Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part VI-A

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part VI-A

Anne Boleyn had reigned over Henry VIII and his Court as Queen for a relatively short time span considering the many years that built up to her coronation. What was even shorter was her fall. In less than half of a year she not only lost her position, she lost her head. Many factors have been attributed to the reason.
anneboleyn
Anne Boleyn

The international scene had altered. Charles V at the Imperial Court showed an       interest in treating with England thus weakening the traditional French alliance         —an alliance favored by Anne.

Henry blamed Anne for the failed embassy he had sent to Germany –at her             urging. It had cost him a great deal of money, was inconclusive and only                 managed to cause the German princes to doubt his faith (Stevenson 1329 to         1332).

The death of Queen Katherine of Aragon led Henry to consider that marriage to someone where there was no question of legitimacy would settle doubts and perhaps result in the birth of a male child. The King was apprehensive that, if he left no heir, upon his death civil wars would break out and the crown would be transferred again to the family of the White Rose (Stevenson 1303).

Anne had miscarried a son, which weakened her position. Chapuys filled in Charles V on April 29, 1536, on the fact that George Boleyn was disappointed because he had not achieved a Court favor as “the Concubine has not had sufficient influence to get it for her brother” (Gairdner X 752).

Henry was suspicious of Anne’s behavior. Alexander Alesius summarized Anne’s sins: she had danced with others and kissed her brother (like all women of England). The story of Anne dropping her handkerchief out of her window during the jousts at Greenwich so one of her suspected lovers could claim it is most likely false. Anne’s flirtatiousness is without quesiton and Henry came to “look on them as artifices to cover some other criminal affection. Her cheerfulness was not always governed with decency and discretion” (Burnet 109-110).

Henry was attracted to Jane Seymour. In April Ambassador Chapuys explained that advisors “continually counsel Mrs. Semel and other conspirators pour luy faire une venue,” and encouragement was given to the opposite party because “the King was already as sick and tired of the concubine as could be” (Gairdner X 752). As seen with Anne at the time of his marriage to Katherine, so ardent was Henry once he began to form an attachment, there was no let up. Also observed during both of these courtships, the King was “still inclined to pay his court to ladies” (de Gayangos V 43).

Various factions at Court (including the Catholics) were jostling for position. Steven Gunn wrote that the fall of Anne Boleyn “on one side stand the champions of a strong king, for whom the rhythms of politics and government were determined by Henry’s informed choice of ministers and policies. On the other stand the advocates of faction, for whom the king’s choice of policies and executants was determined by the victory of one pressure-group” (Davies 59).
Previously all factions were concerned over the influence Anne had on Henry. Now with the noticeable coldness in Henry’s relationship with her, the divisive groups at Court considered their options. Anne’s opponents, the “enemies of the Gospel, whose intention it was, along with her, to bury true religion in England” would perpetuate negative claims against Anne, who was famed for her pursuit of more evangelical doctrines (Stevenson 1303-15). Many believed the “difficulties abroad…the severity of the new laws and the rigour with which they were enforced, were held to be due altogether to Anne’s ascendency; and it was expected that with her downfall there would be a total change of policy, which would place England once more in a secure and prosperous condition” (Friedmann 256).

Anne was quickly losing support, even among Protestants. The Lancelot poem, written in London on 2 June 1536, expressed that Anne “had her way in all things; she could treat her friends according to her pleasure….” But she could not “secure to her lasting friendships, and the King daily cooled in his affection. Nevertheless she did not leave off her evil conversation, which at length brought her to shame” (Gairdner X 1036). “Having thus so many, so great factions at home and abroad set loose by the distorned favour of the king, and so few to show themselves for her… she and her friends therefore were suddenly sent to the Tower” (Cavendish II 209).

Oyer & Terminer
A divorce was out of the question, as it would imply that Henry’s conscience was aroused only upon convenience. He ended his marriage to Katherine of Aragon citing his breech with the teachings of Leviticus; now if he invoked the issue of consanguinity (based on his previous relationship with Anne’s sister) it would appear as if he entered the holy bonds of marriage carelessly. In addition, a divorced Anne would still be Marchioness of Pembroke— wealthy, influential and evangelical. Anne had to be disposed of in such a way that no one would be able, let alone willing, to defend her nor would she be able to defend herself.

Charles V learned that Henry, as Chapuys had “been for some days informed by good authority, was determined to abandon her; for there were witnesses testifying that a marriage passed nine years before had been made and fully consummated between her and the earl of Northumberland” (Gairdner X 782). The Ambassador’s informants told him that while Katherine of Aragon was alive, Henry “could not separate from the Concubine without tacitly confirming, not only the first marriage, but also, what he most fears, the authority of the Pope” (Gairdner X 782).
Katherine-of-aragon
Katherine of Aragon

“Thus Cromwell, as he afterwards told Chapuis, resolved to plot for the ruin of Anne” (Friedman 242). He said “it was he who had discovered and followed up the affair of the Concubine, in which he had taken a great deal of trouble… he had set himself to arrange the plot”(Gairdner X 1069). Cromwell was “resolved to destroy her” (Burnet 110). He wanted to get rid of Anne quickly and she needed to “be found guilty of such heinous offences that she would have no opportunity of avenging her wrongs” and the public’s focus on the crimes would take attention away “from the intrigue at the bottom of the scheme” (Friedmann 241-242). “Calamity was to be brought upon her, too, in a way that would satisfy the hatred with which she was regarded by the nation” (Friemann 242).

At Cromwell’s urging, while at Greenwich, Henry summoned a ‘commission of oyer and terminer’ April 24, 1536, to investigate treasonous offences committed by persons close to him, including Anne. Probably Henry was “only told by Cromwell that he was menaced by grave dangers, and that it would be necessary to appoint commissioners to hold special sessions at which offenders against him might be tried.” The commission consisted of “the Lord Chancellor Audeley, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Earl of Oxford, lord high chamberlain, the Earl of Westmoreland, the Earl of Wilshire, lord privy seal, the Earl of Sussex, Lord Sandys, chamberlain of the household, Sir Thomas Cromwell, chief secretary, Sir William Fitzwilliam, treasurer, Sir William Paulet, comptroller of the household, and the nine judges.” These men were “empowered to make inquiry as to every kind of treason, by whomsoever committed, and to hold a special session to try the offenders” (Friedmann II 243). Unusually, no specific crime was mentioned when the commission of oyer and terminer was formed.

Statutes of the Realmoyer

An Acte for persons to enjoye their lands and to have avauntage in the Lawe wherin the Lord Rocheford, Norreys and others, were seased.

Persons to enjoye their lands & to have avantage in the Law wherin the Lord Rochford Nores and other were seased. An Act _______conserninge Norris and others.

For references, please refer to the blog entry, Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part I

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Path to St. Peter ad Vincula: Part V–B

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula:  Part V–B

In Henry’s mind, the person thwarting him was Anne. Although she had successfully delivered a daughter and had at least two miscarriages—one in 1534 and one in 1536 that attest to her ability to conceive, Anne’s future and her strength lay in providing Henry with a male heir.  Yet, suddenly, Anne who was used to accompanying Henry wherever he went, remained at Greenwich “while he spent with his courtiers a merry shrove-tide in London” (Friedmann 203).  Henry’s actions were a surprise to many:  that he could leave Anne at this time “when formerly he could not leave her for an hour” (Gairdner X 351).  A man who could not bear leaving his wife for even short increments, was amidst reports that said he was considering leaving her for another woman.  Although earlier in the year of 1536 Chapuys confessed the idea that Henry would replace Anne was “very difficult …to believe”, he would “watch to see if there are any indications of its probability” (Gairdner X 199).
Anne Boleyn Hever
Queen Anne Boleyn

In Transactions of the Royal Historical Society: Volume 5, Steve Gunn succinctly discussed in the introduction to a chapter, “The Structures of Politics in Early Tudor England” the recent historiography of the state of Henry and Anne’s marriage, her miscarriage and her fall.  Astoundingly, a great deal has been written, conjectured and surmised based on the scant surviving records and the conclusions have altered through the years. Here is what Gunn has to say:

Three scholars have recently set out and defended against one another divergent explanations of her fall.  Professor Ives and Professor Warnicke can agree that Dr. Bernard is wrong: Anne cannot possibly have been destroyed by a masterful and jealous king who may reasonably have believed her guilty of multiple adultery as charged.  Dr. Bernard and Professor Ives can agree that Professor Warnicke is wrong:  Anne’s fall cannot be attributed to her miscarriage of a deformed foetus, awakening the king’s fears of witchcraft and its sixteenth-century stablemates, sodomy and incest.  Professor Warnicke and Dr. Bernard can agree that Professor Ives is wrong:  Anne cannot have been ousted by a factional plot at court, coordinated by Thomas Cromwell and cynically using fabricated charges of adultery to hustle the king into destroying the queen and her partisans at a single blow” (Davies 59).

For discussions on the theory of Anne’s trial and court factions, see the blog entries Path to St. Peter ad Vincula:  Part IV and Part VI.  As for the miscarriage, this blogger does not agree with the theory that Anne’s last pregnancy ended in anything other than a miscarriage. If there had been a deformity in the fetus, contemporary sources would have mentioned it and Anne’s enemies would have latched on to it as evidence of her wickedness.  Perhaps the idea of a deformity stems from the phrase by Nicholas Sander “a shapeless mass of flesh” (Sander 132) as contemporary sources claim otherwise.
KingsCollegeChapelHA
Surviving example of Henry’s devotion to Anne, their intertwined initials at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. 

A poem, Epistre Contenant le Procès Criminel Faict a l’Encontre de la Royne Anne Boullant d’Angleterre (A Letter Containing the Criminal Charges Laid Against Queen Anne Boleyn of England), was summarized in dispatch papers 2 June 1536.  Referred to as a “poem descriptive of the life of Anne Boleyn, composed at London”, it was written by Lancelot de Carle (also spelled Carles) while serving as secretary to the French Ambassador in England, Antoine de Castelnau (Gairdner X 1036).

Published in Lyon in 1545 for Dauphin Charles, the poem had been in circulation prior to that.  In fact, it was mentioned in a correspondence by Henry VIII to his Ambassador to France, Stephen Gardiner, 12 June 1537, after de Carle returned to his native country.  Gardiner was told that Henry, “on having first knowledge of the book and the malice of it” which was “written in form of a tragedy,” was grieved “as sundry copies and impressions of it have got abroad.” Henry urged “that all copies be taken in and suppressed” (Gairdner XII ii 78).

Certainly this could be a different work, as a year interval from the time it was mentioned in dispatches to the time Henry made attempts to restrict its circulation appears a bit long.  Yet, it is feasible that the king was not made aware of it until after Carle completed his diplomatic mission.  With the author being identified as Carle—writing during the time he was “attendant upon the French ambassador” it seems to indicate it was the same poem (Gairdner XII ii 78).

Lancelot Anne Boullantmmmm
Title page of the poem by Lancelot de Carle

The poem was brought to this blogger’s attention as a footnote in G. W. Bernard’s biography, Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions, under “Chapter 8:  Anne’s Miscarriage.”  Although one cannot be too trusting of the poem’s historical accuracy, a portion of it –the part summarized in dispatch papers as “Anne met with divers ominous occurrences … the King had a fall from horseback which it was thought would prove fatal, and caused her to give premature birth to a dead son” will be where we direct our attention (Gairdner X 1036). In the poem, lines 324-326 refer to the ‘beautiful boy’ that was born before term.  A translation follows:

Her flat belly brought forth its fruit
and gave birth to a beautiful boy before term
whose stillbirth gave birth to many tears
Lancelot Poem

The stressful conditions that Anne was under not only to provide a son but to literally survive due to the factions at Court had her “worn out by constant exertion and anxiety” and were enough to jeopardize any pregnancy (Friedmann II 138).  Add in the equation the simple fact that the successful birthrate in the 16th century was not high plus the possible medical conditions of Anne and Henry (the Rh factor for her and diabetes for him) and the loss of an infant does not seem implausible.  Whatever the cause of the tragedy, the outcome was felt on the familial level, on the national level and on the international level.

For References please refer to the blog entry Path to St. Peter ad Vincula- Part I