Thursday, 19 May 2016

Queens of England in 60 seconds: Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, 1533 - 1536

In life she called herself the 'most happy', history has her down for many as the 'most unfortunate'. The queen who famously and tragically lost her head on this day in 1536 is about as famous as a consort gets. Acres have been written about Anne Boleyn, the woman for whom a king changed the whole world and whose whole world was crushed when he changed his mind.  Starting a new series summing up the lives of the women who have been queen of England, here's Anne Boleyn in sxity seconds.

All queens need beginnings but like many medieval maidens, Anne wouldn't have found any written records of her start. We know she was the child of Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Howard, a daughter of the powerful Duke of Norfolk. Anne was born in either Blickling, Norfolk or Hever Castle, Kent, most probably in 1501.

Siblings are an important part of any life and Anne's were a big part of her royal life. Her older sister, Mary, was a mistress of Henry VIII while Anne was maid of honour at the French court. Their brother, George, would enjoy a stellar career as a courtier while Anne was queen but was accused and convicted of treason with her and executed two days before her in 1536.

Anne's rise to queen is the stuff of legend. She returned from France in 1522 and by 1526 the strong attraction between her and Henry VIII was impossible for anyone to ignore. She was heavily involved in court politics of the time and Anne would go on to become the first woman raised to the peerage in her own right when Henry made her Marchioness of Pembroke in 1532.

Henry VIII pursued Anne and changed just about everything to make her his queen

But did she kiss her king before marrying him? Henry first sought an annulment from Catherine of Aragon in 1527, just months into his pursuit of Anne who is said to have demanded a wedding ring before hopping into the royal wedding bed. However, we know that the divorce Henry wanted took almost six years to procure and Anne commanded his attention all that time. The state of their relationship in that period remains a history mystery.

A later imagining of Henry VIII and Anne after their marriage

Henry changed the church in England to marry Anne (their wedding took place in January 1533 when Anne was already pregnant) and his new queen had a fervent spirituality of her own. She was supportive of the Protestant faith and took a deep interest in its reforms. But the overriding impression of her in her lifetime wasn't religious. She was blamed for many of Henry's failings and labelled 'the king's whore'. Not the best PR anyone ever had.

Anne was the second of Henry VIII's six queens

In January 1536, on the day that Catherine of Aragon was buried at Peterborough Cathedral, Anne Boleyn had a miscarriage - the baby she lost appeared to have been a little boy. Henry VIII's much longed for queen hadn't given him his much longed for male heir.Months later, she was accused of treason and incest, tried and executed at the Tower of London. Henry married Jane Seymour just days later but Anne's legacy would live on. Her only child from her marriage to Henry, born in September 1533, would later reign as Elizabeth I, one of England's most famous monarchs of all.

Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, reigned from 1558 - 1603

And that's Anne Boleyn in sixty seconds. Admittedly, it might have been sixty one but let's face it, Jane Seymour is dull, you'll make the time up in the next installment of this new series, Queens of England in 60 seconds.

No comments:

Post a Comment