The Fall of Anne Boleyn – The Various Theories
Posted By Claire on April 9, 2013
Thank you so much to Tamise from The Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide for inspiring this post. Tamise emailed me and asked me if I’d consider writing a post outlining the differing views regarding Anne Boleyn’s fall and I thought it was an excellent idea.
The responsibility for Anne’s fall is something I discuss towards the end of my book, The Fall of Anne Boleyn, but in this article I will examine which historians/authors believe which theory. I’m not going to go into full detail here, but you can obviously read the authors’/historians’ views for yourselves by reading their books or articles.
By the way, my list of authors/historians is not exhaustive, so please feel free to comment below with authors’/historians’ views you’ve come across too.
Thomas Cromwell as instigator of a plot against Anne
Eric Ives – When I grilled Eric Ives on Anne’s fall, Ives commented that dominant men like Henry are often very malleable and that Cromwell could prey on the King’s already paranoid and suspicious nature to make him believe that Anne had betrayed him1.
Alison Weir – “Weir goes as far as to paint Henry VIII as a victim of the coup, alongside Anne, the men and little Elizabeth”2 and agrees with Ives that “Henry was suggestible.” She believes that Cromwell told the King that he had information claiming that Anne had committed adultery and Henry asked him to investigate and find evidence3.
Joanna Denny writes of Anne’s power threatening Cromwell’s influence and “now it seemed that unless he could strike first, she would be his ruin.” She goes on to say, “It was either Anne or him. It was not personal, it was business.”4
Paul Friedmann concludes that Cromwell “resolved to plot for the ruin of Anne” and that “difficulties and dangers were to be invented, that Cromwell might save the king from them.”5
Arguments given for this theory:
- There was a disagreement between Cromwell and Anne over the dissolution of the monasteries and how the resulting wealth was spent.
- Cromwell was feeling threatened by Anne.
- Cromwell took responsibility for Anne’s fall – Chapuys recorded Cromwell saying he “had planned and brought about the whole affair.”6
- Cromwell’s desire to remove powerful and influential men who were affecting his own standing with the King and his future plans and policies.
- Cromwell plotting with a group of Catholic conservatives which included the Seymours, Sir Nicholas Carew, the Marquis and Marchioness of Exeter, the Countess of Kildare and Baron Montagu.
Henry VIII as the prime mover
Derek Wilson – Wilson writes of the illegal and “extremely cumbersome” means used to bring Anne down, which included extending the treason law in a rather “unwarranted” manner, and concludes that Cromwell would only have gone ahead with such a complicated plot because it was the King’s will.7
John Schofield – Schofield agrees with Wilson, painting Cromwell as the King’s loyal servant whose duty was to obey his King.8 Robert Hutchinson also agrees, writing that it was natural for the King to turn to his minister for help in removing his unwanted wife.9
Claire Ridgway (me!) – In my book, I write that I believe that the buck has to stop with Henry because he was the one in control. I believe that he had convinced himself that his marriage to Anne, like his previous marriage, was contrary to God’s laws and that God was showing him this by not blessing him with a son.
Norah Lofts writes of Henry VIII being “in connivance with Thomas Cromwell” and wanting rid of Anne “with the least possible waste of time.”10
Lacey Baldwin Smith describes dismisses the idea that Henry VIII was malleable and used by Cromwell, saying that the picture we have of Henry “is neither of a man easily persuaded nor a king before whom Cromwell, a sensible man, would want to propose a plot based on lies, hearsay and falsification.” He believes that Henry saw Anne’s fall as “divine judgement”, as God having “spoken”.11
Arguments given for this theory:
- Cromwell wouldn’t have dared move against the Queen without the King’s blessing.
- In a letter to Stephen Gardiner and John Wallop, Cromwell referred to “the King’s proceeding”.12
- The King had spoken of replacing Anne – Chapuys recorded that Henry VIII had told one of his courtiers “that he had been seduced and forced into this second marriage by means of sortileges and charms, and that, owing to that, he held it as nul. God (he said) had well shown his displeasure at it by denying him male children. He, therefore, considered that he could take a third wife, which he said he wished much to do.”13
- The King’s behaviour after Anne’s arrest – Chapuys recorded that “the King has shown himself more glad than ever since the arrest of the Concubine, for he has been going about banqueting with ladies, sometimes remaining after midnight, and returning by the river” and that he “showed an extravagant joy” while supping with ladies.14 This behaviour was very different to the grief he showed in 1541 when learning of Catherine Howard’s behaviour.
- The speed of his marriage to Jane Seymour – The couple were betrothed on 20th May 1536, the day after Anne Boleyn’s execution, and got married on 30th May.
- The lack of logic in the case against Anne – The blackening of Anne’s name, the complexity of the case and the lack of logic in Anne being condemned for adultery even though the marriage was annulled, bear the stamp, John Schofield believes, of Henry’s involvement. The plot was down to Henry VIII’s emotions rather than Cromwell’s rational and logical brain.
- The King’s involvement – He personally questioned Henry Norris and offered him a pardon in return for a confession.
- Revenge – The incest charge against Anne and George could be seen as revenge for their discussion of the King’s sexual problems.
- The gossip that spread around the country regarding the King getting rid of Anne so that he could replace her with Jane.
- Henry’s own words – Henry warned Jane Seymour not to get involved in matters to do with the kingdom. It was reported that “he had often told her not to meddle with his affairs, referring to the late Queen, which was enough to frighten a woman who is not very secure.”15 Henry’s warning to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, when the Conservatives were plotting against him in 1546, that “false knaves” could be “procured” to stand as witnesses against him.16
Some believe that Anne herself played a part in her fall.
David Starkey – In his TV series “Henry VIII: Mind of a Tyrant”, Starkey spoke about how Anne’s forthright character and ability to say “no” to the King were attractive in a mistress but not acceptable in a consort.
The documentary “Days that Shook the World: Execution of Anne Boleyn” goes as far as to say that there were two reasons for Anne’s fall: her refusal to “curb” her “bold manners and her inability to provide Henry with a son and heir.
Greg Walker writes of how it was “unguarded speech and gossip” that condemned Anne.17
Retha Warnicke believes that “the sole reason”18 for the King turning against Anne was her miscarriage in January 1536 of a monstrously deformed foetus, which Warnicke believes could be taken as evidence of witchcraft and unnatural sexual acts.
Elizabeth Ogilvy Benger believes that Anne blaming Henry, and his relationship with Jane Seymour, for her miscarriage “sealed her fate” because the King was “unused to reproof”.19 She goes on to argue that Henry decided that Anne must die because “if she survived, she might interfere with the claims of his posterity by Jane Seymour.”
Arguments for this theory:
- Anne’s personality – Her ‘nagging’, her volatile nature and jealousy over Henry’s wandering eye.
- Her inability to provide the King with a son.
- The climate of courtly love, flirtation and loose talk in her household which got out of hand – Smeaton mooning over her and Anne’s reckless words to Norris about him looking for “dead men’s shoes”. While Anne was in the Tower in May 1536, her aunt, Lady Boleyn, said to her, “such desire as you have had to such tales has brought you to this.”20
- Anne and George making fun of the King’s ballads, dress and sexual problems.
Anne’s enemies hatched the plot
Antonia Fraser writes of a “project to substitute Jane Seymour for Anne Boleyn” being “hatched among Anne’s political enemies (and the enemies of her family)” and an “anti-Boleyn faction” advancing the cause of Jane Seymour.21 She also writes of the discussions between Cromwell and Chapuys regarding Chapuys’ message that “the Emperor’s friendship was not in fact Henry VIII’s submission to Rome, but getting rid of ‘the Concubine’.”22 Although Fraser sees Anne’s fall as being orchestrated by her “enemies”, she believes that “Cromwell took the lead in what became open season for the destruction of Anne Boleyn.”23
Marie Louise Bruce argues that although Henry VIII wanted to get rid of Anne, he was hesitating and so her enemies needed to convince him “that it would be a popular move.” She explains how Anne’s enemies met “behind Sir Edward Seymour’s closed doors” and that Cromwell was involved because Anne “would not fit in with the policy he had in mind.”24
Although Eric Ives believes that Cromwell was the instigator of the plot, he explains that “Anne’s fall was the consequence of a political coup and a classic example of Tudor faction in operation.”25
Anne Boleyn was guilty
This was obviously the verdict given at Anne’s trial on 17th May 1536 and although the majority of historians believe that Anne was framed and was innocent of all the charges, G W Bernard concludes, in his book Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions that “everything can be considered as a “series of misunderstandings” due to “unguarded speech and gossip” but that “it remains my own hunch that Anne had indeed committed adultery with Norris, probably with Smeaton, possibly with Weston, and was then the victim of the most appalling bad luck when the countess of Worcester, one of her trusted ladies, contrived in a moment of irritation with her brother to trigger the devastating chain of events that led inexorably to Anne’s downfall.”26
The “cock-up theory”
In her recent article for BBC History Magazine,27 Suzannah Lipscomb writes that “it is the final ‘cock-up theory’ that convinces me. I believe that Anne was innocent, but caught out by her careless words. Henry was convinced by the charges against her.” In her book 1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII, Lipscomb concludes “that neither Cromwell, nor Henry, nor Anne was guilty, but that she appeared so.”28
Lacey Baldwin Smith29 writes that “God had revealed the queen’s sins, and she and all her paramours were guilty as charged” and explains that “all the government needed to do was to prove that Anne possessed the character of an adulterer and traitor” and that “the evidence was plentiful” because of her words about “dead men’s shoes”, Elizabeth being conceived out of wedlock etc.
As you can see, different historians/authors have different theories and each can back up their arguments with convincing evidence; it is up to the reader to decide what to believe. Unless new evidence comes to light regarding Anne’s fall, we will have to stick to hypothesising and debating the subject.
Notes and Sources
- Ridgway, Claire (2012) The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown, MadeGlobal Publishing, p231
- Weir, Alison (2010) The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, New York, Ballantine Books, p72
- Denny, Joanna (2004) Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England’s Tragic Queen, UK, Piatkus, p265-266
- Friedmann, P. (2010, first published 1884) Anne Boleyn, UK, Amberley Publishing, p226-227
- Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 5 Part 2: 1536-1538, note 61
- Wilson, Derek (2009) A Brief History of Henry VIII: Reformer and Tyrant, Robinson
- Schofield, John (2008) The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell: Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant, UK, The History Press
- Hutchinson, Robert (2007) Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII’s Most Notorious Minister, Weidenfeld and Nicolson
- Lofts, Norah (1979) Anne Boleyn, London, Orbis, p141
- Baldwin Smith, Lacey (2013) Anne Boleyn: The Queen of Controversy, UK, Amberley Publishing, Chapter 8 “The King’s Mind”
- LP x. 873
- Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 5 Part 2: 1536-1538, note 59
- LP x. 908
- LP xi. 860
- Narratives of the Days of the Reformation, Chiefly from the Manuscripts of John Foxe the Martyrologist; with Two Contemporary Biographies of Archbishop Cranmer, p255
- Walker, Greg (2002) Rethinking the Fall of Anne Boleyn, The Historical Journal, no. 45 p1-29
- Warnicke, Retha (1989) The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Politics at the Court of Henry VIII, Cambridge University Press, p191
- Benger, Elizabeth (1821) Memoirs of Anne Boleyn, p292-293
- Cavendish, George (1825) The Life of Cardinal Wolsey, Volume II, Samuel Weller Singer, p454
- Fraser, Antonia (1992) The Six Wives of Henry VIII, London, Phoenix Press, p291-292
- Ibid., p294
- Ibid., p297
- Bruce, Marie Louise (1972) Anne Boleyn, Glasgow, William Collins, p287-288
- Ives, Eric (1992) The Fall of Anne Boleyn Reconsidered, English Historical Review, p659. Also See Ives’ “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn” book.
- Bernard, G W (2010) Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions, Yale University Press, Chapter 12
- Lipscomb, Suzannah (2013) Why Did Anne Boleyn Have to Die?, BBC History Magazine, April 2013, p24
- Lipscomb, Suzannah (2009) 1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII, Lion UK, p75
- Baldwin Smith (2013), Chapter 8 “The King’s Mind”
135 thoughts on “The Fall of Anne Boleyn – The Various Theories”
Whomever was the most culpable in Anne’s demise, was wrong, on several
levels. We know that. And once all the different plays were in motion, it was apparently too late to turn back. But I think a King would definitely have the
power and the wiggle room, if you will, to save Anne. He just did not want to.
It was on to newer and more exciting things for Henry. Absolutely he wanted
and needed an heir, but at the cost of so many lives, I do not see how ANY
of the persons involved in this awful situation could live with themselves. To have
so many innocent deaths on your hands!!!!!
Yes, Henry had already moved on and was gallivanting with ladies. I think that was to distance himself from it all and to show that he didn’t care.
In her recent article for BBC History Magazine, Suzannah Lipscomb writes that “it is the final ‘cock-up theory’ that convinces me. I believe that Anne was innocent, but caught out by her careless words. Henry was convinced by the charges against her.” In her book 1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII, Lipscomb concludes “that neither Cromwell, nor Henry, nor Anne was guilty, but that she appeared so.”
* I thought this was a very interesting theory. It seems that after Mark Smeaton confessed to adultery, that seems to have been the critical turning point. Why did Mark Smeaton confess to adultery, when they OBVIOUSLY were not having an affair?? It makes you wonder….
What we don’t know is what pressure (physical or psychological) Smeaton was under or whether his words were twisted. It does appear that he “mooned” over Anne so he may well have believed that he had some kind of connection with her. It’s hard to say. There’s an interesting article on him at https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/mark-smeaton-the-scrupulous/
Claire,Excellent read!But I truely beleive it was a combination of many things,that brought “Queen Anne” to her death! I agree with,Wilson and you Claire, there were so many things against her, there was know way anyone could save the doomed, Queen Anne.I also believe that, Smeaton was easy pray for Cromwell.
Yes, definitely a combination of factors that created the “perfect storm”.
black mamba,Yes “Queen Anne “appeared so,thats why the trail was based on presumption.However theres a big difference in” truth and presumption” ,or it appeared so.It did not matter what it was, the King was taking her DOWN!
You have done a wonderful job of explicating all these different theories and their proofs. Thanks so much! We will never know the truth of it–though I personally believe Anne was innocent of all charges. I think it was a case of Henry letting Cromwell know his mind on th matter and Cromwell finding the ‘proof’. He was happy to do so as he and Anne had argued over the money from the monestaries…though Cromwell had made his way helping get Anne and Henry hitched. I have not yet read Bring Up the Bodies and wonder how Mantel handled it. Thanks again, Claire!
Thanks, Anne! I won’t spoil Bring Up the Bodies for you, do read it.
Must look into the Seymours, if Edward S was a conservative Catholic in 1536 but had switched to the New Learning by the 1540’s. He was, of course, a second cousin of Anne’s.
Ann, if you’re interested in Edward Seymour, you mught enjoy Chris Skidmore’s ‘Edward V: The Lost King of England’ 2007.
I second that, Skidmore’s book is excellent.
Yes, it’s funny to think that the Seymours seemed to be Catholic conservatives in 1536 and Jane Seymour was Catholic, when Edward Seymour was definitely Protestant in his views in Edward VI’s reign. What we have to bear in mind was that it was a time of real change. You have others like Catherine Brandon (nee Willoughby) whose mother, Maria Salinas, was Catholic and was one of Catherine of Aragon’s ladies, who started out Catholic and then became quite an outspoken Protestant.
One idea with the “Cromwell did it” theory that no one has mentioned above is that HENRY was the one in charge, and HENRY wanted Anne gone – whether for her “bold” manners”, lack of a son, or just eagerness to get himself a new and more malleable woman for a consort, or even a combination of all of these reasons. However, Henry did not want to dirty his own hands, so Cromwell “takes the credit” as it were, for the condemnation and execution of Anne and her “lovers.”
After all, the Oyer and Terminer was called for well before Anne was even accused, as was the executioner from Calais!
I mentioned it, I said that the buck stops with Henry because he was in control 🙂 I just don’t think that Cromwell would have dared move against Anne without Henry’s say-so.
I agree with you, Claire. The buck clearly stops with Henry (probably began with Henry). After all, execution is quicker, and much more final than divorce. (No repeat of the mess he had getting rid of Catherine of Aragon.)
Yes, if Anne had been allowed to live then her title, Marquis of Pembroke, would still have made her a powerful woman and Henry had had Catherine of Aragon as a thorn in his side for years so couldn’t risk Anne causing trouble.
That is so true. Henry could be influenced, however he was ultimately in control. In order to stay in royal favour (and keep their heads), self-interested courtiers had to be adept at “knowing the king’s mind”. No-one could safely make a move against Anne unless it was what the king wanted.
Corrupted minds,think alike!Henry and Cromwell!!
What hard evidence do you have that Cromwell was ‘corrupt’? It is all theory. You seem to think that anybody involved in the plot against your darling Anne must have been evil or corrupt. Whilst not believing for a moment that AB was totally guilty of all charges, I am also not prepared to accept that she was totally innocent, but I just do not know! The way that she treated Catherine and Mary shows that she was also capable of cruelty to others. There is enough about her, I believe, to suggest she may well have been unfaithful but you willingly write it off as Spanish/French/Catholic inspired propaganda. I appreciate that this site (and I think it is wonderful) is about reinventing a much maligned historical figure but please accept that we just don’t know. If we can still find historical evidence like Richard III, then we should never say that we will never know and I hope to be proved wrong, but meanwhile….
Kipper,What hard evidence ,read the Archive’s and yes she is MY DARLING ANNE!!!Where do you get your INFO?? That, MY DARLING ANNE,was treating Kantherine and Mary CRULE!!I have never written it OFF has, Spanish/French or Catholic propaganda.If you don’t think putting a person or persons to death on ,PRESUMPTION, is not CORRUPT,you are very mistaken.Perhaps you might want to take a gander at, Historical Archive’s and read about the TRIAL.Where did you get your info on cruelty? Ms.PG ??? And this site is Not !about reinventing?? anything,it’s about trying to ,UNDERSTAND ,LEARN! And know amount of, DNA will not show us why this all happend.Also when in dout, I ask Claire, as this is Claire’s site on QUEEN ANNE,make know mistake she will set one right . Very Kind Regards Baroness x
Kipper,May 9th 1536,the National Archives,also May 1536, the trail if one wants to even call it a trial!!!Kind Regards Baroness
Baroness – Anne is our darling and this is Claire’s site which I appreciate so much. Everyone here on this site is researching, reading and trying hard to find out what really happened and how it happened. We would like to know more about Anne and her life.
Kipper – we all love Anne for who history has said she is – a spirited, determined, feisty, intelligent and intellectual – she was not a shrinking violet and was a self made woman which in itself is unique for the time period that she lived in. And yes she was ambitious but that was what happened in her life time.
I can relate to her even today.
As for Cromwell not being corrupt here is the definition of corrupt.
Having or showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.Cause to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.
In other words ; self serving.
In conclusion there are many theories from many people.
I can totally accept that Anne was innocent and so were the men that were executed with her.
We would all love to have the documentation etc but most of that has been destroyed along with everything that was hers and had any connection with her. I still have hope that somewhere in someone’s attic there is a long ago diary or papers or a picture – anything that would help us put the puzzle together.
So, all we can do is reflect on Anne and visit Claire’s site to see any new information about Anne. So, if you feel that our purpose here is to reinvent Anne and history then why are you a member ?
In conclusion I think the only thing that Anne can be guilty of is getting too comfortable with Henry’s love and letting her guard down because of that love they shared.
Cromwell was, I believe, simply the King’s servant doing his job. I don’t think he was necessarily “corrupt”, he just did what he had to do to please the King. There is no way of knowing for sure who was behind what happened. Whether Henry decided to get rid of Anne and then ordered Cromwell to do whatever he needed to make it happen, or whether Cromwell instigated it and led the King to believe that Anne was guilty… I don’t think we’ll ever know. However, the evidence that we still have today points to Anne and those men being framed. Even Eustace Chapuys, who hated Anne and never accepted her as Queen, was cynical of the events and who said of the trials that the men “were condemned upon presumption and certain indications, without valid proof or confession”. Eric Ives, both in his book and his article “The Fall of Anne Boleyn Reconsidered”, points out that the dates mentioned in the indictments for Anne’s alleged adultery make no sense as she or the men had alibis or were not even at that place at that time. Also, how could Anne commit adultery without the knowledge and help of one of her ladies, like in the case of Catherine Howard? The Queen always had a companion in her chamber, sleeping on a pallet, so there is no way she could commit adultery without someone noticing. If she had then one of her ladies would know and would be guilty of misprision of treason.
As far as the charge of conspiring to kill the King, the only evidence was Anne’s argument with Norris, when she unwittingly mentioned “dead men’s shoes”, but then she was warning Norris, not conspiring with him. See https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/anne-boleyn-a-cheat-who-deserved-death-i-dont-think-so/ for more on the subject.
P.S. I’m glad you enjoy the site and thank you for commenting, Kipper.
I love debate and its’ great that Kipper has brought up these issues so let’s all be friendly.
There’s no way round it, Anne said some very spiteful things about Mary and Catherine but it was Henry who was responsible for their ill treatment. Mary blamed Anne but after Anne died her treatment actually got worse and she was in fear of her life at one point, so Anne was not the problem. Anne was not perfect, she had a hot temper and a spiteful tongue at times, but she did not deserve what happened to her in 1536.
Claire,Yes Anne did do somethings I did not like,know one is perfect,I love a bebate aswell.It was not a debate in my eyes ,it was a personal attack,you know me very well Claire,I am the last person to go on attack, at any of the,ABFriends.I keep a very open mind,but Henry and Cromwell were the main players in the Queens, down fall.Cromwell did what the King wanted and in return was given money and favors,Cromwell collected all or most the SH of evidence ‘ page237,in The Fall of Anne Bolyen,also Tuesday 9th of May 1536,clearly states, Cromwell having enough evidence to go forth.He was at Henrys, beck and call! For his own gain know matter what the price, these people had to pay and I’m not just speaking of ‘ My Darling Anne.I have also never reivented anyone or anything on this site! I found Kipper RUDE and OFFENSIVE!!!!! Also that trial was nothing short of a FARSE! Kind Regards Baroness x
I know, I just want to make sure that everyone feels welcome on this site.
Sherri,Thank you for your reply it was very well said. Kind Regards Baroness x
THX Claire,I to want all to feel welcome,but lets be civil,theres know reason to be rude,we are a friendly sight.
Correction a friendly SITE.
First: ACK!! You certainly DID state that Cromwell would not have moved against without Henry’s permission, Claire.
Second: My apologies for missing that, and not giving proper credit.
Third: Let MY comment be a lesson, NEVER, EVER comment on anything when HALF ASLEEP!!
I was only joking so don’t worry 🙂
Henry could have stopped this cruelty if he’d wanted, he was tired of Anne it seems and wanted rid of her, it’s all really sad, for Anne and the men accused. I think it must have been horrible for Mark Smeaton and I am sure he was tortured, a rack would make a person confess to anything, Anne and the men who perished with her were pawns in Cromwell’s game and Henry, well he was just a tyrant.
Alison, it does appear that Henry wanted rid of Anne and those closely associated with her and they were treated as pawns in a dangerous game.
As Claire has said ‘we don’t know is what pressure (physical or psychological) Smeaton was under’ but it is doubtful that he was ‘racked’ as he was able to walk to his trial unaided.
If he was racked then it couldn’t have been for very long because, as you say, there is no evidence of him having to be helped to the scaffold or any description of him that suggests he had been physically harmed. What we don’t know is whether he was offered something in return for his confession, perhaps beheading rather than the usual horrific traitors’ death.
mark smeaton could just have been “shown” the rack and other horrific torture apparatus ,I think that being enough to confess to anything ,the other men arrested were nobles so would possibly been a bit more braver ,if that makes sense also that’s why they went for smeaton first ,they couldn’t get anything out of the other men.
margaret,You make a very good point! As I said he was easy prey, as Claire points out,he could have been offerd some type of plea deal,perhaps even his life?
Alison,Of coarse Smeaton was tortured,perhapes it was said he was promised his life ? If he lied for them,thats just my thoughts, I said Smeaton was easy prey. Maybe he did moon over Anne’ she was stunning, smart and loved the arts ,she could sing, play insturments ,loved to dance.Why do we think Henry was at first sight, smitton with her? I ‘m sure there were many men that were mooning over Anne,but it does not mean that she was unfaithful to the King. Kind Regards Baroness x
Please don’t leave the site – I enjoy your posts. They are passionate and full of feeling. I can connect to your passion concerning Anne’s trial and her execution.
All of us on this site are passionate about Anne and sometimes wish that she had been allowed to continue living on this earth. But in the end she did fulfill her responsibility as a Queen – she had one of the greatest monarchs that England has ever seen. Anne was probably with Elizabeth every step of the way.
If there is one thing that you could change Anne’s destiny or her death what would it be ?
We all have different theories and opinions on Anne but in the end the one thing that ties us all together is Anne and how we feel about her.
Sherri ,thank so much and I to would miss everyone on Claire’s site ,I truely mean that ! So I will be happy to stay,as for your Qs .I think I would have wanted to see ,Queen Anne blessed with live healthy sons lots of them. I really think there marriage would have survived and she would still have her life and Elizabeth would of had brothers ,all over the place.Very Kind regards Baroness x
I agree, Claire, no way would anyone move against the Queen without Henry’s permission (and instigation).
Anne kept Henry interested for nearly seven years with her intellect and wit. As consort, he wanted a submissive wife who would submit to his will and bear him sons.
Since they were married only 3 years and she was outspoken and couldn’t provide a male heir, her fate was sealed – the court vultures (those against the Boleyns) just moved in after the fall. Even if Anne had a male heir, I think Henry would have tired of her strong will eventually.
Look what happened with Catherine Parr, she avoided her death by completely submitting to Henry (at least she spoke the words he wanted to hear). He simply wanted a simple wife, and that would never be Anne.
Yes, I often think that Catherine Parr must have thought about Anne when she realised she was being plotted against. Fortunately, she was able to get to Henry and sort things out, unlike Anne and Catherine Howard who never saw Henry after they were told of the charges against them.
Thanks for the reply, Claire, I know you’re a busy woman!!
How terrifying to be accused and then never see Henry again. Anne must have noticed what was going on around her, since she asked Matthew Parker to watch over Elizabeth days before her quarrel with Norris where she mentioned “dead men’s shoes”. And then after this comment she tried to appeal to the King with Elizabeth in her arms (I guess the last time she saw him).
I think Anne’s age also played a factor in her fall. If she was in her 30’s and had not provided an heir yet, she was expendable – especially since she “meddled in his affairs”. I know I’m in my 30’s and I already have a few grey hairs 😉 30 was old in Tudor times.
As always, love the site and the thought-provoking comments!
What about front lobal injury effects? Henry, as I understand it, but I may have the timing wrong, had sustained a serious head trauma whilst jousting a few months earlier. Just after Christmas but during the festivities I seem to recall. In fact, he had been rendered unconscious for some 2 hours plus and during that time various anxious ministers had sought out Anne for advice. Clearly they had been worried about Henry’s survival and fairly naturally saw her as the ‘next in line’ being mother of Elizabeth and therefore a possible Regent at the very least. When he recovered, much to everyone’s surprise and relief at the time, Henry was furious that they had gone to her. His normal egotistical nature, much magnified by his belief in the Divine Right of Kings of course, coupled with his head injuries could have turned him into an extremely difficult person to cope with. The medical facts regarding such insults to the brain have been far more extensively researched in the last decade – sadly due to all the injuries suffered in war zones – and I wonder that this area has not been considered more fully now by historians. One side effect of such an injury can be paranoia…. it makes me wonder!
Henry does seem to have suffered head trauma in a joust in January 1536 but it’s impossible to know whether it had any lasting effects. It was said that he went “two hours without speaking” but Dr Otriz, who wrote that, was not there and we don’t know whether it’s an exaggeration. It could well be that he suffered ill health due to the injury, that it affected his personality, or perhaps the brush with death made him more aware of his mortality and the importance of having a son and heir.
The accident and possible injury has been discussed by historians. Suzannah Lipscomb talks about it in “1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII” andb iographer Robert Hutchinson, historian Dr Lucy Worsley and medical doctor Catherine Hood, made a documentary entitled “Inside the Body of Henry VIII” and spoke of the repercussions of this accident. See https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/why-was-henry-viii-a-tyrant/ for more on this.
If Henry was actually the one responsible (which I believe as well) and no one would have moved against Anne without his blessing, why then would people move against Catherine Howard years later? was it because that time there was undeniable proof of what she’d done?
Lara, Catherine Howard’s situation was quite different. An independant witness, John Lascelles came forward with evidence against her. Lascelles was not a courtier or a member of the privy council and had no association with the court. When the accusations were made known to Cranmer and other members of the privy council, they were obligated to inform the king or risk being charged with misprision of treason and sent to the Tower. Henry did not believe the charges and ordered an investigation to clear her. In Catherine’s case he was genuinely distressed on discovering her guilt whereas with Anne he bore his cuckold’s horns lightly as Chapuys put it and went out partying with ladies until after midnight.
They didn’t move against Catherine without the King’s blessing. John Lascelles had made members of Henry’s council aware of Catherine’s past and Archbishop Cranmer had to be persuaded by Chancellor Audley and the Earl of Hertford to relate the story to the King. Even then, he couldn’t bring himself to do it face to face and, instead left a letter for Henry VIII in the Holy Day Closet at Hampton Court Palace detailing Catherine Howard’s colourful past and how she had “lived most corruptly and sensually”. The King didn’t believe it and ordered an investigation. See https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/2nd-november-on-this-day-in-history/
“Archbishop Cranmer had to be persuaded by Chancellor Audley and the Earl of Hertford to relate the story to the King. Even then, he couldn’t bring himself to do it face to face”
Grown men quaking in their boots this time because they knew this was not what the king wanted to hear! Poor Cranmer really drew the short straw, didn’t he? 😀
He must have been worried what the king would do him some physical damage if he was within reach!
So many theories so many possibilities!
I agree with all the theories or a combination of them. I think that Cromwell was the instigator or so Henry 8 would like everyone to think. Henry 8 set Cromwell on the task at hand and left it to Cromwell to do the dirty work. Most narcissists people tend to do this so at a later date they then can absolve themselves of all blame and point the finger at the one who muddied their hands. Cromwell didn’t just die for the Anne of Cleves marriage. He had many secrets of Henry’s. Do you ever wonder that when Henry has gotten too close to anyone person then they must go. A typical situation of putting someone on a pedestal then finding that they are just human then he sets out to destroy them. Henry also destroyed people when he fell from pedestal. They didn’t worship him any longer. I also think that Cromwell’s and Henry’s plans for the dissolution of religious houses and their treasures were not compatible with Anne’s thoughts on the subject. I think also that Henry used Anne as the stepping stone to get rid of KOA. He needed an excuse to get rid of her and his love for Anne was it. So, then he could then blame Anne for all the bad treatment of KOA and Mary. There were also religious reasons for Anne to be destroyed. She was instrumental in the reformation and had Henry’s ear. If she was gone then Henry would go back to the Catholic religion and priests – all would be restored to the way it was. The men that were executed with her were just caught in the middle of the political maneuvering. The Boleyn’s and their supporters needed to be destroyed to make way for the Seymour’s. Do you ever notice that through out Henry 8 life that the courtiers and people in power were constantly changing ?
Why Anne was destroyed is more complex then just one issue there were many.
But one of the main reasons is because Henry was mentally ill. His core personality changed into a murderer, tyrant, paranoid, maybe a little delusional and schizoid with a bit of psychotic thrown in with a big pinch of narcissist personality disorder.
Henry 7th started to show signs of these same behaviours around the time of Arthurs death and then catapulted full blown when Elizabeth of York died.
I believe that mental illness was hereditary throughout the line and came down from Henry 8th’s great great grandfather Charles the 6th of France who struggled with mental and emotional illness. Charles believed that he was made of glass and went into psychotic breaks with reality never speaking etc. for long periods of time.
As someone else said Henry wanted a simple wife – one that would be controllable and would idolize and worship him. Anne wasn’t it – but I believe out of all his wives that she was the best suited for him. Anne also was the one that loved him truly and for himself. Anne wanted a husband not a king. He wanted a queen and not a wife. A matter of miscommunication and different expectations.
Great article. I think that Henry was involved, wanting to get rid of Anne first … the comments would have been interpreted differently if she had had a son. Also, would it have been possible for someone, such as a servant, to tell Henry if they had realized that Anne wasn’t in certain places on a date specified in the the indictments (if, for example, something happened that made a given date really memorable)?
Thanks for writing such an indepth and fascinating article Claire. As you say it is likely that Henry was the prime mover behind it. I don’t think that Cromwell would hsve moved against Anne without Henry’s say so. Anne’s unfortunate remark about ‘dead men’s shoes’ probably made it easier for the other evidence to be believed.
I definitely believe Henry was the prime mover against Anne. The only issue for me is whether he instigated the investigation against her in order to get rid of her and later chose to accept the allegations because they suited his purpose, or whether he actually believed her to be guilty due to the comments of Lady Worcester and Anne’s own behaviour as Baldwin Smith believes. I believe the former due to the dubious lack of evidence.
Henry’s behaviour is difficult to read – at first he doesn’t appear to be upset at all about the allegations, he is seen out banqueting late into the night with lots of women, he is overheard blubbing to Henry Fitzroy that Anne had been with 100s of lovers and wanted to poison Fitzroy and Mary, then is cold and clinical dealing with the mechanics of the investigation, trials and executions, showing a morbid interest in the minute details eg. height of the scaffold, ordering a swordsman etc.
I’m inclined to agree with you that Henry instigated the investigation either directly or by dropping less than subtle hints to senior courtiers that he wanted a new wife, but the exchange with Fitzroy makes me wonder if he came to believe some of the allegations.
I do not think that Anne was guilty, but i do keep an open mind about these issues. The more i read about these six women, i do feel sorry for them. Henry was responsible and the prime mover against Anne. Their those who put the blame on Cromwell which is really unfair. Cromwell was no saint, he was ruthless that i agree but to see it was only he who called the shots is something i will agree to. I just do not believe for one second that Henry was a victim like what some writers have suggested. Their some who try to paint Henry in nicer picture as king duped by his right hand man, so we can all believe that Henry truly loved Anne and her downfall was Cromwell and the Seymour’s doing.
If Cromwell refused to do the kings dirty work Henry would have found someone else to do it. Just look at what happened to Wolsey, the poor man tried everything but when the king was displeased Wolsey lost everything, he could have lost his head if he did’nt for sick and die. Then their was More he too lost his for disagreeing with his majesty. With the two examples it does’nt surprise me that Cromwell did everything he could to please his master even though they were innocent.
Just look he treated Katherine he married knowing that she was his brother’s widow but almost 20 years together with no son he decided to use the Leviticus excuse.
He married Anne because she was young and healthy and she would be a baby machine by giving the sons. But after loosing two or three pregnancies and tired of her he used any excuse to get rid of her. If Jane never produced a son he would treated her badly.
Henry used people and made them look bad like Anne and Cromwell. If Anne was a foreign princess she would have been kept a prisoner like Katherine and not beheaded.
I am always amazed at people who keep describing Anne as his great love and that Cromwell and the others were responsible, some would tell me things like ‘he loved her his was decieved by that evil Cromwell, the Emperor and his ambassador, conniving Seymours, the pope and other enemies’ the funny thing is that they live the one who had absolute power and that is Henry8. One even went further to say that he tried to protect her and that he cried for her.
The sad thing is that Henry used Anne badly, and dumped her like garbage.
ds 370,I so agree with your opinions and yes, I feel sorry for all who sufferd the wrath of Henry and Cromwell. Kind Regards Baroness x
In my opinion it was only a game. A dangerous one.
Henry, was tired of Anne and certanly tired of waiting a son. He knew Anne’s (bad)speechs, partys and jokes. As a king he also was aware of all the gossips and how it would destroy his image. But I beleive that it was not enough to move against her, till “someone” could tell him this.
This “someone” called Cromwell acted as he should, telling the king what he was desired to hear. Good for him and excelente for the Seymours as everyone was desiring remove Anne from the court. As we know she was completely involved in policy and in 1530 nothing could be more stressful then a woman acting as the head ( after the king) of the kingdom and especially from the church.
Then we have the Jane, acting exactly as Anne but obviously controling her tongue. And that was her triumphy.
Henry loved Anne as a lover (or mistrees). Her courage, behaviour and intelligence were what Henry probally have never saw in a woman. While the others were easily conviced to stay with him without complaning Anne was different. But then he could not accept THAT behaviour as a queen. He was expecting her behaviour to change as she believed he could also change( As stopping to desire another women). At the end no one changed and what we have is a great conspiration inside the court. Henry was defending what he might defend; his image. Cromwell his life, getting ride of Anne and protecting the king’s desire. The Seymours get advantage as the game began too serious.And the end I honestly believe that no one was expecting to happen. Bu it happened and that was a great relief for Henry. After all Anne problaly was a “passion problem” that he could fastly forget marring a silence and submissive one.
I agree with you, Claire, and the others who think that Henry was the moving force behind Anne’s downfall. Cromwell didn’t get as far as he did by being stupid, and he was too wily to act against Anne without knowing that Henry would go along with it. I don’t believe for a minute that Henry was duped into thinking that Anne was guilty. At the very least he believed what Cromwell came up with because he allowed himself to believe it. Henry just doesn’t wear the mantle of “victim” well.
Bring up the papers! I’m waiting for the remarkable find of buried papers that will show (discovered in code by candlelight) the plot outlined against Anne (instigated by Henry) and carried out by Cromwell. A text that reveals judicial murder on a large scale.
C Ferry,National Archives May 9th 1536 Henry’s letter to Cromwell,National Archives on the trial,based on persumption,cojecture,supposition.What is truth?real,genuine,undistorted,authentic,just,honest,faithful,reliable.It clearly states that , Queen Anne and the others were tried on persumption,the National Archives also the Vienna Archives. Henry V111, 1536 ,Letters and Papers,Foreign and Domestic,hope that helps. Kind Regards Baroness
Claire, great article.
It appears Anne and Henry were equals. During the courtship and “the chase”, Henry enjoyed that. But the frustrations they dealt with during the 7 years waiting for “the divorce” had to take its toll on both of them and Anne’s biological clock was ticking away. She was concerned with the future and could not provide a lot of solice to Henry. So similar to Katherine and Henry. Her biological clock was ticking away before their marriage. Both women were older by the time they married. Katherine was motherly and supportive. And that began to take its toll on Henry as he grew and matured. There was much disappointment and delay putting enourmous strain on these relationships. Jane Seymour was younger. There were hardly any obstacles in the way (except for Anne) of the marriage which took little to resolve. Tey married quickly. No waiting, no legal battles. She was able to provide a son in a short period of time. If she had lived, would Henry have tired of her?
And I find it interesting that Henry never delivered the “bad” news to anyone. He wasn’t present at the trials. His last words to the victims were pleasant. He never said good bye. They never saw him again. Why? What characteristic in this complex man’s personality caused this behavior? And does this provide any evidence of his role in Anne’s eventual fall?
Deborah, you’ve said a lot in your last paragraph! The consummate politician, Henry VIII never said good-bye, did he? He adored being adored and appears to have been quite reluctant to be the bad guy. His charisma was enormous and I’m sure as he aged and became less physically attractive, he very much needed to be reassured that he still “had it.”
Very much like rock stars today, no? Appropos of nothing, the Rolling Stones are going out on their 50th anniversary tour this year. Lulz. . . .
Henry VIII was a vicious murderer. His solution to every problem was execution and murder. When Anne fell into disfavor, he had his cronies do the dirty work…he killed well over 70K people and wiped out almost anyone with even a tenous thread to the throne.
Kay Martin,VERY WELL SAID!! Tthe executioner was already orderd by the King’ before that so called farse of a trial !!! concocked by Henry and Cromwell,and thats a Fact,she was already convicted and the others aswell.Your also right he did kill 70k in what ever way he sought for what ever reason aswell. Kind Regrads Baroness X
They played hardball in the Court system. Henry VIII was far from aloneas a monarch who had no problem sleeping at night after eliminating all who had possible ties to his throne.The belief was that God had ordained his right to rule England, and so God would approve of him ridding the country of those who also had some thread of connection to that rule. Mary, and Elizabeth I did the same. That doesn’t make it any more palatable to our 21st century sensibilities, but it is how things were done in the earlier centuries.
Can you imagine the intrigues, the jealousy, the infighting and the various factions jostling for supremacy in that court? If Henry wanted out of the marriage, there would be no shortage of so-called witnesses to come forward and give Cromwell the basis for going forward with his case.
One thing that puzzles me is the fact that so shortly before Anne’s arrest, Henry forced Chapuys to acknowledge her. Why bother, I wonder, or did he not realise that things were moving so rapidly.
I think that Henry suffered a TBI (traumatic brain injury) sustained during his near fatal accident whilst jousting that made him act the way he did. I also beleive that Anne haunted him for the rest of his life. He could not undo what he did.
Terri, I’m with you – and I’m not trying to make this all about me, I promise, but I did have a TBI at age 19 and it triggered a great deal of odd, impulsive behavior for a few years afterward, so first-hand I can attest to that possibility.
He had inordinate pride in Elizabeth’s flinty-hard mind and academic prowess even when he’d secured his place with Edward. Edward was the golden son but Elizabeth delighted him. “My pride (Edward) and my joy (Elizabeth.)” to paraphrase what George VI said of his two children.
Thanks for sharing with me. My husband was in a near fatal accident 2 yrs ago,sustaining a TBI,and I can see him acting as Henry mean, bitter, forgetful, always right, etc,. totally different than his former self at times…. Thank goodness he is not a king and I wont be losing my head!
Terri, I am so very sorry about your husband’s accident. I wish you much support in handling the quick temper that flares easily after such an injury. If it’s any consolation, and if your husband reacted as I did, there’s a lot of shame about the unfounded snappishness that comes out of the mouth of a TBI victim, post-injury. In time though, things seem to heal and equilibrium is restored. Hang in there. It’s not easy and you have my prayers and good intentions focused on his healing and your fortitude. xo
‘All roads lead to Rome’ so the saying goes. Whilst Cromwell did his wicked best, the final nail in Ann’s coffin was hammered in by Henry. The B…… didn’t even honour his wife’s request to speak with him personally concerning the allegations. Yet during the May day celebration he left early, and on the journey, challenged and questioned Sir Henry Norris (one of the accused) as to whether or not he had been intimate with the queen at any time. Of course Norris denied the allegations and was promptly dropped off at the tower.
The fact that Henry was so quick to believe ill of Ann is astonishing, especially given that he gave Norris a chance to speak out in his defense, and not Ann.
Hi Jed,Your so right! And agree with your statement on Cromwell.But a correction on Henry Norris or Norrey’s, he was not knighted.I was sure that he was ,but Claire corrected me he was not a kinght.Great reply AB Friend. Kind Regards Baroness x
Spelling malfunction Knight.
Thank you Baroness. Lord knows I am trying to keep up. Kind regards. Jed
Jed,I think your doing a Great Job!When Claire pointed out to me about Henry Noriris, was not knighted,I was sure I had heard he was?I spent two days sun and sun down,everywhere I was bleeding out of my eyes!! Claire was right.Also wanted to welcome you AB Friend. Kind Regards Baroness x
henry wanted rid of anne ,he just did not LIKE her any more as a person, I think he began to really resent her and her faction so much that they all had to go,end of story.the Boleyn group had become too big for their boots and I think henry completely believed anne was guilty ,he had the ultimate power and did not like being made a fool of,and for anne and her brother George to laugh about him behind his back ,well that’s just stupidity on their part and I cant believe these people were supposed to be intelligent ,in my mind one can highly educated but that does not mean having a shred of common sense ,I think henry realised that anne was not liked by the people and to give him his due he did try everything to get her accepted but to no avail .they were mismatched ,two big egos fighting for power.
and also anne could have been a bit kinder to mary 1 jane Seymour was kind to mary and Elizabeth as was Katherine howard ,anne of cleeves and not forgetting Katherine parr so why did anne have such a bad attitude towards mary and her mother ,they did nothing to her .she(anne )usurped them and lived openly with henry while they were thrown into poverty or near enough to it .
Mary Tudor’s postion under Jane Seymour was worse than that of Anne Boleyn. It was under Jane that Mary was forced to sign a document stating that she was a bastard and that Henry was the head of the church, at one point things got so bad that Mary feared for her life. Plus Jane only cared for Mary not Elizabeth, it was Mary who sent Elizabeth money and it was at Mary’s insistence that Elizabeth was at the Chirstmas Celebrations of 1536 not Jane.
It’s not like Anne didn’t try to befriend Mary, she did on several occassions but Mary was headstrong and rude to Anne, refusing to recongnise her as the rightful Queen and called Anne a cocubine. Plus Anne proposed to make Mary legitimate but Mary rebuffed her yet again. After a while Anne eventually gave up, and you can see why.
Although Anne did talk out against Catherine and Mary, it was Henry who was responsible for their cruel treatment not Anne. Henry was cruel because Catherine refused to acknowlodge Anne’s position as Queen and stil openly decarled herself as the rigthful queen. If Catherine had submitted then both Mary and her own postion would have been better.
Usurp means :
Take (a position of power or importance) illegally or by force.
Take the place of (someone in a position of power) illegally; supplant.
Using these definitions, Anne did not usurp Catherine as she become queen consort LEGALLY. In both Anne and Henry’s mind Catherine’s marriage was unlawful because Catherine had been married to Henry’s brother and there was a passage in the bible about it being forbidden to do so. Catherine’s marriage was proclaimed null and void so Anne was the rigthful queen, not a usurper.
Why do you say she lived openly with Henry like its a bad thing? They were legally husband and wife and if married couples weren’t allowed to live together who was?
I’m with you, Claire, on the reason(s) behind Anne’s fall from favor.
Anne was not completely discrete and making light of Henry VIII’s age/performance was so very unwise. The walls have ears, and as she’d spent most of her life in one Court or another, she knew this. She knew it! Anne, Anne, why would you think there would not be fallout????
Courtly love was of course different from liasons and affairs, but it began to smell all the same when it was overdone. Again, Anne knew this. I’m so puzzled and frustrated by her foolish disregard of rules which, if flouted, had deadly consequences.
I believe at the end of it all that Anne may have been silenced but never removed. Just gaze around Hampton Court at the scatterings of “H & A” that remain; or look to her daughter who ultimately proved her mother’s superiority as a policy maker in the English Court!
I wish I thought I could begin to show an iota of the grace and nerves of steel that Anne showed upon approaching the heading block. I do believe Norah Lofts may have been on to something when she hinted that faithful women servants administered a nerve-soothing tonic prior to her execution. If that was not the case, then she truly had extraordinary control of her wits. From Stellar to Cellar in a few short days, as they say in baseball. . . .
Thanks Claire – I will enjoy following up your info! And thanks too for this site, it’s so good to see Anne being given the attention she deserves after all these years.
I love that – it’s soo true!!! Trouble is the only time I have to read this site is when I AM half asleep so I know exactly what you mean!
I can so sympathize with you both. One of my sons went through the same trauma ten years ago and he is really lucky to be alive. It did affect him for a while BUT he is now back to himself – well, 99.8% anyway (!!) and I’m so grateful! So don’t give up Terri, things may gradually get better 🙂 That’s why I asked about Henry. He and Anne had a very passionate affair it would seem – fiery but still passionate. I would imagine it was never a ‘dull’ relationship.To go from apparently being quite loving over the Christmas festivities to being so cold in such a short space of time seems very odd. He’d spent a long time with CoA and would probably have expected and preferred a long union with Anne. His impatience and irritability with Anne seemed to grow quite unexpectedly and rapidly after his accident. His whole manner seemed to become more aggressive and bullying all round, not to mention touches of paranoia creeping in. OK, so he needed a male heir but he could still have had one with Anne. He and CoA had had several babies so he knew all about miscarriages and infant mortality. A TBI could well explain much of his impatience and change of attitude.
There are so many theories by historians, and every one of them have their intepretation of the historical documentation to back up their thoughts, any one of the theories could be correct. And I can see that there are many that visit this site have their conclusions that are as possible too. They are all educational and great to read.
Henry…he was a man/King who in his younger days was outstanding in all things, he even stood head and shoulders over the average man. Yet he couldn’t do what his most lowest of subjects could do, and that was father healthy children, sons in particular, a real kick in his male ego….he turned his kingdom upside down, and ‘upset’ Europe, to rectify this by divorcing his wife of 20 years and marrying Anne, then when there was still no sons, I feel Henry then became a little wobbly and insecure on that throne of his, and paranoid of those around him.
I am one of those who think his physical injuries from his sports, especially those to the head exaggerated his mistrust and developing personality disorder. Some say that the ‘bangs’ to the head are a poor excuse, but if you think about 2 horses riding at full pelt towards each other, if you take a moderate speed of each horse getting to 15mph, thats a 30mph impact…falling to the ground in a suit of armour that could weigh 50lbs plus, the helmets weren’t padded or tight fitting like a motorcycle helmet, so your head/brain would rattle about like a pea in a tin, it would be like a heavy weight boxer punching you, I doubt anyone could not be damaged by this sort of fall, and how many falls do we not know about, the last one could have been the ‘final straw’, and it seemed to start the rapid deteriation of both physical and mental health. The budding sociopathic King had become fully developed. He became someone who completely lacked the sense of moral responsibility or social conscience towards others, and could justify all his actions/orders, in his own mind, which when you have absolute power is deadly…
Then there is Anne, an attractive, educated and refined Lady, who had all the social graces, these gave her a great confidence in herself, not dissimilar to Henry in some respects, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. Yet as with Henry, with all these attributes she could not give Henry the sons he desired, was this her fault, I don’t think so, but it would have thought to have been in those days, even though Anne knew different regarding the King’s impotence. The frustration of trying to keep the King interested ,away from Jane Seymore, and the failed pregnancies must have been immense and exhausting, she then in turn became haughty and repremanding towards others, including Henry as a defence because of this. Anne knew all were watching her struggle and ‘fail’ in her duty to give him sons, some wishing for it. To me she became reckless at this stage in her attempt to ‘carry on’ as normal when the situation became precarious, hence the careless talk and although there seems to be no evidence of Anne and Henry being at odds with each other at this time, I think it was there, just below the surface.
Anne was a very clever woman, but was she clever enough to have secret affairs and not get caught when all eyes where on her, when she was attended continually day and night? would she risk all that she had, and her daughter’s position for a night or two of passion, in the hope of becoming pregnant with a son to pass of as Henry’s?, personally I don’t think she would behave in such a dangerous manner, it would be madness, no matter how reckless she had become in other ways. I’m not even going to mention her brother in this scenario, it’s beyond reason, and was used to demonise Anne as much as possible, those wanting rid of the Boleyns were killing two birds with one stone here, a true reflection of the depth of foul play that people would stoop to as a means to an end in these times.
Finally the men of Henry’s court. To me it seems you were born into wealth and status, or you achieved it, either way you had to claw and backstab, lie and pander, kiss ass and change sides over night to keep it, what ever it took, seems there were no bounderies. The benefits of being in favour seems to out weigh the risks of falling from grace, considering the punishments its hard to see how they came to that decision.
But those that managed to stay around Henry long enough learned to know his mind better than the King himself,and manage him to a larger extent,, even tyrannical sociopaths have weak points and can be manipulated through these, if those doing it were willing to take the chance that it may backfire on occassion.
His coucil appear to be able to judge how they would approach him depending on his mood, and how he would react. Would flatter his inflated ego to sweeten him up, and use the power of suggestion to obtain a favourable outcome.. They would plant seeds in that paranoid mind of his and watch them grow. Take an off the cuff remark of Henry’s about a grievence he may have had with someone and gain his favour by finishing that someone off for him, be it through bannishment or demotion, or even execution, could that have been what happened with Anne? maybe, it happened to many others, the fact she was a Queen made it a lot harder and very risky, but not impossible
It seems to be the case of ‘what came first the chicken or the egg?’…Did Henry ask for it directly, or was Henry manipulated, a great ‘who dunnit’, but which ever way it was done, Henry would be seen to have a clear conscience…no doubt.he would demand it.
In cases such as these when we see someone being treated so unjustly, it’s natural to want someone to blame and point the finger at. But when you have a King who is no longer ‘wired up’ right, a Queen who’s behaviour is becoming reckless, and a court full of power hungry greedy ‘yes’ men who would do anything to keep on the up, it’s a highly dangerous situation with a mix of men with a deadly agenda, to bring down an innocent wife, mother and Queen.
Who started and contributed to Anne’s downfall is debatable and I think always will be there’s good arguement either way, but there was only one man who could have stopped it, and only one man who could sign the death warrent, and that was her husband, the King, and because of that he does have Anne’s blood on his hands, if not on his conscience.
Dawn 1st, I really must agree with all the points you make and the last two as you say,unjustly ,hungry, greedy,deadly agenda,most of all innocent! Yes it is true this is and most likely, will always be debatable,but we also have to use our’ God given common sense.Very excellent comments and that is how we learn from each other. Kind Regards Baroness x
My thoughts entirely – wonderfully put. Thank you for writing it. There’s no way YOU were half asleep when you wrote that – unlike me most of the time 🙂 !!
No I wasn’t half asleep Avil, but I wanted to be fully asleep 🙂 it was one of those nights when the mind wouldn’t shut down!! nevermind AB Files is a great way to pass sleepless nights, as well as any other time too, that goes without saying….
You say, with what appears to be some degree of conviction on your part, that Smeaton was tortured,
‘Alison, of course Smeaton was tortured.’
How do you know that? Do you have a reliable source? Or is it just a hunch on your part? The Spanish Chronicle says that Smeaton was tortured, but we have to take that with a pinch of salt, since the unreliable author was writing later and from abroad and even lists some of Henry’s wives in the wrong order. He also has a remarkable conversation between Cromwell and Katherine Howard taking place when the former had already been dead for more than a year.
I have been sorting fact from fiction regarding Katherine Howard for about four years now; this is why the forthcoming book has taken so long. This statement of yours is rather like me writing that she definitely committed adultery with Thomas Culpeper, when there isn’t a shred of real evidence that she did. She might well have, but there is no evidence that they were actually caught in the act, so we can’t say with certainty she was guilty.
Isn’t the whole point of this site to steer away from presenting speculation as established fact and to accept, and admit, when we just don’t know what actually happened. If you have a reliable source that backs up Smeaton as having been tortured, then I apologise in advance.
“Isn’t the whole point of this site to steer away from presenting speculation as established fact and to accept, and admit, when we just don’t know what actually happened” – Yes, definitely, and can I just say that Baroness is nothing to do with this site, she is a regular user and ‘commenter’. I just wanted to make that clear in case of confusion. We all have different opinions and obviously my articles put forward my views.
Yes, the Spanish Chronicle is the only evidence we have for Smeaton being tortured but there must have been rumours at the time of Smeaton being racked as George Constantine, Henry Norris’s gentleman usher, repeated the rumour but said that he didn’t know whether it was true. I suspect that Smeaton was not physically tortured but that he was put under immense psychological pressure and offered a more merciful death if he confessed. Norris was offered a pardon if he confessed so Smeaton could well have been offered something if he played ball.
Maybe I should have said, ‘Isn’t the whole point of Claire’s work…’
Cracking article and sources, by the way – very useful to students, I would have thought.
Is the Lacey Baldwin Smith a new book or a revision?
The Lacey Baldwin Smith book is new but is not a biography (he calls it an essay) but more of an examination of what other historians have said about Anne. He’s very critical of Alison Weir’s referencing (or lack of it), which was interesting to see.
Thank you, I just wanted to clarify that because Baroness is a regular commenter (thank you Baroness).
Claire,I would hope that I am not just a Nothing to your site,and that I can share my veiws,just as everyone else on your site does. Thank You.
Pardon? I didn’t say you were nothing, I just wanted to make it clear that you were not and admin of this site and that your views are your own. I’ve had someone ask if you ran the site so with Marilyn’s comment too I just wanted to make it clear. “I can share my veiws,just as everyone else on your site does” is exactly what I was saying, everyone is welcome to comment but things have been getting a bit unfriendly on here with comments, some are getting a little aggressive in tone and we need to be able to debate in a friendly manner and calmly.
Claire,I have Never said I ran your site to anyone and I have always defended Your Site,so let me make it Clear to all, I do not run Claires site.However I read everyones replys and will comment to them weather or not I agree or diagree.Also I never said that, Mark Smeaton was wracked or physicaly tortured,I however will say that all of the souls put to death were, Mentaly tortured,Of course!Smeaton perhaps in the worst way ever ,aswell as all who were put to death.Just my opinion on torture. Kind Regards Baroness
I didn’t say that you were claiming that, I was just clarifying it because someone asked. It does get confusing when there are regular commenters, particularly as I was away over Easter and wasn’t commenting. That’s all, I wasn’t accusing you of anything and I always appreciate your input.
Marilyn,Yes the Spanish Chronicles,is evidence they don’t write these things off the top of there heads,I also go on to say that Seamton was easy prey and’ perhaps ‘they offerd him his life,these are just my thoughts and there thoughts, just as you have your own thoughts and opinions and like every other AB friend.What evidence do you have that he was not tortured?Smeaton did not just walk into a room and say, I beded the Queen and so did all thoses other poor souls.I could sit here and pick apart what people say,but that is not the reason I am on Claires site.I am sure that Claire wiil correct me when I make wrong comment, as she has done in the past.I am also sure she will do so in the future. Kind Regards Baroness x
I have to disagree with you there, Baroness, they did write things off the top of their heads sometimes, just like today’s newspapers. The Spanish Chronicles is terrible for accuracy as it has Cromwell interrogating Catherine Howard, when he was actually dead by that time, it has Anne hiding her alleged lover Mark Smeaton in a marmalade cupboard, and it has the story of Wyatt visiting Anne at Hever and then realising she had a lover upstairs. It is gossip really and needs to be taken with a hefty pinch of salt. It may be a primary source but it is a suspect one.
I agree with Marilyn, there is no evidence that Smeaton was tortured and he managed to walk unaided to the scaffold. Poor Anne Askew had to be carried out when she was burned. We don’t know what happened during his interrogation, but it seems likely that he was persuaded by either an offer of some type of mercy or a threat to confess what he did.
Claire Thank you and I stand to be corrected,however as I said ,Smeaton did not just start singing like a bird for know reason ,also he was the first man they went after?Something happend to him but, I was not there when he was being interrogated none of us were,they also had many other means of torture, not just the rack.I will always keep a open mind Claire and always stand to be corrected.So we will never really know if he was or was not? Kind Regards Baroness x
I was not getting at you at all, merely wondering from where you had your information. There is a world of difference between picking apart what people say, and asking them to clarify from where they had their information.
All I was saying is that we do not know one way or the other about Smeaton’s treatment. I believe that Smeaton and others in his situation over the centuries would have been mental wrecks reduced to vomiting and diarrhoea through fear, which is what I have said at many a lecture I have given, but I always make it clear that these are my own thoughts and that, as far as I know, there is no actual proof that the poor things actually were affected thus.
Marilyn,Just a Q/A if you or me ,Claire or anyone else were that situation, innocent and you know your going to be put to death, would you call that Mental Torture? Kind Regards Baroness
But that’s what Marilyn was saying, Baroness.
Marilyn,by the way Alison said Smeaton was racked not me,I also said Smeaton being tortured ,were just my thoughts.So maybe Alison can let us know were she got her Info aswell? Regards
Alison said that Smeaton was tortured and then you said “Alison,Of coarse Smeaton was tortured” so obviously that sounded like you were also stating it as fact. Marilyn is an historian and so was simply reacting to something being stated as fact when there is only one source for Smeaton being tortured and it is a questionable source, that’s all, just as I react when someone states that Anne committed adultery. Alison would, I assume, being going on The Spanish Chronicle as that is the only source. Constantine mentions rumours but states that he doesn’t know whether they are true.
I interpreted what Alison said as being her own gut feeling that Smeaton might well have been tortured physically – in other words, it appeared to me to be her own opinion.
Your response, ‘Alison, of course Smeaton was tortured’, reads as though she should be in no doubt whatsoever that he underwent physical abuse (not mental), and all I asked was that you qualify that statement by giving your sources.
It has obviously upset you, which was never my intention, so I don’t propose to say anything more.
Marilyn, please don’t let this disagreement put you off further comments, I very much value your contributions.
Please can you calm down? I’m sure you don’t mean to come across the way you are but you are sounding quite aggressive. I don’t want conflict here, I want friendly discussion, so please can we move on. Thank you.
Claire,I just think that rude attack by ‘Kipper set me off ,so if anyone else would like to send me nasty grames todays your day, I will not entertain them anymore.Yes Claire’ I would love to move on ,I do not like conflict aswell.I am also sorry MARILYN,my intent was not have any conflict and hope you will contribute to Claires site again. Kind Regards Baroness X
But Kipper was being rude or attacking, he was simply disagreeing.
Claire,Also my husband was hit by a semi truck in a very bad snow storm on his way home from work and is lucky to be alive!! Thx Baroness
So sorry, is he in hospital? Will be saying a prayer for you both.
We’ll never know for sure, though I do believe Henry wanted her gone – after all “there’s nothing cold as ashes after the fire’s gone” – When all is said and done, Ann won and why? Elizabeth I
I remember reading an article severasl years ago about the fact that Henry should have been given the annulment from Katherine, and he would have gotten it, except Katherine’s nephew was the Holy Roman Emperor and pushed his policies on the pope. Eleanor of Aquitaine and the French King Louis were given an annulment for the same reason, she bore him two daughers in the several years they were married and he needed a male heir. What he was asking for was not unusual. I am sorry but I don’t have the citing information but I thought it was an interesting viewpoint.
Kay, you followed the information in a way I hadn’t thought to do! I confess sometimes in my reading when I encounter long paragraphs about papal law and negotiation, I rush through it. 🙁
Did anybody read ‘Our Man in Rome’ by Catherine Fletcher. It’s on my list. I wonder if this would throw some lignt on the thought processes of the Vatican at the time.
I’ve read it, although my copy was called “The Divorce of Henry VIII” because I got sent it by the US publishers. You can read my review at http://reviews.theanneboleynfiles.com/the-divorce-of-henry-viii-by-catherine-fletcher/890
It does give a completely different perspective on the annulment proceedings and the tactics that were used, and is very enlightening. It is quite a heavy read but is very good.
Thanks Claire. I will have a read of your review. I think it would be good to see what was going on in Rome at the time.
It may well be that all the theories which Claire has detailed so well have some truth in them, with the likely exception of G.W. Bernard’s hypothesis that Anne was guilty of multiple adulteries.
The starting point was that Henry had fallen out of love with Anne – the sassiness that made her an exciting mistress grated in a consort, she was widely unpopular and he doubted her ability to bear him a son. Whether he gave direct orders to Cromwell, or whether Cromwell anticipated his master’s wishes is more difficult to determine. I suspect that they had worked together for so long that Cromwell was able to interpret a ‘nod and a wink’ from the King – he must have been satisfied that he had Henry’s approval before proceeding against the Queen, even if this was tacit rather than overt. Cromwell must also have been aided by the machinations of the faction supporting Jane Seymour, and by Anne’s indiscreet remarks and behaviour.
Whether Henry himself actually believed the charges against Anne is impossible to know, but he was very good at convincing himself that he was in the right in order to vindicate his actions, so he may well have thought her guilty. And ultimately, he was the person responsible for her tragic fate.
Claire ,Please cancel my e-mail on your site and send know more replys ,I know longer wish to comment on your site.I wish you the very best ,in your quest on Queen Anne. Regards Baroness
Why? You can unsubscribe from emails by clicking on “manage my subscriptions” at the bottom. I don’t understand why you don’t want to comment any more, when you’re such a regular commenter, but obviously it’s up to you. Is your husband critical? I understand if you need to spend time at the hospital but perhaps it’s best to leave your user account open so that you can return when things have settled down.
hi baroness, my name is Margaret as you will see on post, and I just want to say that it would be a pity if you left the site ,I, for one have always thought you have written very good comments here ,you sound like a lovely person and very learned ,so you should stay best wishes Margaret.
I, too, would hate to see you leave, Baroness. I always enjoy your comments and your knowledge of the subject. Even though I do not comment often, I always love to read what others have to say and would miss you. Please reconsider.
Mary,Thank you your all very kind,wish you would comment more!!and margaret sherri to. THX Baroness
margaret,Thank you margret for your very kind words it was very thoughtful of you.I to read your comments they our very well said. Kind Regars Baroness x
Claire,Thank you for your consern for my husband,he will be fine ,however the new truck is dead.I also will give it some thought ,but I will not be treated in a rude manner and will also deffened any of the, AB Friends put in that type of situation.That is not why we our here. Kind Regards Baroness x
I’m relieved about your husband but what a pain about the truck. I didn’t see anyone treating you rudely, I just had to step in because things were getting ‘heated’ and people were getting upset. I agree with Margaret but it’s obviously up to you.
Well Claire your stuck with me!!! Kind Regards Baroness x
I have a very simple theory on as to why I think Anne Boleyn was innocent. She was no fool. She was hot tempered and said things with out thinking first, but would she endanger her and her daughter’s and her the rest of her families lives for a few flings? Hell no. And as for who it was to hatch this plot to get rid of Anne- it was ALL Henry. Cromwell was was just the royal henchman as far as I’m concerned.
After reading all these comments in my effort to catch up on things I have to say I wish I had caught this debate on the day it happened because I think I could have helped resolve at least the issue of Henry’s involvement in Anne’s death. And I will use a quote from a Mel Brooke’s movie to do so:
“It’s good to be King.”
Thanks for an enjoyable 2 hours of reading and thinking! Claire, you are the Queen of Commentators!
To my mind, the most compelling piece of evidence in the case is Chapuys’ comment that he had never before seen a man so happy to be publicly revealed as a cuckold. After all, if the official charges (or even a reasonable fraction of them) were true, then Henry had just been betrayed not only by his own wife, but also by several of his longstanding friends as well. Indeed, supposedly, they’d been planning to go still further and murder both himself (according to the trial charges) and also the Princess Mary and Henry’s illegitimate son the Duke of Richmond (according to King Henry’s own claims post trial). And all of this had just been humiliatingly revealed in public.
Most people, especially people with the rather large ego of King Henry, would be shocked, surprised, hurt, outraged, emotionally devastated and at least a little reluctant to dive headlong into another marriage straightaway.
Henry VIII instead goes out partying, dallies secretly with Jane Seymour, and marries his next Queen within eleven days of supposedly suffering the greatest trauma of his entire life.
Not only is it unlikely in the extreme that any of the charges against Anne Boleyn and her fellow five victims were true, but I personally find it almost impossible to believe that Henry can even have ever sincerely believed that they were true. To my mind, Henry’s actions and reactions seem totally contrived and cynical from the first inquiries to the last execution.
Either that, or Henry VIII had the fastest emotional recovery time in recorded history !
I watched The Last Days of Anne Boleyn this afternoon and a thought occured to me – something which I don’t believe has been mentioned on this site before. Did Anne have some kind of concrete evidence against Thomas Cromwell that could lead to his own downfall? Some kind of evidence that could jeapordise his attachment to his own head? Deathly politics…..
I believe that Anne’s death was not in vain.
It was preordained.
If she had bore a son, Elizabeth would not have had the chance to reign.
And that the spirit of Anne lived inside Elizabeth. She was her Mother’s daughter.
Cromwell: I believe the Devil can quite easily disguise himself with the face of an angel. Who did Henry confide in after Anne’s miscarriage? Cromwell may well have been whispering lies in the ears of Henry for many years & took the miscarriage as a golden opportunity to demonise Anne.
I believe Anne’s death was a joint conspiracy that was not instigated by Henry, but by Cromwell, Anne’s nemesis.
I believe Cromwell’s was a sugar coated voice of evil which manipulated and twisted the mind of the King. His advisor played to his worst fears. The King stamped out these fears with all due haste and efficiency once “proven”.
Cromwell may well have been Henry’s version of the News on TV. Spouting believable propaganda and sensationalist biblical untruths.
It has been said that Henry’s mind is malleable, which means he was open to suggestion.
Can you imagine the weight of responsibility the King must feel? He needed his closest advisors to be sharp thinkers when he lacked the energy to think for himself. Therefore his trust in his advisors no doubt would be absolute.
Love can be killed by outside sources.
One lie whispered in a person’s ear, from a “trusted friend and ally” is the seed of doubt which is sown in the mind of the recipient.
Sometimes this is all it takes for love to die. And in this case, for a Queen to die….
If Anne had had the support of Cromwell, would things have turned out differently for the Queen?
I am so impressed by the comments and attempts to understand why a man, so desperately in love, could hate the former object of love and obsession enough to wish her death. Their relationship was always tempestuous. But why in a day, could he have wished to erase her images, and all references to her. To him, she was dead already.
I feel the only real explanation of this bewildering behavior is the King having a borderline personality disorder. The ease with which he cut off his formerly beloved Queen Catherine and his only living legitimate heiress, his dear friend Thomas More, and many other respected courtiers is the rapidity of emotional bifurcation so endemic to this disorder. I would like to know if anyone in the community feels this possibility too.
If you read a post that I wrote on April 10th I wrote that I felt that H8 had serious and emotional issues. I believe that H8 would be diagnosed in our time period as being narcissistic disordered with psychopathic tendencies. I relate his behaviour with my x-husband who was actually diagnosed as such. Such similar behaviour that sometimes I actually can imagine him (the ex) as H8. As a narcissist ages the behavior gets worse especially if they have a position of power. If my ex could have wiped me off the face of this earth after all was said and done then he probably would have. The worst thing that you can every do is insult them and bruise their egos. They go after the jugular. Also, very obsessive – once they obtain the object of their desire it’s downhill all the way. I think that one of the worse things that happened to H8 (personally) was breaking from the catholic church because and only because he found out how much power he actually had.
H8’s great great grandfather Charles the 6th of France was called the “glass King” because he believed that he was made of glass and had breaks of insanity during his reign.
H8 was one nasty, violent, arrogant and very intelligent man.
I have always thought that Henry was ultimately to blame for Anne’s downfall because of the high number of people who were also brought down during his reign for different reasons: Buckingham, Wolsey, Cromwell etc. When I went to Windsor Castle, there was a room filled with the heraldic coat of arms for the people inducted into the Order of the Garter. All those who were stripped from the Order had their coat of arms blotted out with white paint, so there were several blank white shields dotted round the room.
In comparison to other monarchs, where there were only one or two blotted out, Henry VIII’s section was FULL of white shields; Cromwell, Buckingham, George Boleyn etc. It seemed like most of the coat of arms of Henry VIII’s reign were blotted out, and there only seemed to be one person who managed to keep his head all the way (Charles Brandon). Going back to Anne Boleyn, I believe this demonstrates that it was Henry who brought down Anne’s downfall, as in comparison to the other monarchs there are so many “shamed” Order of the Garter members that there must have been something special about Henry in his capacity to cause the downfalls of the powerful in his court!
I know I am very late to this party but I still wanted to add my input in this particular discussion. I believe Queen Anne’s downfall came from a combination of both Henry and Cromwell. I believe they both had their reasons for wanting to be rid of her. Henry’s of course was the fact that she still had not given him male issue. I think this was his largest reason behind wanting her out of the picture. But also the points as previously stated like her shooting off her mouth in regards to his performance and the “dead man’s shoes” comment. And Cromwell’s reasons stemmed from the fact that she had stood against him in the ways he was dissolving the monistaries and she had more than likely thretned his position for the way in which he was doing such. So I’m sure whoever first tipped the conversation in favor of Anne’s downfall will never truly be known but we can all guess it was one of these two men.
I would like to site my main theory and what I believe to be the absolute truth in my heart of hearts. It is one of a spiritual reasoning. I believe that Anne was undoublty innocent of all charges and my largest source of knowing that is because her daughter, Elizabeth I, had the longest, most renowned, and most successful reign of the entire Tudor dynasty. And being a Christian myself, I utterly believe that the marriage of Henry and Anne was ordained by God so therefore He anointed their only living child, although female, to reign over England. In my soul I truly believe that God smiled upon Anne as she tried to set forth the change in religion by helping The Reformation advance to as many people as possible. I feel because of all this, God only truly accepted and acknowledged the marriage of Henry to Anne. And that she was forever his rightful wife and the rightful Queen of England in that time.
These are just the feelings from my whole heart. Anne’s cause is one that has completely touched my soul and I really look forward to seeing her in Glory some day because if there was one person, living or deceased, that I would put ahead of all others to meet, it would undoublty be Queen Anne Boleyn!!! 🙂
I’ve really enjoyed reading all the articles and comments from every one on here. And mostly, I thank you Claire for always pouring into this site, it’s such a treat!! 🙂
Yes Brooke D, you’re right.