Path to St. Peter ad Vincula Part VII – D
Obviously, Anne had her distracters. As discussed in the blog, Path to St. Peter ad Vincula -Part I, Nicholas Sander’s De Origine Ac Progressu Schismatis Anglicani was re-published in France. This led to renewed defense of Anne. Bishop Gilbert Burnet, wrote The History of the Reformation, and George Wyatt, Life of the Virtuous Christian and Renowned Queen Anne Boleigne. Referring to Sander as “the Romish fable-framer” Wyatt, grandson of the famous Tudor poet, Sir Thomas Wyatt, tried to debunk all the claims made against Anne by Sander (Cavendish 190).
It is well known that Anne accepted admiration and would have responded to the chivalric attentions of courtiers. One example would be Thomas Wyatt. Upon first meeting, the similarities of the two personalities would have cemented an enjoyment for each other’s company. Both were “nearly of the same age, they had both the same love for polite accomplishments, and were both fond of poetry and music: both excelled in wit and conversation; and both probably had contracted a predilection for the ease and elegance of foreign manners” (Nott 20). It is not the purpose of this blog entry to discuss the poems and ballads that were written by Wyatt with her as the possible subject.
This public relationship did lead to the detainment of Wyatt in the Tower in May of 1536 as many contemporaries felt that if Anne had committed adultery, Wyatt would be a prime candidate. Wyatt was not indicted or brought to trial for infidelity with the Queen. He was eventually allowed to return to his estates and gain general favor again (it is assumed his release was due to the personal relationship he held with Thomas Cromwell). While in the Tower, he would have been aware of Anne’s execution due to the role his sister Margaret played in the events.
Lady Margaret Lee by Hans Holbein
Lady Margaret Lee, had been appointed as an attendant to Anne in the late 1520s. She was a known favorite of the Queen’s and accompanied her to the Tower. Tradition has it that the Wyatt family treated with “veneration as a precious relic, a little manuscript prayer-book set in gold enamelled black” which Anne gave to Margaret “as the last parting pledge of her affection” (Nott 25). The book was “preserved by them [the Wyatt family] through several generations” (Cavendish 206).
The Wyatt Prayer Book. There is still controversy as to which book, if indeed there was one, was given to Margaret Lee.
Although there still is scholarly debate over which of the three surviving prayer books attributed to Anne’s ownership is the precise one she had with her at the time of her death, most scholars settle on one now displayed at Hever Castle. Within the text, on a page opposite the depiction of the crowning of the Virgin, is an inscription which could be deemed as a farewell, “Remember me when you doth pray, that hope doth lead from day to day” (Weir 336). Obviously, not knowing when this passage was written, it could have been done at a previous time, as some people speculate, as reference to Anne’s wish to be Queen. This blogger has surmised that the inscription is more fitting as a goodbye. Alas, we will never know with certainty.
The loyalty of the Wyatt family to the memory of Anne Boleyn was cemented by the preservation of the book and by George’s biography. Of course, Wyatt was biased in his own way just as Sander; yet, he specifically clarified Anne’s religious role. In an age of religious persecution, Wyatt insisted that, in “her time (that is during the three years that she was queen) it is found by good observation, that no one suffered for religion, which is the more worthy to be noted for that it could not be said of any time of the queens after married to the king” (Cavendish 438).
Remembering Wyatt’s bias, this blogger will not address the issue of whether Thomas More and John Fisher were executed for religious reasons: officially, they were executed for not upholding the Acts of Succession and Supremacy, which was treason. It has been viewed that “under the protection of Cromwell, Cranmer, and Anne Boleyn, Protestantism soon came out of the closet and into the pulpit” (Haigh 187).
The clerics that Anne promoted and championed did uphold Protestant doctrines much to the mortification of the conservatives. Alas, it was not only the adherents to the old faith that were upset with Anne. According to Alesius, the reason so many of the councilors in the reign of Henry VIII hated Anne, was that she threatened to inform the King that they were using the “guise of the Gospel and religion” to advance “their own interests, that they had put everything up for sale and had received bribes to confer ecclesiastical benefices upon unworthy persons” (Stevenson 1303-11). Foxe alluded to a conspiracy claiming “some great mystery, which here I will not stand to discuss, but only that it may be suspected some secret practising of the papists here not to be lacking, considering what a mighty stop she was to their purposes and proceedings, and on the contrary side, what a strong bulwark she was for the maintenance of Christ’s gospel, and sincere religion, which they then in no case could abide” (Foxe). Anne’s intervention did “protect vulnerable preachers” and saved “Protestants from Henry’s intermittent wrath” (Haigh 187).
Henry was becoming less popular with his contrary policies. It is not the purpose of this blog to expand further on Henry’s political and religious maneuverings. It was at the time of Anne’s death where many questioned the future course of England. With the more conservative Seymour clan in power, evangelical factions feared a constriction of the measures taken and the Catholics worried policies would not return. A rector from county Kent described the king as “a tyrant more cruel than Nero, for Nero destroyed but a part of Rome, but this tyrant destroyeth his whole realm” (Gairdner XII 980). By 1536, this sentiment could have reflected either faction’s opinion; yet, in a footnote (further cited by George Cavendish), G. F. Nott questioned how the “bonds of charity be ever brought to unite the members of the Roman Catholic communion with those of the reformed church, so long as their youth shall be thus early taught to consider our Reformation as the portentous offspring of whatever was most odious in human profligacy, and most fearful in blasphemy and irreligion?” (Nott 85). Once again, the discord throughout England was blamed on Anne Boleyn.
For References, please refer to the blog entry, Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part I