Primary Source Analysis Tudor England

reputable or not necessitates that all aspects of that writing be considered including the author's background, his reason for writing the piece, and people who may have been involved with his writing the piece.

According to the document written by George Cavendish, Cardinal Wolsey's gentleman-usher, Ann Boleyn had a romance for Henry Percy, heir to the earl of Northumberland, which was aborted by Henry VIII, via the agency of the Cardinal Wolsely, in order that he himself could marry her.

As the website at English history.net describes:

Anne Boleyn was the second wife of King Henry VIII. ... She spent her adolescence at the French court but returned home to England in 1522. As the daughter of an ambitious courtier and niece of the duke of Norfolk, she was invited to serve at court as lady-in-waiting to Katharine of Aragon. It was here that she caught the attention of King Henry. Anne, however, had fallen in love with Lord Henry Percy, heir to the earl of Northumberland. They were secretly engaged and planned to marry. As Cavendish's account makes plain, Henry ordered Cardinal Wolsey to end the engagement. ..

Henry's 'secret love' for Anne was highly controversial, and not merely because he was already married. Kings did, after all, have mistresses. But he had already had an open affair (and possibly a son) with her sister, Mary. His relationship with Anne, however, was far more serious. In love and desperate for a legitimate male heir, Henry planned to annul his marriage to Katharine of Aragon and marry Anne. The pope's refusal to help eventually led Henry to break with the church of Rome and declare himself supreme head of a new English church.

It was all for naught. Anne did not give Henry a surviving son and she was executed on 19 May 1536.

It is not so clear, however that Cavendish's account is accurate in the sense that he may possibly have been biased. On the one hand there is plenty of evidence to show that such an event did occur, on the other hand, Cavendish was Cardinal Wolsey's gentleman-usher and Cardinal Wolsey was, after all, himself interested in the relationship between Anne and Henry Percy before Anne "officially" caught the eye of the king. Taking this into consideration would help us better evaluate the objectivity of this piece of writing.

On the one hand, all historical research of the content of Cavendish's letter seem to point to the fact that some sort of relationship was existent between Percy and Anne. It seems as though Anne's relationship with Percy began in th spring of 1523 whilst Henry was actually trying to arrange Anne's marriage to James Butler, the heir to the earldom of Ormond (Loades, 2001). All plans to that effect had to be abandoned apparently due to Anne's conduct -- although what that meant is unclear.

There are also all the dates of Henry's relationship with Anne that accord and perfectly concur with the details in Cavendish letter:

According to Ives (2004, pp.169-188), the dates of Henry's evolving courtship with Anne were the following:

n1524 -- Henry stops sleeping with Catherine

n 1525, Summer -- Henry attempts to build up Henry Fitzroy, the Duke of Richmond and his illegitimate son, as an alternative heir n 1526, Shrovetide -- Henry begins to court Anne

n 1526, Autumn -- Henry writes his first love letter to Anne

n 1526, sometime after October -- Henry warns Thomas Wyatt off Anne

n 1526, December -- Catherine is isolated at court n 1527, April -- Henry consults about annulling his marriage to Catherine

n 1527, Easter -- Henry urges Anne to become his "maitresse-en-titre," his official mistress n 1527, May -- Secret preliminary hearing of the annulment n 1527, June -- Henry informs Catherine of his plans to annul their marriage n 1527, Summer -- Henry and Anne agree that they will marry n 1527, August -- the decision is made to ask the Pope for a dispensation so that Henry can marry Anne

n All of this seems to fit the context of Cavendish's letter, particularity since Henry showered Anneā€¦