Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part VI-C
When is a Friend Not a Friend?
Some people at Court were not opposed to Anne and many owed their positions to her patronage, but the vast majority of them were pliant (or worldly) enough to realize doing the King’s bidding would be the most expedient. Therefore, Anne’s friends did little to help her and even less to support her good name. Most were content to let the events unfold while distancing themselves from anyone closely associated with her. A story circulated that reached the ears of the Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, who relished in relaying it to his king, Charles V. Evidently, on being consulted whether Anne and Henry were truly married, the Bishop of London, John Stokesley, replied he would “not give any opinion to anyone but the King himself.” And “before doing so he would like to know the King’s own inclination” (Gairdner X 752). It is easy to interpret this to mean that Stokesley would not put himself in danger knowing the king’s volatility.
One young man, Roland Buckley, a lawyer at Grey’s Inn, seemingly wholly unconnected with Anne, wrote to his brother Richard, Chamberlain of North Wales, on May 2nd when he heard the news of Anne’s arrest. He quickly dispatched the following letter into the hands of a trusted servant, Geoffrey Griffith.
“Sir ye shall untherstande that the queene is in the towere, the ierles of Wyltshyre her father my lorde Rocheforde her brother, maister norres on of the king previe chamber, on maister Markes on of the kings preyve chamber, wyth divers others soundry ladys. The causse of there committing there is of certen hie treson comytyde conscernyng there prynce, that is to saye that maister norres shuld have a doe wyth the queyne and Marke and the other acsesari to the sayme. The arre lyke to suffyre, all ther morre is the pitte” (Gairdner X 785).
‘Yff it plesyde good otherwise I praye you macke you redy in all the haste that can be and come downe to youre prynce for you your seffte may do more than xx men in your absence, therefore mayke haste for ye may be ther or onny a worde be of theyr deth, when it is ones knowe that the shall dede all wilbe to latte therefore mayke haste” (Friedmann 258).
Geoffrey was apprehended near Shrewsbury on his way to Wales. The letter was found and caused concern among the local dignitaries. Buckley seemed to be enticing his brother to take some type of action—not specifically stated but obviously feeling Richard could hold the persuasive power of 20 men over Henry. Roland Lee, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, along with three other prominent citizens, wrote to Secretary Cromwell requesting guidance or more specifically “the King’s pleasure” in dealing with the situation (Gairdner X 820). Frustratingly, this blogger has not been able to uncover what actions were taken against the three principals involved.
Buildings from the Tudor era in Shrewsbury.
Understandably, the arrests led to a great deal of talk and several letters survive written from diplomats, churchmen and merchants. Reports varied in accuracy (from the outlandish, such as Anne’s mother had been arrested to pinpoint correctness in naming which prisoners would be allowed to escape) and tone (from gleeful fascination to straightforward disinterest).
Sir John Duddeley wrote to Lady Lisle on some issue of patronage and concluded that he was sure “there is no need to write the news, for all the world knows them by this time. Today Mr. Norres, Mr. Weston, William a Brearton, Markes, and lord Rocheforde were indicted, and on Friday they will be arraigned at Westminster. The Queen herself will be condemned by Parliament. Wednesday, 10 May” (Gairdner X 837).
A footnote in Friedmann’s text relayed from the letter of Eustace Chapuys to the Emperor Charles V that the commitment of Anne and her brother to the Tower along with others “is of certen hie treson comytyde conscernyng there prynce, that is to saye that maister norres shuld have a doc with the queyn and Marke and the other acesari to the sayme” (Friedmann 256).
Sir Edward Baynton wrote to Treasurer FitzWilliam (it is assumed this is William FitzWilliam, 1st Earl of Southampton when he was Treasurer of the Household), with concern over the lack of confessions from the prisoners. He then cryptically comments that “I have mused much at [the conduct] of Mrs. Margery, who hath used her[self] strangely toward me of late, being her friend as I have been. There has been great friendship of late between the Queen and her. I hear further that the Queen standeth stiffly in her opinion, that she wi[ll not be convicted], which I think is in the trust that she [hath in the o]ther two” (Gairdner X 799). An interesting mix of gossip and worry for himself—letting an official know that he has been associating with someone close to the Queen but in a benign capacity.
Sir William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, by Hans Holbein
The Mayor of Sandwich wrote to Henry VIII concerning the Queen’s emissary, Sir Reverend William Latymer, who had been to Flanders on business for the Queen. Evidently, Latymer had purchased several books in her name. Some “of the books he had with him, and of others in his mail, which had not yet arrived, but which were to be conveyed to London to one Mrs. Wilkinson” (Gairdner X 827). Luckily for all involved, Thomas Boys, “one of the King’s servants”, was present who would “convey Latymer himself to the King” and directly testify about the books and Latymer’s role.
Catholic hopes ran as high as the gossip swirled. Cardinal Rudolfo Pio da Carpi, Bishop of Faenza, optimistically wrote to Prothonotary Monsignor Ambrogio Ricalcato, Chief Secretary to Pope Paul III, “News came yesterday from England that the King had caused to be arrested the Queen, her father, mother, brother, and an organist with whom she had been too intimate. If it be as is reported, and as the cardinal Du Bellay has given him to understand, it is a great judgment of God” (Gairdner X 838).
Cardinal Rudolfo Pio, Bishop of Faenza by Francesco de’ Rossi and in the
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
John Husee, Lord Lisle’s London business agent, kept his boss informed of the happenings in London. On May 12th he shared, “Today Mr. Norrys, Weston, Bryerton, and Markes have been arraigned, and are judged to be drawn, hanged, and quartered. They shall die tomorrow or Monday. Anne the queen, and her brother, shall be arraigned in the Tower, some think tomorrow, but on Monday at furthest, and that they will suffer there immediately ‘for divers considerations, which are not yet known.’ Mr. Payge and Mr. W[y]at are in the Tower, but it is thought without danger of life, though Mr. Payge is banished the King’s court for ever” (Gairdner X 855).
The next day Husee succumbed to the confusion of reports by declaring that there “are so many tales I cannot tell what to write. This day, some say, young Weston shall escape, and some that none shall die but the Queen and her brother; others, that Wyat and Mr. Payge are as like to suffer as the others. The saying now is that those who shall suffer shall die when the Queen and her brother go to execution; but I think they shall all suffer. If any escape, it will be young Weston, for whom importunate suit is made” (Gairdner X 865).
Later John Husee’s opening remarks in a letter to Lady Lisle exclaimed over the world’s previously collective writings that vilified women were “nothing in comparison of that which hath been done and committed by Anne the Queen; which, though I presume be not althing as it is now rumoured, yet that which hath been by her confessed, and other offenders with her by her own alluring, procurement, and instigation, is so abominable and detestable that I am ashamed that any good woman should give ear thereunto. I pray God give her grace to repent while she now liveth. I think not the contrary but she and all they shall suffer” (Gairdner X 866).
A Portuguese merchant in London wrote to a contemporary back home, “The Council then declared that the Queen’s daughter was the child of her brother; and that as the child of a private person, the child be forthwith removed from that place; and that the King should again receive that Princess who was the daughter of the former and the true Queen, as his own and real daughter, and as being his successor in the kingdom” (Urban 56).
With the current situation so unpredictable, Anne’s friends and allies had to distance themselves from her and dared not interfere. It appeared as if “all the Court was now turned against her, and she had no friend about the King but Cranmer and therefore her enemies procured an order for him not to come to Court” (Burnet 111).
Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer’s Letter to Henry VIII
Aware of what he owed to her favor, Cranmer made an attempt to show his gratitude to the Queen by writing a letter to Henry VIII on May 3, 1536, expressing his favorable impressions of Anne “as far as was consistent with prudence and charity” (Burnet 260). Cranmer knew the king’s temperament and an out and out defense of Anne would place the Archbishop of Canterbury in jeopardy.
Cranmer began by informing Henry that he had relocated to Lambeth to await the king’s pleasure and with the wish to bring comfort. Cranmer consoled the king that with Henry’s “great wisdom, and by the assistance of God’s help, somewhat to suppress the deep sorrows of your grace’s heart, and to take all adversities of God’s hands both patiently and thankfully” (Burnet 260).
The Archbishop acknowledged the grievances Henry faced “whether the things that commonly be spoken of be true or not” (Burnet 261). The king was likened to Job and Cranmer stressed that by accepting adversities as well as glory he was showing his obedience to God. After flattering Henry, Cranmer then goes on to cushion his remarks which were favorable to Anne. Yes, here is a man nervous of his own position and even, life yet conscientious enough to know he is obliged to Anne to utter some words of support.
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury
“And if it be true, that is openly reported of the queen’s grace, if men had a right estimation of things, they should not esteem any part of your grace’s honour to be touched thereby, but her honour only to be clearly disparaged. And I am in such a perplexity, that my mind is clean amazed: for I never had better opinion in woman, than I had in her; which maketh me to think, that she should not be culpable. And again, I think your highness would not have gone so far, except she had surely been culpable.
‘Now I think that your grace best knoweth, that, next unto your grace, I was most bound unto her of all creatures living. Wherefore, I most humbly beseech your grace, to suffer me in that, which both God’s law, nature, and also her kindness bindeth me unto; that is, that I may, with your grace’s favor, wish and pray for her that she may declare herself inculpable and innocent. And if she be found culpable, considering your grace’s goodness towards her, and from what condition your grace of your only mere goodness took her, and set the crown upon her head; I reput him not your grace’s faithful servant and subject, nor true unto the realm, that would not desire the offence without mercy to be punished, to the example of all other. And as I loved her not a little, for the love which I judged her to bear towards God and his gospel; so if she be proved culpable, there is not one that loveth God and his gospel that ever will favour her, but must hate her above all other; and the more they favour the gospel, the more they will hate her: for then there was never creature in our time that so much slandered the gospel” (Burnet 261-262).
Cranmer then goes to the heart of the issue—the preservation of the reformist movement. The Church, which Anne helped create was in its infancy and Cranmer wanted to ensure that Henry VIII did not place the faults of Anne onto the reformist movement. “Wherefore, I trust that your grace will bear no less entire favour unto the truth of the gospel than you did before: forsomuch as your grace’s favor to the gospel was not led by affection unto her, but by zeal unto the truth. And thus I beseech Almighty God, whose gospel he hath ordained your grace to be defender of, ever to preserve your grace from all evil, and give you at the end the promise of his gospel. From Lambeth, the 3d day of May” (Burnet 261-262).
Astoundingly, the letter does not end there. A postscript was added, “After I had written this letter unto your grace, my lord chancellor, my lord of Oxford, my lord of Sussex, and my lord chamberlain of your grace’s house, sent for me to come unto the star-chamber; and there declared unto me such things as your grace’s pleasure was they should make me privy unto. For the which I am most bounded unto your Grace. And what communication we had together, I doubt not but they will make the true report thereof unto your grace. I am exceedingly sorry that such faults can be proved by the queen, as I heard of their relation. But I am, and ever shall be, your faithful subject.
Humble subject and chaplain
T. Cantuariensis” (Burnet 262).
Although Cranmer was summoned on the King’s orders to hear the evidence against Queen Anne, he still did not alter his letter. Perhaps he was doubtful about the strength of the charges against Anne; perhaps he wanted to ensure the evangelical reforms; perhaps he was flattered that the king felt it necessary to advise him of the Queen’s crimes; or, perhaps, his compassion outweighed his caution. Regardless, the missive was sent and no repercussion fell upon him, nor was Anne’s situation abated.
For References, please refer to Path to St. Peter ad Vincular Part I