Was Anne Boleyn involved with any other men? – Part 1
Posted By Claire on April 12, 2019
In today’s instalment of my video series “Questions about Anne Boleyn”, I consider the other men (apart from the obvious man, Henry VIII!) that Anne Boleyn was involved with or linked to.
In Part 1, I look at the negotiations to marry Anne Boleyn off to James Butler of Ireland, and then Anne’s romance with courtier Henry Percy, son and heir of the Earl of Northumberland.
What happened with Butler and Percy? Why didn’t Anne end up with either of these young men?
Let me explain…
By the way, in this video, I mention my previous video “Was Anne Boleyn sent abroad because of her scandalous behaviour?”. That can be found at https://youtu.be/JyAVMfSxSbU.
The article I mention, which goes into more detail on the Butlers, can be found at https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/negotiations-anne-boleyn-marry-james-butler/.
46 thoughts on “Was Anne Boleyn involved with any other men? – Part 1”
Anne Boleyn is famous for being the second wife and queen of King Henry V111 and losing her head because of it, their tragic love affair is well known and how by refusing to become his mistress, she became his queen, but in her youth and not long been at court in the service of Queen Katherine, she met and fell in love with young Henry Percy, heir to the Earldom of Northumberland and who was in service in the household of Cardinal Thomas Wolsley, like all young people who lived and worked in court, as like anywhere romances were common and much flirting must have gone on, Henry it was said by Cavendish would call in at the ladies apartments and chat with them, perfectly natural and he was more prone to chat with Anne than the others, obviously he was bewitched by those legendary eyes and her famous wit, which the other ladies could not compare, we are told a love grew between them, it is quite charming to imagine Anne when young talking about her love affair with her friends gossiping like all girls do, over a glass or two of wine, she was said in her youth to be sweet and cheerful, so are the innocent before the harsh reality of life and the disappointments it can bring take over, she was enjoying her very privileged position at court, she had been recalled from France to marry her Irish cousin James Butler but somehow the negotiations fell apart, what she felt as she crossed the stormy channel at being sent of to Ireland to marry a man she had never met we have no idea, she had been very fortunate in that she had lived at two cultured courts, that of Savoy and France, she was confident and was aware of the effect she was beginning to have on men, there are no mention of any love affairs during her time in France, but I feel there could have been the odd light romance which was not recorded, she must have strolled in the gardens in the Loire valley at dusk with a handsome courtier, and found as any girl would the heady atmosphere makes for romance, there must have been snatched kisses here and there and years later, Henry V111 bitterly remarked that he had had enough of French ways, surely a reference to Anne who had lived in that country and brought her French ways to the marital bed, she must have had some experience in love for Henry to have made that remark, an attractive girl who caused such a stir at the English court must surely have had her admirers in France, Anne and her beau Percy pledged their love for each other and wished to marry, but then trouble stepped in like a dark cloud on the horizon and loves young dream was quashed, it came in the form of Wolsley who possibly acting on the Kings orders immediately sent for Percy and sparing no humiliation scolded him in front of others in his household, one can see the sympathetic glances and tittering cast their way as Wolsely, who was a huge man must have seemed like a angry eagle to Percy’s browbeaten sparrow, he said Percy was the heir to one of England’s oldest and noblest houses, and he was promised to the lady Mary Shrewsbury, he insulted Anne by saying she ws not worthy of him, and she was just a foolish girl, Percy must have been overwhelmed by the trouble their love had caused and we have to take into account his youth and the fear of reprisal from the King, but he argued that Anne was related to the Dukes of Norgolk through her mother and considered her worthy enough, Wolsley had had enough and sent for his father who had to travel down from his castle in Northumberland and castigated him similar to the way Wolsley had done, we hear he called his son a waster among other things and he was to end his romance with the lady Anne at once, as for Anne she was sent home to Hever and we can only imagine how she felt, Percy was her first real love and she must have woven dreams about their future together and what children they would have, feelings are so intense when young and she had envisaged a brilliant future only to have it cruelly snatched away, in the quiet solitude of Hever she wounded her broken heart and wounded pride and her old love went on to marry the Earl of Shrewsburys daughter, she nurtured in her heart a very deep grievance against the Cardinal something which was to last well into the years ahead, meanwhile life went on at court and a few years later Anne returned and this time she had two very different suitors, Henry V111 is said to have been enraged over Percy’s affair with Anne Boleyn using his betrothal with the Earl of Shrewsburys daughter as an excuse to quash it, as he was attracted to her but this could just be speculation, as we know all marriages between noble blood were important and had to have the assent of the monarch, Pecrys betrothal was said to have been made when young so it could just be personal feelings aside, the fact that two young people had offended the King over their defiance of the Shrewburys engagement, Henry V111 did not see Anne for some time after that, she seemed to melt into the background and it did not appear to bother him but he could just have been biding his time, we do not know when he became involved with her sister so he could have been in an affair with Mary Boleyn by then, however much later Anne returned to court and she attracted the attention of Sir Thomas Wyatt the court poet whose sister was a close friend of hers, and they had been neighbour’s in Kent, the Boleyns at Hever and the Wyatts at Allington Castle, they could have met as children and visited each other’s homes and rode in the countryside together, attended parties and functions etc, Wyatt was immediately attracted to Anne who was by now a charming sophisticate and Anne possibly encouraged his flirting, his own marriage was unhappy and he was probably eager to seduce Anne and so he began to woo her in his poetical courtly way, but there were two pairs of eyes looking their way, Anne as he was married did not take him seriously and was merely enjoying the flirtation but when Henry V111 began to take a serious interest in her Wyatt had to take a step back, you cannot persue that which the King had claimed as his own, how Wyatt felt we have no idea but he could have been quite unhappy at the Kings ruin of his budding romance, we have the story of the locket which Anne is said to have given Wyatt which angered the King, and in which he told Wyatt in no uncertain terms it was his, Wyatt did not wish to offend his King whose anger could be terrible so her gracefully gave in, thus began Henrys courtship of Anne and history was made, she is as I remarked earlier famous for being the only woman in the entire world who refused to become Henry V111’s mistress and so became his queen, secondly she is famous for being the first queen to be publicly put to death, but we will never know how she truly felt about her King, some have said they believe she fell in love with him and it could be so, she was insanely jealous when he had love affairs and made no attempt to hide it, but that could be just hurt pride, she was used to his undivided attention for so long she found it difficult to accept he could want other woman, during their courtship she had exchanged gifts and letters with him the latter of which sadly have been lost to us, we can never know if she settled with him because she could have none other or because she genuinely loved him, her position was not easy as the King would never share her with another, he was more or less saying, ‘you won’t sleep with me but I won’t let you marry any other man’, what could she do? she had lost her first love and she was getting ever older, so she pledged herself to the King and have him a ring, which it was said he ever wore on his little finger, the prospect of a crown must have dazzled her but we have like so many mysteries about her, no knowledge of when Henry asked her to marry him or if, or how she put the idea into his head, all we know is Henry decided to divorce his queen and make Anne his wife, and so the long arduous battle for the divorce began, it is interesting to ponder on Annes other loves, Wyatt was just a flirtation I think for Anne at least and her betrothal to her cousin James Butler never came to fruition, maybe she was grateful for that, I cannot see Anne wanting to travel to Ireland away from her beloved mother and the intrigues of the court, although she would have been mistress of Kilkenny Castle, a grand enough residence in itself, was her heart broken over the loss of Henry Percy or was it just the loss of being Countess of Northumberland that wound her more, her involvement with Henry V111 has dominated her history and Percy is just a mention, a few pages in the many biographies that have been written about her in the five hundred years since her death, but emotionally he could well have had more of an effect upon her than the King ever did, Percy himself had a miserable life with Mary Talbot, they bickered constantly and once she even left him as she complained he did not treat her like a husband should, he threw at her the remarks that they were not really married as he had been engaged to Anne who by then was in her love affair with the King, this had serious repercussions for all concerned as Percy then had to retract his statement, it came up again when Henry was seeking to end his second marriage and he was visited by Cromwell to swear he had indeed been engaged to Anne, and thus an impediment was found for the anullment, how Percy felt we can well imagine, this King who had ruined his life years before by ruining his romance now wished to say she had lawfully been engaged to him after all, Henry V111 moved his courtiers lives around as if they were figures on his chessboard, Percy must have felt so bitter towards this King who was nothing more than a hypocrite, and fast becoming a tyrant that he refused point blank to co operate and reminded Cromwell he had sworn an oath and would not renage on that, indeed how could he do so as a gentleman and a man of honour, he was not the same browbeaten youth of Wolsleys household but older now, wiser an Earl and more confident, he could well have reminded Cromwell of his noble lineage of which Cromwell himself did not possess, throw in a remember your place kind of remark, Cromwell left narked but there was little he could do, we then hear of Percy again when he sat on Annes trial and was overcome with emotion that he collapsed, by this time he was suffering from an illness that claimed him a year later, we can see that Anne Boleyns life so closely entwined with Henry V111 was also entwined with that of Henry Percy, their lost love is something which resembles that of other ill starred lovers throughout history and fiction too, I think we can safely say that had they been allowed to marry both those unfortunate lovers may have found true happiness.
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey is the missing link as both her fiancee are placed in his household, the son of the Earl of Ormond, James Butler, and Henry Percy, son of the Earl of Northumberland.
We have the first one that was arranged with James Butler in 1522 which didn’t work out and the love match between Anne and Harry Percy which broke up, although the actual details are debatable. The main source is the famous William Cavendish is written later, although he knew the Cardinal well and that tells us Henry had Percy’s master, Cardinal Wolsey break their relationship up because Anne wasn’t good enough for the Earl of Northumberland who wanted his son married to Mary Talbot, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury. It is also said that Anne was being looked upon by King Henry, but the date is too early and Anne of 1000 Days, great though it is, is drama, not history. In another weird coincidence Anne made her debut at Court during Shrovetide, in the Chateaux Vert Pageant and as a lady to Katherine of Aragon she needed her permission to marry, so maybe her career was more important. Henry Algernon Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland was a warrior of some renown and fierce reputation. His son, the future 6th Earl was somewhat milder, but he defended himself and Anne but had little choice, given the alleged dressing down he received, but to agree to a loveless marriage and to leave his sweetheart. If the two negotiations and his relationship with Anne overlapped it makes perfect sense for the King and both Earls to perhaps ask Thomas Boleyn and the Cardinal to break it up, because the Butler inheritance had priority. Anne’s lower status may well have been a factor, especially to a man whose ancestors may as well have been Kings in the North of England because that was how they behaved. The two younger brothers of our Harry Percy, Thomas Percy and Sir Ingleram Percy, both died as a result of their part in the Pilgrimage of Grace, Thomas being executed and Ingelram dying in the Tower. In 1572 another Thomas Percy, son of the namesake above, 7th Earl of Northumberland was executed in York for leading the Northern Rebellion against Elizabeth I. An earlier Henry Hotspear Percy had almost taken out Henry iv at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. The 5th Earl was too powerful a man for his son to defy and the King and Cardinal would have made a formidable team.
Anne of the thousand days is a brilliant movie and Richard Burton was equally brilliant as Henry V111, he seemed to catch his over the top personality with his sudden outbursts of temper and in contradiction to his dark side, his all too real charm, the callousness he displayed towards his first queen and later towards his second, talking of Henry Hotspur Percy I believe he was an ancestor of Jane Seymour too, his name is legendary in the Percy family, we know little of his tragic descendants character Anne’s lost love also called Henry, he has been painted as a bit of a fop in some works of historical fiction, others say he had many debts and drank a lot, he probably did have some debts many a gentleman at court did, and we don’t know what malady he was suffering from, some say he may lave loved Anne all his life but he was heard to comment that he thought Anne was a bad woman, not very complimentary if he had indeed still carried a torch for her, he had seen how she had turned into quite a harpy arrogant and stuffed with her overwhelming ambition, so unlike the girl he had once known, everyone knew the misery Katherine had gone through and how she had wrecked several lives with the deaths of More and Fisher both respectable men, the unhappiness of the lady Mary and it is interesting what he actually thought of the crimes she was said to have committed, common sense would have told him she was innocent and I have often wondered if she had ever gone further in her relationship with Percy, they could well have once he had asked her to marry him, als only Anne and Percy know the answer to that one, another of history’s great mysteries.
Now in Anne of 1000 Days we are shown an Anne who became the mortal enemy of Cardinal Wolsey when he broke up her relationship with Henry Percy, with whom she is in love and we learn that she is being sought by the King for his mistress. Anne of course refuses but the young Northumberland heir is married off to Mary Talbot, daughter of George Taltbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and Anne is left devastated. I don’t recall if all of this is in Cavendish, but Anne wasn’t pursued by King Henry in 1522 and she would not begin one until 1525 at the earliest. Now there is a problem with this version of events other than hindsight and our knowledge of the political scene in 1522 and 1529, which gives us our second
point of reference, that is Mary Boleyn was most probably the one involved with Henry and we don’t really know the full circumstances of Anne and Percy breaking up. Henry fell for Anne sometime between 1525 and the Summer of 1526. Nobody knows, how, when or where and we have missing evidence in the replies Anne may or may not have sent to Henry, but we do know it was a love match and Anne eventually accepted an offer of marriage and promised Henry sons. Because of this early encounter it has been assumed that Anne and her family actively sought to destroy Wolsey, but we now know through recent research this was a much more complex process.
Thomas Boleyn as Controller of the King’s Household had the duty of looking for irregularities in the books and Henry commanded him to find anything which may not be right in connection with Wolsey after he failed to secure his annulment from Queen Katherine in 1529. Money meant for the crown had gone to the schools foundation of the Cardinal, beneficiaries from dissolving monasteries and guilds should have been paid by him and Thomas Cromwell to the Treasury but they were used for schools for poor students. Wolsey was accused of lining his own pockets and a full investigation followed. It is often believed that Thomas Boleyn was working with Norfolk and Suffolk to bring the Cardinal down but in fact Thomas B was working more or less independently on the King’s orders. The Dukes joined him much later as the evidence stacked up and blocked his access to the King, access Thomas B was not happy to deny. In any event the Cardinal had failed and Anne did step in now to convince Henry of his duplicity and to ensure he was dismissed. Her motivation may have been revenge for the loss of her first love, but it is more likely to be due to his failure to secure her hearts desire and his own apparent agenda in blocking the annulment.
Henry Percy later did act with honour when he swore a sacred oath that he and Anne had not been betrothed before the Council and clergy and Henry and it was proved that the accusations from his wife were false. He also stood up to pressure in 1536 when Cromwell again tried to get him to say he had married or was contracted to Anne so as Henry could declare his marriage to Anne null and void. Percy refused and was brave and honest. Henry wanted a fresh start with Jane Seymour and this was to make Elizabeth illegitimate and had no bearing on the false charges brought against Anne. If Henry was a widow, Elizabeth was still his heir and the succession being invested in his marriage to Jane remained under threat. This declaration in Parliament made both Mary and Elizabeth the same status and cleared the way for his future children with Jane as his solo heirs.
This just adds to the tragedy of Anne’s life. She could have possibly found happiness (without becoming infamous) with Harry Percy, and instead he ends up on the jury that finds her guilty! So very sad. I wrote a short story that imagines a “what-if” scenario where Anne’s life turns out differently. I would be interested in having you read it sometime, Claire. Maybe on the tour!
I personally believe that Anne and Harry Percy had a sexual relationship but didn’t make anything formal and were genuinely in love. I also believe Percy continued to love Anne for the rest of his life. I very much admire him for giving his testimony as regards them not being betrothed and standing up to the men questioning him and then four years later they tried again and he wrote a strong letter defending Anne, himself and the truth and refused to play ball. He was devastated when he had to give that terrible verdict at her trial, probably against his will and his health went into decline.
I also want a shout out for another man I believe had a heart for Anne and who really loved her. This may be a tale of unrequited love but we have only a few fragments of evidence for clues. He was a poet and special envoy, ambassador and theological expert, writer and courtier and he was heartbroken at the death of the woman he loved. His name was Thomas Wyatt the Elder.
The Wyatt family lived close to the Boleyn family and we can speculate that they knew each other as children and that they certainly knew each other reasonably well enough to become friends when she came to Court. Wyatt was married, so Anne probably merely teased and flirted with him. He was estranged from his wife but Anne had been exposed to the reforms of the French Evangelicals and was starting to realise the value of keeping her virtue. There is no reliable evidence that she had any lovers in France despite fanciful talk and rumours among hostile sources to the contrary. However, there were rumours that Anne and Thomas W were lovers around the Court but Anne denied them. Henry accused her of this and wanted to know what he meant to her. She explained Thomas was a friend, he cared for her but nothing more and his heart was wounded. Later Charles Brandon went to the King claiming that Anne and Thomas were lovers but Henry didn’t believe him and banished him from Court. Wyatt is believed to have publicly renounced his love for Anne by giving her up in his poem Who to list to hunt with his words Noli Me Tangare and Farewell to Love and he made no movement towards Anne as far as we know. His own poems speak of unrequited love and of a hunt and we know he was fond of Anne because he dedicated a poem to her about a brunette, which we believe described Anne. Other than hidden references in poems we have no other evidence that Thomas Wyatt loved Anne Boleyn or she him, but we have plenty of clues in the poetic language of a broken heart. I believe Thomas W loved Anne but they didn’t have any physical relationship, not beyond friendship. Henry suspected he had feelings for Anne and sent him abroad to the Court of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1536 Wyatt was among those arrested as a potential lover of Anne who was now Queen, but he wasn’t charged and his connection to Thomas Cromwell, his patron probably saved him. He was still in the Tower when Anne was executed and may have witnessed the execution of the five men. His words remembered them.
“In mourning wise since daily I increase,
Should I cloak the cause of all my grief;
So pensive mind to hold his peace,
My mind sayeth there can be no relief;
Wherefore give ear, I humbly you require,
The affect to know that thus doth make me moan.
The cause is great of all my doleful cheer!
For those that were, and now be dead and gone.
What thought of death do set be now their call.
As by their faults, it doth appear right plain?
Of force I must lament that such a fall should light on those so wealthy did reign;
Though some perchance will say of cruel heart,
A traitors death, why should we thus bemoan?
But I alas, set this offence apart
Must needs bewail the death of some be gone.”
The poem goes on for several verses about the men and then with another poem “These Bloody Days Have Broken My Heart”. we see his soul laid bear. If any man truly loved it was Thomas Wyatt but his love was never to be returned.
Without proof positive of Anne’s birthdate and the difference between proposed dates (1500 – 1507) representing several years, her personal feelings at established dates in her romantic history can only be guessed at. Purely as an example, did she share Henry Percy’s heartbreak or bemoan the loss of becoming the Countess of Northumberland?
Unfortunately we don’t know that either, but it has always been assumed that Anne was bitter over this break up and blamed Cardinal Wolsey but that doesn’t actually make much sense. I am sure she was as upset and angry as any young person and if she was only in her teens, probably more so as teens tend to throw tantrums if their parents break them up. I know young people were meant to be more mature back then as in the upper sections of society you married earlier than the average age (average was 22 female, 24 male) because of land and dynastic concerns, but really the human model hasn’t changed that much and there are plenty of Church Court records showing young people who defied their parents. There were plenty of adolescents getting pregnant and making vows outside of an official marriage and such unions were lawful under canon law. Anne and Percy could have snuck off and had a secret marriage and demanded their case was heard in the Courts. They didn’t get the chance If they were planning anything it was stopped before they made a firm commitment and they probably wondered why they were being split up. If Anne bemoaned her future as Countess of Northumberland, then she didn’t bemoan it forever as she was very pleased to be offered the crown. She was in love with the King, but there is at least three intervening years between the ending of her love affair with Percy and her relationship with Henry. It’s one of those things that we just don’t know and remains our interpretation and speculation, but I believe Anne was born in about 1501/2 based on internal evidence of her own letter to her father and Thomas Boleyn’s remarks to Cromwell in June 1536. Mary was the eldest based on later grants and official rolls and her marriage, born about 1500, but yes, six years is a lot of emotional difference when it comes to affairs of the heart. I believe she was upset for a time but the lure and the excitement of the Court would soon soothe that ache and I don’t believe she was bitter against Wolsey for seven years either. Bitterness eats a person up inside, you become insular and you don’t develop emotionally or intellectually. I can’t see a bitter Anne being an attractive person or a happy outgoing one. No, I think she bemoaned for a time but got over him. I am not entirely convinced Percy bemoaned forever, either, more over his wife being the wrong person than his loss, but he wasn’t the most effective Earl. However, he certainly had honour, which is more than the King had. I don’t even believe Anne would have been happy as the Lady of Northumberland, nay, it’s not for her, too wild, remote and cold. Anne had been educated at the two most sophisticated Courts in Europe, she needed to be where the action was and that was London. Henry was the sunshine of the world in which the English nobility moved, lived and breathed: Anne flowered in that sunshine. She needed a good husband, but she needed to be at Court, a permanent position under Katherine of Aragon, a true Renaissance Queen suited her better than a distant chatelaine. I really don’t see her as the wife of Henry Percy. I am not sure who I do picture her with, but I see her remaining close to the capital and the South, or the great Houses in the Midlands, traditional power houses. Henry and Norfolk knew who best to marry her to and had Henry himself not been that man then Anne would have done just fine.
There is also evidence which contradicts claims of bitterness with the Cardinal over this, her attitude towards him was courteous. She wasn’t daft, Anne knew who ruled England and it wasn’t the King, not yet. She knew that any attempt to end the King’s marriage had to come through him and it’s only with experience that she finds another way. Wolsey wasn’t just any old Cardinal Archbishop, he was a Legate with full Legatine powers in England, who represented the Pope in most matters. He was one of the most powerful people in Europe, let alone the country, with a highly respected international reputation. Henry Viii absolutely depended upon him to rule for him and he was Lord Chancellor of England. That means PM on steroids. Henry and Anne believed he could deliver a verdict but two things got in the way, international politics and the agenda of Rome. Katherine refused to budge and when everything failed, the case was held in open Court but Clement sent his own man. Cardinal Campeggio was officially coming to England to hear the case on an equal footing with Wolsey but he was really on a secret sabotage mission. Lady Anne understood the theological arguments of the annulment now, even if she didn’t understand the legal ones, but she didn’t expect the double talking and the grand stunt command performance by Queen Katherine. I am not going to recount the stuff from Blackfriars in 1529, we all know what happened, but if Anne did eventually become the enemy of Cardinal Wolsey it was his failure here which was the cause, not his alleged involvement in dissolving her relationship with Henry Percy several years earlier.
Anne was outraged and disillusioned after Blackfriars and Katherine was triumphant. A number of bitter rows followed and when Henry showed favour towards Wolsey and he dined with him and the Dukes she lost her cool. She even left Court and Henry had to beg her father to ask her to come back. Anne did bemoan her lost youth and her lack of children, but she couldn’t see an end to the annulment or her future marriage happening any time soon. The legal process was stayed in Rome and Queen Katherine was still there. In fact Henry had moved back into her rooms during the trial and she was absolutely triumphant. If anything now Anne had a reason to hate the Cardinal.
Thomas Wyatts poems more than likely held references to Anne and in one he mentioned a falcon, the falcon being her personal emblem, he reminds me of the troubadours of old who paid court to their lady, who was forever unattainable and out of reach, he was not the only poet to write of his feelings in prose, Shakespeare himself in his many sonnets wrote of a ‘dark lady’, it is mere conjecture but this mysterious figure could well have been a lost love of the bard, and is what the hugely popular film ‘ Shakespeare In Love’ was based on, Wyatt himself was a very talented poet as Bq remarks, and his sad poems he wrote on the deaths of his friends must surely be among the saddest in English literature, when he and Anne were much older his passion for Anne was all but spent but he must have looked back on the early days with much fondness and regret, as I think did Henry Percy for what could have been and was denied him.
Excellent video. It seems obvious to me how Henry Percy still thought of Anne at her trial. If he didn’t still have some kind of feelings for her I don’t think the verdict would have caused his collapse.
It’s interesting to think that if Anne had married anyone other than King Henry VIII she may have lived to a ripe old age. However there would be no Elizabeth I, but then perhaps there would have been no need for her. History is funny that way.
Anne Boleyn was most probably referred to in a number of sonnets by Thomas Wyatt and his poems, she was admired and adored by him and was possibly his Muse. He was widely influenced by the Italian and Greek classical tales and used Seneca and others in his references. Although a man who wore his heart on his sleeve, he had a beautiful and scholarly mind, he was brilliant. Henry sent Wyatt on several missions abroad because of his eloquence and his way with words. Poets were called word smiths and highly regarded in diplomatic circles. It is also possible that Henry wanted a potential rival out of the way and Thomas was appointed as an ambassador to the Emperor Charles V. His letters are every bit as detailed as those by Chapuys and give us another source of information by which we can understand international politics between the two Courts. While in prison in the Tower in 1541/2,_charged with treason, Wyatt wrote a translation and poetic version of the Seven Penitentiary Psalms, mixing them with Classical references and the way he felt love had flown from him is very clear in many of his works. He wrote a Declaration or Defence which is as wonderful as any excellent work of prose or oratory. It was good enough to gain him a pardon and conditional release, more plausible than Kathryn Howard getting him a pardon, although she may have had a word in Henry’s ear.
Anne Boleyn was admired by many courtiers and she attracted at least two other men, besides the King, although she only had a relationship with one of them, Harry Percy. She was admired by King Francis and King Henry fell passionately in love with her. Henry Norris openly had deep respect and may even have loved her from afar, although there is no evidence that he slept with her or met with her alone while she was Queen. She was followed about by gentlemen who adored her and even went all moo eyed as they gazed on her, which proves she was very attractive. Wyatt wrote literally hundreds of sonnets and poems and several make references to allegorical creatures which refer to Anne and to lost love. She is a gazelle, a brunette, a hare, a falcon, a white falcon of purity and rebirth, a Huntress and she is the deer in the hunt. Anne wouldn’t have been the subject of so many pieces of beautiful literature had she looked like Nanny McGhee with a protruding tooth, a big lump at her throat, a squint, extra fingers and all covered in warts. Henry couldn’t take a chance on his children being disfigured or deformed and he would never have even considered offering the crown to anyone meeting the description of Nicholas Sander, let alone sleeping with them. Such an ugly woman would never have inspired so many verses of love and worship and so many gentlemen doing her honour or falling in love with her on a platonic level. Anne was attractive physically, had beautiful eyes and beautiful lips and a cute nose. She had a slender, but womanly shape, was probably of middle height and had beautiful long hair, which may have been one of a number of rich colours. While not a traditional beauty, she was warm and friendly, sophisticated and intelligent, had a great whit and was fun to be with. She could probably talk about anything one wished and she had a following at Court. She was described as being graceful, being a very good dancer and a musician and she wore fashionable clothes. She had a French something about her and could have passed for “a French woman born” which meant she spoke the language with the accent and poise of a natural born French woman . Her journey fascinated everyone who witnessed her relationship with the King and her rise at Court. She was a controversial but confident person and she was sophisticated, standing out from the crowd. Her story was as hypnotic in her own time as she is fascinating still today.
We have to bring Mark Smeaton into the equation to, he may have had a crush on her, the fact that Cromwell used sexual misdeeds as a way to bring Anne down proves that she was an attractive woman and the charges would look more plausible, she probably radiated sexual allure that some women and men possess, they do not have to be particurlaly handsome but it’s the way they move, a certain gracefulness a throaty laugh, and as we know, Anne had magnificent eyes, as one person said, such was their allure many submitted, she certainly stood out at court and another thing she possessed was style, she knew what suited her and what is always most attractive to is a foreign lilt, I can imagine she had a beautiful sounding voice as she had a beautiful singing voice as well, she must have seemed like all the three graces rolled into one, another thing she was famous for was her hair which reached to her knees, Katherine of Aragon had beautiful long auburn hair it was an age when women grew their hair very long, slight of figure graceful and with those huge dark eyes she must have appeared like a beautiful fawn or gazelle, only a woman with the rare qualities she possessed could capture the heart of a King, she comes across as not quite human like, she held Henry V111 in thrall for nearly ten long years before the veil of enchantment was lifted from his eyes, and centuries later she continues to mystify and enchant us.
Yes, poor Mark Smeaton was the fall guy and his sulking because he was mooning over the Queen was the ammunition Thomas Cromwell needed to make a slim case and to arrest him. He wasn’t a gentleman as the others were so he wasn’t protected from torture, although it is doubtful Cromwell needed to use much force. He was questioned for 24 hours and he confessed to sleeping with the Queen on three occasions and he implicated Henry Norris who was already under the radar. It’s Anne who provided the information which gives us an insight by recalling in the Tower a particular conversation she had with Mark, sulking, asking him why he looked so sad. Anne could be a bit sarcastic and asked him if he thought she should speak to him. He told her a look was enough. This was a completely innocent conversation but in the highly super charged, politically fragile and intensified atmosphere of the English Court which was filled with deep suspicion that April of 1536, it was dynamite. Cromwell was told to find something on the Queen, to investigate the rumours around the Court, to find the truth of the matter because to slander the Queen was treason, but he had no evidence. He chose the most vulnerable person he could find and asked him questions about his fine words, his fine clothes, gifts from the Queen for his services as a musician which was how nobles paid them. Cromwell made it sound as if he got paid for sexual favours and he so confused Smeaton and terrified him into accepting his crimes, which he obviously had not committed. He was made the scapegoat, although the sources are conflicted as to whether he was actually tortured or whether he was overwhelmed by fear. George Constantine, a servant of Sir Henry Norris, said that he was but others disagree and the fanciful Spanish Chronicle gives the description of him being knotted around the head and those ropes tightened around his forehead but it was pure fiction as you needed an order from the King and no warrant was issued. However, 24 hours with Thomas Cromwell was enough to make anyone confess, especially if he used stress tactics or deprived him of food, sleep or drink and he would be admitting to anything. He might have been promised a better death if he didn’t recant which is why he stuck to his story.
Anne was at the heart of a Court which was full of young people and a number of men of all ages found her attractive because we know that Norris was the King’s age, so she must have had a very outgoing and charismatic personality as well as grace and charm and a number of attributes which helped her as Queen. She had a genuine interest in her duties with the poor and her interest in reform helped her with many of the problems that the women who wrote to her faced. She had a very beautiful voice, as you say and although she made enemies because she was outspoken, I am certain she had a genuine following as well. The fact that Henry stuck around for so long, when other mistresses had been just for a short time proves that Anne had a lot about her, was attractive and could hold his interest. Cromwell used sexual scandals to destroy her but they had to be convincing otherwise he wouldn’t have had a case, even though they were invented. I think he used the incest charge to give weight to the others, because it’s the worst thing you can say of a person, it was totally shocking and if Anne was capable of incest, then you can say she is capable of everything else. If Anne wasn’t attractive, however, these charges would be seen as nothing more than a joke. Anne’s ability to play the game of Courtly Love as Eleanor of Aquitaine ruled over the Medieval Courts of Love, while remaining faithful to her King and husband, was unfortunately exactly what Cromwell used against her.
Our thoughts and prayers to the French and Parisians in particular for the damage being caused by the terrible blaze in Notre Dame Cathedral.
Yes, my prayers are that nobody has been hurt or killed. Such a terrible shame when a piece of beautiful history and place of worship is lost to fire, especially as it was spared in the war. Our hopes for Paris and her people.
At least a building can be rebuilt, but it is still a loss of a beautiful Cathedral and symbolic of the city as well.
Thoughts and hopes.
Yes I was shocked when I saw the headlines I just hope it wasn’t caused by terrorism.
Hi BQ and Christine. I’m guessing that over the centuries it had been so well studied and drawn that rebuilding it should be fairly easy. Also it could be rebuilt to look identical but with modern materials that would be safer and more Hardy. No lead roof next time around. No injuries or fatalities from what I’ve heard. An awful loss to the world.
Yes indeed I remember when Windsor Castle caught fire and Hampton Court, very worrying a priceless painting was destroyed in Windsor Castle and I think there was one fatality in Hampton Court, that was started by a lone candle in the grace and favour apartments, they had to get special materials to rebuild the part of the palace that was ruined by the fire, yes hopefully Notre Dame will be rebuilt and look just as perfect second time round.
I remember the fire at Windsor Castle but not at Hampton Court. When was that?
Thank you Christine.
Hi, Michael and Christine, yes, Paris has seen it’s share of tragedy and loss with a number of terrorist attacks as has London and the U.S. It doesn’t look as if it was anything more than carelessness, there was scaffolding up there and workmen as it was unsafe and there was a huge restoration project going on. They appear to have saved the huge towers but not the roof and nineteenth century steeple but goodness knows what the inside is like. I am more concerned about the people than the building but it doesn’t sound as if anyone was killed, thank heavens. When you think it took 200 years to build and most of it is 800 years old, it’s devastating. Paris will rise again, it always does, like many cities. Notra Dame is a symbol of human endeavour and hopes and dreams. I see it being rebuilt and that hope revived. It is what the people do, they carry on, even in the saddest and most terrible of circumstances. Our families have to carry on 30 years later, even without justice for their loved ones. 96 people killed by the police at a football match and although we know the truth, we don’t have justice. Nobody should have to go through that and still the Government covered up the truth about Glenfell Tower and Ireland and other attacks and tragedies involving them or which broke the law. Too many people die because of a terrorist or Government representatives negligence. You can only fight on and even when it is a famous building, people are fond of that place because they are emotionally tied to there, or it carries heritage or history or religious significance and so yes, I can understand people being upset and crying. It was just a relief that as far as we know, nobody was killed.
I remember seeing photos of the blitz and there was St Paul’s arising like a phoenix from the ashes, untouched and unspoilt, she came to represent London and the fight for survival, to the Parisians Notre Dame must represent Paris and to the Americans the Statue of Liberty, each country is defined by a particular building and I just hope and pray that no one is hurt in the fire god bless.
The photo you refer to is one of the most iconic of the blitz. Even way over here across the Atlantic there is something comforting about seeing St. Paul’s standing so defiant amid the death and destruction wrought by Hitler’s Luftwaffe. I always see it as a tangible symbol of the resolve of the English and Londoners in particular not to give in to the evil of the nazis.
I have been to Notre Dame and saw the crown of thorns in a special exhibition and the beautiful treasures and oh, those windows, which thankfully are there.
A good example of how we can build a Medieval structure as it was is Aachan, destroyed by the allies and rebuilt as it was. The Town Hall looks thirteenth century but was rebuilt in 1950. The crown of Charlemagne was in Austria to escape Hilter who was after the Spear of Destiny, also moved to Austria. One eighth century tower survived and the newer structure was added and it looks kinda odd but you know how old it is. The Cathedral was partly damaged but mostly inside survived. The Royal Chapel and fourteenth century blue Windows held in tact. The roof burned off but the false dome held up. The place even held off the Vikings. Cologne is another example, partly damaged, but most of it survived while like Saint Paul’s everything else was flattened. Notre Dame was spared as was Paris despite Hilter ordering it to burn. Most of the main stone structures have survived. Thankfully nobody was hurt, although one fire man was slightly hurt, because it is surrounded by houses and on an island and hard to get to by transport. The emergency services did a good job to get people clear as well as saving all those treasures. Let’s not forget this is a sacred place of worship and not just a “historical building” which is why people were crying . The Lord is present in the Blessed Sacrament and it is holy. These buildings are precious to many people and we cry with them, but we hope with them also. Amen
By the way it wasn’t the Nazis who bombed London, it was the German air force, who were not Nazis and the damage the American and British air force did in Germany and France was far more extensive, not that it matters now of course, but for historical accuracy, it is important.
How wonderful to see the crown of Charlemagne Bq, what does it look like, he lived in about the 6th or 7th century I believe, though I could be wrong, not many medieval crowns have survived which I think is a shame, Charlemagnes is truly ancient.
Sorry didn’t mean that comment to sound quite as curt or offhand as it came out. But yes, London, Paris, Cologne and other cities stood up very bravely to bombing during the wars and the photos are very sad, so many people killed, so many thousands made homeless and so many people forced to struggle and carry on, not let the dictators think we or ordinary people everywhere will stand strong in the face of aggression. It is like the English up against the Amarda or rather the myth of the Amarda, but from the point of view of Elizabeth and her subjects you are standing up to an act of aggression from a tyrant, not the people of Spain. The fact that many in Spain probably cheered him on and everyone on his ships probably agreed, doesn’t come into the myth, although to be honest after sailing and not getting very far into their mission for days, his own commanders thought he was too narrow minded on the invasion force and passed up golden opportunities to take out the becalmed English fleets. But you get the idea, one man, Philip is painted as wanting England at all costs and an ill equipped navy and land force have to take him on. Most people in the sixteenth century just wondered how to feed themselves, not who was right in the fight for the souls of two budding Empires. Most ordinary soldiers on all sides in the two world wars wanted to go home and didn’t buy into the ideological evil of their leaders. Most ordinary people suffered loss of homes, life, loved ones and struggled to eat, while bombs of every terrible killing capabilities reigned down on them from high tech planes flown by a faceless enemy. Incendiary bombs saw cities all over Europe burning to the ground, both sides were just as bad as each other, Dresdon and Dusseldorf, saw over 100,000 people killed in three nights, it was horrible for German and French people as well as London and Coventry. The leaders were brutal on both sides, but Hitler was pure evil. War is not heroic, it is horrible, it is terrible and I pray we never go that way again. The sad thing is, we are still bombing people in the East, whose ideals we don’t even understand, just because we think our democracy is better than their way of life. I know some of these people have evil regimes, but the arrogance of the West never ceases to astound me. I think perhaps now I change the subject back to the sixteenth century.
By the way, Christine, I have put my reply to your question about the imperial crown of Charlemagne below by mistake.
I have always felt for the city of Dresden known for its enchanting little figurines and beautiful architecture, the RAF all but obliterated that city to smoking ruins, at least in the old days wars were conducted on the battlefield and ordinary civilians were not harmed, I find it absolutely dreadful when babies and children and the old and sick are killed just because of one countries or several disputes with another.
I knew that Doenitz did not leave members of his U-Boat crews (enlisted St least) join the Nazi party ad he wanted their allegiance to Germany not Hitler. I was not aware of that with the air Force. Thank you for that.
Regarding Aachen, if they could do that over half a century ago just imagine what could be done today. I have found no information on the firefighter’s injuries, have you heard anything?
That was the first man made firestorm. So many civilian lives lost. Not a high point for the allies during the war. Had the same effect the bombings had on the English. Not much.
Yes the nazis were different from the ordinary German soldier, I recall my dad saying that many Germans he spoke to in Italy after the war had ended, declared they hated and feared the Nazis and were not keen on the war either, it was all Hitlers fault, that man caused untold misery for thousands and Stalin had a worse reputation than him, the thousands of Jews who were murdured is something that deeply shames Germany today and as for Mussolini what a bombastic twit he was, trying to get in on the glory, the Italian army supported which side was winning, the Germans called them the weather vanes,!
Thank you Christine and BQ for the correction.
I saw where Mussolini was shot when I was nine. I also visited the Villa Carlotta which is on Lake Como, it was breathtakingly beautiful. Charlemagne crown. O.K let me find my old pictures for an accurate description. The crown is scientifically believed to be late nineth not eighth century but it’s the symbolic bit that counts. A part of the crown is from about 800 and was probably made for his son, Louis the Pious rather than the old Emperor. The original is in Austria, there is a copy at Aachan but as we went on a specific Anniversary, the original was on display. As far as history is concerned it was first worn as it is now by Otto the Great. The entire regalia is considered to be holy relics and yeap, Hitler really did try to get them because of their symbolic power. If you found yourself in a dispute for the crown then you took control of the relics and the relics of Charlemagne. Henry iv rode around Germany with the bones of Charlemagne, not yet in their present location and the crown to make sure he wasn’t challenged before his coronation in Aachan, then in Rome.
But description…..Basically it is round but divided into several sections, each depiction on the section is of a holy saint or a story from the Bible or from the lives of Charlemagne or his father. Each section is a golden oval and in the centre is a golden cross which has jewellery in it and so does each section. It is very ornate and some parts may have been added over time, but it has always been associated with the crown which Pope Leo placed upon his head on Christmas Day 800 in Rome. It has a bridge across the centre and it is beautiful. There is a sword and what we call the Spear of Destiny, which is a complex weapon, not one spear and comes apart. In the centre is an eighth century arrow made from gold and silver and within that a first century iron nail, originally claimed to be from the crucifixion of Christ, but which is Roman anyway and the two sides are golden but I am not sure when they date from but they are added afterwards, possibly in the eleventh century. We know the legend is that the Spear at the end pierced the side of Christ and it has another connection, to the Crusaders. The legend went on to say that any King who carried it would be invincible in battle. The legend says that Charlemagne lost it, was beaten and died. However, Charlemagne died of cold after he took a chill while out hunting in January 816, being in his seventies. He personally never lost a battle, although his army was defeated twice, when he wasn’t present. His army was ambushed in Saxony and his van was attacked when leaving Spain by the Basques, before he reached them, again an ambush. It is more likely that the Spear was carried during ceremonies and customized by various Emperors. The regalia also included a beautiful Cross which we now know was made for his youngest son who succeeded him, with Louis painted on one side and the Crucifixion on the other. The crown and regalia are often shown with various robes and replica of the Holy relics housed in the Cathedral, relics from Mary and Jesus, shown to the public every seven years. They are in a relic box which is golden, depictions of the life of Christ in the beautiful large shrine and the shrine of Charlemagne is next to it, made by Frederick Barbarossa and placed there by his grandson. You can go on a tour and see these close up. His throne is also there and we have a description which is contemporary, so we know it is genuine. The throne is made from marble and based on the Throne of Solomon. There are five steps up and a throne chair, two arms and an alter at the back. There are three recesses under the alter and you go inside and get the blessing from the spirit of Charlemagne. This was how people in the Medieval period got close to their Kings and such recesses you see under the tombs of saints. You went inside and could look up into the shrine and the bones of the saints and feel blessed. The crown was used by every Emperor, right down to the nineteenth century. It was even claimed by Napoleon when he invaded but for some reason he left the crown behind. The eight rounded pieces are held together by an inner circle of iron. The original golden circle may have been elaborated and remade for Otto the Great who modelled himself on Charlemagne and discovered his lost tomb. It is amazing to see these Medieval crowns as so few actually survived. Charlemagne had this made in the Byzantine style but his French crown which was incorporated into the French crown from the thirteenth century is much simpler, much more as we imagine a crown, one cross, three flur de lieus and one golden circle, set with blue gems. In the treasury in Austria is the small Byzantine style crown of Anne of Bohemia, the Queen of Richard ii and in the Treasury in Aachan is the tiny circlet of Margaret of Burgundy, sister of King Edward iv of England, made for her in the Gothic style when she was fifteen years old. It doesn’t matter how many diamond studded crowns we have had, there is nothing like the craftsmanship of those beautiful medieval crowns.
As we know Anne Boleyn oddly was crowned with the crown of Queens and the crown of Saint Edward, the latter meant for Kings only because Henry wanted to make a point, Anne, not Katherine was the legitimate Queen of England. The present version was made for Charles ii in 1662_as Oliver Cromwell melted it down in 1649. It is the centre piece of the coronation crown, which is built up and personalised around it. What we see now is a shell as the diamonds are removed. George iv had the most expensive crown, costing £30,000 in those days but he couldn’t pay for it, so he hired the diamonds for one day. The first tine we recognise the use of Saint Edward’s crown is from the second coronation of the adult King Henry iii in 1226. It was said to be worn by Edward the Confessor who founded the original Westminster Abbey, which looked nothing like it does today. It was buried in his shrine which was put there in 1066. Here William the Conqueror was crowned in 1066, although not with his crown. Henry iii had the shrine moved and it may have been then that he removed the crown. His father King John lost his own crown in the Wash where his wagons got stuck on his way to Newark where he died in 1216/7. Henry iii was nine years old and it is said his mother provided him with her crown. Henry iii turned the Abbey into the grand structure we see now and every King and Queen since him have been crowned there and most, but not all, until George iii, buried there. (John, Richard iii, Henry Viii, Edward iv and Henry iv are buried elsewhere and Henry I is missing under what was Reading Abbey somewhere) The coronation chair is an icon which needs no introduction and from King Edward I until the present Queen, they sat on the Stone of Destiny (Scone) from Scone Abbey in Scotland, from where it was stolen by Edward I. However, the next one will have to do without as in 1996 it was returned to Scotland. In fact no King or Queen of Scotland is recognized without a coronation at Scone. So maybe Charles or William will have to travel to Edinburgh to be crowned. But hang on, there is a twist in our tale.
In 1950 on Christmas Day some students stole the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey and held the crown to ransom. A national man hunt was launched and nobody found it. It was mysteriously returned. But many claimed it was a replica which was returned and the original hidden, sold or destroyed or damaged. We will never know. Nobody knows who took it but three men arranged to return it and it was handed over in an arrangement. They were questioned but never charged and gave nothing away. A similar stone was placed at Scone Palace. It was believed to be a copy, but could it possibly have been the real one all along?
I also heard about the English crown being destroyed but it was in the reign of I believe of Charles II. Someone had tried to steal the crown jewels and the crown was destroyed by the perpetrator bending it out of shape to hide it under their clothing so it had to be refashioned. Whether it was Cromwell or a thief it is sad that it lasted that long and was destroyed. I must say Oliver Cromwell melting it down sounds more likely.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience of seeing first hand and the history of those amazing artifacts.
Yes, Michael, meet the unscrupulous Thomas Blood. Yes, that’s his name, although some people have wondered if it was an alias historian Robert Hutchinson has written a biography about Captain Blood and it’s now thought it was because he had the dirt on members of the King’s government that he wasn’t executed. Trying to pinch the crown was treason and the value of the theft enough to hang him. It was in the 1670s and for a fee the warden would let you see the jewels. There wasn’t the same security as now, though goodness knows why, but the Tower was a hive of activity and many people lived and worked there. It was like a busy town. Blood and a couple of friends made a contact and he introduced them to the warden and his family. They arranged to visit, one of the gentlemen pretending to be interested in a female family member and on the day they created a diversion, were somehow left alone viewing the jewels and Blood and his pals nabbed them. The crown was too big to conceal so they bashed it up and put it under their coats. The old warden came back and Blood hit him but he didn’t die fortunately, they then walked out but were confronted. They tried to make small talk and take their leave but they dropped the beaten up crown and a struggle followed. More guards came and they were arrested. Charles ii was curious at this dare devil deed and sent for Blood. There is speculation about what was said but it was enough to spare their lives. I can’t remember what exactly happened next but Blood was pardoned and I think he worked for the crown. Certainly, nobody was severely punished. Blood was a conman and he had a terrible reputation. I believe he at one point in his life literally got away with murder. The crown must have been hammered out again, but could you just imagine, a brand new crown and it gets bent in an attempt to grab the attention of the King. The poor warden, hit over the head, for trusting a stranger. What a very odd incident and what a nasty piece of work Captain Blood was.
Thankyou Bq most interesting.
Hi BQ. Amen to every thing you said about never again. Regarding the Armada I believe today we can say ‘myth’. I’m not so sure however that that can be said at the time. With religion and faith at the forefront of everything people probably truly believed in their hearts that God favored England and Elizabeth and not only brought ‘protestant winds’ to defeat the Spanish fleet but also gave England the strength. It would be very interesting to visit both England and Spain right afterwards and hear what the average person had to say about the outcome.
Very true Michael and Elizabeth was good at using all of that to rally the troops, so to speak, well not literally as she actually hid in the countryside at Richmond until it was almost over. She only moved to Saint James’s as it was more secure. Elizabeth came out to give her grand speech after the danger was over, although the news had not reached them of the final battle. She went to inspect her troops but she did so as a goddess on a white horse and looking immaculate. She was in her fifties at this time and she was not at her best. However, Elizabeth dressed herself magnificently and her make-up and red wigs made her look younger. She looked like a Goddess to the troops she reviewed and her famous speech roused their spirits. The religious ideology of both Spain and England were violently opposed to each other and religious life meant much to every person at that time. The pamphlets published to bring the news of the forthcoming dangerous invasion most certainly would have said that the bad Spanish are coming to do all the usual horrible things and must be stopped. They were coming to destroy liberty and everything English and for English read good servants of the Reformation, a Godly nation. On the Spanish side, they were going with a holy mission, blessed by the Holy Father, to depose this woman who was a heretic, a servant of the Devil, a persecutor of the faithful people of the true Catholic Faith, which was actually true, but not quite as Spain saw it, a woman who had no right to the crown as she was the child of an illicit marriage and who was illegitimate. Elizabeth might be the child of Henry Viii and his second wife, Anne Boleyn and we recognise her as legitimate, for simplicity if nothing else, but to Philip and anyone who was a good Catholic she wasn’t legitimate because Henry was still married to Katherine of Aragon when he also married Anne Boleyn. He didn’t see Elizabeth as being a true Monarch and he had a mission, given to him, as he believed by the Lord to liberate England and the Catholic population, who were under pressure at home and to replace a heretic as he saw Elizabeth with a true believer. To Philip this was a holy Crusade. The popular press at the time, pamphlets, songs and lyrics told off the coming Amarda in different ways, as the enemy to everything Protestant and so English or as a force of liberty. People were actually rounded up and either hung or imprisoned because the Government assumed they prayed for a Spanish victory, and some probably did, although more prayed it would go away as it meant trouble for ordinary Catholics who just wanted to be seen as loyal. For the main Catholic families they had to choose between their Faith and their Queen and there was a conflict between secretly going to Mass and attendance at the parish Church, which was required by everyone. Most ordinary people could not afford the heavy fines, so they went in order to stay free and they had to feed themselves as well. It was a balance, but with the missionary priests, who risked their lives to reconcile and minister to English Catholics, saying attendance at these Protestant services, where they now had to take Communion was a sin, the faithful were in an even bigger dilemma. Now here was a liberation force, promising to free them and remove Elizabeth; I believe they would begin to hope it might succeed, while remaining quiet. For Protestant England, this was terrifying. Philip was very much in hand with the Inquisition and while under Mary, the legal process was wholly English, based on older Medieval heresy laws, the Spanish systems were much more terrifying and driven by harsher techniques. Philip was single minded and he had condemned the whole of the Netherlands to death as a nation that rebelled against him. He would have been a nightmare, even for English Catholics, because he was a hands on, I delegate to nobody, paperwork, control freak. We literally have thousands of memos, notes, correcting paperwork, letters, orders, just about everything in his own hand, from this short period alone. The way religious realities ruled every part of daily life, the life cycle, the seasons, the calendar, how and what and when you ate and made love, within marriage, everyone was aware of how much was at stake with a foreign invasion, but in the end survival was also vitally important and the appearance of loyalty key to that survival.
I just started rereading ‘Elizabeth’s Spymaster’ by Robert Hutchinson and it opens with Phillip II actions in The Netherlands. I am so thankful that God placed me in this time where I am not in fear for my life as so many were just a few hundred years ago.
Yes, Michael, meet the unscrupulous Thomas Blood. Yes, that’s his name, although some people have wondered if it was an alias historian Robert Hutchinson has written a biography about Captain Blood and it’s now thought it was because he had the dirt on members of the King’s government that he wasn’t executed. Trying to pinch the crown was treason and the value of the theft enough to hang him. It was in the 1670s and for a fee the warden would let you see the jewels. There wasn’t the same security as now, though goodness knows why, but the Tower was a hive of activity and many people lived and worked there. It was like a busy town. Blood and a couple of friends made a contact and he introduced them to the warden and his family. They arranged to visit, one of the gentlemen pretending to be interested in a female family member and on the day they created a diversion, were somehow left alone viewing the jewels and Blood and his pals nabbed them. The crown was too big to conceal so they bashed it up and put it under their coats. The old warden came back and Blood hit him but he didn’t die fortunately, they then walked out but were confronted. They tried to make small talk and take their leave but they dropped the beaten up crown and a struggle followed. More guards came and they were arrested. Charles ii was curious at this dare devil deed and sent for Blood. There is speculation about what was said but it was enough to spare their lives. I can’t remember what exactly happened next but Blood was pardoned and I think he worked for the crown. Certainly, nobody was severely punished. Blood was a conman and he had a terrible reputation. I believe he at one point in his life literally got away with murder. The crown must have been hammered out again, but could you just imagine, a brand new crown and it gets bent in an attempt to grab the attention of the King. The poor warden, hit over the head, for trusting a stranger. What a very odd incident and what a nasty piece of work Captain Blood was. Fancy just allowing someone who looked well dressed to be alone with the crown of England.
Yes religious persecution was very real and we have to try to understand the fear it wrought in people’s minds in those days, it was a very different age a world away from ours in terms of belief and superstition many people don’t realise it, but if more delved into the past they would realise how very lucky they are today.
Yes Captain Blood was I believe an Irishman and Charles 11 was so impressed by his ability to steal the Crown Jewels that he pardoned him and let him go, imagine Henry V111 doing such a thing!
There was a comical film many years ago, very roughly based on this event, but of course it got everything mixed up. The character who steals the jewels is meant to intercept King Charles but it goes wrong and he is arrested with the crown hanging out and then shows him a list of corrupt officials. He is pardoned and becomes “The King’s Thief” hence the name of the film.
Very, very odd but it captured the spirit of what happened. Yes, Charles was impressed with his audacity and he did some underhand stuff for the King. In the film he and his wife, who is known at Court, visit the Tower to examine the telescope because Charles is keen on astronomical science, although the Observatory was at the Palace of Greenwich, not the Tower. He tries to get the King to listen, he is too busy, so he nabs the crown and makes a big show of escaping, it all falls out and he makes a big scene which gets Charles ‘ attention. His “wife” begs a moment before he is carted off and out comes this list. The main man accused is there with the King, swords out, big fight, killed, Blood injured, gives King list. Hey presto, he is pardoned and well, the King has a list for future uses. Thomas Blood was really just a crook, but it wouldn’t surprise me if as a crook, he didn’t know a few more.
Yes, we are very lucky to live in the times we have and the countries we do, for all of their faults and rather dim leaders. Actually, I wouldn’t like the job of P.M or President for all my criticisms of them. An absolute ruler on the other hand, now I could do that. A benign one of course, and maybe I will have a few dragons around to help me as well. It is difficult to imagine not knowing who was at the door, if it was to search the house for the priests, which took days, if it was another official, if they were going to be dragged in for yet another interrogation, would they end up arrested, tried and executed, how could they pay more fines? It must have been a nightmare at times no matter which denominations you came from. Life was hard enough but add a deviation from the latest religious changes at the top and it was one lived in fear.
If anyone wants a decent, well referenced and researched book on the earlier and indeed, later alleged love life of Anne Boleyn, Josephine Butler, the Early Loves of Anne Boleyn is very accessible. She looks at her life in France and the Netherlands, her relationship with Henry and her life as Queen, her life at the English Court and role in the service of three Queens, Margaret of Austria, Claude of France and Katherine of Aragon, through the male relationships and friendships she ended. Where there is a lack of solid evidence, she explores intimately the prose and verse which give us clues to the love of Henry Percy and Thomas Wyatt. Apart from Cavendish in his biography of Thomas Wolsey, which details a number of conversations surrounding the Henry Percy affair and break up, we have Lancelot de Carles who published his rhyming prose biography of Anne Boleyn in 1536,_shortly after her death, who expands upon the reaction of the Earl of Northumberland to his son’s folly and his attempts to defend his sweetheart. It is a source which is fairly neutral on Anne, although it has its hairy moments and can be a bit typical of how people saw the accusations against her at the time, but it is a reasonable and accurate piece of contemporary literature from a French source. It is amazing just how much internal information which can be prized from the pen of Thomas Wyatt and how much of that has been inferred as describing Anne Boleyn. Josephine Wilkinson takes the poems and really examined them at a profound level and her revelations are quite delightful. I would recommend her book for a good understanding of the men who were attracted to Anne and her true interaction with them. She also examined the things which made Anne attractive as a person and in her character and achievements through a number of sources.