Anne BoleynA quest for power leads to the ultimate downfall


Early life
Anne Boleyn’s birth date is disputed between historians. Some believe she was born in 1501, while others believe 1508. There are valid explanations as to why people believe in each year, however I believe she was born in 1501. I believe this because in 1514 she accompanied Princess Mary to marry the King of France, in France. It is more logical that she was born in 1501 as a six year old would not likely be chosen for this task. Another piece of evidence to support my belief is that if she was born in 1501 it would make her around 35 when she was executed. This would support Henry VIII's concern for her being unable to produce an heir. Also, Jane Seymour who replaced Anne was born in 1508 which brings to question; if she was born in 1508 then why would Henry VIII replace her with someone who is the same age when he is said to have thought Anne was too old. To learn more about the evidence for both years click
Hever Castle, where Anne Boleyn grew up.
here. Anne Boleyn was never a stranger to a powerful family. Her father was Sir Thomas Boleyn, who eventually became Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond. She descended, through both of her parents, from Edward I which meant she was born with royal blood. Anne grew up at Hever Castle (see image) which is located 35 miles from the centre of London.Anne Boleyn learned the French language,and French mannerisms in the Netherlands before she spent a number of years in her childhood living in France. She accompanied Henry VIII’s youngest sister Mary who was married to the King of France. After the King of France died, the French Queen Claude educated Anne on matters concerning fashion and flirtation. This would have an obvious effect on Anne’s personality at court when she returns to England, and catches the eye of King Henry VIII. At court her French mannerisms also played a vital role in her appeal to men, as they were fashionable at the time. Explore Anne's life in this video.
England during the Tudor Era

Left: Henry VIII Right: Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII at Court

Fascinated with Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII unknowingly will cause irreversible damage to medieval society. While still married to Queen Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII assigns Anne Boleyn as one of her ladies in attempt to get close to her. Anne Boleyn is different than any other lady he has met, she makes him wait. She will not sleep with him until they are married. She also shows her ambition by showing her desire to be Queen of England. This only makes him want her more, because he is not used to being told no and also because he too has a thirst for power. It is said that the men at court followed Anne around like puppies. She had numerous relations, and was said that Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland fancied
Hampton Court Palace, one of Henry VIII's palaces

to marry her. When Henry VIII heard of this he immediately had Thomas Wolsey warn him away. It is known, to the best of our knowledge, that Henry VIII’s infatuation with Anne Boleyn began in 1527. At the same time, his frustration of Catherine not producing a male heir was growing increasingly fast. Catherine of Aragon had given birth to only one healthy baby out of six pregnancies (she had even more miscarriages). This put quite the strain on their marriage. Henry VIII was obsessed with having a male heir, which Catherine could not deliver. Anne Boleyn was his solution. She was younger, beautiful, had more chance of delivering a healthy baby, and he was very attracted to her. This all led to his first divorce, which subsequently causes chaos in England.
One of Henry VIII's love letters to Anne Boleyn

Henry VIII’s Divorce and the Creation of the Church of England
Thanks to Henry VIII's infatuation with Anne Boleyn, and his frustration with Catherine of Aragon's inability to pr
oduce an heir, the Church of England is created. Prior to marrying Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII received a Papal Bull allowing him to marry her. He needed the Papal Bull in order to marry her because she had previously been married to his brother, Prince Arthur. He claimed that their marriage was never consummated. It caused tension between Pope Leo X and Henry VIII when he asked for permission to divorce Catherine. Being a Roman Catholic, Henry VIII was not permitted to divorce Catherine of Aragon and, being who he was, he was not used to being told no. He got everything his way because he was King, until now. The exact year is unknown, however it is said to have been around 1525 that Henry VIII decided to divorce Catherine. He now claimed that Catherine and Arthur’s marriage had been consummated, and therefore he should be able to annul his marriage, as it was never truly valid. The Papal Bull was the only reason he was able to marry her, so he believed that if it should never have been given then he would be able to annul his marriage, and subsequently marry again. Pope Leo X was furious and not only denied him, but excommunicated Henry VIII, and also removed his title as ‘Defender of the Faith’. This led to the creation of the Church of England, Anglicanism which is the current religion of the English Monarchy today. The monarch’s role is the head of the Church of England. The Church of England carries the same values as Roman Catholicism, however is more loosely structured. Read about the Anglican religion here. Henry VIII’s lack of an heir, and his infatuation with Anne Boleyn led to the creation of Anglicanism.

Rise to Power
Anne Boleyn's ability to manipulate Henry VIII is her main advantage when it comes to her gaining power. No other woman before her has had the courage, or the will, to say no to Henry VIII. However, her manipulation must not be confused for control. No one is ever capable of controlling Henry VIII, not even the Pope. It is almost as if she has thought about this fact and how she could use it to her advantage. Anne Boleyn uses her beauty to attract him, and then teases him by not giving into what he wants. She knows that he always gets what he wants, so she gives him a price. If he wants her, he must marry her first. Anne has high standards and refuses to be one of his mistresses. She, through simply denying him her time in his chambers, pushes him to separate England from Rome. This is a huge step that would not have been done, if not for her strategic thinking and thirst for power.
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The Wives of Henry VIII

Queen of England
Anne Boleyn's crown

Anne Boleyn was not a typical sixteenth-century woman. She was outgoing, talkative, intelligent, and extremely confident. As Queen of England she was harshly disliked by the people. The previous Queen, Catherine of Aragon, focused on helping the poor and playing the traditional role of a Queen which the people loved. Anne's reputation was not like Catherine's at all. Anne Boleyn was known for her stylish wardrobe and was thought to be promiscuous, and ultimately the public would never grow to like her. She remained disliked for the entirety of her reign. Saying she was ill-prepared for her role as Queen is an understatement, as well as her role of being the King's wife. When Henry VIII pursued sexual relationships with two of Anne's maids-of-honour she was extremely jealous. Unlike Catherine of Aragon, she was unable to ignore and accept that her husband would be with other women. This is quite an ironic situation since she was once 'the other woman'. Anne's greatest, and arguably her only, accomplishment as Queen was giving birth to Elizabeth. At the time Henry VIII was very disappointed that she was a girl, he was unaware of how powerful she would one day become.

Elizabeth I
Born on 7 September 1533, Elizabeth was the first-born child of Anne Boleyn. Before her birth physicians and astrologers had predicted she would be a prince,
Elizabeth I's Coronation portrait in 1559

however they were incorrect. Henry VIII had witnessed countless miscarriages from Catherine of Aragon so for him it was a sign that Anne would be capable of delivering healthy, strong boys. It was when she miscarried two sons that he became frustrated with her as well. He now has two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth and still no sons. Henry VIII did not attend Elizabeth's christening which was the talk of the town at the time. He then proceeded to declare Elizabeth as his heir, before his eldest daughter Mary. Henry VIII demanded that Mary relinquish her title as the Princess of Wales as it now belonged to Elizabeth. Mary soon grew more and more upset as she was treated worse by her father, the King. Almost everything she once had was gone. Her title, her throne, and soon her home would be given to Anne's brother. This all contributes to Anne's power as Queen which made her feel very satisfied. Elizabeth guaranteed Anne's importance at court, at least for the two and a half years she lived for.

Anne's Downfall
As mentioned before, Anne Boleyn was the jealous type and did not approve of her husband engaging in sexual relationships with any other woman. She was not able to control Henry VIII however, and therefore he did as he pleased. Her decline in importance to him began when she started to get frustrated with him doing so. She then had two miscarriages which led Henry VIII to believe she too, like Catherine, was unable to deliver a son. Anne Boleyn's reached a point of no return when she herself committed adultery. As Queen she was forbidden from sleeping with anyone else, it was treasonous to do so. Her biggest mistake, however, was believing she was irreplaceable. It was her who led Henry VIII to have the ability to divorce his wife, which put the thought in his head that he could have as many wives as he pleased. Henry VIII was tired of her constant nagging and when he saw she was unable to deliver a son she immediately lost his interest. Therefore when she committed treason he thought of a way to get rid of her. He falsely accused her of witchcraft, incest, and conspiracy of planning the King's death.

Tower of London
In January of 1536 Anne Boleyn gave birth to a stillborn male, and this was the point where Henry VIII decided he wanted her gone. He quickly sought out to annul their marriage, and he settled that Jane Seymour would be his new wife. Anne was held at the Tower of London on several false accusations. Thomas Cromwell, once her friend, is believed to have plotted her downfall as he was Chief Minister to the King. On 15 May 1536 Anne Boleyn was taken to trial, where she unanimously was convicted of her false charges of witchcraft, incest and conspiracy of planning to kill the King. On that very day she was taken to her execution where she gave her famous speech, "I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord," she said, adding, "I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul." She kneeled, and with a quick swift of a sword she was beheaded. This was England's first public execution of a Queen. Less than a day later Henry VIII and Jane Seymour were married. Anne's legacy lies with Elizabeth I, who became arguably one of the most influential and powerful Queens to this day. Anne Boleyn's coffin was so small that her head was placed beside her. It was not long enough for it to be on top of her neck. She was originally buried at an unmarked grave, but is now buried at the Church of St. Peter ad Vincula in London, England.

The Tower of London
The Tower of London Execution Site Memorial

An interpretation of what execution would have looked like

Anne Boleyn writes 'Le temps viendra, Je Anne Boleyn'

Learn more about Anne Boleyn in this prezi.