April 28th-29th: Chapuys is clearly (and gleefully) aware that plots are being hatched against Anne. He writes to Charles that Nicholas Carew is “daily conspiring” against Anne, “trying to convince Miss Seymour and her friends to accomplish her ruin. Indeed, only four days ago the said Carew and certain gentlemen of the King’s chamber sent word to the Princess to take courage, for very shortly her rival would be dismissed, the King being so tired of the said concubine that he could not bear her any longer.”
It’s also clear from Chapuys’ dispatch of April 29th that there is much covert discussion, at court, as to whether or not “the King could or could not abandon the said concubine.” He reports that the bishop of London, John Stokesley, was asked his opinion on this (by an unnamed courtier), and demured, “knowing well the King’s fickleness” and fearful that should Anne be restored to favor, he would be in danger. Chapuys is sure, however, that his true opinion is that the King “would certainly desert his concubine.”
The king, however–more dissembling for public consumption?–is still planning to take Anne with him to Calais on May 4th, after the May Day jousts, and is still pressing Charles to acknowledge the validity of his marriage to Anne. What, in your opinion, is Henry thinking at this time?
Ambassador Eustache Chapuys kept a detailed—although highly biased–record of Henry’s court for his master, Charles II. Chapuys commonly used moniquers such as “concubine” and “shedevil” to describe Anne, as he was the great champion of Katherine of Aragon and her daughter, Mary (the only one of Henry’s daughters addressed as “Princess” in Chapuys’s letters; Elizabeth was “the little bastard”). In the light of Chapuys’ long-standing hostility toward Anne, both the King’s friendly conversation and Cromwell’s advice to Chapuys on April 24, 1536 were an ominous indication of Anne’s precarious position at court:
“And hereupon the King began to speak very well of me, and asked the physician two or three times if he had not spoken with me since Easter Tuesday when I was with him. I think he wished to find out what was in my mind after his brusque replies. Although I would not kiss or speak to the Concubine, the Princess and other good persons have been somewhat jealous at the mutual reverences required by politeness which were done at the church. I refused to visit her until I had spoken to the King. If I had seen any hope from the King’s answer I would have offered not two but 100 candles to the shedevil, although another thing made me unwilling, viz., that I was told she was not in favor with the King; besides, Cromwell was quite of my opinion that I should do well to wait till I had spoken to the King.” Chapuys, London, 24 April 1536 (Venice Archives).