The Tudor Society

Expert Talk – Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII and the Fall of Anne Boleyn

In this month's second expert talk, Claire Ridgway looks at the fall of Anne Boleyn in 1536 and examines the roles of Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII in those bloody events. Did Thomas Cromwell plot all by himself or was he simply his master's servant? Was Henry VIII ultimately responsible? Why did Anne Boleyn have to die?

There are 11 comments Go To Comment

  1. A

    Great chat! Certainly covered all bases. I do think the king let it be known he wished to be rid of Anne and Cromwell took it from there. I can imagine, in an effort to keep the king’s attention, Anne flirting with her courtiers. After all, I think the fact that so many young men surrounding Anne at the beginning was one of the things that brought her to the king’s attention. Knowing Henry’s competitive nature, if she gave attention to others, she thought the king would come round. Just my little conjecture. Thanks!

  2. L

    Anne I personally think that Anne B’s downfall was orchastrated by the pair of them.
    I am not too sure but I believe Henry tried to throw in witchcraft to add to the adultery and incest charge, but Cromwell couldn’t find a way of making it stick.
    We have all heard the tales of a 6th finger and a 3rd nipple, but I think this was a made up tale after Henry had killed her to try and justify his murder of an innocent woman
    The same could be said of the stupid poem, that Carlos dooberry furkin made up about Anne’s guilt in Elizabeth’s reign. That poem was to once again show that Henry was right to murder Anne, and that as a result Elizabeth was a bastard with no right to the throne. Again I’m not too sure (I have used this titbit in my book however, but being purely fictional we can bend the rules a little.) but I think Carlos dooberry furkin went as far to say that Elizabeth was the result of an incestious union between Anne and her brother George. Either way it was as we know all Catholic propaganda all set up to discredit the women who changed the world. Anne and Elizabeth, 2 of the most radical women of their time. 2 women who took the men’s world by storm and showed them that they were equal and no man was going to tell them what to do.
    I do feel that Cromwell was railroaded into getting rid of Anne and it probably didn’t sit well with him. I think the expression in the last episode of “Wolf Hall” comes close to how Cromwell must have felt after Anne was dead. A mouse caught in the giant Henry web of deceit and lies. From the moment the executioner held Anne’s head up to show the crowd, Cromwell knew that his days were numbered. Henry held Cromwell responsible for Anne’s murder, even though the 2 of them cooked up the charges against Anne. This is of course purely my own opinion.

    1. D

      I thought the same thing at the end of Wolf Hall. That hug and the look on Cromwell’s face said it all. And no matter what the truth was, Henry made up his own truth and no one could go against the king.

  3. S

    Thank you so much for such an informative chat. I sat entranced and feel I have a better understanding of the events which happened so long ago. Thank you again.

    1. A

      Glad you liked it. I’m sorry that you missed the live chat with Claire, but if you have any questions you can always comment here or on the forum and Claire is always around on the site.

    2. C - Post Author

      Hi Suzanne,
      Thank you, I’m so glad you enjoyed it and found it useful. I find Cromwell a fascinating man.

  4. M

    I almost jumped through my screen when I saw the portrait behind you!!! (Still listening to the chat – just had to over-share with you. . . .) 🙂

    1. M

      So sorry to have missed the live chat. I agree with you, Claire, that this was a king looking to remarry, and there was an (tacit?) understanding between Henry VIII and Cromwell that Cromwell would return Henry VIII to ‘single’ status. Cromwell was a master at accomplishing objectives.

    2. C - Post Author

      Ha! That portrait is my favourite one of Anne so I put birthday money together and had a copy painted, the artist did a fantastic job. Don’t worry, I haven’t stolen the one from Hever!

  5. M

    Thank you Claire! I am working on a research proposal for a Master’s class and I will be comparing the different schools of thought on Anne’s downfall. Your chat is excellent and I have cited it in my bibliography. Love that we have so many choices in citations/resources these days! As always, your arguments are clear and concise and very thought-provoking.

    1. C - Post Author

      Thank you, Mary! Do check out the arguments of Eric Ives and John Schofield as they are very different. I agree with Ives on mosth things, but I don’t agree that Anne’s fall was down to Cromwell, it just doesn’t make sense to me.

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Expert Talk – Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII and the Fall of Anne Boleyn