Part 3: Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn grew up in the family home of Hever Castle
as 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
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 his 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 was 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
Although Anne gave birth to a daughter named Elizabeth,
and not a son, the law was changed by the Act of Succession which declared
that Henry's marriage to Catherine was '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.