The Queen vs Tudor Haman

Anne Boleyn threatening Cromwell  in "The Tudors"
Anne Boleyn threatening Cromwell in “The Tudors”

On the second of April 1536, Anne Boleyn’s almoner John Skip launched delivered a sermon attacking Thomas Cromwell. In his sermon, he quoted the Old Testament, reminding the people of evil councilors such as Haman who served King Ahasuerus. Haman got so powerful that people said he ruled. He started persecuting the Jews and was about to exterminate them when the Queen (Esther, who was a secret Jew and changed her name to hide her identity) stood up against him and expose him for what he was: a liar. The King rewarded his wife by stopping the persecution against her people and executing Haman, severing his head from his body. It was clear that by evoking the memory of the ill-fated Haman, Anne sent a powerful message to Cromwell: There was only room for one. Contrary to popular belief, that they were die hard enemies; the Tudor court was filled with allies who were often turned enemies and the other way around. Anne and Cromwell were initially allies but they differed on one big issue: what to do with the money begotten from the dissolution of the monasteries? As the King’s advisor. It was clear what Thomas Cromwell wanted: To make the King richer by filling up his coffers and reward his faithful subjects by giving them the lands he’d confiscated from the church, making them grateful to Cromwell as well. In great contrast, Anne wanted to use the money to fund educational programs and other charitable causes.

Esther accusing Haman of corruption and exposing his evil ways. Anne did the same, using her almoner John Skip, invoking this story to compare Cromwell with him.
Esther accusing Haman of corruption and exposing his evil ways. Anne did the same, using her almoner John Skip, invoking this story to compare Cromwell with him.

Both of them however, leaned towards Reform, yet they had different ideas of how to approach it. A lot has been said about Anne’s religious inclinations with many books and TV shows portraying her as a conniving, opportunistic woman who used the Reform to her own benefit. But we must remember that everyone, regardless of their background, was going to use his or her religion for their own benefit –and that of their families.

“Although Chapuys referred to Anne and her father as ‘more Luther than Luther himself’, it is more correct to say that both shared the humanist ideas of promotion of the scriptures in the vernacular.” (Norton)
“Although Chapuys referred to Anne and her father as ‘more Luther than Luther himself’, it is more correct to say that both shared the humanist ideas of promotion of the scriptures in the vernacular.” (Norton)

Interested by Luther but not entirely convinced by his ideas, she was influenced nonetheless by him and other Reformists. Once he made his intentions clear to marry her, she used her new position to influence the King and support Reform. Henry VIII however, was a Catholic at heart. Even though he separated from the Church, he wanted to keep the Church traditional. The separation from Rome however, must have seen for Anne, her brother and father like a small triumph. Anne kept a French bible with her and ordered an English translation of it and that she kept on her household for everyone to read it. Cromwell as the King’s servant, had to keep his loyalties in check. He had to be more cautious, and do everything in his power to make his sovereign happy. Yet he too showed Reformist sympathies, and while not popular among the nobles, he had merchant friends, and others on the common people he had helped, as well as investing most of his time building a network of spies that made him grow over confident in the late 1530s.
Sources:

  • Anne Boleyn by Eric Ives
  • Six Wives, the Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey
  • Six Wives and the many mistresses of Henry VIII by Amy Licence
  • Boleyn Women by Elizabeth Norton
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s