- [bell tolls] - [bird caws] FEMALE NARRATOR: She was our most infamous Queen.
The second wife of Henry VIII.
Tried on his orders for crimes of adultery and treason.
Anne Boleyn was led from her rooms at the Tower of London to her death by an executioner's sword.
[metal door clangs open] [dramatic swell] This Tudor saga is one of the most familiar tales in English history.
But to really understand Anne's rise and fall, we need to know more about those who helped shape her.
Her tight-knit, cunning, and power-hungry family.
The Boleyns are one of the great stories in British history.
It is an extraordinary epic of hubris and pain.
The good and the bad kind of ambition.
[dramatic music] NARRATOR: Every member of the family had a part to play.
Thomas Boleyn, the ambitious patriarch.
George, the fearless son.
His sisters: Mary, the reluctant mistress; Anne, the calculating courtier.
And their brutal uncle, Thomas Howard.
The Tudor public had always been used to stories of tragic falls, the stories of falls of kings and princes.
But even they might not have imagined a fall as graphic as the fall of the Boleyn family.
NARRATOR: Based on rare original letters and documents, the Boleyns will tell this story from their own perspectives.
The Court could produce no proof of my incestuous guilt.
Other than I had spent hours in the presence of my own sister.
ANNE BOLEYN: I will not say your sentence is unjust.
My Savior has taught me how to die... and he will strengthen my resolve.
NARRATOR: The family played a dangerous game and paid the ultimate price.
But they left a remarkable legacy, changing the course of British history and taking their name from obscurity to the apex of power.
[church bell tolling] NARRATOR: Henry VIII has been on the throne for 17 years.
The Boleyns are one of many ambitious families jostling for power at the Tudor Court.
Led by Thomas Boleyn, this is a dynasty on the make.
The Boleyns may not have begun as a family born into wealth and privilege, but they were certainly among those who achieved it.
By the mid 1520's, Thomas Boleyn has an impressive property portfolio of over 30 manors.
Some of his properties end up being some of the most beautiful in Tudor England.
They are coveted even by Henry VIII himself.
NARRATOR: Thomas is a career courtier, climbing the greasy pole by exploiting the influence of powerful patrons - like his brother-in-law Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, and the King's right-hand man, Cardinal Wolsey.
I think we can see from Thomas Boleyn's career up to this point, that he is an opportunist.
But he plays on his strengths.
And his strengths are getting on with people, charming them.
NARRATOR: His children have vital roles to play.
His son George is forging his own career as a courtier, his daughter Mary has been the King's mistress, though Henry's interest has now waned and she has been cast aside.
But Anne remains a valuable asset to the family.
Her star is on the rise.
[birds chirping] [speaking French] She has escaped the threat of marriage to her Irish cousin, and her father has secured her the coveted position of Maid of Honor to Queen Katherine.
This puts her in close contact not just with the Queen but with the King.
The Tudor Court is a complex web.
Henry sits at the center, surrounded by his council of ambitious, power-hungry men, all jockeying for position.
But there is another shadow court - controlled by the Queen.
The Tudor Court is actually a very strange phenomenon.
You have these two households, the King and the Queen.
The Queen's household full of her ladies in waiting.
It becomes a magnet for all the young men of the court fueled up with romance, seeking the company of ladies.
OWEN EMMERSON: I think, to modern eyes, we might look at this sort of beauty parade as slightly problematic.
But this was a sort of standard feature of the court, women were there to be admired.
For Anne, it's an opportunity for her to mark herself out.
We know that from her time at the French court, Anne very much embodies the spirit of France.
It becomes part of her identity and what made her different.
She is bright, she's intelligent.
She is beautiful.
There are a lot of reports about the beauty of Anne but also her eyes, everything goes through her eyes.
She charms through her eyes.
Anne Boleyn is seen as being a bit different and exotic.
It gave her this kind of exoticism.
She's like no one else at Henry VIII's court.
GREG WALKER: Anne was sophisticated in terms of her style, in terms of her knowledge of flirtation which the French Court was decades ahead of the English with.
So, you know, she could flirt, she could present herself as an alluring woman.
We have to remember that Henry himself lived in a bubble in which there were probably only 30 women.
So to have Anne there bringing in this sophistication from outside, I suspect would have looked remarkably attractive.
NARRATOR: And indeed, Anne does catch the eye of the King.
Little clues begin appearing that suggest the start of a budding romance between Anne and Henry.
How do you communicate with a lady in your wife's household?
So secret notes, these are one of the few ways in which courtly love can express itself.
There were real pieces of concrete evidence that link Anne with Henry.
One is a book of hours, in which he had written a love note to her.
Now, if you think about that, that's a remarkable thing to do to deface a religious book with erotic messages.
OWEN EMMERSON: They choose specific illuminated images in which to write their messages to each other.
Henry chooses an image of the wounded Christ to write to Anne of his pains of love towards her.
Anne writes a rather clever little couplet to Henry.
ANNE BOLEYN: By daily proof you shall me find to be to you both loving and kind.
OWEN EMMERSON: It's a very eloquent message.
The image that she chooses to convey this to Henry alongside is an image of the Annunciation.
So here, Anne is saying, I will provide you with an heir.
Because it's very unlikely that Queen Katherine of Aragon will.
I think he certainly, at this point, is obsessed with her.
He wants to possess her.
He's physically attracted to her.
As for Anne, I would be surprised if she was really in love with Henry VIII.
That's mainly because I can't imagine anyone being in love with Henry VIII.
But she could see a very bright future ahead of her if she became Queen of England and the mother of the next king.
I think we can sense that Henry is the one that falls in love first, he is attracted to her.
But Anne does what all Boleyns do and makes use of a good opportunity.
When Thomas finds out about Henry's interest in Anne, he takes her away from court, to their family seat of Hever Castle in Kent.
So this is a place where the Boleyns often retreat, to get away from the court gossip, and to discuss, to plan, and they can do so in relative privacy.
NARRATOR: This is a pivotal moment for the family's fortunes, one they've experienced before.
The King has already taken and discarded Mary, staining her reputation.
[bird cawing] So how does Mary Boleyn react when she sees the King's attentions falling on her sister Anne?
She surely felt very worried for her, very fearful, very concerned for Anne's future.
I think everyone was unsure where they were, Anne would have been anxious, excited, but wary, rightly wary of what being Henry's mistress involved.
Like all relationships at court, they are fraught with danger.
To have a member of your family as the King's mistress was both a possibility, but also a time limited issue.
The moment he discards her, does he also discard the whole family?
Thomas would be somewhat more reluctant and reticent at this point.
He knows the natural limitations of such relationships.
Indeed, he has seen it with his own daughter Mary.
Is Anne different?
Will this opportunity be different?
Or is he recognizing that absence makes the heart grow fonder?
Is this a strategy on Thomas's part?
LAUREN MACKAY: Whilst down in Hever, Anne writes to Henry.
Now, we actually don't have her letters, but we can understand a bit of what she was talking about from Henry's responses.
There is a sense that perhaps she is being advised by her father.
I mean, this is a man who is the Master of Diplomacy.
So if anyone is going to know how to react to Henry, it's Thomas.
[reciting letter in French] His French is impossible.
GREG WALKER: Some of them are written in French.
Is this Henry showing off his sophistication to the sophisticated, French-educated Anne?
Possibly, it is.
"In turning over in my mind the contents of your last letters, I have put myself into great agony, not knowing how to interpret them, whether to my disadvantage, as you show in some cases, or to my advantage, as I understand them in others.
I beseech you earnestly to let me know expressly your whole mind as to the love between us two.
If you please to do the office of a true friend, and mistress, and give yourself, body and heart, to me, then I will be your most loyal servant.
If your scruples allow you to become my mistress, in this full sense, I promise not only that you shall be given the name and status befitting you, but also that I will take you for my only mistress, casting off all others to serve you alone."
SUSAN DORAN: What Henry is doing is asking for a carnal relationship, a sexual relationship.
He wants her to give herself, body to him.
And that in so doing, he will give her, in return, the honor and status of being his only and official mistress.
It's a form of negotiation in what kind of relationship they're going to have.
"I beseech you to give an entire answer to this, my rude letter, that I may know on what and how far I may depend.
Written by the hand of him who would willingly remain yours, Henry Rex."
ELIZABETH NORTON: He's still married to Katherine of Aragon, but she would be known as the King's mistress.
He would be faithful to her.
Their children would have status, albeit they'd be illegitimate and couldn't inherit the throne, but they would have a status.
What's also very clear from the sequence of the letters is that Anne Boleyn says no, she doesn't want this.
SUSAN DORAN: Anne, it seems to me, is holding off having a relationship which would be like the one her sister had, where she would be the mistress of the King and might very well, as Mary was, be cast off.
ELIZABETH NORTON: We can also get a sense of Thomas Boleyn and what he feels in this because, of course, Hever is his house.
If he said, "No, you cannot go back there, you must stay at court," then that would be a sure sign that he wants her to become the King's mistress.
But he takes her back to Hever.
So, it's clear that Thomas Boleyn also wants more for Anne.
NARRATOR: The entire Boleyn family is being drawn into these delicate negotiations, including Anne's brother George, who quickly benefits from his sister's new-found favor with the King.
George Boleyn, he's at court and still in attendance on the King.
And where before, he's been a bit of an outlier, not particularly close to Henry, now that Henry is interested in George's sister, he's all over George Boleyn.
It had a massive impact on George Boleyn's standing and on his fortunes.
He'd been steadily rising through court for a number of years.
Firstly, he's a royal cupbearer, he's in attendance at every ceremonial event.
He's there with his cup, offering it to the King at banquets, at dances, when he meets ambassadors.
Through the relationship with his sister, his career is accelerated.
He is able to access patronage from the King in a way that he didn't necessarily get before.
He's Master of the King's Buckhounds, which means that he's in control of the King's hunting dogs.
And in fact, we have payments in royal accounts, but George being paid to buy the dog food for these dogs.
NARRATOR: George Boleyn begins to act as a messenger between Anne and Henry, taking letters back and forth between the court and the family's home in Kent.
[horse snorts] LAUREN MACKAY: He is intemperate, he's cocky, he's popular, he's very handsome, he's athletic.
He's not quite as smooth as his father, he doesn't quite have that natural instinct for diplomacy.
He's seen as the messenger.
So, he becomes closer to Henry, but really, only because, at this stage, he is Anne Boleyn's brother.
"Dearest Anne...' ELIZABETH NORTON: George and Anne Boleyn were an absolute pair together, so they were perfectly matched and they have this very, very special bond.
"I thank you most cordially for the gift of the fine diamond attached to the little ship within which the solitary damsel rattles about inside and for the fine interpretation you sent me to explain its meaning."
Henry thanks her for the image of a maiden tossed in a storm in a boat, which is a very pointed gift for her to send to him, I think, suggesting the woman who is at sea who does not quite yet trust the security of getting to the harbor, getting to land in Henry's promises.
She's saying, look, I don't know how to take what you're saying.
And he again reassures her that his desires are honest and trustworthy.
"...and for submitting yourself to me with all your goodness."
When we look at the letters, we can actually see the moment when Henry VIII's intentions towards Anne change and when he makes her an offer that she can't refuse.
"...from this point on, my heart shall be dedicated to you alone.
I wish my person was so, too.
God can do it, if He pleases, to whom I pray every day for that end, hoping that at length my prayers will be heard."
ELIZABETH NORTON: This is the moment that the relationship changes.
And this is undoubtedly Anne's acceptance of the offer of marriage.
She knows it's going to be a difficult path that they're going to follow.
But marriage is an offer that she is prepared to accept.
NARRATOR: As she reaches this new understanding with Henry, the balance of power between Anne and her father, Thomas, shifts.
I don't think we can see the hand of Thomas Boleyn here.
Anne is a very independent woman, and I think she is probably doing much of the negotiations.
However, it's perfectly plausible that she would discuss with her father, and possibly even her mother, about the way to go sound out their opinion.
She's not a weak part or a pawn on the political chessboard, she's sort of positioning herself as a woman of power who commands respect from the King and I think that only furthers to fan that flame of desire in Henry.
Henry must have realized that the very precariousness of his own dynasty.
Katherine is considerably older.
There are no offspring in the offing.
Miscarriages have begun to peter out.
Once he comes to the conclusion that Katherine is not going to bear him a legitimate son, he decides to invest all he has in Anne Boleyn.
NARRATOR: It appears that Anne has skillfully negotiated her own position in this relationship.
And by securing a marriage proposal, has achieved exactly what she wants.
In so doing, she turns the role of Tudor women and Royal mistresses upside down.
[birds chirping] Anne returns to court, eager to exert her new found influence.
But one major obstacle stands in her way.
OWEN EMMERSON: In order to progress, she needs to become Henry's wife.
How is that going to play out?
How is she going to resolve the very real and problematic issue at hand, the fact that Henry is married to Katherine of Aragon?
[church bell tolling] NARRATOR: To help him end his marriage, Henry turns to Wolsey, the most senior churchman in England.
His hope is that Wolsey can persuade the Pope to grant an annulment.
Wolsey's first reaction is probably being rather appalled at the prospect, but the King must have what the King wants.
As far as Wolsey is concerned, at the outset of all of this, it was a relatively straightforward case, clergy to clergy, canon law to canon law, we'll sort it and everything will be alright.
Henry isn't asking for something completely unprecedented.
Kings annul marriages, Queens retire into a life of religious chastity and Kings move on all the time.
NARRATOR: This won't be Wolsey's first dealings with the Boleyns.
Thomas has worked closely with him in the past and the two get on well.
Unlike Wolsey and Thomas Howard who are old rivals.
But the Cardinal's relationship with Anne is strained.
He was responsible for ending her tryst with the man she considered her first true love, Henry Percy, leaving her, according to one source, swearing vengeance upon him.
If it ever lies in my power, I will work as much displeasure for Wolsey as he has shown me.
NARRATOR: But Anne can't afford to let her animosity towards Wolsey show.
Although she is suspicious of Wolsey, thinking he's not going to promote her interests, she realizes that she's got to get him on her side.
And she will use him as best she can to get what she wants.
[church bell tolling] NARRATOR: When Wolsey returns from a mission abroad, he suddenly realizes quite how much power Anne and the Boleyns now hold.
GLENN RICHARDSON: The first thing that Wolsey knows when he comes back is that he's used to walking more or less straight in to the King.
But he's told to wait at the insistence of Anne Boleyn, and only when she says so that he's allowed in and that certainly telegraphs immediately to Wolsey that things have changed.
She's making it quite clear to Wolsey that there are two ears that he needed to please now.
This is a very bold move on Anne's part and it must have been fairly humbling for Wolsey.
GLENN RICHARDSON: Wolsey's very well aware that Anne and her family are a force to be reckoned with.
NARRATOR: Anne's position of influence is steadily growing.
Now, even the King's right-hand man is under her sway.
Behind her, her Boleyn relatives are also moving closer to the center of power.
The family are in an unprecedented situation.
This is much more complicated than Thomas simply wanting to slip his daughters into the King's bed for his own betterment.
Henry very much is in control here.
He is the one that has singled out Anne but that doesn't mean to say that Thomas, ever the strategist, isn't going to make the best of the opportunity in front of him.
NARRATOR: For Anne's uncle, Thomas Howard, the situation also brings new possibilities.
GARETH RUSSELL: The news that Anne Boleyn is on the rise as a potential love interest and then incredibly as a potential Queen for Henry VIII certainly offers Thomas Howard opportunity.
Of course, it's going to offer greater access to the heart of the royal family, to the heart of patronage, and to increased privileges as the uncle of the future Queen, but it does also carry great risks.
If the love affair runs sour between Henry and Anne, the family are going to be caught in the crosshairs, they are going to be left to pay a price for this.
Her becoming Queen might be a silver noose around the family's neck.
ELIZABETH NORTON: In 1528, all of the Boleyn family's hopes could have come crashing down.
In Tudor England, there's an illness called the sweating sickness.
It's possibly some type of flu, nobody quite knows, but clearly very catching, and very, very deadly.
It was known for taking out the fittest, the youngest in society.
And it reaches the court.
[church bells knelling] GREG WALKER: This is COVID with bells on to the Tudor period.
That intimacy between Henry and Anne at court is then suddenly disrupted because the sweating sickness is unpredictable, and it's virulent.
You could be happy in the morning, dead by teatime.
And Henry knows absolutely that his own personal safety is not only prime to him, but it's the future of the nation as well.
He can't get sick.
All the performance of the ardent, desirous lover, that has to go on hold until the sickness is over.
ELIZABETH NORTON: He sends Anne away, he sends her back to Hever.
Unfortunately, for the Boleyns, all wasn't well at Hever.
And Thomas Boleyn and Anne Boleyn both came down with the sweating sickness themselves.
[bird cawing] [breathing shakily] Henry VIII was hugely anxious.
He sent Anne his second best doctor, obviously keeping the first with him just in case but it's a mark of his respect for Anne that he was prepared to get rid of his second best doctor to send him to her.
But he's clearly very, very anxious about Anne Boleyn and with good reason.
Very, very fortunately for the family, both Thomas Boleyn and Anne survived the outbreak of sweating sickness.
But the Boleyn family don't escape entirely unscathed.
Mary Boleyn's husband, William Carey, dies during this outbreak.
William Carey was young and healthy with his future ahead of him, but this disease took him out, leaving her a widow.
[crying softly] LEANDA de LISLE: There are advantages to being a widow in Tudor England.
Suddenly you're independent.
You can make your own choices, you have your own money.
But Mary doesn't seem to have seen many of these advantages.
So we know that Mary Boleyn was left in financial straits, and that Thomas Boleyn doesn't seem to have been very willing to support her.
In fact, one of Henry VIII's letters to Anne Boleyn actually mentions this and talks about getting her father to pay for Mary Boleyn's upkeep.
HENRY VIII: For surely, whatsoever is said, it cannot so stand with his honor but that he must needs take her, his natural daughter, now in her extreme necessity.
ELIZABETH NORTON: Does this show a rift between Thomas Boleyn and his daughter, Mary, at this stage.
Certainly, he wasn't willing to put his hand in his pocket to support her as a widow.
It does rather suggest that maybe he wasn't particularly proud of the marriage that she had made, because Mary Boleyn's husband, William Carey, was a solid match.
He was a courtier, a gentleman, but Thomas Boleyn is a highly ambitious man and highly ambitious for his daughters.
So, perhaps he was disappointed in Mary.
LEANDA de LISLE: You could say that her father did not technically have any responsibility, financial responsibility for his adult widowed daughter.
But I think we'd all agree that a loving father would want to help his daughter to give her emotional, as well as financial support.
We just know that she was unhappy, desperate, alone.
Her sister is becoming more important, and she is being kept in the shadows, possibly because of her previous relationship with the King.
NARRATOR: Reputation means everything to families at the Tudor Court.
Perhaps to the more ambitious members of the Boleyn clan, Mary is regarded as no longer worth helping.
LEANDA de LISLE: However these two sisters may have felt when they were young, they certainly go very different ways as they become older.
Anne is interested in power and influence in a way that Mary does not appear to be.
NARRATOR: After recuperating from her illness in Kent, Anne returns to court, keen to regain her position at the center of power.
OWEN EMMERSON Of course, the great matter, the annulment, is the great issue at hand and things are rumbling on at a slow pace.
I think we can actually gain a sense of acute frustration on Anne's part that the divorce proceedings or the attempt to even get close to them, by Wolsey, are taking quite as long as they are.
It is good to return to this place.
Now the Cardinal is trying to secure lodgings for me miles away.
Let him try!
My Lord Henry's letters counsel my patience in our great matter.
It is all in hand, I am told.
We shall see about that!
[Anne sighs] NARRATOR: Despite the urgency, Wolsey finds it harder than expected to secure the annulment.
The Pope keeps stalling due to family allegiances with Katherine of Aragon.
But from Anne's perspective, Wolsey still looks like her safest bet.
There's no necessary reason why they need to fall out, provided Wolsey has got the necessary means to get the Pope to do what's required, and that's when we get a series of letters in which it's clear that Anne is prepared to recognize Wolsey's skills and talents, provided she can be sure and he can assure her that he's going to work to the ultimate goal, which is the annulment.
My Lord, in the humblest way my heart can imagine, please pardon me for being so bold as to trouble you with my simple writing.
I assure you it comes from the desire to know that Your Grace does well.
And also, My Lord, I do so long to hear from you news of the legate who has come from Rome to grant the King, our master, his divorce... ...for I trust this man will be most good and successful in resolving our great matter, as he has been chosen by you.
For I feel sure you desire this divorce every bit as much as I do.
Your humble servant, Anne Boleyn.
SUSAN DORAN: She writes in her own hand.
That is a sign of intimacy rather than if she had left a secretary to write.
But the reality is, this is very much a sign to Wolsey that she is wooing him and wanting him to work for her.
She wants to know the news: what is happening on the King's divorce?
And then there is a postscript to the letter.
"The writer of this letter would not cease till she had caused me likewise to add my hand, desiring you to take it in good part.
I ensure you both of us greatly desire to see you By your loving sovereign and friend, Henry" So the fact that Anne Boleyn forced him to write this brief postscript speaks volumes of how important it was to her.
She's making a very clear statement of her power.
Because Henry VIII is doing what she says, he is writing to Wolsey because she has told him to do so.
OWEN EMMERSON: My hunch is that Anne begins to suspect that things aren't developing as they should.
And I think Anne's intuition is kicking in here.
Whereas Henry I think is still very much hoping that Wolsey will deliver, I think Anne has her suspicions.
You do start to see through the end of 1528 and early into 1529 an awful lot of court commentators, ambassadors and people writing letters back and forth, are starting to note that Wolsey is failing to get the King what he wants, which is never a wise move.
The lady Anne is the cause of all disorder at court.
Now she finds her marriage plans delayed, she is becoming suspicious that Cardinal Wolsey is putting impediments in her way.
Because when she is Queen his power will decline.
Her father, Thomas Boleyn, shares this view, as does her uncle Thomas Howard.
People say power is increasingly in their hands and they have conspired to overthrow Wolsey.
But there seems no evidence they have persuaded the King yet.
Though I have observed at court Henry is not so friendly towards his cardinal.
NANDINI DAS: There's a clear sense at court that you're either on Wolsey's side or you're on the side of the Boleyn-Howard faction.
And there's a certain degree of pressure on choosing those sides and very soon people start shifting their allegiances towards the Boleyns.
It's also obvious by the number of other people that are also now at court who weren't necessarily at court as regularly before and Thomas Howard is among those.
While his niece is now starting so clearly to rise while the King needs something done, Thomas Howard is straight in there.
While not particularly politically sensitive, he is by no means stupid and he's disliked Wolsey for so long that any hint that Wolsey is out of favor, he is going to jump on that.
NARRATOR: At the same time the tables have turned between Thomas and his daughter.
For the moment, Anne is the de facto head of the Boleyn family.
Their fate and future lie in her hands.
SUSAN DOLAN: I think Thomas Boleyn is having many sleepless nights.
I think he is very uncertain about the future, it could have gone either way for him.
He could have had Anne as Queen of England, or he could have Anne discarded as a mistress.
He's also terribly concerned about his own position.
He has a lingering loyalty to Wolsey.
He's being pulled in different directions.
And he has no real agency here.
NARRATOR: From May 1529, letters show the Cardinal's failure to deliver the annulment to be the talk of the King's inner circle.
MALE SPEAKER: Wolsey is in the greatest pain he ever was.
NARRATOR: The French ambassador even reports that the Boleyn faction are beginning to turn the King's mind against the Cardinal.
MALE SPEAKER: The Boleyns lead the King to believe that he has not done as much as he could have done to promote the marriage.
NARRATOR: With Henry losing patience, Wolsey takes a huge gamble.
He announces a public trial which he hopes will prove, before a representative from Rome, that Henry's marriage to Katherine was never legal in the first place.
GLENN RICHARDSON: Well, the atmosphere of the Blackfriars trial is likely to have been quite formal, quite, quite tense.
Um, Henry has asked the papacy to rule on the validity of his marriage.
So a lot is riding on it, everybody knows about it, everybody who's anybody is there or close by in attendance.
Wolsey was always capable of pulling the rabbit out of the clerical hat.
GREG WALKER: But Katherine spectacularly upstages him on the opening day.
She stands up, crosses the court and kneels at his feet, and tells him that he knows in his heart they were truly married.
GLENN RICHARDSON: And then she walks out of the courtroom.
And she's called back I think two or three times, but with her ladies and her courtiers of her household around her, she makes this dramatic exit from the court.
She completely undercuts from the outset the basis of the trial.
After Katherine's dramatic withdrawal from the trial, Wolsey is just exhausted and trying to give himself some space to think, what can I do next, you know?
NARRATOR: But Henry wants immediate action.
He wants Wolsey to try again to get Katherine to accept the annulment.
And the person he sends to tell Wolsey this is Thomas Boleyn.
The King demands you must repair to Katherine without delay.
As always, I am ready to fulfill the King's pleasure.
If you are now his messenger, tell him I am readying myself to come.
The split feelings that, that Thomas has, becomes obvious particularly at the moment when Thomas Boleyn recognizes, of course, this it isn't going to work.
That Wolsey is going to be in trouble with the King, He is in as impossible a situation as is Wolsey.
We're not looking at Thomas Boleyn as a man who is in charge and in control and manipulating Anne onto Katherine's throne.
We're looking at a man, I think, who is extremely worried about the future.
If I have taught you any foresight, you know the outcome will be nothing.
You and your party are in no small part to blame for this matter.
You have fed the King's fantasies, put new ones into his head.
The power you crave makes you the cause of the trouble in this realm.
And in the end you will get no thanks - in this world or the next.
LAUREN MACKAY: It is at this moment when Thomas Boleyn begins to see Wolsey is not their route to this annulment anymore.
It's not that he's turning against Wolsey, it's that he's starting to realize he has to back his family now rather than the Cardinal.
NARRATOR: The Blackfriars trial is suspended, and with it all hopes of Wolsey ending the marriage.
Finally, it's clear this isn't going to produce the verdict that Wolsey wanted.
Henry is furious, ballistically angry.
There is no gentle retirement at the Tudor Court.
You're either in or you're out.
And suddenly Wolsey is out.
[fire crackles] [book closes] GARETH RUSSELL: Thomas Howard has a particularly unpleasant trait in how hard he kicks when someone is on the ground.
I told you I would be returning today.
Not good to see you.
He enjoys humiliating the politically out of favor.
And so as a result, this almost hunter's instinct is on full display when it comes to Cardinal Wolsey.
NARRATOR: Thomas Howard pays the Cardinal a visit to remove his 'Great Seal' - the thing which once gave Wolsey the power to authorize state documents on behalf of the King.
I came here yesterday to demand that Wolsey surrender into my hands the Great Seal and that he ready himself to depart this place and quit London.
The curious Cardinal wished to know what authority I had for this command.
I would regard my presence as authority enough in that regard.
As the Great Seal of England, the symbol of royal power, was delivered to him by the King himself, Wolsey insisted that only the King's word could relinquish it.
So, an extra journey.
But there you have it.
GARETH RUSSELL: This marks really the end of Wolsey's official might.
It looks like a settling of scores between them.
Thomas Howard, who has felt that he has had this stunted career, who has endured things being taken of him, seemingly by Wolsey's initiative, can now take the greatest symbol of Wolsey's success from him.
NARRATOR: The deposing of Wolsey is the Boleyn family's greatest victory so far.
OWEN EMMERSON: I think ultimately Anne is responsible for Wolsey's downfall.
Thomas Boleyn had had a lasting working relationship with Wolsey, Anne never had that.
He was purely a functionary person who was there to do the King's bidding and therefore her bidding, and he'd utterly failed to do so.
And it's a ruthless downfall.
This is the only time that Wolsey isn't able to deliver.
But Anne is unforgiving in that regard.
ELIZABETH NORTON: There's no doubt that Anne Boleyn relished Wolsey's fall.
She goes with Henry to his palace to view his goods and possessions to decide, what do they want?
What would they like to keep of his goods because they don't belong to Wolsey anymore.
They're the King's and through the King, of course, they're Anne's.
Ultimately, that is the prize of ambition, and Anne seems to be unashamed by that.
I think Anne can be vengeful.
She really is dancing on Wolsey's grave.
NARRATOR: The Boleyns and Howards are now the most powerful people in Henry VIII's Court.
Thomas Howard takes over the role of President of the Royal Council.
Thomas Boleyn is made Earl of Wiltshire and becomes Lord Privy Seal.
George Boleyn takes on his father's former title, Viscount Rochford.
GREG WALKER: Who is left to carry out the King's will when Wolsey has gone?
There's Thomas Howard, the most powerful nobleman, who's good at shouting and bullying people and leading armies, but not a sophisticated operator.
Then there's Thomas Boleyn, a diplomat, someone with greater skill, someone with a facility with languages who can talk to ambassadors in their own language.
And of course, then there's George Boleyn, who has a certain style and elegance of his own.
And of course above them all there's Anne Boleyn herself, directing Henry's attention one way and another, suggesting strategies, urging him and pushing him to get on with the job of producing the divorce.
LAUREN MACKAY: All of a sudden the Boleyn ambition has been revealed and exposed and of course with that there's a lot of judgments.
They always have relied on Wolsey and Wolsey is now gone.
They have to actually solve the dilemma that they accused Wolsey of not being able to solve.
They are in uncharted waters.
- [waves lapping] - [gulls squawking] NARRATOR: Holding the reins of power makes the Boleyns acutely vulnerable.
Henry is a dangerous and unpredictable master to serve.
Now that Wolsey is gone, there's no one standing between them and the increasingly unrealistic demands of the King... GREG WALKER: Henry begins to make impulsive decisions, some of which look outrageously ill advised.
For instance, he sends Thomas Boleyn as the envoy to the Pope himself to try and persuade him to support the case for a divorce.
He hasn't quite thought through the obvious logic that Thomas Boleyn, Anne's father, is the last man who's going to persuade the Pope of absolutely anything.
The ambassadors from continental Europe who are observing this from the sidelines, are, I think, generally all quite puzzled.
Why is Henry taking this step?
Thomas is an experienced diplomat but he's also an interested party.
LAUREN MACKAY: It's incredibly awkward for all involved.
I don't think Thomas believes he has any hope of succeeding in this embassy but his hands are tied.
He was able to meet the Pope but he was immediately shot down.
His very presence there was an offense.
What it really shows Thomas is that they have to find alternative routes to an annulment.
[sigh] It would be wrong, I think, to consider this a carefully worked out coup d'etat by the Boleyns and their allies.
No one was confident in this period.
Everyone was playing an extraordinarily high stakes game to try and achieve what Anne and what Henry wanted.
ELIZABETH NORTON: Wolsey is gone, but Katherine of Aragon is still there.
She's still Henry VIII's wife, and Anne Boleyn is as far from being Queen as she ever has been.
The Boleyn's have power.
They've removed potential enemies and they're rather stuck.
What are they going to do now?
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