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Planning the Murder of Anne Boleyn (Hardback)

P&S History > British History P&S History > Royal History P&S History > Social History

By Caroline Angus
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 248
Illustrations: 30 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399031868
Published: 30th August 2024


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Almost 500 years have passed since the death of Anne Boleyn, and yet, there has never been a suggestion she was guilty of the crimes which saw her executed. Attempts to muddy Anne’s reputation throughout history have not lessened her popularity nor convinced anyone she was an adulterer. But many myths surrounding Anne’s conviction for sleeping with George Boleyn, Henry Norris, Francis Weston, William Brereton, and Mark Smeaton have cropped up due to centuries of lies, slander, and misinformation from detractors.

One month after Anne was executed, the Convocation of Canterbury ratified the paperwork detailing her arrest, conviction, execution, and the annulment of the marriage between King Henry VIII and his second wife. As parliament had already ruled Anne’s only child, Princess Elizabeth, was no longer heir to the throne, all the paperwork surrounding the trial was destroyed. No trace of her charges, witness statements, evidence, or even Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s reasoning for annulling the royal marriage survived the mass destruction. Everyone was supposed to forget Anne Boleyn and accept Queen Jane.

But why did Anne Boleyn ever need to die? King Henry had started little more than an infatuation with Jane Seymour in December 1535. Yet, many saw the opportunity to pounce, not to reduce Anne’s influence but to increase Princess Mary’s standing. As Vicegerent Thomas Cromwell and Ambassador Eustace Chapuys whispered of alliances in secret meetings, the Catholic nobility and the White Roses began to hatch their plan to restore the king’s daughter, Princess Mary, to her rightful place at court. Just as Katharine of Aragon died, Anne Boleyn felt secure as England’s queen, only to find that her adversary’s death would soon bring on her own.

Why did political and religious enemies of Thomas Cromwell seek him in the months leading to Anne’s death, expecting his co-operation to restore Princess Mary? Did Jane Seymour have any significance and why did King Henry and Thomas Cromwell get into a public shouting match at a dinner party? The answers lie not in what evidence remains of court life in early 1536 but in the gaps left behind. None of the characters that played a role in Anne Boleyn’s death were strangers; all had connections, alliances and opportunities, and when their pasts and futures are laid together, we can see how a haphazard plan to end a queen’s life had almost nothing to do with her at all.

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About Caroline Angus

Caroline Angus is a New Zealand-based author raising four sons. Caroline studied history at Universitat de València, Spain, spending ten years dedicated to the Spanish Civil War and the resulting dictatorship. Caroline went on to study with King’s College London, specialising in Shakespeare and British royal history.
After a decade of writing fiction, including the Secrets of Spain series, focusing on the lives of Valencian interviewees between 1939 and 1975, and the more recent Queenmaker Trilogy, eleven years of Thomas Cromwell and his fictional attendant Nicòla Frescobaldi, Caroline is now creating non-fiction works on the surviving papers of Thomas Cromwell.

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Of the five Tudor monarchs, only one was ever born to rule. While much of King Henry VIII’s reign is centred on his reckless marriage choices, it was the foundations laid by Henry and Queen Katherine of Aragon that shaped the future of the crown. Among the suffering of five lost heirs, the royal couple placed all their hopes in the surviving Princess Mary. Her early life weaves a tale of promise, diplomacy, and pageantry never again seen in King Henry’s life, but a deep-rooted desire for a son, a legacy of his own scattered childhood, pushed Henry VIII to smother Mary’s chance to rule. An…

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