Some deep and difficult question

Today in History: 30th April 1536

An imagined scene where Anne says goodbye to her daughter

  Today – April 30th – in 1536, Anne knew she was in trouble.

Summoning up the fight and the spark that had attracted Henry to her a decade before, Anne went to him carrying their daughter, the infant Princess Elizabeth, who was staying with them during Eastertide. We know about this altercation because of the report of one man, Alexander Alesius – a Scottish theologian – who was present that day and later wrote to Elizabeth to recount it, when Elizabeth was safely Queen:

“Never shall I forget the sorrow which I felt when I saw the most serene queen, your most religious mother, carrying you, still a baby, in her arms and entreating the most serene king your father, in Greenwich Palace, from the open window of which he was looking into the courtyard, when she brought you to him. I did not perfectly understand what had been going on, but the faces and gestures of the speakers plainly showed that the king was angry, although he could conceal his anger wonderfully well. Yet … it was most obvious to everyone that some deep and difficult question was being discussed.”

Fictionalisations of this scene usually have Anne begging for her life, showcasing her beautiful, healthy daughter as evidence of her ability to provide him with a matching son. Other accounts say she was already accepting of the likelihood she was to be cast aside from her marriage and court (although not yet believing she’d lose her life!) but was begging for Elizabeth to remain legitimate and safe in her father’s good graces. Perhaps Anne was concerned over her altercation with Henry’s friend – Henry Norris (as I wrote about yesterday) and had sought Henry out to explain herself and attempt to sooth his inevitable temper? Some writers just have Anne ranting and railing at her weak, false-hearted husband: what happened to the man who wrote her letter after letter, claiming that he “was, is and always would be hers”, who claimed – and seemed to prove – that she was “dearer” to him than “anything in the world”?

It would all be for nothing. There was no going back now. That evening Henry cancelled their forthcoming trip to Calais and Anne’s musician, Mark Smeaton, was arrested and taken away to Thomas Cromwell’s house for interrogation.

Watch how ‘The Tudors’ series chose to convey this.

Check out the ‘Perseverance’ page for all the Anne tidbits I’ve mustered whilst writing my novella starring this controversial queen.


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