Anyone who reads my blog (A BIG THANK YOU) will know my passion in history is the Tudors. I’ll read anything about them. Well on the 19th of May it is the anniversary of the death of Anne Boleyn.
It is believed Anne was born in 1501 in either Norfolk or Kent, although no one truly knows for sure. She was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn and Lady Elizabeth Howard (the daughter of the Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. She was the sister of Mary and George. She was an educated woman and learnt many skills that a girl of this time period would not be expected to know. She was known to be strong with her languages.
Anne became a lady in waiting to Margaret of Austria who was ruler of the Netherlands in the stead of her nephew the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. She stayed there for just over a year until her father gain a place as lady in waiting for her in the household of Mary Tudor, King Henry VIII sister, when she went to France to marry Louis XII. When Louis died and Mary remarried and returned to England Anne stayed in France as Lady to the new Queen Claude. Anne returned to England in around 1522 when a marriage was arranged for her but the marriage never took place.
Anne soon had a place in the household of Queen Katherine of Aragon. She was described as being quick witted with excellent dancing, singing and musical skills, but even then her short temper was noted. In 1526 King Henry VIII first really noticed Anne and began to pursue her. This in turn led to Henry beginning to turn away from the Catholic church as he wanted a divorce for Katherine and they wouldn’t allow it. He needed the divorce as many believed Anne would not become his mistress and would accept nothing less than marriage.
Henry began to defer to Anne over Katherine and she was by his side at many great events such as the Field of the Cloth of Gold when Henry met King Francis of France at Calais in one of the most grand and decadent meetings seen. The fountains actually had red wine in them!
In September 1532 Anne became the Marquessate of Pembroke in her own right. This made her a higher rank than almost all the peers of the land. And in November 1532 Anne and Henry married in secret in Dover, small problem though was that Henry was still married to Katherine and would be until May 1533 when his divorce to declared.
Anne was crowned queen on the 1st June 1533 at Westminster Abbey after a procession through London from the Tower of London where traditionally the monarch and consort stayed the night before the coronation. By this time all could tell Anne was pregnant. She was crowned with St Edward’s crown which was usually only used for the monarch.
During her time as Queen Anne was a great advocate of the protestant faith, possibly more so than the King himself.
Anne gave birth to her first child in September 1533, a girl named Elizabeth. She suffered a stillbirth in 1534 and a miscarriage in 1536 and many believe this miscarriage was the final straw for the King.
As was said before Anne was known to have a temper on her and was also accustomed to getting her own way and this also played a part in her downfall. It is said she was overheard to have told Sir Henry Norris, one of the King men, that after the Kings death he would wish to marry her. This statement alone was ground for treason as imagining the Kings death was against the law. This accompanied by the, probably very false, confession of one of the Queens musician Mark Smeaton to have having an affair with the queen lead to the arrests on the 2nd May 1533 of the Queen along with Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brerton, Sir Thomas Wyatt, Sir Richard Page and Viscount Roachford George Boleyn. All were charged with treason for having knowledge of the Queen (in other words having an affair with her). In the case of the Queen and Viscount Roachford this was incest as they were brother and sister.
All were taken to the Tower of London and on the 12th May Weston, Norris and Brereton were tried declaring their innocence. Only Mark Smeaton confessed after torture. All men accused were found guilty of. Sir Thomas Wyatt was never tried as he was declared innocent. On the 15th May Queen Anne and her brother were tried and also found guilty of high treason. The law of the land stated that the men should be hanged, drawn and quarter and Anne should be burned at the stake. In the end all the men were beheaded on the 17th may on Tower Hill by axe.
Anne herself was to also be beheaded, but the King paid to have a swords man brought over from France to carry out the execution. She left her quarters in the Tower of London on the 19th May 1536 and was lead to the execution site. She made her speech to the crowd in which she praised the King. She was then blindfolded and knelt down and her head was removed with one swing of the sword. She was then buried in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower of London in an unmarked grave. Her brother was also buried there.
So was Anne Boleyn the villain that history portrays her to be or was she a porn in the politics of the day? It’s very probable that she said somethings she shouldn’t have and got herself into some uncomfortable situations, but did she deserve to die for it. Or was her true downfall the fact that she didn’t produce the much needed male heir and the Kings eye began to roam. The truth is a source of much debate, but since the King became engaged the day after Anne’s execution and married 10 days after that!
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!