2nd Millennium, 16th Century Events, 1536-Death of Catherine of Aragon and Execution of Anne Boleyn and her Co-accused, Arrest of Anne Boleyn and her Co-accused

Arrest of Anne Boleyn and her Co-accused is in 1536-Death of Catherine of Aragon and Execution of Anne Boleyn and her Co-accused, Marriage to Jane Seymour.

Constantyne. Apon Setterdaye, beinge the xxiij daye of August, we rode toward Kermarddyn, And in our journey in the mornynge we communed as foloweth:

Deane. George.

A my fayth the gere ye showed us of the maryage ys lyckly. But I never hearde of the Quenes that they shuld be thus handled.

George. In good fayth nor I; nother yet I never suspected, but I promise you there was moch mutteringe of Quene Annes deeth.

Deane. There was in deade.

George. And it ys the thinge that I marked as well, as ever I marked any thinge.

Deane. Did ye so? And I can tell nothinge of it for I was at that tyme at St. Dauids.

George. Na, ye were in the diocese of St. Assaph. For my Lorde was that tyme in Scotlonde. And I was the same tyme Mr. Norice’s (age 54) servante. I wrote a Letter of comforth vnto hym, and that after he was condemned. I haue the copie of the same Letter in my howse.

Deane. He had not your Letter.

George. Yes I delyvered it vnsealed vnto Mr. Lieutenant, And he delyvered it Mr. Noryce.

Deane. I pray the what canst thow tell of the matter? Let us heare.

George. The first that was taken was Markys (age 24), And he was at Stepneth in examinacyon on Maye even. I can not tell how he was examined, but apon Maye daye in the mornynge he was in the towre, the trewth ys he confessed it, but yet the sayeing was that he was fyrst grevously racked, which I cowlde never know of a trewth. Apon May daye Mr. Noryce justed. And after justinge the Kynge rode sodenly to Westminster, and all the waye as I heard saye, had Mr. Noryce in examinacyon and promised hym his pardon in case he wolde utter the trewth. But what so ever cowld be sayed or done, Mr. Norice wold confess no thinge to the Kynge, where vpon he was committed to the towre in the mornynge. And by the waye as his chapleyn tolde me he confessed, but he sayed at his arrayning, when his owne confession was layed afore hym, that he was deceaved to do the same by the Erie of Hampton that now ys1. But what so ever he sayed, he was cast.

Note 1. Sir William Fitzwilliam (age 46), Treasurer of the Household, who was created Earl of Southampton in 1537, the year after Anne’s execution. In the absence of all documentary evidence relating to the examinations, the Letters of Sir William Kyngston and Edward Baynton (all of them unfortunately mutilated), will not fail to be interesting. See Ellis’s Original Letters, first series, vol. ii. p. 52, et seq.

Hall's Chronicle 1536. 01 May 1536. On Maye day were a solemn jousts kept at Grcnewyche [Map], and suddenly from the jousts the King departed having not above six persons with him, and came in the evening from Greenwich to his place at Westminster. Of this sudden departure many men mused, but most chiefly the Queen (age 35),

Wriothesley's Chronicle. This yeare, on Maye daie, 1536, beinge Moundaie, was a great justing at Greenewych [Map], where was chalengers my Lorde of Rochforde (age 33) and others, and defenders Mr. Noris (age 54) and others.d.

Note d. Stow adds: "From these joustes King Henry sodainely departed to Westminster, haying only with him six persons, of which sodaine departore men manreiled."

Spanish Chronicle Chapter 29. 02 May 1536. How the Queen (age 35) and her brother the Duke (age 33) were arrested.

On the 2nd of May the captain of the guard with hundred halberdiers came to Greenwich in the King's great barge, and went to the Queen, and said to her, "My lady, the King has sent me for you;" and she, very much astonished, asked the captain where the King was. She was told he was at Westminster; and she at once got ready, and embarked with all her ladies, thinking she was to be taken to Westminster, but when she saw they stopped at the Tower, she asked whether the King was there. The captain of the Tower appeared, and the captain of the guard addressed him, saying, "I bring you here the Queen, whom the King orders you to keep prisoner, and very carefully guarded." Thereupon the captain took Anne by the arm, and she, as soon as she heard that she was a prisoner, exclaimed loudly in the hearing of many, "I entered with more ceremony the last time I came." They ordered two of her ladies to remain with her, and the rest to be taken to Westminster, and amongst them one very attractive, of whom we shall have to speak further on.1

As soon as the King learnt that she was in the Tower, he ordered the Duke her brother to be arrested, and taken thither, the old woman having already been taken. The King then wished the Queen to be examined, and he sent Secretary Cromwell, the Archbishop of Canterbury (age 46), the Duke of Norfolk (age 63), and the Chancellor (age 48), who were expressly ordered by the King to treat her with no respect or consideration. They desired the Archbishop to be spokesman, and he said these words to her, "Madam, there is no one in the realm, after my lord the King, who is so distressed at your bad conduct as I am, for all these gentlemen well know I owe my dignity to your good-will;" and Anne, before he could say any more, interrupted him with, "My lord Bishop, I know what is your errand; waste no more time; 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." Then the Bishop continued, "Say no such thing, Madam, for your evil courses have been clearly seen; and if you desire to read the confession which Mark has made, it will be shown to you." Anne, in a great rage, replied, "Go to! It has all been done as I say, because the King has fallen in love, as I know, with Jane Seymour (age 27), 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; and any confession that has been made is false."

With that, as they saw they should extract nothing from her, they determined to leave; but before doing so the Duke of Norfolk said to her, "Madam, if it be true that the Duke2 your brother has shared your guilt, a great punishment indeed should be yours and his as well." To which she answered, "Duke, say no such thing; my brother is blameless; and if he has been in my chamber to speak with me, surely he might do so without suspicion, being my brother, and they cannot accuse him for that. I know that the King has had him arrested, so that there should be none left to take my part. You need not trouble to stop talking with me, for you will find out no more. "So they went away; and when they told the King how she had answered, he said, "She has a stout heart, but she shall pay for it;" and he sent them to the Duke to see how he would answer. To explain why the Duke had been arrested, it should be told that the King was informed that he had been seen on several occasions going in and out of the Queen's room dressed only in his night-clothes. When the gentlemen went to him, he said, "I do not know why the King has had me arrested, for I never wronged him in word or deed. If my sister has done so, let her bear the penalty." Then the Chancellor replied, "Duke, it was ground for suspicion that you should go so often to her chamber at night, and tell the ladies to leave you. It was a very bold thing to do, and you deserve great punishment." "But look you, Chancellor," answered the Duke, "even if I did go to speak with her sometimes when she was unwell, surely that is no proof that I was so wicked as to do so great crime and treason to the King." Then the Duke of Norfolk said, "Hold thy peace, Duke, the King's will must be done after all." So they left him, and presently put old Margaret to the torture, who told the whole story of how she had arranged that Mark and Master Norris and Brereton should all have access to the Queen unknown to each other. She was asked about Master Wyatt, but she said she had never even seen him speak to the Queen privately, but always openly, whereupon Secretary Cromwell was glad, for he was very fond of Master Wyatt.

So the gentlemen ordered the old woman3 to be burnt that night within the Tower, and they took her confession to the King; and the King ordered all the prisoners to be beheaded, and the Duke as well, so the next day the Duke, Master Norris, Brereton, and Mark were executed.

Note 1. TT. Probably a reference to Jane Seymour (age 27).

Note 2. The chronicler is in error in calling the Queen's brother Duke. He was, of course, Viscount Rochford.

Note 3. Lady Wingfield; I can find no record, however, of her having been burnt in Tower, although her dying confession, of which a part only now remains, has always been considered the strongest proof of Anne's guilt.

Hall's Chronicle 1536. 02 May 1536 ... who the next day was apprehended and brought from Greenwich to the Tower of London [Map], where after she was arraigned of high treason, and condemned. Also at the same time was likewise apprehended, the Lord Rochford (age 33) brother to the said Queen (age 35), and Henry Norrys (age 54), Marke Smeaton (age 24), William Brereton and Sir Francis Weston (age 25), all of the King’s Privy Chamber. All these were likewise committed to the Tower [Map] and after arraigned and condemned of high treason.

On 02 May 1536 Queen Anne Boleyn (age 35) was charged with treason and accused of 'despising her marriage and entertaining malice against the King, and following daily her frail and carnal lust'! She was imprisoned in the Tower of London [Map]. Five ladies were appointed to serve Anne whilst in prison:

Margaret Dymoke (age 36),

her aunt Anne Boleyn (age 60),

Mary Scrope (age 60), wife of the Lieutenant of the Tower of London William Kingston (age 60),

her aunt by marriage Elizabeth Wood aka Wode, wife of her uncle James Boleyn (age 71), and

Elizabeth Chamber Baroness St John Bletso, wife of Serjeant-at-Arms Walter Stonor (age 59).

The day before her brother George Boleyn, Henry Norrys, William Brereton and Francis West had been arrested; they would be executed on the 17 May.

Wriothesley's Chronicle. And the secondo dale of Maie, Mr. Noris (age 54) and my Lorde of Rochforde (age 33) were brought to the Towre of London [Map] as prisoners;

Wriothesley's Chronicle. 02 May 1536. ... and the same daie, about five of the clocke at nighta, Anne Bolleine (age 35) was brought to the Towre of London by my Lord Chauncelor (age 48)b, the Duke of Norfolke (age 63), Mr. Secretarie (age 51),c and Sir William Kingston (age 60), Constable of the Tower; and when she came to the court gate,d entring in, she fell downe on her knees before the said lordes, beseeching God to helpe her as she was not giltie of her accusement,e and also desired the said lordes to beseech the Kinges grace to be good unto her, and so they left her their prisoner.f.

Note a. "In the afternoon." — Stow.

Note b. Sir Thomas Audley.

Note c. Sir Thomas Cromwell, afterwards Earl of Essex.

Note d. "Towergate" in Stow.

Note e. On her arrest she was informed of the accusation of adultery.

Note f. Anne's prison-chamber was that in which she had slept the night before her coronation.

Letters 1536. 02 May 1536. 782. The Concubine's brother (age 33), named Rochefort, has also been lodged in the Tower [Map], but more than six hours after the others, and three or four before his sister; and even if the said crime of adultery had not been discovered, this King, as I have been for some days informed by good authority, had determined to abandon her; for there were witnesses testifying that a marriage passed nine years before had been made and fully consummated between her and the earl of Northumberland (age 34), and the King would have declared himself earlier, but that some one of his Council gave him to understand that he could not separate from the Concubine without tacitly confirming, not only the first marriage, but also, what he most fears, the authority of the Pope. These news are indeed new, but it is still more wonderful to think of the sudden' change from yesterday to today, and the manner of the departure from Greenwich to come hither; but I forbear particulars, not to delay the bearer, by whom you will be amply informed.

As to the matters of France, I think they are in no great favor here. The French ambassador had a courier on Saturday; nevertheless, either for pride or disdain, he let himself be sent for twice before he would go to Court, from which he returned not over well pleased. The English had despatched a courier to France eight days ago, but they sent in great haste to recall him, and I have not heard that they have sent any one since. London, 2 May, Eve of the Invention of Holy Cross, 1536.

Letters 1536. 02 May 1536. Add. MS. 28,588, f. 260. B. M. 784. Anne Boleyn. "Las nuevas de Ynglaterra de la presion de la Manceba del Rey."

The Emperor (age 36) has letters from England of 2 May, stating that the mistress [Queen Anne Boleyn of England (age 35)] of the king of England, who is called Queen, had been put in the Tower [Map] for adultery with an organist of her chamber [Mark Smeaton (age 24)], and the King's most private "sommelier de corps (age 54)." Her brother (age 33) is imprisoned for not giving information of her crime. It is said that, even if it had not been discovered, the King had determined to leave her, as he had been informed that she had consummated a marriage with the earl of Nortemberlano (age 34) (Northumberland) nine years ago.

Sp., p. 1, modern copy.

Letters 1536. 02 May 1536. R. O. 785. Roland Bulkeley to Sir Ric. Bulkeley (age 35), Chamberlain of North Wales.

Commendations to Sir Richard (his brother) and his lady. The Queen (age 35) is in the Tower, with the Earl of Wiltshire, Lord Rochford (age 33)1, Mr. Norres (age 54), one master Markes (age 24), one of the King's privy chamber, and sundry ladies. The cause is high treason, that is to say, "that maister Norres (age 54) shulde have a do wythe the Queyne, and Markes (age 24) and the other acsesari to the sayme. The arre lyke to suffyre, all ther morre is the pitte."

Begs him to come to the King as soon as he can, for he can do more than 20 in his absence, and to make haste, and be there before any word be of their death. "When it is ones knone that ye shall dede all wylbe to latte." Asks him to keep this letter close. Grays Inn, 2 May.

Hol., p. 1. Add. Endd.

Note. A mistake? George, Viscount Rochford, brother of Anne Boleyn, children of Thomas Bolyen, Earl of Wiltshire, was in the Tower.

Letters 1536. 29 May 1536. Corpus Reform., iii. 81. 990. Melancthon to Justus Jonas.

The reports from England are more than tragic. The Queen (deceased) is thrown into prison, with her father, brother (deceased), two bishops, and others, for adultery. You will hear the whole thing from Bucer. Monday. Lat.

Letters 1536. 02 Jun 1536. 1036. A Lord of the Privy Council seeing clear evidence that his sister loved certain persons with a dishonorable love, admonished her fraternally. She acknowledged her offence, but said it was little in her case in comparison with that of the Queen, as he might ascertain from Mark (deceased), declaring that she was guilty of incest with her own brother. The brother did not know what to do on this intelligence, and took counsel with two friends of the King, with whom he went to the King himself and one reported it in the name of all three. The King was astonished, and his color changed at the revelation, but he thanked the gentlemen. The Queen, meanwhile, took her pleasure unconscious of the discovery, seeing dogs and animals that day fight in a park. In the evening there was a ball, and the King treated her as if he knew no cause of displeasure. But Mark (deceased) was then in prison and was forced to answer the accusation against him. Without being tortured he deliberately said that the Queen had three times yielded to his passion. The King was thus convinced, but made no show of it, and gave himself up to enjoyment. Especially on the 1 May, he got up a tournay with several combatants; among others, my Lord of Rocheford (deceased), the Queen's (deceased) brother, showed his skill in breaking lances and vaulting on horseback. Norris (deceased), also, best loved of the King, presented himself well armed, but his horse refused the lists and turned away as if conscious of the impending calamity to his master. The King seeing this, presented Norris with his own horse; who, however, knew that he could not keep it long. He, Weston (deceased), and Brereton did great feats of arms, and the King showed them great kindness "dissimulant leur ruyne prochaine." The Queen looked on from a high place, "et souvent envoioit les doulz regards," to encourage the combatants, who knew nothing of their danger. Immediately after the tournay archers were ordered to arrest Norris, and were much astonished and grieved, considering his virtue and intimacy with the King, that he should have committed disloyalty. Before he went to prison the King desired to speak to him, offering to spare his life and goods, although he was guilty, if he would tell him the truth. But being told the accusation, Norris offered to maintain the contrary with his body in any place. He was accordingly sent to the Tower. The Queen was conducted thither next day by the Duke of Norfolk (age 63), and her brother also, who said he had well merited his fate. Waston (deceased) and Barton followed, and pages also. The city rejoiced on hearing the report, hoping that the Princess would be restored. The whole town awaited her coming with delight.

"Et n'eussiez veu jusque aux petis enfans

Que tous chantans et d'aise triumphans.

11 n'y a cueur si triste qui ne rye

En attendant la princesse Marie."

But she did not remove from her lodging, and did not avenge herself by blaming the Queen when she heard that she was a prisoner; but only wished she had behaved better to the King, and hoped God would help her, adding:—

"Et si sa fille est au Roy, je promectz

Qu'a mon pouvoir ne luy fauldray jamais."

Here follows a eulogy of the Princess, describing her education in astronomy, mathematics, logic, morals, politics, Latin, Greek, &c. The expectation that she would be restored made the King apprehensive of some commotion; to appease which he caused his thanks to be conveyed to the people for their good will to him and his daughter, but told them they need not be anxious about her return, for they would shortly be satisfied. The joy of the people on this was converted into sorrow and they dispersed (et confuz s'en partit).

The Queen, meanwhile, having no further hope in this world, would confess 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."