Part 3: Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn grew up in the family home of Hever Castle, the
daughter of a courtier and diplomat. Her father, Sir Thomas Boleyn,
was ambitious for her future. When Anne was twelve she left to
continue her education in one of the centres of European culture –
the court of the Archduchess Margaret, in the Netherlands. Anne was
as ambitious to become a star in the English court.
When Anne returned to England, more French than English, she
became a lady in waiting to Queen Catherine. Although not a noted
beauty, Anne was chic and an expert in intrigue and seduction. She
encouraged Henry's attentions, while refusing to become his
mistress. She knew her sister Mary had surrendered quickly, and been
discarded just as swiftly.
During 1526, with Henry driven wild by her on-off tactics, she
played her trump card – she would become Henry's wife, not mistress.
However the necessary divorce from Catherine was not so easy: the
inquiry by Cardinal Campeggio, the Pope's special envoy, could not
reach the conclusion that Henry wanted.
In the towns and villages of England Anne was reviled as a gold
digger and a heretic. But with a controversial new book, William
Tyndale's Obedience of a Christian Man, she strengthened her
hold on Henry. This argued that authority over the Church properly
belonged not to the Pope but to the king.
At the beginning of 1531 under heavy pressure from the king, the
English clergy gave Henry a new title – Supreme Head on Earth of The
Church of England In So Far as The Law of Christ Allows. As such
Henry would be able to grant himself a divorce. But in defying Rome
he needed the support of King Francis I of France.
Six years after first insisting on being Henry's wife, Anne
finally married him. She was thirty-two years old and already
The Spanish ambassador called for a military invasion of England
to save the Christian religion, but Catherine herself would not act
against her husband or bring bloodshed on her English people.
Meanwhile, Henry's Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer,
declared Henry's marriage to Anne valid.
On 1 June 1533 Queen Anne was crowned, to the outrage of the
Pope who declared Cranmer's judgments void and excommunicated Henry.
Although Anne gave birth to a daughter Elizabeth, not a son, the
law was changed by the Act of Succession which declared Henry's
marriage to Catherine was declared 'utterly void and annulled' and
affirmed his marriage to Anne and the rights of their children.
But when Anne miscarried, a new note of mistrust crept into the
royal marriage. Another stillbirth followed.