The Falll of Anne Boleyn: Day -8

Even though I do a countdown to Anne Boleyn’s execution every year, I’m always struck by just how fast everything happened. On this day in 1536, 11th May, Queen Anne Boleyn only had eight days left to live.

Just as the Grand Jury of Middlesex had met the previous day, the Grand Jury of Kent met to rule on the alleged offences committed by the queen and her five alleged lovers in the county of Kent.

In yesterday’s video talk, I looked at the charges laid against them, and in this video, I look at the dates, places and crimes, cited in the indictment. If we’re to believe the grand jury, then the queen was one busy lady!

There are lots and lots of Tudor history videos on my Anne Boleyn Files and Tudor Society YouTube channel, so please do consider subscribing – click here. I add new content on a daily basis. If you prefer audio, then my talks are also available as podcasts on Podbean or your usual podcast app. And, if you prefer reading, then this website has thousands of articles, including one on 11 May 1536.

And today’s normal “on this day” video is about a doctor who saved a queen, one of Henry VIII’s wives, from a plot against her. Let me tell you more about this doctor and the plot, and his role in it.

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10 thoughts on “The Falll of Anne Boleyn: Day -8”
  1. These accusations are even more unbelievable and salacious than the previous day’s. In early 1533 Anne marries the king. In late 1533 she’s sleeping with other men? Endangering a position she waited a decade for? In late 1535 she’s heavily pregnant and sleeping with her brother? That’s not counting all of the times in between that she was bed hopping that this indictment covers. As Queen she was never alone and many of these dates can be proven wrong because Anne and the man she is accused of being with weren’t in the same place. If anyone had any doubts on May 10th I certainly don’t see how this helped. Perhaps at the time it was assumed that these additional charges would seal the crown’s case but I think in the long run it has informed history how ludicrous the whole thing was and has helped to untangle the lies put in place in May 1536.

  2. Basically the same as yesterday, these indictments are utterly shocking and terrible but really nonsense. Many are around the time Anne was pregnant, just giving birth or in confinement for 40 days afterwards. No men were allowed in these rooms, not even the King, she was surrounded by women and at these times sex was forbidden. At other times she was elsewhere, the men were elsewhere and Anne wasn’t alone. This isn’t the Three Musketeers with Queen Anne with the help of her dressmaker sneaking off to meet the Duke of Buckingham in the public laundry. Even then she had another woman with her, who turned out to be a spy. Anne couldn’t just slip a cloak on and go down the backstairs, not without help. Since no accomplish was accused or pardoned, it’s highly unlikely that she even asked. Kathryn Howard had help to arrange her night time rendezvous with Thomas Culpeper and poor Jane Boleyn was executed with her for arranging those meetings, hiding her treason and finding the places to meet. Others knew of this but were pardoned. Now one might say her brother might come and go without comment, but even G Bernard believes that the last person one would sleep with was her brother. She might sleep with Norris or Smeaton in his book, but definitely not her brother. From what we know of Anne’s character, religious beliefs, Biblical knowledge, her circumstances, her moral code, the way women of her rank were watched, these affairs are very unlikely to have happened.

    1. As you stated, with her moral character there is zno way she did any of what she was accused of.
      Do you think people of the court (if they heard the details) actually believed the accusations in the indictments to or that they simply had enough sense not to question and risk losing their own heads?

      1. Well we know a few foreigners who didn’t believe it. Nicholas Bourbon who was a,French man who was a reformer and came to her household, he didn’t believe it. Chapuys didn’t either, nor did Thomas Cranmer, but we really don’t really know about people at Court. I imagine a number did, but then those who knew the men intimately probably wondered, discussing it in private but its hard to say what they thought. I doubt many of Anne’s ladies thought any of it was true. The Duke of Suffolk probably did. He refused to kneel at Anne’s execution and had no love for her. Nicholas Carew felt the same way. The older families, traditional, Catholic, Plantagenet, in origin, I am guessing either believed it or didn’t care. The hard supporters of Katherine of Aragon and Mary probably went further and were very happy to accept it. Mary I believe accepted what she was told. Then there are those who were around Elizabeth and served her growing up, hard to say, but certainly some we have already mentioned didn’t believe it. Anyone else? I would imagine opinion was quite widely split, but very few expressed an opinion, writing much later of these events, when it was safe to do so. The common people mocking Anne’s character in the taverns, a number apparently had some sympathy for her during her trial and execution. Some even murmured about his new marriage because it was done in indecent haste. Again, there is a lack of information, as far as I know, as there are with so many things, but I bet it was hotly debated about the town, the consequences being ignored.

        Even if Anne had an affair or two, this amount of sexual crime and sin reads as if it’s impossible. That wasn’t the worst of it, Michael, rumours were going around that in fact Anne had been unfaithful with one hundred men or more. Given that she was a Queen with a pretty full social calendar, had a full official life, it makes me ask were did she find the energy and the time for all that? It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if a good number of people even then found the extent of these accusations pretty hard to swallow.

        1. Thank you for your answer. That’s more than I knew before. I had never heard of the rumour of 100 men. Terrible. I have always been struck by the fact that Eustace Chapuy, a man who so disliked Anne Boleyn didn’t believe it. That in my mind goes a long way to show that something wasn’t right.

  3. Anne when taken to the Tower asked Sir William Kingston if she would die without justice, as if she could already feel the cold steel of the swords blade on her neck, Kingston replied ‘the poorest subject in the realm hath justice’, he was wrong and these indictments against Anne, like the previous ones, were simply part of a conspiracy to murder an innocent woman simply because she had failed to give the king a son, it is one of the most vile and revolting murders in English history, and marred the reign of King Henry V111 for ever.

    1. It would be better if this was only a murder but with so many bodies it’s closer to a slaughter.

  4. I have been studying the Knights Templars and the Cathars who despite legends actually didn’t have any links except some of the families came from the same stock and they refused to fight against them when Innocent III called for a Crusade. As you probably know on 13th October 1307 the Templars in Paris were arrested on the orders of Philip iv of France and Pope Clement V and then throughout France and much of Europe. Over the next seven years they were imprisoned, tortured, tried, questioned and a number confessed to the most ridiculous heresy and blasphemy charges on record. Despite later recanting and in several cases receiving abolition of those charges, several hundred were burned , including the last Grand Master, Jacques de Morley. The Cathars were also subjected to one of the most brutal attacks on heresy in history. Several hundreds were burned and a vast number died in armed conflict and in massacres afterwards. The Cathars are often linked to the Templars because they were also regarded as mysterious. In fact we know far more about the Templars than most people think and we have their rule in Paris. Yet, its the nonsense they were accused of which has stuck, not their real lives. The rolls with the crown documents go on for several metres and are extremely detailed. Several high ranking knights confessed and people wondered why. Most of those tortured were actually auxiliaries and had ordinary jobs in the order, yet the Knights also appeared to have confessed but they also withdrew that confession when called later to testify. The reason Philip struck at them was of course their power, the fact he was broke and he owed them money and their treasures also vanished, if indeed they existed. What did people think?

    Well actually many people believed it was true until a number of people confessed to bearing false witness, opinion was very much split and in Portugal and parts of Spain they refused to prosecute them. Today many are fascinated and it’s their legendary status which most people like to believe. Their real story is much more thrilling. I am using them as an example of how easy it is to construct a believable case based on the most unbelievable nonsense when the people bringing that case are themselves powerful and control the narrative. Despite a number of sources which back the trial as being a huge travesty of justice, the use of torture being standard in the heresy trials, its really amazing how much nonsense has stuck. The legend of what the Templars were accused off is much better known than the real story. Yes, some of their rites were secret, but much of their day was regulated. The fact that the King had selfish and political motivation for his attack on the Templars rarely enters the head of those who are caught up in the spreading of mythology. Even some who see this as an injustice and know their history still insist they held deep secrets of mystique and magic, which is part of their appeal. Fascinating as those ideas are of weird mind altering drugs and mind trips the equivalent of taking strong LSD are more in the imagination of the cult following than of real historians.

    Anne too has caught our imagination and a number of myths even surrounded what she was accused off. Official websites still in some cases insist that she was accused of witchcraft and Norah Lofts believed she was a witch. PG introduces the same theme in the Other Boleyn Girl and Anne is making potions and causing harm and people to fall in love, which given that PG is obsessed with the theme of witchcraft in all of her books, is actually no surprise. Henry stated he had been bewitched or cursed and would have no male children by Anne in a private conversation but didn’t do anything about it. It’s more likely that he actually meant he had been deceived. However, given the context, that of a grieving father, I doubt that remark can be taken seriously. Then later comments describe her as having witch marks all over her and Nicholas Sander says she had a huge wen or lump on her chin or neck. His account is sixty years later and very hostile and I can’t imagine Henry marrying her if she looked like that. These accusations did their terrible job, six innocent people died and their reputations have been damaged ever since. There is the old saying that there is no smoke without fire. Well yes there is and in Anne’s case the only real basis of this construction was gossip and tittle tattle; yet there are still people prepared to believe it.

    1. I know the roundup of the Templars is one of many reasons Friday the 13th is considered an ominous day. I have heard within the last few years that the accusations against the Templars were completely false and that what confessions there were were elicited through torture. I also have read and heard that it was partially brought on by Phillip IV’s not wanting to payback a tremendous amount of money lent to him by the Templars. His thinking being that if the Templars are destroyed the debt is cancelled. My understanding is the Templars lent a lot of money to various people and many begrudged repaymen. As you can see I am not expert, just fascinated by the story.

      1. Yes, Michael, that’s correct, they were bankers, knights and the protectors of pilgrims to the Holy Land, but after the Fall of Acre in 1291 they moved back to their main headquarters, one being Paris. Yes, they had lent Philip the Fair and a number of other nobles and he wasn’t keen on paying it back and his wars with England and Aragon had left him without much cash. The Order had treasures, money and their condemnation would mean it was all confiscated by the crown. Whatever they owned on behalf of others or the order would belong to the broke King. It was a terrible way to get out of debt, the innocent blood which was spilt for the vanity of a King. It was the same with Anne and her innocent co accused, they were the victims of the selfish self interests and vanity of a paranoid King.

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