Full question - Was Jane Rochford forced to lie? or did she really hate her husband so much that she made up the incest lie all by herself?
Most historians believe that Jane's testimony regarding Anne and George's alleged incestuous relationship was driven by spite and jealousy, and George Wyatt (son of Thomas Wyatt) also believed this. However, Julia Fox, biographer of Jane, suggests that Jane had a warm friendly relationship with Anne Boleyn and that Jane was frightened by Cromwell and what was happening and that her words were twisted. Fox says:
"Jane Rochford found herself dragged into a maelstrom of intrigue, innuendo and speculation. For when Cromwell sent for Jane, he already had much of what he needed, not only to bring down Anne and her circle, but to make possible the king's marriage to Jane Seymour... The questions to Jane [Rochford] would have come thick and fast... Faced with such relentless, incessant questions, which she had no choice but to answer, Jane would have searched her memory for every tiny incident that occurred to her... [But] Jane had not been quick to tell tales, but she had buckled under the pressure of relentless questioning... And it was her weakness under interrogation that gave her future detractors - happy to find a scapegoat to exonerate the king from the heinous charge of callously killing his innocent wife - the ammunition to maintain that it was her evidence that had fooled Henry and destroyed Anne and George..." (quoted from Wikipedia).
I'm looking forward to reading Julia Fox's book!
4 thoughts on “Was Jane Rochford forced to lie?”
Although it is indeed true that Cromwell was very gung-ho about destroying Anne Boleyn, I still believe Jane herself had ulterior motives. Although it has never been proven that George Boleyn was gay, Jane & Georges’ marriage was not a good one. It is clear that he did not like her very much. And I’m not 100% positive she wanted to marry him. This possibly built up into a pretty good animosity toward George & his family, & she may have thought…well, now, here is a perfect opportunity to get even.
The myths about Jane are a good example of the way that just about anything can be believed if it’s repeated often enough over a long period of time. The evidence just does not add up to support the argument that she betrayed George for spiteful reasons, or even that this is what she intended to do. I have read Julia Fox’s book MANY times, and there are arguments in it that everyone needs to know if they’re interested in the subject.
But let’s say that we don’t believe a thing from the Fox book. There’s still the direct historical evidence that Jane had to beg Cromwell for a fairer deal on her jointure (the letter survives.) The prevailing theory is that Cromwell somehow “rewarded” her for her testimony about George– this OBVIOUSLY couldn’t have been the case if she’s writing a pleading letter for a fair deal later on. And there were NO contemporary accusations against Jane– they all came much later, in some cases, hundreds of years later.
Jane was needed as a scapegoat. Someone had to be blamed for both Anne and George’s death, and she was convenient. Her real crime was that she was a woman who tried to lead an independent life, to live on her own rather than remarrying, and to survive financially all by herself. How incredibly sad that she is still being vilified for this over four hundred years later. Maybe we haven’t changed so much after all.
Anyway, this comment is more than two years old, so I’m not sure that anyone will ever read this– but every chance to set the record straight is important.
I read your comment and I absolutely agree! While I haven’t read Fox’s book yet, it is on my list and I will be there soon. Your comment made me look forward to it even more!
I read your comment, and found it interestin, thanks