Anne Boleyn: Jodie Turner-Smith stars in Channel 5 trailer
Anne Boleyn has been brought back to life once again through Channel 5’s new drama, which retells the last five months of the Queen’s life from her perspective. The three-part series has caused a stir for promising to depict a more sympathetic version of King Henry VIII’s wife, rejecting the negative image of her which has survived over the centuries. Anne, played by Jodie Turner-Smith, is seen fearing for her safety in court after she delivered a stillborn — and still had not borne a male heir for her husband throughout three years of marriage.
Barry Ward plays Thomas Cromwell, a statesman who was once an ally to Anne when she first entered the English court.
He encouraged Henry to divorce Catherine of Aragon, effectively paving the way for Anne to become Queen, and she ended up making him her “right hand” man briefly.
However their relationship quickly soured once she became Henry’s wife, and they clashed over Cromwell’s plans for redistributing the wealth from the destroyed monasteries to the crown.
Imperial ambassador to England, Eustace Chapuys, recorded many furious arguments between the two, including one where Anne publicly endorsed Cromwell’s execution, according to Tudor Times’ website.
Chapuys claimed Anne had promised that “in no uncertain terms that she would like to see his head off his shoulders”.
Anne Boleyn’s cruel execution threat to Thomas Cromwell ahead of Channel 5 drama finale
Jodie Turner Smith as Anne Boleyn and Mark Stanley as King Henry VIII
Chapuys then issued an urgent warning to Cromwell, telling him that Anne would not be afraid to pave the way for his downfall.
However, Cromwell told the ambassador: “I trust so much on my master [Henry] that I fancy she [Anne] cannot do me any harm.”
It’s worth pointing out that Chapuys was a supporter of Anne’s predecessor Catherine of Aragon, meaning he would not have favoured the new Queen.
He is also one of the main contemporary sources of information about the Queen.
Still, it’s thought that concerns over Anne and what she could do to him pushed Cromwell to accelerate her tragic fall from grace.
Anne then told her almoner to preach a sermon which was an attack on Cromwell — it included the killer line that there was a “the need of a king being wise in himself and resisting evil counsellors who tempted him to ignoble actions”.
READ MORE: Anne Boleyn’s sex and religion story dubbed ‘problematic’
Anne and Henry’s relationship triggered England’s split from the Catholic Church
The statesman then quietly collected evidence against the Queen so that he could persuade the King to resolutely
turn his back on his wife.
Cromwell questioned Anne’s musician, Mark Smeaton, and allegedly tortured him, before he admitted to conducting an affair with the Queen while adding the names of her other supposed lovers.
Five men, including her own brother George, were said to have been having an affair with the Queen.
Anne was taken to the Tower of London in May 1536 under arrest — and Cromwell positioned several spies to sit in alongside her.
Despite protesting her innocence, Anne was convicted of high treason and sentenced to death later that same month.
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Cromwell helped Henry secured a divorce from Catherine of Aragon so he could wed Anne
The courtship of Anne as depicted by an artist
Historians have often disputed the nature of the charges Cromwell brought against her — adultery, incest and high treason.
The author of Anne Boleyn: 500 Years of Lies, Hayley Nolan, told TIME magazine that the Queen’s lack of privacy during her time in court and her intense religious beliefs would have made it difficult for her to be unfaithful.
Ms Nolan instead points to Anne’s part in passing the nationwide legislation called the Poor Law weeks before her execution.
She said: “Suddenly we have a much more devastating reason as to why Cromwell would be immensely threatened by the Queen.
Anne was brutally executed herself in 1536 – four years before Cromwell
“She wasn’t a ruthless bully or seductress; he was actually a working politician who died for pushing this radical anti-poverty law through Parliament.”
Mark Stanley — who plays Henry in the Channel 5 drama — praised his co-star Ms Turner-Smith for her portrayal of Anne in an interview with Digital Spy.
He said she could truly “represent the energy” of determined and intelligent Anne who is more than the “outspoken loud-mouth person” history remembers her to be.
Channel 5’s final episode of Anne Boleyn airs tonight at 9pm. It will also be available on My5.