If you have read all of The Mirror and The Light, you will have noticed that, unlike Anne and George Boleyn (who were put on trial in Bringing up the Bodies), Thomas Cromwell was never tried in court. Instead, an Act of Attainder was passed after which he was, as he put it, legally dead. But what was the Act and why wasn’t he tried?
Acts of Attainder
Acts of Attainder were used in England between the 14th and late-18th centuries. They were a piece of parliamentary legislation that declared an individual(s) guilty of a serious crime, such as treason, and “attainted” them – their lands and titles would be returned to the crown rather than inherited by their heirs. They could be used against people who were already dead, for example an Act of Attainder was passed against Richard III and John Howard, duke of Norfolk who both died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Or, they could be used against a living person, thereby depriving the accused of a trial by a jury of their peers and preventing them from presenting a defence.
Continue reading “The Mirror and the Light explained: Why wasn’t Cromwell put on trial?”
I was lucky enough to get tickets to one of the first matinee performance of teh RSC’s “The Mirror and the Light” as a birthday present this year, and I thought that I would jot down some of my thoughts about the play.
Spoiler warning: I am going to try not to give too much away but there will be some small spoilers for the production (and historical events) beyond this point…
Continue reading “Review: The RSC’s “The Mirror and the Light””
So, the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall began last week. It has received favourable reviews for its interpretation of the books and its dedication to historical accuracy but in places it can be hard going for those unfamiliar with the books and/or history. Over the next few weeks, I will be explaining some of the history behind the series starting with Anne Boleyn’s accent.
During the first episode Anne (Claire Foy) alternated between an English accent and an affected French accent – with a pronounced ”Cremuel” for Cromwell. Anne left England for the Netherlands in 1513, when she was about 12 years old, and joined the household of Margaret of Austria. From there she was moved to France to wait on Mary Tudor who married Louis XII of France in the autumn of 1514. The marriage was short-lived and Mary returned to England in spring 1515 after her the death of her husband. Anne remained in France and joined the household of Claude, the new Queen of France. It would be nearly seven years before she returned to England, in 1521. Her time in France had given her an exoticism and polish that was unusual at the English court. To observers, her manners appeared French, she had a taste for Renaissance art and favoured French fashions. Historians believe that she would have adopted a French accent when it suited her to emphasise her continental education and uniqueness.