Tudor Series: Anne Boleyn

800px-Anne_boleyn

Born: July 1501, Blickling Hall Norfolk.

Daughter of Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Howard

Married: Henry VIII, 1533 until her death in 1536

Died: 19th May 1536 Tower Hill

Contemporary accounts of Anne Boleyn’s childhood have not be retained and historians have debated over many aspects of her early life including her birthday, location of birth and the age of her siblings. The most popular thought – which I have followed – is that she was born in 1501, and was two years younger than her sister Mary. Their brother George was younger, and despite residing at Hever Castle in Kent, it was most likely that Anne and Mary were born in Norfolk at the family estate of Blickling Hall. Anne’s father Thomas Boleyn was a gifted academic and had been a favourite of Henry VII. Due to his prominence the family were invited to Court – a sign of honour from the King.

As a young girl, Anne had spent time in France and the Netherlands at the Courts of the respective Monarchs. Working as a lady-in-waiting to the Queen consorts taught her a lot by observing royal etiquette. This was vital for her future success when she was invited to the English Court in 1522. Mary Boleyn had been serving as a Lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine since 1519 and was known to be a mistress of Henry VIII. Anne’s arrival sent ripples through the court. She was bold in her clothing and her manner, which instantly drew Henry’s attention. Her seductive nature mesmerised the king who was feeling dissatisfied with his older wife Katherine.  In 1527 Henry boldly proposed to Anne, after realising she would not submit to be his mistress. Anne accept and annulment felt sure to come quickly. However, these events caused massive destruction to foundations of English religion – forcing a break with Rome as the only way to secure the end of Henry and Katherine’s marriage.

Anne became pregnant quickly after  being crowned Queen and much celebration took place through the royal court for the imminent arrival of a son and heir for Henry. Yet luck was never on Anne’s side as she delivered a girl in September 1533. This was essentially the start of her downfall.

Anne’s paranoia over her and her daughters position fuelled her following behaviour. She was so anxious to provide a son, but was unfortunate to suffer two miscarriages. The King was growing impatient and his eye was beginning to wander to a new Lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour. I’m 1536 Anne was pregnant again however sadly, the son was still born. Her enemies at court which included many catholic supporters of Katherine, plotted against her by convincing the King of the Queen’s adultery with several other men including her own brother George. Anne’s demise came quickly. She was tried and sentenced to death.

Her execution was quick, as a skilled swordsman had been sent from France to carry out the deadly act. Her final words were to praise the King rather than argue her innocence. Anne’s execution is significant as it marks the first of an English Queen to be publicly executed. Her legacy lived on in her ironically not-wanted daughter whom succeeded in being the longest reigning Tudor monarch.

 

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