Did Jane ever show support for Mary while the Boleyns were in power?


The answer is, more than likely, no.

Many a historian will disagree of course. Saying it is well known that Jane was arrested for greeting Mary ,as she arrived in London to serve in the household of Elizabeth, with encouragement and reassurance that she was the true princess. However nowhere is Jane named in the letter detailing the event. Written by Castelnau and Dinteville the report reads: 

When lately the Princess was moved from Greenwich, a great troop of women, as many city-wives as others, in despite of their husbands, went before her, crying and calling out that no matter what had been done to her, she was a princess, and the greatest of these were placed in the Tower, still persisting in their opinion. 

The idea that Jane (along with her aunt) were one of these women comes from Paul Friedmann. He comes to the conclusion because in the margins of this passage the names Lord Rochford and Lord William Howard are scrawled. 

However it is interesting that if Jane was arrested for showing Mary support, that Chapuys never mentioned it. Or that we have no record of the wives of such important men being arrested. If Jane and her aunt did join in this show of loyalty, it would have caused quite a scandal. But except for the names of their husbands being scrawled in a margin not a word is breathed about Jane being arrested.

That’s probably because she wasn’t. Because she probably wasn’t one of the women spoken of. 

George’s biographer Bapst has a better guess as to why the names Rochford and Howard appear in the margins. 

…In our opinion, the note in the margin naming Lord Rochford and Lord. W Howard does not indicate that they were the husbands of “the greatest” of these two women, but that they informed the two Ambassadors of the facts mentioned. Besides, the imprisonment of two ladies as eminent as Lady Rochford and Lady Howard would have been recorded in other documents at the time; but there is no trace of any. Lastly we know that only a few months previously, Lady Rochford was still deeply hostile to Catherine Of Aragon and Mary; so sudden a reversal would be surprising. 

The “madness” of Jane Boleyn


While waiting in the tower for her fate to be decided it seems that Jane Boleyn suffered from some kind breakdown, one that Chapuys would label as “madness”. Unlike with her sister-in-laws breakdowns, there is no written records of Jane’s episodes so we do not know exactly what she was doing. We do know that it must have caused some alarm and concern for she was released from the tower and placed in the care of Lord Russell’s wife Anne and Henry had his own doctors sent to treat her. According to Chapuys this bout of “madness” ended upon being told she was going to die, suggesting that the breakdowns were not caused by a fear of death or the ax, but perhaps of just not knowing what was to become of her. Both the French ambassador and Johnson, an eye witness to the executions of both Jane and Katherine, suggest that Jane had her wits about her when she went to the block, she was apparently able to make a long and impressive speech. 

Many people, historians and fiction writers alike (Emily Purdy being a prime example here) have often times stretched this “madness” out of proportion, arguing that Jane had always been insane/mentally unstable. They used this as an explanation of her “voyeuristic” tendencies, why she got such a kick out of spying through peepholes, and would later betray four out of the five queens she served. Others have said that this was Jane’s last ditch effort to stay alive, for she would have known an insane person could not be executed. But there is no evidence to support such a claim. More likely than not Julia Fox got it right when she wrote.

In view of the trauma that she had suffered when the king had struck at Anne and George, finding herself in the firing line again, and this time at the epicenter, not the periphery, her breakdown is quite understandable.

This is was no mad woman losing the last little bit of sanity she had left, or a woman desperately trying to escape the block, this was a woman who had seen this all happen before and feared she knew how it was going to end….. 

Anonymous said: What did he do for the reformation ?


A good deal more than he is usually accredited for. 

I wouldn’t go so far as to say he was a catalyst for the English Reformation, or that his impact was invaluable. But he did believe and promote Reformist views. Excessively. 

We have from Chapuys himself that George couldn’t help but enter into religious debates with Catholics constantly. We know he financially supported Evangelicals and Reformers. He encouraged Anne to show reformist pamphlets to the King. He smuggled illegal books from France and translated them for Anne (an extremely risky thing to do). He was heavily involved in the Reformation Parliament from 1530 until his death, he had the best attendance record of any lord during 1534. He was also involved with the Schmalkadic League (which was admittedly as political as it was religious). He supported both Cromwell and Cranmer (though he seems to have been more involved with the former than the later) 

Lastly at his scaffold speech we have him stating that 

"I was a great reader and a mighty debater of the Word of God, and one of those who most favored the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Wherefore, lest the Word of God should be slandered on my account, I now tell you all Sirs, that if I had, in very deed, kept his holy Word, even as I read and reasoned about with all the strength of my wit, certain am I that I should not be in the piteous condition wherein I now stand."  

and later  he calls himself a “setter forth of the word of God”, which George’s contemporary biographer Claire Cherry suggests that George may have done even more than we are aware of, that perhaps some of his works, like his poetry, has been destroyed or accredited to someone else. 

George was a deeply religious man. He cared  alot about the Reformation and seeing it take root and thrive in England. Just like many aspects of George’s life his love and zeal for and what he did to promote the Reformation is overlooked in favor of his sexuality or whether or not he was abusive or snobbish or a drunk party-er. 

Tudor Research Masterlist


Whether you are writing a paper, a book or are just interested in learning more about the Tudor Dynasty and Period (1485-1603), here are some books and online resources I have collected. 

It will be expanded upon as I discover more, if you have something you want to add, feel free!


Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne- David Starkey 

The Reign of Henry VIII- David Starkey 

Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII- David Starkey 

The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn-Eric Ives 

Henry VIII: Very Interesting People Series- Eric Ives

Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery-Eric Ives 

Henry VIII, the King and His Court- Alison Weir 

The Children of Henry VIII- Alison Weir 

The Life of Elizabeth I-Alison Weir 

Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley-Alison Weir 

The Six Wives of Henry VIII- Alison Weir

The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn-Alison Weir 

Elizabeth of York: The First Tudor Queen/Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World- Alison Weir 

Mary Boleyn: ‘The Great and Infamous Whore’- Alison Weir 

The Six Wives of Henry VIII-Antonia Fraser 

Mary, Queen of Scots-Antonia Fraser 

Rethinking Catholicism in Reformation England-Lucy Wooding 

Tudor England, A Very Short Introduction-John Guy 

My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary, Queen of Scots-John Guy 

A Daughter’s Love: Thomas and Margaret More- John Guy 

Parliament and the Crown in the Reign of Mary Tudor- Jennifer Loach 

Edward VI-Jennifer Loach, George Bernard, Penry Williams
Protector Somerset- Jennifer Loach 
Jane Boleyn: the True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford-Julia Fox 
Sister Queens: The Noble Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana Queen of Castile-Julia Fox 
Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII-Karen Lindsay 
The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Court Politics at the Court of Henry VIII- Retha Warnicke 
The Marrying of Anne of Cleves: Royal Protocol in Early Modern England-Retha Warnicke 
The Six Wives of Henry VIII-David Loades 
England Under the Tudors- Sir Geoffrey Elton 
The Tudor Revolution in Government-Sir Geoffrey Elton 
Reform and Reformation: England 1509-1558-Sir Geoffrey Elton 
The Reformation: A History-Diarmaid MacCulloch
Thomas Cranmer, A Life- Diarmaid MacCulloch 
The Boy King: Edward VI and the Protestant Reformation-Diarmaid MacCulloch 
The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, c.1400 to c.1580-Eamon Duffy 
Fires of Faith: Catholic England Under Mary Tudor-Eamon Duffy 
Young Henry: the rise of Henry VIII-Robert Hutchinson
Elizabeth’s Spy Master: Francis Walsingham and the Secret War that saved England-Robert Hutchinson 
Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII’s most Notorious Minister-Robert Hutchinson 
Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England’s Tragic Queen- Joanna Denny 
Katherine Howard: A Tudor Conspiracy-Joanna Denny 
The Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536-7: The Rebellion That Shook King Henry’s Throne-Geoffrey Moorehouse 
George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier & Diplomat-Claire Cherry and Claire Ridgeway
Two Gentlemen Poets At The Court Of Henry VIII:George Boleyn and Henry Howard-Edmond Bapst 
Inside The Wardrobe of Anne Boleyn- Barbara Parker Bell
The Mistresses of Henry VIII-Kelly Hart 
The Tudor Rose: Princess Mary, Henry VIII’s Sister by Jennifer Kewley Draskau
Worship and Theology in England: From Canmer to Baxter and Fox, 1534-1690-Horton Davies
Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen: Anna Whitelock 
Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors: Chris Skidmore 
The Queen’s Agent- John Cooper 
Winter King-The Dawn of Tudor England-Thomas Penn
Anne Boleyn: In Her Own Words and Those Who Knew Her-Elizabeth Norton 
Websites/Online Resources 

(Source: maree-swan)


An article defending Thomas Boleyn, in honour of Father’s Day.

(via sallybethdraperss)

Jane’s Message of Comfort in the Tower


On May 5th 1536, a mere three days after his arrest at Whitehall, while sitting in his cell in the tower, wondering what his fate was to be, George was to receive via a gentleman usher, a small message of comfort sent to him by his wife Jane, asking after his well-being and promising to petition the king on his behalf. A promise for which he was grateful and wanted to give her thanks. 

For years and years this message has gone overlooked by historians, or explained away with a simple “she was playing it safe” kind of statement. But Jane’s message of comfort has a good deal of other implications, one of being that Jane at this point was still nailing her colors to the Boleyn flag, that such an explanation can’t satisfy. 

The message, in it’s entirety is lost to us. The document in which Kingston recorded it was largely destroyed in a fire, and only the jist of the message remains. It reads: 

"M. Caro [equerry to Henry VIII] and Master Bryan commanded hym [a gentleman usher] in the kyngs name to my Lord of Rotchfort from my lady hys wyf; she wold humbly sut unto the kyngs hynes for hyr husband; and so he gave hyr thanks." 

Whether she actually succeeded in making such a petition is unknown and highly unlikely. We have no record that Jane was allowed to speak to the king. But it should be remembered that records from this time are incomplete, a good deal of them burned, and we can’t be sure that she didn’t. After all she’d gotten a message through to her husband. That was be a feat by itself. Perhaps she managed this one as well. 

Bapst, one of George’s biographers certainly seems to think she did, for when he cites Jane’s message in his book he also notes that she “made a public display of sympathy” for George. He seems to be the only one of this opinion, and even Julia Fox admits it’s unlikely Jane did any such thing, and even if she did; it would have done nothing. George’s fate, alongside his sister and the other men, had already been decided. 

so instead of dwelling on whether or not she did as she promised, we should be asking ourselves why would Jane send this message? Was it a self serving political tactic? Was it a sign of support and sympathy? Was it somehow a reward for betraying her family? 

To get a better answer you have to look at what was happening around the time this message was given. Jane would have already given her testimony, although the said testimony is now lost to us, and it’s impossible to say all that Jane told Cromwell, other than what Anne had told her about Henry being unable to please a woman. Shortly after the rather sudden arrests of George and Anne (it’s possible Jane knew Anne’s arrest was coming, but there is nothing to suggest she was aware that George would be drug down as well and on the same day) Henry was having George AND Thomas’ stuff inventoried, including Jane’s own possessions, which, legally, belonged to her husband (we in fact have a list of some of Jane’s personal possessions which she kept in a chest above the kitchen in Rochford hall and included several sleeves, broken beads, sheathed knives and a couple of books). Losing George was frightening enough, but the thought of losing Thomas, whom Jane would depend upon should George pre-decease her. meant that Jane could have been facing utter destitution. 

Jane knew that everything about her identity and her future lay with George, and by extension, with the Boleyn family. No matter what her personal feelings towards her husband and his family may have been, she needed them alive and well. While the meaning behind her message may never be known for certain, I think Jane was more or less being honest and earnest, and not just trying to (as someone on the Anne Boleyn Files stated once) “lull him into a false sense of security”…..