On this day in 1536, 3rd May, Queen Anne Boleyn had just 16 days to live and she was now imprisoned in the Tower of London, albeit in the lavish Queen’s apartments.

Her good friend, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, had heard news of Anne Boleyn’s arrest, and wrote to King Henry VIII regarding what he’d heard. Meanwhile, the crown’s investigation wasn’t quite going according to plan – only one man had confessed, the others just wouldn’t.

Find out more about what was going on in this video:

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And today’s normal “on this day” video is about courtier, member of Parliament, and privy councillor, Sir Edward Rogers, who managed to serve three monarchs and keep his head!

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5 thoughts on “The Fall of Anne Boleyn: Day -16”
  1. Something about the wording of Cranmer’s letter sounds like he didn’t believe the accusations against Anne and the letter was used as an enquiry to find out what happened. He knew well enough not to ask outright because he was very much aware of what Henry’s reaction could/would be. During this whole episode of the downfall of the six innocents I imagine many were walking on eggshells around the King. The fact that we are talking about this 484 yrs later shows that even at the time people knew something was wrong about the whole episode.

  2. I can’t for one moment believe that Thomas Cranmer believed any of the terrible accusations against Anne, even though he had been summoned to the Star Chamber and by the King to move from Lambeth to Court to give counsel. Henry really did want everyone to feel sorry for him. Clearly Cranmer has heard the reports from Sussex and other Lords, he was deeply shocked, but he was also pragmatic in his response. His first duty was to write to the King, to show his outrage at the deception of the Queen, to sympathise, to give spiritual consolation and to assure Henry that he is acting out of righteousness. However, the Archbishop also expressed alarm because Anne was a woman who followed the Scriptures, a woman who was devoted to those same Scriptures, and he is personally saddened because Anne was a “friend of the Gospel” a patron of reform and the Bible in English . No, he doesn’t believe any of it, there is a hint in those carefully chosen words. His last words are chosen to show that if Anne is indeed guilty her judgement will be in the next world and this and Henry will not condemn her unjustly. The letter actually makes me feel angry because Anne was one of his patrons, that is why he used the word “beholden” to describe his gratitude to Anne. Although it was through Cromwell that he came to Henry’s notice, Anne had acted as a friend and patron and ally towards Cranmer and other reformers. This is a very difficult letter to read and it must have sickened Cranmer to write it. From the point of view of someone reading this for the first time, one might see it as a betrayal, turning his back on a woman to whom he owed so much but that’s too simple a judgement. Thomas Cranmer also owed his position to the King, his first loyalty was to the King, his life and loyalty depended upon the King, he had to show support if he wanted to keep them, while phrasing his letter to show his hidden disbelief.

  3. Sir William Kingston wrote his first report to Cromwell in order to build a case because the women around her were spies and enemies and were there to report her words.
    Anne had said some very strange things because of the hysteria and stress and fear she was experiencing, such as being as clear from sin as she was from men, meaning she was free from sexual sin and no man had touched her but her husband. She had asked if she would have justice and been informed the “meanest of His Grace’s subjects shall not want for justice” but we all know Anne and the others found no justice here. Anne also accidentally drew another man into the frame by talking about Francis Weston . She referred to two conversations from long ago, one from the previous Whit and one from a year earlier. The woman obviously had a good memory. She started to babble and talk about him saying that he came into her presence more for her than any other lady snd again she rebuked Weston for seeing her cousin Madge Sheldon rather than his wife and he responded that he loved the Queen more than any other woman. Anne feared him more than anyone if he was arrested. In fact he wasn’t even on the radar until Anne started talking. She was merely trying to work out what she was doing there and why these false charges had arisen. Weston and another man, William Brereton were arrested the next day, the latter because of political differences with Cromwell and possibly because of the gossip of Lady Worcester. Anthony Browne, her brother saw him as a nuisance and his conversation with Cromwell might have had unforseen consequences for his brother in law.

    The two men already arrested, other than Smeaton, Henry Norris and George Boleyn had been interrogated further but had refused to give any evidence or confess anything against Queen Anne. Her Vice Chamberlain, Edward Braynton wrote to her household treasurer William Fitzwilliam the above and that one of her ladies that he was friendly with, Margaret Horshman, indicating she was providing information and she was later named in other sources but whatever she knew it could not have been anything significant because she doesn’t appear to have been a witness or charged with misprison. Maybe she was being probed but had given no real information.

    Anne must have really been out of her mind at this point, she complained about her treatment, about the women that had been put in charge of her, about being surrounded by enemies and her fears. Many of the things she said reveal her anxiety and the sheer terror she experienced and her guard was down. Much of what she revealed was innocent, but it was taken and twisted and turned into evidence of dark conspiracies, plotting the King’s death and that Anne was rounding up these men as her lovers and enjoying their company too much. Weston was most likely talking about platonic love, the worship of the Queen as in the games of courtly love, but evil minds saw seduction, procurement, conspiracy and treasonous incest and criminal adultery. Anne couldn’t defend herself either because very little information was given her about the actual indictments and she was going out of her mind just attempting to work everything out.

  4. Cranmer was a friend of the Queen and he did want to defend her but he darent show too much loyalty in his letter to the king, he was he said ‘fair amazed for he never had better opinion of woman than he had of her’, after her execution he met Alexander Ales in the gardens and wept, telling him ‘she who was queen on earth is now Queen in heaven’, he could not have been the only one who doubted the so called sexual demeanours of the Queen, and it was not looking to good for the prosecution either, as only Smeaton had confessed but they could not get anything out of Norris or George, and they dare not torture them, Anne was in a sense of heightened anxiety and innocently led to Francis Weston being arrested, her talk was just gabble but she brought to mind a conversation innocent enough about his interest in her cousin, it was no more than courtly love banter, but Cromwell turned it into something sinister and treasonous, Weston had not been married young and was in the kings set, in fact all the men arrested were in the kings social circle, Norris and George Boleyn to, Brereton was the outsider, Anne was in torment going over in her mind what on earth was going on, she laughed and gabbled incessantly and cried and Sir William Kingston remarked, that never had he known a prisoner like Anne, she had known for months that something awful was going to happen to her, yet she could not have foreseen just how dreadful it would be, and just like Bluebeard, away up the river, as his second queen languished in her gilded cage, the king donned his feather cap and rode out with his latest love Jane Seymour to dine in great company, one can picture the wretched queen miserable and frightened, looked over by the group of women who maybe huddled together like a band of harpy’s, and the king beaming with satisfaction as he chewed into a chicken leg and drunk claret with gusto, his eyes meeting those of his intended over the snowy linen cloth.

    1. As I said, Henry was bad at pretending to be the grieving cuckolded husband and couldn’t wait to stop. Is it any wonder people were suspicious about the whole nasty proceedings against the six.

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