Path to St. Peter ad Vincula: Part VIII-A

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula: Part VIII—A

Although Elizabeth was still at Greenwich at the time of her mother’s execution, she was soon moved to Hunsdon.  Please refer to the blog entries at elizregina.com entitled “Elizabeth:  Her Mother’s Memory” https://elizregina.com/2014/01/20/elizabeth-regina-her-mothers-memory/  and “Lady Bryan:  An Iron Hand in a Velvet Glove” https://elizregina.com/2014/01/07/lady-bryan-an-iron-hand-in-a-velvet-glove/ for further information about Elizabeth’s childhood at the time of her mother’s arrest and execution.

hunsdon
Hunsdon

It was while at Hunsdon that Sir John Shelton wrote to Master Secretary Thomas Cromwell, on Wednesday 16 August 1536, assuring him he would follow the King’s orders which stripped Elizabeth of the title Princess and kept her in her chamber.  Explanations for this included a story that Queen Jane Seymour slandered Anne and said to the King, “Your Majesty knows how bad Queen Anne was, and it is not fit that her daughter should be the Princess” (Hume 72-73).

Many historians believe that Elizabeth was confined to her rooms after her mother’s disgrace because Henry could not bear any mention of her as a reminder of her mother.  Others consider that Henry secluded Elizabeth for her own protection against the rumors and stories swirling around Court, a view seemingly supported by French Ambassador Guillaume du Bellay.  Du Bellay commented that at a banquet celebrating the marriage of Henry and Jane Seymour, although “Madame Ysabeau is not at that table, the King is very affectionate to her. It is said he loves her much” (Gairdner XI 860).

Bellayguillaume
Guillaume du Bellay

Therefore, under the instructions of her father, Lady Margaret Bryan, Elizabeth’s governess, protected her as much as possible.  While Henry was eradicating all trace of Anne by altering, removing or destroying emblems, heraldry, portraits, etc., the Court was avoiding any mention of Anne Boleyn.  After her execution Anne’s existence was basically erased. We do not know when or how Elizabeth learned of her mother’s end, therefore, speculation is useless. We do know that after Elizabeth became queen, several chroniclers such as John Foxe were able to tell Anne’s story “at least as he and many of her contemporaries had grasped it at the time” (Zahl 18).

When Elizabeth gained the throne and did not immediately defend her mother’s memory, to many onlookers it seemed strange “that during her long and glorious reign, none wrote in vindication of her mother, which officious courtiers are apt to do often, without any good grounds; so that silence was made an argument of her guilt, and that she could not be defended.  But perhaps that was an effect of the wisdom of the ministers of that time, who would not suffer so nice a point, upon which the Queen’s legitimation depended, to be brought into dispute” (Burnet 115-116).

The conclusion that Elizabeth did not defend Anne as proof of her mother’s guilt ignores the work of John Foxe, George Wyatt and others; although, it is conceded that Elizabeth Regina did stress her paternity.  Elizabeth, unlike her sister Mary, never passed legislation to restore her parents’ marriage.  Why should she?  Henry VIII’s will had placed her in line to the succession as did the Acts of Succession, the latest in 1543; she had gained the throne uncontested in 1558; and, as a political survivor, she realized there was no need to bring to the fore the controversy of her mother’s execution.  Elizabeth’s usual maneuverings were to watch and wait—and this was no exception.  A pro-active stance trying to prove Anne’s innocence was unnecessary and could prove politically harmful.

OathofAllegiance
Oath of Succession

Alexander Aless, a Scottish theologian and diplomat recalled that Anne’s innocence was demonstrated not only by her character but also by no greater “evident proof than this, that whereas she left you, her only child, your father always acknowledged you as legitimate” and nothing could “persuade the illustrious King that you were not his daughter” (Stevenson 1303:46). John Foxe wrote that Henry VIII in his Last Will and Testament did by name, “accept, and by plain ratification did allow, the succession of his marriage to stand good and lawful” (Foxe V 232).

Opposite of the views of Anne’s proponents were those of her detractors such as Nicholas Sander.  He deduced that Elizabeth “under the pressure of the fear … that because she was the issue of a marriage condemned by the Church and the sovereign Pontiff, a doubt might be raised touching her birth and her title to the throne” (Sander 241). Sir Thomas Tresham of Rushton described Anne as “the ruin of many pious, worthy and famous men who favoured not that unlawful marriage” (Zahl 13).

Perhaps because of a sliver of doubt in her mind, in 1572 Elizabeth had Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, track down the papal bull of dispensation from 1528 that had sanctioned her parents’ marriage. Queen Elizabeth wanted to have the document on file in case she needed to prove her legitimacy, beyond any doubt. Although this document would not be needed in England, it is assumed by this blogger that Elizabeth Regina wanted to have it for her own marriage negotiations within Catholic Europe.

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Heading of the Papal Bull concerning the dissolution of Henry VIII marriage to Katherine of Aragon.

Henry’s marital status with Anne (the dispensation and later divorce) was one of the troubles he bequeathed Elizabeth.  The “sole advantage to Henry was that his infidelities to Anne ceased to be breaches of the seventh commandment.  The justice of her sentence to death is also open to doubt.  Anne herself went to the block boldly proclaiming her innocence” (Pollard 345).  Although Anne did not directly address the accusations against her on the scaffold, she did take communion prior to her death and did not confess guilt.  To die without confession would have been unheard of for a practicing Christian of that time period.  William Kingston Constable of the Tower of London bore witness and reported on the day of Anne’s execution, ‘thys morning she sent for me that I myght be with hyr at soche tyme as she reysayved the gud lord to the in tent I shuld here hyr speke as towchyng her innosensy always to be clere” (Cavendish 229)

Not defending her innocence was seen as troubling to contemporaries whereas modern eyes would admire her.  Anne’s “faint way of speaking concerning her innocence at last was judged too high a compliment to the King in a dying woman, and shewed more regard to her daughter than to her own honour” (Burnet An Abridgement 115). She “was, it seems, prevailed on, out of regard to her daughter, to make no reflections on the hard measure she met with, nor to say any thing touching the grounds on which sentence passed against her” (Burnet An Abridgement 114).

As witnessed in a letter to Queen Elizabeth concerning her mother, Alexander Aless stated that the “Queen exhibited such constancy, patience, and faith towards God that all the spectators, even her enemies…testified and proclaimed her innocence and chastity” (Stevenson 1303:27).

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 Elizabeth Regina and Queen Anne Boleyn

Anne’s reputation, written by contemporaries or near contemporaries, was a study of contrast.  Was she a pious, Protestant heroine or lecherous woman “following daily her frail and carnal lust”(Gairdner X 876). Defending her in the immediate aftermath of her death was not a politically astute thing to do with her guilt having been ‘proven’ and, yet, defending her during her daughter’s reign invited accusations of sycophantic behavior.

Could there be a middle ground?  Apparently not, even when a Catholic appeared to take Anne’s side, it was viewed with suspicion.  Andre Thevet, a French Franciscan, wrote Universal Cosmography in which he stated he had on good authority from multiple sources “that King Henry at his death, among his other sins, repented in particular of the wrong he had done the queen, in destroying her by a false accusation” (Burnet 268).  Considering the monasteries, including the Franciscan Order, had suffered at the hands of Henry VIII and inadvertently Anne Boleyn, the influence of this statement is strengthened.  What cause would Thevet have to defend Anne despite her pro-French inclinations?

Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer must have believed Anne innocent of the deeds and her acquired reputation yet as a pragmatist he realized that when dealing with Henry he had to tread cautiously.  The postscript of a letter written to Henry at the time of Anne’s arrest covered both angles “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” (Burnet 262).   Cranmer wanted to preserve the Reformation which in its infancy could not be too closely associated with a blighted leader.

With Anne credited for encouraging the Reformation movement in England, her supporters kept her memory alive. John Foxe referred to her as Godly, “for sundry respects, whatsoever the cause was, or quarrel objected against her. Certain this was, that for the rare and singular gifts of her mind, so well instructed, and given toward God, with such a fervent desire unto the truth and setting forth of sincere religion, joined with like gentleness, modesty, and pity toward all men, there have not many such queens before her borne the crown of England. Principally this one commendation she left behind her, that during her life, the religion of Christ most happily flourished, and had a right prosperous course. Again, what a zealous defender she was of Christ’s gospel all the world doth know…” (Foxe II 407).

Bishop John Aylmer, at one time a tutor to Lady Jane Grey, questioned that by banishing Rome from England, was there no “greater feat wrought by any man than this was by a woman?” Alymer was thankful that God had “given Queen Anne favour in the sight of the king” and although he praised many people who were instrumental in promoting the Reformation he felt that “wherefore, that many deserved much praise for helping forward of it, yet the crop and root was the queen, which God had endued with wisdom that she could, and given her the mind that she would, do it” (Cassell 176).

aylmer
John Aylmer

Raphael Holinshed praised Anne posthumously in 1577.  “Now because I might rather saie much than suffcientlie inough in praise of this noble queene, as well for hir singular wit and other excellent qualities of mind, as also for hir favouring of learned men, zeale of religion, and liberalitie in distributing almes in reliefe of the poore” (Holinshed 797).

Even Secretary Cromwell admitted to Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys that Anne had courage and intelligence–“Et sur ce me loucha grandement le sens expert et cueur de la dicte concubine et de son frère” (Friedmann 297).

Anne was defended periodically as records of the following years show accounts against persons who maintained that Henry had put her to death unjustly.  An example would be proceedings against John Hill of Eysham.  On 26 June 1536 it was reported that Hill claimed that Henry had caused Mr. Norris, Mr. Weston, “and the other Queen to be put to death” for “a frawde and a gille” (Gairdner X 1205).

In France poems were written in her honour, and in Germany the Protestants expressed strong disapproval of the king’s act” (Friedmann II 300).  An anecdote about Christina of Denmark, the Duchess of Milan written by George Constantyne, an Evangelical-eyewitness to many of the events of 1536, to Thomas Cromwell revealed the international view towards Henry.   Suspicious that “the kynges majestie was in so little space rydde of the Quenes, that she dare not trust his cownceill, though she durst trust his majestie” although she “suspecteth that her great Aunte was poysoned; that the second was innocentlye put to deeth; And the thred lost for lacke of kepinge in her child bed” (Constantyne 61).

ChristinaDucchess_of_Milan
Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan

For References please see Path to St. Peter ad Vincula: Part I 

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Path to St. Peter ad Vincula Part VII – C

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula Part VII – C

Why did Parliament suddenly declare a marriage unlawful which it had previously declared lawful? Not only is it a mystery to us over half a millennium later, it was baffling to contemporaries.  “What an astonishment and wonder was it for us at home to see it, and for all the world beside to hear, that after all this importunate suit to get her to his wife, the King caused her by parliament to be condemned as a foul detestable adulteress” (Harpsfield 254).  Even later commentators expressed it was “natural to sympathize with a person cruelly persecuted, unlawfully condemned, and murderously sacrificed to the lust of bloody vengeance, not to the majesty of the law… that it is as difficult positively to pronounce the judgment virtually unjust, as it is easy to declare it actually illegal” (Herbert, Henry 324). So, while many enemies condemned Anne and willingly believed all of the charges against her, there were many who believed in her goodness.

Edward Herbert, Baron of Cherbury, drew on sources including George Cavendish when he praised Anne for her respectable lineage and the education her parents provided.  Her accomplishments in singing, dancing and playing musical instruments were particularly stressed.  Herbert of Cherbury, no fan of Anne’s, declared “Briefly, it seems the most attractive perfections were eminent in her” (Herbert, Edward 285). Astoundingly, these very talents were vilified by the Marian Archdeacon of Canterbury, Nicholas Harpsfield, and will be discussed later.  Even her nemesis Thomas Cromwell spoke to the Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, of Anne’s good qualities: he praised her “sense, wit and courage” (Gairdner X 1069).

edward herbert
Edward Herbert, Baron of Cherbury, from 1609-1610

John Foxe, author of Actes and Monuments, (commonly referred to as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs), wrote rather fulsomely of Anne yet, the specific information and circumstances portrayed are accurate.  Foxe declared that “many things might be written more of the manifold virtues, and the quiet moderation of her mild nature” how she required her chaplains to point out to her any part of her character or behavior “whatsoever they saw in her amiss.”  Continuing in this thread, Foxe expressed “how bountiful she was to the poor; …insomuch that the alms which she gave in three quarters of a year, in distribution, is summed to the number of fourteen or fifteen thousand pounds”  and she always had “a stock there to be employed to the behalf of poor artificers and occupiers” (Foxe V 232-233).  He praised her as “a zealous defender of Christ’s gospel …as her acts do and will declare to the world’s end” (Foxe V 233).  Confident in her goodness, Foxe knew that more would “be declared of her virtuous life (the Lord so permitting) by others” (Foxe V 234). One such fan was the Scottish theologian, Alexander Alesius (also called Aless or Alesse).

John_Foxe
John Foxe

Alesius, who was in London the day Anne was executed, expressed his grief along with Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. According to Alesius, when Cranmer learned of Anne’s death, he “raised his eyes to heaven and said, ‘She who has been the Queen of England upon earth will to-day become a Queen in heaven.’ So great was his grief that he could say nothing more, and then he burst into tears” (Stevenson 1303-22). Alesius reported himself so overcome with grief he could not venture out and about in town for several days.

Even some men, willing to believe the worst of Anne, conceded how hers was a “pitiful case” and that one has a “duty to lean to the side of innocence, where guilt is not manifestly proven, and to look with suspicious eyes on persecution where the object of the persecutor is notorious” (Herbert, Henry 325).  These sentiments led to several writers, such as Alesius who told Elizabeth Regina in 1559 he believed it his duty to “write the history, or tragedy, of the death of your most holy mother, in order to illustrate the glory of God and to afford consolation to the godly” (Stevenson 1303-8). With similar thoughts, John Foxe praised “the rare and singular gifts of her mind” which brought forth Anne’s “desire unto the truth and setting forth of sincere religion, joined with gentleness, modesty and pity toward all men, there have not many such queens before her borne the crown of England” (Foxe).

AnneBoleynAB
Anne Boleyn

Alesius clearly believed that Anne was framed for her pursuit of “the purer doctrine of the Gospel.” He believed this because with her “modesty, prudence, and gravity, as her desire to promote the pure doctrine of the Gospel” and her kindness to the poor, only the “enemies of the Gospel, whose intention it was, along with her, to bury true religion in England” could perpetuate such charges (Stevenson 1303-15). The Scot stressed to Elizabeth, “Thus much have I introduced about the tragedy of your most pious mother, in order that this illustrious instance might manifest the glory of God, and that the craft and power of man in vain oppose themselves to Him” (Stevenson 1303).  John Foxe could not help but gloat that Anne’s legacy was that “the religion of Christ most happily flourished, and had a right prosperous course” (Foxe).

Cranmer also praised Anne for her religious practices in a letter he wrote to Henry at the time of her arrest.  By professing he “loved her not a little, because of the love which she seemed to bear to God, and his Gospel; but if she was guilty, all that loved the Gospel must hate her, as having given the greatest slander possible to the Gospel” (Burnet 111).  The Archbishop did have a sense of loyalty to Anne as she had been one of his greatest champions, yet, he also was pragmatic. Once it became clear that the King would not back away from the charges put against Anne (he had his eye on Jane Seymour), Cranmer acquiesced in all that was required of him.

Thomas_Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

There were “tears and lamentations of the faithful who were lamenting over the snare laid for the Queen, and the boastful triumphing of the foes of the true doctrine” (Stevenson 1319).  John Foxe also believed in Anne’s role in Protestantism exclaiming “the end of that godly lady and queen. Godly I call her, for sundry respects, whatsoever the cause was, or quarrel objected against her…. Again, what a zealous defender she was of Christ’s gospel all the world doth know, and her acts do and will declare to the world’s end” (Foxe).

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

 

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

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part IV

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part IV

Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer were more pliable to Anne’s ideas and cause than Cardinal Wolsey.  Cromwell as Chief Minister pushed through Parliament several reform measures including the creation of the King as Head of the Church of England. Cranmer, appointed Archbishop of Canterbury after the death of William Warham, declared the end to Henry and Katherine’s marriage. The age of Wolsey was over.

thomas cromwell
Thomas Cromwell

Anne Boleyn owed a great deal to Thomas Cromwell. He put into effect his plan to frighten the clergy into submission and sever the English Church from Rome– but it was quite a time before it could be implemented. His plan he felt sure “could not of course fail to please Anne, to whom it held out a sure way of obtaining what she desired” (Friedmann 135-136).  At the Convocation of Canterbury in January 1531, under threat the clergy acknowledged Henry as “singular protector, supreme lord and even, so far as the law of Christ allows, supreme head of the English Church and clergy” (Haigh 108).  Added to the brilliance of the plan was the fact that the members of the Privy Council who “generally opposed the measures brought forward by Anne’s friends, willingly assented to a scheme which would weaken the influence of the bishops” (Friedmann 135-136).

Despite the capitulation of the Clergy, all was not smooth sailing for Henry and Anne.  By May 22, 1531, Eustace Chapuys, the Spanish Ambassador, reported to Charles V that “the clergy of York and Durham sent to the King a strong protestation against the supremacy which he pretends to have over them.  The King is greatly displeased, still more because one of his couriers coming from Rome has brought him news that his Ambassadors there are afraid that the Pope will definitively quash the process” (Gairdner 251).  This was “a serious defeat for Anne’s party.”  Legislation to force the clergy and Parliament to submit had to be abandoned as priests protested “against any encroachments on the liberty of the Church or any act derogatory to the authority of the Holy See” (Friedmann 142).  Resistance did not last and in 1534 Henry passed the Acts of Supremacy and of Succession.  Legally he was Head of the Church of England and his marriage to Katherine of Aragon was annulled and that of Anne legitimized along with any children from their union. All seemed to be going well;  Anne was Queen and the Protestant reform movement was gaining momentum.  What happened?

Anne encountered forces stronger than her influence on Henry.  She disagreed with the King over the dissolution of the monasteries, she clashed with Thomas Cromwell over international politics and Anne underestimated Henry’s frustration at not having a male heir, his attraction for Jane Seymour and the Court’s ability to use those domestic issues against her and the evangelical faction.

Henry VIII committed to improving the religious houses in England.  He sent agents out to track adherence to monastic orders’ rules and to account for the wealth of each. He ordered the Commission for the Valuation of Ecclesiastical Benefices stressing his right as Supreme Head of the Church, “Henricus Octavus, Dei gratia Agnlie et Francie Rex, Fidei Defensor, Dominus Hibernie et in terra Supremum Capud Anglicane Ecclesie, Reverendo in Christo patri J[ohanni] Episcopo Exoniensi ac dilectis et fidelbus suis Salutem” (Hall A Formula Book of English Official Historical Documents 63).

Henry VIII
Henry VIII –attributed to the circle of Holbein 1535-1541

Commissioners appointed by King Henry were to “examyn, serche and enquire, by all the ways and meanes that they can by their dyscrections, of and for the true and just hole and entire yerely values of all the manours, londes, tenements, hereditamentes, rentes, tythes, offerings, emoluments and all other profittes, as well spitrituall as temporall, apperteyninge or belonging to any Archebusshopriche, Busshoprich, Abbacye, Monasterie, Priorie, Archdeaconry, Deanry, Hospitall, College, Howse Collegyate … or any other benefice or promocion sprituall within the lymyttes of their Commyssion” (Hall A Formula Book of English Official Historical Documents 62).  Henry also wanted to know “in what manner the revenewes and profitts” were used (Leach ii).

Once the Valor Ecclesiasticus had been presented to Parliament on February 5, 1536, creating the dismay that Henry and Cromwell hoped it would, the Legislature quickly formulated and implemented new policy by mid-March. It certainly was easy to see what Henry’s main purpose was.  He needed money, a lot of it, having gone through the vast fortune his father had left him.  Confiscating the property of religious houses would provide that wealth.

The Act of the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries of 1536 (also known as The Suppression of Religious Houses Act), deemed the lesser monastic houses sinful and wasteful.  All the occupants were ordered to transfer to larger monasteries where they would be reformed to live more religiously.  It was proclaimed that Parliament finally revolved “that it is and shall be much more to the pleasure of Almighty God, and for the honour of this his realm, that the possessions of such religious houses, now being spent, spoiled, and wasted for increase maintenance of sin, should be used and converted to better uses.”  Parliament authorized “that his majesty shall have and enjoy to him and to his heirs for ever, all and singular such monasteries, priories, and other religious houses” the land, rent, chapels and all their property “with all their rights, profits, jurisdictions, and commodities, unto the King’s majesty, and to his heirs and assigns for ever, to do and use therewith his and their own wills, to the pleasure of Almighty God, and to honour and profit this realm….”  Not daring to leave anything behind, the Act of Suppression gave the rights for the “…King’s highness shall have and enjoy to his own proper use, all the ornaments, jewels, goods, chattels and debts, which appertained to any of the chief governors of the said monasteries” (“Act for the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries”).

Eustace Chapuys, Spanish Ambassador to Charles V wrote “The King and Council are busy setting officers for the provision and exaction of the revenues of the churches which are to be suppressed; which, it is said, will be in number above 300, and are expected to bring in a revenue of 120,000 ducats. The silver plate, chalices, and reliquaries, the church ornaments, bells, lead from the roofs, cattle, and furniture belonging to them, which will come to the King, will be of inestimable amount. All these lords are intent on having farms of the goods of the said churches, and already the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk are largely provided with them. I am told that although Cromwell promoted in the first instance the demolition of the said churches, that nevertheless, seeing the dangers that might arise from it, he was anxious to prevent them, for which reason the King had been somewhat angry with him” (Gairdner X 601).

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Eustace Chapuys, Spanish Ambassador to England

The busy Ambassador wrote that same day, March 18, 1536, to his fellow Hapsburg statesman, Cardinal Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle (sometimes referred to as Granville or Grenville): “You will see by the letters I write to his Majesty, the gentle device of this King to extract money on pretext of charity by means of the offerings. If it succeeds, as no doubt it will, he will gain an immense sum of money, for he will impose a tax according to his will which everyone will have to offer, and not engage to do so for once but for all the other innumerable inventions that this King daily puts forward in order to get money, at which the people is terribly grieved and almost desperate, but no man dare complain ” (Gairdner X 495).  Contemporaries discussed Cranmer’s sermon which assured the people that the king would now gain so much treasure “that from that time he should have no need, nor put the people to … any charge for his or the realm’s affairs” (Heal 145).

The monasteries did need some reform. It was not unique to England and it was not so much against the religion as to the laxity that befell many religious houses.  Henry’s and Cromwell’s greed were not the sole motivators.  Local landed gentry also eagerly eyed the wealth of the lands of their neighbors.  Already indebted to each other, the monasteries and noble estates had been intertwined for years. Abbots had long been “giving up part of their revenues, in the form of pensions …to courtiers, in the hope of being allowed to retain the remainder” (Pollard 340).  But Henry had hit upon an enormous source of wealth in his position as Supreme Head of the Church of England. And perhaps, not beyond the one time infusion as Chapuys further opinioned that “the King will greatly increase his revenue” (Gairdner X 494).

Statute 575
 Transcription of the above Statute

“An Acte whereby all Relygeous Houses of Monks, Chanons, and Nonnes whiche may not dyspend Manors Lands  Tenants & Heredytaments above the clere yerly Value of ij C E are geven to the Kings Highness his heirs and Successours for ever.  The Byll for the suppressing of dy__ Places of Relygion” (“The Statutes of the Realm”)

Oddly enough Henry was not made astronomically wealthy–he needed to cover debts and he distributed much of the wealth to his nobles. Thus, the view must be that the dissolution’s intention was not to make Henry wealthy but to bribe the gentry to support Henry’s policies. Chapuys reported to Charles V that “the King will distribute among the gentlemen of the kingdom the greater part of the ecclesiastical revenues to gain their goodwill” (Gairdner VII 1141).  “The dissolution of the monasteries harmonised well with the secular principles of the predominant classes” (Pollard 342).

Whom it did not harmonize well with was Queen Anne Bolyen.

On Passion Sunday, April 2, 1536, John Skip, chaplain to Anne Boleyn, preached a sermon to the entire Court with his target “scarcely disguised” as Thomas Cromwell (Heal 142).  Taking his theme from Biblical text, he asked, Quis ex vobis arguet me de peccato? Which of you convinceth me of sin? (Newcombe).  The message of this incendiary sermon was to encourage Henry’s advisors to cease their greed and do what was right for the people, especially the poor. Skip altered the Esther Biblical story to stress “to courtiers and counselors alike to change the advice they were giving the king and to reject the lure of personal gain” (Ives 309).

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Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther by Rembrandt

Eric Ives in the text, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, supported by other historians, has analyzed Skip’s symbolism-laden sermon and has pointed out the correlation between this sermon and Anne’s disagreement with Cromwell over how the proceeds from the dissolution of the lesser monasteries should be used. Cranmer even ran afoul of Henry later by not consenting “that the king should have all the revenues of the monasteries which were suppressed, to his own sole use” (Dodd 21).  Many understood that Henry could have the lands to do with as he wished but that the wealth should be “bestowed on hospitals, schools, and other pious and charitable foundations” (Dodd 21).  It appeared to be common knowledge that Anne too wanted the money to be “devoted to furthering the cause of reform rather than filling the king’s coffers” (Newcombe).

It must be clarified that Anne was not against the monasteries being suppressed.  She disagreed with the King and Cromwell on how the funds should be distributed. She wanted to follow her inclinations by having the revenues assist the poor and help scholars, causes she was known to patronize.

George Wyatt praised Anne for making shirts and smocks for the poor, and remarking that her charity “passed through the whole land” and she gave “fifteen hundred pounds* at the least, yearly, to be bestowed on the poor” with another fourteen or fifteen thousand pounds** being given in alms and to support scholars (Cavendish II 207).
John Foxe commended Anne for “how bountiful she was to the poor, passing not only the common example of other queens, but also the revenues almost of her estate; insomuch that the alms which she gave in three quarters of a year, in distribution, …to the behalf of poor artificers and occupiers” (Foxe 232-234).
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John Foxe

The Scottish cleric, Alexander Alesius, referred to Anne Boleyn as ‘your most holy mother’ when writing to Elizabeth.  He clearly believed that Elizabeth’s “very pious mother” formed many enemies at Court for “her desire to promote the pure doctrine of the Gospel and her kindness to the poor” (Stevenson 1303-15).

Anne more than likely could not imagine that her preferences would be gainsaid. Her influence over Henry was well-known.  Even in the Privy-Council her impact could be felt.  Jean du Bellay, Bishop of Bayonne, the French Ambassador relayed a story that council member, Thomas Boleyn, “allowed everything to be said, and then came and suggested the complete opposite, defending his position without budging, as though he wanted to show me that he was not pleased that anyone should have failed to pay court to the lady [Anne], and also to make me accept that what he had said before is true, that is, that all the rest have no influence except what it pleases the lady to allow them, and that is gospel truth.  And because of this he wanted with words and deeds to beat down their opinions before my eyes” (Ives 126).

Yet, Anne was going to see more and more of her influence slip away. Not only was she not seeing eye-to-eye with Cromwell over the use of the monies gained from the dissolution of the monasteries, international politics also added a level of tension and discord.  Charles V now needed an alliance with England against France.

A long-time ally of Anne’s, Francis, King of France, was being replaced in Henry’s diplomatic play book with Charles V.  What emerged was the famously orchestrated meeting between Chapuys and Anne. On April 18, 1536, George Boleyn greeted the Ambassador who was invited by Henry via message to meet Anne and kiss her hand as she made her way to chapel.  Chapuys excused himself from that honor, as this was a bit much even though he knew that Henry’s move from favoring the French to the Imperial side was vital. Chapuys was in a difficult position as he was personally loyal to the late Queen Katherine and Princess Mary—more so than to the woman he referred to as “the concubine.”

The play unfolded as Anne acknowledged the Ambassador at chapel and he had to bow in return.  She asked after him specifically and made some anti-French remarks.  Henry swung the other way as he wanted his feigned pro-French stance to force the Imperial hand.  It was Cromwell’s turn to be in a bind.  If the Imperial acceptance of her was what negotiations hinged on, he needed to do something.  Cromwell cultivated his relationship with Chapuys.  Knowing that the Ambassador greatly disliked the Queen and would probably believe the words, Cromwell told the Ambassador that Anne “would like to see his [Cromwell’s] head cut off” and Chapuys could not forget this “for the love I bore him; and I could not but wish him a more gracious mistress, and one more grateful for the inestimable services he had done the King, and that he must beware of enraging her” and warned that Cromwell deserved better treatment “than did the Cardinal.” This illusion to Wolsey accompanied Chapuys’ veiled warning that he hoped that Cromwell’s greater “dexterity and prudence” would stand him well in his dealings with Anne (Gairdner X 601).
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Anne Boleyn 

It appeared as if Cromwell was working closely with Chapuys to further the relations between their two countries.  Chapuys wrote in April of 1536 to the Emperor that Cromwell had assured him that he was “very desirous of the preservation and increase of friendship of his master’s with Your Majesty, and is daily doing good offices in that respect—not only pointing out those measures which he considers most fit under the circumstances, but advising also of his own accord, and working for the accomplishment of our mutual wishes” (de Gayangos V 43).  At their meeting, Cromwell “replied five or six times, with great fervour, that it was a good beginning for the matter of the preservation of the amity of which we had so often talked, to which the King was more inclined than ever, and likewise those of his Council … and Cromwell assured me, on his life and honor, that the King had never treated anything in France, Germany, or elsewhere, to the prejudice of the friendship he has with your Majesty” (Gairdner X 601).

Domestically, Cromwell managed to upset both pro-French and pro-Imperial factions in England.  Internationally, events took a more favorable turn.  Charles V continued his overtures of friendship, the Pope became more inclined to treat with England, and Francis I became sidelined—all international events which weakened Anne’s position and nudged Cromwell to act.

Oddly enough, Cromwell’s station, his continued political position and his economic gains were because of Anne’s support.  Her influence over Henry could have swung the king’s favor to another councilor. Perhaps it was this precariousness or the rise of the more evangelical faction led by such young men as George Boleyn and Henry Norris or his own interest in intrigue or, most likely, a combination of reasons which led Cromwell to move against Anne.

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George Boleyn’s signature

Cromwell assessed the situation and determined that it would be better if he “took the side of the conservative churchmen against those who had been hitherto considered Anne’s principal supporters” (Friedmann II 226). Cromwell knew that having “identified himself so closely with the measures against the Roman Church, he could not but fear that, if its authority were re-established, he would fare very badly at its hands”  (Friedmann II 55-56).

By March of 1536, Cromwell tried a more moderate approach with success as, surprisingly, those in opposition to Anne, by March of 1536, included fellow Protestants.  The more radical groups believed reform was not moving fast enough and the more moderate thought enough changes had been made.  Cromwell felt his position strengthened and the Secretary most likely saw the way Henry was treating Anne and his interest in Jane Seymour. Chapuys gleefully reported that “the Concubine and Cromwell were on bad terms, and that some new marriage for the King was spoken of” (Gairdner X 601).

In early 1536 Henry was certainly paying attention to Jane Seymour.  Chapuys remarked to his king that the “new amours of this King with the young lady…still go on, to the intense rage of the concubine” (Gairdner X 495).  It was suspected that the King “believed that he might take another wife, which he gave to understand that he had some wish to do” (Gairdner X 199).

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Jane Seymour by Holbein 

At first it appeared to Chapuys that Henry was going to negotiate with France to obtain a French Princess and “was now thinking of a fresh marriage, that would, no doubt, be the way of preserving him (Cromwell) from many inconveniences, and likewise the best thing for the King to do” (de Gayangos V 43).  Chapuys certainly hoped that a new marriage for Henry would bring “peace, honour, and prosperity to England” and would provide Cromwell “another royal mistress, not out of hatred of Anne Boleyn, for she had never done me any harm, but for his own sake” (de Gayangos V 43).  Regardless of the rumors of a French alliance, Chapuys was assured by Cromwell shortly after he had written about his speculation of a French marriage, “that the King had already fixed on a wife, to wit Jane Semel” (Gairdner X 1069).  Anne Boleyn had less than a month to live.

Cromwell knowing many men of the Privy Chamber such as Nicholas Carew “never accepted the new Queen with any more grace than was needed to avoid their own ruin,” headed the move against Anne (MacCulloch 154). The Spanish Ambassador “monitored these events with increasing excitement, and probably acted as a go-between for the union of Cromwell’s plans and those of the conservatives” (MacCulloch 154). 

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Nicholas Carew

Taking the religious issue to the domestic sphere, the conservatives and Cromwell exploited the King’s interest in Jane Seymour.  Chapuys wrote to the Imperial Court on 1 April 1536, that “certainly it appears to me that if it succeeds, it will be a great thing … to remedy the heresies here, of which the Concubine is the cause and principal nurse, and also to pluck the King from such an abominable and more than incestuous marriage” (Gairdner X 601).  By the middle of April when John Skip gave his sermon on Passion Sunday, it became obvious that rumors of intrigues “were beginning to fly around the Court” (MacCulloch 154). Skip showed great nerve by attacking Henry VIII and Jane Seymour using the analogy of King Solomon who blemished his own reputation by his “sensual and carnal aptitude in taking many wives and concubines” (MacCulloch 154).

Jane protected her own reputation evidenced by the famous story that Chapuys relayed.  Supposedly “some days ago, the King being here in London, and, the young Miss Seymour, to whom he is paying court at Greenwich, he sent her a purse full of sovereigns, together with a letter, and that the young damsel, after respectfully kissing the letter, returned it to the messenger without opening it, and then falling on her knees, begged the royal messenger to entreat the King in her name to consider that she was a well-born damsel, the daughter of good and honourable parents without blame or reproach of any kind; there was no treasure in this world that she valued as much as her honour, and on no account would she lose it, even if she were to die a thousand deaths. That if the King wished to make her a present of money, she requested him to reserve it for such a time as God would be pleased to send her some advantageous marriage” (de Gayangos V 43). 

Evidently, this episode, well-orchestrated by Jane and her advisors, had the following reaction by Henry.  The “King’s love and desire towards the said lady was wonderfully increased, and that he had said she had behaved most virtuously, and to show her that he only loved her honorably, he did not intend henceforth to speak with her except in presence of some of her kin; for which reason the King has caused Cromwell to remove from a chamber to which the King can go by certain galleries without being perceived, and has lodged there the eldest brother of the said lady [Edward Seymour] with his wife, in order to bring thither the same young lady, who has been well taught for the most part by those intimate with the King, who hate the concubine, that she must by no means comply with the King’s wishes except by way of marriage; in which she is quite firm” (Gairdner X 601).

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Edward Seymour

Intentions of a third marriage were already firmly believed by many at Court as early as January 1536.  A gleeful Chapuys imagined that Henry knew “how much his subjects abominate the marriage contracted with the concubine, and that not one considers it legitimate” (de Gayangos V 43).  Henry stated “in great confidence, and as it were in confession, that he had made this marriage, seduced by witchcraft, and for this reason he considered it null; and that this was evident because God did not permit them to have any male issue, and that he believed that he might take another wife, which he gave to understand that he had some wish to do” (Gairdner X 199).

Henry was very taken with Jane Seymour but realized he could not have a repeat scenario of a living divorced wife.  How actively involved was Henry in eliminating Anne and many of the leading evangelicals?  That is a difficult question to answer although Cromwell, according to Chapuys, took full credit as the person “who had discovered and followed up the affair of the Concubine, in which he had taken a great deal of trouble, and that, … he had set himself to arrange the plot (a fantasier et conspirer led affaire)” to protect the king (Gairdner 1069).  To protect and to please the king?

Surprisingly, Cromwell himself will be put to death by Henry.  Frustrated over the machinations that forced him to marry Anne of Cleeves, Henry was persuaded by Cromwell’s enemies to charge him with treason.  Years later, the Scottish cleric, Alexander Alesius wrote to Elizabeth Regina that Cromwell “was punished by the just judgment of God, because he had loved the King more than God; and that out of deference to his Sovereign he had caused many innocent persons to be put to death, not sparing your most holy mother, nor had he obeyed her directions in promoting the doctrine of the Gospel” (Stevenson I 51).  

Cromwell’s contemporary, Nicholas Shaxton, appointed Bishop of Salisbury at Anne’s urging–one of the clerics “who favoured the purer doctrine of the Gospel, and to whom she [Anne] had intrusted the care of it” (Stevenson I 15), wrote to Cromwell on May 23rd shortly after her death, “I beseech you, Sir, in vis[ceribus] Jesu Christi, that ye will now be no less diligent [in setting] forth the honour of God and his Holy Word, than [when] the late Queen was alive, and often incit[ed you thereto]” (Gairdner X 942). Interesting that a known evangelical saw the need to prod Cromwell to maintain the strides made in the name of reform.  It appears to this blogger that the reformers realized that Henry was too much a conservative at heart to continue the cause of evangelical dogma without the advocacy of Anne.  Cromwell was likely to be swayed in the direction of his king. 
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Salisbury Cathedral 

Anne, identified as a “zealous defender of Christ’s gospel” would use her influence so that “her acts… will declare to the world’s end” her theological ideals (Foxe V 232-234).  At the time of her death, it was inconceivable that Anne’s most lasting influence on the Protestant faith would be in the form of her three-year old daughter, Elizabeth. 

Upon her acquisition of the throne, Alesius urged her to “guard herself from the snares of the devil, who were the cause of her mother’s death in consequence of her love for the doctrine of the Gospel while it was in its infancy, and afterwards persecuted those persons whom she appointed to watch over the Church” (Stevenson I 1303).

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

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula–Part II

Path to St. Peter ad Vincular—Part II

Anne Bolyen’s path to her final resting place in St. Peter ad Vincular began the minute King Henry VIII turned his full attention on her.  The personal element of their courtship is not the subject of this blog entry, rather the political and religious maneuverings that culminated in their marriage.

Once Anne came onto the scene, Henry’s previous scruples of being married to his brother’s widow, which was unclean as taught by scripture, became magnified.  It was unacceptable to be married to Katherine of Aragon any longer.  Henry had negotiated with the French King, Francis I, in order to gain support in his bid for a divorce. He also had contact with his nephew-by-marriage, Charles V, to no avail.  Added to these attempts to treat, Henry gathered the opinions of university scholars and theologians throughout Europe in order to bend the Pope to claim in his favor.  Nothing happened as the Pope, in this delicate position, procrastinated.  In frustration Henry wrote to Clement VII on December 6, 1530, from Hampton Court of his displeasure.  Henry believed that “his demands, however just and reasonable, are put aside” and that “sometimes he cannot believe the Pope to have done what he knows he has done.”  Clement refused to allow the divorce case to be heard in England against the support of the French King and his councilors and “also the whole nobility and leading men in England” (Brewer IV 6759).  An exasperated Henry exclaimed that the Pope had shown “by his acts before all the world that he is wholly devoted to the Emperor’s will.” Even more interesting is the fact that Henry, having read William Tyndale’s text (more on that below), laid it out to Clement that if he desires “his own rights to be respected, let him not interfere with those of Henry” and “let him not suppose that either the King or his nobles will allow the fixed laws of his kingdom to be set aside.”  Henry would not let “the laws of England suffer the contrary, and … he will not brook denial” (Brewer IV 6759).

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Pope Clement VII Portrait by Sebastiano del Piombo, 1526

Clement VII responded to Henry’s letter on January 7, 1531, and told Henry “there are many things in your letters in which we miss your usual wisdom, and even your modesty” and denied the “taunt that we are governed by the Emperor” Charles V.  Clement claimed that it was “clear from the complaints against him made by the Emperor” that he had not submitted to Charles’ demands (Gairdner V 31).

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Pope Clement VII response to Henry VIII letter

Clement addressed the charge that the case could not be heard in England.  He admitted “that this is so, because it is the peculiar privilege of the Holy See to refer to himself all causes which in any province cannot be effectively determined” and the “Apostolic See allowed her [Katherine] allegation to be considered sufficient, that England was a suspected place, as the King was her opponent” (Gairdner V 31).  Contrary to what Henry had been reading in Tyndale, the Pope emphasized that the kingdom’s laws would not be violated “provided they can be preserved without scandal to the Catholic Church, which is to be preferred to all law.” Perhaps suspecting the loss of Henry to the cause of the Catholic Church Clement beseeched him to remember “his title of Defender of the Faith, and peaceably arrange this cause, or acquiesce in the judgment of the Holy See” (Gairdner V 31).

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Anonymous writer’s defense of the Pope

Henry remained as patient as he could for two more years awaiting the Pope’s decision, but with Anne pregnant he took action and married her in January 1533.  In a proclamation Henry declared that he was “married and espoused according to the laws of God and holy Church to the lady Anne, his lawful wife, who as appertaineth to the estate is by the said assent anointed and crowned Queen of this realm” (Pocock 497).  Henry further created a Proclamation in June 1533 to warn his subjects “to avoid the danger and penalty of the Statue of Provision and Premunire” which laid out his divorce from Katherine of Aragon and the fact that he “hath lawfully married and taken to wife, after the laws of the Church, the right high and ecellent princess Lady Anne now Queen of England, and she solemnly crowned and anointed as pertaineith, to the laud, praise, and honour of Almighty God, the surety of the king’s succession and posterity, and to the great joy, comfort, and contantation of all the subjects of this realm” (Pocock 502).  Despite the universal happiness of the realm that Henry proclaimed occurred upon the announcement of his marriage, he had to explain to his people that his divorce from Katherine was final and anyone in doubt would “incur and run in the pains and penalties comprised in the statutes” (Pocock 502).

Within England, the pro-Catholic and the pro-Imperial factions rejoiced when Pope Clement annulled the marriage of Henry and Anne on July 11, 1533, by proclaiming, “Sententia deffinitiva Clementis Popæ septimi pro matrimonio Henrici Octavi Angliæ  Regis cum Catharinâ et contra secundas ejusdem nuptias cum Annâ Bolenâ.  Data Romæ anno Domini 1533.  Pontificatûs Clementis decimo” (Pocock 677).  Of course, Henry ignored the command.  Anne was the one to suffer from the ill will of those in England loyal to the old faith.

Samuel Singer, as editor of the George Cavendish work on Thomas Wolsey, commented that since the “marriage of Henry with Anne Bullen led to the separation of the kingdom from the See of Rome, her memory has consequently always been vituperated in all possible ways by every true son of the Catholic Church…” Protestant writers have not “been wanting in zeal to defend the queen from all the unjust aspersions upon her character, and have considered her as a martyr to the cause of the reformed church” (Cavendish II 44).  However, what was Anne’s true role?  Was she a staunch supporter of the reformed church?  Was she using the Reformation as a means to an end for her acquisition of the queenship? Most pieces of ‘evidence’ could be interpreted to support either proposition.

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An engraving of Anne Boleyn in the cover George Cavendish’s book, said to be after the original portrait by Holbein.

A story collaborated by John Foxe and George Wyatt (added in George Cavendish’s work on Wolsey) related how Anne Boleyn shared with Henry a copy of the banned book The Obedience of a Christian Man written in 1528 by William Tyndale.  Advocating, among other things, that a king of a country should be the head of the Church not the Pope, Tyndale’s claims were radical and dangerous to say the least.  Although the idea of the divine right of kings did not take a firm foothold during the Tudor era, Henry embraced the idea that a pope had no earthly authority and that the king “is the minister of God,” and kings “are God’s ministers serving for the same purpose….” Henry welcomed Tyndale’s claim that “God therefore hath given laws unto all nations, and in all lands hath put kings, governors, and rulers in his own stead, to rule the world through them” (Tyndale 25).

Therefore while the Catholics blamed Anne for revealing the book to Henry in order to obtain the divorce from Katherine through strengthening his resolve to break from Rome and create a Church under his leadership, the Protestants praised her because “the help of this virtuous Lady, by the means aforesaid, had his eyes opened to the truth, to advance God’s religion and glory, to abhor the Pope’s doctrine” (Strype 172).

Anne had promoted Protestant ideas and had in her possession several banned books beyond Tyndale’s which she shared with Henry.  It appears as if the King enjoyed Simon Fish’s Supplication of the Beggars (Warnicke 111-112) and accepted some of the doctrines of the Protestants.  Henry was a conservative and did not alter many of the Church doctrines.  Anne was the more liberal.  The Scottish clergyman and historian, Alexander Alesius, wrote Elizabeth Regina “true religion in England had its commencement and its end with your mother” (Denny 132).  Influenced by Anne, many ecclesiastical appointments were of evangelical “scholars who favoured the purer doctrine of the gospel” (Denny 212).  Men such as Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, and Nicholas Shaxton were the most prominent.  Members of her own household were also more liberal including her chaplain, Matthew Parker, future Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom she entrusted the spiritual life of her toddler daughter, Elizabeth, to him in the event of anything happening to her.

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William Tyndale

Another Protestant doctrine from Tyndale that Anne embraced was the theory that the Bible should be translated into the vernacular.  Showing her reluctance to push conservatives too far by disobeying a strictly forbidden work, Anne never owned an English language Bible—she had one in French.

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

The Path to St. Peter ad Vincula: Part I

The Path to St. Peter ad Vincula:  Part I

Nicholas Sander was an English Catholic who in 1586 wrote The Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism, (De Origine ac Progressu Schismatis Anglicani.)  For the purpose of this blog the materials relayed from his book will concentrate on Sander’s discussion of Anne Boleyn.  That he was not a supporter of Anne is an understatement. That he saw it as his duty to publish any-and-all anecdotes that reached him is also an understatement.  In an introduction to a later publication of Sander’s book (1877), editor, David Lewis wrote that Sander was not a “slave to his resentments and passions” and did no true harm to Anne’s reputation as many had already done as much (Sander XXVI).

“The French Ambassador did not spare her, and the king’s own sister, the duchess of Suffolk, is said to have uttered ‘opprobrious language’ against her.”  Lewis went on to report that “the Venetian Calendar of State Papers, edited by Mr. Rawdon Brown, is a contemporary account of Anne, not more flattering than that of Dr. Sander” (Sander XXV).

Mario Savorgnano, Venetian Ambassador to England, had many of his dispatches to the Doge and Senate compiled by historian Marnio Sanuto in Diaries.   Sanuto’s work covers the time-period of January 1496 to September 1533 in 58 volumes. Rawdon Brown used materials from these volumes in 1871 in his translations of the Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice.  Savorgnano, while praising King Henry VIII on August 25, 1531, lessened the commendation by declaring that one “thing detracts greatly from his merits, as there is now living with him a young woman of noble birth, though many say of bad character, whose will is law to him” (Brown August 1531 682)

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Page from the book, Diaries, by Marnio Sanuto.

Simon Grynaeus, a religious reformer from Basel, who, through Erasmus, had an introduction to Sir Thomas More, spent several months in England in late 1531.  Although he accepted the task to help Henry collect the opinions of the continental reformers on the divorce between Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, Grynaeus spoke of Anne “as a woman entitled to no respect” (Sander XXV).

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Pages from the book by Simon Grynaeus.

Lodovico Falier, Venetian co-Ambassador to the Court of Henry VIII  from January 1528 until August 1531 wrote a summary report on 10 November 1531 which was presented to the Venetian rulers declaring that Queen Katherine of Aragon was “beloved by the islanders more than any Queen that ever reigned” (Brown November 1531 694).  Sander relayed a contemporary’s assessment of Anne. “Madam Anne is not one of the handsomest women in the world: she is of middling stature, swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, bosom not much raised, and in fact has nothing but the English king’s great appetite and her eyes, which are black and beautiful. That is an account of Anne Boleyn in October 1532, when she was living ‘like a queen at Calais,’ accompanied by the king” (Sander XXV-XXVI).

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Engraving by an unknown artist of Simon Grynaeus.

The following is a story attributed by Sander only to the ‘French Ambassador in Venice’ who received this about the same time as Falier was giving his report. It is also relayed in Sanuto’s Diaries for the date 24 November, 1531 as reported by Brown in the Calendar of State Papers—Venice. “It is said that more than seven weeks ago a mob of from seven to eight thousand women of London went out of the town to seize Boleyn’s daughter, the sweetheart of the king of England, who was supping at a villa –in una casa di piacere—on a river; the king not being with her; and having received notice of this she escaped by crossing the river in a boat.  The women had intended to kill her, and amongst the mob were many men disguised as women; nor has any great demonstration been made about this, because it was a thing done by women” (Sander xxvii; Brown November 1531 701).

Even more tantalizing than the above story is the one concerning the birth of Anne Boleyn.  Lewis goes on quite a tirade concerning the work of William Rastall (Rastell), Life of Sir Thomas More.  It appeared to be used as an argument for the validity of Dr. Burnet’s (Gilbert Burnet was a 17th century Scottish theologian, respected historian, and Bishop of Salisbury) story of the birth of Anne Boleyn—more on that in a little bit.  Sander’s lengthy discourse caused me to spend way too much time investigating. As near as I can piece together, William Rastell did not write a book about his uncle Sir Thomas More (William’s mother was Sir Thomas’ sister) but printed the text of More’s own work, A dyaloge of Syr Thomas More knyghte: one of the counsayll of oure soverayne lorde the kyng & chauncellour of hys duchy of Lancaster…. William later edited it into More’s English Works.  John Rastell a printer and William’s father, and his subcontractor, Peter Treveris, had completed an initial printing in June 1529 (Devereux 153-155). Therefore, when Lewis pronounced, “Dr. Burnet was a bolder man” than Nicholas Sander and that Brunet “denies also that Rastell ever wrote a Life of Sir Thomas More” as to why his story “deserves to be read” I had to investigate (Sander xxvii).

rastell
Printer’s Mark of John Rastell

“Were true,” writes Burnet, “very much might be drawn from it, both to disparage king Henry, who pretended conscience to annul his marriage for the nearness of affinity, and yet would after that marry his own daughter.  It leaves also a foul and lasting stain both on the memory of Anne Boleyn, and of her incomparable daughter, queen Elizabeth.  It also derogates so much from the first reformers, who had some kind of dependence on queen Anne Boleyn, that it seems to be of great importance, for directing the reader in the judgment he is to make of persons and things, to lay open the falsehood of this account.  It were sufficient for blasting it, that there is no proof pretended to be brought for any part of it, but a book of one Rastall, a judge, that was never seen by any other person than that writer.  The title of the book is ‘The Life of Sir Thomas More.’  There is great reason to think that Rastall never writ any such book; for it is most common for the lives of great authors to be prefixed to their works.  Now this Rastall published all More’s works in queen Mary’s reign, to which if he had written his life, it is likely he would have prefixed it.  No evidence, therefore, being given for his relation, either from record or letters, or the testimony of any person who was privy to the matter, the whole is to be looked on as a black forgery, devised on purpose to defame queen Elizabeth” (Sander xxviii).

images
Sir Thomas More

The implication that Henry VIII had sired a daughter, Anne, by Elizabeth Howard Boleyn was the outgrowth of the steady rumor that Henry had intimate relations with Elizabeth. Henry addressed the gossip to Sir George Throgmorton saying, “Never with the mother” (Friedman 326).  This blog will relay the story via the work of Nicholas Sander relayed through Dr. Burnet and Nicholas Pocock.

Pocock, who wrote Records of the Reformation: The Divorce 1527-1533, was no fan of Sander’s work.  In later years he edited a volume and wrote extensively of Sander’s mistakes.  In a lengthy chapter titled, “An Appendix Concerning Some of the Errors and Falsehoods in Sanders’ Book of the English Schism,” Pocock referred to his predecessor as “so great a master, impudence, and falsehood are matter of fact” (Burnet and Pocock 615).

Henry VIII was determined to marry Anne Boleyn and he was concerned over Cannon Law which could prohibit the marriage due to consanguinity.  It was accepted that Henry had committed “intrigue with Mary Boleyn, the elder sister of Anne” (Pocock xxxviii).  Nicholas Sander would not hold to Henry VIII’s argument that he must divorce Catherine of Aragon due to consanguinity yet would marry Anne Boleyn “having at the same time knowledge that this very impediment subsisted against the marriage with Anne Boleyn” (Sander 95). According to Sander, Henry had confessed in “a letter to Pope Clement VII that he had committed adultery with Mary Boleyn, the sister of Anne” (Sander 98).  This would make Henry related to Anne by the first degree of consanguinity.  Sander chided Henry for his lack of respect to the doctrines of the Church and for “his hypocrisy …and the falsehood of his heart” (Sander 98).  This being reference to Henry divorcing Katherine Aragon as the wife of his brother and for his relations to Mary Boleyn and Elizabeth Boleyn.

“Whether there was any connexion of a similar kind between Henry and the mother of Anne Boleyn may perhaps still be somewhat doubtful.  The king, on one occasion, denied that there had been any such intercourse, thereby tacitly admitting the other charge” (Pocock xxxviii).

ehboley

Portrait believed to be of Elizabeth Howard Boleyn

Whatever the truth concerning the matter of Lady Boleyn and Henry VIII, Pocock believed that Sander overreached himself in his eagerness to defame Elizabeth Regina.  He does later find more charity with Sander and states that Sander truly believed the information he had been given (Pocock xli).    Below is the document dated March 1533, in which a priest named Thomas Jackson was charged with having stated that the King had committed adultery with Anne and Elizabeth Boleyn. It was reported by Sander and later reproduced by Pocock, titled, “Number CCCXXIX.”

Certain Articles deposed against Sir Thomas Jakson,
Chantree priest of Chepax, for certain words spoken by
him maliciously against our sovereign lord and king and
the queen’s grace by John Kepar and Bryan Banke of the
said town, which things also they have confessed before
Mr. William Fairfax, Esquire, Sheriff of the county of York.
First, The said Chantry Priest said that the king’s grace had
lived before this his marriage lawfully made with the queen’s
grace, not after the laws of God, but in adultery with her
grace and so doth now still continue, putting away from him
his lawful wife.
 
Item, He said maliciously that the king’s grace should first
kepe the mother and after the daughter, and now he hath
married her whom he kept afore and her mother also, upon
which words we presented the said preiset unto the sheriff
aforesaid, upon which presentment the said preist was
attached with all his goods, and the said John Kepar
and Brian Banke were by the said sheriff made to bind
themselves ot come hither and present the same to the
king’s grace counsel; which they have now done, most
meekly desiring to be at your pleasure demitted, for
they be poor men, and to lye long here should be to them
great hindrance.
 
Which thing to be true the said John Kepar and Brian Banke
will stand by at all times and have bounden themselves
before the sheriff by their hands and seals.
 
Endorsed—
Certain Articles deposed against Sir Thomas Jakson priest
(Pocock 468).
jakson proof of ab
Document Number CCCXXIX

“That the report of such intercourse spread during the first year of the marriage is plain from the document Number CCCXXIX, and the story must be allowed whatever weight is due to an assertion of a charge in itself improbably, and for the invention f which no adequate reason can be assigned.  Hitherto it has been supposed that Nicholas Sanders was the inventor of the libel; but this document shews that the report existed at least half a century before Sanders’ book, ‘De Schismate,’ was published.  It was, of course easy to magnify the particulars of such a story till it grew to the dimensions of Anne being the king’s own daughter” (Pocock xxxix).  Sander declared that “Henry had sinned with the mother of Anne Boleyn. And there was therefore, that relationship between them which subsists between parent and child.  It is never lawful for a father to marry his own daughter” (Sander 99).

Pocock told how Sander had acquired the tale from a book about the life of Sir Thomas More by Rastell and had never checked the facts.  “That Anne could be the king’s daughter by lady Boleyn is easily shewn to be impossible from considerations of time and circumstance” (Pocock xxxix).  Although Pocock never relays to us the proof of this, he does give Sander some slack due to the wording of the dispensation that Cranmer had petitioned from the Pope to allow Henry to marry Anne.  Cranmer had to cover every possible point and we are cautioned not to place too much stress “on Cranmer’s assertion, that the affinity supposed to be contracted by illicit intercourse of a man with his wife’s sister, daughter, or mother.”  Specifics would not even be that necessary as Cannon Law “being express upon this subject: Secundum canones etiam per coitum fornicarium et incestuosum contrahitur affinitas.”  Pocock assures us that the details of Cranmer’s request are “veiled in the decent obscurity of a dead language” (Pocock xxxix-xl).

Thomas_Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer

This blogger is upset with herself for spending too much time and energy on these rumors but they do illustrate the lengths people went to defame Anne Boleyn.  Now we come to the crux of Sander’s argument.

Henry was deemed as shameless and Sander was astounded by the “hypocrisy and the rashness and lewdness of one man” but marveled the more at the fact that “multitudes of men should endure patiently, not their own lewdness, but that of another—not only endure it patiently, but respect it, praise and honour it so far as to build upon it their belief, their hope and salvation” (Sander 99-100).

Anne Boleyn B necklace
Anne Boleyn
He exclaimed that “Now, all English Protestants, honour the incestuous marriage of Henry and Anne Boleyn as the well-spring of their gospel, the mother of their Church, and the source of their belief” (Sander 100).  The religious issue was never far behind the personal and the political.  Pope Clement VII had officially declared that Henry had by “de facto married one Anne, contrary to Our commandments, and in contempt of Our prohibitions contained in Our letter in forma Brevis, thereby temerariously disturbing the due course of law; the marriage contracted by the aforesaid Henry and Anne all manifest and notorious deeds to be what they are and were, null and unjust and contrary to law” (Lilly 350).  For further measure, Clement declared “by the same sentence that the children, born or to be born of that marriage, are and always have been bastards” (Lilly 351).

clement2
Pope Clement VII

As mentioned, politics wrapped itself in the religious and personal lives of the Tudor Era and the Pope saw fit to “deal gently and mercifully with the said Henry.” He gave Henry over a year to comply with the orders to repudiate Anne and reinstate Catherine or face excommunication.  The Pope could not afford to alienate Henry and was hoping for a reprieve to allow matters to resolve themselves and thus not offend Charles, Holy Roman Emperor, nephew of Catherine of Aragon.  That fascinating angle to this topic will not be addressed here. Thus, Catholic Sander was convinced that “this marriage opened a door to every heresy and to every sin” which eventually brought her downfall (Sander 101).

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