ALSO BY ALISON WEIR
Mistress of the Monarchy:The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster
The Lady Elizabeth:A Novel
Innocent Traitor:A Novel of Lady Jane Grey
Britain’s Royal Families:The Complete Genealogy
The Six Wives of Henry VIII
The Princes in the Tower
The Wars of the Roses
Children of Henry VIII
The Life of Elizabeth I
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Henry VIII: The King and His Court
Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Murder of Lord Darnley
This book is dedicated to a dear friend,
(Rev. Canon Anthony Verhees),??????to mark his eightieth birthday.
This is where my interest in history began, many years ago, with Anne Boleyn and the dramaticstory of her fall. That interest has never abated—I have written at length on Anne in twoearlier books, The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Henry VIII: King and Court, and in a number of
unpublished works—and I know that it is shared by many: the crowds who visit the Tower ofLondon to see the supposed site of her scaffold, or flock to Hampton Court, where Anne stayedin happier days, or to Hever Castle, her family home, or Blickling, the place of her birth. Thefascination is evident in numerous sites on the Internet, the almost-regular appearance ofbiographies of Anne Boleyn, films and television dramas about her, and the numerous letters ande-mails I have received from readers over the years.
Yet never before—surprisingly—has there been a book devoted entirely to the fall of AnneBoleyn, and it has been a deeply satisfying experience having the scope to research in depththis most discussed and debated aspect of Anne’s life. This has allowed me to achieve newinsights and to debunk many myths and misapprehensions. It has been an exciting project, and Ihave constantly been amazed at what I discovered.
Coming to this subject afresh, I have—as always—questioned all my preconceptions andassumptions, and sometimes had to revise them, which of course exposes errors in my ownprevious books, and indeed in nearly every other book on Anne, however diligently researched.In writing a full biography, the historian does not have the opportunity to go into suchdetail—in research, narrative, and analysis—as I have had the good fortune to be able to doin a book that essentially covers a period of four months.
I wish to stress that this book is based largely on original sources, and that the conclusionsin it are my own, sometimes reached objectively after reading the various theories. This mightsound like a statement of the obvious, but in some aspects, my conclusions coincide withothers’. That has often been pure coincidence. I purposely put off reading all the modernbiographies of Anne until my research from contemporary sources was completed and the book wasin its penultimate draft. I have gratefully given due credit to historians whose theories andinterpretations have informed my work, but otherwise all conjectures, inferences, andconclusions are my own, independently reached without reference to the biographies. I wish inparticular to pay tribute to those by Professor Eric Ives, whose theories about the reasons forAnne Boleyn’s fall have been particularly illuminating.
Since contemporary sources are key factors in studying Anne Boleyn’s fall, readers may wish tolook at the section “Notes on Some of the Sources,” which appear after the main text, beforereading the book. Historians must always decide what weight to give each source, and this guideis there to evaluate the reliability and veracity of the chief ones for the period.
The approximate modern worth of monetary amounts has been given in brackets after each summentioned in the text.
Above all, this book has been a labor of love, as well as an exciting quest for the truth—oras near as anyone can get to the truth.
I am deeply grateful for the help and support of many kind and generous people: firstly, twodear friends and fellow historians, Tracy Borman, for so generously lending me the firstchapter of her forthcoming book on Elizabeth I, for hours spent in convivial discussion aboutaspects of Anne and Elizabeth that are common to both our subjects, and for joining me forsell-out events mischievously entitled “The Whore and the Virgin;” and Sarah Gristwood, forso thoughtfully obtaining for me the one rare biography of Anne that I had no time to trackdown, and for showing me a better way to write a book!
I should also like to thank Glen Lucas and Karen Marston, for so generously giving of theirtime, without charge, to translate documents from Latin and French; Patricia Macleod of SuttonLibrary, for putting me in touch with Glen Lucas and for organizing such wonderful events; SueWingrove of BBC History magazine, for very kindly sending me photocopies of out-of-print
articles; Canon Anthony Verhees (Father Luke), for advice and information on funeral masses inthe sixteenth century and other issues raised by Anne Boleyn’s fate; the historian ChristopherWarwick, another dear friend, for advice, and for photographing a model of the Tower of Londonbased on the 1597 map; Monica Tandy and Alan Mudie, for information on ghost stories about AnneBoleyn; Samantha Brown and Ann Morrice of Historic Royal Palaces, for their wonderfulenthusiasm for Tudor history and for making it possible for me to speak about Anne and HenryVIII at Hampton Court, which has been an enormous privilege.
The list of people who have supported me in various ways whilst I was writing this book is along one, but I wish especially to mention my agent, Julian Alexander; my commissioningeditors, Will Sulkin at Jonathan Cape in London and Susanna Porter at Ballantine Books in NewYork; my editorial director, Anthony Whittome, his assistant James Nightingale, and thededicated and helpful publishing teams at Random House in the United Kingdom and the UnitedStates. I am tremendously grateful to you all.
More special thanks must go to my family and friends, who have all had to put up with me duringthe writing of this book, in particular my wonderfully supportive husband, Rankin; my son,John; my daughter, Kate; my mother, Doreen Cullen; and my cousin, Christine Armour. I wish alsoto express my gratitude to (in no particular order) Ian Robinson, Kate Williams, SiobhanClarke, Anthony Cunningham, Leza Mitchell, Richard Foreman, Alison Montgomerie, Roger England,Joan and John Borman, David Crothers, Richard Stubbings, Kathleen Carroll, Ian Franklin, Jeanand Nick Hubbard, Nicholas and Carol Bennett, Anthony and Jackie Goodman, Pauline Hall, KarinScherer, Gary and Barbara Leeds, Rose Lukas, John and Joanna Marston, Anita Myatt, JosephineRoss, Burnell and Shelley Tucker, Monica and John Tyler, Peter Taylor, Frank and Janet Taylor,Nicola Tallis, Alex von Tunzelmann, Jane Robins, Alice Hogge, Justin Pollard, Nellie Verhees,Kenneth and Elizabeth Weir, Ronald and Alison Weir, Martha Whittome, Jessie Childs, HelenRappaport, Lynn and Anne Saunders, Jane Furnival, Mavis Cheek, Molly Bradshaw, Dave Musgroveand many more!!
You have all been wonderful in so many ways—thank you.
Carshalton, Surrey,Christmas 2008
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
PROLOGUE The Solemn Joust
CHAPTER 1 Occurrences That Presaged Evil
CHAPTER 2 The Scandal of Christendom
CHAPTER 3 The Frailty of Human Affairs
CHAPTER 4 Plotting the Affair
CHAPTER 5 Unlawful Lechery
CHAPTER 6 Turning Trust to Treason
CHAPTER 7 To the Tower
CHAPTER 8 Stained in Her Reputation
CHAPTER 9 The Most Mischievous and Abominable Treasons
CHAPTER 10 More Accused than Convicted
CHAPTER 11 Fighting Without a Weapon
CHAPTER 12 Just, True, and Lawful Impediments CHAPTER 13 For Now I Die CHAPTER 14 When Death Hath Played His Part CHAPTER 15 The Concubine’s Little Bastard CHAPTER 16 A Work of God’s Justice APPENDIX: Legends NOTES ON SOME OF THE SOURCES SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY NOTES AND REFERENCES
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Anne Boleyn, as she probably looked at the time of her fall, artist unknown,sixteenth century, Nidd Hall, Yorkshire ? The Trustees of the 16th ViscountMountgarret Will Trust
Henry VIII, painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1536-7, Thyssen-BornemiszaCollection, Madrid, Spain/The Bridgeman Art Library
Jane Seymour, artist unknown, 1540s, the Society of Antiquaries of London/TheBridgeman Art Library
Sir Nicholas Carew, workshop of Hans Holbein, 1530s, by kind permission of theTrustees of the 9th Duke of Buccleuch’s Chattles Fund
The Lady Mary, painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1536, The Royal Collection? 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Henry FitzRoy, Duke of Richmond, miniature by Lucas Horenbout, c. 1534-5, The RoyalCollection ? 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1539, TheRoyal Collection ? 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire, Tomb brass, c. 1539, St. Peter’s Church, Hever,Kent, photograph reproduced by kind permission of H. Martin Stuchfield
Signature of George Boleyn, Lord Rochford ? British Library Board, Royal MS. 20 BXXI, f.2v
Signature of Mark Smeaton ? British Library Board, Royal MS. 20 B XXI, f.98
Henry Parker, Lord Morley, painting by Albrecht Durer, 1523 ? The Trustees of theBritish Museum
Thomas Cromwell, “Master Secretary,” School of Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1533,Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Clowes Fund Collection
Sir William FitzWilliam, painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1536–40, TheRoyal Collection ? 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth Browne, Countess of Worcester, Tomb effigy, St. Mary’s Church, Chepstow,photograph ? Archie Miles/Collections Picture Library
Anne Boleyn, English School, c. 1580-1600, by kind permission of Ripon CathedralChapter
The Indictment against Anne Boleyn and Lord Rochford, The National Archives, Kew BK8/9
Greenwich Palace, where Anne Boleyn was arrested, detail from “The Panorama ofLondon” by Anthonis van den Wyngaerde, 1558, ? Ashmolean Museum, University ofOxford/The Bridgeman Art Library
Anne Boleyn says a final farewell to her daughter, the Princess Elizabeth, paintingby Gustaf Wappers, 1838, Collection SHUNCK*, Heerlen, The Netherlands. PhotographKlaus Tummers, Heerlen
The Tower of London, painting by Michael van Meer, Album Amicorum, 1615, Edinburgh
University Library, Special Collections, ms.La.III.283, fol.346v
Anne Boleyn at the Queen’s Stairs, painting by Edward Matthew Ward, 1871,Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums
Anne Boleyn in the Tower, detail, Edward Cibot, 1835, Museé Rolin, Autun,France/Bridgeman Art Library
Anne Boleyn, Lady Shelton, stained glass, St. Mary’s Church, Shelton, Norfolk,photograph by kind permission of Simon Knott www.suffolkchurches.co.uk
Sir Thomas Wyatt, painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1535, The RoyalCollection ? 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
“To the King from the Lady in the Tower”: a disputed letter ? British LibraryBoard, Cotton Otho MS. C.X. f.232r
Westminster Hall, where four of Anne Boleyn’s co-accused were tried on May 121536. Parliamentary copyright image reproduced with the permission of Parliament,photograph by Deryc Sands
Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, painting by Francis Lindo, eighteenth century,collection of the Duke of Northumberland, photograph by Geremy Butler
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, painting by Gerlach Flicke, 1546,National Portrait Gallery, London/The Bridgeman Art Library
Sir Francis Weston and his wife, Anne Pickering, carved heads from marriage chest,c. 1530, used by kind permission of Saffron Walden Museum, Essex, photographs ?Saffron Walden Museum
“Weston Esq. of Sutton Surrey,” artist unknown, sixteenth century, the collectionat Parham House, West Sussex
Anne Boleyn driven mad: a later, melodramatic image, painting by AlessandroGuardassoni, 1843, Instituzione Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Collezioni Storiche,Bologna, photograph by Mario Berardi
Carving from the Martin Tower, photograph ? Mary Evans Picture Library
Anne Boleyn’s falcon badge, without its crown and sceptre, in the Beauchamp Tower,photograph ? Historic Royal Palaces
The site of the Queen’s Lodgings in the Tower of London, photograph by TracyBorman
Gold and enamel pendant, made c. 1520, Victoria & Albert Museum, photograph,anonymous loan/V&A Images
The site of the scaffold on which Anne Boleyn was executed, photograph by TracyBorman
The execution of Anne Boleyn, illustration from John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments,seventeenth century
The Royal Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, photograph by Tracy Borman
Inside St Peter ad Vincula, photograph ? Historic Royal Palaces
Memorial plaque said to mark the last resting place of Anne Boleyn, photograph ?Historic Royal Palaces
Carved initials of Henry VIII and Anne Bolyen, Hampton Court Palace, photograph ?Angelo Hornak Albany
c.1575, used by kind permission of The Trustees of theQueen Elizabeth I’s ring of
Chequers Estate/Mark Fiennes/The Bridgeman Art Library
GENEALOGICAL TABLE 1The Tudors
GENEALOGICAL TABLE 2The Boleyns