On the 25 April 1536, the day after the Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas Audley, a close ally of Thomas Cromwell, appointed two special commissions of oyer and terminer to examine the evidence against Queen Anne Boleyn, Henry sent a letter to his ambassador in Rome, Richard Pate and his envoys in France, Gardiner and Wallop.
In this letter he instructed them to oppose the demands of the Emperor because of ‘the likelihood and appearance that God will send us heirs male [by] our most dear and most entirely beloved wife, the Queen’ (Weir, Pg. 92).
The letter implies that even at this late stage Henry VIII was still behaving in his marriage as normal and perhaps even still sleeping with Anne. Eric Ives states that the letter demonstrates that ‘Henry had no intention of rejecting Anne’ (Pg. 321).
Although Alison Weir does warn against reading too much into the affectionate terms that the King uses as this was ‘merely the conventional style employed by royalty when writing of their spouses’ (Pg. 92).
Does this support the theory then that Henry VIII had not yet decided Anne’s fate and that he was genuinely awaiting the outcome of the investigations? Or to echo the words of Eric Ives, ‘Had the King forgotten his signature of the day before?’ (Pg. 322).
It seems that contrary to popular belief, the King had not signed anything! The commissions ‘appear to have been authenticated by the chancellor’, a person ‘well placed to secure a secret commission’ (Ives, Pg. 322).
Furthermore, plans were still in place for Henry and Anne to visit Dover and Calais at the end of the month to inspect the new harbour and fortifications (Weir, Pg. 92).
Unfortunately, things would not remain so innocent for long. Whilst Henry composed the letter and while Anne enjoyed precious time with Elizabeth at Greenwich, his Council sat discussing and debating the ‘crisis over foreign alliances’ and perhaps also the fate of the Queen (Weir, Pg. 93).
ReferencesIves, E. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, 2004. Weir, A. The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, 2009.