Over the next few days all those that had once supported Anne, whom had loved her, had pushed for her to become Queen of England suddenly turned their backs and betrayed her. All those whom she had been so close to wanted nothing to do with her.
Before verdicts were even decided against the men that had been arrested in association with Anne Boleyn others were writing to Cromwell asking for him to remember them when lands and wealth was redistributed. Like vultures swooping down, stepping closer and closer waiting for the innocent prey to die. People like the Duke of Richmond, Anne’s 16 year old step son, Lord Lisle and Richard Staverton were writing to Cromwell asking him to fondly remember them, when, as we must remember, the trails for Smeaton, Norris, Boleyn, Weston and Brereton had not even been conducted!
I find it interesting that there are no documents or reports of Anne’s father or mother trying to plead with the King for the life of their daughter. I am aware that a fire in 1731 at the Cottonian Library destroyed many of the documents related to the trial of Anne, but there appears to be no record of her own parents trying to seek pardon or help for their children. Where they frightened for their own lives? Not only their daughter the Queen of England was imprisoned in the Tower, but also their only son George Boleyn – for crimes of adultery, treason and incest. Perhaps they were trying to keep their heads down for fear that if they stuck them up the King might cut them off?! Again this is another case of we will never know the thoughts and feelings of Thomas Boleyn and his wife, but as of date there is not much evidence to suggest they tried in any way to help their children.
During these few days Cromwell and the council were frantically working to gather all the damning evidence they could against Anne Boleyn and her fellow prisoners in the Tower. They had tortured poor Mark Smeaton until he had confessed (which I find hard to believe the authenticity of any confession gained by painful torture), and had questioned Norris, Boleyn, Weston and Brereton. As well as this they had brought in Anne’s ladies in waiting to grill them over the happenings of the Queen. As history tells us Lady Rochford, Anne’s sister in law and wife of George Boleyn had quite some involvement with the charges laid against her husband. We do not know why Jane Rochford told Cromwell such information – perhaps it was to save her own head? Fearful that she may be dragged into this mess since her husband and her mistress the Queen were already in the Tower? Maybe her marriage to George Boleyn had not been a happy one? Maybe Cromwell had promised to spare her and remember her well if she gave him the information he wanted? We do not know, but it was her words against her husband that played a vital role in his and Anne’s downfall.
This is an artist’s impression of Anne Boleyn during her final days in the Tower of London. Although not a real painting of what Anne would have looked like I do like this image very much. I find it hard to imagine Anne on her knees in the Queen’s lodgings, resting upon one of her ladies in waiting’s knees while the woman cries for her. We know that four of her ladies in waiting did not like Anne nor she liked them – so this image is a little hard to believe as real. But what I like about it is that it expresses the sadness, sorrow and hopelessness that Anne may have felt at times during her final days. In this painting Anne looks so forlorn, abandoned by all those around her whom once claimed to love her. She looks sad and yet almost resigned to her fate. I think it’s a beautiful painting and it always makes me think of how Anne might have felt during her last days upon this earth.