Women of Royalty
Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn
     Anne Boleyn was born in 1501 (though some historians put it at 1507) to Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Howard. She was a healthy child, but she had two strange deficiencies: a mole on her neck and a 6th finger. When Anne was 12, she accompanied King Henry VIII's sister, Mary Tudor, on her voyage to France to marry King Louis XII, as a 'fille d'honneur'. Anne's sister, Mary, was also in Mary Tudor's retinue. In France, Anne learned her many useful skills that made her rise in England. She learned French and she adopted the culture of France. For one, she adopted the clothes. During her stay in France, she even began to make her own clothes, which were copied throughout the court. Anne loved clothes, but the main reason she made her own clothes was because she needed to make dresses with long sleeves, to cover her 6th finger, a symbol of witchcraft. She also hid her mole with a black band decorated with the initials A.B.
     King Louis XII died in 1515, after only a few years of marriage to Mary Tudor. They never had children, and the prince Francois, along with his wife Claude, became the king and queen of France. Mary Boleyn returned to England, but Anne stayed in France to be Queen Claude's lady-in-waiting. Anne stayed in France for the next 6 or 7 years, and during that time she was present at the famous Field of the Cloth of Gold ceremony between King Henry VIII and the king of France.
     She was said to be not the most beautiful girl at court, with pale skin, long black hair, large dark eyes, and small breasts, but she captured everyone. Her love of French art, poetry, and music made her irresistible, and in 1521, Anne had to return to England. Her father was planning her wedding.
     Anne returned home shocked. Her father was planning to marry her to the heir of Ormonde. Anne, a woman of grandeur and beauty, was to be damned to Ireland forever if this marriage went through. Ireland was a primitive country at the time, full of bogs and desolate tribes and villages. To occupy herself from this horrible future, Anne went to court. On March 1, 1522, Anne attended a masque at court. This is when Henry VIII first noticed Anne. However, Anne had not noticed him. Instead she began a secret love affair with Henry Percy, the son of the Duke of Northumberland. Anne and Henry loved each other, and they even planned to marry and had a contract signed, but somehow their love was discovered, for Henry VIII's advisor, Cardinal Wolsey, stopped the marriage. The Duke of Northumberland brought Henry Percy away from court and had him betrothed to a 'more suitable' girl. Thomas Boleyn removed Anne from court, and she was banished to the family home in Kent, Hever Castle.
     Banished from court, Anne had a love affair with her childhood friend, Sir Thomas Wyatt. It was a short affair, as Thomas was married, and Anne began to preoccupy herself with visiting her childhood friend, Thomas' sister, Mary Wyatt.
     Upon her return to court around 1526, Henry VIII began to pursuit Anne, who had become a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine. Mary, Anne's sister, had been his mistress, and so Anne could be also. However, Anne would not be reduced to a position much like that of a prostitute. Instead, she denied Henry's sexual favors and told him that either she would become queen or he would get nothing. Many thought that Henry would just make Anne his mistress, but in 1526, Henry began to seek an annulment from Queen Catherine. Henry and Anne began to write love letters to one another.
     In 1527, Anne began her long rise at court. She and Henry were seen more and more together. Henry began to spend enormous sums of money on Anne, showering her with clothes and jewels. She was lodged in apartments near to him and she and Henry began to seek out how to get rid of Queen Catherine so Henry could marry Anne. However, Catherine was very popular with the English people, and Anne was not. Henry worked with Cardinal Wolsey to get the marriage annulled, but when he continuously failed at seeking the pope's approval, Anne had him banished from court and his enormous York House was taken from him, to be given to Henry. Wolsey died not much later. Without Wolsey, Henry fell into despair, not just at losing hope for the marriage but also from loosing his lifelong friend. Nonetheless, he and Anne would not give up. In September of 1532, Anne was given the title Marquess of Pembroke. A month later she held a position of honor at Calais during the meeting of King Henry VIII and King Francois I.
     The more powerful Anne became, the less popular she got. At one point, Anne was visiting a family friend and was forced to flee when a huge mob broke out threatening to kill her. She had to escape in the dead of night, taking a boat across the Thames to safety at Greenwich Palace.
     In November of 1532, Anne became pregnant. Panicked, Henry was forced to take action. On January 25, 1533, Anne and Henry were married by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry's marriage to Catherine was never absolved, but according to Henry the marriage never took place and he and Anne became husband and wife. In May 1533, the Archbishop officially declared that Catherine and Henry's marriage was invalid.
     With their marriage declared invalid, Henry banished Catherine to Kimbolton Castle, a remote and dank manor. Separated from her daughter, Mary, who was perhaps Anne's greatest hater of all, she spent most of her time in prayer and wrote letters to Mary, which had to be smuggled by loyal friends such as Reginald Pole, who had loved Mary for some time. Catherine's health detiorated as result to the dank castle she was living in and the air and bogs around it. As much as she wished to see her daughter one last time, Henry refused to let them see one another for fear the two would plot against him and Anne.
     Anne was crowned Queen of England in her own ceremony. She rode down the Thames to the Tower of London and stayed there for the night. On June 1, she left the Tower of London for Westminster Abbey, where she was crowned by Thomas Cranmer. Although the people hated her, they still showed up for this joyous event.
     In August, preparations began for the birth of a son. Edward and Henry were among the names chosen and proclamations had already been written celebrating the birth of a prince. On August 25, 1533, Anne took to her bed and on September 7, 1533, Anne gave birth to a baby girl, Elizabeth. The documents celebrating a prince had to have two s' added. Disappointed, Henry began to lose favor for Anne around this time.
     Henry still loved his daughter, and named her the Princess of Wales, the title of his older daughter, Mary. Mary had always hated Anne, and she was enraged that her title be taken away. Elizabeth was taken to be cared for by Anne's cousins and Mary was reduced to the position of Elizabeth's maid. Humiliated, Mary vowed that she would see the end to Anne Boleyn and was only too happy to hear of the news that Anne and Henry's love had fallen apart.     
     In January of 1534, Anne gave birth to a stillborn. In 1535, she was pregnant and suffered a miscarriage in the end of January. Anne was upset and blamed the miscarriage on being distressed upon hearing Henry had fallen during a joust. However, around this time she also caught Henry and Jane together intimately and this could have enraged her and shocked her as much as being distressed over Henry's fall. She knew by then that she had lost Henry and the only way left to go was down.
     On January 7, 1536, Catherine died at Kimbolton Castle. Although the two had begun to have loud and deadly fights with one another, Anne and Henry had something to celebrate together: the death of Anne's enemy.     
      Henry had begun to fancy Jane Seymour, a lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn. He needed an heir, and if Anne couldn't give him one maybe Jane Seymour could. He set out to destroy Anne, but he found the only way he could do so was to accuse her of treason. And then she would be executed.
During a joust in spring of 1536, Anne dropped her handkerchief just as Thomas Wyatt was coming by on his horse. Normally that symbol meant that Anne had favor for Thomas, but Anne claimed she had simply dropped it by accident. Nonetheless, Henry began the arrests. Beginning on April 30, he had Sir Thomas Wyatt, Mark Smeaton, Sir Henry Norris, William Brereton, George Boleyn, and Anne Boleyn arrested.
     Anne was brought to the Tower of London on the same route of her coronation and stayed in the same rooms as she had in her coronation. On May 12, 1536, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton, Mark Smeaton, Henry Norris, and Sir Thomas Wyatt were put on trial in Westminster Hall. All of the men pleaded innocent of the crimes they had been accused: adultery with the queen and plotting to kill the king. Except for Mark Smeaton. He admitted that he had been hidden in Anne's cabinets after lessons and she would call him out to her bed, which was a lie. Mark had believed if he had pleaded guilty he would be released. All the men were found guilty and were executed. All were hanged, cut down while still alive, disemboweled, and quartered.
     On May 15, Anne and George were put on trial in the Great Hall at the Tower of London. Accused of incest, adultery, and plotting to kill the king, they both denied all charges against them. Anne found that her old lover, Henry Percy, was among the jurors. He had left however, for he could never find his love guilty. They were still found guilty by the remaining jurors and the proclamation, read by their uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, stated that they would either be burned at the stake or beheaded.
     On May 17, George was executed at Tower Hill. Knowing her end was near, Anne became hysterical, sobbing and then being thrown into fits of laughter. A swordsman from Calais had been summoned, for to show his appreciation of Anne, Henry decided to let her go more swiftly with the use of a sword rather than an axe.
     On May 19, Anne began her last day alive. She dressed in a crimson petticoat under a gray damask gown trimmed with fur. Her hair was pulled up under a white coif and she wore her usual headdress. She made her journey to the scaffold where she said:

"Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. 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. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus 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. To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul."

     Her ladies then removed her headdress and tied a blindfold over her eyes. The swordsman then cut off he head with one blow. Legends circulated that when her head was cut off, the eyes still moved and she spoke. Another legend was that hares ran wild, a symbol of witchcraft. Anne's body was then removed and was put in an arrow chest along with her head and thrown into an unmarked grave at the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula.