Was Anne Boleyn Innocent?

Posted By on March 25, 2009

If you read last week’s blog, you will know that I am convinced that Anne Boleyn was completely innocent of all charges and should not have been found guilty or executed.

Anne Boleyn in the Tower

War Veteran Fights for Justice

I haven’t gone as far to prove her innocence as Battle of Britain veteran, Wing Commander George Melville Jackson, did in 2005, but I fully support his actions.

Wing Commander Melville-Jackson called on the Home Secretary of the time, Charles Clarke, to pardon Anne Boleyn because he felt that she was “obviously innocent” of treason, adultery and incest, the crimes that led to her being beheaded in 1536.

Mr Melville- Jackson was also asking for Anne’s remains to be moved so that she could be laid to rest alonside her famous daughter, Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Mr Melville-Jackson said of his request:-

“Ideally, I would like her to be posthumously declared not guilty of the crimes she was convicted of because a pardon only means that you are being excused the crimes you have committed…But I got a barrister’s opinion and it seems that we would not be able to go to court to get a judicial review because, after nearly 500 years, there was not much of a chance of being able to come up with new evidence. So a pardon is the next best thing.”

Mr Melville-Jackson wrote to the Queen, the Home Secretary and historian Simon Schama, who has stated that he believes that Anne Boleyn was tried by a kangaroo court, but his efforts were in vain. It seems that we are just too late to prove her innocence. Although there is no way on earth that Anne Boleyn would be found guilty in today’s courts, there just isn’t enough evidence remaining to prove her innocence.

My Thoughts

As I have said before, Anne Boleyn being accused of treason, adultery and incest (even witchcraft) just does not sit comfortably with the evidence that points at Anne being a highly religious woman, a Reformist  and an intelligent woman who knew her husband well. Anne had high morals and was not stupid, there is no way that she would risk committing such crimes.

I cringe at the bit in “The Other Boleyn Girl” where Anne begs her brother George to sleep with her so that she can give Henry VIII an heir to the throne. Yes, I can see that Anne would be getting desperate after two miscarriages, but incest would be against all of her fundemental religious beliefs.

Other reasons why I think Anne Boleyn was innocent:-

  • She had alibis – As I said last week, Eric Ives, a biographer of Anne Boleyn, points out that there is evidence in at least 12 cases, that Anne could not have been with the men that she is accused of committing adultery with.
  • Mark Smeaton was tortured – The only real evidence against Anne was that Smeaton confessed to sleeping with her. However, most historians agree that he was racked and had a knotted rope put round his head, which was gradually tightened (you probably saw that in “The Tudors”), and a confession produced by torture cannot be really trusted.
  • The men pled “Not guilty” – All the men, except Smeaton, pled “not guilty”, and seemed shocked by the allegations.
  • Jane Boleyn’s confession – Before her execution in 1542, Jane Boleyn (Lady Rochford), George Boleyn’s wife, confessed to lying when she falsely accused George and Anne of incest.
  • Cromwell had an axe to grind – Eric Ives, and other historians, believe that Cromwell had to bring down Anne and her family in order to survive. She was a threat to him and to England’s foreign policy.
  • There was no marriage – Henry actually managed to get his marriage to Anne Boleyn annulled before her execution, on the grounds that her sister Mary Boleyn had been his mistress. How could Anne have committed adultery if she was not even married?

Those are just my own personal thoughts combined with historical evidence and the opinions of historians. Please add your own comment on whether or not you believe Anne Boleyn was innocent and why.

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