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House of Tudor - Anne Boleyn

Name: Anne Boleyn
Father: Thomas Boleyn
Mother: Lady Elizabeth Howard
Born: abt.1501 at Blickling, Norfolk
Married: Henry VIII, on January 25, 1533
Children: Elizabeth
Died: May 19, 1536 at Tower of London
Buried at: Tower of London

Anne Boleyn was the 2nd wife of Henry VIII, and was born around 1501. Some sources put it as late at 1507. She had an elder sister Mary Boleyn, and a brother George Boleyn. Her father Thomas Boleyn was a diplomat for Henry VII, and arranged a place for Anne in the household of Archduchess Margaret of Austria in the Netherlands. In 1514 she moved to Paris where she was a lady-in-waiting for Queen Claude of France. Anne became well educated and studied French, acquiring knowledge of culture, fashion and religious philosophy particularly the new renaissance humanism that challenged the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church.

In 1521 she returned to England and joined her sister Mary Boleyn at the court of Henry VIII as a maid of Catherine of Aragon. Her sister was one of Henry’s mistresses. She was courted by Henry Percy son of the Duke of Northumberland but the romance was broken off. In 1525 Henry VIII started courting Anne but she rejected his attempts to seduce her making it clear that she would not be his mistress only his wife. Henry wanted to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon who was too old to bear him the son he wanted, but his appeal to the Pope for divorce was unsuccessful. Catherine was banished from court and Anne was openly courted by Henry who tried to use her contacts with Francis I of France to enlist support for his new marriage.

The political and legal debate over Henry’s divorce from Catherine lasted for 6 years until 1533 when Henry broke with Rome and declared himself head of the Church of England. By that time Anne was pregnant and they were married on 25 January 1533. Anne became Queen consort on 23 May. News of the English Reformation spread throughout Europe, and Anne became a heroine to new wave of Protestants following Martin Luther. Her daughter Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth I) was born on 7 September 1533.

The marriage was turbulent as Anne was strong willed and attempted to influence Henry in political and religious matters. She was instrumental in the removal of Thomas More, and spent large sums of money on fashions and jewellery. She was protective of her daughter Elizabeth but rejected her step daughter Mary. Anne miscarried a stillborn male child in 1536. Following the death of Catherine her position became more insecure and Henry took a new mistress Jane Seymour. Anne’s downfall was engineered by Thomas Cromwell who had her accused of adultery with Mark Smeaton a court musician and of incest with her brother George. She was condemned to death and beheaded at the Tower of London on 19 May 1536. Three weeks later Henry married Jane Seymour.

Anne Boleyn's Signature