Why I think Henry VIII was ultimately responsible for Anne Boleyn’s downfall

Posted By on May 31, 2013

Henry VIII Lucas Horenbout First off, I’d like to explain that this is about my opinion and I am certainly not telling you what to think or who you should ‘blame’ for Anne Boleyn’s fall and execution. As Suzannah Lipscomb said in “The Last Days of Anne Boleyn” TV programme, “there’s just enough evidence to keep historians guessing but just enough gaps to make sure they can never finally get to the solution”, and she’s right. I cannot tell you exactly what happened, I can only offer my interpretation and please feel free to disagree with me, I’ve changed my mind since I started researching Anne Boleyn in early 2009.

Notice that in the heading of this post I have put the word “ultimately”, this is because I actually believe that Anne’s fall was down to a combination of factors and that a number of people had a hand in it. Pamela Kaputska, on The Anne Boleyn Files Facebook page, described how she felt that Cromwell, Henry VIII and the Seymour faction all came together to form the “perfect storm”, and I think you can add to that Anne’s behaviour and her miscarriage. So, if I believe that then why do I think that Henry VIII was ultimately responsible for Anne Boleyn’s downfall?

Here are my reasons:

Henry was the boss

I believe that the buck had to stop with Henry, he was the King and I don’t believe that Cromwell would have dared to move against the Queen unless he had the King’s blessing. I don’t believe that Cromwell was ‘innocent’ in the events of April/May 1536, but I believe that the King told him to do whatever was needed to get rid of Anne and he did it. Although historians argue that Chapuys reported to the Emperor that Cromwell had told him that he “had planned and brought about the whole affair”, earlier in that same letter Chapuys reported that Cromwell had also said that “He, himself had been authorised and commissioned by the King to prosecute and bring to an end the mistress’s trial, to do which he had taken considerable trouble”, so he’d done it at the King’s bidding.1
Also, in a letter to Stephen Gardiner and John Wallop, who were acting as ambassadors in France in May 1536, Cromwell referred to “the King’s proceeding”, and took no responsibility for what was going on.2

Henry’s behaviour

In 1541 Henry VIII was presented with the evidence gathered against his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, and Charles de Marillac, the French ambassador reported Henry’s reaction:

“this King has changed his love for the Queen into hatred, and taken such grief at being deceived that of late it was thought he had gone mad, for he called for a sword to slay her he had loved so much. Sitting in Council he suddenly called for horses without saving where he would go. Sometimes he said irrelevantly (hors de propoz) that that wicked woman had never such delight in her incontinency as she should have torture in her death. And finally he took to tears regretting his ill luck in meeting with such ill-conditioned wives, and blaming his Council for this last mischief. The ministers have done their best to make him forget his grief, and he is gone 25 miles from here with no company but musicians and ministers of pastime.” Chapuys reported “this king has wonderfully felt the case of the Queen, his wife, and that he has certainly shown greater sorrow and regret at her loss than at the faults, loss, or divorce of his preceding wives.”3

It appears that Henry was furious and griefstricken, and he even wept in front of his Privy Council. Compare and contrast that behaviour to his behaviour in 1536, when he spent his time gallivanting with ladies each night while his wife was in prison. His wife had allegedly betrayed him with one of his best friends (Sir Henry Norris, Groom of the Stool), two men he had supported financially (Weston and Smeaton) and her own brother, yet the only sign of any distress at all is when he broke down in tears in front of Henry Fitzroy, his illegitimate son, and claimed that Anne had planned to poison him and his half-sister Mary.

Chapuys certainly found the King’s behaviour odd, commenting Chapuys that “You never saw prince nor man who made greater show of his [cuckold’s] horns or bore them more pleasantly. I leave you to imagine the cause.”4
Now, it could be argued that Henry had fallen out of love with Anne Boleyn and in love with Jane Seymour, so he wasn’t that upset about it all, but surely he still would have been furious that he had been betrayed like that. Hmmm…

Henry’s relationship with Jane Seymour

Henry VIII became betrothed to Jane Seymour on 20th May, the day after Anne Boleyn’s execution, and married her on 30th May. This seems very quick for a man who had allegedly found out about his second wife’s betrayal at the end of April. Chapuys reported to Charles V, “I hear that, even before the arrest of the Concubine, the King, speaking with Mistress Jane Semel[Seymour] of their future marriage”,5 which may just have been court gossip but it shows that Anne was seen to be on her way out. On the morning of Anne’s trial, Henry told Jane that Anne would condemned by three o’clock that afternoon6, so he knew very well that the jury would find her guilty.

Gossip

On 20th May 1536, the day of Henry VIII and Jane’s betrothal, Chapuys commented that “everybody begins already to murmur by suspicion, and several affirm that long before the death of the other there was some arrangement which sounds ill in the ears of the people”.7 One John Hill of Eynsham, Oxfordshire, got into trouble for saying “that the King caused Mr. Norrys, Mr. Weston, and such as were put of late unto execution, for to be put to death only of pleasure” and “that the King, for a frawde and a gille, caused Master Norrys, Mr. Weston, and the other Queen to be put to death because he was made sure unto the Queen’s grace that now is half a year before.”8 The gossip that was being spread was that the King had had his wife put to death so that he could marry another. Obviously, gossip is gossip, and cannot be take as fact, but the rumours held Henry responsible.

Henry VIII’s own words

Henry warned Jane against “meddling” in state affairs, reminding her of what had happened to the last queen who had done so.9 In 1546, when there was a plot against Archbishop Cranmer, Henry warned Cranmer that “false knaves” could be “procured” to stand as witnesses against him and to bring about his condemnation.10 Did Henry know this because he had ordered this to be done in Anne’s case? We cannot say for sure.

According to the Bishop of Carlisle, on one of the nights that the King had “supped” at his home “with several ladies”, while Anne was in the Tower, “the King had said to him, among other things, that he had long expected the issue of these affairs, and that thereupon he had before composed a tragedy, which he carried with him.”11 How had he “long expected” what was going on if he had only just been made aware of Anne’s betrayal?

The charges against Anne

Historian Derek Wilson writes of the illegal and “extremely cumbersome” means used in Anne’s fall, which included extending the treason law in a rather “unwarranted” manner by asserting that adultery with the Queen constituted high treason, which it wasn’t.12 Wilson concludes that “The only reason Cromwell would devise an unnecessarily complex scheme was that it was what Henry wanted. John Schofield, Thomas Cromwell’s biographer agrees, believing that Henry’s involvement is proven by the lack of logic in Anne being condemned for adultery even though Henry’s marriage to Anne was annulled.13 In my opinion, the blackening of Anne’s name, with the incest charge, and the complexity of the plot bear the stamp of a husband who wanted his wife dead. The plot was down to emotions such as jealousy, fear, resentment and hatred, not Cromwell’s rational and legal brain.

The speed of events

Gareth Russell makes the point that the plot against Anne lacked “any of Cromwell’s usual slow, brilliant, relentless tactics” and was instead “a swift, brutal mess”. Russell believes, and I agree, that this points to Henry being “the chief architect and the author of this tragedy.”14

Conclusion

I see the events of 1536 as being  like a play or a movie. We have Henry VIII with the initial creative idea and the backing for the production; then we have Cromwell as the playwright/screenplay writer, the one who has to turn the idea into a production; and then we have the actors: the tragic heroine and other victims, the plotters and the other woman, plus all the extras. Everything combines to make a production that works, that pleases the backer and that entertains the public. Cromwell certainly orchestrated a plot that worked and the court accepted the events, but more importantly the backer got what he wanted, Henry was happy.

If you’re interested in reading about the other theories regarding Anne’s fall then read The Fall of Anne Boleyn – The Various Theories

Notes and Sources

  1. Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 5 Part 2: 1536-1538, note 61.
  2. LP x. 873
  3. Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 6 Part 1: 1538-1542, note 211
  4. LP x. 909
  5. Ibid., 908
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid., 926
  8. Ibid., 1205
  9. LP xi. 860
  10. Narratives of the Days of the Reformation, Chiefly from the Manuscripts of John Foxe the Martyrologist; with Two Contemporary Biographies of Archbishop Cranmer, 255.
  11. LP x. 908
  12. Wilson, Derek. A Brief History of Henry VIII: Reformer and Tyrant.
  13. Schofield, John. The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell: Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant, 127.
  14. May 9th 1536 – The King Wills It, blog post by Gareth Russell on Confessions of a Ci-devant

102 thoughts on “Why I think Henry VIII was ultimately responsible for Anne Boleyn’s downfall”

  1. Laura says:

    Of course, the buck stops with Henry. No one dared go against him. I believe, at that time, so frustrated with the situation with Anne, he was very volatile, and likely to act rashly if people disagreed with him. I do also think Anne’s behaviour did not help. She had the abiltity to rub people up the wrong way and she made enemies. But whatever she may or may not of done she did not deserve to die. Henry wanted Anne out of the picture to marry Jane Seymour. It’s as simple as that. And the miscarriage was a convenient excuse to have kick started it all.

  2. Lee Irving says:

    I agree, Henry was in total charge and knew exactly what was going on. He was a psychopathic monster, who in my opinion was one of the worst kings England has ever had.

    1. miladyblue says:

      I don’t know if he actually qualifies as one of the worst Kings England ever had, in terms of Kingship – there are actually many great things that can be attributed to him, in terms of art, culture and even English identity and pride.

      However, as a human being, he was a wretch. The treatment of his wives, and even devoted friends and servants such as Thomas More, Bishop John Fisher, Thomas Cromwell, and so on, proves this. Unfortunately, that wretchedness was coupled with the absolute power he held as King, and blurred the line between Henry the Man and Henry the King, bringing forth, in the modern mindset, Henry the bad King.

    2. Kaz says:

      I totally think that King Henry was a narcissist – the full medical term for it. Google Sam Vaknin as I did, for his in depth look at narcissists and I can totally see King Henry fitting the medical term perfectly…his mother died when he was quite young and his father was the complete opposite of him, women are much needed sources of ‘narcissistic supply’ or otherwise ‘ego stroking’…..Queen Anne could only stroke so much ego I think (or ‘kiss ass’ in modern terms), she was far too strong a lady to consistently bow down to Henry (I felt sick when Anne of Cleves lowered herself in a letter agreeing to the divorce and Henry was so impressed at her subservience!). Narcissists highly value, devalue then dump existing sources of ‘ego strokers’ but before they do, they find another fresh ‘ego stroker’. Being a narcissist as well as having the ultimate power of a King to me is absolute disaster….I agree it is like giving a psychopath free reign!! I think he abused his King power for his selfish desires…I’m still not sure if the break from the Roman Catholic Church was a political move or a personal move…yes, it was either his way or the highway (or the chopping block!).

    3. Tidus Jecht says:

      I totally agree. But I’ll go as far as to say, The Worst.
      He was a king who put himself above all else. His own selfish desires above what was best for his Country.

      1. Tidus Jecht says:

        I wanted to add, He was obviously a King who wanted to carry HIS line and name (sons) above all else. Even to the point of killing Anne Boleyn. Therefore I find it just fitting and quite funny that Elizabeth never married and let his line die out.
        One has to wonder if (I, personally believe) Elizabeth did this on purpose with those thoughts in mind.

  3. Lynn Donovan says:

    Where on the whole of it the buck did stop with Henry, I do believe it was a perfect storm f events that caused Anne’s fall. Firstly her miscarriages, which made Henry start to doubt his marriage and the rumors of Anne’s flirtations. Her disagreement with Cromwell on the dissloution of the monastaries, and John Skip’s sermon comparing Cromwell to Haman. The King’s suggestability, and Ulitimately Ann’e inability t adjust from mistress to wife. Yes, Henry ultimately signed her death warrant, but Anne also entered into a man’s world in the 16th century as smart and well educated as she was she miscalculated her moves and paid the awful price. We will never truly know, unless there is a treasure trove of undiscovered documents are found.

  4. Liz says:

    I agree. I think Henry the 8th told Cromwell to just find a way to get rid of her (permanently) and he did that because he could not have another divorce.

  5. Nikki says:

    Great article! I have always thought Henry had to be responsible for Anne’s downfall as well, though unfortunately, we will never know why. It’s a shame we’ll never know how he came from being madly in love to wanting his love dead, nor will we ever know how Anne really felt about the events that befell her. I always find myself speculating on how they really were as people, which I find most fascinating. I absolutely agree with the fact that Cromwell couldn’t possibly have acted against the queen without the king’s blessing. Henry had a hand in it for sure, finding himself conveniently married 10 days later only goes to show how much he needed to rid himself of Anne to proceed with what he wanted. I often wonder if Henry truly believed the charges against Anne, my guess is he probably convinced himself he was doing the “right” thing…Seems to me he was that kind of self righteous jerk who can’t ever admit to being wrong… but I still wonder, when he was all alone or when he looked at Elizabeth, did he ever think back on it with regret, or even miss her? I guess we’ll never know…

  6. Monica says:

    Claire,

    Henry courted Anne for 7 years before he could divorce Catherine and marry Anne, and finally get what he wanted. Catherine put up a fight. Until the day she died she claimed to be Henry’s “one true wife” in the eyes of God, and Mary was the rightful heir to the throne. Anne seemingly had a much more “firey” spirit/temper than Catherine, and probably would’ve put up more of a fight when he tried to get rid of her. Do you think that he made up a scheme to get rid of her head, so that he could rid himself of her and marry Jane without a fight? I’ve thought about that a few times and wanted your thoughts (or anyone’s) on it as well. I mean, divorce seems much easier (and less messy) than beheading your wife and slaughtering 5 men who were supposed to be your close friends. He had to want to silence Anne once and for all, right?

    1. Maureen says:

      I think after all Henry went through to marry her and she didn’t deliver the one thing he wanted so badly. After all if Spain and France had gotten their act together Henry could have lost his throne. So he turns the world upside down to have her and no son. I wouldn’t want to tick off Henry and I think the end shows just how unhappy Henry was.

    2. Carolyn says:

      Monica, there was also the great upheaval in religion occurring at the time. Those who clung to the old ways DID consider Katharine to be Henry’s “true wife”; hence, Chapuys constantly referring to Anne as the “Concubine”. Those people would have considered Henry single after Katharine’s death, but him remarrying would have been complicated by the “impediment” Of Anne – whom he had declared his wife and queen and had fathered children by. This impediment would have tainted his marriage to Jane – unless Anne were dead, of course. Then he would be truly free to remarry in the eyes of everyone, no matter their religious beliefs.

      The haste with which he remarried Jane makes me wonder, though. Was there a reason for the speed with which he rid himself of Anne and married Jane? I’ve always wondered if there was some thought that Jane might be pregnant, and he’d have to move fast to ensure the heir was born legitimate. If so, they were either mistaken or Jane suffered a miscarriage which was covered up. It seems unlikely that something like that (a miscarriage) could have gone completely unremarked upon, so maybe they were wrong about her being pregnant in that scenario. No proof of any of this, mind you – just something I’ve wondered about.

    3. Joe says:

      I really enjoy reading this different comments, views, and especially the British monarch history. It’s fascinating but I’m more interested in the Tudors. Present day and for several years now, I find myself soley interested in Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, Mary Stuart, and a little bit of Jane Seymour. In my opinion you are correct. Henry courted Anne for years, separated from Rome, and divorced Catherine of Aragon- all for a commoner or middle class person such as Anne. I think Henry realized after Catherine that Anne gave him the power to do whatever he wanted actually. Henry slept with many many women and he probably fell in love with Jane Seymour, but Anne was still more intelligent, beautiful, and just couldn’t bare a male heir and after the last miscarriage I think that Henry along with others who hated the Boleyn faction all conspired and it worked out perfectly. Henry’s motivation was soley for a male heir and power, so I’m sure if Jane hadn’t produced a male heir that she would’ve met the blade as well. However, after all these years we realize that Henry was very incorrect. He did leave a successful heir who ruled over England for over 40 years- Elizabeth I. She cleaned her mother and family’s name same, restored England in many ways, and lived soley for the people of her country. So Henry did contribute to Anne’s downfall but I believe it was more indirect but who knows!

      1. Mimico says:

        Anne wasn’t a commoner or a middle-classed person. She was a noble, and quite a rich one at that. Plus she had royal blood as well.

        1. Mary Dudley says:

          How did Anne have royal blood?

        2. Mary Dudley says:

          Thanks Claire, I never new this. I love doing new research on this topic.

    4. Gail Marion says:

      A divorce or annulment from Anne would have been very messy and does anyone believe that a discarded Anne would have gone away quietly into the night?

  7. Allyne says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. I truly think he wanted Anne out of the way. He probably also believed she couldn’t bear him a son. That was of utmost importance to him. Tragic. RIP.

  8. Maureen says:

    I also agree that Henry was ultimately responsible because no matter what was being done and by whom if Henry had shown any sign of not going along with it it would have stopped. I don’t think Henry had to do any of the plotting, he simply had to show she was vulnerable and people would take it from there.

    I do think Anne Bolyen didn’t deserve to die but Karma is a bitch. She took a chance to gain power and like most people in those days paid the price.

    1. Joe says:

      Yea karma is a bitch. Henry and Jane Seymour both paid a price as well! Jane slept with a married king so I believe she got what she deserved. And Henry never had a male heir who lived long enough to actually rule, so he got his karma. As for Anne- her memory, beliefs, and radical changes remain an inspiration to me as well as many others. But karma gets everyone and we witness this all throughout history and during our lives. RIP Queen Anne Boleyn.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        I think saying Jane got what she deserved because of an invented and misinterpreted idea of Karma is ridiculous and disgusting. To say someone deserved to die in great pain after three days in terrible child labour is a disgrace and by your warped argument Anne got what she deserved for replacing the true Queen, Katherine of Aragon. That would be a dreadful thing to say as it is not true. So why are you attacking Jane Seymour who had nothing to do with Anne’s fall when Henry was looking for a way out of his marriage to begin with. And saying a fifteen year old boy deserved to die because his mother or father got married after his first wife was executed is totally savage and proves there is no such thing as Karma, just your horrible mind. If Karma exists it talks about putting things right in the next life, not stuff happening to innocent people in this one. I personally find when people like you come on here and make comments that someone deserved to die because of such and such your comments should be banned, but I am less tolerant and can only say you need to grow up.

  9. Esmeralda says:

    Your very first reason is why I too see Henry as responsible to some degree – he WAS the boss so had to have authorised the events. However, I do also believe that Cromwell played his part and his words (combined with Henry’s wish for a son and existing paranoia) may have influenced the king to some degree. But, yes, ultimately Henry was responsible in my opinion – how could any of it happened without his say so?

  10. maritzal says:

    Yes I also agree with power its too deliciously to pass up how could she marry a man who bedded her sister and maybe had children with her how could she but like the say you want power wanted to be the Queen she got it but she paid the price of a ruthless king who didn’t care about only what he wanted and he wanted to get of her forever but unfortunately for them they will forever be remembered in history Unfortunately for her gaining the power didn’t give her life back because she was executed without any remorse for her kind regards maritzal

  11. Gayle says:

    Why not a convent, why death – did he fear her wit and intelligence? Would she have humbly accepted a alternative and withdrew from court without meddling?

    1. Anyanka says:

      IMHO..Henry needed to be a truely single man, a widower with no possible wives or exes in the background to make any issue with Jane truely legitmate and acceptable to all the international players involved.

      Anne alive would havew shed a spotlight on the legality of the H8/JS marriage, so she had to go..

    2. Carolyn says:

      But Henry was busily dismantling all the convents and monasteries, so there wasn’t anyplace in England he could stash her, and he wouldn’t want her out of his reach on the mainland. Not to mention that Anne had been very outspoken on the subject of reform herself, so what convent would accept her unless she recanted her views?

      1. Alex says:

        At this time by no means all the convents and monasteries ahd been closed, or even scheduled for closing. However, I think that Henry could not logically leave her alive. He’d had years of that with Katherine of Aragon, and there would always have been those who argued that his third marriage was invalid and the child of it illegitimate, so that at his death England could well have descended into Civil War again, something his father was doubtless at great pains to press on him to prevent. By killing her he is as it were twice a widower, and the field is clear. Both the supporters of Katherine and the supporters of Anne could accept that his marriage to Jane was valid and she was Queen, with all that implies.
        Jane always seems to get a good press, yet for my money she deserves at least some of the opprobrium Anne seems to gather. Jane sets her sights on a married man, she plays the same game of refusing to yield to be his mistress, she marries him almost literally across the dead body of her predecessor, yet somehow she always manages to come across as the virtuous perfect wife. Of course she did play the role of submissive little woman, she gave Henry a son and she died before he could tire of her, so it was easy for him to present her as the perfect wife and model of female virtue. That Holbein portrait of her with her mean folded little mouth and oh-so modest old-fashioned gable hood always sets me against her!

    3. Kaz says:

      I think anyone would have accepted to ‘bow down’ to a humbler life if it meant not face death……but I don’t think the choice was given to her – it seems that it was a unanimous decision that she was guilty and she couldn’t fight the charges as she was all alone….I sometimes wonder too if Queen Anne was given the chance to live in a Convent, would she share her religious views with the Catholic Nuns – and would the Catholic Nuns punish her or call her mad for her particular views?

  12. Elizabeth says:

    I agree with you Claire; there were a number of people involved, but ultimately it was Henry’s decision.

    Kindest regards,

    Elizabeth

  13. I agree absolutely. Henry was the King. He had the first & final say about what happened to just about anyone. So if it was his own wife that was considered the “guilty” party, then, by all means, he was going to be the ultimate judge. He just hid behind all of the others. Thomas Cromwell, Cranmer, all of the Seymours. They were all just puppets. Very willing puppets, as it was going to put all of them in places of power and prestige. He may have ruled a kingdom, but he destroyed a lot of his own people in the process.

    1. Alex says:

      You do have to remember however that Henry could be worked on to destroy someone and then regret it, as he did with Thomas Cromwell, whom he was persuaded to execute only to regret it and blame others shortly afterwards. There are those who argue that he was also almost worked on to destroy Katherine Parr, but she escaped by good luck and persuaded the King to side with her. However, these things were some years later, when he was an older and perhaps a less rational person.

  14. Jacquie says:

    Great article! Interesting ideas and thoughts, i love looking at the different points of a views people have on Henry and his wives! Gives you more informed decisions i feel!

  15. nanci says:

    I have to agree with you, Claire – Henry was the final word on what happened to Anne – he made her and figured he could break her. Even though she was unpopular, it would have never been enough to simply annul their marriage or divorce her – then he’d of been right back where he’d been with Katherine. Even if she’d agreed to take the veil, she’d have still been living and a focus for turmoil. He’d decided to make sure no other children he’d have would have been tainted with the possibility of being bastards. Plus he knew Anne was a fighter. So he had (in his mind) to get rid of her permanently. Cromwell and the others would never have dared to attempt to go after her if Henry hadn’t given them the go-ahead. I feel Anne won out in the end though, because of Elizabeth!

  16. Diana says:

    I believe that Henry just wanted Anne gone and and quickly as possible. And by gone I mean dead. He did not want another ex-Queen to be living. If Catherine of Aragon gave him all that grief that she was still his wife, legally Queen and their daughter the heir, just think what someone with Anne’s personality would do. She would fight for Elizabeth’s rights I have no doubt. Henry wanted no questions about the legitmacy of his marriage to Jane. I think it was a “perfect storm” situation with Henry, Cromwell, the Seymours and, of course, Anne’s personality all in that mix.

  17. Esther says:

    IMO, it was Henry … because Anne had committed the unpardonable sin of making him look like a fool. He tore his country apart, splitting with Rome, because he thought Anne had been chosen for him by G-d, and when Anne didn’t provide a son, he concluded that, far from showing divine approval, G-d had cursed his second marriage, just as G-d cursed his first. He no doubt blamed Anne … and Henry’s need to paint the other party as “the bad guy” while he was the “injured innocent” was pathological. I know Weir thinks it was Cromwell without Henry’s knowledge … she thinks that, with one exception (Richard III), royalty is always uninvolved — for example, she claims that Isabella didn’t know of Mortimer’s plans to kill Edward II and that Mary Stuart wasn’t involved in killing Darnley.

    1. Dee says:

      I knew there was a reason (besides the Richard III) thing that I didn’t like Weir! Isabella so had to know! Although Mary might not have…

  18. Anne Barnhill says:

    Well executed article–excuse the pun! I agree that Henry was ultimately respsonsible. He wanted another wife (Jane) and he didn’t want to fool around with divorce proceedings–look how long that took last time! He also didn’t want any of Anne’s supporters left to lead a faction against him or want revenge for her death–so he just offed them all. Cromwell was his instrument and I do think they sort of stumbled onto a charge, thanks to rumors and Anne’s own words. The whole thing was a circus. Thanks for a great article!

  19. Lois says:

    Claire: My question is slightly different. If we assume that Anne was innocent of the charges, then so, too, were the men accused with her. Do you have any opinions as to why those particular five men were targeted? George Boleyn may be somewhat self-explanatory, but the others? Who decided to involve them and do you think Henry gave his assent to their downfall as well and why?

    1. MC says:

      This is my question too so I hope Claire will respond to it! I can well believe that Henry wanted Anne dead because there would then be no dispute about the legitimacy of his marriage to Jane. (Indeed, it can be argued that Henry only had 2 wives: Jane and Katherine Parr). But did he have to kill so many men as well? And why those particular men?

      1. Tudor rose says:

        They were and had been all connected!

  20. Marilyn says:

    Hello Claire,

    I have to agree with you one hundred percent, on this one. Although so many people, and circumstances came into play, in the end this was what Henry wanted. As we well know, Henry needed an heir to the throne, he was not getting any younger, and already had the famous injury to his leg, bringing health prolems with it. I suspect he may have suffered from Osteomyelitis, which can be dormant for months or years, before it rears it’s ugly head. It can become a chronic illness, if it flairs more than once or twice. I would wager that Henry may have been reflecting on his own mortality, therefore becoming obssessed possibily with producing an heir.

  21. Linda D says:

    What a great summing up Claire. I have always believed that ultimately Henry was the puppet-master pulling the strings. I always wondered why he felt he had to kill her rather than exile her, at least she would have been out of the country rather than in a nunnery where she could still be a thorn in his flesh. However she was such a charismatic person that maybe he couldn’t bear the thought of her still being around somewhere, even abroad. I think it had to be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for him. The issue of a male heir was of course crucial for him and it had been such a stormy relationship for the two of them and finally the miscarriage (so sad) that I think he wanted an end to it all and some peace in his life which he thought he would find with Jane Seymour. Poor Anne – she didn’t deserve the end she got.

    1. Tudor rose says:

      Anne did not deserve the end that she got fate dealt her deadly.

  22. Dee says:

    The one point that (to me) weighs the heaviest was the speed with which he married Jane and his lack of concern about being cuckolded. When he divorced Anne of Cleves, he was remarried to Kathryn Howard almost immediately as well–because she was already being courted by him!

    Charles II was badgered to divorce his wife for a more (presumably) fertile and non-Catholic one, and even then he could manage to save his marriage! Henry, despite understanding the power of “the people” and who did indeed sometimes bow to it, was a more absolute monarch than Charles was–if he had wanted to save Anne, he could have–and would have.

    1. Charlene says:

      For all his faults, Charles II was not a sociopath or narcissist, and despite his legendary adulteries he still cared for his wife.

      1. Alex says:

        Charles II was in a different situation. He had Elizabeth I before him as evidence that a male heir was not essential, whatever one thought of Mary I, and he also had an adult brother (who had two legitimate daughters of his own) to be his heir, so his need for a male heir was much less desperate than Henry’s. Charles also appears to have genuinely liked women, and understood that their childlessness might be his wife’s fault but she could not help it. He was free to do as he pleased with his mistresses, meanwhile having a foreign princess as a wife and Queen, who had brought him a considerable dowry which would have to be given up if he parted from her.

        1. Banditqueen says:

          Charles ii had a male heir, his brother James and he couldn’t divorce Catherine because he was bankrupt and she came with a wad of cash and Bermuda and Tangiers.

  23. Tudor rose says:

    Henry was king he would have had the overall say but it could not have all been one sided. I feel that although he was leader and ruler it was a combination of events that led to Anne’s downfall. Cromwell anyone who was anti-Boleyn did not help matters. They basically threw fuel to the flames as if their relationship as well as marriage did not have enough problems without others adding to the issue/s. Once they were married things sort of collapsed and went downhill for various reasons the courtship lasted longer. I do not condone what happened but everyone has their limits nobody has the patience of a saint as my mother always used to tell me but it is a virtue.

  24. M'lady says:

    I agree with you too Claire. The buck stops with Henry, and Cromwell would have done anything asked and expected of him to stay in favour and continue his upward climb to being the second greatest man in the kingdom. Unfortunate for all that got in Henry and Cromwell’s way.

  25. Wendy says:

    Henry wanted a son and heir and had concluded that he would not get one from Anne. He wanted to move on and thought he had found the perfect candidate. How to be rid of Anne? I can imagine him having the conversation with Cromwell and examining the options. Divorce? no, that would take time and there were no grounds. Annulment and a nunnery? There were no grounds to annul the marriage, Henry Percy had sworn under oath that there was no pre-contract. A timely accident? No, Henry wanted to re-marry quickly and would have had to go into mourning for a decent period of time for a ‘beloved wife’. There must be some other legal way to get rid of her. She was not a foreign princess so there would be no consequences from abroad. “Oh I’ll leave it up to you Cromwell to work out the details… just get rid of her”. So Cromwell finds a way to get rid of Anne, make Henry look like the innocent party, and leave him free to marry again quickly. Perfect!

    1. Emma says:

      But there were grounds for an annulment. The previous relationship between Henry and Mary Boleyn which was indeed used to annul the marriage. There was also a precedent of sending someone found guilty of treason to a nunnery as this had happened with Henry’s maternal grandmother Elizabeth.

      1. Alex says:

        But as Cromwell says to Henry in Anne of the Thousand Days “we’ve done that one before”. For Henry twice to use the consanguinity card would have made him a laughing stock, to say nothing of the fact that since he had made himself head of the church he could be assumed to have granted himself a dispensation. The only safe Anne is a dead Anne, any other way casts doubt on his third marriage and its offspring.

  26. IMO, I have always believed Henry called this because he had already played the divorce game-years spent, credibility lost, legitimacy of subsequent marriage and children questioned. After all of the upheaval, and the deaths, involved with getting his way before, a short cut seems like the inevitable-absolute power corrupting absolutely. Even his tears for Catherine Howard were about his own feelings-he really could have divorced her quickly and easily had he chosen. Execution was so much easier…

  27. Louise S. says:

    I think that you are quite right! Henry was the driving force behind whatever it was that happened. In the case of Catherine Howard he was taken off guard, and he was clearly shocked and upset as well as angry. He did not expect the news about the adultery, and it took him a long time to grieve. The reports of his reaction in the case of Anne just suggest that he was very, very angry. Probably the minor incidents of indiscreet behaviour on Anne’s part set off the final chain of events, but if they hadn’t, something else would have. Cromwell likely had the task of arranging things, but Henry was the one who profited. Who else had the power to rig the trials and then make sure that everything was murky? I am sure that he was selfish enough to have convinced himself that she was guilty and deserved it, but that is what wife abusers do.
    He almost executed Catherine Parr for having too many independent opinions about religious reform. She was lucky to escape.

    1. Tudor rose says:

      She was lucky very lucky indeed had it of been adultery on the other hand she would of been sent to the tower and it would of been off with her head!

  28. Anne Boleyn says:

    I do appreciate your passion and hard work… but the ‘chief architect’ was not Henry, Madam… and I really suggest you start doing some serious research instead of basing your conclusions listening to mind control ‘programmed’ tv series. You are looking in the wrong direction. History is about ‘organizations’, not individuals. You should turn to VENICE… Venice is the key to the whole story.

    [Link removed due to it being a document]

    I recommend you read the whole document… as you will see, there is always a ‘bigger picture’…

    Greetings from Italy 😉

    1. Claire says:

      I did not mention a TV programme, my research used the PRIMARY sources, i.e. documents from that period, and the views of eminent historians. You can check out my sources in the “Notes and Sources” section of my article. Venice is not the key to the story and there is absolutely no evidence that the Venetians were controlling Henry or that they controlled his break with Rome, it is a conspiracy theory at best and, yes, I have read that theory before so I am not dismissing it without reading it. I suggest that you actually read my article and the sources before making assumptions about my research.

      I removed your link because it asks people to open it on their computer as a document and I obviously cannot say whether it is a safe file.

      1. Anne Boleyn says:

        A conspiracy theory? Were they not conspiracies those which took place in the courts of the whole of Europe at that time to dethrone kings and queens? Without offense, you have a very naive opinion of history, Madam. History is written by the winners and primary sources can be manipulated and meddled with, you should know that. You doubt the file I sent you is safe. Very well, it is available online for anyone to read and download:

        Solving the Paradox of Current World History
        http://www.schillerinstitute.org/conf-iclc/1990s/conf_feb94_intr_nbs.html

        And specifically:

        The Venetian Takeover of England: A 200-Year Project
        http://www.schillerinstitute.org/conf-iclc/1990s/conf_feb_1994_gmr.html

        How The Venetian Virus Infected and Took Over England
        http://www.schillerinstitute.org/conf-iclc/1990s/conf_feb_1994_hgl.html

        As for the validity of ‘primary sources’, I suggest you look into the research of Australian author Frank O’Collins, nephew of famous Gesuit Vatican theologist Gerald O’Collins (a rappresentative of the Church who should be sufficiently ’eminent’ for you)… http://www.ucadia.com.

        Learn to look behind the scenes, not at the frontmen…

        1. Dee says:

          I looked at your links. Frankly, I found the articles/lectures to be unreliable–they gloss over any number of things, there is no support for many of the claims made, and no sources whatsoever mentioned even once. While the Venetians were busybodies and no doubt manipulators, I rather doubt they worked on this scale or for so long.

          And speaking of looking behind the scenes, I checked into the Schiller Institute. It was founded by Lyndon LaRouche’s wife, and he is highly involved. As a former Chicagoan with memories of the LaRouchies, I can only laugh.

          I’m with Claire on this one!

        2. Charlene says:

          This is conspiracy theory lunacy.

      2. Anne Boleyn says:

        Oh, the Venetians laugh too, I can guarantee you that, especially when they see people taking sides. Infact, dear Lady Dee, the descendants of those ancient and aristocratic Venetian families are still around today. If you do your homework properly you will find that all the major royal families of Europe (and America too) have Venetian blood in their veins, as did your Queen Victoria, you should be aware of this fact, a descendant of the German Saxe-Coburg-Gotha lineage… your Windsors are not British, they are German, and you can trace that lineage back to Venice, and even further back… Black Nobility, they are called… but probably that is too hard a research for you to take on…

        LaRouche is involved too, of course, exactly like all the insider researchers that inform on the dominant power structures of this world, but you still believe it’s a matter of ‘good’ guys vs ‘bad’ guys, don’t you? You do not realize that the world you live in is a chess game between aristocratic factions, and has been designed and fabricated for you to not see or understand or take part in what they do. You think things have changed in the last 500 years? Maybe I should start laughing too…

        1. Banditqueen says:

          Who is this loon? I prefer to say it was a Henry and Cromwell plot plus events took on a life of their own, but the Venitians? Viruses? Why not the Illuminati or Dan Brown for that matter?

      3. Joe says:

        Claire,

        Very well put! I agree 100%, not because I love your website and my inspiration from Queen Anne Boleyn- the first “real” Queen of England IMO. Those links from “Anne” were interesting, but everyone has their own opinion & right to believe what ever sources, regardless of how credible they are. Henry and his “inner circle” was the downfall of Queen Anne’s tragic and disrespectful death. Henry was a monster who only lived for a male heir, mistresses, and absolute power.

        1. Claire says:

          Thank you Joe. Yes, everyone has their right to an opinion but when people state things like that as undeniable fact and make out that anyone who doesn’t agree hasn’t done their research then it’s just not right.

      4. Alex says:

        The so-called Anne Boleyn (what a cheek to use that ID!) is clearly a troll.

    2. Tudor rose says:

      ?

      1. Joe says:

        ? Do you have a question or comment?

  29. Anyanka says:

    For me..

    Henry was considered a widower once KOA died by the Catholic church and many of the European heads of state.

    His marriage to Anne complicated matters vis-a-vis a legitimate and internationally recognised heir.

    So Henry decided to drop the whole matter onto Cromwell..ie..find mne a way to marry JS without the legal complications of another annulment. Cromwell was only too pleased to comply since he and Anne had had a serious and potentially damaging outcome towards Cromwell.

    Pulling out the sexual crime of adultery and incest meant that poor Henry was a total victim of a scheming woman( following Eve) with the possible hints of witchcraft and treason..

    So Henry got to be the innocent victim.

    Anne got a nasty post-homous reputation as did her co-defendants.

    And Jane Boleyn was tarnished by proximity..

    And Cromwell shored up his value of a Michelvillian fixer.

    so win/win for Henry, Cromwell and Jane..

    lose/lose for Anne and her co-defendants..

    and for Jane Boleyn..her reputation was compromised for the time being before exploding in 1541

  30. Sonetka says:

    It’s like what they say about plane crashes — it’s never a case where just one thing goes wrong, it’s always a chain of events (or flat-out mistakes, or both). And yes, no matter how involved Henry was, or wasn’t, in the actual formulation of charges, he was the one person who could have stopped it all with a word. Really, I think it’s beyond anyone what he was thinking, though I lean towards the “Will no one rid me of this turbulent wife?” (*wink*) scenario myself. It could well be that nobody involved quite had a clear idea of what was going on except that their own backsides must somehow be protected.

    I’m not sure how much value Cromwell’s letter has in that regard, though — would someone that canny dare to put anything in writing which made him look like he had any thought contrary to (or dominating) the king’s?

  31. suzie says:

    the buck stopped whit the fat boy! He was spoiled and selfish and it was his way or or the highway! Henry would have killed ten wives to get the much desired son to inherit the crown. henry had a thin claim to the throne and it was only through a son that it could be maintained.

    1. Tudor rose says:

      HAHA!

  32. margaret says:

    henry was responsible for anne Boleyns execution ,no one else would have had the power to do this ,anne held out for the crown and got it ,she knew what she was doing also knew how ruthless henry could be ,but her problem lay with her arrogance in thinking she could control henry and meddle in politics as well ,this was not going to be tolerated by henry at all ,she did not conform to the ideal wife she should have been in henrys mind ,ie meek ,mild ,havindg the sons she promised him ,plus she was considered old by tudor standards to be having babies ,plus then of course anne was unpopulour ,the men with her as accused were part of her “team”and possibly were seen as very arrogant as well by henry ,I sort of think jane parker did say something to lead to their downfall,she was possibly left out ,by anne and George and resented it very much ,basically it was henry getting fed up with anne and her faction and just wanted them gone and not coming back either.there was no romantic story about anne and henry ,it was all about power and politics and the tudor heirs .

  33. margaret says:

    another thing when people talk about the speed of henry and jane bethrothal and marriage ,this was not unusual back then especially for a king who needed an heir .henry had long since left anne and moved on ,he just did not love her anymore ,people do and did fall out of love and that love in henrys case turned to hate and resentment over what he had done to marry her ,he probably felt he had been made a fool of by all her faction and they lost out big time.not a good thing too greedy for power.

  34. Tudor rose says:

    Interesting theories interesting points! A good debate! 🙂

  35. Lisa Davis says:

    I think Henry was ultimately in charge of what happened to Anne. He knew who to ask for a case to be made against her and did not care who also was hurt in the process. Power corrupts and ultimate power corrupts even more. Many rulers throughout history have let power go their heads and act ruthlessly so Henry is hardly alone in that respect. Even elected officials can become just as bad (I keep thinking about Richard Nixon).

    Now what has Venice got to do with any of this? I just can not see how this conspiracy theory could unfold. I think that Cromwell knew of Italian politics from his dealings with the Pope and when he served Cardinal Wolsey. I just do not want to be bothered with the mentioned article (yes, I am lazy at times).

    1. Alex says:

      i think the Veice stuff is part of a flame campaign intended to disrupt discussion and the poster of the comments is a troll.

  36. BanditQueen says:

    Henry was an absolute monarch, but of course he had a council and advisors and no-one could have moved against the Queen without his authority. Henry has to bear the ultimate responsibility for as you say he was the boss, but the evidence was gathered by others. I think that Cromwell and others got wind of the fact that Henry was looking for a way out of the marriage and took their opportunity to put a means of escape into the King’s mind with the made up charges against Anne.

    The 18th April is a crucial date. The Ambassadors from France, Venice and Spain where invited to court and Chapyrus was meant to have a special audiance and dine with the King and Queen. Queen Anne was also to invite him to kiss her cheek, a singular honour. When Chapyrus continued to refuse to honour Anne, according to the documentary Henry set him up, making sure that he bowed to Anne and could not get out of it. It was a way to acknowledge Anne as Queen, something that Henry made a great show of insisting upon at court that day. But was it a front or did Henry really want Anne publically regarded as Queen by Spain before consenting to a new alliance?

    Henry and Anne and the court were meant to go to France on 2nd May and the visit was still going ahead. I think Henry wanted Anne acknowledged before this visit went ahead. What he intended to do after the visit is open to guess. Was Anne hoping they may be reconciled and did Henry hope that he may still find a way to have another child with Anne even though he had denounced the sexual side of the marriage after the miscarriage in January 1536. Henry had made indications that he believed God would give him no male children by Anne and may have indicated he believed hehis marriage to her to be cursed. And yet he had done nothing about it, more than four months later.

    Had Henry fallen in love with Jane and was he once again searching for a new way out of the marriage?

    Cromwell seems to have had some discusions with Chaprys about making an alliance and they seem to have found the right time to approach the King was at this special audiance. But Cromwell had gone too far and was working without the king’s full consent. Henry warned him off and it was clear to Cromwell that the Queen still posed a threat when it came to this alliance. Cromwell had also quarrelled with the Queen and that quarrel was public knowledge. I think that he was looking for a way to remove her, but while she was protected by the King, it was treason to move against her or to make rumours against her.

    Something happened over the next few days that changed all of that and I do not really know what, but may-be the rumours of the talk between Sir Anthony Browne and his sister Lady Elizabeth, Countess of Worcester as reprorted by Carlos leaked out. Now I know there is some debate about this source, but let us assume this conversation is true; Browne went to the King and then an investigation began. The trip to France was still going ahead as the King did not expect tofind anything. But what if Cromwell took the opportunity to fix things so as the investigation would reveal misbehaviour by Anne?

    Henry had to order the investigation and this is exactly what he did. Cromwell and the council then questioned Mark Smeaton who confessed to sleeping with the Queen and implicated others. During the last two weeks of April all hell broke loose with innocent things now seeming to be evidence of guilt. Anne herself was not discreet during this period and has an incriminating conversation that was witnessed by many people with Sir Henry Norris. That was on 26th April in her apartments. He is meant to be engaged to Margaret Sheldon but has not married her yet and Anne says he is looking to have her if the King died. Sir Henry protested and later Anne realised that she had been foolish and assures him that she did not mean anything and her conduct is good. But the conversation is seen as treasonable as it imagines the King’s death. Even this is stretching things a bit for Cromwell, but added to other stuff that Smeaton comes out with, it all adds up to criminal adultery and treason.

    Henry could only have been informed of what was going on and given more orders for further questioning of other members of the Queens household. Some of her ladies make accusations that appear to validate what Smeaton has confessed to and other men are implicated Francis Weston, Sir Henry Norris, William Bereton, and her own brother George Boleyn is accused of incest and treason. A right murky picture is painted to the King, the trip to France is postponed, the Seymours move out of the way back to Wiltshire and the net closes. The entire thing is brought to the King, arrests are made and then it all ends very quickly.

    The evidence was then brought to the King, two grand juries are convened, the trials take place, all are found guilty and Henry is confronted I believe with enough evidence and explanation by Cromwell and other members of his inner circle, his nobles that he cannot help but believe the terrible things now being said about the woman that he tore the world in two for: his once beloved Anne. Henry has the end to his marriage and he does not have to go through a messy divorce to get it. Yes, Henry beleived that Anne and the others were guilty. The evidence may seem ridiculous to us, but at the time it must have been convincing. Henry went into shock and withdrew to be with Jane Seymour. Once Anne and the others were convicted, he sees that he had no choice but to condemn them.

    Now I think Henry just wanted the whole thing over and done with and is disconnected to the reality of it all. He is the ultimate authority and he can say if Anne and the others die or not: Henry may have authorized or started the investigations but what they reveal are more shocking that even he could have believed. Anne is accused of plotting the King’s death, adultery, incest with her own brother and Cromwell even invents a few more things. Somehow she also gets accused of sleeping with over 100 men, plotting to marry one of her lovers and make him King, have his child and pass it off as true heir to the throne and of trying to kill the King’s daughter, illegitamate son, and murder Katherine. I am not sure, but I think that somewhere along the line that witchcraft probably found its way in as this was added to many crimes in those days. Some sources spiced things up a lot, but Anne was certainly painted as a dark angel during the whole affair.

    Although I agree that Henry is ultimately responsible, he could not have done anything without the co-operation and the invention of others, and Anne had plenty of enemies. She had rubbed a number of people up the wrong way: they came together to get rid of a woman that had become a liability and give the King the freedom from a marriage that he now saw as cursed and invalid. Like vulchers circling before the feast, all they had to do then was move in for the kill.

  37. Dee says:

    Well, when the horns were real–or probably real, depending on your school of thought–it’s so much different. I think so much of the KH affair, if you pardon the expression, was revenge for the sense of betrayal he suffered. Anne was less revenge and more “get her out of the way so I can start over with a clean slate.”

  38. Dawn 1st says:

    How it all started is something that will be a subject of lively discussion for ever and a day unless any lost documentation turns up in the future. Many case scenario can be put forward, they all are fascinating reading, and so many are believable and persuasive. I have changed my mind over time also, more than once, to what I think could have happened, and it is all speculation on my behalf, possibly over simplified, and defiantly not as intriguing, informed or clever as others

    Henry was full of self pity and woe…his lack of legitimate sons, and his forever growing disillusionment with Anne. He was no longer attracted to her, hence his impotence (in his eyes). He may have thought about Anne as approaching middle age, (relative to the times) so, how many childbearing years did she have left, few, and would they be fruitful, plus he could not afford to waste any more time, he needed heirs…to his thinking all this could be cured, the impotency, the lack of heirs, the discontentment, by taking a new Wife.
    One who was quieter, younger, and there was such a lady he was attracted too…but how could this be achieved? Were these concerns spoken about to Cromwell? I think so.

    Cromwell, his relationship with Anne had broken down and no longer saw her as an ally. He seemed to know the King’s mind better that himself most of the time, so did he take Henry’s ‘woes’, and use them against the Queen, by subtly feeding negative info about Anne, her circle of friends and family into that damaged, paranoid mind of his, until the wanted result was achieved, a direct order from the King to look more closely at the Queen, and those around her.

    There were others who had the King’s ear who disliked Anne and her family, were they gently fuelling Henry’s paranoia also?

    The Seymour’s were on the scene, edging Jane closer towards him, encouraging his interest in her, pandering to his ego, and distancing him from Anne.

    Did Anne add daily to his growing dis-like of her near the end, did she berate him once to often over Jane, her behaviour becoming more annoying to him…outwardly ‘the show must go on’ alone together, a different story, all underlining Henry’s thoughts towards ridding himself of her.

    So was Henry pushed or did he jump into bringing his marriage to Anne to an end?
    Back to the same conundrum, who knows for sure…personally I think he would have done this eventually, though I do think the process was speeded up by a little push here and there by others, (possibility in case of a slim chance that Anne may become pregnant again), for the King to give the go ahead.

    How ever it came about, the biggest questions for me is why kill her, and who actually wanted this the most…

    To remove all previous ‘baggage’ the King had so there could be no question in the validity of any future marriage, seems weak, Anne’s marriage was declared null and void before her execution and stripped of all titles. She went to the scaffold as plain Anne Boleyn, an ex royal mistress with an illegitimate child, so why not let her live as that. All those far fetched accusations that were trumped up against her, the complex workings to back them up, finding reasons to underline the invalidity of Anne’s marriage to Henry would be a piece of cake in comparison.

    So what was it these powerful men feared so much about Anne, that they needed to assassinate her physically and morally. It doesn’t make sense, but what did then.
    Who wanted her dead the most? who was threatened by her the most? the King, Cromwell, the other anti-Boleyn factions, all of them? but why…she was a ordinary woman, who had no political clout as Katherine of Aragon carried, so what could she possibly have done to them as a cast aside mistress.

    She could have gone into a Convent, but I suppose at the rate they were being pulled down, there wouldn’t be any left for her to go to.

    So why not send her to some remote house far away, as Henry did with Katherine of Aragon, to live out her days in quite seclusion, and if Elizabeth was kept in Henry’s custody, then Anne, to all intents and purposes, would be controlled and be for ever careful for Elizabeth’s sake.

    To me there seems to be more to it than the King wanting rid of another wife, I feel there were other underlying reasons that came from other parties that took the removing of Anne to such a violent level.

    The only thing for certain in all of this is, a part from him having the ability to stop it, is Henry was the only one who could sign the death warrant, and this he did, so he was completely responsible for Anne’s callous execution.

  39. Mary the Quene says:

    Henry VIII was responsible for the death of Anne just as Elizabeth I was responsible for the death of Mary Queen of Scotts – both signed the warrant but did so distancing themselves from the actual order of execution, which could then be carried out by anyone, just not them.

    While it appeared to have cost Elizabeth I quite a bit of anguish, knowing that what had to happen had actually occurred, Henry VIII doesn’t seem to have lost any sleep over the matter.

    Of course, we do not have a window into his soul, and can’t know what he thought at the time or later, but the fact that he clearly was proud of his little red-haired daughter’s intelligence and skillful way with the pen, suggests he wasn’t ready to blame the child for the ‘crimes’ of the mother.

    If he hadn’t wanted Elizabeth I to have any chance at all of ascension, he would have had her ‘taken care of'” as well I think.

    1. Tudor rose says:

      He would have never of hurt Elizabeth or any child of his not that I would of thought of!

      1. Mary the Quene says:

        Tudor rose – I have a less-optimistic view of what that overweight, narcissistic mornarch would have done – and Mary as queen very nearly ‘took care of’ her own young sister. Those folks played hardball. I’m glad not everyone is as cynical as me, though – the world would be a more ‘Mad Men’ place than it is now!!! Cheers –

        1. Tidus says:

          Mary the Quene says:
          June 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm
          Tudor rose – I have a less-optimistic view of what that overweight, narcissistic mornarch would have done – and Mary as queen very nearly ‘took care of’ her own young sister. Those folks played hardball. I’m glad not everyone is as cynical as me, though – the world would be a more ‘Mad Men’ place than it is now!!! Cheers –

          I agree with you. From what I have read, Elizabeth was kept away from him after Anne was killed for fear of what he would do to her. And I agree on what you say about Mary too. I have to wonder what stopped her, fear of rebellion ?

  40. Dawn 1st says:

    Thinking about the differences in Henry’s behaviour concerning his reactions to Anne and Catherine Howard, I think the main issue here is emotional involvement.

    In Anne’s case he had completely detached himself emotionally from her over a period of time, so felt nothing for her, therefore no great show of desolation about her supposed betrayals. As for the ‘great show’ of his cuckold horns, well there weren’t any, deep down I think he knew that, and so did anyone at that court who had an ounce of sense.

    But with Catherine Howard, it was different, he was still besotted with her, and for the first time in his life, I feel he was faced with two things he hadn’t experienced before;

    (1) HE really was the one who had be ‘cheated’ on this time, his turn to really feel all that heartbreak, humiliation and betrayal, he had inflicted on others, but never tasted himself, it must have been a large bitter pill for him to swallow…

    (2) And for once, (for a short time anyway) he must have seen the real reflection in that mirror of his, of who he really was, and it wasn’t that tall, virile, athletic young King in his deluded imagination…but a morbidly obese, old man, who could hardly stand, let alone walk, who’s physical and mental health was in rapid decline, and no matter how finely he dressed, or how ornate his jewels were, these could not cover up the state and smell of his diseased body, he was fooling no one. He had given his young Queen everything materialistic to keep her happy, but that didn’t replace her natural need for the emotional love of a young, handsome man, this must have shocked him to the core that she would trade all he could give her, for the love of a servant… And what made it worse would be the fact that the whole court would know of it, and had seen him all along for the sick, deluded old fool that he was.

    I do feel his tears may have been genuine for the loss and betrayal of his young Queen to begin with, but with his degenerate mental state, I would imagine those tears quickly changed to those of self pity and for the humiliation he felt, then to pure anger and hatred.

    I wonder why Catherine’s end didn’t come as quickly as Anne’s?

    1. Tudor rose says:

      Well Kateryn had been guilty where as Anne had been innocent!!

      1. Claire says:

        So in that case you’d expect Catherine’s fall to have happened quicker than Anne’s, whereas it took months.

  41. RxPhan says:

    I don’t think Henry was full of self-pity for not having an heir-I think he was terrified. The Tudors had the crown by the skin of their teeth. There were others that had a more legitimate claim to it and a lot of those he had already had systematically executed. In order to keep the crown, he HAD to have a legitimate heir-a male heir. I think that was his driving force-keeping the crown.
    As for Anne, sometimes our greatest love becomes our greatest hate. (If you’re an addict of the ID network like I am you can see multiple examples). He worked so hard to get her. She PROMISED him a son-and failed to do so. He wasn’t getting any younger (neither was she.) He’d had a taste of his own mortality.
    As for his marrying Jane so soon after Anne’s execution, as I mentioned earlier-he wasn’t getting any younger, he’d had that bad fall earlier in the year (maybe even had a near-death experience), and physically wasn’t as “robust” as he was in his youth so time was of the essence.
    You know what they say about Karma-and I think Anne ultimately had the last laugh.

  42. Dee says:

    Funny, that. I’ve made royal genealogies a pet project of mine for the last 20 or more years of my life and have yet to see any Venetians marrying into the German or English royal families. (and what American royalty? I’m genuinely curious.) I knew the Windsors were originally Hanoverians and Victoria married Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and that George V changed the name during WWI (I also know Cleopatra was primarily of Greek descent, not Egyptian, but that’s besides the point). Can you please give me your sources–some of them at least–to serve as a jumping off point? And I do mean provable ones, not hearsay that the Venetian Ambassador slept with the duchess or some such, since that’s not verifiable (I’m well aware that some princes and princesses were not the children of their mother’s husband, but again, no real proof for the most part). I’m always open to new information. And so far, my research is not bringing up anything but claims without explanation or citations and has started to slide into the whole Templar Knights/Freemasons/Merovingian-Mary Magdalene descendants twaddle, so you’ll pardon me for being skeptical.

    Of course there are people trying to control the world and no doubt a number who actually are the power behind the throne–that’s a given, and has been since the 1st human claimed to be the boss of his tribe–but this Venetian stuff is less believable to me than the claim that the ancient Merovingian line was descended from Christ and Mary Magdalene and didn’t die out when Pepin took the throne. Never mind my personal opinion about how wide-ranging it is.

    And I would appreciate it if you would stop casting aspersions on my person regarding my supposed indolence or naivete. After all, I went and read over your links, and then did what halfway competent person who calls themselves a scholar would do–looked into the credibility of the sources. I’m sure in some parts of the world the Schiller Institute and the LaRouches are highly regarded, but since I’ve a low opinion of him from experience and there was no proof offered by the writers or speakers–not even an alternative interpretation of a letter or document or chronicle, not even a personal journal (!)–the historian in me cannot accept it. I also started looking into your “Black Nobility.” I’d hardly call that lazy. Offer proof or leave me alone.

    In the interests of peace, and to keep myself from getting hit with the ban-hammer, I’m going to drop this unless you can give me the evidence I ask for. Clear primary sources by preference, not windy speeches and unverifiable claims. I will leave you with this snippet of dialog:

    “Assumption number one: secret societies exist.”
    “Accepted. Hodgins has been explaining this to me for years.”
    “Assumption number two: the human experience is adversely affected by secret societies.”
    “Accepted.”
    “Assumption number three: attacking and killing members of secret societies will have an ameliorating effect on the human experience.”
    “Accepted.”

  43. Lisby says:

    I agree completely with Claire’s conclusions.Henry was not much different from what we now call a serial killer, and he did kill using the same MO–judicial murder–repeatedly. When it comes to Anne, there is not–and logically cannot be–anyone responsible for Anne’s death except Henry. He was the ultimate authority. No one had the power to take down his queen unless he wanted it done. Henry’s position in the hierarchy meant he did not have to bloody his hands himself, but instead used judicial murder as the mechanism. He seems to have felt no remorse for the deaths of anyone he took down.

  44. Lynn Donovan says:

    Another complication Henry had was Anne was Queen by statute Not marriage. She was declared queen by Parliment in the Act of succession. So a not being an expert Anne even though being divorced from Henry would still be entitled to the title of Queen and Elizabeth would still be legitimate. (any thoughts?) This why Anne had to die in Henry’s mind. He would not have 2 queens again in his kingdom. Any thoughts on this guys?

  45. DD says:

    It’s very plain to see that it of course was Henry and here’s the one main reason:

    There were too many over the top charges lobbied against Anne. One would’ve been enough to seal the deal but FOUR? Incest, witchcraft, adultery and conspiracy against the King. This is a case of dreaded overkill,of driving the point home so to speak.

    Karmic retribution also plays in here, seeing that Jane Seymore died not too long after they were married.

    What a mess!

    1. Tidus says:

      DD, This makes a lot of sense and I agree.

      1. Tidus says:

        Forgot to add, Henry deprived Anne of her life and Elizabeth of her mother, so karma deprived Henry of Jane and Edward of his mother.

  46. KimmiK says:

    Well Done.

    Henry VIII was not a terrible King to England, in fact he was a great King but he was a terrible husband, father and friend.

    I think Henry may have suffered from a closed head injury during his jousting accident when he was younger which made him a bit out of his mind.

  47. Susan says:

    very interesting Clair ! Ann was harassed by Henry for 7 yrs with gifts ! Love letters ! Ect ! Her ego must have been at bursting point almost as big as Henry’s . I think it a great shame 7yrs was wasted between them Ann being much younger just might of had more time to conceive a healthy boy ! By the time they did marry I think Henry was getting tiered of Ann’s fiery temper which he found exciting in the begining ! He was highly influenced by people close to him and could be easily persuaded to change his mind about situations ! When Ann miscarried a boy I do think that had a profound affect on him but at this point had no intentions of getting rid of Ann !! She couldn’t keep her mouth shut a very big mistake I think this started to irritate Henry in other words she nagged him and we all know how men hate this today they was no different back then !! Henry was getting older his patients grew thin he noticed Jane and we all know when he wanted something he got it . He wasn’t going to waste time marrying Jane like he did Ann so I’m pretty sure rumours about the queen had started to circulate this was the turning point and so convieient for Henry . Gossip was ripe ! Ann condemned herself this gave Cromwell the aminition and everything slotted in to place I do think Henry believed Ann had betrayed him that made it so much easier for Henry to deal with he was in the right had done nothing wrong by executing people who had been found guilty and betrayed him . Cromwell and Henry 2 peas from same pod that’s why they both was rich and powerful and didn’t care who they hurt to get what they wanted !!!

  48. cdavi630 says:

    Claire, I so agree with you that Henry VIII was the ultimate villain in the death of Queen Anne. So technically he & his son were the last two Tudor kings. It is ironic that he also sired the last two Tudor Queens in Bloody Mary and Elizabeth I, so it really is a karma thing. Thank you so much for this website and all your research too.

  49. Sigrid says:

    I definitely agree with you. But I also think, that all those who hated Anne, also was a part of the play and Henry then thought, “ahh of course what they say is true, but I was so blind by false love” That I think he also saw, as a really good reason, for her to die. Because he would definitely not, have listened to all those evil tongues in the first place, when he truly loved her.

    1. Tidus says:

      Over all I think he made a huge mistake by having her executed. He wanted her forgotten.
      Yet she is the most famous of his Queens. She wouldn’t have been as famous if he’d just divorced her. It also garnered sympathy for her even from some who hated her.

  50. Michel M says:

    I don’t think Henry VIII was an innocent bystander in Anne’s downfall. Anne for all her intelligence and education was somewhat high-strung and reckless and in the end her failure to provide a male heir and her sharp-tongue did her in. It’s obvious the king wanted to get rid of her and marry Jane Seymour, who was discreetly waiting in the wings, and Cromwell was assiduous in getting the king what he wanted .

  51. Catherine says:

    Hi Claire,

    I’ve only recently discovered your website and I absolutely love it! It’s great to find a place that not only has so much information, but also tries to look at all the evidence objectively, so thanks for all your hard work!!

    I agree with your article that Henry VIII was ultimately responsible for Anne’s downfall and have an additional reason for thinking this, namely the fact that Henry forced Chapuys to recognise Anne as queen just two weeks before she was arrested, at the Easter mass.
    Usually, this event is used as evidence that Henry was still in love with Anne shortly before her arrest and even that that he had nothing to do with the conspiracy against her, but I believe it means the opposite: Henry, knowing that Anne would not be around for much longer, realised that, if he wanted Chapuys (and by extension the Emperor) to recognise Anne, he would have to force the issue.
    He wanted Chapuys to admit that Anne was queen and that he, Henry, had been right all along. I feel that this is something Henry would find important. He was right, he had the last word in the argument (so to speak), Chapuys had “admitted” to being wrong by acknowledging Anne.
    It didn’t matter that he had already tired of Anne or that he didn’t love her anymore, just that he, Henry felt vindicated.
    I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

  52. Suzanne says:

    …bottom line, Cromwell was a [removed], and Henry was most CERtainly a worse [removed]…they BOTH knew exACTly what they were doing; if nothing else, to serve their OWN weak [removed], and their own perverted purposes, end OF…!

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