Anne Boleyn


Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn was the second and most notorious wife of Henry VIII. Her affair with the king lasted many years before they were married, and during this time she had an enormous amount of influence over his court. The marriage itself lasted only three years, and resulted in the beheading of Anne on charges of witchcraft, adultery and treason. Their relationship faired far better before it was consummated, while Anne's favors were temptingly withheld, than in did after her schemes of enticing Henry into marriage were fully realized.

Like most kings, Henry VIII was far from a faithful husband and took numerous lovers during his long marriage to Catherine of Aragon. His initial attempts to seduce the charming Anne Boleyn however, failed. She insisted that she could give him a son, but only if he divorced his wife Catherine, and married her. The lack of a male heir was a serious concern to Henry, so as early as 1527 he began to inquire into the possibility of an annulment from Catherine. Such annulments of convenience were not uncommonly given, but as Catherine was the aunt of Charles V, at the time the most powerful monarch in Europe, the Pope balked at Henry's request.

Meanwhile, Anne had attained a high degree of influence over the king, was supported in great luxury, and developed powerful connections at court. She induced Henry to replace Cardinal Wolsey, Archbishop of Canterbury with Thomas Cranmer, and she promoted the cause of Thomas Cromwell, and his schemes to close the monasteries. For several years she was the most influential person at court and Henry rarely made a decision without consulting her.

She ultimately induced the French court to recognize their engagement and in late 1532, after five years of anticipation, they consummated their marriage. Elizabeth was born a year later, but in the three years following Anne suffered a series of miscarriages and still-births. What is more, she had the temerity to berate him for his infidelities, which she had tolerated before their marriage. She also had enemies at court, who may have had a hand in orchestrating her downfall. At any rate, their relationship soured, Henry took up with Jane Seymour, a woman of a far more delicate disposition than Anne, and her continued miscarriages caused Henry to believe that the marriage may, after all, have been cursed by God.

Only a year after executing Sir Thomas More, one of his closest friends, for failing to recognize his marriage, Henry decided once and for all to be rid of her, and put Anne Boleyn on trial for witchcraft and adultery. In spite of very limited evidence against her, she was convicted and executed by beheading.

Key events during the life of Anne Boleyn.:

Henry makes acquaintance of Anne Boleyn.
Henry requests and annulment from Catherine of Aragon.
Wolsey dismissed over failure to obtain annulment.
Catherine of Aragon banished from court.
Marriage of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. Previous marriage annulled.
Birth of Elizabeth.
Sir Thomas More executed for treason.
Death of Catherine of Aragon.
Anne Boleyn executed after trial for witchcraft, adultery and treason.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Elizabeth's Mother  in  Queen Elizabeth  by  Jacob Abbott
Henry VIII—The Story of the King's Six Wives  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
How Henry VIII Changed the Old Order  in  The Tudors and the Stuarts  by  M. B. Synge

Image Links

Portrait of Anne Boleyn
 in Queen Elizabeth

Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn
 in  The Story of the English

Short Biography
Henry VIII King of England famous for marrying and dispensing with six wives.
Elizabeth I Led England through tumultuous age of reformation and discovery. Reigned 45 years.
Catherine of Aragon First Wife of Henry VIII. Divorced so that he could marry Anne Boleyn.
Thomas Wolsey Rose from humble beginnings to become Chancellor of England. Stalled on Henry VIII's divorce.
Thomas Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury under Henry VIII. Broke with Rome. Founded Anglican Church.
Thomas Cromwell Minister under Henry VIII. who encouraged his divorce and helped dissolve the monasteries.
Mary Tudor Eldest daughter of Henry VIII. Tried to restore Catholicism to England.