Today in History: 25th April 1536
On this day – 25th April – in 1536, Anne Boleyn was already on borrowed time. She may have had an inkling; the devastating bearing of a stillborn male fetus in the January of the previous year, her recent falling out with the influential Thomas Cromwell, and Henry’s growing infatuation with one of her ladies, the peaches-and-cream Jane Seymour were certainly warning klaxons.
The previous day, the Lord Chancellor (Sir Thomas Audley) had commissioned two new courts of oyer and terminer, to examine evidence of an alleged but then unspecified crime, specifically in the counties of Kent and Middlesex; these were the two counties that Anne was soon to be accused of having committed adultery in and these are the courts that condemned her as guilty. These courts were almost certainly set up at the instruction of Cromwell. He was definitely the man for these sorts of jobs – and Chancellor Audley was his lackey; for sure, the commissions were not signed or authenticated by Henry himself.
Whatever Anne’s personal misgivings were in April 1536, on paper – at least – it seems that Henry was very much still championing their controversial marriage. On the 25th he wrote to his ambassadors and envoys in Rome and France, instructing them bluntly that they were to block the political wrangling of Spain, as there was the “likelihood and appearance that God will send us heirs male [by] our most dear and most entirely beloved wife, the Queen”. So, a day after the “ball had been set rolling” to remove the troublesome Queen Anne, here was Henry, waxing lyrical about her, attempting to impress her sovereignty around Europe and clearly still sleeping with her, if he’s expecting these “heirs male”.
Yet in just over a month, Anne would be interred in an arrow chest at the Tower and Henry would be married to Jane Seymour…
Check out the ‘Perseverance’ page for all the Anne tidbits I’ve mustered whilst writing my novella starring this controversial queen.