Anne Boleyn lived a strategic lifestyle in the English court of Henry VIII. As a pawn of her family, she went from a small girl in the French court to the queen. Henry had an obsession with Anne and would stop at nothing until they were together causing many long term affects on England. Many people had different contrasting views of Anne Boleyn; on one hand she was viewed as a jezebel or concubine by the Catholics but at the same time she was viewed as a saintly queen by protestant writers. Both these conflicting portraits of Anne Boleyn have a degree of truth but at the same time are inaccurate.
Through both of these characters Anne Boleyn’s relationship with Henry VIII caused many effects upon England during his reign such as changing how the church had been set up for thousands of years and the way women were viewed in this time. Anne spent part of her childhood in the court of the Archduchess Margaret, the daughter of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, and Mary, Duchess of Burgundy. Anne was around the age of 12-13, as that was the minimum age for a ‘fille d’honneur’, also know as a bridesmaid or maid of honor .
It was from there that she was transferred to the household of Mary, Henry VIII’s sister, who was married to Louis XII of France. Anne’s sister Mary was already in ‘the French Queen’s’ attendance. However, when Louis died, Mary Boleyn returned to England with Mary Tudor, while Anne remained in France to attend Claude, the new French queen. Anne remained in France for the next 6 or 7 years. During her stay in France she learned to speak French fluently and developed a taste for French clothes, poetry and music.
While there in France Anne gained a very unique style and grace that made her very noticeable in the English court. Anne brought to England a new mold for a renaissance woman. She was literate and had received a formal education. Along with this Anne brought her French style that spread through the English court. In 1521 or early 1522, with war between England and France imminent, Anne returned home. When she first caught Henry VIII’s eye is unknown. He was originally attracted to her sister, Mary who came to court before Anne .
She was the king’s mistress in the early 1520s and, as a mark of favor; her ather was elevated to the peerage as viscount Rochford in 1525. Mary herself would leave court with only a dull marriage, and possibly the king’s illegitimate son, as her reward. Anne learned much from her sister’s example. Anne’s first years at court were spent in service to Henry VIII’s first wife, Katharine of Aragon. She became quite popular among the younger men. She was not considered a great beauty; her sister occupied that position in the family, but even Mary was merely deemed ‘pretty’. Anne’s focuses were her style, her wit and charm; she was quick-tempered and spirited.
Her most remarkable physical attributes were her large dark eyes and long black hair. It is likely that Henry sought to make Anne his mistress, as he had her sister Mary years before. Maybe drawing on the example of Elizabeth Woodville, Queen to Edward IV (and maternal grandmother to Henry VIII) who was said to have told King Edward that she would only be his wife, not his mistress, Anne denied Henry VIII sexual favors. We don’t know who first had the idea of marriage, but eventually it evolved into “Queen or nothing” for Anne.
How Anne was able to capture and maintain the king’s attention for such a long while, despite great obstacles and the constant presence of malicious gossip cannot be explained. Henry was headstrong and querulous. But for several years, he remained faithful to his feelings for Anne and his desire for a legitimate male heir. He sent many love letters to Anne; his campaign to win her became a dangerous obsession lasting for seven years. My mistress and friend: I and my heart put ourselves in your hands, begging you to have them suitors for your good favor, and that your affection for them should not grow less through absence.
For it would be a great pity to increase their sorrow since absence does it sufficiently, and more than ever I could have thought possible reminding us of a point in astronomy, which is, that the longer the days are the farther off is the sun, and yet the more fierce. So it is with our love, for by absence we are parted, yet nevertheless it keeps its fervour, at least on my side, and I hope on yours also: assuring you that on my side the ennui of absence is already too much for me: and when I think of the increase of what I must needs suffer it would be well nigh unbearable for me were it not for the firm hope I have nd as I cannot be with you in person, I am sending you the nearest possible thing to that, namely, my picture set in a bracelet, with the whole device which you already know. Wishing myself in their place when it shall please you.
This by the hand of Your loyal servant and friend H. Rex His desire for Anne increased his efforts to secure an annulment from his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. During their eighteen-year marriage, Catherine had failed to give Henry a male heir to the throne of England, only producing a daughter, Mary. In 1527 Henry asked the Pope for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine so that he could marry Anne.
Because the Pope did not grant Henry his wish, he and his Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy in 1534, which proclaimed the King as head of the Church of England. Although Henry VIII himself was a religious conservative, England slowly began to create the branch of Christianity known as Anglicanism, which often considers itself to have taken a middle road between Luther’s and Calvin’s Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. It also closely involved Parliament in the key decisions, including the Act of Succession, allowing representatives of the people a vital role in choosing the next dynastic monarch.
During Anne’s marriage to Henry VIII, she had a large amount of control over the monarchy. She changed the face of politics in England. Anne Boleyn was intelligent and was not afraid of saying what she thought . It is known that she influenced Henry, and that is a reason why Thomas Cromwell, an English statesman who served as King Henry VIII’s chief minister from 1532 to 1540 , conspired to get rid of her. Her influence over the monarch led to Wolsey’s fall from grace, and Cromwell blamed her for affecting foreign policy and preventing an English-Imperial alliance.
Yet Anne was a woman, and women of the time were not meant to have opinions and meddle in politics. After being married, Anne entered confinement for the birth of her first child on 26 August 1533. The child was born on 7 September 1533 and had the largest effect on England that Anne Boleyn caused. The healthy baby girl called Elizabeth was not the disappointment most assumed, nor did she immediately cause her mother’s downfall. The birth had been very easy and quick. The queen recovered quickly. Henry had every reason to believe that strong princes would follow.
It was only when Anne miscarried two sons that he began to question the validity of his second marriage. It was a tedious and frightening dance for Anne. During the two and a half years after Elizabeth’s birth, she was rarely secure or certain of her position and the king’s affections. The continued lack of an heir and Anne’s miscarriages reminded him of Katharine. Like most of his contemporaries, the king blamed his wife when she did not conceive or carry to term. Anne had one last chance, and in June 1535, became pregnant again. She lost that child as well, in January 1536.
She was reported to have said, “I have miscarried of my savior. ” Katharine of Aragon died in January as well, just a few days before Anne’s miscarriage. These events, taken together, pushed Henry into action. While Katharine lived, most of Europe, and many Englishmen, had regarded her as his rightful wife, not Anne. Now he was rid of Katharine; if he were to rid himself of Anne, he could marry again – and this third marriage would never be tainted by the specter of bigamy. He had her arrested, charged with adultery, witchcraft, and incest; the charges were ludicrous even to her enemies.
As queen of England, Anne was tried by her peers; the main charge was adultery, and this was an act of treason for a queen. No member of the nobility would help her; her craven uncle Norfolk pronounced the death sentence. A skilled swordsman was brought over from France. She was assured that there would be little pain. She replied, with typical spirit, ‘I have heard that the executioner is very good and I have a little neck. ‘ Anne had prayed for exile and to end her days in a nunnery, but now faced a more tragic fate. She met it with bravery and wit. She was brought to the scaffold at 8 o’clock in the morning on 19 May 1536.
It was a spectacle that had never happened before, the first public execution of an English queen. Anne, who had defended herself so ably at her trial, chose her last words carefully: ‘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. ‘ She was bent at the scaffold and killed by beheading . Today, this woman who lived 500 years ago is still having books, programs and movies written and made based upon her life. Also there are many websites, blogs, and forums discussing her strategic life and notoriety. Anne Boleyn did not just affect England with her wit, grace, and strong determination, she affected the entire world.
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