Skip to content

May 8, 1536 – Sir Thomas Wyatt Arrested

Sir Thomas Wyatt, pencil drawing by Hans Holbein
Sir Thomas Wyatt, by Hans Holbein

Actually, it was not just Sir Thomas Wyatt, it was also Richard Page. These were the last two arrests in connection with Anne Boleyn’s downfall – and both men escaped the trap.

From all appearances, Wyatt was arrested on the basis of his prior (failed) romance with Anne. Page was arrested because he believed the Queen to be innocent (apparently he made enough of a nuisance of himself that Cromwell merely wanted to get him out of the way until the ordeal was over). It would appear that this was a ploy by the crown to appear to be fair and impartial – first, because Wyatt was known to be a good friend of Thomas Cromwell’s, but more important, if these two men could prove their innocence then it stood to reason that the others must be guilty. It would also have constituted a strong message that any defense of the Queen would be dangerous (which people already knew!).

The legend is that Wyatt’s Tower cell overlooked Tower Green, so that he saw Anne’s execution. He wrote a poem while he was in there, entitled Innocentia Veritas Viat Fides Circumdederunt me inimici mei. It translates to “Innocence, Truth, Wyatt, Faith, My enemies surround my soul.” It’s based on Psalm 16.9 (“My enemies surround my soul”), and adds Wyatt’s name between innocence, truth and faith. Its ongoing refrain, circa Regna tonat, means “It thunders through the realms,” and is from Seneca’s Phaedra, (and the first two stanzas of the poem paraphrase lines from that play). It’s an amazing piece of poetry, not as well known as Whoso List to Hunt but much more poignant. After all, who can remain unmoved by the line, these bloody  days have broken my heart…

Who list his wealth and ease retain,

Himself let him unknown contain.

Press not too fast in at that gate

Where the return stands by disdain,

For sure, circa Regna tonat.

The high mountains are blasted oft

When the low valley is mild and soft.

Fortune with Health stands at debate.

The fall is grievous from aloft.

And sure, circa Regna tonat.

These bloody days have broken my heart.

My lust, my youth did them depart,

And blind desire of estate.

Who hastes to climb seeks to revert.

Of truth, circa Regna tonat.

The bell tower showed me such sight

That in my head sticks day and night.

There did I learn out of a grate,

For all favour, glory, or might,

That yet circa Regna tonat.

By proof, I say, there did I learn:

Wit helpeth not defence too yerne,

Of innocency to plead or prate.

Bear low, therefore, give God the stern,

For sure, circa Regna tonat


Luminarium, The Encyclopedia Project


If you like my posts, you’ll love my books! My Seymour Saga trilogy tells the gripping story of the short-lived dynasty that shaped the Tudor Era. Jane the Quene skews romantic, The Path to Somerset is pure Game of Thrones (without the dragons), and The Boy King is a noir coming-of-age. Get them now through AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and Apple, or even your local independent bookstore!

(PS Already read them? Did you love them? Then please review them – even just a stars rating! It makes a huge difference in helping new readers find them and would mean the world to me!)

May 8, 1536 - Sir Thomas Wyatt Arrested
Published inOn This Day

One Comment

  1. […] Sir Thomas Wyatt was one of the bright poetic lights at the court of Henry VIII, often credited along with Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey for introducing the sonnet from Italy into England.  Anne Boleyn fans will remember the poem he is said to have written about her in her youth, Whoso List to Hunt, as well as the moving Circa Regna Tonat (It Thunders Through the Realm) on her arrest (I’ve posted it – read it here). […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.