Till today Anne Boleyn is one of the most controversial personalities of the English history. She remains a mystery for everyone who is interested in her biography because there is still no clear evidence of her guilt. Anne was clearly an ambitious woman (her father’s ambitions came earlier, perhaps, but still, she knew what she was doing as she tried to conquer Henry VIII’s heart and replace the current Queen Catherine of Aragon on her throne).
Anne Boleyn 1501/7-1536
Anne was born into a wealthy family, which had risen very quickly to prominence and enjoyed the favours of the English court. Anne’s father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, always was a very ambitious man who didn’t miss any opportunity for his children to rise higher. He gave his children the best education that was possible and Anne became a very accomplished woman who spoke foreign languages, read poetry and many other things that were considered the best for a woman to achieve. Anne was the youngest of three children, her elder sister, Mary, and her brother, George, to whom she was very close. Mary and Anne spent their teenage years in France as ladies-in-waiting to the French Queen. Later Anne was transferred to England as a made of honour to the Queen Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII.
Anne learned many French manners that were quite useful for her at the English court. The ladies admired her style and men were at her feet. It is reported that she had some kind of a dark look about her that captivated many by its sexual magnetism. It is still questionable if she was beautiful but the fact is that she was definitely attractive and knew how to turn her appearance to her favour. Anne was intelligent and witty – the qualities that helped her to “bewitch” Henry, as he later declared himself.
When Henry finally married Anne in January 1533 the status of the Boleyn family was secured and the only thing that was on their minds is that Anne should give Henry a male heir in order to make their power eternal. Anne was pregnant at the time of their secret marriage and the marriage was declared valid as soon as Henry finally got his scandalous divorce from Catherine of Aragon. He was excommunicated from the Catholic Church and declared himself the Head of the English Church, which no other King in Europe has done before him.
On the 23rd of May 1533 Anne was crowned in Westminster Abbey. The crowd on the streets was not the supportive of her. Everyone loved the Queen Catherine and, in fact, many people remained loyal to the first wife of Henry until her death, which bothered Anne constantly.
Unfortunately for Anne, she had a girl instead of a son. Henry wasn’t happy, but was prepared to wait for her next pregnancy. Her second child was miscarried and also deformed, which made Henry very suspicious towards Anne. He began to think (not without help of Anne’s rivals at court) that she really was some kind of a witch.
It was only a matter of time for Henry to find some guilt in Anne’s behaviour. Several people, who were acquainted with the Queen at court, were suspected in having intimate relations with her. Anne denied any misconduct, which didn’t help her to convince Henry in her innocence. her brother, George Boleyn, was the most important suspect. They were often seen together and that made the perfect sense for the King to really suspect them of having more than a brother-sister relationship. George was accused of conspiracy against the King and was said to have sex with the Queen in order for her to have a boy, which would eventually secure the Boleyn’s name and fortune for ever.
Anne was publicly executed in May 1536. She was the first English queen to be publicly executed.
We still don’t know what happened exactly. Many questions remain unanswered: Did she love Henry? Was she adulterous? What kind of character did she have? Was she really that ambitious, or, was she the victim of her father’s great plans to gain more power? We don’t know. But the one fact remains – she made the English history of that period unforgettable!