Anne Boleyn (1507-1536)
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Anne Boleyn (1507-1536)

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Anne Boleyn was the second wife of Henry VIII. At the time of her marriage to Henry in 1533, Anne was already pregnant with the future Elizabeth I. By 1536, following a further three failed pregnancies, Henry accused her of illicit relationships with several people, including her own brother, and she was executed, her marriage being declared invalid.

The painting on which this portrait is based is now known to show another Anne, a Queen of Hungary.

The king has been very good to me. He promoted me from a simple maid to a marchioness. Then he raised me to be a queen. Now he will raise me to be a martyr.
- Herself.

(2) Anne Boleyn (1507-1536)

Additional Information on
Anne Boleyn (1507-1536)

Anne's father had married into the powerful Howard family and at the age of 18 in 1525 Anne was at court, both her mother and elder sister Mary having been Henry VIII's mistresses. Henry began a pursuit of her which was to last until 1532 when she finally yielded to his advances. The attraction she held for him is partly explained by her obvious sex appeal, she had a vivacious personality, and her very long black hair. She also had a vestigial sixth finger on one of her hands and a large mole on her neck, both of which she kept hidden. Henry, who could have had almost any woman in his kingdom, became totally infatuated by her, his desire being merely fed by her resistance.

The Howards, with the sole exception of her brother George, were initially horror-struck by her refusal, but when it became clear that Henry was determined to marry her, they switched sides, seeing the advantage it would bring them. After Anne finally succumbed and became pregnant it jolted Henry into breaking with Rome, and helped by Cromwell, he installed the Protestant Cranmer as Archbishop of Canterbury, who married them secretly in 1533. Cranmer then pronounced the annulment of Henry's first marriage to Catherine and there was a magnificent coronation with the Howards securing their preferment.

Later that year the child, Elizabeth, later to be queen, was born, to general disappointment and Anne redoubled her efforts to humiliate Catherine. More miscarriages followed, possibly, as has been scientifically stated, because of Henry's untreated syphilis which he had caught as a youth. After Catherine's death (at the news of which Anne and Henry rejoiced) and a further stillborn child, Henry's always wayward attentions turned to Lady Jane Seymour.

Cromwell began collecting evidence against Anne, not least from her own uncle the Duke of Norfolk, who knew which way the wind was blowing and at length in 1536 she was unjustly accused of treason and incest and with her own brother George, on the evidence of his wife. Anne and George were both sent to the Tower and tried, though the outcome was never in any doubt, and sentenced to death by the Duke of Norfolk, their uncle. Anne was executed by sword, at her request, and buried under the floor of the chapel of St. Peter-in-the-Tower, which she is said to haunt. Anne Boleyn had had her 1,000 days.


The ground of my preferment being on no surer foundation than your grace's fancy, the least alteration was fit and sufficient, I know, to draw that fancy to some other subject. You have chosen me from a low estate to be your queen and companion, far beyond my desire or desert.
- Her last letter to Henry VIII.

Is there any foundation for the theory that Henry VIII's main reason for executing Anne Boleyn was her habit of eating biscuits in bed?
- Cyril Asquith, 'Life of Lord Oxford and Asquith'.

Madame Anne is not one of the handsomest women in the world; she is of middling stature, swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, bosom not much raised, and in fact has nothing but the English King's great appetite, and her eyes, which are black and beautiful...'
- Diary of Sanuto. Advanced Category Search

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