The Divorce of Catherine of Aragon: The Story as Told by the Imperial Ambassadors Resident at the Court of Henry VIII

By J. A. Froude | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXII.

Easter at Greenwich -- French and Imperial factions at the English court -- Influence of Anne Boleyn -- Reports of Anne's conduct submitted to the King -- Flying rumours -- Secret Commission of Inquiry -- Arrests of various persons -- Sir Henry Norris and the King -- Anne before the Privy Council -- Sent to the Tower -- Her behaviour and admissions -- Evidence taken before the Commission -- Trials of Norris, Weston, Brereton, and Smeton -- Letter of Weston -- Trial of Anne and her brother -- Executions -- Speech of Rochford on the scaffold -- Anne sentenced to die -- Makes a confession to Cranmer -- Declared to have not been the King's lawful wife -- Nature of the confession not known -- Execution.

AT the moment when the King was bearing himself so proudly at the most important crisis of his reign, orthodox historians require us to believe that he was secretly contriving to rid himself of Anne Boleyn by a foul and false accusation, that he might proceed immediately to a new marriage with another lady. Men who are meditating enormous crimes have usually neither leisure nor attention for public business. It is as certain as anything in history can be certain that to startle Europe with a domestic scandal while mighty issues were at stake on which the fate of England depended was the last subject with which England's King was likely to have been occupied. He was assuming an attitude of haughty independence, where he would need all his strength and all the confidence of his subjects. To conspire at such a moment against the honour and life of a miserable and innocent woman would have occurred to no one who was not a maniac. Ru

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