Was Anne Boleyn involved with any other men? – Part 2
Posted By Claire on April 18, 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 looked at James Butler and Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and in Part 2, I consider poet and diplomat Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder and the men with whom Anne was accused of committing adultery and plotting to kill her husband, King Henry VIII, in particular, Mark Smeaton and Sir Henry Norris.
I do hope you’re enjoying this video series. Don’t forget that I’m also recording “on this day in Tudor history” videos on a daily basis, and, due to popular demand (thank you!), I’m going to be doing a video countdown of the main events leading to Anne Boleyn’s execution on 19th May 1536! Am I mad? Yes, entirely!
Part 1 can be found at https://youtu.be/2Ai-RYY3hig
Here are the links to the articles I mentioned:
By the way, if you’re interested in my book The Fall of Anne Boleyn, you can get it here.
26 thoughts on “Was Anne Boleyn involved with any other men? – Part 2”
As always wonderful. I love how in depth you you are able to cover these subjects in the long form videos.
I’m really enjoying your lnrw ‘set’ on your roof terrace. The location is gorgeous.
Where to begin? First, thanks for this wonderful video and your beautiful location, from your roof terrace.
I agree that Anne was certainly loved from afar by Thomas Wyatt and there are several references to her in his sonnets and poems. I am not so certain about them actually having an affair. Yes, Wyatt was married but so was Henry, but that would not stop him but perhaps Anne wasn’t interested. The couple were probably friends and kissing cousins at best but I doubt they were anything more than that. However, a man may look on a woman and love her and have his heart broken. If Wyatt did desire Anne, then he lost her before she could return his love. He knew the King loved Anne and he gave her up, he may take on the world for his Lady Love, but he couldn’t take on the English King.
Now the co accused.
Mark Smeaton was a young musician who may have come from Belgium according to an old documentary from a few years ago and unfortunately, we don’t know his age, but he was fairly young. His talents took him to the English Court, where he was patronized by both the King and the Queen. Anne clearly appreciated his music because he was well paid by her with fine clothes and she seemed to like his company, although it is doubtful that she was alone with him or made anything more than the odd comments on his beautiful music. He was an easy target for Thomas Cromwell, being not a gentleman and considered an outsider. Mark did have eyes for Anne but only as someone adores a lovely woman, knowing she was out of his league and maybe fantasizing about her, yet, he made moo eyes at her. Anne wasn’t the least bit interested. She found his mooning at her and rebuked him for acting inappropriately. He was interrogated for 24 hours and confessed to sleeping with the Queen on three occasions. He never retracted his statement, but perhaps he was promised a swift death.
Sir Thomas Wyatt is the Tudor court poet famous for his beautiful verses and his fascination with and pursuance of the ‘Lady Anne Boleyn’ before she became involved with King Henry V111, he like Percy before him, could well have had his heart broken over her as he had a rival for her affection, and not just any old rival, the King of England, his family could have been old friends of the Boleyns as their family homes were both in Kent, Anne coming from Hever, and Wyatt from Allington Castle, his sister Mary was a dear friend of Anne and so we can assume they had a friendship that went way back, certainly she knew Wyatt and like many poets before and since he put his feelings to prose and we have them today to read, the enchanting line where he writes of the deer being hunted, the deer it is assumed is Anne, the hunter the King and then ‘noil me tang ere’ translated for ‘Caesars I am’ a reference that she was now the Kings and untouchable, in other poetry he wrote of a falcon, certainly the falcon being Anne as that was her personal emblem, he was part of Annes inner circle throughout her life at court including her brief reign, she no doubt found his poetry flattering and liked flirting with him as he was not only talented but handsome, of course as we know he was also married, albeit unhappily to a woman who was known for her unfaithfulness, there could not have been much love lost between them, and possibly like some married couples today did their own thing, they had a son known as Thomas the younger who was to lead a failed rebellion much later in Henrys daughters reign Mary 1st, and his grandson George was to be the first man to write a biography of Anne Boleyn writing in her daughters reign, working on sources available to him his portrait of Anne was very flattering and we have to remember, his grandfather had known Anne personally therefore his work is a valuable piece of authenticity, that Wyatt was very attracted to Anne is obvious and she had even given him a piece of jewellery possibly as a mere token of friendship but it turned the King green with envy, he must have spoken of it to Anne and yes as Claire says, we can see the funny side as we can just see these two men, Henry V111 and the court poet acting like a pair of lovesick schoolboys arguing over a young girl, and the Kings lady in waiting too, Anne must have reassured the King she and Wyatt were merely friends and so he was soothed, Wyatt had no choice but to give in, for as he wrote in his poem, she was Caesars and no other man would be allowed to have her, but he must have harboured a very deep affection for her all his life as to him, like the troubadour of old she was unattainable, he saw her grow from a charming sweet natured rather flighty young girl to an ambitious hard face woman, intent on wearing the crown of England and determined at any cost to possess it, he saw her vicious attacks on the gentle and pious Queen Katherine and her daughter, he witnessed her triumph when she was married and crowned at Westminster and when she gave birth to the future Elizabeth 1st, we can assume although his affection for her never faded his love for her certainly had, as he himself said his passion had all been spent, he witnessed her dreadful fall and was caught up in the allegations against her, as Claire says possibly it was to make the charges look more authentic, he was released however as he had a friend in Cromwell who was the mastermind behind the dreadful plot, wether Wyatt believed Anne to be unfaithful is not known but he penned his feelings as he had throughout his life, on the sad deaths of the woman he had once loved and of his fellow courtiers, it is a long poem and is full of anguish and as I said earlier, must surely rank amongst the saddest in English literature the last line ‘pray for the souls of those be dead and gone’ tugs at the heart strings, May such a lovely time of year, 1536 witnessed five bloody deaths and saw a new queen at the Kings side, five people lost their lives yet their story lives on, Mark Smeaton who also was embroiled in Annes death and who Wyatt referred to as ‘rotton twig ‘ was merely the unfortunate scapegoat who was used to bring about the end of the Kings unhappy marriage, he alone confessed to being one of the queens lovers and never recanted on the scaffold, yet he was young and not of noble blood, he had been possibly threatened with torture and promised a merciful death if he kept quiet, fear of the gallows at Tyburn was likely the reason for his last words when he said, ‘I pray you pray for me for I have deserved this death’, so his life ended this promising young man who could well not even have reached his 20th year, a good position at court, the queens musician and whom she often favoured with little gifts, an innocent conversation was noted where she saw him looking sadly one day and asked him what ailed him, she then called into account his low status and she should not have to speak with him and he replied ‘no Madam a look sufficeth’, a rather snobbish remark it looks to us today but then this was the Tudor court and she was merely reminding him of his position, she was the queen after all, was he in love with her ? She was older than him and he could have had a crush on her, the kind a young boy has on a much older woman who appears much more attractive than the girls his own age, had he too fallen under the spell of those bewitching eyes and the sexual allure she must have possessed as a young girl, and maybe was now more apparent she had had a child and was more wiser and sophisticated, Mark in fiction has been described as a sweet faced lad who as Bq mentions could have come from Flanders Belguim as it is now called, I too heard this but apart from his involvement with Anne Boleyns downfall we no nothing about him, one source said he became rather arrogant with the gifts Anne gave him one was a beautiful saddle for his horse, and there were other gifts of money, he began to strut about at court and the other men in her group. Norris Weston and the others were jealous of him, she possibly favoured him because he was a pretty boy and he had first come to her notice because of his musical ability, ever fond of music herself he must have spent many evenings in her private apartments strumming on his lute, maybe looking up at her adoringly, was there gossip about them that made Cromwell decide to question him we do not know, possibly because he was young and attractive accusations of adultery are more likely to stick, he was no crusty old man of sixty, and as noted he was used to bring down the queen. it was not done to interrogate a nobleman and threaten him with torture, the lowly Smeaton was a prime candidate, all these men who were involved with Henry V111’s tragic queen played their part in the turbulence that was her life, when Mark Smeaton was born his name was of no importance, he was possibly one of many babies his mother had, if he was from a poor household he would have known hardship and possibly hunger, when he grew up and came to court his ill fated destiny was written, a glorious future awaited him he supposed he was talented, the queen noticed him and he became one of her intimate circle, but with the fortune and glory was dealt a rotton hand, he was fated never to live an old age, caught up in Henry V111’s murderous quest to rid himself of his unwanted queen he lost his life and his name has gone down in history as the servant who betrayed the queen his mistress, a rotton twig as Wyatt bitterly called him, but surely we should not judge this young man too harshly, we do not know the pressure that was put on him, cowardice is nothing to be ashamed of it is merely an acceptance of ones own weakness, death by disembowlment would surely make the bravest heart quake, he was beheaded like a gentleman that was his reward,when one is faced with a terrible death and a much more merciful one, there is simply no choice, for the wretched Mark Smeaton he had none.
Sir Henry Norris is actually a mystery for me, even though he was an obvious choice at the time. Henry had heard about his conversation on 30th April and had confronted Anne, hence the angry confrontation in the garden with Elizabeth in her arms (parents please don’t argue in front on the kids or the cat) but Norris didn’t commit treason, Anne did. He refused her teasing and protested. It was Anne whose remarks bordered on the insane as well as the treasonous. In the context they were said, they were a bit of courtly love and never intended as treasonous, which is why the conversation wasn’t included in the “evidence” against them. Henry was actually reluctant to go further but had Cromwell investigate and he has him question Smeaton. Anne made things worse by sending her Almoner to ask him to swear that she was a good woman. This drew attention to something which may have been overlooked and Henry was angry. It wasn’t this which led to Henry Norris being arrested because in fact Smeaton named him and two others. Norris denied everything, he refuted the so called confession in Court and pleaded not guilty. The rumours about his “confession” reported by his servant , George Constantine are third hand, not an eye witness report, but in any event he was apparently tricked into it. His close friendship with Henry should have protected him and Henry should have known his friend better and indeed his wife.
However, Henry wanted out of the marriage and I don’t believe he cared very much about the truth or how it happened. Norris was as good a target as anyone and that was the main problem. Cromwell chose men who were around the Queen a lot because of their access to the King. He couldn’t just have strangers. If the King was going to think he had been better be people he knew well. Servants are disposable but a Queen is more likely to find a lover among her husband’s friends. Norris had a lot in common with her and she was close to his family and he loved a cousin of hers, Madge Shelton. He was regularly in her quarters to court Madge, but Anne wasn’t alone, she had a whole household there as well. Norris knew theKing more intimately than anyone because of the nature of his position as Groom of the Stole and he was about his age. When told his friend had been questioned, that Smeaton had confessed, Henry questioned Norris himself asking him for the truth, that is to admit it. Norris denied the accusations and even offered to defend the honour of the Queen with his body in combat. Henry didn’t believe him and he was arrested and taken to the Tower.
Did Norris love Anne Boleyn? Yes, actually I think he did, but as a Queen to be worshipped. Many gentlemen fell in love with the Queen, but in a romantic way, not as a physical attraction. That doesn’t mean they desired one another and “committed adultery in their hearts” as in the Holy Bible but he adored her from afar. He was going to marry someone else in any case. I don’t agree with the theory of Alison Weir on this and I doubt he would have taken his admiration any further. However, there is another theory, that for some obscure reason Cromwell saw him as a rival with the Boleyn family and targeted him. O.K. I have given that the amount of thought it deserves, half a second and dismissed it. The conversation with Anne gave him ammunition, but for some reason it wasn’t used, so for me his inclusion remains a bit baffling.
Maybe Henry V111 wanted that omitted for whatever reason he had, I too find it strange he did not believe his old friend and companion when he declared both he and the queen were innocent of adultery, I do not think Norris for one would have risked his position at court, he had a very favoured one and yes he was engaged to the Shelton girl, why should he risk all that for a few romps with the queen, also Anne herself had waited so long to be queen, I have never thought she would have been that foolish to risk everything she had strived for, just to indulge her fancy for a handsome man of the court, she was well aware as Queen she was being watched and had enemies, Katherine and Marys supporters, she had been at court long and knew how words and looks could be interpreted, to wear Englands crown to be the mother of the heir to the throne, was more important to her than illicit love affairs, exciting though they would have been, she knew it was highly dangerous something which Catherine Howard found to her cost, Anne could be reckless very reckless which was part of her character, tenacious and brave vindictive but not immoral, she must have found many of the men at court handsome but knew all she could was look and indulge in light courtly banter, the problem with her ill fated conversation with Norris was that she had overstepped the mark, she was the lady to be wooed yet she had become the aggressor and had dared to mention the Kings death, thus the innocent words no doubt spoken without thought, became more sinister and treasonous, i agree with Bq, the way she told Norris rather frantically to speak to his almoner praising her virtue looked suspicious, it looked like the queen was trying to cover up something, Cromwell heard of the remarks she made to Norris and knew how her foolish words could be used against her, plotting the Kings death was one of the charges, had she not spoken of his death with one of her co accused? All unwittingly she had given Cromwell the ammunition he needed, whilst she sang and danced and the musicians played, a great dark curtain was enveloping itself around her, Norris must have been sheer amazed when his old friend the King asked him if he was in a love affair with his wife and queen, one would have thought he would know better, Norris defended himself well but Henry was having none of it, how could he doubt the sincerity of his faithful friend and servant, I have always found that odd but by now he saw a way out of his marriage, he wanted Jane Seymour and believed she could give him sons, personal feelings had to be put aside, Norris was arrested it seems the years of faithful servitude counted for nothing, several other men would be arrested including the queens own brother, the web around Anne was growing stronger.
What about George and Anne? The question is academic really but what did people think at the time? Did anyone actually believe it? That is something we can’t really know but we know that Eustace Chapuys wrote that George and the others were condemned on rumours only and very little evidence. He didn’t believe the charges and he was an enemy. At his trial George Boleyn gave a good account of himself and seems to have gotten the crowd on his side. When he disobeyed and read out the paper that he had been given and told not to which referred to the King and his potential sexual problems, which again there was no proof off but an offhand remark by Anne, his own jokes about his clothing and the fatherhood of Princess Elizabeth. Anne Boleyn was meant to have said this to her sister by law, Jane Boleyn, but it was now controversial and publicly insulted the King and questioned his masculinity. The thing is, George wasn’t daft, he had worked out that this trial wasn’t about justice, no treason trial was, it was a display and in this case it was completely a very definite set up. He had nothing to lose because he was going to die in any event. George wasn’t one to just do as he was told and he almost read this paper out with relish. I doubt he actually said anything about Henry’s fatherhood of his niece but I can certainly imagine him laughing about his clothing.
George was well respected at Court, but he was much younger than the King and well the young have never respected their elders so he probably thought his fashions were more superior than his King’s. Henry thought a lot of George, sending him with his father as envoys to France and to Rome and he represented Henry in 1529 at Convocation ( the Church Parliament) on the matter of the Supremacy and the annulment. He was a poet and a translator, a reformer and just as bright as his sister. All of this makes the charges against him and Anne all the more extraordinary and shocking.
George and Anne were very close to be sure but they were not the Lanisters in Game of Thrones indulging in incest because they were twins. They were normal brother and sister and confided in each other, protecting each other, playing with each other, probably having sibling fights, writing notes to each other, having secrets from mum and dad, they knew each other very well and George did spend a lot of time in his sister’s rooms, but not alone as others testified. Why then did Cromwell add incest to the charges? If people could be made to see Anne as sleeping with her sister, then she was capable of anything, of killing her husband for example. The charges are designed to completely darken their name for all time, to ruin their heritage and reputation and gain sympathy for King Henry against whom they had sinned. It was plausible because they were so close but we don’t know how many people believed it or didn’t. We don’t have any ordinary people writing about how they experienced these terrible days when a Queen of England and her lovers were put on trial for the very first time. We have letters from abroad from important people and most of them were shocked but didn’t appear to give these charges much credence. Anne was thought of as a whore, but even so this was too much for them to accept. People who knew her and her family found it too hard to understand and believe. This was truly horrifying, it was unnatural, it was evil and it was deviant and the pair were bound for hell if they practised it. Anyone listening to this charge would have been outraged. Of course, it was complete nonsense and because they both believed in the Bible, we can be certain it wasn’t true. They were devout believers and they certainly knew they were damned for eternity if they practised incest. Henry wanted out of his marriage and in his desperate state of paranoia he believed anything and was prepared to do and accept anything to be rid of a woman he now hated once and for all. Henry believed what was convenient and he definitely believed this. He didn’t care about the truth, his masculinity had been challenged and his sexual dominance was questioned. If he couldn’t control his own wife and his household, then how could he be expected to control and rule his people? Henry was now totally unpredictable and Anne was one of his many victims, especially as his personality had changed in recent years. George was used to help him do just that and Cromwell knew his case was weak so the more scandalous the better. It was convenient and Cromwell could make it believable, even though it was never going to be true.
George and Anne were tried on the same day, although not at the same time, both gave good accounts of themselves and bets were even made that George at least would be acquitted. Anne defied them all, made a glorious speech and kept her dignity. However, it was a decision which had been already taken, the jury paid to find them guilty.
The other two innocent men were there for two very different reasons. William Brererton was big in Chester and North Wales and his posts had brought him into conflict with Cromwell and it was out of revenge that he was chosen. Francis Weston was there by accident. A few days into her captivity Anne started babbling and her words were written down and reports sent by the warden William Fitzwilliam to Cromwell about what she said. Trying to work out who had been arrested and why Anne recalled a conversation a few years earlier in 1534 when sge had chided Weston for not being good to his wife. He said he loved another, her, the Queen. Anne dismissed him and nothing else happened. The next day poor Weston was placed in the Tower and charged with adultery and treason. When it came to his last days he wrote a letter, praying his parents to pay his debts and for his poor wife. They offered a large sum of money for him but he was executed with the others.
As a post script there is the research of Dr Collins last year who believes that Mark Smeaton fathered Anne’s baby, but who miscalculated the dates and takes a source a bit too seriously. Anne was with child by the time she returned from her progress in 1535. One source refers to Mark Smeaton visiting Anne’s rooms in Winchester, but probably her presence chamber to play music. Dr Collins has done excellent research but we cannot be be certain when Anne conceived her son. It was much more difficult to know when a woman conceived in the Tudor era and we don’t know if the baby was three or four months old when she miscarried in January 1536 or more or if Anne calculated from knowing she was pregnant or from her last period. No woman gives birth exactly nine months from conception, it varies. Even the most accurate pregnancy test can only say one to two weeks and even then it isn’t 100& accurate. Full term may vary by a couple of weeks as well and babies are overdue as well as early. Anne was a woman from the sixteenth century, she knew when she had the signs of pregnancy, not when she conceived. She could have conceived anywhere along the route. Henry was more likely to be the father and she was with him all of the time. Even then it is highly unlikely she would choose a lower class musician to father a royal child. This research is actually well thought out but it is misguided. Anne didn’t sleep alone, nobody else was implicated in the sexual scandals as helping her and if she had chambers above the Kings as she did at Winchester, well the noise would bring Henry’s attention. She shared rooms or had rooms next to his elsewhere and it was virtually impossible to smuggle all of these lovers into her rooms without attracting attention. Anne was a virtuous woman and kept a virtuous household so even the suggestion that she had a lover is ridiculous. I am not knocking Dr Collins and his research but Clair has answered his proposals in the linked article above, which is where I credit some of my comments. Anne simply couldn’t have dated her pregnancy that accurately and therefore we can only guess about when and where she conceived her last baby. It is very unlikely she would have slept with Smeaton who she wouldn’t even talk to and Norris would be a better match, coming from a more notable family. However, that too I believe to be ridiculous, as proved by Professor Eric Ives. The five men all had alibies for the invented dates in the indictments. Anne never slept alone, unless it was with the King and her ladies waited outside. I am sorry but the charges don’t make any sense and they were all innocent victims of a vicious and dangerous conspiracy to bring down the Queen. The most likely father of Anne’s baby was her husband, King Henry Viii, to whom she had always been faithful.
I think we’ve got a pretty good barometer of what people thought at the time. After these 6 unjust judicial murders for all intents and purposes Henry tried to erase Anne from history and never mention her again. If the general populace actually believed the charges the memory of her would have faded but the reason we’re still talking about it is that the accusations were doubted and people continued to discuss it, still, 483 years later. I also believe Nicholas Sanders wouldn’t of needed to make stuff up, he would have had the well.known horrible truth to use to smear Elizabeth’s parentage. I just think that if people really believed what was said about her she would have been much more easily forgotten.
Clarification: I should have said ‘questioning’ instead of ”talking about’.
Yes, Michael, I agree with you. The more you try to obliterate the memory of someone, the more they end up being remembered and we tend to uncover things eventually. If Henry did a good job and people believed much of what was said, and I am certain many did, but more questioned the charges, especially after her trial which won her many admirers, at some point her memory would have faded. Then 480 years later someone would uncover a plaque saying ” Here Lies Anne Boleyn, sometime Queen of England, executed on the orders of King Henry ” so on and would ask, who is this woman and why was she killed? I bet this was talked about for a long time afterwards despite orders to the contrary. It’s not something a nation is likely to recover from straight away, the judicial murder of their Queen. Many would have rejoiced too, unfortunately, and Princess Mary, who naively blamed her ill treatment on Anne, which was partly true, certainly celebrated and looking towards a new bright future, wrote to her father to congratulate him on his new marriage and asked for his blessing. However, Henry did the opposite and demanded her submission via a very rude delegation. Anne may have given most of the instructions regarding Mary but Henry had allowed or ordered it to happen. Yet, Mary looked to Jane for rescue and Cromwell to assist her. Henry only gave in after she signed away her rights. Mary had asked how many men Anne had been with and must have been shocked but she probably did believe it. Anne’s death also appears to have affected one or two people that she knew, outside of her family that is. For example, Henry Fitzroy died a few weeks afterwards, although he was very ill at her execution, which he witnessed and Henry Percy died just over a year later. Now it may have been a coincidence but one does wonder. Those defending her included a reformer from France, the Regent of the Netherlands, Mary of Hungary and even Thomas Cranmer who was devastated by her death. Thomas Wyatt was also broken hearted and not everyone at Court were convinced of her guilt, but they had little choice but to act as if they accepted it. We know Elizabeth honoured her mother and kept her coat of arms with her own on special occasions. I definitely think that a woman who people believed to be guilty would not have continued to inspire hot debate or poems in her honour. She would have remained a maligned figure and few people would now believe in her innocence. Few would have looked closely at the details, but many would have questioned the rudimentary possibility of the charges being true. A Queen accused with one person was bad enough but with five men, one her own brother! I would think people did find some of it a bit hard to swallow.
Yes Anne’s babbling condemned Weston as she mentioned him whilst in the Tower, we can imagine how she felt suddenly arrested and taken to that grim fortress, not being allowed to see her husband she was scared to death, trying to find out what she had said or done that could be misconstrued, Weston suddenly found himself arrested he was married with a young son, in desperation his family raised a huge ransom but it did no good he was doomed, with Brereton he was an older man and I too have heard that he had dealings in the north that clashed with Cromwell, his loyal servant said that if any were innocent it were he, as he was not even one of Anne’s circle it seems Cromwell decided to condemn him for political reasons possibly there was a bit of pique there to, with George a lot of shock and disgust must have rippled around the court as you say, what did people think and did they believe it, the charge of incest was really more horrific that that of plotting to assassinate the king, it was unnatural and really painted the queen as sexually corrupt and not worthy to live, beyond contempt so to speak, those who were close to the Boleyn family could not have believed it, I think many did not either even those who did not know them very well, Chapyus himself did not which is very telling, because Henry V111 was courting Jane Seymour at the time the charges began to look suspicious, it is not easy to fool people and rumours began to circulate about the king and his mistress was not the arrest of the queen a little convenient? It was well known he did not spend as much time with her as he used to, there was a deep rift between them which had begun with the loss of their baby in January, they argued a lot and the atmosphere at court was tense, the trials of both the queen and her brother were not fair there were no witnesses they had to defend themselves, and the accusations were merely allegations without evidence, as George himself remarked that on the word of one woman they were ready to condemn him, this woman it has been assumed unfairly was his own wife, but now it is thought to have been Lady Worcester who set the cat among the pigeons in the first place, they were convicted on hearsay which shows that their trials were not about justice merely a means to get rid of an unwanted wife, I think originally Cromwell had been informed about Lady Worcester’s conversation with her brother and decided how he would bring down the queen, throw in the charge of adultery but that alone would not condemn her, however plotting the kings death would and to add complete revulsion in the minds of the people, so her name would be entirely blackened – accuse her of incest so she would be forever painted as a vile shameless unnatural creature, not fit to walk gods earth she was corrupt and sexually out of control, the king could not satisfy her no man could, Anne was doomed and she must have known it, the coup had been successful she was in the Tower safely locked up, and in other parts of that grim building her old companions languished just like she did, no doubt peering out of their windows now and then, thoughts racing through their minds, one day they had all been going about their usual business the next, their world turned upside down, the wretched Smeaton alone in his cell must have been in more torment than the others, for he alone had brought this to pass, all five men condemned because of their connection to the queen must have known their days were numbered, after both the farce of the queen and her brothers trial it was only a matter of time before they died, the scales of justice did not run smooth in the Tudor court, it was the bloodiest coup in English history.
When you have Eustace Chapuy questioning Anne’s guilt, hating her as he did for supplanting K of A you know something’s not right.
Of course Michael, it shows how ludicrous the charges were, Chapyus was an intelligent man and had worked out for himself that the King was trying to get rid of ‘the concubine’ as he called her, he was at the court forever gleaning information, and the King often confided in him as well, even though he hated Anne as a fair minded man, he must have thought she was being treated rather badly.
Thomas Cranmer was devastated by her death, after her arrest he wrote to Henry telling him he was fair amazed for ‘he never had a better opinion of woman than he had of her’, he had annulled his first marriage and was a supporter of Anne, on the morning of her execution he was alone in the gardens looking very sad, and Alexander Ales the Scottish reformer asked him what ailed him, Cranmer replied ‘she who was queen on earth is now queen in heaven’, he then burst into tears, Ales himself must have been affected and the encounter was something he possibly spoke of to Queen Elizabeth years later, he had also seen Anne carrying little Elizabeth in her arms whilst she and Henry were having an altercation through an open window, he was looking down on Anne and as Ales remarked he could not hear what was being said as he was too far away, but he could see by his expression the King was angry, I have always wondered if he had heard of her foolish remark to Norris about dead men’s shoes, and she was trying to explain herself, really no one likes to discover that their partner has joked about their death with another, one can understand his anger if we try to place ourselves in his shoes, I think she was also trying to get through to him through Elizabeth, I am the mother of your child so to speak, how can you not believe me? This encounter he also spoke of to Elizabeth, she must have felt a very real anguish for the mother she had never known and maybe in private wept for her sorrow, there were many who were affected by her death as Bq testifies, I have heard of Mary of Hungary and she did have other supporters in England and abroad, the reformation was slowly sweeping across Europe but it was mostly still die hard Catholic, Fitzroy after witnessing her execution fainted, he had married her cousin the Lady Mary Howard, something which his mother had fought against, but he must have been her friend at one time, but he attended her execution with the Duke of Suffolk and a year later he did die, maybe the shock brought it on, we suppose the Tudors were more resilient in those days because they faced death more frequently, but it does not necessarily make for a stronger constitution, shock or no he began to suffer from a illness which caused him to cough up blood, possibly the dreaded consumption, however Henry V111 possibly believed he had been posoined by Anne as he himself said to him and Mary, that cursed whore tried to posion you both, no wonder Mary always believed the worst of Anne, she had always adored her father and believed like many must have, that he had been seduced by an evil woman and worse a heretic, years later she was to say she saw a likeness between Smeaton and Elizabeth, Elizabeth in looks resembled both her parents, facially she looked more like Anne but she had inherited her father’s colouring and long aquiline nose, I think she was merely being spiteful, and her hatred towards the woman who had supplanted her mother manifested itself in her attitude towards her sister years later, however unfair that may be Mary could not forget nor forgive Anne Boleyn for the cause of all her and her mothers misery, her mothers obstinate stance too affected Mary who also followed her mother into rebellion against her father, Elizabeth the innocent in all this was to suffer from Marys bitterness years later, so we can see how yes Annes death did affect many, Henry V111 was to go on to marry Jane Seymour and have his longed for son and heir, but she was to die because of it, with his other wives he did not appear to have much luck, he was repelled by Anne of Cleves and his fifth queen wounded him deeply, his last queen was more of a nursemaid to him than a lover, it was noted he was more merry with Anne Boleyn than any other of his wives, such is the power of love!
Lady Elizabeth Brown Somerset, Countess of Worcester, wife of Sir Henry Somerset, Earl of Worcester was very close to Queen Anne, she had served in her household before Anne became Queen and held the cloth and silver sewer at her coronation banquet. She received many grants from the Queen, she was one of her premier Ladies and she appeared to be a confident of Anne. She was pregnant when Anne was arrested because Anne said she was concerned because the child didn’t quicken in her friends womb. Elizabeth had ten children, but most didn’t live into adulthood. However, she had a daughter in September 1536 who she named Anne, most likely in memory of the late Queen. Anne made a loan to Elizabeth for £100 which was never repaid and her husband had financial problems. This may account for her testimony against the Queen.
Lady Worcester was the daughter of Sir Anthony Browne and Lady Lucy Neville and her sister Anne was the first wife of Sir Charles Brandon but died in 1514. Her brother was another Anthony Browne, who was a supporter of Princess Mary and a Conservative Catholic. He too was close to the King, but he had other motives for getting his wife to testify against the Queen. He heard his sister was messing around with other men and he didn’t believe her child was her husband’s. So he confronted her. She dismissed him and then told him that it was the Queen who was up to no good, having men come into her chambers at all hours of the day and night. Her brother was very concerned about his conversation with his sister and went to Cromwell about it. He wanted to tell the King but didn’t know what to do. Cromwell may well have told him about his investigation and apparently she mentioned Henry Norris as the Queen’s lover. Another connection to this dysfunctional family was Sir William Brereton, another brother by law who owned land that Anthony Browne the Younger wanted to get his hands on. There was a financial incentive to help Cromwell building his fake case and he could get his wife to cooperate. The main source we have is the poem biography by Lancelot de Carles about Anne Boleyn but we also have two letters written afterwards by Sir Anthony and the report of Justice Spelman who named Lady Worcester as the “first accuser against the Queen” or the prosecution’s chief witness . Even then we don’t know exactly what Elizabeth Somerset said or if she was pressured by Cromwell and his henchmen so we are left with a mystery. Her testimony was only based on tittle tattle anyway and her remark to her brother was made during an argument in which her questioned her morals. I doubt she intended them to be used against the Queen and was probably distressed and horrified when she learned that her testimony had condemned Anne to death. With the other conversations with Norris and the rivalry with Brereton Cromwell had plenty of stuff to enable him to frame the men he thought would most easily stand out as Anne’s lovers.
Anne didn’t witness the execution of five innocent men on 17th May 1536, but she may have heard the crowd. However, Thomas Wyatt saw the men he knew well being executed from the Bell Tower and he put his experience and emotional feelings into beautiful haunting words. These Bloody Days as we now know this work is dedicated to each man in turn and is harrowing. His words are perhaps the best legacy they could have received. He was devoted to Anne but he was also friends with George and the others he was associated with. It must have been harrowing to see each life snuffed out in a second and his heart truly was broken. His own life was spared for lack of evidence, but perhaps his surrender of Anne had been remembered in his favour. He also had the good fortune to be a client of Thomas Cromwell through his uncle and father and it is this patronage which saved his life.
Ah that’s it, it was the Countess of Worcester’s brother who informed Cromwell, I had forgotten that I have read Weirs ‘The Lady In The Tower’, which gives us a step by step account of Annes last weeks, it is good and especially the haranguing events of her execution, Elizabeth Browne was admonished by her brother for her love affair with another man and she more or less said, what happens in the queens apartments is far worse, but did she actually mean Anne or was she merely hinting about Annes ladies? I think it’s sad that she and Anne were friends (I too have read that the queen lent her money,) and that by her reckless words she openly condemned the queen to death, personally if your a close friend to someone you don’t want to cause them any trouble, and everyone at court knew that the queen had to be above reproach, Kings could do what they liked but their queen – no way as it not only caused shame and embarrassment to the King, it went against the moral code of the day and impugned the royal succession, therefore Lady Worcesters words I think were spoken in anger and without much thought, she must immediately have regretted it, we do not know what Cromwell and his men said to the women in Annes household, he must have interrogated Lady Worcester quite harshly, one can imagine the words he used, he had the ammunition he needed all thanks to this foolish woman of light moral’s, he must have thought God smiled on him that day, we can assume most of them were questioned and although not threatened with torture, they must have had some pressure put on them, it was no tea and biscuits conversation, Annes cousin Madge Shelton was possibly questioned, sadly she was to lose her fiancée to the axe, Lady Lee Annes dear friend and sister of the poet Wyatt and Lady Rochford too, there must have been others, they were probably quite frightened, but whatever information he gleaned from these frightened women it was not enough to condemn the queen of adultery, there was nothing substantiated, there was the silly tale of the marmalade in the cupboard we can dismiss, at her trial it was just bed hopping and as one observer remarked just bawdy gossip, we can see they had words put into their mouths,in other words their words were twisted, I should imagine Cromwell could be quite frightening when he was angry and he had been told by the King, (we assume) that he had to find a way out of his marriage, in his portrait he looks stern faced but then his job was nothing to smile about, a very clever lawyer who had pulled himself out of the lowly station he had been born into, he was in the past a supporter of Anne he was the one who had helped the King out of his first marriage, succeeding Wolsley who had unfortunatly fallen out of favour, but now he had come to regard Anne as an enemy, and they had often clashed he knew the King wearied of her, and his fate was now with the Seymour family who were high in the Kings favour due to Jane Seymour, the Kings new love, Cromwell could be a dangerous enemy he had the Kings ear, Anne must have known something was afoot, when she came upon her women whispering in the corner of the room, silence prevailed, the King did not speak to her and must have closeted himself away with Cromwell and his council for many hours, but she was still queen and confined to be treated as one, she presided over the banquets and played in the gardens with her dogs and visited her little daughter, she was still treated with the deference due to her as the queen, but she knew something was very wrong, one can sense the strained atmosphere, in panic she beseeched her almoner and good friend John Skip to look out for her daughter, to make sure she was guided in the true religion, none of Annes women wanted to cause her trouble although we have the reputation of Lady Rochford her sister in law, whose name somehow has gone down in history as the jealous sister in law the accuser against the queen and her own husband, Jane and Anne was discussing as women do about Henrys sexual prowess, it could be Anne had confided in Jane that she feared she would never get pregnant as Henry had problems in the bedroom, stress and worry can cause impotency and we all know Henry wanted a son so urgently, research has shown that when couples do not worry about having children so much the woman falls pregnant easily, Jane mentioned this piece of gossip to George but we have to remember how close he was to his sister, and therefore Jane possibly thought Anne would not mind if he knew, but it was toxic and must be kept between the three of them, at his farcicial trial George however read out the inflammatory words and condemned himself to the axe, he knew he was condemned anyway, he just wished to make a mockery of the whole proceedings, Cromwell and the peers must have felt their faces burn, and there must have been amazed gasps in court and the odd titter or two from the public gallery, it was a highly charged atmosphere, and his wife had gone down in history as the woman who was the cause of it all, yet Lady Worcester is noted only for her daft remarks about what happens in the queens apartments, and she was the one who lit the flame, her brother if he was a friend of the Lady Mary we can see how politics takes a hand in this, he saw a way to bring down the queen, little realising that Cromwell was about to do so, it’s all about politics and religion which decided the fate of Henrys queens, those who were Catholic were against the reformers and the other way round, the Catholic faction were against Anne and the Seymour family were in favour which pleased the Catholics, when Catherine Parr was queen it were the Cathilics who tried to bring her down for what they believed were her heretical views, Anne knew her days as queen were coming to an end but she could not have forseen how savagely they would end.
We’ll never know if Anne had sexual relations with Henry Norris. We do know that she had let it be known that Henry was a bit of a dud in bed. Sexual desire is powerful and it’s not unthinkable that it could override religious considerations in the heat of the moment and the risk worth it.
Evening Gail and Happy Easter. Of course, we can never really know what happened and if Anne had any affairs, with Henry Norris or anyone, but it’s highly unlikely. Eric Ives has demonstrated that at least two thirds of the charges can be disproved and the rest refer to times when Anne was pregnant or had just given birth. Sex during pregnancy was considered dangerous for the child and Anne was confined to a womb of a room, where no men were allowed, not even the King for one month before birth to one month afterwards. She had her ladies with her but she was confined and couldn’t leave the room until she was “churched” 40 days after her delivery. This was a service in Church to bless the mother, purify her and to give thanks for her safe delivery, regardless of the survival of the baby. It marked her entry into public life again. Anne was never alone in any case and to have relations with Henry Norris or anyone else she would need the assistance of her ladies. Remember Lady Jane Rochford helped Queen Kathryn Howard to see her alleged lovers and others helped keep watch. Lady Rochford was arraigned with Kathryn but in the case of Anne Boleyn, nobody was arrested for helping her. It would have been impossible for her to have an affair without one of her ladies helping her.
Anne was very prim and proper when it came to moral behaviour and ran a strict household. She banned men from going to brothels and ordered her ladies to behave with strict moral conduct, not to swear and if they did, they would be dismissed. She held a very strong Christian Faith and she swore on the Blessed Sacrament (the Lord present in the Communion) before and after taking the bread and wine, representing the Body and Blood of Jesus, which she believed in, her final Communion that she was innocent and had not offended the King in any way, physically or otherwise. This was the morning before she died and she had witnesses to ensure people knew the truth. This was very important and if Anne lied, her soul would be condemned for all Eternity. Love may well pass over the religious divisions and desire over the religious fervour of any individual, but to lie on the most sacred elements of the Christian Faith, the Holy Communion, was sacrilegious and very much forbidden. She was about to die and said she was innocent. To lie now she believed would condemn her soul to Hell. That is not a risk Anne would take and when many heard this, they began to question her guilt. The warden reported it to Cromwell who reported it to Henry, but it made no difference; she was still sent to her death.
This is also what makes Annes charges even more unbelievable, everyone at court knew how strict her household was run, yet Cromwell made it out to look more like a brothel, it was such an insult to a woman who prided herself on her morality and who instilled those same moral’s on her household, no one must have believed those ridiculous charges, they were all done to make people believe the worst of her, yet it did in fact the complete opposite, they were so ridiculous people including her enemies found them hard to believe, the charge of plotting to kill the King makes no sense at all, as without him Anne would have lost her protector, how could she rule if the King were dead as parliament would never allow it, for a queen to rule as regent the King gives his authority as in the case when Henry went to France and left his country in the care of Katherine his first wife, just like James 1V did to his wife Queen Margaret, also how could she rule with one of her so called lovers like Isabella did with her lover Roger Mortimer? They had all the country behind them so it was easy for them, but not so for Anne Boleyn, the country I feel would have risen up against them as Anne was not popular and never had been because she had replaced good Queen Katherine, in Isabella’s case however she was popular and the country were tired of her husband Edward 11’s weak rule, because he allowed his favourites the Despencers to swan around doing what they wanted, Isabella and Mortimers downfall happened because they ignored the wishes of her son the young king, who had become to hate Mortimer for executing one of his uncles, Anne was no fool all she wanted was to give the King a son and keep her position as Queen consort, his fatal accident at the joust in January she blamed on her miscarriage as the shock of his death would have made her position less secure, therefore why should she wish his death? As with all the other charges as Bq says made no sense, the times where she was meant to have slept with her lovers she was still being churched, other occasions she could prove she was somewhere else that alone should have granted her acquittal, in his quest for a son Henry V111 committed the murder of his queen and five innocent men, it was something he had to live with all the days of his life, one was his old friend Henry Norris, the fact that his third queen Jane Seymour did give him a son must have made him think all the bloodshed was worth it, but history has been his judge.
Yes, the charges of killing the King were only popped on the end because it’s obvious that Henry wanted this to be a capital crime. Adultery was a sin, not a crime, although the men might be executed for seducing the Queen, which was treason. I don’t know if incest was a capital crime or not, because of the nature of it, but if it was then adding it makes sense, but I am only guessing. However, adding treason charges transformed the charges of adultery into capital crimes, because who was she plotting to kill the King with, but her alleged lovers, with each of them separately and together. The theory would be that she would become pregnant with a lovers child, hopefully a son and after killing Henry, planning to rule as Regent for the child, with her lover at her side. Far fetched it may be, but somewhere along the line it has happened twice, but we don’t know where or when. If a Queen had a child and a lover and passed off that child as belonging to the King, the succession was at risk. Even Anne desiring just to be free to marry another was treason, because it imagined the King’s death, again treason. You can twist it around a few different ways.
As you say, though, what was she going to do rule like Isabella of France and Roger Mortimer? Of course Isabella was the daughter and sister of the Kings of France and used to ruling, but she ruled in her son’s name and not her own, or so she claimed. She had the popular support and the nobles were fed up with Edward ii, so she was able to win people over and the Government agreed to crown her son, the thirteenth year old, Edward iii. She went on to rule at his side until young Edward took control and arrested Mortimer. Young Edward had Mortimer hung for treason but pardoned his mother, assuming her not to be guilty of everything Mortimer sanctioned. Besides it’s not good for family harmony to kill mum. I love how he took control, though, getting a group of his mates and going through a secret passage under the Castle at Nottingham and up into their room. They were taken by surprise and that was the end of that. Talk about revenge, though, my word didn’t she give it to poor Hugh Despenser, who wasn’t the nicest guy in town, for his influence over her husband and dividing her from him. This guy had his bits cut off and thrown into a fire up a huge ladder, his bowels torn out and burned, his head cut of and his body quartered and it was depicted if you please. Isabella took her son’s part which of course was a legitimate way for her to rule in his name and that won her support. Anne Boleyn had no such claim, although she may have Elizabeth crowned supposing her marriage was still legitimate and have some say in her minority, if Henry met an unexpected dimise. Otherwise she could only be named Regent in her husband’s name if he was abroad or at war like Katherine of Aragon or Katherine Parr, but just how she was going to do so otherwise seems highly ridiculous.
In the case of Anne Boleyn the additional charges of conspiracy and treason with as many lovers as possible was to ensure she and they faced the death penalty because Henry wanted her out of the way permanently. Cromwell was more than willing because he saw a new faction rising which threatened his unique position with the King and he thought Anne stood in the way of his foreign policy and he would do anything Henry asked of him. She had to be made out to be a really evil out of control sexual predatory whore who was capable of anything and every level of charges made the others seem all the more believable. Add incest and people are so shocked that nothing else really mattered so horrifyingly bad was this sin and add half a dozen men, then conspiracy to kill the sacred person of the King with them and you have one scandalous woman, out of control and a lot of sympathy for the offended King. That’s how it should have gone down, but this was a set up, the accused had done nothing wrong, the King wanted a new wife and Anne was expendable. There is some evidence to suggest in a report by our good friend Chapuys that people mumbled against the King when he hastened into a third marriage before Anne’s corpse was cold and of the amazement people felt at all this. Anne and George had public trials in the Great Hall at the Tower of London, which packed in over 2000 people, but by the end of the day most of those present appear to have been won over. Had this not been a set up with a rigged and hand picked jury and judges, there is a good chance that George would have walked and that part of the case against the Queen would have collapsed. Of course every peer present would have been fined and locked up, but the farce would have been exposed. Executions were common, but those among the gentry were much rarer, even during this reign and this was extraordinary, four gentlemen, two members of the first family and of one Queen, never seen in England before, rarely seen in Europe anywhere. People mumbled, for and against and it, but the aftermath wasn’t exactly popular.
Yes and it also made Henry V111’s search for a bridegroom after Janes death much more harder, his ambassadors went abroad to several European courts extolling his princely virtues, but the women he fancied turned him down hardly surprising, one was Christina of Milan, a young woman who just happened to be Katherine of Aragons neice, Holbeins full length portrait of her (which is in Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11’s private collection), shows her in a plush black velvet gown her translucent white skin set off perfectly against its darkness, Henry was said to be so enamoured of her portrait that he had a little painting of her by his bed, however all his envoys wooing did nothing for Christina who remembering her aunts treatment by this King, and how his second wife had died, remarked she had only one head alas, if she had two then it would be at his majesty’s disposal, whether this was reported back to him is unknown but he then tried for the hand of Marie de Guise who turned him down also, and promptly married his nephew instead, the young King of the Scots, she had replied at Henrys remark that he liked big women, ‘she maybe big she said, but she had a little neck’, Henrys reputation was not the same as in his youth when reports far and wide had praised this golden vision of manhood, then he had been known not only for his friendly generous and affable nature, but also for his god like beauty and prowess at the sports, his cultured mind, now he was known for his tyrannical behaviour, his lack of mercy, he had destroyed the houses of God the monasteries, he had cut of England from Rome and worse, he had banished his first wife from court subjected her to unecessary cruelty, and ordered the death of his second, not only that but his fine muscular figure was running to fat, he was balding and his leg injury caused him to walk with a limp, hardly the dream of any young bride even if he did wear the crown of England, after the death of Jane Seymour Henrys marital adventures were becoming a source of entertainment throughout Europe, one lady at court said of him, ‘ what a man is the King how many wives will he have’? we all know he eventually settled for the unfortunate Anne of Cleves brought about by Cromwell who favoured the Anglo German alliance, he had successfully brought down his enemy Anne Boleyn for which he had earned his masters gratitude, but with this the Kings fourth marriage he had unwittingly brought about his own demise, if karma does exist then it happened to Thomas Cromwell who was to lose his head because of it.
Poor Cromwell, blamed for his master’s mistakes. This marriage which was the best deal Henry could make, probably better than he deserved, politically good for Cleves, good for England to stay neutral while Europe exploded, which is what actually happened soon into his marriage, turned out to be a disaster, not because of their first meeting, but because the chemistry was wrong. There is no independent evidence that supports the account by Cromwell that she had any defects and that she was ugly or anything else. Henry wanted him to provide evidence of a broken relationship, none consummation and Cromwell, desperate for mercy in the Tower, about to die provided Henry’s version of events. The German accounts, the testimony of even some of his own Council and Edward Hall, don’t agree with his reasons for departing his fourth marriage. Anna wasn’t present at the Annulment hearing, nor were her lawyers, it was rushed through following new procedures Henry and Cramner had laid down, using his own methods from the Blackfriars trial as a precedent. Katherine he had argued had consented to her marriage to Arthur, accepted as legitimate at the time and he hadn’t consented to this one. It was clever trickery which allowed marriage contracts to be undone in the future. Anne consented reluctantly to the annulment and a favourable settlement was made but the political handle was very delicate and her letters home perused for hints of her dissatisfaction before she was allowed to send them. Cromwell had done everything Henry wanted over the years but this mix up cost him his head because Henry by now had lost it sexually and the poor woman was blamed as usual. Henry had his eye on another pretty young thing and had been courting her for weeks. Cromwell had plenty of enemies at Court because he controlled the aristocracy and they hated him. Evidence of his duplicity was given to Henry who turned on him in a flash. It wasn’t karma but it certainly was opportunistic and fast. Cromwell was arrested, dragged of to the Tower, stripped of his honours, including his recent Earldom and languished there until Henry needed his testimony to free him from Anna. The letter he wrote gives details of conversations which probably never even took place, but which told of a man desperately trying to get out of his unconsummated marriage and painting it as a disaster from the first meeting. He was, however, trying to save his own life, so much of his long account has to be taken with a huge piece of salt. Anne wasn’t ugly or stupid, she was perfectly graceful and gracious, adapted to England very well and was praised highly. If Henry Viii had a letter in which a conversation with someone had him say Anne Boleyn was ugly, Claire and everyone here would pop in the Tardis back in time and thump him, but this baffling and hostile account of Anne of Cleves is taken at face value. Why? We need to ask ourselves about how, when and why it was written? It’s no different to any spouse today talking rubbish to their lawyers to get out of a modern marriage. Henry wanted Katherine Howard, he didn’t want to continue to be married to Anne and the marriage contract was an unbreakable nightmare. He wasn’t going to admit he was wrong, he was too fat and had a number of problems, no it was the foreign bride, so find him a way out. Henry may or may not have liked Anne, our source is tarnished so we can’t be entirely sure why he ended his marriage to her. What we do know is he was happy to be free again, but Anne was devastated. She agreed in the end because of her good sense and did alright, but the fact is, he wanted Christine of Milan, a gorgeous sixteen year old virgin widow, who was as savvy as her great Aunt, Katherine of Aragon. The loss of three wives in four years didn’t make for good prospects on the marriage markets of Europe, no. Someone had to take the blame and the fall guy was Thomas Cromwell.
I cannot feel sorry for Cromwell though, I know it was a battle for survival in the Tudor court and he suspected Anne wanted his head, but five young men also lost their lives- one Smeaton, possibly tortured or frightened by torture into making a confession, all of them save Smeaton was married and Weston had a young son, Norris was about to marry Annes cousin though he was taking his time about it, he was robbed of the chance of a happy marriage and fatherhood, and Brereton who was a most unlikely choice for the queen to commit adultery with, as he wasn’t even one of her circle he was much older, no evergreen gallant was Brereton but it has been assumed he had clashed with Cromwell over some minor differences of opinion in the north, over some lad who had committed a crime, and he had angered Cromwell over that but I find that hard to believe, however we do not know Cromwell and we have to accept the fact that he had his reasons for the men he had chosen, Lacey Baldwin Smith who sadly is no longer with us, in his book ‘Anne Boleyn The Queen Of Controversy’, puzzles over George Boleyn being one of the fallen as he was on good terms with him and politically he was no rival, but to make the incest charge stick, which Cromwell was determined to do, he had to have one more scapegoat so George like his sister was doomed, really the charge of plotting to assassinate the King was enough to condemn Anne to the block and committing adultery with four men, but she had to look as vile as unnatural as possible, thus the heinous charge of incest was added to the already diabolical charges, there is the moment as described at her trial where Anne and her brother French kissed in front of her men and ladies, as if a Queen of England would do such a thing in company, for they would know it would look odd and there would be gossip, if they were carrying on then they would both try to be as discreet as possible, apart from the fact that they knew they would be utterly condemned to hell, as if they would bring shame on their parents especially Annes mother who she was devoted to, how could Anne do that to her beloved mother, this is what makes the incest charge utter nonsense, both brother and sister were very pious both keen evangelicals, they believed like many folk did they would go to either heaven or hell, they were both confident clever people, Anne very fiery and George seems similar in character to his sister, certainly he was brave at his trial and execution, he was disliked for his arrogance however like Anne, he was probably sarcastic like her as he had a way with words, he was a poet and he could have riled a lot of people up the wrong way, therefore it’s easy when one is disliked to imagine the worse of them, they were not shy retiring people, but as we know they were both extremely pious their faith meant a lot to them, therefore such people surely would not risk their place in heaven for indulging in such unnatural love? George was said to have been a womaniser and as the queens brother he must have had the pick of plenty women at court, it would have been thrilling for a woman to sleep with the Kings brother in law, there are no women we know who he was linked with, but he is said to have seduced many a young woman, more than likely he would seduce any girl he had a passing fancy for, he could have gone wenching (as they called it then) with his friends many an evening, though he was married he would be expected to have had the odd mistress here and there, why should a young attractive man described as very handsome want to sleep with his own sister when he had the pick we presume of the women at court! ? Did Cromwell seriously think people would believe that of a queen who as we know run a strict moral household., in fact one contemporary later said that Anne Boleyns household was the strictest run out of all Henrys queens.
I would love to talk to those responsible for the 6 murders. Religion was such an essential part of life for people at the time and the protection of one’s soul was paramount. The religion of England was Christianity. One of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor”. In this they failed miserably and knowingly causing the execution of six people known by them to be innocent. I would be interested in hearing how this squared with their professed faith.
I would imagine that for the ordinary people and even a lot of people at Court, it mattered very much, but for these public servants in the Royal Council, they don’t seem to be too bothered about this, partly I am guessing that they squared their sacred duty to the King with delivering justice his way, even if they were breaking an important commandment not to bear false witness. Just how anyone with a conscience did that, I really don’t know, but these people put loyalty first. Most people would have been horrified. Outside of the Court it was a question of judgement on whether you believed the King as to what one believed and how you saw him as the head of justice. Henry by now more or less has his own way in everything and nobody would go against him, nobody dared and his men at Court were dependent upon him for their own survival and how they voted in a trial was part of that service. I agree, it doesn’t square with the Christian faith, but some of these Lords were not bothered, although I am sure one or two certainly weighed it up.
Hello Claire. Greetings to you and your readers from Chicago, USA. First of all I want to thank you for all your incredible hard work in researching the life of Queen Anne, and for keeping her memory alive. She was truly an extraordinary woman. One can only imagine how she may have thrived in the 21st century. How frustrating that Henry tried to erase her from history, like the Pharaoh’s did to their predecessors. If only Henry knew how he failed in this endeavor.
My question is: has anyone ever tried to extract a likeness of Anne from studying the portraits of her mother and father – possibly merging Anne’s parent’s featured and comparing the result with known portraiture?. I have not been able to find an official portrait of Elizabeth Boleyn, but surely one must exist.
In the end, I think we are all fascinated by the true image of Anne, not to compare her beauty to others, but because to look upon her true face is to feel an even stronger connection to her.
Thank you again for all the work you do.
Hi Vince there are no portraits of Annes parents nor her brother, there are some that claim to be that of Mary Boleyn one is in Hever Castle, but we have no surviving portraits of their parents, it is a mystery as I would love to see what her mother looked like, for years there was a sketch said to be of Thomas Boleyn but now it is known it is actually of his cousin James, he has a brass memorial however on his tomb at Hever Church and it shows a man with a long narrow face similar to that of his daughter Anne, there is a contemporary sketch drafted by Holbein which is in all probability Anne as her name is signed above, and there are numerous portraits painted of her after her death some in Elizabeth 1sts time, Lucas Hurenbolt (I don’t think iv spelt that right) Hoskins etc, the NPG one by an unknown artist and the one that hangs in Hever beside that of a portrait said to be of Mary, they are all quite similar, showing a woman with a long narrow face and high cheekbones, she has a strong nose and small mouth, yet one observer said she had a wide mouth, her daughter Elizabeth 1st inherited her face shape and eyes, so even though we do not have any pictures of her parents we can get a pretty good idea of what she looked like a very striking woman high cheekbones dark colouring with beautiful unforgettable eyes, underneath rather thick dark eyebrows not a soft face but a very striking one, one that certainly merits a second glance.