surely Henry would have known? Anne's argument with Norris did condemn her of thinking of the king's death (treason) but it didn't condemn Norris nor the others – and, for me, that's where Henry's guilt lies.

July 13, 2011
3:31 pm
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Elliemarianna
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Anne fan said:

I think the difference between Henry's reaction to Anne's 'betrayal' and his attitude to Catherine Howard's is explained by Chapuys writing after CH's downfall when he says that the difference is that Henry hadn't got the next one lined up (he puts it a bit more gently than that – but not much!).

 

I was reading a piece about Rupert Murdoch this week which made the point that tyrants do not do their dirty deeds themselves, others do the deeds for them because they think that is the way to please the tyrant. So it's possible that the people around Henry, seeing his pursuit of Jane, knowing Anne had just had a miscarriage thought they would please him by displacing her.

 

I like the theory but I'm not sure it fits the facts:

 

The writs of oyer and terminer were issued on 24 April – although not frequently used they were still standard court writs and had been since the reign of Henry II, so they wouldn't have required the king's signature, only the seal. No difficulty there then in exonerating Henry.

25 April, Henry writes to his ambassadors, including the one who is negotiating the Imperial alliance, referring to Anne as his most entirely beloved wife. So the day after the writs are issued, Henry is still committed to Anne.

30 April further instructions to France wanting Francis to end the French alliance with the Pope unless the Pope stopped all actions against England. As Ives says, if Henry knew about the moves against Anne at this point why on earth do this? Her death would change everything.

But 30 April is the date when Henry cancelled a proposed trip to Calais with Anne – Ives points to the argument between Anne and Norris in which she said if anything happened to the king Norris would look to have her. Anne, through holding Elizabeth, and Norris manage to pacify Henry enough for life to continue as normal but he's now suspicious.

Cromwell, who has been looking for an opportunity to bring down Anne as they now disagree on policy, seizes his chance to play on the king's suspicions and interrogates Smeaton, who eventually confesses and is carted off to the Tower and clapped in irons. Henry then succumbs to his suspicions and his own particularly attractive brand of maudlin self-pity. As it happens Anne breaks down and so Cromwell needn't have ordered the oyer and terminer writs to be sent out when he did.  Also Anne is giving him all the evidence he needs and he is able to further feed Henry's self-pity.

A few years later Henry himself admitted to Cranmer that once the judicial machinery starts it's very difficult to stop it – even for him. As in this case it was started without his knowledge that applies even more.

So, by that reckoning Cromwell is guilty of the plot but Henry is guilty of not stepping back and considering whether it could be true or not. Cromwell does seem to have got lucky but I suspect that Smeaton had been making a fool of himself over Anne and he always planned to strike there.

Working on the principle that Cromwell has effectively framed Anne, Henry's guilt lies in the fact he didn't demand to see the evidence and insist that better evidence was brought. If the best part of 500 years later we can find evidence that Anne and the men were in different places or that she was ill, surely Henry would have known? Anne's argument with Norris did condemn her of thinking of the king's death (treason) but it didn't condemn Norris nor the others – and, for me, that's where Henry's guilt lies.


I agree with you – I just can't believe Henry would rid himself of Anne – the woman he fought for – for so little. The way he behaved – I think he did believe the charges.

"It is however but Justice, & my Duty to declre that this amiable Woman was entirely innocent of the Crimes with which she was accused, of which her Beauty, her Elegance, & her Sprightliness were sufficient proofs..." Jane Austen.

July 13, 2011
10:58 pm
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Jasmine
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Quote:  I agree with you – I just can't believe Henry would rid himself of Anne – the woman he fought for – for so little. The way he behaved – I think he did believe the charges.  Quote

 

But that's the thing about Henry which comes across again and again – he had the ability to make himself believe anything he wanted.  EG, he wanted to marry Katherine of Aragon, so he made himself believe she was a virgin – until it suited him to believe she wasn't.  As for him saying it was too difficult to stop the judicial process once it began – that's very hard to believe.  He was King at a time when Divine Right was all the rage.  It was the King's Justice, after all!

Yes, he fought for Anne and if she had given him a son, he would have kept her.  But as she didn't, perhaps he decided the prize wasn't worth the wait and he tired of the fiesty spirit which had originally attracted him. 

I am sure Henry had a Henry II moment with Cromwell (“Who will rid me of this turbulent (here substitute Queen for priest)”  otherwise Cromwell would not have dared to act.  Henry had developed an alarming habit of ridding himself of advisors when they went against his wishes and Cromwell would have been very certain that Henry would be receptive of his “news” once he delivered it.

July 14, 2011
11:34 am
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Jasmine said:

Quote:  I agree with you – I just can't believe Henry would rid himself of Anne – the woman he fought for – for so little. The way he behaved – I think he did believe the charges.  Quote

 

But that's the thing about Henry which comes across again and again – he had the ability to make himself believe anything he wanted.  EG, he wanted to marry Katherine of Aragon, so he made himself believe she was a virgin – until it suited him to believe she wasn't.  As for him saying it was too difficult to stop the judicial process once it began – that's very hard to believe.  He was King at a time when Divine Right was all the rage.  It was the King's Justice, after all!

Yes, he fought for Anne and if she had given him a son, he would have kept her.  But as she didn't, perhaps he decided the prize wasn't worth the wait and he tired of the fiesty spirit which had originally attracted him. 

I am sure Henry had a Henry II moment with Cromwell (“Who will rid me of this turbulent (here substitute Queen for priest)”  otherwise Cromwell would not have dared to act.  Henry had developed an alarming habit of ridding himself of advisors when they went against his wishes and Cromwell would have been very certain that Henry would be receptive of his “news” once he delivered it.


I studied legal history for my degree – wish I could remember what I've done with the books as I'm relying a bit too much on memory here for comfort. When Henry II reformed the legal system he established the king's courts which people preferred to the manorial courts as there were greater powers to enforce a decision. There were all sorts of mysterious assaults on horses to ensure cases went to the king's bench and not the nearest lord's court. H2 was quite happy to encourage this as he got the fees and it meant a standard form of justice, which appealed to his sense of order. But by H8's time the monarch had very little to do with the courts. In fact, a second system called equity had grown up which relied on appealing to the king or chancellor personally. Equity is still in force today and in areas of law where it applies (eg land) equitable interests still trump legal interests. Unfortunately, it didn't apply in Anne's case. There are incidences of Henry using his power to commute sentences but that was only after the judicial machinery had done its bit.

Louise – if I've got that wrong, please correct!

I think you're right about Henry tiring of Anne's feistiness. He seems to have expected her to change her character once she became queen – but I think it's precisely that combination of tiring of Anne and lusting after Jane that Cromwell exploited.  I also agree that Henry could make himself believe what he wanted to believe – that's probably the reason he didn't question too closely. Getting rid of Anne got him out of a repeating pattern of miscarried children and enabled him to start again, which probably did wonders for his bedroom performance!

July 15, 2011
3:00 am
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Louise
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Hello Anne fan,

Equity is really a definition for what is fair and just. For instance you can have an equitable interest in a trust which can be enforceable in a court of law. It's not really relevant to criminal law, although obviously you would expect a criminal court to act equitably.

By breaking with Rome, Henry not only made himself Head of the Church of England, to get his divorce he also had to establish English law over ecclesiastical law. Although the Judiciary is supposed to be independent of the Crown and the Government, as it is today, the reality in the sixteenth century was very different. To all intents and purposes Henry was the law, and he certainly had an influence over the court system, including sentencing. Add to that the fact that most of the jury members were also members of Henry's parliament and all of them relied on the Crown for their power and influence, they were certainly not independent. They did what they knew Henry wanted, including Thomas Boleyn.    

July 15, 2011
4:30 am
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Anyanka
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Louise said:

 Add to that the fact that most of the jury members were also members of Henry's parliament and all of them relied on the Crown for their power and influence, they were certainly not independent. They did what they knew Henry wanted, including Thomas Boleyn.    


Under Magna Carta, English law created the system of judgement with a jury of your peers. Peers in this case meaning equals rather than a peer of the realm.

 

In Anne's case, her only peers were the highest nobility and the king. However Thomas Boleyn was allowed not to be part of ther jury in Anne and George's cases. He served on the jury for the other accused and in condemning them,he condemned his own children.

It's always bunnies.

July 15, 2011
5:17 am
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Louise
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Anyanka said:

Under Magna Carta, English law created the system of judgement with a jury of your peers. Peers in this case meaning equals rather than a peer of the realm.

 

In Anne's case, her only peers were the highest nobility and the king. However Thomas Boleyn was allowed not to be part of ther jury in Anne and George's cases. He served on the jury for the other accused and in condemning them,he condemned his own children.


Exactly! And when you have a King like Henry, which one of those peers would have the courage (or stupidity) to go against the King's wishes. Justice and fairness goes out the window in favour of appeasing an egotistical monarch and avoid his wrath. Anne and the men didn't stand a chance of a fair trial.

I know Thomas didn't sit on the trials of Anne and George, but it's a bit of a moot point bearing in mind he basically condemned his daughter anyway by finding the men guilty of adultery with her. Just like the other men on both juries he did what he needed to do to protect his own interests. It is another thing which what bothered me about the Bernard book. He suggests that the jury, by finding them guilty, believed they were guilty. So did Thomas believe his daughter was guilty? No, of course he didn't. If Bernard thinks the jury had to have believed in their guilt then he has a far too high opinion of human nature.   

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