George Boleyn Video 8 – George and the Fall of Anne Boleyn

In Part 8 of our video series answering your questions on George Boleyn, Clare Cherry and I discuss why George Boleyn was dragged down with his sister, Anne, in May 1536.

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19 thoughts on “George Boleyn Video 8 – George and the Fall of Anne Boleyn”
  1. Great series of videos … and I look forward to reading the book. However, I am curious … what could George do in fighting for his sister? He wasn’t going to get much international support, if any. Would anyone expect that he could obtain allies against the king? Seems to me that he couldn’t have done much … certainly, not enough to be a threat of any kind.

      1. sorry for the mis-post above.

        George was a threat if he was able to get to the King and convince him the charges were false…

  2. Is it just my hearing or did you say in the video that there was a plot to bring down all of the Boleyns as early as March 1536?

    Excuse me, but this seems a little far fetched as there is no evidence that anything was going to happen until near the end of April. The idea of a plot to bring down Anne and her brother, or others also seems to be one of many theories. Do you look at all of these in the book and have you analysed the evidence closely? Have you also looked at the opinion of other authors on this idea as not all agree that there was a conspiracy to bring down the Boleyns or the Queen. The BBC documentary debated this and there seemed a good divergence of historical opinion and interpretation of the sources and evidence.

    Personally I think that a plot emerged but that it mainly involved Cromwell. I think that when he arranged with the Kings agreement to question Mark Smeaton and the ladies of the Queen’s chambers, that it emerged that others were involved and Cromwell jumped on the false accusations that Smeaton made. The unexpected accusations gave Cromwell the ammunition that he needed and he pressed home his advantage. Any plot to bring down the Queen then fell into place. I am not convinced that before the questioning of Smeaton that any real conspiracy existed. I think that those who hated Anne took advantage of what was coming out of the interrogations and backed Cromwell up. The Conservatives may have been looking for an opportunity but with little sign that the King was actually going to get rid of the Queen, I think they were just waiting or biding their time. Once Anne fell, she fell quickly and there are indications that she was being set up, a few weeks before her arrest and trial, but no movement could be made without actual accusations or evidence.

    To make rumours that the Queen was sleeping around was risky as if the King did not believe his council or nobles or Cromwell, or the Queen was investigated and the rumours proved untrue, the person who made them could be arrested and tried themselves and punished the same way: by death. Cromwell I can well imagine using this as a means to get people to talk: tell us what the Queen was up to or you will be accussed of hiding her treason or if you do not confess that the rumours about the Queen are true and are telling lies you will hang. Cromwell had to find someone to confirm his own beliefs or wishes as if he was the source of the rumours and false accusations, then he also may have risked getting turned on and arrested. For any plot to be viable: all players had to be on the ball; the players had to know what the King wanted and would accept and they had to work in secret. If this was a plot; it was either highly organised and the King sanctioned it from the start, or they were extremely lucky that all the people they questioned gave them enough nonsense to proceed with.

    I am not surprised that the Conservatives wanted to get rid of the Queen: but who do we mean by the Conservatives: Suffolk? There is no evidence he was involved in any plot to bring the Queen down. Cromwell? Yes, he had quarrelled with the Queen, she had threatened him and appeared to want him gone; and Anne was vulnerable, making silly statements that she would kill Mary if the King went abroad, heard by her brother, and other silly statements about Cromwell being in danger of losing his head, but that does not add up to grounds to get rid of the Queen. Who else wanted her gone? Well if we exclude half the court and pin it down to a few: we have the Seymours; their sister was in vogue in the Kings affections and a possible marriage was being looked at, although this is also disputed by historians as the sources are not clear on Henry’s intentions at this time. Chapyus? Anne out of the way would be to his advantage as he could promote through Cromwell an imperial alliance but attempts to do this had gone wrong and he is unlikely to have the type of personal influence to have Anne removed by force. He may put some ideas in Cromwell’s head, but there is no evidence that Henry wanted an alliance with the Emperor and there was a sticking point that may have stopped all his hopes in any event. Henry did not want to make his first daughter Mary his lawful heir, and the Emperor wanted this: Chapyus took the time to raise the point but Henry dismissed it and would not accept this demand, becoming angry and the entire thing fell apart. No doubt that in the mind of Cromwell at that time, Henry may be moved into an alliance if Queen Anne, who was pro French was out of the way that he could approach Chapyus and set up another meeting with Henry. With a new Queen in place whose family had imperial sympathies Cromwell would have allies on the Council and the pro Imperial voices of Suffolk and others would may-be lead to such an alliance and to Mary being given some status at court. But all all of this is reading between the lines and Cromwell could not have done any of this unless charges against the Queen could be brought and made to stick. But what if none of the people he hoped to trap fell into that trap? What if the King did not believe him? What if the Queen was cleared?

    I believe that Cromwell and others may have wanted to bring down the Bolyen faction and the Queen but they did not have the tools to do so until the confession of Mark Smeaton and the rest fell into his lap. Cromwell must have thought all of his birthdays had come at once. Once the first charges and rumours began to emerge, then I think the other players came into the game and played a part, and then the conspiracy began to emerge, but not prior to this point. I certainly do not believe that a conspiracy was formed in March to decide which Boleyn family members to bring down and the attack on George Boleyn could have been conincidence. Yes, he was powerful and haughty and had enemies, and he would fall with his sister, but the decision to bring charges against him I believe just emerged from the questioning. Someone said something against him that alerted Cromwell and the other council members involved in the investigation and they brought the charges against him as a means of him falling with Anne, but I doubt that it was pre planned in advance.

    And why would they decide to bring any charges against Thomas Boleyn? That idea was raised in your video, but it actually does not make any sense. Thomas Boleyn sexual charges with his daughter? There was no reason for them to bring down the entire Boleyn family as he would fall by implication as his daughter fell from grace in any event. Perhaps Thomas Boleyn was too important in the court to touch; may-be he was too clever and could talk his way out of anything, but for some reason he was not under any suspician when his daughter was arrested. Nor do I believe that there is any evidence that he was ever meant to be, let alone any advanced conspiracy to set up George Boleyn along with his sister.

    Anne was flirting with people and the games of courtly love that she played went beyond what was thought to be seemly; she gave Cromwell and others fuel for the fire. Once Smeaton’s fertile imagination had given them their first indication that he had slept with the Queen under pressure or torture, and he had named others; they could bring in for questioning members of the Queens chambers; her ladies, and innocent things were raised but in a way that made them seem unseemly. If Cromwell asked who came to the Queens rooms, even innocent mentions of names may have been taken as evidence of guilt or other things. George Boleyn had been seen a number of times in his sisters rooms, even later in the evening; but he had good reason for being there, and it seems that they were not alone and who would think ill of a brother and sister?

    There were some indiscrete conversations with George and Anne but it seems that he was trying to calm her down when she was making ridiculous mutterings about ordering the death of Mary, telling her not to be stupid, and this must have been seen and heard by others, so again they could not have been alone. George as you say came back from abroad and may have wanted to report to his sister the Queen what went on and so on. There was nothing that could point to them having a sexual relationship but under stress and pressure such innocent moments may be reported and made to seem not so innocent. If one of Anne’s ladies let slip that George was in Anne’s rooms at a time considered to be late, that he spent time with Anne, may have withdrawn with Anne and then was pressured into saying something happened that Cromwell’s fertile mind could then use against him; well yes then I believe he pounced and decided to move against him and invented all sorts of things to make a case. But that is not evidence of a pre meditated conspirary, just luck that Cromwell struck gold and went for it. They realised here they can get two Boleyns for the price of one and the net and charges were made.

    The other men had also been in Anne’s rooms, mainly for legitmate reasons, and in the case of Norris, he was courting her cousin Madge, but Anne had been overheard making remarks that could be seen as foolish and treason. She had accused him of wanting to move into dead mens shoes: or to have her if the King died. He moved to put an end to this by protesting but the damage was done. Another so called lover had fallen into the pot. To speak of the Kings death even in jest was treason and Anne had been foolish. She even sent her priest to have him say she was a good women, but the story most likely got back to Cromwell, looking for more evidence and he must have rubbed his hands with glee. As to the others, well were not two of them named by Smeaton and the others were all known for being in the company of the Queen, a certain type of person, a bit wild and supported her cause; they were easy targets and Cromwell could make a case against them.

    A conspiracy would be easy to form under the pressure of the King looking to marry again, but no real evidence of him breaking with Anne exists until mid to late April so the conspiracy would need to be ready to move quickly. I am not sure that this was the case. Certainly Anne was vulnerable and so were the party around her that she associated with most, but were the Seymours in such a strong position as to make pre arrangements to bring down the Queen from March 1536 onwards? If Henry was playing a double game: supporting Anne in public, insisting on her public and international recongition, planning a trip to France with her and so on, but at the same time planning to move the Seymours into place, arrange for the Queen to fall from grace at the right time and then when it was all over to marry Jane, he seems to have given very little away. I think he was tired of Anne, but I am not so sure that he suddenly decided to get rid of her; may-be he was still comfortable with her and may-be he had something else in mind: then the shocking news came and he believed the horrible false charges. Certainly from that moment at the end of April start of May, Anne was doomed and the set up by Cromwell began. He had the false charges he had hoped for and he had accusations against more than one man,plus her brother. The enemies of the Queen could now move in for the kill and from that moment the poor Queen, her brother and the others were left without any support or any hope.

    1. It’s hard to know when it was decided to move against the Boleyns. Those who see Thomas Cromwell as the chief instigator of the plot, see him deciding after disagreeing with Anne over the proceeds from the monasteries and after Skip’s sermon in early April 1536, or later in April when he realised that she was never going to support an alliance with the Empire. Those who see it as Henry’s idea, see it happening earlier, possibly as early As Anne’s miscarriage in the January. There was an inventory of grants given to Thomas Boleyn and George Boleyn – “List of grants by the King to Thos. Boleyn, earl of Wiltshire, and Geo. Boleyn, lord Rochford, from 29 April 14 Hen. VIII. to 3 March 27 Hen. VIII” – carried out in spring 1536, probably shortly after 3rd March as that was when the inventory ran up to, and I do agree with Julia Fox that this “suggests that George’s father had every reason to feel threatened” when his children fell in May 1536. It does seem odd to have an inventory like this, but perhaps it’s us reading too much into it with the hindsight that the Boleyns’ world came crashing down around them the following month.

      If you look at the Howards with Catherine Howard’s fall, several members of her family were interrogated and imprisoned, and Thomas Boleyn may well have been dragged into the plot as someone who knew his daughter’s past or knew about her alleged affairs. He must have been terrified in May 1536.

  3. Yes, I agree with you, in light of the inventory and the son and daughter being arrested, Thomas must have feared for his own safety as well as that of his two children. I can wel imagine that Cromwell with his over active brain would have considered a possibility that Thomas knew of the affairs; but there is no evidence that he was even asked about it. He of course condemned the alleged actions as did the Duke of Norfolk, and in hindsight, as you say, with Catherine Howard the whole family were rounded up, put in prison and things could have been much worse; Thomas and Elizabeth (I am assuming her mother was alive) would have been terrified and very distressed at the arrest and trials and then executions of two of their children, and the inventory shreds more light on what you meant. Sorry, the first time I played the vidoe the quality was losing the sound so I did not hear that bit. I would imagine if you had a sudden inventory taken of your belongings you would be on your guard. It could mean a lot of things; but it does raise the question of a possible plot. I still think though that Cromwell was the prime mover, and most of the rest fell into place, bringing Anne’s enemies into the frame, and the plot thickened as they say. There are a number of theories: but could it all not have been incidental, a terrible misunderstanding, accident and miscarriage of justice; just a lot of things that fell into place, allowing Cromwell, and et al to act quickly and decisively?

    Never mind: all will be revealled when the book comes out.

    Thank you for the videos and the post and i have also been enjoying the articles on the George Boleyn website.

    Good luck with the book.


    P. S I do not know if you have read the book by Elizabeth Wheeler: she sees the entire thing as a plot and grand conspiracy both against Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard and that the entire council were involved. She does read too much into some things, such as Suffolk being off ill at the time just around Katherine’s arrest and then being warned to stay away from court. but I am not convinced that there was a plot, unless you count Cranmer and others being determined to find out more about her life and sexual behaviour as a plot. The book is very interesting, especially as it uses some sources that I have not come across before and gives good analysis of both the rise and fall of Anne and the life of Katherine before and after the allegations on the progress.

    You also have to be a little weary as she states on her website that she got some information from a spiritualist but most was from ardent research and visiting the places of both ladies and sources. It is another angle if nothing else.



  4. I have read all the books, so to take what I have read forward, I think there are only two ways this can go:

    1) Henry believed Anne to be a threat to his kingdom and to him and he believed all or ENOUGH of the charges to want her gone as soon as possible.


    2) Henry believed Anne to be a threat to his kingdom and to him but knew the charges were inflated and didn’t care – she had to go before he changed his mind because even though he always knew she was not quite royal, he didn’t pay it mind until she didn’t produce the heir he needed. Then all the black marks against her – and there were many! – had more weight than they would have with a son.

    Either way, after sleeping with Henry (and thus committing incest because of his prior relationship with Mary Boleyn) while he was still married, forcing their own ” marriage” because she was pregnant and some were swearing it would be a boy, and making Henry fib on his wedding day that the Pope had authorized the marriage, which is a nice way of saying he lied. Then all the people Henry had executed in vile manner…And then to hear she was betraying him with his servants even if only by word and not deed must have been enough for him to say he best stop her before she does more harm. Sadly, eliminating her from the scene solved a lot of his problems…and Cromwell knew this.

    So maybe Henry never planned to kill her, maybe he just wanted to annul or erase a marriage that nobody thought even really existed (and due to the incest part, they both knew did not) but when he realized she had been indulging in the type of shocking over the top conversations with his servants, saw her as dangerous to let stay around. Why?
    Because she had already been talking about who she would marry if something happened to her marriage with Henry! Hello? Was that her way of asking whose side Norris would be on? Did Henry see Norris’s refusing to confess or turn over Smeaton a sign that he chose Anne’s side?

    I feel pity for Anne: she was in a tough spot as a young woman – here was the KIng offering her the crown…she was getting on in age and had no promising suiters by the time she was 27, so even marrying the King under the cloud of incest was better than being a spinster. And she knew she was vulnerable to just about everybody who wanted to get rid of her, so she was incredibly ruthless about getting them first. But her arrogance and her cruelty make me dislike her. She would have been so much smarter to have treated Katherine and Mary with exaggerated patronizing kindness then the route she took instead.

    In Anne Boleyn’s case, live by the sword, die by the sword has a grain of truth,

    1. Is that sort of negative view of Anne — arrogant and cruel, getting them (who?) first, etc,– one that’s now widely accepted as true?

      1. Is it certainly a view of her that can be Reasonably asserted if one looks at her in cold light and not just at her awful end.

        I don’t make claims to “widely”, just to my assessments. The “who” question is odd.Really? All the people she saw as a threat and worked to get eliminated.

        Yes, I think she was arrogant and ruthless;She threatened people with firing,
        with beheading, sheSaid she hoped Katherine were hanged, she
        Said Mary should be beaten and wrote encouragingIt. It was she who
        encouraged henry in his egoism that caused so much murder – for example, Carthusian monks, more, Fisher, potentially Wolsey if he did not die,all
        so she could be Queen. That is a ruthless person.

        So yes, the idea she was just some innocent victim just doesn’t work for
        Me. She knew what she was doing.

        But then I don’t view her romantically, though I find the topic fascinating to

        1. Why is the “who” question odd? Yes, it would be the “people she saw as a threat and worked to get eliminated”, but who are those people? Who specifically was she ruthless about getting first? Since you didn’t give any names, I wondered who you had in mind.

          The executions of the Carthusian martyrs didn’t start until nearly two years after Anne’s coronation and didn’t end until over a year after her death, so I find it hard to see her, or her desired to be Queen, as having much responsibility; and the the issue seemed to be much more whether they would acknowledge Henry as head of the church in England than anything more directly connected to Anne.

          I know you didn’t say the view of Anne as arrogant, cruel, etc was widely held, but I’m wondering whether it now is. It seems the sort of Anne who appears in Hilary Mantel’s books and in John Schofield’s biography of Cromwell; and it feels to me like the high water mark of Eric Ives sort of idea of Anne may have passed.

        2. Hi Rowan,
          Like you, I don’t see Anne as having power of her own to ill treat anyone, Henry VIII was king and the decision about how treat people like the Carthusian monks lay with him. Henry was hoping that the Carthusian monks would sweat the oath and be an example to others, when they didn’t then Henry had to make an example of them.

          It’s hard to say whether the view of Anne as arrogant, cruel etc. is widely held. Certainly fictional works like those of Mantel and Gregory have made her spiteful and manipulative, and some factual works support that idea of her. However, I think Eric Ives’ work is the most in-depth work of her and is seen as the most reputable academic study of her, along with the many journal articles he wrote. I’m also writing about Anne and her family, and my idea of Anne ties in with that of Ives. From the emails and comments I receive, Eric Ives’ idea of Anne is still very current.

    2. There are many different opinions on the reason/reasons for Anne’s fall. That isn’t limited to just the two. Many people, including myself, believe that Henry wanted out of his marriage with Anne, and appointed Cromwell to get rid of her at any cost. I don’t believe Henry seriously thought she was guilty. She had failed to give him a son, he was tired of her jealous outbursts, he had fallen in love with Jane Seymour, and following the death of Catherine his preferred choice of foreign policy was being hampered by his marriage with Anne. He knew Anne wouldn’t go easily. She would create as great an annoyance as Catherine did, therefore drastic action was necessary. The marriage was annulled prior to Anne’s death, but not before he had destroyed her completely.

      Anne did not commit incest with Henry by sleeping with him. Henry had already applied for, and received, a dispensation from the Pope to marry a women whose sister he had already slept with. In any event, even if that dispensation had not been granted it wouldn’t have made Anne guilty of incest. It would merely have made their marriage void under cannon law (which was the excuse he later used to annul it).

      I don’t accept Anne ‘forced’ Henry into marriage. I have little time for Henry but I can’t see him as being quite that weak. He wanted to marry Anne. As for getting Henry to fib; the Pope hadn’t authorised their marriage and no one thought otherwise. It was the Pope’s refusal to authorise the marriage which resulted in the break with Rome. It was Henry who wrought havac on his country, Henry who ordered the deaths of innocent men such as More and Fisher, and Henry who ultimately broke with Rome. He may have done all that primarily to marry Anne, but the harm was caused by him. Her death did not prevent him taking the wealth of the dissolved monasteries for his own gain.

      There wasn’t a Henry side and an Anne’s side. Henry was the King and Henry had all the power. Anne wasn’t a danger to his position as King. Anne and her faction were nothing without the King’s patronage. The only threat to Henry’s kingdom was Henry

      1. Hi, what I limited to just 2 was either henry knew it wasn’t true or if he believed it.
        That can only be yes or no. And no, there aren’t many reasons why he would
        Let her die like that if he didn’t believe the charges were true: he would have
        To see her as a threat to himself or his kingdom and all the rest is just subsets of

        Henry got his marriage to Anne annulled because of a reason they both knew that
        Imperiled their souls. Sounds like the blood relation sex/incest theme there.

        But how funny to use a Pope’s dispensation for a marriage to a married man, as Henry was, since the pope didn’t say he could divorce Katherine and that was the
        Condition that had to exist first, right? So basically, there was no dispensation in
        effect. Henry was still married to Katherine until she died, and Henry slept with
        the sister of a former lover, which was a no no and basically considered incest
        due to closeness in blood. You know, the reason Henry said he shouldn’t have
        married his brother’s wife, though Katherine said there was no sex involved.

        Re “forced” – I meant forced his hand by getting pregnant without a ruling
        From the Pope that allowed his marriage to be annulled. So to marry Anne
        before a Priest he had to lie and say he had permission.

        In the end, I don’t think she committed incest with her brother. Under the mores
        of the times, not ours, she did with Henry because of Mary Boleyn (the dispensation
        had an unmet caveat) and basically Henry could have ended it because that at any
        time, but didn’t, until again, something forced his hand.

        Thank you Clare for taking the time to respond to me. I think you and I will
        not agree as we would not even agree Anne was ever Henry’s mistress (I think
        that is an obvious yes), but I know we can agree that Anne died in a terrible way
        and that it was very sad and painful to read about even 500 years later.

        All the best, goodbye, and thank you for your passionate blog!

  5. Question to Claire and Clare. The famous accusation of Anne and George french kissing – was that actually reported by anyone? Was it supposedly reported by Jane Rochford? You didn’t mention it in your youtube clip.


    1. Denise, in the indictment they were accused of kissing ‘with Anne’s tongue in George’s mouth and his in hers’, but there is no indiction of where that allegation came from. As far as we know it was merely an allegation with no evidence brought before the court to back it up.

      1. Yes, the wording in the indictments was very explicit and definitely written to provoke shock and horror. As Clare says, there is no evidence which points to a specific source.

        1. When I moved to the NW of England 17 years ago I was amazed at the habit of kissing on the lips, people one hardly knows! Herpes and flu immediately sprang to mind, and I have no hesitation in telling folk I am from London, and a cheek kiss, or even an air kiss, where the cheeks just brush, is what I am used to!! Actually, I now prefer the American habit of a hug as being far more healthy, and less familiar. Our own Queen Mother once said no one had kissed her on the lips since her husband died.

          Maybe George and Anne did kiss on the lips. But who knows what their tongues were up to? I doubt they would be at all indiscreet, and it was just a mark of brotherly/sisterly affection. Horribly misconstrued.

  6. If Anne was ruthless then it sounds as if she was matched to Henry perfectly! In fact neither of them were really ruthless; the acts that followed the divorce and marriage were more a consequence of the marriage of Anne and Henry rather than any personal desire to be ruthless and cruel for its own sake. Henry and Anne had put up with years of opposition; Henry was advised to be firm with those who oppossed the marriage. Cromwell was certainly ruthless, and I think he was the one advising the King to make the laws that he did come up with. But it was Henry who went forward with the Act of Succession and the Act of Supremacy which in part consolidated his claim to be the new head of the church and finalised his break with Rome in 1534 finally and legally. The Reformation Parliament had met first in 1529 and the road work for these laws were laid down then; but did not really complete its given task until 1534.

    The treasons act made much of the type of oppossition and complaints against the King and his divorce that had previously happened treasonable and punishable by death or prison. This now included swearing an oath to accept the marriage as lawful, the dicorce as lawful, the children of Henry and Anne as the only legitimate heirs to the throne, to declare Princess Mary a bastard, to declare that Henry and Katherine were never legally married and that marriage was null and void and to say that Henry was in effect the new Pope in England. This had dire consequiences for anyone who refused on the grounds of conscience.

    The monks had a choice to make: be loyal to one secular master the King or agree that the Pope was their lord in spiritual matters and Henry in secular as they had before all this. They could not reconcile the new laws with faith and so they could not take the oath. The consequence was the breaking of both the act of succession and the treasons act; the latter also made it death to write or speak against the King, his wife Anne and their lawful successors. So no-one could accept that her marriage was not valid and live. Anne may have supported this and Henry gave the order, but it was agreed by Parliament and his council and probably suggested and designed by Cromwell, but I doubt that she was standing behind Henry saying; kill all these people as they do not like me. In fact there may have been times when she felt that the bloodshed was too much. Anne was not a heartless woman as she is often shown in fiction and drama; she did care about suffering and other humans; she did not always do anything about it. She did however, plead for some people in prison, and she tried at first to treat Mary with care and approach her with fairness. Mary, as stroppy teenagers do, refused to call her Queen, said some nasty things back, and as she quite rightly stood by her mother, she became a target for Anne’s frustrations. Tensions developed between them and this resulted in both a war of words and Anne demanding that she be hit to make her comply. I doubt that the women in charge actually dared to carry out this order.

    Anne may have from time to time claimed that she wished Mary and Katherine would die; she did indeed say she did not care a fig for Katherine and would rather see her hung that have her as her mistress: but this is more Anne Boleyn the great drama queen rather than Anne the cruel and ruthless woman. Her own brother told her a number of times to stop talking foolishly and that such moves would not please the King. During part of 1534 and 1535 there is some evidence that Anne may have suffered from clinical depression. I recongise some of the signs as a sufferer myself. She felt some very dark moments. had dark fears and she felt that she was in constant danger, that something terrible was going to happen to her. Anne believed a prophecy that a Queen of England would be burnt and there were people making such prophecies. Elizabeth Barton the Holy Nun of Kent and her nutty friends are meant to have made comments that the King would die soon and that Anne and her family would fall and the Tudors would fall. If these people were making these prophecies openly, and being executed for them; what were people saying in private or out in the countryside where Anne was not popular? She was also feeling very upset and down and not sleeping; she was saying wild things and she wished that Katherine would die as she was very insecure at that time. She had also suffered a miscarriage, may-be even a phantom pregnancy or a still birth; the evidence about her pregnancies is confused; and she believed that she could not give the King a living son while her rival was still alive. Anne also was told off by George for saying she could order the deaths of Katherine and Mary the next time Henry goes abroad and she is left as regent. But again she was talking rubbish and there is no convincing evidence that she wanted to kill them. She may well have hoped that a sick Katherine would die from her ill heath; she was not truly Henry’s wife and Queen while he had another living; but this is insecurity and depression and fear talking and not a woman being ruthless. How do we know that Anne was not drinking heavily to mask her fears at this time and that was the cause of her problems or suffering from post natal depression? Paranoid dreams and thoughts would also be part of her unbalanced state of mind and she may not have truly known or cared what she was saying. She seems to have been unaware of the danger of such talk and it took her cooler headed brother to calm her down.

    Regardless though of whether or nor Anne was a lunatic or a ruthless woman or someone raving in fear and depression; she had enemies and they were always waiting for an opportunity to pounce. If many had taken the oaths and accepted Anne out of loyalty to Henry others had done so out of fear. Now that they saw things were not loving and rosey in the house; they must have wondered if they could persuade the King to abandon Anne. But they dare not speak too loudly or openly and could only do so slowly and at the right time. Friedman wrting in the last century puts together a senario for a conspiracy against Anne and even against Henry in 1534, but it all came to nothing and with each new pregnancy came the hope for Anne that this time she would succeed and produce a son and for her enemies water poured on their hopes.

    When Anne tragically failed to give Henry a son in 1536 and there was a brief breach between husband and wife; her enemies began to circle and to move in. Just when and how they struck or if they indeed did is open to much debate amongst historians. Some think that the Seymour faction and others joined with Cromwell and using Jane Seymour as a substitute distracted the King and worked behind the scenes to manufacture a senario that would expose Anne to danger and cause her fall. Others think that Cromwell, seeing his foreign policy falling on the scrapheap plotted her fall and that the others joined him when all was ready: that is once the charges were prepared her enemies moved in for the kill. A smaller number believe that Henry wanted to get rid of Anne and ordered Cromwell to find a way out of the marriage but that he was trapped in the marriage due to insisting that Anne was his legal wife. But when and how Henry did this is particularly unclear as Henry acted as if all was well and Anne was still his wife of choice in public and did nothing until the end of April 1536, although some small indications of him seeking a break exist; the cancellation of the trip to France and the oyer and terminer all started from mid April onwards. Anne it seemed knew nothing, but surely she must have been uneasy about strange things happening around her. People could not have just acted as normal, not if they were involved in a plot of an investigation to bring down the Queen. We all have little involuntary movements and gestures that give us away when we are up to something or under stress; Anne may have picked up on these but chosen to dismiss them, hoping all would be well.

    This is what excites historians: much of what I have said is pure speculation and many of these last few months and the motivations are something of a mystery; at least as far as who and why brought down Queen Anne Boleyn.

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