Off with her Head – History Channel Podcast

Posted By on January 12, 2021

I’m honoured to have been interviewed for this week’s History Channel “HISTORY This Week” podcast on my favourite subject, Anne Boleyn. A big thank you to the History Channel for asking me.

The podcast is available now on your favourite podcast platform (in English speaking countries). Here’s the blurb and a few links for you:

January 15, 1535. King Henry VIII has a decree. As of today, he is “the only supreme head on earth of the Church of England”. Which means: the Pope is no longer head of the Church in England for the first time in history. And why? All because of a woman named Anne Boleyn. King Henry VIII moves heaven and earth to marry the woman he loves, but just a thousand days later he will have her executed. Why did he do it? And how is the story we always tell about Anne Boleyn all wrong?

Apple podcast link:

Spotify link:

History Channel US page:

16 thoughts on “Off with her Head – History Channel Podcast”

  1. Banditqueen says:

    Just had a listen to the above podcast on Spotify with Claire and an American presenter, really excellent.
    I don’t know about precious jewellery, Henry should have sent Anne a crystal ball and then she could marry someone else.
    Not the best move with hindsight giving him a book which told Henry he was next to God wasn’t Anne’s smartest move, for then the lion knew his own strength and was about to roar very loudly.
    There are a lot of podcasts on the History Today site, all worth checking out.
    Excellent Claire as always.

  2. Christine says:

    Yes Anne unwittingly put the idea in his head by giving him Tyndall’s book, she was hoping to seek a way of helping them both to extricate Henry from Katherine, and this book helped them enormously because it suggested that a kings power came from god, not Rome, that was good enough for Henry, but unfortunately it helped sow the seeds of Anne’s own destruction, Sir Thomas More feared the consequences of such an action because as he said, and I quote, ‘if the lion knew his own strength there would be none to gain say him’, the power of Rome more or less kept kings in check, they had to ask the pope for a divorce, they could be excommunicated if they displeased him, several ancient kings had been excommunicated for discarding their wife and marrying a lover, Philip 1st of France divorced his wife Bertha of Holland, and married his lover Bertrand de Montfort, the beautiful wife of Fulk of Anjou with whom he had fallen passionately in love, Bertrand had a bit of a reputation it was said that no good man ever praised her except for her beauty, the pope decreed he would lift the ban if he returned to Bertha, but Philip was too enamoured of the flighty Bertrand, he was thus excommunicated twice, his story is similar to that of Henry V111’s, Henry V111 really did cause a storm over his love affair with Anne Boleyn, as a mistress she would have caused no trouble at all, but Henry’s lack of sons meant that he was determined to marry the woman he loved so passionately, he believed he would have sons with her, and his need for male heirs and his love for Anne Boleyn, coupled with her ambition caused the great religious divide which split the country in two, and the founding of a new church – the Church of England of which every monarch has been head of since.

  3. Banditqueen says:

    It really is so extraordinary that Henry Viii had Anne Boleyn executed as if she was the greatest traitoress, adulteress and public criminal ever accused, because not only was she his wife and Queen, the mother of a child he had processed around with deep pride only months beforehand, but she was a lady whom he had deeply loved and had great passion for.

    This fantastic podcast traces the love between Anne and Henry and the religious, political and personal changes they had to bring England in order to marry. It was the achievement of seven long years of hot pursuit, the opposition of one remarkable woman, Henry’s fierce and valiant Queen, Katherine of Aragon, the opposition of clerics and chief Churchmen, the opposition of old friends and the opposition of the Holy Father himself. Henry had expected to be granted an annulment from Katherine, in whom he personally found no fault, because he had consulted scripture and was convinced his cause was just. So what was Henry’s martial problem and why did he want to be free from a lady he had loved and worshipped for eighteen years?

    Well, put simply he didn’t have a living male heir, his contemporaries did and he was only the second King in a new dynasty. He felt insecure for most of his reign, even though in reality he was very secure. A woman wasn’t excluded but many believed one couldn’t rule. Even Anne believed Henry needed a son. Although recognised as Henry’s heir, Elizabeth wasn’t expected to succeed Henry and Anne was still required to provide him with a living son. It was most unfortunate that Henry and Katherine were many years married and child after child died or were born dead. Their marriage had begun with so much promise, Katherine and Henry were the power couple of the age and Henry was devoted to her for a very long time. Forget the portrait by Hans Holbein which was painted when Henry was in his mid forties after his was putting on weight and imagine instead a tall Adonis of over six foot who was chivalrous, athletic, fun loving, a good friend, generous and very charming. Imagine a beautiful wife at his side, red haired and very lovely and loving. The couple were popular and they loved each other. What went wrong?

    Henry read too many books is the answer. He began to wonder about his marriage actually as early as 1514 but saw no reason to do anything about it. He had not yet given up on living sons and Katherine was still fertile but he may already have read or become aware of Leviticus. Henry had deliberately chosen Katherine although she was his brother’s widow and the Pope had granted him and Katherine permission to marry because her original marriage wasn’t consummated. Her first husband, Henry’s brother Arthur wasn’t ill at the time of their wedding, that is a myth still voiced by historians, although Sean Cunningham put it to bed years ago. The opinion is based on the misinterpretation of some small concerns made the night after the marriage was officially consummated.

    Arthur had come out boasting he had been in the midst of Spain but the couple were in fact separated for three weeks. Henry Vii made enquiries as to whether or not Arthur and Katherine should live together, because they are young. Now this wasn’t unusual with young couples in their teens. The questions asked are standard. Henry asked about the health of his son because sex was thought to be bad for young people. He also asked about the health of the bride. Other questions are asked about how they got on together, could they live together, did they as yet have an attraction, was the Prince robust and so on. As the enquiry found everything to be satisfactory Katherine and Arthur were allowed not only to lie together but to move to his establishment at Ludlow in Wales. It was only the following Spring that Arthur developed an illness which killed him. Katherine later swore that the marriage wasn’t consummated and we have no reason not to believe her. It was assumed it was, but in 1509 Henry Viii obviously didn’t care and wanted Katherine as his wife. The truth of their wedding night remains between them but there was no doubt their marriage was not consummated as Katherine was very soon pregnant. Her very sad miscarriage aside, on 1st January 1511 Katherine gave Henry a son and heir, Henry, Duke of Cornwall, whose birth was celebrated for weeks but who died aged 52 days. Henry and Katherine were grief stricken. Katherine was delivered in 1516 of a living daughter, Mary, whom was accepted as Henry’s heir and treated as such. Henry called Mary his pearl and absolutely doted on her. Then suddenly everything changed.

    By 1524 Henry was seeking an annulment because his own mortality and his fears were playing on his conscience and he sought legal opinion. Legal opinion meant the Catholic Church. The validity of his marriage was sounded out in a secret commission and he had again come across Leviticus and believed himself to have sinned for marrying his brother’s widow. Then Henry met again Anne Boleyn and fell in lust for her and after some time writing to the reluctant lady, with whom he became inflamed, Henry fell in love with Anne. By 1526 they were enjoying a mutual relationship and Anne promised Henry sons. For someone so well educated, I must say that with the wisdom of hindsight, Anne doesn’t actually appear to have had much common sense and outside of book intelligence, that either. This was a very risky thing to do, especially as his annulment suddenly stalled. To cut a long story short, Henry, Katherine and Anne went though a further six years of fighting the divorce from both sides, Katherine refused to acknowledge that she wasn’t the true Queen, because actually she was and Henry going through everything possible to change her mind. In the end, Pope Clement dud nothing and Henry invented the do it yourself divorce aka annulment by breaking from the authority of Rome, appointing a Protestant minor cleric as Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer and wedding Anne anyway. In January 1533 the couple were wed in secret in Whitehall Palace because Anne was pregnant. Henry was delighted and went mad with the coronation celebrations in May and everyone believed Anne would give him a son.

    On September 7th 1533 the baby was born, but it was a girl, the Princess Elizabeth. Henry and Anne put on a brave face, they welcomed and coddled their baby daughter, they were visibly good parents and proud of her. However, things soon began to go wrong and their marriage was in difficulty within months. Mary was obstinate and refused to acknowledge Anne as Queen, seeing her more as the wicked mistress than a stepmother, good or bad. Henry did not always just allow Anne to carry on her campaign of cruelty against Mary, even though he clearly approved of some of it, because we know he moved Mary every time she complained that she was ill. I doubt that the couple were in agreement all of the time on this issue. Anne lost a second child by the Summer of 1534, although the information is lacking about what happened. Anne and Henry found themselves threatened by the Pope, the Empire and ignored by France. Nobody acknowledged tem as being really married. Henry’s legislation to protect their marriage and their children as his only legitimate heirs and the Act of Supremacy and Treason Act were passed in 1534 and 1535. Most people felt obliged to sign them because the alternative was death. However, a number of prominent courtiers and religious men and women would not accept Henry as Supreme Head of the English Church and so they too were executed. This included his friend and mentor, the great humanist, Sir Thomas More and the very holy Bishop, John Fisher. 18 monks were also executed, very learned men, some of whom served on the Council, but that didn’t save them. People blamed Anne Boleyn, but it was Henry’s title which was to blame. The people also supported the banished Queen Katherine and Princess Mary and Henry faced possible rebellion. Anne was blamed for all kinds of stuff and Henry felt the pressure. Anne, however, rallied and together she and the King set out on a very successful progress during 1535,_covering many abbey inspections and stayed at many reformers homes. By the end of the progress, Anne was pregnant once more. In January 1536 everything apparently was going well for Anne and Henry, four or five months gone with a male child, with the death of Katherine and the potential for an alliance with the Emperor. Henry and Anne celebrated but tragically she lost her baby during those celebrations at the end of January, when the King had a bad jousting accident as well. Henry was both furious and devastated. Rows now followed with Anne over whom was to blame and Henry consulted with experts on canon law, with the intention of ending his marriage.

    The end game for Anne came in March 1536 when Jane Seymour, one of her most recent ladies in waiting, became a love interest for Henry. Anne was both seen now as in the way for any new sons by another woman and in the way of the foreign policy. Anne fell out with Thomas Cromwell and others saw her as vulnerable and began to plot her downfall. Then in April 1536 after a bizarre set of events, Cromwell acting under secret intelligence, withdrew from Court, to plot Anne’s fall. Commissions of Oyer and Terminer were set up by himself and Chancellor Thomas Audley and then the first suspects were rounded up. Now I realise that I have missed out quite a bit of detail but that’s to save time. Plenty has been said about this period without it being repeated here. On 29th April Anne had an unfortunate argument with Henry’s friend, the Groom of the Stool, Sir Henry Norris over why he didn’t marry her maid, Madge Shelton. He said he wasn’t in any rush and Anne remarked that he looked for dead mens shoes and sought to have her instead. This was imaginative of the King’s death. Anne had gone too far and rumours about her flew around the palace. On 30th April Cromwell made his first arrest taking Mark Smeaton, the musician into custody at his own home and interrogated him for 24 hours. Mark confessed to adultery with Anne and named Norris as well who was arrested the next day. Anne was arrested after a tennis match on 2nd May and her brother was also arrested. For two weeks the men arrested with Anne were held in the Tower of London and a group of female spies sent to watch and listen to her conversation. Everything she said was recorded and sent to Cromwell. Four men, Mark Smeaton, Francis Weston, William Brereton and Henry Norris were tried for treason and adultery, plotting the death of the King with Anne on numerous occasions. All four were found guilty. Anne and another, her own brother, George, charged with the same but also incest, were tried on 15th May and found guilty. None of them was guilty of anything, the entire thing was invented by Cromwell because the King was really desperate to end his marriage as soon as possible by any means necessary. The five men were beheaded on 17th May and Anne was beheaded with a sword on 19th May. Anne was buried with her brother inside the Tower of London Chapel Henry had built for Katherine of Aragon and the others in the Church yard. They were all buried with their heads which was very unusual. Henry had parties with many ladies during this time and now raced down the river to be with Jane Seymour. He married his third wife, eleven days after the execution of the second. The reaction around Europe was mixed, but many were shocked, many believed Anne was innocent and the people mumbled because of his hasty third wedding. The real truth was that Henry began to see Anne as a liability. He saw the same pattern of stillbirth and loss as he had with Katherine and he didn’t have the time or the case for another annulment. He was for some reason no longer in love with Anne, but hated her. Henry was determined Anne had to die and he had to destroy her reputation because otherwise he would look a fool. Innocent though she was, Anne had to go and Henry didn’t really care how as long as it was swift.

    1. Christine says:

      It is truly dreadful when a wife once beloved has to die because it posed too much difficulty and technicality to allow her to live, truly heinous when we know in order to shed her blood, five other’s had to have their blood shed to, and for what? All for a son for Henry V111 to rule after him, and the son he finally had lived himself barely sixteen years, and died wasting away leaving a country yet again divided by religious turmoil and a power struggle for the throne, between his anointed – his cousin, and his elder sister, Henry V111 was determined that the dynasty his father founded was to last maybe as long as the Plantagenets but there was something in the Tudor genes that sadly prevented that happening, we do not know why Elizabeth never married but it could be she thought she may not be able to bear sons herself, maybe she was traumatised by the death of her mother by her father, and the idea of marriage was abhorrent to her although when young she had toyed with the idea, but her single state meant that the Tudor dynasty died and that which her father had tried so hard to preserve, kill for was destined never to endure, the Tudors however certainly made their mark on history.

  4. Banditqueen says:

    Hi, Christine, firstly thank you for the information about Philip I and Bertha and Bertrand, sounds like a love triangle that would make a good movie.

    Anne was trying to help with the situation with Henry and his deeply entrenched legal problems with his annulment. She also saw an opportunity in an incident with one of her friends and the said Book to bring the information to Henry for his attention. Her maid came into procession of Tyndale’s work and it was confiscated by an agent of Cardinal Wolsey. Anne was asked if she could petition for the return of the book and she went to Henry to explain and it was returned. Anne is said then to have marked certain passages and brought the book to Henry who of course read it. He declared it was the book for him and began a search for other books which would back up his path to becoming Head of the English Church. Here began the road to a do it yourself annulment. Anne was into reform but not a Protestant but she wanted to see England loosed from Papal control but she unleashed on Henry something entirely unexpected, the realisation of real power, authority and thirst for independence and everything that control of the clergy would bring, both spiritual and temporal riches. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the full consequences of making a King, especially one with Henry’s growing ego head of both Church and state. It was that powerful combination that made Henry so reactionary and intolerant of opposition during the 1530s and 40s. Henry used that power to pass laws which made speaking against his marriage to Anne and denial of his new title high treason, a capital crime. It was also partly responsible for unleashing his anger and revenge on Anne herself. Henry’s personality changed radically after 1532, especially after so long fighting for an annulment and the riding accident of 1536 speeded up his decline into tyranny. Henry already showed signs of being convinced of his semi divine authority but now Tyndale’s book said he was next to God. For Henry that was music to his ears and unfortunately the whole basis of his new monarchy for years to come.

  5. Christine says:

    Yes he did see himself as a Demi god, it was very dangerous for a man of Henry V111’s character to have these new found powers, it was rather letting a seven year old run loose in the sweet shop, the consequences were dire, as for Philip he was called ‘the amorous’, he was tired of Bertha rather like Henry V111 with Katherine, and he even insulted her calling her fat, charming! Poor Katherine herself had grown rather stout and like Philip, Henry V111 was enamoured of a lithe and slender figure, He met Bertrand and had no trouble enticing her away from her husband Fulk who was himself, described as being a rather lascivious man himself, but after some time all three became friends very surprising, Bertrand had several children with Fulk and several with Philip, Bertrand was the daughter of Amaury de Montfort, possibly ancestors of the great Simon, it was Bertha however not Bertrand who gave Philip his son and heir.

  6. Banditqueen says:

    Hi Christine, I have been reading the story of Philip I called the Amorous and his two wives, Bertha and Bertranda, sister of Amaury de Montfort, daughter of Simon I de Montfort and wife of Count Fulk of Anjou and his Queen Bertha of Holland. Talk about a love triangle, this marriage had four people in it. Bertha was the first wife, the mother of his heir Louis vi, then Philip married Bertranda who was already married and despite his repudiation of Bertha, he was still legally her husband. No wonder it caused a scandal and the Pope excommunicated him. Fulk couldn’t have been too pleased either. Poor Bertha, she was the rightful Queen and had three children, Constance and Louis who lived and another little boy, Henry who died young. The couple had waited nine years for children. Even after the Pope excommunicated Philip he was too much in love with Bertranda and poor Bertha died a year later. He then had several more children with Bertranda. Then of course she already had kids with Fulk. What a mess.

    A number of French Kings got away with reputation of their wives. Philip iii did something similar but he didn’t remarry until he had been granted permission. His wife complained for years that he was unfair and everyone agreed. Philip the Fair ended up with Joan of Navarre, who was independent and yet he accused her of adultery and some people tgink that he killed her, although officially she died in childbirth. His sons first wife, Marguieritte he had accused of adultery alongside another lady, I think it was his sister in law and they were imprisoned. His son demanded his wife was set free but she was found mysteriously dead in her cell. Philip the Fair of course went on to persecute the Knights Templar because he was broke. His daughter, Isabella became the wife of Edward ii.

    It was terrible the way some Queens were treated, although few were actually executed and there Henry Viii is certainly unique. The man managed to behead not one but two, the second barely out of her teens. Anne was just another inconvenience and her treatment was particularly bad because it was merely for just that, Henry’s convenience. Dreadful.

    1. Christine says:

      Yes Philip was very handsome he was said to be quite cruel to, and it is likely that Isabella inherited his good looks as well as his lack of empathy towards those she considered her enemies, she was treated dreadfully by the Despencer’s yet showed no qualms in eating her lunch whilst he was being horribly put to death, she was known to be very beautiful and desirable, her mother was it not Joan of Navarre? Described as rather plain she had none of her daughters famous beauty, I agree some queens were treated dreadfully by their husbands, yet as we know Henry V111 was unique, with both his first two wives he had adored them both, with Anne his feelings were more violent and I do think Henry married Katherine because firstly he had a young mans crush on her and secondly he was getting a strong and powerful ally in her father Ferdinand, she was perfect he thought in every way, but not only that, she was pretty and gracious, and popular with the native English her new subjects, a true princess of the blood royal, he would also I believe have been the first to admit that Katherine had done no wrong, she had never let him down, she advised him a lot in the early days of their marriage and of course, we know about when she held the country together when she was invaded by her northern neighbour, Henry respected his wife and their union was perfect, she also proved herself to be fertile yet sadly, none of her children lived only one daughter, Henry grew perturbed and he started wrestling with his conscience, and now after so many years of bearing children Katherines figure had filled out a bit and because she was short, she probably looked quite dumpy, Henry stopped desiring her but he still respected her, they had shared triumphs and disappointment’s and had been good friends, they must have been soul mates in the early days and they were still on very amicable terms, she had no idea he was discussing with his council a way out of his marriage, he was not alone in this queens after all were meant to be fertile and provide an heir and more for their king, some queens had been divorced merely because they could not produce an heir daughters were no good, to the medieval and Tudor mind, the idea of a woman ruling horrified men, women were meant to be servile and fertile that was all, it was not considered practical to have a woman on the throne, and it was not just in England it was the same around the world, in France the Salic law forbade a woman to sit on the throne, so Katherine sadly had to make way for a younger more fertile woman, but he made a mistake there, he quoted the line from Leviticus thus declaring to her they had never been married at all, therefore they had been living in sin a Union which god frowned upon and thus they were childless as a result, when first told this news Katherine must have been shocked aghast amazed, her beloved husband was telling her she had merely been his mistress not his wife! And their precious daughter a bastard, no wonder she was determined not to know tow before Henry, he had been unfaithful to her but did not have as many lovers as his rival Francois had, Henry V111 has been called a lecher but it was quite the reverse in fact, compared to many kings he had not strayed much from the marital path, his bastard son Fitzroy was seen by him as further proof that his marriage was cursed, Wolsey his great friend and mentor was all for a French marriage something which the king was not averse to, then a young lady appeared at court and after sometime he noticed her, a slender wisp of a girl who could sing and speak prettily with a lilting French tongue, she dressed stylishly she was most elegant and witty, Henry was hooked and history was made, as he looked into her large black eyes he did not know it but the seeds of the reformation had already begun, he would go on to kill for her, discredit his queen of many years standing, and have his own reputation and honour called into account, his feelings towards Anne Boleyn were not like that comfortable love he must have once felt for Katherine, it had been more convenient to marry her, and he had been a young lad with no knowledge of women, but with Anne he was grown up, more mature and so he was probably in love for the first time in his life, certainly his feelings towards her were very strong violent almost, and with this lady she was not like his other light o loves, she was strong natured ambitious and tenacious, her timing was masterly also, he fell in love with her when he was seeking to end his first marriage and coupled with his desire and longing for her, the practical side of him also told him she was young and fertile, she could give him sons, poor Katherine had no chance, ageing going through the menopause having long lost her looks and figure, she could not compete with this exotic creature who had youth on her side, and who her husband was so besotted with, yet this great love Henry V111 had for Anne Boleyn did not save her from death many years later, neither did his love for Catherine Howard save her, one had a child a toddler, the other barely twenty yet these factors did not deter him from signing their death warrants, for sending two wives to their deaths Henry V111 stands unique in European and British history.

  7. Banditqueen says:

    Hi Christine, yes Joan of Navarre was the mother of Isabella and the three sons who succeeded Philip iv the Fair.
    She held Navarre independently and was Countess of Champagne and came to be married to him when she was eleven. Although Joan never went to Navarre, she acted as its protectress when it was threatened by her cousin Eleanor of Catalonia. She was accused of adultery because she refused to sleep with Philip for two years after the birth of one of their sons. Nothing came of it other than his rage but she returned to his bed and was quickly pregnant again. She issued her own coins. Her death in 1305 was considered to be mysterious and one source said she was poisoned, another that Philip beat her and another that she died in childbirth. Philip did jave very jealous rages so it’s possible he hit her and she lost her child and her life. It was just surrounded by mystery.

    Isabella was beautiful. She is often portrayed as an adult Queen who was highly sexed, but this is nonsense. For one thing Isabella was twelve when she came to England as Edward Prince of Wales future wife. She was married to him soon after his ascension in 1308 and was not yet fourteen. Edward famously spent his time with Piers Gaverston, his boyfriend. So no making love to Braveheart or having wild affairs as in Knights. She was more than likely a loyal wife until she fell for Roger Mortimer and renounced her marriage to her brother. She and Edward had several children and there was no evidence that he mistreated her, but three is a crowd in any marriage. Having gotten rid of Piers, Isabella found that Hugh Despenser the Younger had inserted himself into her marriage. After several years of putting up with him, his banishment and then his return, I think the Queen just had had enough. Isabella went to France so as her son, Edward could give homage to her brother for lands in France on behalf of his father. While there she famously declared herself a widow and said there were three people in her marriage. Isabella eventually led an army to England in the name of Edward whom she had crowned and her husband was forced to resign.

    Whether or not Roger Mortimer was her lover or not it was he who usurped power. Isabella had always shown herself to have a ruthless streak and as you say, she oversaw the brutal execution of Hugh Despenser in a really horrible manner while dining. Some historians claimed that Hugh had raped her but Warner dismissed this after closely studying it. Isabella was a true Capet, very much like her father. I bet she hung mice up by their tails as a kid. She was partly to blame for the accusations against her sister in law as well as she made a joke about Marguerite and two palace guards. It was then taken far too seriously. Poor Marguerite was arrested, locked up and apparently poisoned. She was found dead in her cell. Isabella was mortified as her remarks had been in jest, the stupidity of a young girl. She never forgave her father for his part in that. Isabella was of course eventually replaced by Edward iii who took over by coming through the tunnel at Nottingham Castle that led into her room and arrested Roger and his mother. Mortimer was hung as a common felon and Isabella was pardoned and given a pension. She was treated quite well by her son.

    1. Christine says:

      Yes many believe the title attached to her ‘the she wolf of England’ but they do not realise, until they study her story how dreadfully she had been treated, at her wedding to Edward the French ambassadors noticed the attention he was giving to his great favourite Piers Gaveston, whilst he ignored his beautiful bride, Isabella did try to make Edward happy in the beginning she was loyal and tried to further his interests, but he was a fool and spent all his time with his favourite, he was totally unlike his father the deadly fierce and formidable Edward, his rival the king of Scots remarked he feared the dead kings bones more than his successor, Edward really was a hopeless ineffectual king, like Henry V1 and John, being a woman I too would get really fed up if my husband were to ignore me all the time and spend every waking hour with his pretty lover, however this is debatable whether Edward actually was homosexual or not, I think he probably was, after having done his duty and providing the country with a son and several other children he probably thought he could do what he wished, poor Isabella, no wonder she fell in love with the daring Mortimer, he could well have been dashing to and more importantly he represented hope for Isabella and a chance to get even with her weak husband and the dreadful Despensers, more importantly he had a score to settle with them as well, really this woman was incredible she was the only queen consort in English history to successfully lead an army against the king, beat him and have him ousted from his throne, then he mysteriously disappeared which is always inevitable with every deposed monarch, it was said when she was given his heart she wept, her life was really a series of tragedies and triumphs and she died insane, her son however Edward 111 did love her most sincerely and yes she was well treated after her lover was executed, Edward became a great king unlike his hopeless father, I think therefore he must have inherited his mother’s spirit and courage.

  8. Banditqueen says:

    Men were terrified of female ruler. There was an academic debate which went on for two centuries over this and the question was even asked if women had souls. Christine de Prizan took part in this debate with her Court of Ladies which challenged the intellectuals of her day. Dhe wrote treatise on the subject and histories of France and criticised the hundred years war. Plenty of women ruled as Regents for their sons and husbands or in times of war. Our own Katherine of Aragon was the daughter of a female ruler, Isabella, but even her mother could not hold her crown without her marriage to Ferdinand because she was a usurper. Her half brothers had been preferred over her and she had to fight for her crown. This fact is always neatly written out by historians because she proved to be a strong and capable warrior Queen. She was also a wife and mother and produced two warrior Queens..Katherine and Juanna. Eleanor of Aquitaine was heiress in her own right to the Duchy but she was meant to rule it for her husband when she married Henry ii. Even she was the victim of having her first marriage declared null and void but her two daughters were protected by Church Law. Louis xii, the Monk, was another one who kept going through wives until one produced a son, by his third wife. At least he merely annulled the marriage. The daughter of Maximillan, Margaret of the Netherlands was the most powerful female ruler during her Regency in the 1500s and 1520s. Women were in reality more than capable of ruling and men knew it, they just refused to believe it. Women ran the estate when her husband was away at Parliament, at war or at Court. Women ruled at home for years during the Crusades. They just couldn’t do it in their own right as female Kings. Men made the rules and men therefore ruled. Henry was no different there than any other ruler. He was, however, pretty unique in his solutions. Killing the wife because you have made life so complicated with your ridiculous legislation to ensure that the said same wife is your only legal wife, that was a first for everyone.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      There is no doubt in my mind that Henry would have ever have left Katherine of Aragon had her children lived, even just one son because he was devoted to her. I agree I think Henry had a crush on Katherine, saw her as the key to a grand alliance and he had been betrothed to her for years. Now Henry Tudor, his father did cause complications because he first of all neglected Katherine after Arthur died and although probably an exaggeration, Katherine had to write to her father for money. She was selling her things to buy food, Katherine claimed. Well maybe the food wasn’t what she was used to as I very much doubt that Henry would starve his best asset. There was a wrangle going on about both the return of Katherine’s dowry first and then the payment of the instalments. Henry also demanded a bigger dowry if Ferdinand wanted Henry for her. There was a problem over the treaty ever being fulfilled, with Henry in 1505 being forced to renounce Katherine. Henry was actually promised to Juana, her sister who was a widow a bit later on, although nothing came from it. At some point Henry Vii said he would marry Katherine himself but she was outraged at the prospect. Ferdinand made Katherine his Ambassador, the first woman to hold such an honour. This raised his daughters status and off course her treatment improved. Prince Henry made it known that he still had the hope of marriage to Katherine and there is evidence that Henry loved Katherine and she was hoping for his hand. As soon as his father had died, Henry made for Katherine and announced his intentions to marry her. Within weeks of Henry Tudor’s death in April 1509, the seventeen year old superstar completed the treaty with Spain and Katherine was prepared to become his wife.

      On 11th June 1509 Henry Viii married Katherine in a private but full ceremony at the Chapel of the Observant Friars at Greenwich Palace and on Mid Summer Day the happy couple were publicly crowned in an elaborate and rare joint coronation at Westminster Abbey. The crowds went wild with joy and the couple celebrated for weeks. Katherine was the woman who taught Henry viii how to be a King. For a number of years, yes, Henry took counsel from his wife as well ad his ministers. The power couple of the age were popular, Henry dressed up for Katherine, she watched him with love as he jousted or played tennis. She hunted with him and she loved the attention and the couple were merry together. However, the happiness of Katherine and Henry Viii was scattered with sadness as they buried and mourned their children. A healthy son had been born on 1st January 1511 and he was named Henry also and made Duke of Cornwall. Henry held tournaments for Katherine, he partied with Katherine and the couple really went to town to celebrate the birth of their son and heir. However, after 52 days, near the end of February, little Henry died. Experts believe he suffered a cot death as no illness is reported. Katherine lamented and Henry was devastated and together they wept and mourned. However, this was only the beginning. Katherine was regularly pregnant and we know that she wrote to her husband in 1513 when he was fighting in France that she was preparing to repel the Scots and also that she was pregnant. Katherine wore specialist armour to accommodate her growing belly and she despatched the Earl of Surrey North. Katherine followed with another army she raised herself but it wasn’t needed. The Scots were defeated at Flodden in September 1513. Katherine wanted to send Henry the head of the Scots King, killed in the battle, being James iv, husband to his sister, Margaret but her Council persuaded her to send his coat instead. In either late 1513 or early 1514 Katherine bore another son who died after a few days. Finally in February 1516,_Mary was born and lived and there was hope. However, Katherine had only one last pregnancy, a girl who was stillborn. By 1524, with the possibility that Katherine may not have been able to bear any more children, Henry began to question his marriage.

      I am absolutely convinced that Henry really did believe his marriage to Katherine was cursed and that had Katherine agreed to an annulment, he would have seen that she was well provided for, just as he did with Anna of Cleves and he would have protected Mary his pearl. I doubt Henry expected Katherine to refuse him because she loved him very much and she had always worked to please and promote his intentions. Given how much Henry admired Katherine, I am also amazed at his treatment of her after 1533. Katherine, however, was the rightful Queen and wasn’t going anywhere. She believed Anne Boleyn was a passing interest and Henry would see reason. Two pig headed passionate and very devout people went head to head in the longest and bitterest divorce case in history. Katherine gave as good as she got and she had the support of the English people. She was also the Aunt of the Holy Roman Emperor and obviously used her family connections to stop the Pope from ruling for Henry.

      Henry had also fallen in love, deeply, passionately, truly and hopelessly with Anne Boleyn, the daughter of one of his long-term courtiers and Ambassador, the Controller of his Household, Thomas Boleyn and his wife, Elizabeth Howard, sister of the Duke of Norfolk, whose father had led the forces at Flodden. Anne was influenced by all things French, having spent several years there under the watchful eye of Queen Claude. Anne was stylish, elegant, spoke French like a French woman, was intelligent, interested in reform and theology, witty and an obvious catch. She drove Henry mad by saying no. Henry wanted sons and Anne promised him sons if he made her his wife. He now had another reason to want an annulment, he had a bride in mind. Unfortunately for both Anne and Henry, Katherine also said no and believed her marriage was valid and that she was born to be Queen. When God made these two, He matched them as my grandmother would say. Katherine made a wonderful and victorious speech to the Court at Blackfriars, the case went to Rome and until Summer 1531 Katherine lived in the palace, making Henry’s shirts. Anne had one almighty meltdown and Henry finally left the woman he had been married to for 24 years, with whom he had shared and lost so much. He didn’t even say goodbye.

      When Anne was pregnant very early in 1533 everyone believed she carried the son and heir Henry had hoped for. Henry gave his sweetheart the most magnificent coronation ever seen. Anne and Henry loved each other and like Katherine they began with confidence. Anne was over the moon. She retired for her laying in and the celebrations were duly ordered. Imagine, then the let down when the longed for heir turned out to be another girl. Henry put on a good face and Elizabeth was given everything a royal baby could wish for, rockers, servants, a beautiful cradle made by Hans Holbein, robes, the cloth of state and so on. Henry was an attentive father and Anne a very hands on mum. She was also soon pregnant again but as we know her fertility record mirrored that of Katherine. Anne also had difficulty making the transition from mistress to wife and the couple argued in public a lot. They remained close and very passionate and merry together but things began to go wrong in 1535. Henry was showing signs of fatigue with Anne who was having a problem conceiving. After a triumphant progress, though, she was pregnant once more with a son this time. Katherine died on 7th January 1536 and Henry and Anne celebrated for weeks. Henry decided to have a tournament and during this tournament he was injured when he fell from his horse. He may have been unconscious for two hours or not, but he definitely did some damage to his leg because an old wound was reopened. He was never the same again and he never jousted again. Anne had a miscarriage a few days later which she blamed on the shock. The baby was a boy. Henry was devastated, as was Anne, but Henry blamed her. Anne in turn blamed Henry who was having another affair. We don’t know the lady in question but it may have been Jane Seymour. By March Henry was on the war path, consulting with experts on canon law and trying to find a legal way out of his marriage. The job was then given to Thomas Cromwell who had fallen out with the Queen and he set to making a case by which he could get rid of Anne permanently. Henry when he learned of her alleged adultery was determined to play the hurt husband and be rid of poor Anne as soon as possible. Henry wanted a clean break and no question over his third marriage. You can’t remarry if you have a living wife but another annulment would make him look ridiculous. For Henry, Anne had to die. We all know what happened next, Anne was abandoned and Henry moved on as if she had never existed. While Anne and the five men brought up on false charges with her of adultery and treason languished in the Tower of London, Henry entertained many ladies. He really didn’t care what happened next, Anne and her co conspirators had to die. He did show some compassion for the woman he had loved so much, by ordering that an expert swordsman come from Calais to behead his wife. However, everything else he did was to blacken her name, accusing her of incest with her own brother. Even after Anne was laid to rest in an arrow chest in the Royal Chapel of Saint Peter ad Vincula, built as a gesture of love for his first wife, Katherine, Henry was off to see Jane Seymour. If that wasn’t bad enough, he married Jane eleven days later, much to the outrage of the people in London. Fortunately for Jane the baby she bore on 12th October 1537, was a boy, Edward who lived. Unfortunately, Jane succumbed to the complications of childbirth twelve days later and died. Henry granted her a state funeral and she was buried in Windsor. Henry joined her there for eternity on 28th January 1547. Edward only lived for fifteen years and nine months before leaving the crown to his cousin Jane who was replaced by Mary as the legitimate and natural heir. Mary reigned for six years successfully and her sister, Elizabeth, unexpectedly came to the throne in 1558 and ruled for over 44 years with success.Only one Queen of Henry Viii had a state funeral in Westminster Abbey, Anne of Cleves, the smart one who got away and was probably his most successful Queen and certainly could have taught a few of them some wisdom.

    2. Christine says:

      Yes I have heard of Christine de Prizan she challenged the notion that women may not have had souls, a really preposterous idea, yet some ideas regarding the fairer sex were quite bizarre, there were a lot of old wives tales about menstruating women and when we see that for hundreds and hundreds of years, women were held solely responsible for the sex and health of their children, due to advanced medical knowledge people now know that it is the male sperm that determines the sex of the child, knowledge that would have horrified Henry V111, and his male contemporaries, Eleanor was said to be tired of Louis, and we can see knowing something of her character, that he was not manly enough for her, hardly surprising he was called the monk, he did not want to divorce her as it was said he loved her quite hopelessly and childishly, and after she married Henry 11 shortly after he was furious, Henry 11 was a great king and enigmatic to, during his rule the Angevin empire grew till it covered nearly all of France, it must have been pitiful when he died having been defeated by a mere boy, Philip of France, and son of the man whom he had snatched his wife from, but it’s true, women were just as intelligent as men and capable of ruling, ladies of the nobility were taught from young how to run a great household, how to keep accounts and distill herbs and do other domestic duties, although of course they had servants for preparing the food, however if they had guests arriving the mistress of the house would take it upon herself to make a marchpane cake, it was a centrepiece made of marzipan, the modern name for marchpane, and she would sit and ground the almonds for hours which must have been really back breaking work, when the cake had been baked it would then be iced and gilded and decorated with dried rose petals and other various fruits and candies, Henry V111 had a female confectionery chef who specialised in producing sugary masterpieces, elaborate meringue dishes which must have been marvellous to look at as well as to eat, when it came to the practicalities women when queen consorts were expected to hold the fort when the king went abroad, wether to war or to visit a neighbour, Eleanor was a successful Duchess ruler in her own right and Isabella wife of Edward 11 certainly proved her mettle when she decided to invade England and topple Edward, but then she did have Mortimer with her, even so she showed remarkable courage, Anne Boleyn had had the luxury of a very good upbringing like her rival Katherine of Aragon, Catherine Parr also was highly educated and was the first woman to have her works published, these ladies brought up in a male dominated society, knew much more than how to sit pretty and embroider, Marguerite of Alencon the sister of King Francois was said to be one of the most intellectuals of her day, and Marguerite of Savoy, whose court was one of the most polished and sophisticated in Europe, schooled her ladies who were sent to her, one of whom was Anne Boleyn, into the most learned and educated pupils of the century, so women were noted for their brains and Henry V111 himself loved a debate, here’s where his attraction to Anne Boleyn possibly began, she was interested in theology and reform like her brother George, Henry being very much a 16th c man and king, looked on women as the weaker sex yet admired her enthusiasm and learning, he acknowledged that women were clever creatures yet like so many of his contemporaries did not think women were suited for ruling, even though he had his mother in law, the formidable Isabella as a good example of female queenship, he was aware he was only the second ruler of a new dynasty and he believed as did many, that if he left his realm to a girl his countries stability maybe weakened, and possibly open more easily to invasion, his father Henry V11 probably instilled in him the need for a son, he himself ever since he had defeated Richard 111 at Bosworth had never felt safe on the throne, having to endure pretenders popping out of the woodwork, it was really his wife who kept the throne steady for him, being the daughter of Edward 1V people saw her as the rightful princess to sit on the throne, Henry V111 really was troubled by his lack of heirs, and I do believe although it was a very convenient excuse to declare his marriage was null and void, that he did genuinely believe that his marriage was curses by god, both he and Katherine were extremely pious why should god not grant them a son? What had they done to displease the almighty ? Yet the way he went about to get a son made his councillors and churchman tear out their hair with sheer worry, he waited for seven years to marry her, then used the old excuse he had used to get rid of Katherine, another anullment the marriage had never been as he had been intimate with her sister, he had used Katherines marriage to Arthur as his first excuse, now Mary Boleyn was used to end his second marriage, however more dreadful for Anne as Bq mentions, she had to die as there was to be no legal wrangling over the validity of his third marriage, Henry V111 used his new found powers to do what he liked, making new laws to suit himself, Henry V111 really must have made a lot of his female subjects very uneasy with the way he managed to get rid of so many of his wives..

  9. Banditqueen says:

    Today was the day that in 1542 an Attainder was brought before Parliament for two more women, Kathryn Howard and Jane Boleyn, Vicountess Rochford. To cut a very long Attainder short Kathryn was accused of living an debauched sexual life before her marriage, that by employing Francis Dereham, her former lover after she became Queen that she intended to carry on with that life, that she had distain for her marriage and that she intended to live a debauched life with Culpeper, which was an intention to commit treason. Kathryn wasn’t attained for adultery. Jane was accused of providing the men for Kathryn, called a Bawd, which is basically a Madame of a brothel and the pair were jointly accused of plotting everything together. The men had already been tried and executed so the Bills should have passed in Parliament without a problem. However, there were concerns and the debate led to a delegation going to the King. A second reading was made on 28th January and the Council petitioned Henry to allow them to speak with the Queen. To their surprise he actually agreed. However, the meeting never took place and the Attainder was passed on 11th February, two days prior to the execution of the two women. The only meeting any Council members had with the Queen was to read the warrant of her arrest and take her to the Tower. Now Gareth Russell in his wonderful book on Kathryn says she was actually offered a hearing but refused. Maybe that was Henry refusing for her. That an Act of Attainder took three readings to pass in Parliament under Henry Viii shows that this process wasn’t just automatic and that the members had problems with the charges and didn’t think that they amounted to treason. Henry, however, was so hurt by Kathryn and her lifestyle and deception that he signed the Bill and sent his young wife to the block.

    In a post script to the end of Kathryn Howard, in future it was to become treason for a woman who wasn’t a virgin or a modest widow to marry the King, unless they declared their sexual past first. No wonder his last wife was a mature widow in her mid thirties, whose marital history was well documented, who was still good looking, well educated and had experience of two older and sick husbands. Katherine Parr was a good companion to Henry, a mother and teacher to his children and he trusted her to rule while he was in France. Her only flaw was her religious fervour for the Protestant Faith and her running her Court like an Evangelical meeting. She was outspoken and said the wrong thing in front of a number of Henry’s friends and Stephen Gardiner persuaded him to allow an investigation into her alleged heretical behaviour. Henry allowed an arrest warrant to be signed but Kathryn saw it, came to Henry and did some sucking up. She told him her opinions were of no account as they were a woman’s silly notions and she spoke only to learn from him, her husband and Head. Henry liked his ego to be massaged and forgave her. The next day when guards came with the warrant which wasn’t recalled, Henry made a holy show of them and they ran out, frightened and embarrassed. Henry admired women with brains, he called on the counsel of his first two wives and he praised female education. However, like most men of his time, he stopped at accepting advice and listening to female voices once they came into conflict with his own.

    Henry’s reputation regarding his wives gained him international criticism and his loss of three wives, one who was beheaded, one because of his ill treatment of her and one in childbirth was the reason few ladies would have him when he was looking for wife no four. It took the sixteen years old Christina of Milan to tell him that she would accept him if she had two heads, but alas she has only one, to really sum him up.

  10. Christine says:

    Yes Henry did like a debate and he admired educated and learned women, as we have said, he was partly attracted to his second wife because of her lively mind, but he did not like to be educated by them, they were after all lowly creatures, the daughters of Eve, Katherine was not unlike his second queen, but she really was playing with fire as when the new reforms came out Gardiner, who was no friend of hers deploring the new religion, and many others considered this to be heresy, he had the queen watched and her apartments searched, but the queen had got wind of this and had her books hidden, but she nearly became the third queen of Henry V111 to lose her head, wether the king would actually have had her executed we will never know, he may have had her sent to the Tower as you mention, an armed guard arrived whilst she sat in the gardens with Henry, but knowing how much of a tyrant he was by now, in his last years he could well have, because at this stage in his life he did not seem to care what people thought of him, he slew at will, but he was fond of his Kat, she was a most soothing nursemaid, she was mature patient and kind, his children were fond of her, it was by sheer good luck for her that she saw the death warrant, but the blood must have drained from her face as she read it, according to one tale she became hysterical with fear and sobbed maniacally, the king on hearing her asked what ailed her, she then as an educated woman must have felt so hypocritical, as she implored the king she meant no harm, she did not seek to educate him only she liked him to challenge her and point out where she had gone wrong, in other words yes, sucking up! But she was a desperate woman fighting for her life, she had the sheer good fortune of being near the king in the same residence as him to be able to plead her cause with him, Anne Boleyn had not that luxury, for Henry was miles away when he ordered Anne to be taken to the Tower, little Catherine Howard was confined to her quarters in Hampton Court and never saw the king again, but Katherine we can say, third time lucky, she was to be the old monarchs final wife and she did not go to the block, fortune smiled on her, but her next husband was to treat her with careless abandon, her story is very sad because she did survive Henry V111, but the love she sought with her fourth and final husband was to cause her much unhappiness, and she became a victim of that which claimed so many women of her time, the dangers of childbirth.

  11. Christine says:

    Henry V111 really had gained a very bad reputation abroad because of his marital history, his first wife yes was treated dreadfully, his second beheaded and his third died in childbirth, with his third wife this was not his fault but it did nothing for his reputation and it must have seemed to many, that any wife of his was jinxed – cursed, no monarch had ever beheaded his wife before it was unthinkable, many have died in suspicious circumstances and I think there was a medieval foreign king who did send his wife to her death, but it certainly wasn’t the norm and it did make other potential brides very wary, in fact I can just see some poor princess or noble woman abroad, sitting at her fathers knee imploring him not to arrange any marriage with this king, as Starkey said in his series ‘The Six Wives Of Henry V111’, ‘Henry searched abroad but princess after princess turned him down’, Henry was enchanted by the young Duchess of Milan’s portrait which is housed in Her Majesty’s private collection, she is young only about seventeen or a bit older when painted, and very fair, her face and skin look like translucent marble against the luxurious midnight black velvet robes she wears, Henry forgot one thing, she was his first wives niece and as she reported back to the English ambassador, her poor noble aunt was ill treated and his second beheaded, and his third was said to have died through lack of care in childbed, and then she declared ‘if she had two heads, one would be at his Majesty’s disposal, alas she only had the one’! Henrys ambassador quite likely did not repeat this back to the king, as he would have been furious and probably would have sworn and thrown a goblet at the poor man, but it was said that Henry kept a miniature of the young Duchess Christina by his bed till he died, he saw a portrait of Marie de Guise a French noblewoman, much more mature than the Duchess she chose his handsome much younger nephew for her bridegroom instead, the king of Scots, after in response to Henry’s remark that he liked big women, known to be tall like her brothers something which she passed onto her daughter, she replied she maybe big but her neck was little, if this had been the Victorian age Henry V111 would have been the subject of musical hall songs and jokes, so Henry had to give up fantasising about Christina’s youthful charms and Marie’s big child bearing hips and allowed Cromwell to seek out a German alliance with the Duke of Cleve’s sister, poor Anna! The Duke obviously did not have the same qualms about marrying of one of his sisters to the English Nero as he was fast becoming known as, but Anna and her sister must have had some worries, when she was settled in England as Henry’s bride and fourth queen, knowing of his displeasure, she nervously asked if he would have her killed, it does indeed tell us a lot about this kings reputation at home and abroad, at one time people spoke of Henry V111’s marvellous court, it was cultured and magnificent, he was spoken of as being the most handsomest prince in Christendom, the most charismatic and learned, he spoke several languages he excelled at the joust, he excelled at archery and tennis and horse riding, he was merry affable and approachable, his people loved him, foreign courts sang of his many gifts and beside him was his Spanish bride, young pretty they were the golden couple, now all that was gone, his first wife was dead after having been discarded for his mistress, she also was dead, and it was said she had been slaughtered on false charges, his third queen was also dead and he had changed irrevocably, the merry nature was gone along with his fine physique, now growing very fat his once sharp blue eyes had become like slits in his jowly red face, his once golden red hair was turning silver and he was balding, but he still wore his beard, and dressed magnificently, but his character had changed into something more paranoid, something darker, he was in fact on a downward slope, and the disappointment over his poor unfortunate fourth wife, and the misery caused by his fifth did nothing to help his general mood.

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