On May 10th official legal proceedings began against Anne Boleyn and her fellow accused. A jury of noblemen were presented with various evidences against Anne showing proof of not only her adultery against her husband the King, but also of incest with her brother and treason in plotting the Kings death. Satisfied that enough evidence was gathered the jury at Westminster Hall wrote this indictment…
“Record of the Indictment found at Westminster on Wednesday next after three weeks of Easter: that whereas Queen Anne has been the wife of Henry VIII for three years and more, she, despising the solemn, not to mention most excellent and noble marriage between our lord the King and the same lady the Queen, but even at he same time having in her heart malice against our lord the King, seduced by evil and not having God before her eyes, and following daily her frail and carnal appetites, did falsely and traitorously procure by base conversations and kisses, touchings, gifts and other infamous incitations, divers of the King’s daily and familiar servants to be her adulterers and concubines, so that several of the King’s servants yielded to her vile provocations; viz, on Oct 6th, 25 Henry VIII  at Westminster, and divers days before and after, she procured, by sweet words, kisses, touches and otherwise, Hen. Norris, of Westminster, gentleman of the Privy Chamber, to violate her, by reason whereof he did so at Westminster on the 12th Oct, 25 Hen. VIII , and they had illicit intercourse, both before and after, sometimes by his procurement and sometimes by that of the Queen.
Also the Queen, 3 Dec. 25 Hen. VIII , and divers days before and after, procured William Brereton, Esquire, late of Westminster, one of the gentlemen of the King’s Privy Chamber, to have illicit intercourse with her, whereby he did so on 8 Dec. 25 Hen. VIII  at Hampton Court, in the parish of Little Hampton, and on several days before and after, sometimes by his own procurement and sometimes by the Queen’s.
Also the Queen, 8 May 26 Hen. VIII , and at other times before and since, procured Sir Fras. Weston of Westminster, one of the gentlemen of the King’s Privy Chamber, to have illicit intercourse with her, and that the Act was committed at Westminster 20 May 26 Hen. VIII .
Also the Queen 12 April 26 Hen. VIII , and divers days before and since, at Westminster, also incited/procured Mark Smeaton, a performer on musical instruments, a person specified as of low degree, promoted for his skill to be a groom of the Privy Chamber, to violate her, whereby he did so at Westminster, 26 April 27 Hen. VIII .
Also that the Queen, 2 Nov. 27 Hen. VIII  and several times before and after, by means therein stated, procured and incited her own natural brother, George Boleyn, knight, Lord Rochford, to violate her, alluring him with her tongue in the said George’s mouth, and the said George’s tongue in hers, and also with kisses, presents and jewels, against the commands of the Almighty God, and all laws human and divine, whereby he, despising the commands of God, and all other human laws, 5 Nov. 27 Henry VIII , violated and carnally knew the said Queen, his own sister, at Westminster, which he also did on divers days before and after, sometimes by his own procurement and sometimes by the Queen’s.
Furthermore, they being thus inflamed by carnal love of the Queen, and having become very jealous of each other, did, in order to secure her affections, satisfy her inordinate desires; and that the Queen was equally jealous of the Lord Rochford, and other the before-mentioned traitors that she would not allow them to hold any familiarity with any other woman without exhibiting her exceeding displeasure and indignation. Moreover, the said Lord Rochford, Norris, Brereton, Weston and Smeaton, being thus inflamed with carnal love of the Queen, and having become very jealous of each other, gave her secret gifts and pledges, while carrying on this illicit intercourse; and the Queen, on her part, would not allow them to show familiarity with any other woman without her exceeding displeasure and indignation; and that on 27. Nov. 27 Hen. VIII  and other days before and after, at Westminster, she gave them great gifts to inveigle them to her will. Furthermore that the Queen and other of the said traitors, jointly and severally, 31 Oct. 27 Henry VIII , at Westminster, and at various times before and after, compassed and imagined the King’s death; and that the Queen had frequently promised to marry some one of the traitors whenever the King should depart this life, affirming she would never love the King in her heart. Furthermore, that the King having come within a short time before to the knowledge of, and meditating upon, the false and detestable crimes, vices and treasons committed against himself within a short time now passed, took such inward displeasure and heaviness, especially for his said Queen’s malice and adultery, that certain harms and perils have befallen his royal body, to the scandal, danger, detriment and derogation of the issue and heirs of the said King and Queen.” (Weir 2009 p. 181-183).
What I find utterly appalling about this indictment is that Anne Boleyn had not even had her official trial and yet she was already being slandered and spoken of as though she were guilty. It would appear that the notion ‘innocent until proven guilty’ did not apply in these times – or at least in this case. The wording used within this document repeatedly suggests that Anne’s heart was ‘malice’, that she was ‘seduced by evil’, ‘did not have God before her eyes’, followed her ‘daily frail and carnal appetites’ and that she was a ‘traitor’. For a supposed indictment this reads more like the outcomes of a trial where someone has already been found guilty. If this document was written in hopes that it would make Anne Boleyn and her fellow accusers look bad then it most certainly did its job. Now not only was Anne accused of adultery she was also accused of incest with her brother and plotting to kill the King – which was treason.
This portrait of Anne Boleyn, painted after the Hans Holbein style hangs in the Inner Hall at Hever Castle. (Which I have had the most fortune pleasure of seeing in person!) There is no sign of the alleged adulteress or traitor who so full of malice or being seduced by evil followed her frail and carnal appetites. Instead I believe it shows a beautiful young Anne Boleyn, her future and a world of possibilities laid out before her. I just adore this portrait.
Weir, A 2009, The Lady in The Tower The Fall of Anne Boleyn, Jonathan Cape, London.