Saturday, April 04, 2009

Question from PJ - Cromwell threatening Anne's ladies

Did King Henry the Eighth ever find out that Cromwell threatened Anne's ladies -in- waiting so that they would indict her behavior? Did these ladies ever admit to anyone that hey lied?


  1. Henry would not have cared how Cromwell got his evidence against Anne, as he wanted Anne out of the picture. I think that Cromwell, like most of Henry's cronies, would have done whatever he had to do in order to give the king what he desired. Of course, Cromwell had had a falling out with Anne as well, so it was probably much easier for him.

  2. Perhaps Anne's ladies didn't lie!

    It seems that all they had to tell was the truth...parties, flirtings, gifts of patronage, smiles, and innocent comments. Cromwell could then have twisted what they said to make the most of little situations.

  3. The only one that may have lied is Jane Rochford. Though, if she only stated that Anne and George spent a lot of "time together", she would not have been lying, would she. We are left to wonder if Jane inferred there was something more or if Cromwell put that spin on the story leaving Jane (that Baud) to carry the blame for eternity. I wish there were more quality sources out there for people like Jane Rochford, but there isn't. Even the book about the infamous lady Rochford is full of guesses and supposition. As far as the other ladies, I'm sure that what they witnessed gave Cromwell plenty to twist and turn in a way that made Anne look very, very bad. Oh well, that old saying "what goes around comes around" certainly rang true for Mr. Cromwell.

  4. Cromwell's threatening of Anne's ladies in waiting for evidence against Anne is that actual historical record or just a liberty taken for The Tudor's movie?

  5. Cromwell's threatening of Anne's ladies in waiting for evidence against Anne is that actual historical record or just a liberty taken for The Tudor's movie?

  6. There's nothing in Letters & Papers that concretely supports a scenario of Cromwell threatening or intimidating Anne's waiting women.

    However, perhaps something like this can be legitimately construed from the records surrounding Kathryn Howard's arrest. Cromwell wasn't involved, as he had already been executed, but the officials in charge examined Katherine Tylney, Joan Bulmer, Anne Howard, Malena Tylney and Margaret Benett, over several weeks, comparing their evidence and interrogating them several times.

    Marillac notes that after Culpeper's and Derham's condemnation, "... the old duchess of Norfolk has been brought prisoner to the Chancellor's house, and a sister of lord William and five or six other ladies are imprisoned apart, to be examined whether the evil manners of the Queen were known before the marriage."

    It's hard to say whether they were actively threatened with traditional torture (I don't think women were tortured; that's why Anne Askew's experience on the rack was so shocking to contemporaries) or merely subjected to unsympathetic treatment, isolation, psychological and emotional manipulation, and repeated exhortations to confess (although we might describe this as a form of torture). The officials' notes are fairly laconic but they reveal things like "no amount of torture would make Derham confess [that he had planned the king's death]" so if torture or the threat of torture had been used on the women it might have been recorded. It looks like fright, imprisonment and the recognition of the enormity of the queen's offenses and their own complicity made the women talk. The presence of Wriothesley -- he who tortured Anne Askew with his own hands -- seems ominous, but he seems to have restrained himself with non-heretical Quality. Hence, we have him and Southampton reporting on December 21, 1541, from the Tower:

    "Spoke then with [the queen's women] Wylkes, Bulmer, Tylney, and Anne Haward, 'who be women much changed and very repentant.' Spoke then with lady Haward, who seems a very simple woman, and neither thought she had offended nor lamented her imprisonment. However, when shown her offences, she was very repentant and said she would have no other trial than the King's mercy. Comforted her, as they did the others, and departed."

    Something along these lines might also have happened with Anne's ladies. One reason, however, I think Anne might have been guilty of at least some of the crimes imputed to her is because of the presence of Lady Rochford, who may have turned King's Evidence on a promise of exoneration; note that Kathryn Howard seemed to turn naturally to Jane Boleyn -- not particularly close to her by the rules of kinship, and in fact Kathryn had a couple of sisters on hand, who don't seem to have known anything about her activities -- as someone experienced, who knew how a secret adulterous affair at court might be managed.

  7. I did not know that Katherine's sister's were there! I learn so much from this site. I find that very interesting as well. I also agree that Anne was no innocent. I'm not saying that she had affairs with other men, but I suspect she flirted with danger and may have crossed the line a few times. Just my own conclusions sources :).

  8. Catherine had five halfbrothers and sisters from catherines mother Joyce culpeppers previous relationship and their were another five including Catherine from her second husband Edmund Howard.This makes a total of ten children that her mother looked after and cared for until her death and it was left to Edmund to cope with.Edmund could not cope with looking after them so they all went to stay with their uncle Thomas Howard and his wife Agnes Tylney in two various households one being Horsham house and the other after being Lambeth palace before they would edventually come to Hampton court.Dont forget that the first five children were not in any relation to the Howards only to the culpeppers.It was the last five that were Howard/culpepper related.So you can say all ten were culpepper related.As for Annes ladies they probably were interrogated but I wouldn't say tortured.After all anyone who had any involvement with Anne including relatives her ladies in waiting and her alledged lovers must have all been interrogated and they were to interrogated.Her alledged lovers I would say were tortured under interrogation.Whether they lied or told the truth none of them would have survived alive.They all would have been found guilty and condemmed to die.Whether guilty or innocent.They were all innocent victims.

  9. As Jenna pointed out, this is often portrayed in film, but there is no "smoking gun" showing evidence of threats against the ladies. More is written speculating about how they may have obtained testimony from Smeaton, but I am not sure that question is settled either.

    For those who believe in Cromwell's role in bringing about the fall of an innocent Anne Boleyn, a scenario like this would explain how Cromwell was able to get the sort of testimony he needed. We have records that least one bit of evidence regarding Anne was supposedly derived from the words of one of Anne's former friends, while her deathbed. How reliable any of it truly was is the big question!

    Foose, have you read Fox's book on Lady Rochford? If so, what did you think?

  10. I haven't read the new book on Jane Parker/rochford.I think it will be an interesting read though.See if there is any new information.I also want to see how the author of the book portrays her in her own words.

  11. I enjoyed Julia Fox's book on Jane Boleyn very much. (I have a real fondness for books about the secondary, minor, or peripheral people at the Tudor court -- officials, ladies-in-waiting, ambassadors, servants, clerics, etc.) I thought she had unearthed some interesting evidence about the origin of the woman's bad reputation and usefully analyzed her options within the constraints of the Tudor milieu in which she moved. I felt Fox was somewhat biased in Lady Rochford's favor and had begun her book with the fixed intention of exculpating her, but seeing the other side of the story was refreshing.

    I know Fox has taken a beating from some scholarly reviewers who criticized her for the inevitable "It is likely," "It is possible," etc. in her account -- but it seems to me that this sort of thing is unavoidable when you have such minimal contemporary evidence to go on. She was writing a popular narrative history, not a scholarly monograph. At least Fox qualified her statements and did not make them appear to be absolute truth.


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