Path to St. Peter ad Vincula Part VII – E

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula Part VII – E

Although as Queen, Anne expected strict moral behavior from her women and was well known for performing charitable works — even making garments for the poor herself, she could never overcome the reputation of a calculating flirt.

Anne played the game.  She became the “finished coquette, playing fast and loose, hot and cold, as Henry appeared more or less urgent and enamored.”  She also encouraged the addresses of Wyatt and “inflamed Henry’s passions to the height of jealous fury” (Herbert, Henry 340).  Anne was indeed playing with fire as most of her contemporaries would not have appreciated nor accepted the idea of a young, unmarried girl flirting with married men.  She was tarnishing her reputation to such a degree that in 1536 it was easy for most people to accept her guilty of the licentious behavior she was accused of committing.  Many never questioned it because she had spent her formative years in France and everyone knew what had happened there. When she was “sent to France; where also she behav’d her self so licentiously, that she was vulgarly call’d the Hackney of England, till being adopted to that Kings Familiarity, she was termed his mule” (Herbert, Edward 286-287).

anneboleyn
Anne Boleyn

Upon her return from France, Lord Percy expressed an interest in Anne “but Misstris Bolen, whether she were ignorant, as yet, how much the King loved her, or howsoever had rather be that Lords Wife, than a Kings Misstris, took very ill of the Cardinal this his unreasonable Interruption of her Marriage” (Herbert, Edward 286).  Therefore, Anne was all set to marry Henry Percy but for the intervention of Cardinal Wolsey whom she never did forget nor forgive.

Why would she not have preferred to be the wife of Lord Percy or any other gentlemen rather than the King’s mistress? This blogger must concede that from the time period in which she lived, Anne relinquishing her honor to Henry before their marriage would have been viewed as wanton. Even her Protestant supporters would have been shocked by her behavior.  We can surmise that Anne did not spend six years balancing the King’s passion for her with her chastity to casually surrender one of her most valuable assets.  She has been defended that “up to this time, Anne’s conduct was irreproachable, and it is unmanly, as well as unjust, to attribute baseness, where no baseness is shown” (Herbert, Henry 338). Both she and Henry had to have been pretty certain that his divorce from Katherine was imminent before they committed to a physical relationship.  This action though would taint her image and encourage gossip.

lord percy
Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland

Carlo Capello, the Venetian Ambassador to England, wrote to his superiors a description of Anne Boleyn in late October of 1532, close to the time Henry and Anne’s relationship changed.  “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” (Brown IV 824).  Lancelot de Carle, later the Bishop of Riez, said Anne’s eyes were her most attractive feature “always most attractive which she knew well now to use with effect.  Sometimes leaving them at rest and at others, sending a message to carry the secret witness of the heart.  And, truth to tell, such was their power that many surrendered to their obedience” (Riehl 24).  Modern language would refer to her as having star-power or charisma  which was unsettling to people and affected her reputation. Even one of her greatest distracters acknowledged that she was “amusing in her ways” (Sander 25). Nothing less would have kept a man like Henry enthralled and enamored with only her eyes to credit for it.

Anne certainly knew how to make the most of herself.  “She was the model and the mirror of those who were at court, for she was always well dressed, and every day made some change in the fashion of her garments” (Sander 25).  Anne played “well on the lute, and was a good dancer” (Sander 25). Yet, were these talents enough?  Harpsfield questioned how Henry could put aside the virtuous Katharine “for such an incestuous woman, being in all other qualities beside so far inferior to her, as she was in very chastity itself” (Harpsfield 255).  Once again, we are back to the issue of Anne’s reputation.  When the charges against Anne were brought forward, many courtiers who had responded with ‘obedience’ to the pull of her personality needed to justify their actions.  Thus, witchcraft, dishonesty and duplicity were brought forward as rationales.

Anne Boleyn Bendor
Recently confirmed portrait of Anne Boleyn, Royal Collection Archives
http://www.arthistorynews.com/articles/894_Anne_Boleyn_regains_her_head

People felt the need even to justify their religious views. Those who did not support the Reformation said “it now appeared how bad that cause was which was supported by such a patron.  But it was answered, that her faults could not reflect on those who, being ignorant of them,” had supported her. (Burnet 115).  People who were less evangelical raised their “hopes of a reaction built on the fall of those ‘apostles of the new sect,’ Anne Boleyn and her relatives…” but those hopes, “were promptly and roughly destroyed” (Pollard 349).

Understanding the religious differences between Anne’s more evangelical leanings and others of the time (be it moderate Protestants and Roman Catholics) one should realize that she was “her Religion, there is no probability that it should (at first) be other than what was commonly profest” (Herbert, Edward 287).  Besides, her views were popular with many in power at the time as she promoted those clergy who shared her ideas.  It is apparent from “original Letters of hers, that she was a special Favourer of the Clergy of that time, and a preferrer of the worthiest sort of them of Ecclesiastical Livings, during her chief times of Favour with the King” (Herbert, Edward 287).

Those of the old faith were much more vocal against Anne Boleyn, “damned as the cause of all the trouble” (Haigh 141). Anne was blamed for the deaths of Thomas More and Bishop Fisher.  Nevertheless she did not leave off her evil conversation, which at length brought her to shame” (Gairdner X 1036).

thomas morejohn fisher
            Sir Thomas More                         John Fisher

Her religious views were not of the extreme variety at the time (although more so than Henry’s).  While she would have created enemies from those who staunchly followed the ‘old faith,’ she did not initially upset people on religious grounds. Her abrasive personality, her willfulness, and her flirtatiousness were things that created negative responses from people.

We see Anne’s elevation was opposed for her religious views and mostly for her lack of virtue as seen in the eyes of the people of the 16th century.  An interesting emphasis placed on the international element comes from Henry William Herbert.  He asserts that Cardinal Wolsey opposed Anne not because of her religious views nor because of her personally; he opposed her elevation because she was not of foreign royal blood.  Her acquisition of the throne would “alienate and affront foreign Princes, breed intestine strifes, and give undue preponderance in the state, to private families” (Herbert, Henry 340). This interpretation proves interesting.  Anne’s preference for France and Cromwell’s (remember Cromwell was Wolsey’s protégé) for the Imperial faction has been previously discussed as an element in Anne’s downfall in the blog entry Path to St. Peter ad Vincula: Part IV.   Here is another case of the interplay between national, even personal policy and foreign policy.  The King was a being of State.  What he did or did not do effected diplomacy—both foreign and domestic.  To marry a subject created discord amongst the English themselves and frustration with foreign nations as the perceived thwart to their ambitions.  In Henry VIII’s immediate predecessors we have examples of what Wolsey feared—strife within the English aristocracy and disgruntled foreign courts.  Edward IV’s wife, Elizabeth Woodville, yes; Richard III’s wife, Anne Neville, yes; and Henry VII’s wife, Elizabeth of York, yes—although the marriage was contracted as a way to end the factional warfare.

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

 

Advertisements

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula Part VII – D

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.

thomas wyatt
Thomas Wyatt

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.

Margaret Lee
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).

Anne's book of hours
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.

Anne book of hours with inscription
“Anne Boleyn’s Book of Hours.” Anne Boleyn’s Book of Hours. Hever Castle  Web. 28 Mar. 2014. 

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).

thomas more  john fisher
            Sir Thomas More                          John Fisher

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

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

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

George Constantyne was a member of the entourage of Sir Henry Norris.  As an eyewitness to Anne’s execution, he “was unfavourable to her innocence.”  The opinion was not grounded in any information he received from Norris “nor upon any personal observations which he had enjoyed the opportunity of making while holding the situation [in Norris’ household].” His opinion had been “derived merely from the information or belief of those persons with whom he had conversed at the time of the execution” (“Transcript of an Original Manuscript” 54).  Yet, it would have been difficult for anyone not to believe the heinousness of the accusations as it was “published in parliament that it might from thence spread abroad over all” (Cavendish II 209). 
AnneBoleynAB
The Nidd Hall Portrait depicting a more careworn Queen Anne Bolyen.

Surprisingly, one person who leaned toward believing in Anne’s innocence was none other than her greatest adversary, Spanish envoy, Eustace Chapuys.  The diplomat, while not revealing his source, claimed a lady from Court “sent to tell me in great secrecy that the Concubine, before and after receiving the sacrament, affirmed to her, on the damnation of her soul, that she had never been unfaithful to the King” (Gairdner X 908).  Taking an oath on the sacrament was a very powerful ‘truth serum’ in the Tudor time-period.  Recall that the Earl of Northumberland swore in the same manner that there was never a pre-contract between Anne and him.  All contemporary chronicles believed his oath as they could not fathom that he could have lied on the sacrament in front of two bishops.  Regardless of her innocence or guilt, Anne was scheduled for execution on May 18, 1536, but a delay in the travel of the expert executioner from France moved her death to the following day.  Constable Kingston, always faithful in his reports to Master Secretary Cromwell, let him know that John Skip Anne’s “Almoner is continewaly with hyr, and has bene syns ii of the clock after midnight” (Gairdner X 910).  Anne was preparing for death in the only way she knew.Tower_plan1597
Anne would have stayed at the Queen’s Lodgings (g) before her execution.

Events happened so quickly from the time of Anne’s arrest to her final hours it is difficult to imagine her true mindset.  How could she have absorbed all the implications and possible repercussions?  Was she simply tired of the fight?  For many years she had had to watch for enemies, furrow out sycophants, and expend energy maintaining control. Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower, expressed confusion by her approach to death.  He reported in a letter to Secretary Cromwell that Anne requested his presence to hear her speak of her innocence and told him of her disappointment in the delay in her death.  “Mr. Kyngston, I hear say I shall not dy affore none, and I am very sory therfore, for I thowth to be dede by this time, and past my payne. I told hyr it shuld be no payne, it was so sottell” (Gairdner X 910).  And then Anne “said, ‘I heard say the executioner was very good, and I have a little neck,’ and she put her hands about it, laughing heartily.  I have seen many men and also women executed, and that they have been in great sorrow, and to my knowledge this lady has much joy and pleasure in death” (Wroithesley 42).  Kingston, being a practical, military man, perceived Anne’s pain as physical, whereas she perhaps was referring to emotional pain.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The burial marker for Queen Anne Boleyn in St. Peter ad Vincula.

It would not be surprising if Anne would welcome release from the terror and sorrow she had experienced over her final few weeks.  She had witnessed her brother’s death; she lived with the knowledge that innocent men had died on her behalf (from frivolous behavior that had been construed to condemn them all); she had lost the affection and protection of her husband through divorce; she had relinquished the status and role of Queen; she had been abandoned by many from her entourage –including her father; and, she feared for the safety of her daughter. 

Anne’s Arrival at Tower Green
A Portuguese gentleman (who had gone into the Tower and stayed with English friends to circumnavigate the ban on foreigners) wrote to a friend in Lisbon “On the next Friday, which was the 19th of the same month, the Queen was beheaded according to the manner and custom of Paris, that is to say, with a sword, which thing had not been seen in this land of England” (Bell 105). The King had sent to “St. Omer for a headsman who could cut off the head with a sword instead of an axe, and nine days after they sent he arrived” (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 70).
exec site
A modern marker at the execution site–although this is most likely not the exact site of Anne Boleyn’s execution.  Note the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula in the background. 

The day before “the Lieutenant of the Tower writ to the Lord Cromwell, that it was not fit to publish the time of her execution” (Smeeton 46).  In order to preserve the solemnity of the occasion this was granted.  It was also reported that Anne requested “that she might be executed within the Tower, and that no foreigner should see her (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 70). Consequently, a scaffold “having four or five steps, was then and there set up” (Bell 105).  Anne was escorted from her lodgings by Kingston, she reportedly “looked frequently behind her, and when she got upon the scaffold was very much exhausted and amazed” (Gairdner X 911).  Was she looking literally for an expected last minute reprieve?  Did she think her merciful king would pardon her and allow her to retire to a convent?  Despite her physical manifestation of these possibilities, she stated when pressed to confess, “I know I shall have no pardon, but they shall know no more from me” (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 70). Anne was prepared for death.  “When she arrived at the scaffold she was dressed in a night-robe of damask, with a red damask skirt, and a netted coif over her hair” (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 70).  The Queen, “assisted by the Captain of the Tower, came forth, together with the four ladies who accompanied her…” (Bell 105).  Within the Tower Green “were present several of the Nobility, the Lord Mayor of London, some of the Aldermen, and several others, rather as witnesses, than spectators of her fatal end” (Smeeton 46). Those ‘several others’ mentioned were identified as men representing “certayne of the best craftes of London” (Wriothesley 41).
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The grave markers as placed under the altar in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula.

Among the gentlemen on the scaffold was “the headsman, who was dressed like the rest, and not as executioner; and she looked around her on all sides to see the great number of people present, for although she was executed inside, there was a great crowd” (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 70).  Then Anne “besought the Captain of the Tower that he would in no wise hasten the minute of her death, until she should have spoken that which she had in mind to say; which he consented to” (Urban 56).

Anne’s Speech on the Scaffold
This blogger must ask for the indulgence of the reader at this juncture.  Because Anne’s speech on the scaffold is her last, formal one, it is obviously important.  Several variations exist from contemporaries and from later translations—many have been reproduced below.  The consistency is surprising with differences mostly in the interpretations based on the perspective of the recorder (such as the Catholic Imperial view).  The implications of the intent of her speech will be explored further although there will be no comment on the records as interpretation will be left to the reader.

Our Portuguese source recorded her words as: “Good friends, I am not come here to excuse or to justify myself, forasmuch as I know full well that aught that I could say in my defence doth not appertain unto you, and that I could draw no hope of life from the same.  But I come here only to die, and thus to yield myself humbly to the will of the King my Lord.  And if in my life I did ever offend the King’s grace, surely with my death, I do now atone” (Bell 105).

Her words arrived at the Imperial Court as: “And as the lady looked all round, she began to say these words, ‘Do not think, good people, that I am sorry to die, or that I have done anything to deserve this death.  My fault has been my great pride, and the great crime I committed in getting the king to leave my mistress Queen Katherine for my sake, and I pray God to pardon me for it.  I say to you all that everything they have accused me of is false, and the principal reason I am to die is Jane Seymour, as I was the cause of the ill that befell my mistress.’  The gentlemen would not let her say any more” (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 71).

Lancelot de Carles, the French envoy conveyed the image of an unrepentant Anne unwilling to go into details of why she was facing death yet eager to promote the reputation of Henry as she “recommended your good king in whom I have seen such great humanity and the acme of all goodness; fear of God, love of his subjects” (Bernard).

The account offered later by George Constantyne was similar to de Carles.  Anne declared “I do not intende to reason my cause, but I committe me to Christ wholly, in whome ys my whole trust, desirynge you all to praye for the Kynges maiestie that he maye longe regne over you, for he ys a veraye noble prince and full gently hath handled me” (Mackintosh 385).

The English Courier, Charles Wriothesley showed Anne as pliant, “Maissters, I here humbley submit me to the lawe as the lawe hath judged me, and as for myne offences, I here accuse no man, God knoweth them; I remit them to God, beseeching him to have mercye on my sowle, and I beseech Jesu save my soverienge and maister the Kinge, the moste godlye, noble, and gentle Prince that is, and longe to reigne over yow” (Wroithesley 41-42).

The chronicler Edward Hall presented Anne as coming to die, “for aecqrdyng to the lawe and by the lawe I am judged to dye, and therefore I wyll speake nothyng against it.” She would “accuse no man, nor to speake any thyng of that, wherof I am accused and condemned to dye” she would pray that God would save the king and “send him long to reygne over you, for a gentler nor a more mercyfull prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle, & soveraygne lorde. And yf anye persone wyll medle of my cause, I require them to judge the best.”  Anne ended by saying “And thus I take my leve of the worlde and of you all, and I heartely desyre you all to praye for me. O Lorde have mercy, on me, to God I comende my soule” (Hall 268).

Sources quoted later by Burnet and Wyatt claimed her words were as follows: “My honourable Lords, and the rest here assembled, I beseech you all, to hear witness with me, that I humbly submit myself to undergo the penalty to which the law hath sentenced me: as touching my offences, I am sparing to speak, they are best known to God: and I neither blame nor accuse any man, but leave them wholly to him: beseeching God who knows the secrets of all hearts, to have mercy on my soul.  Now, I bessech the Lord Jesus to bless and save my Sovereign master the King, the noblest and mercifulest Prince that lives: whom I wish long to reign over you.  He made me Marchioness of Pembroke, vouchsafed to lodge me in his own bosom, higher on earth he could not raise me, and hath done well to lift me up those blessed innocents above” (Smeeton 46).

Anne’s Execution
With her address spoken to the crowd, which Antony Pykeryng reported to Lady Lisle in Calais was “a thousand people”, Anne readied herself for execution (Gairdner X 918).  Although there are several different descriptions of her clothing, all accounts agree that Anne removed her mantle (or cape) of ermine and her English style hood.  She was given a small linen, white cap to cover her hair and after kneeling “fastened her clothes about her feet, and one of the said ladies bandaged her eyes” (Gairdner X 911).  Perhaps she and her ladies practiced these acts because tucking her skirts around her feet must have been done to ensure her modesty if she fell awkwardly—something they discovered during rehearsals?  This blogger would like to remind readers that during execution with a sword there is no use of a block.  Therefore, when chroniclers mention that Anne knelt, she was kneeling as if in prayer; she would not be resting her neck on a block.  Granted execution by a sword was traditionally deemed as more merciful than the axe but the strength to remain kneeling upright awaiting the strike of the sword would require a tremendous amount of courage and self-control.

anne-boleyn-execution2 (1)
The Execution of Anne Boleyn 

So Anne knelt “but the poor lady only kept looking about her.  The headsman, being still in front of her, said in French, ‘Madam, do not fear, I will wait till you tell me.’ The sword was hidden under a heap of straw” (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 71). Most sources agree on what happened. While kneeling Anne “said: ‘To Christ I commende my soule, Jesu receive my soule’ divers tymes” (Hall 268-269).  While she prayed, the executioner called out for the sword to be brought to him and when Anne turned her blindfolded face in the direction of the steps, thinking the assistant would carry the sword up, he came up behind her.  And “suddenlye the hangman smote off her heade at a stroke with a sworde” (Wroithesley 41-42).  She died as she lived, boldly.

Anne’s Final Path to St. Peter ad Vincula
With foreigners banned from the execution and Eustace Chapuys, the ready source of information, absent from the thick of things due to illness, his reports were not as reliable as typical.  He reported that Anne’s “head will be put upon the bridge, at least for some time” (Gairdner X 908).  This was not the case.  Immediately after her execution, the ladies attending Anne “fearing to let their mistress be touched by unworthy hands, forced themselves to do so” (Gardiner X 1036).  They quickly wrapped her body in a white cloth and placed it along with her severed head “into a common chest of elm tree, that was made to put arrows in” (Bell 107).  The usually efficient Kingston had not provided a coffin for the body and the case was the only option on hand.  After Anne’s body was placed in the make-shift casket “the body was taken by the ladies, and the whole carried” (Gairdner X 911) the short distance to the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, “the church within the Tower and buried” (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 71).
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Exterior of the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula.

For References, please refer to Path to St. Peter ad Vincular Part I

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

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

It is not the intent here to explain the entire proceedings of the trials of the men in question.  It shall suffice to say that the evidence was flimsy at best and non-existent in most cases.  Even Ambassador Chapuys, an outspoken opponent of Anne, recognized that with only one of the men confessing to the alleged crimes, the “others were condemned upon presumption and certain indications, without valid proof or confession” (Gairdner X 908). 

Indicted in the counties of Kent and Middlesex, as the locations of the alleged treason, Court records show that Anne and the accused were not even in the same surroundings at the same time. Regardless, on May 12th the four commoners, Norris, Weston, Brereton and Smeaton, were tried in Westminster Hall by a Commission of Oyer and Terminer and found guilty in Westminster Hall by the “lords of the Kinges Counsell” (Wriothesley 36).  Judgment was given, that they should be drawn to the place of execution, and some of them to be hanged, others to be beheaded, and all to be quartered, as guilty of high treason” (Burnet 263). All “the gentlemen were beheaded on the Skaffolde at the Tower hyll” (Hall 268). 
A Trial for High Treason, in Westminster Hall, during the Tudor period
A trial for high treason in Westminster Hall during the Tudor period, albeit a 17th century drawing.

Anne’s Letter to King Henry VIII
Henry VIII was the targeted recipient of a letter from Anne while she was in the Tower.  Is it a forgery?  This blogger will not take a position on that issue.  Granted there are unusual circumstances surrounding its discovery. Found with Sir William Kingston’s letters among Cromwell’s papers, scholars have agreed that stylistically it is from the Tudor Era.  Also agreed, the document is not in Anne’s handwriting.  This is not actually a deal breaker since it can easily be explained as being a copy.  At the top of the sheet the letter is “endorsed, ‘To the King from the Ladye in the Tower’ in Cromwell’s handwriting” (Bell 99). It does not make sense why Cromwell would refer to Anne as ‘The Ladye in the Tower’ unless he did not want to call attention to the missive but wanted to preserve it. Because of the location amongst Cromwell’s papers many historians find it plausible to be authored by Anne.

The “pathetical letter” has been described as “farther proof of the innocence” of Anne (Smeeton 48).  She “pleaded her innocence, in a strain of so much wit and moving passionate eloquence, as perhaps can scarce be paralleled: certainly her spirit is were much exalted when she wrote it, for it is a pitch above her ordinary style” (Burnet 319). The “letter contains so much nature, and even elegance, as to deserve to be transmitted to posterity…” (Hume, David 458).  Regardless of her expressiveness, the plea never reached Henry’s hands—maybe she knew that would happen which is why she gave way to her frustration over Jane Seymour and did indulge in some scolding.  Worthy of reading it is reproduced in its entirety below.

“Sir, your grace’s displeasure and my imprisonment are things so strange unto me, as what to write or what to excuse I am altogether ignorant.  Whereas you send unto me (willing me to confess a truth, and so obtain your favour) by such an one whom you know to be mine ancient professed enemy, I no sooner received this message by him than I rightly conceived your meaning; and if as you say, confessing a truth indeed may procure my safety, I shall with all willingness and duty perform your command. 

‘But let not your grace ever imagine that your poor wife will ever be brought to acknowledge a fault where not so much as a thought thereof preceded.  And, to speak a truth, never prince had a wife more loyal in all duty, and in all true affection, than you have ever found in Anne Boleyn: with which name and place I could willingly have contented myself, if God and your grace’s pleasure had been so pleased.  Neither did I at any time so far forget myself in my exaltation or received queenship, but that I always looked for such an alteration as I now find; for the ground of my preferment being on no surer foundation than your grace’s fancy the least alteration I know was fit and suffient to draw that fancy to some other object.  You have chosen me from a low estate to be your queen and companion, far beyond my desert or desire.  If then you found me worthy of such honour, good your grace let not any light fancy, or bad counsel of mine enemies, withdraw your princely favour from me: neither let that stain, that unworthy stain, of a disloyal heart towards your good grace, ever cast so foul a blot on your most dutiful wife and the infant princess your daughter.  Try me, good king, but let me have a lawful trial, and let not my sworn enemies sit as my accusers and judges; yea let me receive an open trial, for my truth shall fear no open shame; then shall you see either mine innocence cleared, your suspicion and conscience satisfied, the ignominy and slander of the world stopped, or my guilt openly declared.  So that whatsoever God or you may determine of me, your grace may be freed from an open censure; and mine offence being so lawfully proved, your grace is at liberty both before God and man not only to execute worthy punishment on me as an unlawful wife, but to follow your affection already settled on that party for whose sake I am now as I am, whose name I could some good while since have pointed unto, your grace not being ignorant of my suspicion therein.

‘But if you have already determined of me, and that not only my death, but an infamous slander, must bring you the enjoying of your desired happiness, then I desire of God that he will pardon your great sin therein, and likewise mine enemies, the instruments thereof, and that he will not call you to a strict account of your unprincely and cruel useage of me, at his general judgment seat, where both you and myself must shortly appear, and in whose judgment I doubt not (whatsoever the world may think of me) mine innocence shall be openly known and sufficiently cleared.

‘My last and only request shall be, that myself may only bear the burden of your grace’s displeaure, and that it may not touch the innocent souls of those poor gentlemen who (as I understand) are likewise in strait imprisonment for my sake.  If ever I have found favour in your sight, if ever the name of Anne Boleyn hath been pleasing in your ears, then let me obtain this request, and I will so leave to trouble your grace any farther, with mine earnest prayer to the Trinity to have your grace his good keeping, and to direct you in all our actions.  From my doleful prison in the Tower, this sixth of May; Your most loyal and ever faithful wife, –Anne Boleyn” (“Condemnation of Anne Boleyn” 289).
Anne Boleyn Hever
Anne Boleyn, Hever Portrait

Trials and Tribulations:
Beyond the accusations of adultery and incest–this charge was brought against her brother “because he had been once found a long time with her” (Gairdner X 908), Anne was “accused of having conspired with these five men to bring about the death of the king, and of having said that she did not love him, and that after his death she would marry one of her lovers”  (Friedmann II 262-263).  The indictment claimed that “despising her marriage, and entertaining malice against the King, and following daily her frail and carnal lust, did falsely and traitorously procure by base conversations and kisses, touchings, gifts, and other infamous incitations, divers of the King’s daily and familiar servants to be her adulterers and concubines, so that several of the King’s servants yielded to her vile provocations” (Gairdner X 876). Whether these were truths, “or the effects of imagination and vapours, cannot be certainly determined at this distance.  It is probable there had been some levities in her carriage that were not becoming” (Burnet 111).

‘Levities in her carriage’—the Council’s reaction to indiscretions seems rather severe to modern eyes.  This is why it is difficult for present day students to grasp the magnitude of Henry’s personality, the strength of his sycophantic Court and the effects of the social, political and religious institutions of the Tudor Era. Could Anne have been divorced and set aside as her successor Anne of Cleves would be?  Most likely not.  Anne of Cleves had powerful international connections which made her survival more important; she did not have any children who needed to be clearly shown as illegitimate; and she followed Anne Boleyn—circumstances were altered because of what happened in 1536. Henry, and more importantly Cromwell, saw the need to eliminate Anne Boleyn, destroy her reputation, weaken the powerful factions at Court and send a message to the world—Henry VIII was in control in England (Okay, based on the charges against Anne, he could not control his wife, but assuredly no one was going to make that connection to him).

On May 15, 1536, the Queen was brought into the King’s Hall of the Tower of London “where was made a chaire for her to sitt downe in, and then her indictment was redd” (Bell 102).  Anne was arraigned “for treason againste the Kinges owne person” (Wriothesley 37).  The crimes charged on her were that “she had procured, her brother and the other four to lie with her, which they had done often; that she had said to every one of them by themselves, that she loved them better than any person whatsoever: which was to slander the issue that was begotten between the king and her and this was treason, according to the statute made in the twenty sixth year of this reign….  It was also added in the indictment, that she and her accomplices had conspired the king’s death” (Burnet 263-264). Ales claimed the Queen had been “accused of having danced in the bedroom with the gentlemen of the King’s chamber and of having kissed her brother” (Stevenson 1303).  Chapuys reported that “there was a promise between her and Norris to marry after the King’s death,” she had “laughed at the King and his dress,” and “certain ballads that the King composed” were snickered at by Anne and her brother “as foolish things, which was objected to as a great crime” (Gairdner X 908).

Court proceedings were not conducted in secret for there were more than 2,000 persons present and documents exist in the Public Records Office which show the trial was conducted “with a scrupulousness without a parallel in the criminal records of the time” (Bell 103).  Twenty-six peers tried Anne and George Boleyn with the Duke of Norfolk acting as Lord High Steward accompanied by “the duke of Suffolk, the marquis of Exeter, the earls of Arundel, Oxford, Northumberland, Westmoreland, Derby, Worcester, Rutland, Sussex, and Huntington; and the Lords Audley, Delaware, Montague, Morley, Dacres, Cobham, Maltravers, Powis, Mounteagle, Clinton, Sands, Windsor, Wentworth, Burgh, and Mordaunt” (Burnet 263-264).  For details of the trial see materials by Bell, Burnet, Cavendish, Friedmann and Howell to name a few.  This blog entry will direct comments to specific areas of interest.

thomas howard norfolk
Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, Anne’s uncle and judge

Obviously the verdict was a foregone conclusion.  Though unassisted by counsel, Anne “made so wise and discreete aunsweres to all thinges layde against her, excusinge herselfe with her wordes so clearlie, as thoughe she had never bene faultie to the same” (Wriothesley 37-38).  She defended herself so well “the spectators could not forbear pronouncing her entirley innocent” (Hume 328).  Alas, it was for naught.  Not only was it Henry’s will that Anne be found guilty but logically with her trial coming after four men had been found culpable of adultery with her, the chances of her being reprieved were non-existent no matter what the evidence or lack thereof.

Anne Boleyn Museum Lit Sci
An engraving of Anne Boleyn’s trial by Kearney from a painting by Smirk

The Commission could not bring Smeaton, the only person who confessed to a crime, forward to confront the Queen because he had been convicted three days earlier and could not be used as a witness.  Therefore, the evidence brought in was hearsay and unsubstantiated.  Many historians have discussed the role of Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford (Anne’s jealous sister-in-law); Lady Bridget Wingfield (a lady of the bedchamber who had died in 1534–the evidence used was a letter written by Bridget to someone else about Anne); and, Elizabeth Browne, Countess of Worcester (Anne’s lady-in-waiting who initiated infidelity rumors in early 1536).  “From such arguments as those which were advanced against the Queen … no probable suspicion of adultery could be collected” (Stevenson 1303).

“Rochford was said to have been arrested for having connived at his sister’s evil deeds” (Friedmann II 256) and for “having spread reports which called in question whether his sister’s daughter was the King’s child” (Gairdner X 908). This last accusation is preposterous!  Why would a man whose very livelihood depended on his royal connections infer his niece was not of royal blood?  Interestingly, Chapuys, no friend to the Boleyns, claimed that Rochford defended himself against the charges so well “several of those present wagered 10 to 1 that he would be acquitted, especially as no witnesses were produced” (Gairdner X 908).  Acquittal was not in the plans.  The Bishop of Carlisle told Chapuys that the “King had said to him, among other things, that he had long expected the issue of these affairs” (Gairdner X 908).

George_Boleyn_signature
Signature of George Boleyn, Lord Rochford

For References, please refer to Path to St. Peter ad Vincular Part I

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

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

Arrests, Interrogations and Confessions

“On May Day, suddenly “the kyng departed having not above vi. persons with him, and came in the evening from Grenewyche to his place at Westminster” (Hall 268). Anne was confined to her chamber. “Of this sodayn departynge many men mused, but moste chiefely the queen” (Hall 268). The “seconde daie of Maie, Mr. Norris and my Lorde of Rochforde were brought to the Towre of London as prisoners; and the same daie, about five of the clocke at night, the Queene Anne Bolleine was brought to the Towre of London” (Wriothesley 36). To clarify the prisoners and their Court positions–Henry Norris, Groom of the Stole; Sir Francis Weston, Privy Chamber member; William Brereton (also known as Bryerton), Privy Chamber member; and Mark Smeton (sometimes spelled Smeaton), a musician.
Francis_weston
Portrait believed to be Sir Francis Weston

The indictments were made for five men. It is contended that Norris, Weston and Bryerton could not escape punishment as Henry had “no intention, after the death of Anne, to effect a reconciliation with Rome, the three last named might have been allowed to escape; but if he wished to keep a middle course it was his interest to eliminate form the party of the reformation as many as possible of those who might drive it to extremes, and thereby force the government to lean to the other side” (Friedmann II 261-262). On a more personal level, the men may also try to avenge the wrongs against them and the Queen. It was better that they die.

“Besides the persons who were actually sent to prison, a good many others were bound under heavy fines to present themselves before Cromwell and the royal council. They were thus kept in suspense and fear, and could not exert themselves in favour of the accused” (Friedman II 261). Anne’s enemies “searched eagerly for evidence against her, and examined every one who seemed likely to know anything to her disadvantage. Sir William Fitzwilliam and Sir William Paulet, aided by Sir Edward Baynton, seemed to have distinguished themselves in this way at Greenwich, where Anne’s personal servants had remained” (Friedmann II 259). Thomas Wyatt probably was arrested to provide evidence, not to be condemned. When Cromwell discovered that he had not been in close communication with Anne for years, he wrote Sir Henry Wyatt “that the young man would be spared. It was decided, too, that Sir Richard Page, who was connected with the Fitzwilliams and the Russels should be allowed to escape” (Friedmann II 262).
Sir Henry Norris had been “in the King’s favour, and an offer was made him of his life, if he would confess his guilt, and accuse the Queen. But he generously rejected that unhandsome proposition, and said that in his conscience he thought her innocent of these things laid to her charge but whether she was or not, he would not accuse her of any thing, and he would die a thousand times rather than ruin an innocent person” (Ellis 65-66).

Mark Smeaton was the only man who was arrested who “confessed to inappropriate behavior toward the Queen” (Burnet 110-111). His confession was the only solid evidence that Cromwell had. It has been suggested that Smeaton was promised a pardon if he pled guilty and implicated Anne. There is speculation that he confessed under torture, an interrogation technique that would have been readily used against the commoner. Because he did not recant at the scaffold, there is a theory that, in the exchanges he had with Anne (which she talks about while in the Tower), he responded familiarly and his haughtiness earned him a rebuke. Perhaps realizing he was not going to be pardoned, Smeaton decided to gain revenge on Anne by confessing to adultery (Davies). If revenge was his motive, he was successful.

While at Greenwich Anne learned that Norris and Smeaton had been arrested. “Combining these facts with Henry’s growing coldness to herself, and his increasing affection for Jane Seymour, Anne began to fear that she would have to take the same way. She was absolutely without means of defence” (Friedmann II 252). Anne herself would try to put a positive spin on her situation and claim that “the most par of Yngland prays for me, and yf I dy you shall se the grettest punishment for me withyn thys vij yere that ever cam to Yngland,’ & then she syad I shall b ein heaven, for’ I have done mony gud dedys in my days…” (Cavendish 223-225). This was not the case. With Henry away at Westminster, she could not use her influence on him. Coupled with his physical distance, most courtiers went with him including not only her enemies but also her allies. Friedman implies that Anne’s brother, Lord Rochford, would use his talents to defend his sister in any way he could which explains his arrest. Her father “had always disapproved of his daughter’s bold and violent courses. There was, therefore, no reason to fear that he would try to defend her” (Friedmann II 254).
greenwich 1533
Greenwich Palace

Anne could not flee from her confinement at Greenwich as this would have proven unsafe to do if not impossible without resources and it would have been an admission of guilt (for whatever was her crime). The Queen was not left in the dark for long. On May 2, 1536, she was summoned before the council. Anne would later claim that she “was creuely handeled …. at Greweche with the kyngs counsel” (Cavendish 223-225). The Queen was interrogated and charged with treason and adultery. Protestations of innocence had no effect and she was arrested and told she would be taken to the Tower. “At two o’clock her barge was in readiness, and in broad daylight, exposed to the gaze of the populace who had assembled on the banks or in boats and barges, she was carried along the river to traitors’ gate” (Friedmann II 253).

Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, was giddy when he wrote his official report on the day of Anne’s arrest that it was “still more wonderful to think of the sudden change from yesterday to today, and the manner of the departure from Greenwich” (Gairdner X 782). His exuberance was not masked when he said things had “come to pass much better than anybody could have believed, to the great disgrace [of the Concubine], who by the judgment of God has been brought in full daylight from Greenwich to the Tower of London, conducted by the duke of Norfolk, the two Chamberlains, of the realm and of the chamber, and only four women have been left to her. The report is that it is for adultery” (Gairdner X 782).

Conveyance to and Time in the Tower

Upon arriving at the Tower Anne exclaimed loudly, “I entered with more ceremony the last time I came” (Hume 64). She maintained her composure up to the time the gates were closed when she asked the Constable of the Tower, William Kingston, if he “was leading her to a dungeon” (Friedmann II 255). When he assured her he was taking her to the rooms she occupied before her coronation, “this somewhat relieved her distress. ‘It is too good for me,’ she exclaimed.” Then her nerve did falter when she came to the “court gate, entering in, she fell downe on her knees before the said lords, beseeching God to helpe her as she was not giltie of her accusement, and also desired the said lords to beseech the Kinges grace to be good unto her, and so they left her their prisoner” (Wriothesley 36).
byward tower
Byward Tower–the most likely entrance of Anne Boleyn into the Tower of London

Once in her apartments she made inquiries about her brother, she asked for the eucharist to be brought in to a room nearby so that she could pray, and she “began to assert her innocence of the crimes with which she was charged” (Freidmann II 256).

According to an anonymous Spanish report, when examined she professed her innocence and asserted that she knew what was the cause of her arrest. “I have never wronged the King, but I know well that he is tired of me, as he was before of the good lady Katharine.” She exclaimed that “the King has fallen in love, as I know, with Jane Seymour, and does not know how to get rid of me. Well, let him do as he likes, he will get nothing more out of me” (Hume 65). William Lancelot expressed Anne’s anguish in his poem. With no further hope, she would confess to nothing. “Riens ne confesse, et ne resiste fort Comme voulant presque estre délivre De vivre icy, pour aulz cieulz aller vivre; Et l’espoir tant en icelle surmonte, Que de la mort ne tient plus aucun compte” (Gairdner X 1036)

“Anne herself was not examined any further. At first orders had been issued that, except in the presence of Lady Kingston, she was to hold no communication with the four women deputed to serve her; but it was soon decided that this would neither be practicable nor expedient. So her attendants were allowed to talk with her, on condition that everything of any importance which she might say to them should be reported to the constable. In a state of hysterical excitement Anne was unable to weigh her words and to control her tongue” (Friedmann II 259). Sometimes “she laughed, and at other times she wept excessively; she was also devout and light by turns; and sometimes she stood upon her vindication, and at other times she confessed some indiscretions, which she afterwards denied” (Burnet 110).

“On the morning after her arrest she spoke of Noreys, and told Mrs. Cosyns, one of her attendants, of the conversation she had had with him. She then talked of Weston, whose indiscretion she seemed greatly to fear” (Friedmann II 259). This whole conversation (and those that ensued) was immediately reported to Kingston, who in his turn sent an account to Cromwell—several are reproduced below.

tower of london more contemp
A relatively contemporary image (circa 1553) of the Tower of London

“Thy sys to advertyse you upon my Lord of Norfolk and the kyngs counsell depart[inge] from the Towre I went before the queen in to hyr lodging, & [then she] sayd unto me, M. Kyngston, shall I go in to a dungyn? Now, madam, y[ou] shall go into your logyng that you lay in at your cornonacion. It ys to gu[de] for me, she sayd, Jesu, have mercy on me; and kneled downe wepyng a [great] pace, and in the same sorow fell in to agret lawyng, and she hathe done [so] mony tymes syns. And then she desyred me to move the Kyngs hynes that she [myght] have the sacrament in the closet by hyr chambr, that she my[ght pray] for mercy, for I am as clere from the company of man, as for s[yn, sayd she as I] am clere from you, and am the kyngs trew wedded wyf; and then sh[e sayd] M. Kyngston, do you know wher I am here, and I sayd, Nay, and then [she sayd] when saw you the kyng? And I sayd, I saw hym not syns I saw [him in] the Tylte yerde, and then M. K. I pray you to tell me wher my [Lord Roch]ford ys? And I told hyr I saw hum afore dyner in the cort. O [where ys] my set brod’er? I sayd I left hym at York place, and so I dyd. I [hear say, say]d she, that I shuld be accused with iij men; and I can say [no more but] nay, withyowt I shuld open my body; and there with opynd [her gown saying, O Nor]res, hast thow accused me, thow ar in the Towre with me, & [thou and I shal]l dy to gether: and, Marke, thou art here to. O my mother, [thou wilt dy] for sorrow, and meche lamented my lady of Worcet, for by ca[urse her child] dyd not store in hyr body, and my wyf sayd what shuld [be the cawse, she] sayd for the sorrow she toke for me: and then she sayd M. K[ingston, shall I dy] with yowt just; & I sayd, the porest sugett the kung [hath had justis, and] ther with she lawed. All thys sayings was yeter ny[ght]……. & thys moryng dyd talke with mestres Cousyns [and said that Nor]res dyd say on Sunday last unto the queens amn[er, that he wold sw]ere fro the queen that she was a gud woman. [And then sayd Mrs.} Cosyn, Madam, why shuld ther be hony seche maters [spoken of? Mary,] syad she, I had hym do so, for I asked hym why he [went not through with] hys maryage? And he made ansur he would tary [a time. Then said she, you’ loke for ded mens showys; for yf owth cam[e to the king but good,] you would loke to have me; and he sayd, yf he [should have any soch though,] he wold hys hed war of; and then she sayd, [she could undo him if she wold,] and ther with thay fell yowt. Bot [she said, she more feared Weston; for] on Wysson Twysday last [Westong told he]r that Nores cam more u[nto her chawmbre for her then….

Wher I was commanded to charge the gentlewomen that y gyf thaye atende apon the queen, that ys to say, Thay shuld have now commynycaseon with hyr, in lese my wyf ware present, and so I dyd hit, notwithstaundyng it canot be; for my lady Bolen and mestrys Cosyn lyes on the queens palet, and I and my wyf at the dore with yowt, so that thay most nedes talke that be without” (Cavendish 223-225).

Anne’s natural intelligence would have sparked in her the realization that anything she said or did in confinement would most likely be reported to the authorities. Yet, she could not keep her chaotic thoughts to herself and spoke of her previous encounters with the accused men. To which Kingston would add postscripts explaining her further revelations. He informed Cromwell that “syns the making of thys letter the queen spake of Weston that she had spoke to hym by cause he dyd love hyr kynswoman Mrs. Skelton and that she sayd he loved not hys wyf; and he made anser to hyr again that he loved won in hyr howse bettr than them bother; she asked him who is that? To which he answered that it ys your self; and then she defied hym” (Cavendish II 217-220).
Mary Shelton
Mary Shelton, attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger

Days later Kingston wrote to Cromwell concerning the discussion of Jane Boleyn, and Anne’s further encounters with Mark Smeaton and Thomas Wyatt.

“Quene said unto me that same nyght that the Kyng wyst what he dyd when he put such ij. abowt hyr as my lady Boleyn and Mestres Cofyn; for thay cowd tell her now thynge of my Lord her father, nor nothynge ellys, bot she defyed them alle. But then upon this my lady Boleyn sayd to hyr, Seche desyre as you have had to such tales hase browthe you to thys, and then sayd Mrs. Stoner, Mark [Smeaton] ys the worst cherysshe of hony an in the house, for he wayres yernes. She sayd that was because he was no gentelman; bot he wase never in my chamber but at Winchester, and there] she sent for hym to play on the virginals, for there my logynge was above the King’s for I never spake with hym syns bot upon Saterday before Mayday; and then I fond hym standyng in the ronde wyndo in my chambre of presens. And I asked why he wase so sad, and he ansured and sayd it was now mater; and then she sayd, You may not loke to have me speke to you as I shuld do to a nobulle man by cause you be aninferor person. No, no, madam, a loke sufficed me, and thus fare you welle. She hathe asked my wyf whether hony body makes thayr beddes, and my wyf ansured and sayd, Nay, I warant you; then she sayd thay myght make balettes well now, bot ther ys non bot . . . . . . de that can do it. Yese, sayd my wyf, Master Wyett by . . . . . . . sayd trew. . . . . . my Lorde my broder wille dy . . . ne I am sure thys was as . . . tt downe to dener thys day. Will’m Kyngston” (Gairdner X 798).

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

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part II

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part II

To understand the relationship between Elizabeth Regina and Philip II, a study must be made of the events of their association and the outcomes.  These include two attempts to place Elizabeth on the throne during Mary’s reign; the role Philip played in how Elizabeth was treated in the aftermath of each rebellion; and Mary’s view of her sister’s place in the succession.

Wyatt Rebellion, 1554
Sir Thomas Wyatt was the leader of a rebellion instigated in early 1554 by Mary’s proposed marriage to Philip of Spain.  Once she became queen, Mary repealed the act which declared her parents’ marriage invalid and herself illegitimate.  She was, as queen, a highly eligible match even though she was 37, certainly middle-aged in that era.  She assured Charles V she would be guided by him in her selection of husband, and low and behold his son, Philip, a widower at 26, was the most eligible prince in Catholic Europe.  Mary was determined to marry him.

thomas wyatt
Sir Thomas Wyatt

The Wyatt Rebellion caused her to take decisive action.  She went to the Guildhall and gave a speech to the populace assuring them that she married Philip only with the consent of her councilors and that she was firstly married to her kingdom.

Wyatt did enter London; Mary sent her troops after him.  She did not flee and, while she was praying for her country’s safety, Wyatt was captured.  The rebel said he took action being “persuaded, that by the marriage of the Prince of Spain, the second person of this realm, and next heir to the crown, should have been in danger; and I, being a free-born man, should, with my country, have been brought into bondage and servitude of aliens and strangers” (Strype 132).  Rebellion was saving England from the Catholic scourge by ‘the second person of this realm.’  Thus, Elizabeth was implicated although Wyatt never named her during his interrogations or on the scaffold.  Elizabeth was sent to the Tower for two months where she was held prisoner, questioned and intimidated.     

bloody mary     elizabeth 1 by scrouts
  Mary I                                           Princess Elizabeth 

Simon Renard, Ambassador to Spain, wrote to his sovereign, Charles V, 22 March 1554 that there was disagreement in the Council when “it was proposed to throw the Lady Elizabeth into the Tower, the Council expressed a wish to know exactly the reason, and the upshot was that the heretics combined against the Chancellor, and stuck to it that the law of England would not allow of such a measure because there was not sufficient evidence against her, that her rank must be considered and that she might perfectly well be confined elsewhere than in the Tower.”  Renard relayed that no one would “accept the responsibility of taking custody of her.”  Because of the councilors shying away from taking charge of Elizabeth, they “decided to conduct her to the Tower last Saturday, by river and not through the streets; but it did not happen that day, because when the tide was rising Elizabeth prayed to be allowed to speak to the Queen, saying the order could not have been given with her knowledge, but merely proceeded from the Chancellor’s hatred of her. If she could not speak to the Queen, she begged to be allowed to write to her. This was granted, and while she was writing the tide rose so high that it was no longer possible to pass under London bridge, and they had to wait till the morrow” (Tyler XII March).

Simon_Renard    charles v
  Simon Renard                                    A Youthful Charles V

Elizabeth had achieved her purposes: she had postponed her imprisonment in the Tower and had written to her sister.  This letter of March 16, 1554, one of Elizabeth’s most famous, was a marvel how she handled her sister and logically argued her innocence while writing under distressing circumstances. 

Elizabeth beseeched Mary to remember her agreement to Elizabeth’s request “That I be not condemned without answer and due proof.” Elizabeth wanted her sister to know that “I am by your Council from you commanded to go unto the Tower, a place more wonted for a false traitor than a true subject.”  Although she bravely declared that she will go and be proved innocent, she pledged to her sister “I protest afore God that I never practiced, counseled, nor consented to anything that might be prejudicial to your person any way or dangerous to the state by any mean.”  Elizabeth appealed for an opportunity to meet with the Queen to tell her in person of her innocence and asked her sister to pardon her boldness, excusing her actions “which innocency procures me to do, together with the hope of your natural kindness.…”  The evidence of a letter written by Wyatt is addressed by logically stating “he might peradventure write me a letter, but on my faith I never received any from him.”  Elizabeth completed the letter by making diagonal lines across the bottom so that nothing could be inserted and signed herself “Your highness’ most faithful subject that hath been from the beginning and will be to my end, Elizabeth”   (Marcus 41-42). 

diagonal letters 001
   The letter Elizabeth wrote to Mary in March of 1554

Her collaboration in the rebellion was never proven.  Renard suggests that Gardiner “held documentary evidence of her [Elizabeth’s] active interest in the plot, but that he destroyed this because it also involved young Courtenay” (Queen Elizabeth 110).  Not having direct proof of her sister’s guilt, Mary was reluctant to condemn Elizabeth and so  released her to house arrest.  John Foxe informed “The xix daye of Maye, the Ladye Elizabeth, Sister to the Queene, was brought oute of the Tower, and committed to the kepyng of Syr Henry Benifielde… shewed himself more harde and strayte unto her, then eyther cause was geven of her parte, or reason of his owne parte.”  Foxe showed the surprise not in Bedingfield’s  bad treatment but in the benevolence shown by Elizabeth once she came to the throne.  Praising her for not taking revenge as other monarchs “oftentimes requited lesse offences with losse of life,” Foxe explained that Elizabeth did not deprive Bedingfield of his liberty “save only that he was restrained  for not comming to the court” (Foxe V 1072).

StephenGardiner    John_Foxe
  Stephen Gardiner                                               John Foxe

When she was released from Woodstock, it was to come to Court to witness the birth of Mary’s heir.  Sources differ on when Mary’s pregnancy was officially announced with some historians, such as Jasper Ridley, claiming it was in the spring of 1555 while we have an official document from January.  The Doge Francesco Venier of Venice did send his Ambassador Giovanni Michiel instructions 5 January 1555 to congratulate the King and Queen on the “certainty now obtained of the Queen giving an heir to the realm” (Brown VI January 5).  Further exclamations were extended for this “auspicious and desired event” concluding this was a “great gift conferred on the whole of Christendom” (Brown VI January  6). 

venier doge
Francesco Venier, Doge of Venice

Regardless of when it was officially announced, the impending event did affect Elizabeth.  On 29 April 1555, Michiel reported to the Doge, “that day or on the morrow Elizabeth Tudor was to arrive at Hampton Court from Woodstock.” Then on the 6th of May he informed the Venetian officials that when Elizabeth “appeared she was neither met nor received by anyone, but was placed in the apartment lately inhabited by the Duke of Alva, where she lives in retirement, not having been seen by any one, save once or twice by their Majesties, by private stairs” (Brown VIPreface 16).  

Elizabeth was housed with a “certain Sir Thomas Pope, a rich and grave gentleman, of good name, both for conduct and religion; the Queen having appointed him Miladi’s governor. I am told …they also assigned her a widow gentlewoman, as governess, in lieu of her own who is a prisoner, she herself likewise may be also said to be in ward and custody, though in such decorous and honourable form as becoming” (Brown VI June 514). No ifs, ands or buts about it, Elizabeth was still under house arrest.   Elizabeth’s release is credited to Philip’s influence on Mary.  Philip realized without an heir born of Mary, Elizabeth would be the successor.  To preserve Hapsburg interests, Philip realized Elizabeth had to be married to a Catholic prince: the intended bridegroom was Emmanuel Philibert, Prince of Piedmont and titular Duke of Savoy. 

Philip had plans for Elizabeth.  Antoine de Noailles wrote to the Queen-Dowager of Scotland in September 1555 informing her of Elizabeth’s popularity and the fact that “his Grace, the said Lord King, has shown a friendly disposition for her, and he has written several letters to the Queen, his wife, commending the Princess to her care”  (Queen Elizabeth I 200).

Dudley Conspiracy, Late 1555 -1556

Another rebellion against the reign of Queen Mary began in December 1555.  In a letter to Sir William Petre, Secretary of State, dated January 21, 1556, Nicholas Wotton, Dean of Canterbury and English Ambassador to France, wrote of information he had gleaned from an informant.  There was a “plot against the Queen which he said was devised by some of the best in England, and so many were agreed thereupon that it was impossible but that it must take effect; that the matter had been in hand about a year ago.”  The conspirators’ intentions were not to kill her Majesty “but to deprive her of her estate…” Wotton “did not think it necessary to write thereof to her Majesty lest she might suddenly be troubled with it, and conceive some greater fear of it than were good for her to do.”  Petre was to inform the Queen when “it shall not disquiet her Majesty” (Turnbull 285-286).  Mary was disquieted though and fearful for her life. 

WilliamPetre       Nicholas_Wotton
    Sir William Petre                            Nicholas Wotton, Dean of Canterbury

Called the Dudley Conspiracy for the main instigator, Sir Henry Dudley (a distant relative to John Dudley, the executed Duke of Northumberland and Robert Dudley, the future favorite of Elizabeth), its purpose became clearer as the investigation continued.   Mary and Philip were to be deposed and replaced by Elizabeth with her consort being Edward Courtenay. 

Imprisoned during the time of Henry VIII, Courtenay spent 15 years in confinement.  Released upon Mary’s ascension to the throne, he was created 1st Earl of Devon and sent on several diplomatic missions.  His hopes of marriage to Mary fell flat when she espoused Philip.  Courtenay then turned his attention to Elizabeth obviously seeing marriage as his way to the throne.  After serving more time in the Tower for the Wyatt Rebellion, the Earl of Devon was exiled to Europe until his death in September of 1556.  He found acceptance in Venice where he became the focal point for further conspiracies such as the Dudley Rebellion.

EdwardCourtenayD1556
Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon

Several prominent supporters of the rebellion were Lord Thomas Howard, Sir Peter Killigrew, Henry Peckham and several members of the Throckmorton clan.  One cannot underestimate the organization of Dudley and his fellow conspirators.  They raised money, attempted to gain powerful allies such as the King of France and landed gentry, approached Courtenay and saturated England with anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish writings. It was subversive writings such as these that were found in the London residence of Kat Ashley, governess to Princess Elizabeth. 

Giovanni Michiel, Ambassador to England for Venice kept the Doge and the Venetian Senate informed of what was occurring.  Michiel reported on 2 June, “The number of persons imprisoned increases daily… Mistress [Katharine] Ashley was taken thither [to the Tower], she being the chief governess of Miladi Elizabeth, the arrest, together with that of three other domestics, having taken place in the country, 18 [Venetian] miles hence, even in the aforesaid Miladi’s own house [Hatfield], and where she at present resides, which has caused great general vexation.  I am told that they have all already confessed to having known about the conspiracy; so not having revealed it, were there nothing else against them, they may probably not quit the Tower alive, this alone subjecting them to capital punishment. This governess was also found in possession of those writings and scandalous books against the religion and against the King and Queen which were scattered about some months ago, and published all over the kingdom” (Brown VIJune 505).

katahsley
Kat Ashley

People close to Elizabeth knew about the plot — that has been well established.  How involved was Elizabeth? The only written link between her and the rebels occurred in February 1556 when Anne, Duke de Montmorency, Constable of France wrote to the French Ambassador, Antoine de Noailles that “above all restrain Madame Elizabeth from stirring at all in the affair of which you have written to me, for that would be to ruin everything” (Queen Elizabeth I 203).  Can this letter be seen as proof of Elizabeth’s willing cooperation with the Dudley plot?  Although it is damaging, it is not conclusive.  This could be a misinterpretation of information gathered by the Constable or wishful thinking. 

Constable of France
Anne, Duke de Montmorency, Constable of France

Noailles and King Henri II were implicated in the Dudley plot.  Because the international diplomatic scene had changed with the Vaucelles truce, Henri did not want to antagonize Charles and Philip so he “advised the conspirators to defer the execution of their plans” which they ignored (Acton 544).  The success of the plot depended on too many people and too many variables (this blog will not relay the details there are many sources available including contemporary diplomatic dispatches in the Calendar of State Papers-Venice Volume VI).  A conspirator, Thomas White, on staff at the Royal Exchequer was to ensure the robbery of funds to finance the conspiracy (Whitelock Mary Tudor 303).  Ambassador Michiel wondered if White came forward “either from hope of reward, or to exculpate himself… revealed the plot to Cardinal Pole” (Brown VI March 5 434).  White was rewarded as shown in the Originalia Roll (the fine roll sent to the Exchequer) for Mary and Philip because “of good and faithful service by our beloved servant, Thomas White, gentleman, in the late conspiracy against us, our crown and dignity attempted not long since by Henry Dudley and his accomplices” (Thoroton Society 52).  A known conspirator rewarded: what of Elizabeth? 

henri ii
King Henri II of France

Convinced that Elizabeth was aware of the plot, Mary sent her trusted courtier, Francesco Piamontese, to Brussels to consult with Philip on how to handle the situation.  Venetian Ambassador Michiel went further to explain that this issue was very sensitive because of Kat Ashley’s involvement “by reason of her grade with the “Signora,” who is held in universal esteem and consideration” (Brown VI June 505).  So not only is a trusted servant of Elizabeth’s in possession of seditious materials, it appears to be universally acknowledged that Elizabeth is very popular. Would it be wise to move against her too aggressively?  A tricky situation for Mary.

In June Michiel wrote to his superiors in Venice, “Finally, at the very hour when persons were departing, her chamberlain and the courier Francesco Piamontese returned” from Brussels to the Queen’s relief.  “As for many months the Queen has passed from one sorrow to another” (Brown VI June 525). 

So what was to become of Elizabeth?  What guidance had Philip given his wife concerning the suspicions of her sister?  What Mary received was pro-Hapsburgian advice. Despite Michiel’s predicitons, none of Elizabeth’s household members were executed nor was she punished. Although there was strong evidence that those around her were involved in treasonous activities (Kat Ashley being in posession of the seditious materials was enough cause for punishment beyond time in the Tower) and questions concerning what Elizabeth knew, any action against her would threaten her succession.  “There is little doubt that it was the King’s influence which prevented Elizabeth herself from being again arrested on this occasion and sent to the Tower with the four other members of her household.  It is difficult otherwise to account for Mary’s leniency” (Queen Elizabeth I 209).

tower of london
Tower of London

Hapsburg interests demanded that Elizabeth be heir to the throne of England over Mary, Queen of Scots.  Mary had the surest position of inheritance after Elizabeth and as the fiancé of the dauphin of France, could unite Scottish, French and English dominions and interests which would threaten the power of Spain. Hapsburg interests prevailed.  “Piamontese returned to London with an unequivocal message from the king: no further inquiries should be made into Elizabeth’s guilt, nor any suggestion made that her servants had been implicated in the plot with her authority” (Whitlock 307).  Philip was more than willing to be lenient with Elizabeth.  By 1556 few people believed that Mary would produce an heir and looked toward Elizabeth to be the next queen.  It probably was wise on the part of the councilors not to antagonize Elizabeth.  She was considered the preferred heir, and her smooth succession could halt potential civil conflict or French interference to place Mary Stuart on the throne—both good enough reasons to leave well-enough alone.

So, astoundingly, Elizabeth remained free.  Protestations of ignorance about her household’s activities were enough.  Mary probably did not believe her but allowed the stories that Elizabeth’s name had been used without authority to be circulated.  This blogger cannot help but feel for the position in which Mary was placed.  Her motto, ‘Truth, Daughter of Time,’ seemed to be jeopardized as she did her husband’s bidding; although, with most of Mary’s submissiveness it was up to a point. 

According to Michiel, in June of 1556 Mary sent two of her gentlemen, Sir Henry Hastings, and Sir H. Francis Englefield, to Elizabeth with a “message of good will…with a ring worth 400 ducats, and also to give her minute account of the cause of their arrest, to aquaint her with what they had hitherto deposed and confesssed, and to persaude her not to take amiss the removal from about her persons of similar folds, who subjected her to the danger of some evil suspicion; assuring her of the Queen’s good will and disposiiton, provided she continue to live becomingly, to Her Majesty’s liking.  Using in short loving and gracious expressions, to show her that she is neither neglected nor hated, but loved and esteemed by Her Majesty.  This message is considered most gracious by the whole kindom, everybody in general wishing her all ease and honour, and very greatly regretting any trouble she may incure; the proceeding having been not only necessary but profitable, to warn her of the licentious life led, especially in matters of religion, by her household” (Queen Elizabeth I 210).

henry hastings
  Henry Hastings 

Ambassador Michiel let on that Elizabeth’s household would be made up of persons the Queen believed to better serve her.  It is assumed Mary thought her sister guilty and urged Elizabeth “to keep so much the more to her duty, and together with her attendants behave the more cautiously” (Queen Elizabeth I 210).

Mary feigned that she believed Elizabeth had been in danger of “being thus clandestinely exposed to the manifest risk of infamy and ruin.” So, the solution was for the Queen to remodel Elizabeth’s household “in another form, and with a different sort of persons to those now in her service, replacing them by such as are entirely dependent on her Majesty; so that as her own proceedings and those of all such persons as enter or quit her abode will be most narrowly scanned” (Brown VIJune 505).

Assigned to Elizabeth’s household was “Sir Thomas Pope, a rich and grave gentleman, of good name, both for conduct and religion; the Queen having appointed him Miladi’s governor, and she having accepted him willingly, although he himself did his utmost to decline such a charge. I am told that besides this person, they also assigned her a widow gentlewoman, as governess, in lieu of her own who is a prisoner, so that at present having none but the Queen’s dependents about her person, she herself likewise may be also said to be in ward and custody, though in such decorous and honourable form as becoming” (Brown VI June 514). 

tpope
  Sir Thomas Pope

Pope was commissioned by Mary’s Council in July of 1556 to keep Elizabeth informed of the activities confessed by the Dudley conspirators “how little these men stick, by falsehood, and untruth, to compass their purpose; not letting, for that intent, to abuse the name of her Grace, or any others” (Queen Elizabeth I 213). 

Elizabeth did write to the Queen in careful phraseology about the information she had received from Pope.  “Of this I assure your majesty, though it be my part above the rest to bewail such things though my name had not been in them, yet it vexeth me too much …as to put me in any part of his [the devil] mischievous instigations.  And like as I have been your faithful subject from the beginning of your reign, so shall no wicked persons cause me to change to the end of my life.  And thus I commit your majesty to God’s tuition, whom I beseech long time to preserve … from Hatfield this present Sunday, the second day of August. Your majesty’s obedient subject and humble sister, Elizabeth” (Marcus 43-44).

For references, please refer to the blog entry “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part I.”