chapter
11 Pages

Introduction

Once Henry had decided that Anne had to go, there was little chance he would be prevented from disposing of her. His councillors were unlikely to raise objections: many had risen to greatness by the King’s favour, and all feared its loss (or worse) if they crossed his will. The Church would do little: Henry had already denied papal authority and declared himself supreme head of the Church

in England; the conservative bishops objected to Anne’s heretical ideas; and the reformist bishops no doubt feared that to identify themselves with Anne would wreck their Reformation. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, interceded cautiously on Anne’s behalf, but it did no good. So he heard her last confession and obediently dissolved her marriage. The law, too, was no obs­ tacle. Anne was tried before a special court which comprised her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, as Lord Steward, her cousin, the Earl of Surrey, as Earl Marshal, a jury of twenty-six peers, and the Lord Chancellor and judges - but no one risked the King’s anger, or invited suspicion of complicity in Anne’s offences, or challenged the court which had already found her alleged paramours guilty. Within a few weeks, Parliament, too, followed the King’s wishes and excluded Elizabeth from the succession to the throne, in fa­ vour of the children of Jane Seymour or any future queen. But Henry VIII was a mature and experienced king by 1536, who had stamped his authority on the realm and earned obedience, if not respect. Ruling was not always so easy.