Tracy Borman’s The Fall of Anne Boleyn series

Nov 12, 2020

Great news! A new three-part series on Anne Boleyn presented by historian Tracy Borman will air on Channel 5 on 24th, 25th and 26th November. It’s called the Fall of Anne Boleyn and the three episodes cover her arrest, trial and execution in 1536.

Tracy will be retracing Anne’s steps, hour by hour, in those final days, and putting forward evidence to “show how the architect of her downfall, Thomas Cromwell, uses any means necessary, including torture, to bring charges of adultery, incest and treason against the Queen.”

This is definitely something to look forward to in these strange times! When we can’t get out to visit places, it’ll be lovely to see historical attractions like Greenwich, the Tower of London, and the National Archives, albeit virtually!

The series starts at 9pm UK time on Channel 5 on 24th November 2020.

For those of you outside the UK, I’m not sure about plans for it to air internationally.

Cheeky plug now! A certain Claire Ridgway has written a book on Anne Boleyn’s fall in 1536 called The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown (available on kindle, as a paperback and as an audio book), so if you want to delve even deeper into the events of 1536, you can! Find out more at or

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40 thoughts on “Tracy Borman’s The Fall of Anne Boleyn series”
  1. I can’t wait to see this. Tracy did a great job on Henry Viii and his men. Looking forward to watching over three days. Cheers.

  2. I will definitely watch it to, I enjoyed ‘The Last Days Of Anne Boleyn’ very much, so I am sure I will enjoy this latest offering.

  3. I’m also super excited for this documentary. Out of curiosity, is there going to be a post on here about the warrant book discovery? I’m quite late to the party, but I’m looking for more details beyond the few articles about it.

        1. You’re welcome Claire! : )

          In reply to ‘BoleynFaction’ – about the ‘discovery’ of the warrant book, It is actually not new news.

          The writ was mentioned by historian Eric Ives in his book ‘Anne Boleyn’ back in 1986.

        2. Yes, there was quite a lot of talk on Twitter re it no being a discovery or new news. It’s always good to remind people of these things though!

  4. I looked up a few articles on the warrant book last night. It isn’t new, as Roland says, as Henry was known to give exact instructions over Anne’s execution and Cromwell priced it all up. However, it is interesting to see it being studied for the first time in a long time. I don’t believe it should be interpreted to determine how Henry felt while planning all of this. He was meticulous by nature. It might seem macabre but everything had to be planned and warrants issued, nor is it chilling, not when we consider how determined Henry was to be rid of Anne. Henry needed everything to go smoothly. Maybe he was moved to pity to spare Anne the flames, unfortunately we don’t know what he was feeling, but it’s a great piece of evidence to have been brought back into the light of scholars.

    1. Burning at the stake was also the death penalty for females who murdered, especially a superior or husband as it was petty treason. This remained the same until 1784 when the last case went so badly wrong that it was abolished. As an act of mercy the women executed for murder were strangled first but that sometimes went wrong. It was hanging for a man of course, but women were property. Horribly it was also the sentence for putting inferior metal into coins as again it was treason. Considering it was thought of as a merciful method of death in reality it was horrible and devastating and painful. I do hope Henry really did want to spare Anne the pain and terror and was moved to pity, because at least her continental method of beheading was swift. However, I think its more to do with the fact that he knew she was innocent.

      1. I have often wondered the real reason why Anne was shown such mercy and beheaded by a skilled swordsman, was because Henry V111 knew there was no real evidence to condemn her in the first place, and Cromwell had merely made a case against his queen and given him a way out to rid himself of her, he had questioned Norris a close friend of many years standing, he must have known he was sincere when he swore himself and Anne innocent of any wrongdoing, but instead of believing him he gave orders for him to be arrested, because he did not admit to something that the king was desperate to hear, likewise his brother in law, Lord Rochford, surely he did not believe he had been indulging in an incestous affair with his own sister? He was married said to be a womaniser and was very attractive, he was also very pious like Anne, and so I find it very hard to understand that this king did not believe his own instinct that must have told him these charges aimed against his queen were wholly without conviction, and were instead dreadful slander against a woman who was his consort, the mother of his heir and someone whom he had deeply loved for nearly ten years, when we consider the awful charges against both Anne her brother and the rest of her alleged lovers, unlike Dereham years later who suffered a dreadful death simply because he had known Catherine Howard before they were married, and the merciful execution Anne’s co accused were given, and they were all found guilty of not only sinful adultery with the queen but conspiracy to murder the king also, treason of the worst sort, one marvels how this king could be so lenient towards them, including the lowly Mark Smeaton a mere court musician, also their heads were not tarred and pickled and displayed on Tower bridge, something where all traitors heads ended up, yet with his fifth queens alleged lover Culpeper and the unfortunate Dereham, their heads were stuck on poles and their rotting heads with their dead glassy stares was visible to many a Londoner and her visitors, the whole affair surrounding Anne Boleyn reeked off a conspiracy to rid a king of his unwanted queen, not about serving justice to a wicked immoral woman who had deceived her lord and husband, the ‘mercy’ she received in having a French sword to decapitate her instead of the axe, the merciful death her alleged lovers had, no public display of their heads after death, tells me that these were not an act of mercy by a wounded king, but a means of trying to soothe the mind of a guilty troubled conscience.

        1. Anne was a nuisance for Henry to dispose of, nothing more. By 1536 she had run out of second chances to give him a son and from his point of view she was an inconvenience to his security and need for an heir. Anne had one last chance for her own security, her own position as Queen now depended on the fruit of her womb, the child that grew within her that January 1536,_the child we now know was a son. Henry had only been her husband for just over three years, but he was growing impatient. Henry was now forty five almost and had been married to two women since 1509 for with the result of having but two living children, two girls. Now we know that both Mary and Elizabeth would succeed as his heirs, but Henry couldn’t know any of that. England didn’t have a tradition of female Kings and it was only that no male heirs were available that the age of Queens began. Henry was growing desperate and having seen a second sad pattern of loss in the cradle and the womb, just as he saw with Katherine, he wasn’t prepared to wait forever for a living son.

          Elizabeth was not the disappointment she is claimed to be in every documentary ever written, but she wasn’t a boy, even Anne knew that and she too was desperate for a son. Mary had been set aside because of her sex, Elizabeth might be as well. Henry was growing tired of Anne for other reasons as well, Europe denied they were man and wife and Elizabeth had little value in the marriage market. Francis wanted Mary for his son and Elizabeth wasn’t even good enough for his third son. Henry was excommunicated and war loomed on the horizon. Anne had made too many enemies and she didn’t have a great family name or faction behind her. She was being blamed for every evil under the sun and to be honest, Henry was paranoid and nervous as a result of all the conspiracies between her friends and enemies. Cromwell was one of those Anne fell out with and she was an obstacle to his own plans for a treaty with the Holy Roman Empire. Anne had given Henry one healthy living child, a daughter but had not had a successful pregnancy since. She lost a child in 1534 and there may have been another miscarriage sometime early in 1535. Either that or she couldn’t conceive for a long time, but certainly by the Autumn of 1535, after a triumphant progress, Anne was pregnant again. She had become close to her once again. Henry and Anne were jubilant at the start of 1536,_especially when Katherine died and Anne was finally the unchallenged Queen. However, Henry was still looking elsewhere for pleasure and Anne refused to accept this. Their rows were public and loud. Henry had Elizabeth brought to Court and paraded at Mass and many entertainments, the grandest of which was a tournament. He rode in the tournament himself and was knocked from his horse, which fell on him, causing hurt to his leg and probably knocking him unconscious. Modern neuroscience and historians believe Henry suffered from brain damage and his paranoia grew as a result of this accident. A few days after the King’s accident Anne had a fatal miscarriage, the baby was a boy. Four contemporary sources agree that there was nothing abnormal about the baby and it was a sad but natural loss. However, Henry was beyond distraught. He was convinced that yet again he was being denied a son because his marriage was cursed. Henry for a brief time fell out with Anne and refused to speak with her. He also consulted legal experts and he went to a friend and said he felt as if he was bewitched. He didn’t mean it literally and it was a moment of mourning and despair, but it certainly started the ball rolling to end his second marriage.

          A number of things came together to engineer the fall of Anne Boleyn and this miscarriage left her vulnerable. Henry consulted experts on canon law, looking to annul his marriage, several visits followed and Cromwell was working on a new alliance with the Emperor. The supporters of Mary linked up forces to aid in bringing Anne down with rumours about her behaviour, Cromwell joined that faction and Henry was now attracted to a lady connected to the same faction who worked to make him see Anne in a poor light. This was Jane Seymour and she wasn’t a pawn, she was radically involved. Jane had let Henry know that she would not be paid for until she was married, learning from Anne herself and soon Henry was courting her as a potential Queen. Jane told Henry that his people didn’t like Anne and that she was a liability. This fed his paranoia. Everything then came to a head in mid April and for some reason Henry was now looking to end his marriage permanently. Anne’s enemies gave Henry reason to be suspicious, investigations followed and both Cromwell and the King worked to rid themselves of a woman who was just in the way. Henry wanted to remarry and he didn’t want another drawn out scenario as he had experienced with Katherine. Also if he merely declared his second marriage unlawful he would look foolish as he had turned England upside down to have Anne. Henry had broken with the Church and taken its wealth and power to marry Anne, had made it treason to recognise any heirs save those by her and if he now divorced her he was saying he had made one big mistake. Another solution was needed. That was up to Cromwell to find an answer.

          Exactly what went down between 18th April 1536 and 30th April 1536 is still something of a mystery when it comes to Cromwell. The man vanished. Henry had given the orders and Cromwell found the dirt. The legal apparatus was set up in a rush, the indictment drawn up in a rush, the pressure was put on potential fall guys and the targets did the rest. First an argument was overheard between Anne and Henry Norris and then turned into treason, then Mark Smeaton was arrested and hauled off to Austin Friars and either tortured or just interrogated for 24 hours by Cromwell and his henchmen. Mark confessed to sleeping with the Queen three times. He implicated Norris and probably George Boleyn. The first arrests were made and a short investigation followed. Anne was arrested and taken to the Tower, the women with her were spies. Everything she did or said was reported. Four other men were arrested. Henry Norris, William Brereton, Francis Weston and George Boleyn were charged and put on trial. Two more, Thomas Wyatt and Richard Page were held but not charged. Francis Bryon was questioned and cleared. Well it had to look good. Only Smeaton confessed. The others were tried and found guilty as was Anne and the evidence was invented by Thomas Cromwell. Anne was now put on trial and gave a worthy account of herself. However, it was to no avail. Not everyone believed the charges either and even Chapuys thought it was a load of nonsense. Anne was condemned to die by fire, the punishment for female traitors, or to be beheaded, if the King wished. The men should have been hanged, drawn and disembowled and quartered. Henry granted all five men (I forgot to mention Weston) the better death of beheading.

          Finally, here we see Henry was meticulous over the arrangements for Anne, who believed she would be spared. Killing a Queen was unprecedented. Few people believed the King would carry out the dreadful sentence. However, Henry apparently had made arrangements well in advance and the warrant book showed the scary details kept by Cromwell and the King. There is no doubt in my mind that Anne was innocent and that Henry knew it. At the end of the day, whether or not Cromwell thought most of this up, his orders came from King Henry to get rid of Anne and he didn’t care how. He saw it was more convenient to execute his wife in order to make a clean break. Henry was merciful in allowing Anne to have a French execution, with a blade, swift and painless, but he still killed his wife, knowing her to be innocent. He killed five men with her, knowing the charges were false. Cromwell may have targeted some of them in order to get rid of rivals, but even then it was up to the King to say yea or nay. It was a terrible ending for the woman Henry had claimed to love and even more shocking was the fact that he married Jane eleven days later. His subjects were horrified and murmured against him. This was a PR nightmare.

          Anne was a witty and intelligent woman, a well educated lady, a religious reformer, a woman who knew her own mind, she was brave but sometimes brash, she wasn’t a feminist and neither was she a modern woman, but she was involved politically and she gave instructions to foreign Ambassadors. She danced well and was musically bright. She shared much in common with the King, she kept a good household and one which was high in morals. She loved the game of courtly love, but she wasn’t unfaithful with anyone and her fate was that of an innocent person who fell victim to blind but prejudicial justice.

    2. Hi BQ – I’ve been reading your thoughtful comments and, as usual, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. “Henry needed everything to go smoothly”, you say. Smoothly, quickly, get it done, get it over, and move on. But death by the stake and by axe were problematic. If Anne, still Queen of England, annointed by holy oil, mother of the heir, if she were seen to suffer by either mode of execution, then people would be appalled, Talk abroad would be of her agonising death and little else. No, Henry needed it to go smoothly, and the sword offered hope of that. Of course, had Anne fainted at the wrong moment, even the sword would have brought her a most terrible end.
      Hardly bears thinking about.

      1. Hi Globerose, hope you’re well. Yes, the axe could at times also be a problem and I don’t think we have to even wonder about burning at the stake, it was long and painful and could take between 15 minutes and ober an hour or more to complete the job, although the victim may suffocate long before that. The axe could sometimes take gwo or three strokes and in the case of the Duke of Monmouth, it was as much of a butchers tool as the knife. The infamous Jack Ketch was on duty that day, a hangman with only one execution that was botched to his name. He had to finish James Monmouth off with a knife. He was totally incompetent and its not known why such a man was chosen for what was essentially a Royal execution.

        Was it revenge by James ii or was he just on duty?

        Anyway, you are completely correct in everything you said. The normal form of beheading would be too much of a risk for this first Queen of England to be executed. Nenry needed everything, including the execution of his wife to be done effectively and the sword was the best way to ensure Anne didn’t feel anything or know much about the moment. It was smooth, quick and efficient. I am certain he may have had pity as well and well, the theory also is that Anne requested a sword, but I am not sure about that as Anne expected to be pardoned. The woman in these kinds of scandals normally went to a convent, but og course Henry wanted to close them. Eleanor Cobham was locked up in a variety of castles for the rest of her life as was Eleanor of Aquitaine and Margaret Beaufort eas just stripped of her lands and handed over to her husband. Anne was being executed, the act was shocking and as you say, if it went wrong, people would have gasped. They were not keen to begin with even though 1000 came to watch.

        Anne was crowned and anointed and the executed often achieved martyr status in the eyes of the people because they were close to God at the moment of death. People dipped hankies into their blood. The blood of the Queen would have been very sacred. It was important to make sure Anne was given every dignity during her final moments and the smooth and efficient beheading with a sharp sword practically guaranteed that was possible. Its just a pity nobody bothered to provide a proper coffin. An arrow box is made from pine and certainly long enough but quite narrow. It’s a good job poor Anne was slender.

        1. Yes Anne was of course narrow boned and very slender so she just fitted into an arrow box well, but what if she had had more ample proportions or been a head taller, one shudders to think of the poor corpse being interred in the cold earth because nothing suitable was found, it was a shocking breech of protocol that her coffin was overlooked, but I guess it was easily done, she was the first Queen of England to be executed, and such planning went into her execution that everyone completely forgot about her coffin, after all the execution of a crowned queen was unprecedented, I agree Anne would not have requested the sword herself for one thing it was ordered before her trial, and she would never have dreamed in a million years that her once adored spouse would actually kill her, Henry V111 knew that execution in France was done by the sword, a much more swift compassionate death, a woman who had been crowned with the ancient crown of King Edward, who had been crowned and anointed was deserving of a much better death than that by the axe, that elegant neck should not have to rest itself on the old wooden stump of the block, she was no ordinary traitor she was a queen, and maybe some compassion remained for the woman he had once loved to distraction, it was said years before that he could not leave her for an hour, when she had lain near to death of the sweat, he had once declared he would endure half her pain in which to cure her, that love which many had called ‘blind’ had slowly melted like ice under the sun, he declared he now hated her yet hate and love are two sides of the same coin, and pity is loves sister they say, his mind now was only focused on the meticulous details of his queens death, maybe also he was sparing a thought for his daughter Elizabeth who one day would learn of her mother’s death, he would not want her hearing any horror stories which could emotionally scar her, at least when she came to hear of it, she would know that her mother had been afforded every comfort befitting her status and that she had been given a swift death, it makes one marvel how one mind can plan the execution of his former queen, whilst making plans in which to marry his next.

    1. Oh I hope so, Victoria. I saw her series on Henry Viii and His Men and the Private Life of the Tudors both of which have books to accompany them, all excellent. I love her biography on Thomas Cromwell as well. I just saw the first part of Anne and her fall and it was brilliant, some evidence I have not seen before and the Moost Happi Medal and Lucy Churchill did a fantastic reconstruction from her face on that. King Henry isn’t doing well on Twitter tonight. No spoilers but this is really good.

  5. I have now seen the Tracy Borman series. Lord and Lady Rochford are again referred to as being unhappily married. The programme concentrated quite rightly on Anne, but since George’s trial was referred to in passing I had hoped that mention would be made of how well he acquitted himself, and the fact that he read out the statement that he was told not to read out. There was no mention of Anne swearing an oath of her innocence on the sacrament, and I consider that highly important. Her red kirtle worn to her execution was not referred to as being the martyrs’ colour. However, I heard for the first time that Cromwell had left court feigning illness so that he could plot Anne’s downfall. All very sad, still, and it is so offensive to our modern senses.

    1. Tracy Borman did an excellent job but there were a few niggles I agree. She also said that Thomas Boleyn sat at her trial. He didn’t. He was excused although he did sit on one of the Commissions of Oyer and Terminer.

      Norfolk was Lord Marshall of England. Next to the King he was the highest noble in England. It was his job to sit in judgment on the Queen, whether she was his niece or not, just as it was the job of the other nobles. Everyone was entitled to a trial by their peers. In the case of the Nobility that meant the high Nobility or House of Lords Court of Chivalry or High Steward. Who could try the Queen? Nobody is her equal but as a peer they can judge her. Anne and George were tried by their peers or as near as possible. No Queen had been tried for treason before so this was something new. I am guessing the lawyers were being made to work overtime and the best were in charge. Norfolk was the highest person to sit as her judge. The rest were hand picked to ensure the correct verdict, but in truth it was only the nobles who could sit as her judges and jury.
      I would have loved George’s trial to be detailed as well but the programme was only three hours. It had already paid exceptional attention and detail to the last days of Anne, her trial and execution, as you say, quite rightly and the time limit made it impossible to include everything. Let’s face it you could make a series of several more days on the issues around Anne Boleyn’s trial.
      I believe the three day event was beautifully presented, the details and information from the sources spot on, the recreation very dramatic and brought home the terror of the moment, the visit to the Tower was very moving and Tracy herself is excellent. We saw many rarely seen documents and putting the timeline together hour by hour must have taken a lot of skill and research. I think its good to pick up on the odd thing but this is obviously a work of great research and commitment, it must have taken months to do. We should praise the Channel 5 people and the work which went into this brilliant sharing of the last days and final hours of Anne and the men falsely accused with her. The details of the last day were fascinating and very moving. It was an excellent series, the use of the sources better than anything I have seen before and I really enjoyed it.

  6. I too noticed some discrepancies in the series, Borman on talking about the charge of incest against the queen and her brother, declared it was Lady Rochford who out of envy and spite accused them of this unnatural crime, I thought she was supposed to an historian and she says she has read about Anne all her life, why then did she not realise that there is no actual proof of any animosity between Anne and her brothers wife, poor Jane once again her character is being maligned, I did not like the way either her father was portrayed she said he was very ambitious and when the queen fell, he and the rest of the Boleyn’s abandoned her to her fate, courtiers were all ambitious and Sir Thomas probably no more than most, yet he was portrayed as this rather cold unfeeling man, it was not a case of deserting his daughter or son, he like many others had no choice in the matter, he was in the service of the king and could not very well raise an army, march on the Tower and rescue Anne, it would have been folly of the utmost degree, he would have promptly been arrested and convicted of treason, and he to would also suffer death, leaving his wife without two children and a husband, and the taint of traitor on his house, Borman said he also sat on his daughters trial yet we know he was spared that, another error was when she quoted the account of Smeatons torture whilst in Cromwells house, this account was written by the Spanish chronicle a highly unreliable source, besides we do not know what happened to the musician when he was with Cromwell, though it is highly probable he was tortured or was threatened with torture to exact a confession and incriminate Anne, there was no mention of Anne swearing on the sacrament of her innocence which was very important, as this act alone in Tudor times was not done lightly, all people feared their immortal soul and what would happen in the afterlife, for Anne in front of witnesses to make such a confession meant she was declaring her innocency to the world, I too was disappointed that we did not hear about George’s trial because he did make a mockery of it, he read out aloud a note which was passed to him about a conversation he had had concerning a very sensitive subject – the kings impotency, he was intelligent and learned like his sister and conducted himself so well there were bets on wether he would be acquitted, but of course he like the others accused had to be found guilty, that said like Bq mentions, it was wonderful to see the actual court documents of the time, and the one where it shows that ‘the king moved by pity was unable to condemn her to the flames’, it was lovely also to see the coin struck with Anne’s image and also the famous Chequers ring which Anne’s daughter commissioned in her lifetime as a silent tribute to her mother, I loved the story of the ruby and the diamond semi precious and precious, Elizabeth the queen was paying homage to her mother by having the diamond beneath her image, whilst Elizabeth merely had the ruby, the ring she wore all her life and had to be sawn of on her deathbed, as it had become imbedded in her flesh, I did enjoy the series but it would have been nicer to have seen the details i and other posters have mentioned, and also to have seen other portraits of Anne, I have never been really keen on the NPG one, I much prefer the Hever portrait where Anne holds a rose, I much preferred the documentary which was aired a few years ago, ‘The last days of Anne Boleyn’.

    1. I posted a detailed response but the moderation thing said it will appear once its modified. I don’t know what if anything was wrong with it. It took me ages to do as well.

      1. For the past week I have had to request access because it says I have been barred from commenting on this site, I have to put in my email address request access and and add up two numbers to prove I’m not a robot, then my comment is posted, it’s a bit of a faff.

        1. Well it posted, but I think the moderation thing was because it contained a link to another article. The computer obviously cannot tell that its a link to an article on here.

          It really is a good thing Anne was slim, although the box was actually six foot long, but even so, most Tudor women were quite ample because of their status. The good food was a sign of wealth and status and most noble women and men would have been anything but slender. Anne must have been a dainty eater as well as slightly boned. She was definitely an odd one when it came to her looks. It doesn’t bare thinking about if she didn’t fit the box. I suppose a shroud could have done well enough. It was the job of the Constable of the Tower to arrange and attend and supervise the execution of as well as see to the needs of the prisoners. He would have received the warrant book and the orders of the King, passed to him via Thomas Cromwell, who priced everything up, so every detail was known in advance. We know how much the scaffold cost, how much Anne was given for the poor, how much for the executioner and so on. We know now that the King specified that Anne was to die by the sword in advance. So why did he not order a coffin for his wife? Not everyone was buried in a coffin, even high status people who were laid inside a tomb. However, by this period, tombs had become markers and most people lay in a vault below, either coffined or in a burial shroud, which might be either expensive or basic. As with today, how you went was determined by status and wealth. The executed didn’t normally have a coffin. Their burial was often as simple as possible and with only basic Catholic rites. If their families claimed their remains and the King allowed them to be removed, then they were buried outside of the Tower, in whatever ways their families could arrange. For example the last victim of King Henry Viii, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was buried in All Saints outside the Tower in January 1546 but much later moved to the family Chapel in Framingham Castle and had a fine tomb built. I am guessing that most others had a shroud and not a tomb. People had been buried in Saint Peter ad Vincula since it was opened by Henry Viii in 1510 as a chapel for the community in the Tower and still people are buried, married and baptised there and have services there. Some people of status clearly had a tomb or coffin here over time but I am certain that Anne not being provided was not unusual. Were Anne was different was the fact that she was the Queen of England. No Queen had before been executed for treason. There was still a good deal of uncertainty and I agree with Tracy, a number of people doubted that the execution would actually go ahead. Tracy speculated as to whether this was the reason why Anne didn’t have a coffin. I believe it was a pure accident. It was overlooked in the middle of all the rush and fuss and the delay and the fact that Henry was off enjoying himself. It was certainly an odd thing to do but I don’t see anything sinister in the act, merely self absorption and oversight. Sir William Kingston was responsible for the disposal of Anne’s remains but if Henry had put no money aside for a coffin, there was nothing he could do really. So unfortunately the next best thing was found, the six foot arrow chest, just big enough for her, men to bury her, but her ladies would not allow them to touch her and she was laid to rest in Saint Peter ad Vincula and the body was reburied properly in Victorian times. The beautiful flooring and heraldic markers on the spot where Anne and her brother were buried and the alter before which they are now honour them today. The basket of roses which is laid anonymously on the anniversary of her death on 19th May every year remembers Anne and her innocence. Nobody knows who it is but the tribute has been laid there for over 250 years.

        2. I’ve tried to post on this site twice. The first time I got the message that I needed to email The Anne Boleyn Files etc., etc.. I simply didn’t want to bother with it so just let it go. I tried to post again yesterday because I was so happy to have been able to watch all three of these episodes on YouTube and I made a few remarks about how much I liked the program even though there were some niggles. This time it looked like my post might actually go through as the “post will be moderated” message came up. Nope. My post was either found unfit for TABF or there’s still some glitch going on. I’ll be interested to see if THIS gets posted.

  7. Yes, I noticed all of the questionable things. especially on Jane Boleyn being the source of the incest charge and Thomas Boleyn being at her trial. As we know he was on the list but was actually excused because the accused were his children. He didn’t sit at the trial of George or Anne, although he did the others and one of the Commissions of Oyer and Terminer. As for him abandoning Anne, there is some evidence to suggest he did, but under pressure. He did his duty as a courtier and afterwards he did not have a choice. He couldn’t have saved them and we don’t know if he tried or not.

    The only women we know who gave testimonials, although probably not in the Court which wasn’t unusual for the time were Lady Elizabeth Browne, Countess of Worcester and you can bet your bottom dollar that she was bullied by her brother, Sir Anthony Browne, old buddy of the King and Cromwell; Nan Cobbam and one other young lady described as a maid. Lord Lisle named them as did Justice Spellman. Lancelot de Carles also named Elizabeth Browne in detail. There was some mistaken mention in one source of Jane which has stuck down the centuries but is discredited. So why name her today? Very good question and one examined in an article on this site.

    There is controversial evidence as to whether Mark Smeaton was actually tortured and the more fancied story is always the Spanish Chronicle because it is colourful. The servant of Henry Norris, George Constantine, also stated that Smeaton was tortured or so he had heard. We can’t be certain if he was or not, although he definitely wasn’t racked as this required a warrant from the the King. Cromwell didn’t have a rack in his house, even though Topcliffe did. Some kind of persuasion was used as he was the only one to confess and implicate others. 24 hours of interrogation without food or water may have been enough but its possible that the threat of torture was used. I think Tracy was covering all bases.

    I enjoyed the reconstruction of the three days and I would say these things are no reason to put the series down or to question Tracy Borman as a reliable historian. Every documentary on TV has the same problem. I do wonder how much the program makers interfere with the script. I think also historians repeat stuff because the idea was planted a long time ago and they are used to hearing it. I loved the artefacts, the beautiful ring with Anne and Elizabeth inside belonging to her daughter, its so tiny, the lovely Moost Happi Medal and the gorgeous reconstruction by Lucy Churchill. The hour by hour time line just got to me, it was deeply moving and so much detail, little things that you may not notice normally. The trial took just a few hours, although most actually did, which is terrible. The words of Anne and her accusers rang out and the entire thing must have taken some putting together from so many sources. Seeing the trial document choked me, the imagination really was something. The words were so shocking, it was x rated. Anne really was painted as the worst whore going and one who was out of control. Tracy did point out the impossibility of such actions and found them in plausible. Anne was never alone and she was pregnant during some of this sexual activity. That was dangerous for her child in those days. Tracy also pointed out that Anne had held Henry off for seven years, so why would she have no control to be faithful now? Seeing the Tower at night was atmospheric. All in all, the few niggles not withstanding, I actually enjoyed the series and I hope there will be a book, especially given the sources explored. I also enjoyed the Last Days of Anne Boleyn which I have downloaded.

    1. I often go on haunted trips with my friend and we thoroughly enjoy them, they are organised by the Most Haunted team of the television series, we have been to the London Dungeons which was built on the tombs of the plague victims, we have been to The Ragged School, a Banardos home in the east end, if you have one of the celebrities with you it’s dearer, we always have Fred Batt and it only costs another tenner to be with him, in conversation I did ask if it’s possible we could go to the Tower but he said they tried and are not allowed, it’s a pity wether you believe in ghosts or not, because as you say, the Tower certainly is very atmospheric at night and if you were there you would probably feel there are ghosts, it is so ancient there are stories of hauntings going back to earlier times, Anne Boleyn’s execution is sad to be enacted on the anniversary of her death, it was witnessed by one of the wardens he declared he saw a group of people walk up to where the scaffold once stood, and a lady whom he took to be Anne Boleyn climbed the steps and knelt before the headsman, the figures then all vanished, once a sentry man on duty saw a green mist glide across tower green and he shouted it to stop but it merely walked through his bayonet he was holding in front of him, spooky or what? There is also said to be the ghost of a bear that once lived there when it was a zoo, we can only go to locations that are near us because we don’t drive but we hope to go again next year to an old building in Greenwich, yes I much preferred the Last Days documentary as well, it would be fantastic if only we could see Henry V111’s love letters to Anne, sadly they are stored in the Vatican, I wish the government would ask them to be sent over to England because they are part of our heritage, it was the intensity of feelings that this king had for Anne Boleyn that changed the course of English history, it would be fantastic if they were displayed in the British Museum for example, or another place under glass of course, so we could all marvel at them.

    2. Yes Elizabeth Browne was said to be the first accuser of the queen, she was annoyed because her brother reprimanded her on her affair she was having with another courtier, I should imagine affairs went on a plenty at court, after all we have to remember the marriages between the nobility were just convenient alliances made often by the couples parents when young, love rarely came into it and so many married couples probably only put up with their spouses some may even have disliked them, and like the king, took their pleasure where they could, her brother unfortunately was a friend like you say of the king so this talk was highly dangerous, it was probably Anthony Browne who mentioned it to Cromwell in the first place, Lady Worcester was said to be a friend of the queen so why she said what she did is strange, maybe she was just referring to the other women in the queens household, but it gave Cromwell the ammunition he needed, Anne really was convicted on hearsay mere court gossip that was all, then her foolish talk with Norris about dead men’s shoes gave Cromwell more ammunition, she did not know it but she effectively hung Norris there and then, he also was accused later of committing adultery with her and the other treasonous charge of planning to murder the king, for some time she had been aware something was going on, the king was closeted with his council for long periods of time, she knew she had lost the love of the king and he was seeing Jane Seymour, in despair she sought out her almoner and although we do not know what was said, we can only guess at the troubled conversation that took place, she became edgy and nervous, she must have been aware that she was being spied on, but when the storm broke she could never have envisaged in a hundred years, what form it would take.

    3. It just goes to show that Anne’s ladies out of reverence towards her, forbade any male hands to touch her, were these then the women whom she declared she had never loved, and how unkind it was of the king to send them to the Tower to await on her? It could be that Henry dismissed these women after she was condemned and sent Anne’s friends to her as a last minute act of kindness, why else would they act emotionally at her death, unless of course shut in with each other for a few weeks a certain camaraderie grew, they would have witnessed her bouts of hysteria, the wild laughter and weeping and they could not fail to be moved by her dilemma, one of these women also was her aunt, and she would know how distressed her brother and his wife would be, I agree the trial was truly dreadful, she had to sit there and hear all the sordid details read out, bit by bit, her uncle must have squirmed in his seat, according to the law of the day she had no defence counsel, she had to reply to the charges as they were read out to her and could only answer yea or nay, there was thousands of spectators there all listening in eagerness at the wild lustful behaviour of the queen, it really was the trial of the century, but it was observed how calm was her demeanour , and how she conducted herself with dignity, the kind of calmness and dignity that only comes with the innocent, she could not have failed to impress the judges, and the public sitting in the gallery, there was the silly tale about how the queen called for marmalade and that was the cue for one of her women to bring Mark Smeaton to her, she was said to have copulated with one of her alleged lovers just after she had given birth to Elizabeth, as if any woman would even think about having sex after going through the ordeal of childbirth, she would have been exhausted and like Alison Weir mentions, possibly still bleeding, apart from that it just was not on because it was a sacred time for a mother, she would have been churched and had to abstain from sex for some time, it was a deeply religious ceremony where the mother gave thanks for her safe delivery, yet the ridiculous charges overrode that and it went on and on, many must have listened in disbelief, the judges themselves must have been rather embarrassed, years later Elizabeth 1st destroyed many of the documents relating to the case so we can imagine we have not heard all the so called evidence, it must have been pornographic in the extreme, poor Anne no wonder there was mumbling at her treatment, Henry V111 and Cromwell had wanted Anne to be shown in the worst possible light so he would garner more pity than ridicule, yet really the tide of sympathy was turned towards Anne, many found it very difficult to believe she had conducted herself with so little respect for herself and her husband, she who was known for being so pious, for running a strict moral household, was this the same woman, this wild depraved creature? It was to ludicrous to be true, and instead of Henry V111 gaining sympathy from the people and abroad, it was Anne his unwanted wife who gained the sympathy and pity from the people, even her enemies did not believe it though they may secretly gloat at her downfall, there was Chapyus who was busily scribbling away to his master the Pope, even he did not believe the queen was guilty and he disliked her because of Queen Katherine, whilst Henry V111 was playing the soon to be Merry Widow strange behaviour which the court raised its eyes at, it was his wife who was languishing in the Tower who had the people’s sympathy, there was a very real case of injustice being done and it stunk.

  8. We know which ladies were with her in the Tower, it is always assumed that the same ladies attended the execution of Anne Boleyn as well. No matter whether they were affirmative of her guilt or not, it was their duty to be there and although traditionally seen as Anne’s enemies, I would say they were more likely seen as reliable spies. Lady Kingston for example probably didn’t have anything personal against the Queen but as the wife of the Constable, it was her duty to supervise and host the most important prisoner, Anne Boleyn in this case. There isn’t any record, as far as I know of any of them being replaced and I doubt it was the case. However, during her trial Anne had acquitted herself well and it was possible that as well as winning the crowd over that she impressed her ladies. She may have won them round. Additionally, as Queen her body was sacred and as a noble woman it was indecent even for men to handle her in death. That’s my theory anyway. Her women would have grown used to Anne having been couped up with her 24/7 for 18 days and nights. They had seen her without the mask of royalty, through some very raw emoticons, laughter, hysteria, sorrow, fear, distress and false hope. They had been there when Anne made her final confession and swore her innocence on the Blessed Sacrament (Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion) and so maybe they were impressed with her declaration there as well. Just the mere shock of seeing the Queen being killed by a sword in front of them would have been extremely distressing and the men would be too rough to handle a gentle woman, especially in death. The women were in shock and visibly distressed, they wanted to care for Anne’s body themselves.

    There is a family tradition in the family of Margaret Lee or Margaret Wyatt, who I believe was related to Thomas Wyatt, that Anne gave her a prayer book, but we cannot verify this as it is an eighteenth century account. However, we know of two Books of Hours kept at Hever Castle in which Anne wrote, one dates from her courtship by Henry and one from between 1533 and 1536 and the inscription may be near the time of her execution. This may have been the prayer book of Hours she had at her coronation. It was beautiful to see the Book of Hours in which Anne wrote on the video last year.

  9. Yes I saw that, it certainly is a beautiful work of art, that’s what I feel about Anne’s ladies as well, after being together for a few weeks they would have seen Anne go through all the emotions and they could not have failed to be moved by her, they knew themselves indeed everyone did at court, how impossible it was for a queen to commit adultery with just one lover, let alone five, and most knew Henry was fond of Jane Seymour, they were not fools, mere women they may have been but the arrest and trial of Anne Boleyn was just a little to convenient for it to look anything but suspect, indeed Henry V111 on becoming engaged to Jane Seymour the day after Anne’s execution, only served to fuel the rumours that Anne had merely been the victim of a political coup just so the king would be free to marry again, the English have a strong sense of justice and there was nothing that justified the case against Anne Boleyn, in a way her shocking death made her a martyr, in her daughters reign she was viewed as such for the reformist cause, the people did not like the way the king conducted himself he was acting jolly and very insensitive, he was acting more like he had discarded an old shoe that was giving him bunions, and so by discarding the shoe the problem was over, I agree, Anne’s execution would have been horrible for the women to witness, yet they had to attend, they had no choice unlike the eager crowd who gathered in their thousands that day, they too like Anne, as the time grew nearer for the execution would have become more nervous and distressed, it is to their credit that they cared for her poor mangled corpse the best they could, it must have been a terrible task to carry her body and head profusely bleeding to the little church of St Peter, as she was interred in the chapel they may have found a priest who would have performed the last rites for her, there would have been prayers and weeping, everyone was allowed a priest surely, even a tainted queen like Anne, whilst those who had loved her wept for her and sobbed, the ghoulish king was busily throwing himself into his forthcoming wedding arrangements, really, was there ever such a monarch as King Henry V111!

    1. Yes, the Church normally took responsibility to bury even discarded corpses and Anne’s chaplain was present. She had been granted a last Mass and she died in the care of God. The care of souls was still very much present and even when the authorities acted to deny burial someone would attend to the remains. Ot must have been a terrible task carrying Anne’s lifeless body into the Church Henry ironically had built for Katherine of Aragon. These ladies would have been distressed for some time to come.

      Henry was off having his own good time, he was going from lady to lady and having parties. The poem and Cromwell wrote about Anne going about on her daily round, which she wasn’t, but Henry certainly was. Now he was off to Greenwich where Jane Seymour had been moved to and before Anne’s body was cold in the ground, they were betrothed. Eleven days later they were married. It was as if Anne had never existed and people were shocked.

      1. No one was allowed to mention her name, her coat of arms and other regalia were erased from memory, her portraits were taken down and either burnt or lost, a new queen took her place at the kings side and sat in her chair of state, instead of being a mere lady in waiting she was now queen, her initials and coat of arms were being chiselled away over the top of the dead queens on the stone work in the splendid palaces of the king up and down the country, people bowed and curtsied before her, she had a river boat procession in her honour, and the man who had been responsible for the death of Anne Boleyn and replacing her with Jane Seymour was rewarded by having a peerage bestowed in his honour, he was now Baron Cromwell – a giant leap from blacksmiths son, his reward for ridding the king of his troublesome queen, everything had gone so well for the devious minister and his master, the whole Boleyn faction had been destroyed, he had also managed to rid himself of that thorn in his side, William Brereton, it was for expediency’s sake he had been chosen, Cromwell had managed to kill two birds with one stone, it also goes to show the true depth of this mans character when he declared later he had ‘thought the whole thing up’, he cared nothing for the opinions of others, he had a chilling disregard for human life, but he took was to tread the same path as his victims several years later, and his death was dreadful – bungled by an inept headsman, Henry V111 having deserted him like he had with Anne Boleyn, Wolsey Queen Katherine and others, Jane Seymour went on to give the king his much longed for son but it cost her his life, and Anne lay decomposing in the dark earth whilst the dust of ages settled over her, did Henry V111 ever wonder how history would judge him? Because of his marital adventures he is the most talked about monarch in our islands history, he is an icon and his queens deserve our sympathy, but Anne Boleyn is often seen as the most fascinating out of all of them, and the most tragic apart from his fifth, Henry V111 effectively erased her from his life on her death but history has been her judge and his, and she remains the most talked about of all his consorts, her trial the charges against her, the indictments never proved she was guilty of any wrongdoing, merely that she was innocently framed and in doing so. five other innocent people lost their lives, it is with some satisfaction as Professor Ives relates, that the kings further ventures into wedlock brought him little joy, God had obviously believed in Anne’s innocence after all.

        1. I agree, Anne was to affect Henry so much that when she was executed he sought to erase her memory from his sight and mind. It was obviously normal to replace the initials and arms and badges and the heraldic stuff of one Queen and replace it with another. However, Henry certainly had her name vanished and portraits removed, although we don’t have any contemporary evidence he ordered them destroyed. They are lost now and vanished. We only have one image we know is Anne, the Moost Happi Medal. Within eleven days he had the heads of her beasts replaced by leapards, her AB removed for J, her arms removed and he changed everything to do with Anne. Henry seems to have feared her name because he was conscious of the fact that she was innocent and sometimes someone or something reminded him off her. He wanted to avoid all of that but he missed a few things. The arms and initials of Queen Anne are still prominent in her gate at Hampton Court, her portrait may be on the Black Book of Chivalry as Queen Philippa and she is most likely pregnant at the time, we have Henry’s letters to Anne and a number of surviving letters from her as Queen and a few other things which may belong to Anne. Her memory could not be erased altogether.

          Anne’s memory was present in Elizabeth, her daughter, the beautiful tiny mother of pearl which she had made and wore all her life. It was on the Tracy Borman series, its really tiny and so beautiful. Her memory was honoured in the hangings that Elizabeth placed on the Guild Hall and the table wear. It is a name spoken in history and Anne is subject to much fascination today 500 years later. Anne was maligned for a long time but her case has long been re-examined and we dee her innocence being affirmed by many historians today. Anne wasn’t the most perfect human being going but she certainly wasn’t guilty of the vindictive charges against her.

          Jane Seymour may have led the faction which attracted Henry to her and lured Cromwell over to help them, but she had nothing to do with Anne’s fate. Nobody could have saved her, sadly, Henry was determined to have his way, including the execution of his wife and Cromwell was his agent in everything. He was rewarded bery well and he accepted responsibility but we have to remember it was Henry who was in charge. The blame must ultimately lay at his feet because Henry wasn’t a weak King. He might have been a weak man, but his power as King was mlre than any other monarch before him. Henry might allow Cromwell to have an almost free hand but he could only do so with that permission. It was overstepping that which led to his own downfall. Henry didn’t care how he got rid off Anne, Thomas Cromwell didn’t care if he stitched her up, it was necessary because Henry wanted a clean break.

  10. Agreed it was the hand of Henry V111 that signed her death warrant and her alleged lovers, and Cromwell could only go so far when dealing with the queen, this is something Alison Weir noted, the kings chief minister and lawman had to have permission from his master to pursue his case against the queen, else it would have been highly dangerous for him to do it of his own back, if he had failed he could have lost his life, something also which Borman said to makes sense, she said Anne was taken straight to the Tower after she was accused of impropriety with the courtiers, there was no proof of any ill doing on her part but Borman says Cromwell panicked because if she had been allowed into the kings presence she may well have swayed him over, Cromwell acted with such urgency that this is a very real probability, he knew how besotted Henry had been over Anne and he feared that power, it is possible even during the spring days of 1536 that some affection still remained in the kings heart for his second queen, they had a child together, and had grieved over the loss of their other babies, they had been together for ten years they had a history, The king wanted Anne gone and alone with his minister they must have explored every avenue to achieve that end, but it was not as simple as just divorcing her and having her banished from court, alive she presented a threat to the legality of the marriage he planned to enter into next, the legal quagmire that she presented threatened the existence of any child born within that third marriage, it is truly dreadful when one considers that a crowned and anointed queen was murdered simply because it was convenient to do so, the shedding of blood should not be done lightly, Cromwell was serving his master, the king desperately wanted a son, he wanted to keep England safe from invasion and having a son would give England the stability she needed, in order to do so, lives had to be sacrificed, Thomas Cromwell pulled off a master plan but it was Henry V111 who was the puppeteer, at this stage in his life his character had not yet darkened to the Henry of legend, yet by the time when his fifth queens impropriety became known, he was a tyrant without pity or remorse, the last fatal head injury he sustained in January 1536 had I feel a lot to do with his increasing paranoia, his bouts of ill temper his depression and lack of mercy towards little Catherine Howard.

  11. Yes, Henry had really made a quagmire with his break from Rome, seizure of Church lands and power and the forbidding anyone to appeal to Rome as Katherine had done. Through making himself Head of the Church in England, having an English Court of his own favour declare his first marriage over and his second his only true marriage, supported by legislation, Henry had tied his own hands. He had everyone swear by sn oath that it was only his marriage to Anne which was legitimate and only his children by Anne who were his heirs. Now he was having to say he had made another mistake and in fact this marriage was also null and void. That would sound stupid. Because of everything you said, the danger to future heirs by Jane, Anne’s marriage could not simply be declared null and void. Katherine had refused to go, a crowned snd anointed Queen and Anne was also crowned and anointed. I don’t think she would have gone quietly either. I actually believe Anne could be pretty dangerous if she wanted to be and her and her sway over Henry was very real. Even Anne thought she could appeal to him, hence the argument at the end of April with their daughter in her arms. Yet he turned away. Might he have come around once he calmed down? It is possible. A couple of people did manage to save themselves by getting an audience with Henry over the years. One was Stephen Gardiner who was suspected of hiding his cousins treason and beliefs. He saw the King and it was all forgiven. Katherine Parr also saved herself. Who knows a humble Anne might have succeeded and Henry did have mood swings. He did move between extremes of good and bad moves. Cromwell simply couldn’t take the chance, which is why Anne’s last night of freedom was one of restriction. Henry was at another Palace and she couldn’t just slip out to join him. The tide had probably turned and it might be hours before she could take a boat up river to Whitehall. The next day Anne was arrested and had only two hours to get a few things, to prepare herself for a journey and then once the boat arrived she was off to the Tower. She didn’t even know the substance of the charges until she got there. Even then the details only came out during her trial. Cromwell was still putting the final charges together because he added stuff she had talked-about in the Tower.

    No I don’t think Henry was quite the tyrant of legend but he was going that way. He would get much worse over the next few years, his moods and wild decisions would become darker and darker. No matter how dangerous Henry was already, the accident of January 1536 pushed him over the edge. He now had btain damage and restrictions of his movements because of his leg injuries and his temper was shorter with pain and lack of physical exercise. Henry could not joust again and therefore he had no release for his pent up frustration. It was becoming easier to persuade him of dangerous conspiracy, although not as easy as it would be. Henry generally still took his time over investigations and moving from arrest to judgement. This was very quick and his paranoia along with his own sudden desire to get on with it pushed the agenda set by Cromwell along at pace. Maybe the fear that Henry might change his mind did play a part, but I also believe Henry was aware of his own mortality and wanted it out of the way so as he had more time for children with Jane.

  12. Yes his fatal injury at the joust when he was unconscious for some time must have made him realise how unsure life is, how it has its way of pulling the rug from under your feet and surprising you, he had narrowly escaped death and it could so easily have gone the other way, had he died Elizabeth would have become queen at not quite three, there would be power struggles and England’s future would be at the mercy of her foreign neighbours, that was not what he wanted for England, that I believe made his desire for getting rid of Anne all the more urgent, when you have a near brush with death it makes you evaluate your situation, never was Henry’s need for a son more urgent, sadly for Anne it did make him agreeable to any suggestion, and i agree as he grew older, it was more easy to sway his paranoid mind into thinking there was treason where there was none, Cromwell became a victim this way, and yet afterwards Henry complained that he had been a good and valued servant, and he bewailed the fact that he had so listened to those enemies of his, later on his execution of Henry Howard Earl of Surrey showed how paranoid he was getting, and the shocking execution of Lady Salisbury was vindictive in the extreme, knowing how brutal he could be, I think Jane Seymour was incredibly brave for agreeing to marry him, seeing how he callously abandoned Anne Boleyn after having loved her for so long, and his treatment of Katherine from Aragon, and it just goes to show how power and glory meant so much more to the Tudor courtier than family, here was a man who had treated his first wife appallingly and who was about to execute his second on highly dubious charges of treason and adultery, yet when the king showed an interest in the Seymour families Jane they were soon rubbing their hands with glee, it did not seem to worry them that he may well abandon her also if she failed to give him a son, this was for now, the future is a long way off, as it was Jane did give her husband a son, but it caused her premature death, puerperal fever may have seemed to Anne’s supporters at the time that God was angry with the king for killing his wife, he had moved on so quickly it was indecent and whilst Jane’s supporters and Henry’s friends were overjoyed at the birth of the Prince, those friends of Anne and her family were still shedding tears for her awful death, his behaviour then and today was callous, one historian wrote that both Anne and Jane suffered in their quest to give the king a son, it was a true supposition, poor Katherine of Aragon had been literally discarded after having been queen for over twenty years, having a son meant the world to Henry V111, we can safely say no one or thing ever came close to it, Anne’s tragedy was that she honestly believed she would be able to have a son, she was young healthy and so far fate had showered her with plenty of good fortune, surely she would have a healthy prince for her and Henry to adore, and he would be his father’s legitimate heir, sadly she gravely miscalculated, you cannot trust in Mother Nature she is a formidable and fickle lady, as Anne discovered to her cost, with her last miscarriage I do believe that was the beginning of the end for Anne Boleyn, she was about thirty five/ six and in Tudor times considered rather too old for child bearing, Henry had begun to run out of patience, it was her second miscarriage that we know of and it was then I think he felt she would never be able to give him a son, hence Jane Seymour, younger and from a very fertile family, he had been attracted to her for some time and had dined with her family in Wolf Hall, now she had apartments in court and Henry was seeing her whenever he could, she was pleasant mannered, calm and unassuming, more to the point, she treated him with the reverence he was due as monarch, unlike his queen who was often rude to him ill tempered and sarcastic, Anne wearied him and his love begun to fade, Anne’s tragedy lay in her very character, she was like a hawk to Jane’s dove, she never learnt humility, she never learnt to look the other way when Henry was dallying, she expected him to be her adoring ardent and devoted lover, as he had been for years, I do believe had she learnt to curb her tongue, be sweet and cheerful to him, tried more to act like a queen instead of the tempestuous mistress she used to be, she would have retained her hold over him, her treatment of him made him begin to throughly dislike her, he blamed her for Thomas Mores death, the rose tinted spectacles were off, all she had given him was a daughter and she treated him with disrespect, he would have found it much more harder to leave her let along kill her, had Anne Boleyn been of a much more gentler compliant humble nature.

    1. Hi Christine, I think you sum up everything that Henry was turning into and the fate of his wives and many people he had honoured over the years very well indeed.
      However, I doubt that if Henry had have died in January 1536 and Anne had miscarried that Elizabeth would have made it out of the nursery, let alone onto the throne. That’s the brutal reality of Henry’s sudden death without a clearly defined heir or disputed heir. Most people believed Mary was Henry’s legitimate heir and her supporters outnumbered those of Anne, Cromwell or a two year old. That is the reality Henry feared back in the early 1520s when he had a couple of reminders of his own mortality. Henry almost died of marsh fever after diving head first into a bog that he tried to vault over with a flagpole. His courtiers were too busy laughing at him when his groom got up and dived in to drag him out. He had obviously swallowed a lot of mud and stuff and was ill for several days. Then in 1524 Charles Brandon charged at him prematurely in the joust and Henry forgot to lower his visor and his friend’s lance struck just under the tip of his helmet and shattered into splinters under the forehead. Henry was left standing, physically unhurt but if Brandon’s lance had have struck home, that is hit his forehead, the chances of survival were not very good, his brains would have been ripped open and the King killed. Lances were usually blunted but even then the speed of the impact and force of the thrust was enough to do much damage. That’s why tournament armour was thicker than battle armour. Henry suffered from severe migraines afterwards and its believed this lay the groundwork for his later brain damage that was definitely made worse in 1536. Henry began to see his marriage in terms of being null and void and cursed not long after these two threats to his life.

      The terrible fate of Margaret Pole was dreadful. She had been the trusted friend of Queen Katherine of Aragon, her children were close to Prince Henry and then Henry as the Renaissance King, her son Henry was made a noble by his cousin and a jousting buddy. Henry Viii had restored her fortune, her land and made her Countess of Salisbury in her own right. Margaret may have tried to suppress her old name, Margaret of Clarence, daughter of George, Duke of Clarence and rarely spoke of her executed brother, Edward, Earl of Warwick, but she was as conscious of her Plantagenet Royal blood as anyone. She was actually very proud and haughty as she grew older, her sons close to the King and a reliable source for Chapuys, her children very well educated and she was integrated into the Tudor family. Margaret became Governess to Princess Mary and accompanied her charge to Ludlow as Princess of Wales. She remained in favour even during the changes of 1529 to 1534. However, things were changing religiously as well as politically. Henry’s search for an annulment saw many people choose sides although the Poles swore the Oath of Supremacy. Margaret sponsored the Holy Maid of Kent and listened to her prophetic torrents that Henry Viii would die if he married Anne Boleyn. When Elizabeth Barton became a threat and a nuisance as she did in 1534, Margaret was questioned as was her friend, Thomas More. She would not denounce the Maid but Cromwell persuaded her to write to the King and to beg his forgiveness for her foolishness. She was pardoned. However, by now Margaret had been removed from the banished Princess Mary, who was now the Lady Mary. She also had a problem child, her third son, Reginald. Henry Viii had recognised his potential as a scholar and funded his education. The young man studied abroad in Rome and Florence and Henry sponsored him again. However, things took a turn for the worst when in 1536/7 Father Pole took himself off and wrote a treatise against the marriage of Henry Viii and then supported the fatal Pilgrimage of Grace. Henry sent agents out to assassinate his cousin whom he was unable to catch. Things went from very bad to worse in 1538/9 when her son Henry, Lord Montague and his brother in law became involved in what was known as the Exeter plot because another family member, Edward Neville was said to be plotting to kill Henry. Everyone was rounded up on the orders of Thomas Cromwell and although the evidence was nonsense, a phrase in a letter to Reginald saying the King had a bad leg and might die and the banners found in their trunks bearing arms that they were entitled to, they were taken to the Tower.
      The plotters accused were Henry Pole and his brother Geoffrey, his brother in law, Neville, Courtney, Gertrude Courtney, Nicholas Carew, the young son of Henry, a boy of about eight, her grandson, Master Henry Pole and Margaret herself. The truth was Henry wanted Reginald and he had alluded him. After a trial Neville, Courtney and Henry Lord Montague and Nicholas Carew were executed. Geoffrey escaped the block, was very much affected mentally and turned state evidence, but he was released after he tried to commit suicide. Henry kept Young Henry Pole and his grandmother, Margaret in the Tower. We don’t really know what happened to the boy but he vanished and it was believed that Henry allowed him to starve to death. Margaret, for now was held in prison and her fate was definitely linked to both the behaviour of Reginald and the King’s paranoia. Henry had several bad episodes with his leg during this period, the ulcer closed up and turned black and Henry was dangerously ill in 1538 because of it. Henry married Katherine Howard in 1540 and things appeared to look up for Margaret who was probably hoping for a pardon. Cromwell was dead and Katherine was a Catholic and she pleased Henry very well. In fact Henry authorised Katherine to send clothing to Margaret and he appeared more tolerant, pardoning several prisoners at her request. But this is Henry Viii and his mood swings, paranoid delusions and leg problems had not gone away. In the Spring of 1541 Henry was away from Katherine for some time and became depressed, he was in danger again with his leg, he regretted the death of Cromwell and he blamed his Council. Henry also received another publication from Reginald Pole condemning him as a heretic and Margaret fell foul of his anger and revenge. She was now 69 and a greatly respected woman but Henry blamed her for the sins of the family. He was vicious in his revenge. Henry had her brought forth from the Tower in May and executed. Now he said it was part of a purge, usual for when a monarch is out of London and indeed Henry was planning a progress North. Without much preparation Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, one of the most revered women in England was taken to Tower Green and with only a low scaffold, she was told of her fate and refused to submit. Two versions of her horrific execution followed but both agree that poor Margaret received many blows of the axe before her suffering was over. She was later declared Blessed by the Catholic Church. She is honoured as a Catholic martyr. Her execution was callous because she wasn’t any danger and she was punished for the actions of her son. It was totally inexcusable and brutal.

      Henry’s fears may have begun the process of turning him into a man desperately seeking a son but his later actions are totally unnecessary, especially as his son was thriving.

      1. Actually you are right concerning Mary and the succession, there were those who would have loved to make sure she inherited after Henry, Anne was powerless without the king, which makes the charge of plotting to kill him just as silly as the charge of incest and adultery, she would have been at the mercy of the supporters of the Lady Mary, it would not have been a smooth transition of Elizabeth merely inheriting the crown from her father, and the act of regency being settled on Anne, I feel Parliament would have tried to stop that at all costs, she knew she had plenty of enemies herself, including Brandon who had been Henry’s best friend, but never hers, the kings death would really have caused a right pandemonium concerning the succession as Mary, as you mention, was considered by many in the kingdom and Europe to to be the legitimate heir, Elizabeth was viewed by them to be but a kings bastard, the legality of her parents marriage always called into question.

        1. Yes, that’s a good point, Anne wasn’t exactly safe without the King, certainly without giving birth to a son. This made the charges even more ridiculous because she depended on his protection. Had Henry died in 1536 a power struggle would have followed. Even with his potential son safely born and recognised as his heir, there is no way Anne would have been made Regent. The French might appoint the Queen as Regent, the Scots might, but even then there was trouble, murder and mayhem but England had a different model. Parliament and the nobles would have stopped it. Henry didn’t have any brothers to take up a Regency or Lord Protector, but he did have cousins and Norfolk and Suffolk. Even had the Boleyn family won and Anne became Regent, I just can’t see her remaining in charge. In England the model was to appoint a Lord Protector, with or without the full powers of the Crown, supported by the Council and Parliament while the Dowager Queen played a minor ceremonial role and retired while providing some care for her son and advice. On the continent she ruled in his name.

          If Anne tried to rule through an infant daughter, legitimate though Elizabeth was still, her succession guaranteed by oath and legislation, she still risked an armed coup by Mary and the armed noble families. Henry who had desired to prevent civil war might well have kicked it off through his death in 1536. Remember there were six grand children of George Duke of Clarence, four of whom were male, kicking around, plus others from the female line, all children of Margaret Pole. They had children as well. A marriage with Mary and one of her cousins would guarantee the Red/White Rose union of the pasr. Mary was surrounded by supporters, including Cromwell. Her own legitimate claim would certainly be more attractive than a baby whose legitimacy was questioned. I hate to say it, but I actually don’t see her surviving had her father died in 1536.

          Again all of this made it ridiculous that Anne should want Henry dead. None of the men she was accused off was powerful enough to stage a coup. Her children by any of them would be illegitimate and Anne did not have a power base to support her either. She needed a legitimate son in order to rule in his name, if she could, not one of dubious origins and the latter would definitely make her a traitor. The charge was added only because adultery wasn’t enough to condemn her to death. Anne could have slept with half the Court, that wasn’t treason. She had to be accused of plotting to kill the King with her lovers and pass of their children as heirs and conspiracy with them because Henry wanted her gone permanently. The penalty for treason was death. Ridiculous as it was, it was necessary to charge Anne and her alleged lovers with treason. All of the charges were ridiculous, especially the one about Anne despising her marriage, that she had in fact planned all this for years, only to carry on with many lovers and make a mockery of her position as Queen. Seriously, who in their right mind would do that? Anne had held Henry off for several years, so she would not jeopardise her position now. Totally ludicrous charges.

  13. Since I live in the US I was afraid that it would be years–at least–before I could see this documentary series and was so interested in seeing. Imagine my surprise and delight to find that the Historical Documentaries Nerd(!) had posted all three episodes on YouTube so I was able to watch them in a timely manner. December 12 isn’t too far off November 4!

    I LOVED them. Tracy Borman’s presentation was practically perfect. Yes, there were a few niggles that, ultimately, to me, didn’t matter. I loved that she left out the reports of Cromwell’s spies when Anne was in the Tower. I’ve come to regard them as more lies or twisted information to try to make Anne look guilty or have a guilty conscience.

    Ms. Borman ended the series just as I would hope. I think we all must have learned something new from this series. I’m going to watch it again today!

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