On this day in 1533, Anne Boleyn, was crowned as Queen in Westminster Abbey.
Her marriage to King Henry VIII had recently been declared valid by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury.
She was also quite obviously pregnant by this time. Of course everyone hoped for a Prince, but she would deliver her daughter, Princess Elizabeth, in a little over three months’ time.
It must have been a tiring day for her, at six months’ pregnant, but also a triumphal day for her. She had been waiting and fighting to be Queen for many years.
Anne is often taken to be a scheming home-wrecker (I admit in my book, I wrote her as scheming too!) but I often wonder what her real motivation was.
Was she in love with Henry and desperate to be his wife? Difficult to understand why she would hold off on copulation so long if she was madly in love with him. Maybe love formed in her heart after a while, but I don’t think love was her original motivation.
Was she a gold-digger? Her sister had been Henry’s mistress before Anne, and did not come out of the relationship very rich, so not sure that Anne would have seen Henry as a pot of gold. Maybe her aim was to get more out of the King than her sister did, and riches or a fine match was her initial aim. That would paint her as scheming too, though in a different way. If this were true, her marriage aims may have changed over the time she was being courted by Henry. Maybe she wanted an Earl or something to begin with, then saw an opportunity to go even higher…….
Was she a pawn used by the men around her? In Tudor days, women were often seen as possessions of their fathers/husbands/uncles, etc. It is possible that one of her relatives pushed her forward to take the place of her sister Mary, when the King started to tire of her. Some put the time that he courted Anne as overlapping with his relationship with Mary, others say he turned to Anne during Mary’s pregnancy, still others say that his relationship with Mary had ended up to two years before he began dating Anne. Mary had two children, who were rumoured to be the King’s, Catherine in 1524 and Henry in 1526. Catherine bore a strong similarity to Elizabeth I so her parentage is almost surely the King’s, though her brothers is more debatable. As he was born in 1526, rumoured to be the year that Henry and Anne began their relationship, the King could have looked to the other sister while one was in confinement with his child. Although as this child was a boy, you have to ask yourself why he did not claim the child if it was his, as he did with Henry Fitzroy (son of Bessie Blount, another mistress of the King’s though a shorter lived relationship). So maybe it could be taken that Catherine was the king’s child, but Henry not, though this is not definite, which would perhaps mean that his relationship with Mary had ended a short time before he began chasing Anne. This does not mean that one of her male relatives did not see the opportunity of pushing Anne into the King’s bed upon her return from the French court. The Duke of Norfolk is often said to have been a major player in building this relationship, though he does not seem to have had a close relationship with the Boleyn family until Anne came to court as the King’s concubine in the early 1530’s. Thomas Boleyn held a high position at court (he was an ambassador for the King), and it would have been perfectly possible for him to have taken his daughter to court and presented her to the King by himself. After the fall of Anne and George Boleyn, Thomas was back within favour with Henry before two years were out. He was obviously a determined and strong personality, so could have been the one to push for his second daughter to sleep with the monarch, maybe not realising how far she could rise.
Whichever was the reason for her beginning a relationship with the King, I often feel that she has been badly done to by history. Once she had a child by Henry, she would of course have fought for the best for her daughter. She miscarried two or three times in the two years after Elizabeth was born, at least one of those miscarriages was quite late in gestation as it could be identified as a boy. As a woman who has suffered many miscarriages, this can do strange things to your mental health, and I can imagine that she did not get any help with those emotions in the days after her losses. Her demeanour and attitude to the King could have changed entirely during such an emotional time, leading him to turn away from her. She was not the loving, demure, sexy woman that he had fallen for, she was probably an emotional wreck, he looked for someone who could give him the sexy, loving feelings that he wanted. He turned to Jane Seymour. Once Henry had found love elsewhere, Anne could have become very depressed and increased the chasm between the King and Queen. With her in this mood, the King could maybe have been persuaded to believe anything he was told about her, simply to get rid of her as a ‘problem’ in his life. He wanted the young, submissive Jane and did not want to deal with the moody, emotional Anne. He would not see that he had a part in her fading mental state. Her fall came swiftly, within 3 weeks in May, she was arrested, tried and executed. Two weeks later he would marry his young Jane.
Many people have debated why Anne was executed and not simply divorced or sent to a convent. To me, it is easy. The King wanted her out of his life. He had recently been through a long divorce with Catherine and did not want to face that again, or wait that long to have his new bride. A convent was not an option as Anne was a reformer and no Catholic convent would have accepted her. Death was the only way to rid himself of her. I do wonder why he did not go for the poison in her food route and play the grieving widower for his beloved wife. But then he had already paraded his new paramour at court, and if she died ‘naturally’ he would have to grieve for a year before moving on to Jane. He did not want to wait, she had to go and quickly. He cannot have considered how his daughter would be affected for one minute, Elizabeth was not in his thoughts. The poor child was less than three years old when her mother was cruelly taken from her, forever. This must have had a bearing on her refusal to marry many years later.
But today was a day of celebration for Anne. She wore her ermine robes and had the Queen’s crown placed on her head in Westminster Abbey before the peers of the realm, by the Archbishop.
On this day, she could not have thought that her future would have been anything but bright and happy………..