Saturday, October 17, 2009

Question from Faith - Rapidity of Anne's fall

I have read a good bit about Henry VIII and his court, his wives & advisors, etc., butI've never understood the reasons for Anne Boleyn's swift fall and why Henry had her executed. I know that Cromwell turned against her,which also gave the enemies she had always had more of an opportunity to do her harm. But I don't understand why that was enough for Henry to end the marriage after so short a time, after courting Anne devotedly for 7-8 years, breaking with the Catholic Church and basically turning his kingdom upside down to marry her.

And even if he was willing to end the marriage, why not allow her to retire to a convent, or agree to the divorce (on the basis of her pre-contract with Thomas Wyatt or whatever)and live quietly in the country, like Anne of Cleves did.

What do others think? Thank you.

[Related thread linked below. - Lara]


Locomotion said...

You might like to try the following link. Its actually about Edward VI but makes quite a bit of relevance to Anne's fall and Henry's attraction to Jane.

Hope this Helps!

Locomotion said...

My apologies I forgot the link:

Unknown said...

I personally think that Henry had a desperation for a male heir, and that since Anne gave him a daughter and miscarried their son, he thought he would never get a son from her (also the reason he wanted to be rid of Katherine of Aragon)... he needed a male heir for the security of the succession. He first wanted to have his marriage to Anne nullified (due to his prior sexual relationship with Anne's sister Mary), but was reminded that he'd gone that route with Aragon. Henry had also, presumably, become disgusted with Anne's "french" love making, and probably was given an idea (cheating on a King was considered treason, and therefore punishable by execution). Maybe that helps?

tudor fanatic said...

Certainly Henry's desperation for a male heir had something to do with it. Also, the fact that he had become enamoured of Jane Seymour would have played a big part in his decision to end the marriage, although neither of these reasons seem like particularly good excuses. But Henry could do pretty much what he pleased. After all, he was the king of England and he'd grown up as the spoilt younger child. He was used to having everything just the way he wanted it, and if he wanted to get rid of Anne, then so be it. And anyone that argued against it risked their own life. Personally, I think Henry had some sort of commitment issues to change his mind so quickly about who he liked and who he didn't. But as for why he didn't simply allow her to accept a divorce, that's pretty simple really. Henry liked people to like him. He thought of himself as some sort of god who everyone worshipped and whose word was law. He didn't ever want to go back on his word because it would have been proof of weakness, and by simply divorcing Anne it would have been like saying he was wrong to divorce his previous wife, to break with Rome and marry Anne etc. So beheading her under charges of incest and adultery was kind of like his way of justifying to the world why he needed to get rid of her. Is that the sort of thing you wanted? Sorry if its not :)

Laura said...

The problem with merely setting Anne aside as he had Katherine was that while Anne was alive, any new marriage would have been tainted by his marriage to Anne. Just as his marriage to Anne was tainted by his marriage to Katherine. With her execution, he had a fresh start with Jane Seymour, and any children from that union would not have their legitimacy questioned as Elizabeth's and Mary's was.

I also question just how much Henry knew/believed about the accusations against Anne. Since she was unable to see him and plead her case and there was an admission of guilt from Smeaton (gotten under torture, admittedly) is it possible that he believed some, if not all, of the charges against her? If he did, in fact, believe them, then that would be enough to explain why he wanted her dead. After all, he personally wanted to murder Katherine Howard when he discovered her infidelity.

Aly said...

You need to read Alison Weir's book The Lady in the Tower. She discusses this throughout the whole book. Henry actually had very little to do with Anne's fall. Cromwell was the one who put the whole thing together. Anne and Henry had a trip to Calais planned for right after May Day. They had kept going with their plans right until the week before she was arrested. Alison Weir also suggests that Henry didn't really know the full extent of what Anne was being accused of until the May Day Tournament, when he left her and never saw her again. In Henry's own admission to Cromwell, he had been toying with the idea of setting Anne aside, but wasn't yet convinced. Cromwell took this and ran with it. He personally needed Anne out of the way, she was causing him problems. So, he found a way to do it while also carrying out the King's wishes.
Weir conjectures that Henry loved Anne's virtue, and when he finally slept with her and discovered that she wasn't as completely chaste as she said she had been, he felt lied to, and immediately began cooling off from her. Without Jane, he had had at least two mistresses during Anne's reign, one of whom was her cousin that she threw in his path.
Like I said, you really should read this book!! It has really helped me understand Anne's fall so much better.