On this day in 1536, in the lead up to Queen Anne Boleyn’s fall, Anne met with her chaplain, Matthew Parker.

The words that Anne Boleyn spoke to Parker that day had such an impact on him that they stayed with him for the rest of his life and made him take an office that he really didn’t want in her daughter’s reign.

Find out more about this in my video on 26th April 1536:

Also on this day in history, we have another Boleyn-related evident. Anne Boleyn’s niece, Catherine Carey, got married to Sir Francis Knollys:

You can see today’s “on this day” video, which is about William Shakespeare and the plague hitting his hometown, on the Anne Boleyn Files and Tudor Society YouTube channel – click here.

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6 thoughts on “The Fall of Anne Boleyn: Day -23”
  1. I love this account. Throughout these whole terrible proceedings we read about the backstabbers, gossipers and liars but here is a bit of sunshine. This was a man of great honor. The conversation between Anne and Mathew Parker was most likely private so if he chose to he could have walked away from his promises after her death but he did not. He kept his promise to look after Elizabeth and after she came to the throne she gave him an appointment he neither saught nor wanted but did accept. He obviously thought highly of Anne Boleyn and I’m sure in his dealings with Elizabeth after she grew up he corrected a lot of misinformation she may have heard about her mother as she was growing up.

  2. Matthew Parker only accepted the position offered to him by the new Queen Elizabeth to be her Archbishop of Canterbury because he felt he had a debt of honour to her and felt he owed her and her mother his service because of the promise he had made Anne Boleyn on this day in April 1536. No I don’t believe it was a mere coincidence that Anne sought out her chaplain, a reformer and a man of honour, just a few days before her arrest on trumped up charges. We don’t know what he promised Elizabeth’s mother, but given that Parker recalled it to Elizabeth in this moving letter, I am guessing Anne asked Parker to care for her daughter or at least to watch over her interest as best he could should anything happen to her and he gave her his promise. I don’t know how much influence Matthew Parker was able to have but I am certain he would have tried his best to do keep his promise and to reassure the poor Queen of his support. Anne probably didn’t really know what was happening but she was intelligent enough to read body languages and the atmosphere around her. She sensed something was afoot and her instinct as a mother was to protect her little daughter and her future. Even if she merely feared being set aside Anne knew from experience that would mean not seeing Elizabeth again, her child belonged to the state and it was up to the King if he agreed access to Elizabeth or not. Katherine was separated from Mary, Anne may be sent away as well. The atmosphere could probably have been cut with a knife.

    I find it very moving that Matthew Parker remembered he felt beholden to Anne and to Elizabeth in such a personal way all those years later and we have his thoughts as he recalled Anne’s visit. He was a man of honour and now he fulfilled his promise by service to the new Queen and to God.

  3. Mathew Parker was indeed a man of honour and Anne knew that, we will never know what she said to him but I thought the ‘The Tudors’ portrayed it very well, it showed Anne frantically asking Parker to give her daughter spiritual guidance if anything were to happen to her, she knew how ruthless the king could be she had seen how he dealt with an unwanted wife, and yes I agree with Bq, Anne knew that if she was to be banished suddenly from the court then she may have been denied access to Elizabeth, what thoughts were going through her mind, she was aware something was afoot, the king was closeted with his ministers for hours and she knew her husband was paying court to Jane Seymour, she knew he no longer loved her and she must have been turning over in her mind what was going to happen to her, never however could she have dreamed what form it would take, Mathew Parker must have had access to Anne’s innermost thoughts and fears and years after, when he became Elizabeth’s Archbishop, he must have told his queen of the love and reverence he had held for Anne, and how she had entrusted him with her daughters care, it is nice to know that Anne had such a chaplain and he did revere her memory by honouring the debt he made to her daughter.

  4. Anne must have been exceptionally worried during these last few days before her arrest on 2nd May by the members of the King’s Council to whom she was summoned from the tennis match she was watching that May holiday. Her chaplains were sympathetic to her cause and she had appointed men who shared her own reformist values. I can imagine her saying good evening to her daughter before she went to her chambers and then sending for Matthew Parker and begging him to care for her little daughter, maybe fighting back the tears as she kept her Queenly dignity as best she could. She would beg him to instruct her daughter in the Gospel and her own spiritual way and to watch over her and maybe tell him she trusted him with this task.

    We don’t actually know if Elizabeth was at Court or if Anne actually had her sent for her but Anne was recorded by William Latymer of having Elizabeth in her arms during an argument a few days later, appealing to Henry for another chance and reason. She was described as righteous and Henry as a paragon. Both were praised for being orthodox and some people believe Latymer was inventing a narrative in order to praise Anne but his report fits with the background tensions going on during the final days of April 1536. Henry was extremely angry and Anne was trying to make an appeal to him and through Elizabeth begged him to save their marriage. This was probably the last time she saw Elizabeth, although Henry would act as if everything was fine and again, with his accomplished deceit, he appeared at the May Day Joust, just as if nothing was going on. Anne couldn’t do anything to save herself and had to keep what dignity she could while these terrible events played themselves out.

    1. Was it not Alexander Ales who witnessed that altercation between Anne and Henry, I believe he told Elizabeth of it years later and he admitted he felt saddened by it, he told her he would never forget seeing her saintly mother carrying her a little baby in her arms, no one could hear what they were saying and Henry was speaking to Anne through the upstairs window whilst she was outside below on the green, it must have made Elizabeth feel for her mother and maybe after that she commissioned the ring with their two portraits conjoined, this last week of April was to prove tumultuous for Anne and she must have begun to feel seriously worried, like the hare caught between the hunting dogs she must have begun to feel trapped.

      1. That’s right, Alexander Ales, you know I always mix him up with Latymer, ever time. Mind you I now have lockdown brain so am probably mixing a few things, working from memory. I might have to check in future. It is a very moving letter and it must have been heart wrenching to witness and experience. He certainly captured the spirit and fear of the moment. It’s heart breaking.

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