|Battle of Pavia|
WarWilliam Carey was given responsibility for the monies Henry intended to use in his war on France; £49,000[i]; sure proof of Henry’s trust in William. Two years after the Field of the Cloth of Gold, Thomas’s brother-in-law, the Earl of Surrey was leading English troops to fight over the same land that had seen the embrace between Henry and François.
By 1525 Emperor Charles V had captured François at the battle of Pavia and his promises to Henry of renewed domination in France and hints to Wolsey of the Papal tiara faded away. Henry and Wolsey were furious and another volte-face took place. Wolsey was soon negotiating with the Pope and when François was released in 1526 he too joined the anti-imperial league against the Hapsburg family machinations. Out of control, Charles’ troops sacked Rome in 1527 and Charles was forced to hold his coronation by a captive Pope at Bologna in 1529.
It may have seemed to the contrary to his compeers but Charles claimed an indifference to worldly affairs in a conversation with the Venetian ambassador;
‘Some people say I want to be monarch of the world. My ideas and my achievements prove the contrary: my intention is to fight not Christians but the infidel, and to see Italy and Christendom living at peace.’[ii]
In early 1529 Imperial troops again bested the French at the battle of Landriano; François sued for peace at Cambrai. The continent was left mainly under the control of the Hapsburgs and England, much to Henry’s chagrin, was ignored. He had poured money into this war and was left with nothing; the treasury left full by Henry VII was now empty; emptied not just by war, but also by Henry’s personal extravagance.
The Rewards of a Royal Affair
|Coat of Arms of Thomas Boleyn|
Mary Boleyn seems to have been almost invisible at court; Henry preferred to keep his amours secret. Whether the gifts and tasks heaped on Thomas Boleyn, while his daughter was the king’s mistress, were as a result of that liaison or because Thomas was valued by Henry in his own right is a moot point. But Thomas’s appointment on an embassy to Spain in October 1521 was surely based on his own merits; he had undertaken many such missions in the past.
But the stewardships and keeperships in Kent, Norfolk, Essex and Nottinghamshire and other honours are more suspect. In April 1522 Thomas was appointed Treasurer of the Royal Household and on 23rd April 1523 Thomas was made a Knight of the Garter. He was further honoured by being appointed Vice Chamberlain of the Household and then Chamberlain.
Thomas was made Viscount Rochford on 18th June 1525, a title that came down to him through his mother’s side of the family. Thomas was not pleased when, at the same time, he was forced to resign from the post as Treasurer without any financial restitution and for this he blamed Wolsey.
|Ditton Park House|
William Carey also received marks of appreciation from his king; in addition to the Keepership of Beaulieu he was given a joint wardship on 12th May 1522; the following year he received an annuity of 50 marks[iii], another annuity of £100[iv] was granted later. Carey was appointed Steward of the Duchy of Lancaster and keeper of the royal castle of Pleshey.
Further grants and estates followed; in May 1526 William was given the keepership of Greenwich Palace and the keepership of Ditton Park; both were royal properties. By the following year William Carey had landed estate worth £333, 6s 8d[v] for tax purposes. But William was not greatly endowed with the cash needed to uphold his place at court; courtiers and their wives were required to dress sumptuously.
|Henry Parker by Durer|
In July 1524 Henry gave George Boleyn the manor of Grimston; in late 1524. In early 1525 George was married to Jane, daughter of Henry Parker, Baron Morley and a remote cousin of the king’s. According to Weir George was;
"[A] talented young man... he was very good-looking and very promiscuous. In fact, according to George Cavendish[vi], he lived in 'bestial' fashion, forcing widows, deflowering virgins."[vii]
George was given the post of Cup Bearer to the king in 1526 and was appointed as a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber two years later; by then Henry was in the grip of another passion.
The Younger Sister
By 1525 it is likely that Henry’s sexual interests were now fixed on Anne, who had attracted the attentions of Henry Percy, heir to the Earldom of Northumberland, rather than her sister. According to George Cavendish, Wolsey’s secretary, Henry first became attracted to Anne in 1523, but kept his feelings secret.
Anne and Percy had different ideas and solemnly betrothed themselves before witnesses. Percy was already betrothed to Lady Mary Talbot[viii] and Wolsey, as Percy’s master, laid the matter before the king, who was not amused. Cavendish, in his biography of his master, says that Henry confessed his secret desires to Wolsey who arranged for the betrothal to be cancelled by the Earl, telling Percy that
‘His Highness intended to have preferred Anne Boleyn unto another person, although she knoweth it not.’[ix]
Anne was furious with Wolsey’s interference in her affairs; she had become known at court as a trendsetter with her French manners and innovations in dress and now she was being proclaimed as unfit to marry a Percy. She was ordered to rusticate at Hever, where she remained for a year, returning to court in 1524 or 5.
The King in Earnest
|Sir Thomas Wyatt|
On Shrove Tuesday 1526 Henry appeared in the lists in a jousting costume of cloth of gold, bearing the motto ‘Declare je nos’[x], surmounted by a heart engulfed in flames. The object of his passion was undoubtedly Anne Boleyn.
Anne was refusing to barter her virginity for a tumble in Henry’s bed, presumably having learned from her sister’s downfall. The refusal must have intrigued Henry, who was very much in the habit of getting his own way. Anne started to show a preference for Thomas Wyatt, a married man whose wife was well known for her adulteries. George Wyatt claimed that Anne told Henry;
‘I think your Majesty speaks these words in mirth to prove me, but without any intent of degrading your princely self………..I beseech Your Highness most earnestly to desist………I would rather lose my life than my honesty, which will be the greatest and best part of the dowry I shall have to bring my husband.’[xi]
Anne informed Henry that she knew that marriage between them was impossible. Henry was smitten and sent Anne expensive presents that she kept; the keeping of which gave Henry hope that Anne might relent. In late 1526 or early 1527 Henry informed Anne of his firm intention to marry her, once he was divorced from Katherine.
In 1527 Henry started proceedings to annul his marriage to Katherine, but Katherine had an ace in the hole; her nephew had the Pope in his custody and Charles V was not prepared to allow his aunt to be discarded;
‘The Emperor is determined to maintain the rights of his aunt, and will never consent to the divorce.’[xii]
When Clement VII escaped from captivity, Henry’s secretary was given an audience and Clement agreed that if Henry was divorced from Katherine, he could marry again within prohibited degrees. Dr Pedro Ortiz, a Spanish lawyer sent by Charles to defend Katherine’s case, claimed in 1533;
‘It is certain that some time ago [Henry VIII] sent to ask His Holiness for a dispensation to marry [Anne Boleyn] notwithstanding the affinity between them on account of his having committed adultery with her sister.’[xiii]
In 1527 Thomas’s sister Alice Clere became involved in a legal dispute with Lady Fineaux, widow of Sir John Fineaux, a former Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, over an outstanding debt of £400[xiv]. She retained Thomas Cromwell, who advised Thomas that there was no remedy for the case in Common Law;
‘Unless your lordship will move my lord’s grace [Wolsey] to grant an injunction to Lady Feneux[to] no further prosecute the [writ] of execution and to allow no writ of liberate[xv] to go out of Chancery until the whole matter be heard.’[xvi]
Cardinal Wolsey – Mandell Creighton, McMillan & Co 1891
Thomas Cromwell – Robert Hutchinson, Phoenix 2008
Henry VIII – Robert Lacey, George Weidenfeld & Nicholson & Book Club Associates 1992
The Earlier Tudors – JD Mackie, Oxford University Press 1992
Thomas More – Richard Marius, Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1993
Rivals in Power – David Starkey (ed), Toucan Books 1990
The Six Wives of Henry VIII – Alison Weir, Pimlico 1992
Mary Boleyn – Alison Weir, AudioGO Ltd 2012
[ii] The Holy Roman Empire - Heer
[iii] Worth £4785 in 2014
[ix] The Six Wives of Henry VIII - Weir
[x] Declare I dare not
[xi] The Six Wives of Henry VIII - Weir
[xiii] Mary Boleyn - Weir
[xv] A writ demanding that lands, tenements and chattels are returned to their rightful owner
[xvi] Thomas Cromwell - Hutchinson