This time last year, I wrote about Anne Boleyn and introduced readers here to my strong admiration of her, on the anniversary of her execution/murder. I received quite a bit of praise from people on tumblr in my ask box which made me extremely happy. Many people in my daily life really do not understand why I love her so much and why my respect for her is second only to my mother. But I think that is because, in many ways, Anne’s story is still very misunderstood. The fact that there are still idiots out there who believe she had six fingers (even my own history professor!) is proof of this.
But I think the most misunderstood thing about her is that she, somehow, deserved her fate and that she was, at least, somewhat guilty; if not for anything else, destroying the marriage between King Henry VIII and Catherine of Argon. I think for this year’s post about her, I will write more about who she was as a person, and more importantly what I personally think about her downfall. This is just going to be a quick summary more or less and honestly does not do justice to the story of Anne’s life. The pictures included are various screencaps from my favorite Anne Boleyn film “Anne of the A Thousand Days” with Genevieve Bujold playing the title role. Many of these are from Tumblr.
Anne was a young woman when she joined the court of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Argon as a lady in waiting. Before she served in the French court and from there learned many things about fashion, philosophy, and love. She was elegant, intelligent and stylish. Many accounts say that she was not considered beautiful; but then again the standard of beauty at the time was pale skin, blonde hair and blue eyes, Anne was olive skinned with dark hair and eyes. I think she was probably very beautiful, in her own way, she certainly did NOT have six fingers on one hand!
In any case, Henry had stopped visiting Catherine’s bed long before Anne came around, the poor queen had suffered many miscarriages and her only living child was a girl, Mary (the future Mary I). It was foolishly thought at the time that a woman had neither the wit nor strength to rule on her own and Henry wanted a son to inherit the crown when he died. Henry had asked Anne to be his mistress, just like Anne’s sister had done before her. But Anne steadfastly refused, many times she would leave court to avoid the king’s advances and would send him letters with mixed messages (to straight out refuse the king was unthinkable at the time, which is why some people, myself included, think that Henry’s advances were a form of royal sexual harassment). Finally Henry proposed marriage to Anne and she accepted but still refused to sleep with him and would continue to do so until very shortly before their marriage.
But he would need the pope to grant him the okay for an annulment of his first marriage first, something that the pope refused to do. Henry was furious and refused to let the pope dictate what he would and would not do. He broke from Rome and the Catholic Church and had the marriage annulled anyway and married Anne in secret when she was carrying his child, presumably a boy.
Alas though, it was a girl! A sweet little redhead that we know now as Elizabeth I! Anne adored her daughter but at the time the gender of the child was a great blow to her father and that, in my opinion, was the start of her ruin, among other things.
Like I mentioned in last years post, what ultimately bought about Anne’s downfall was the fact that she did not give birth to a son. I honestly do believe that if she did then she would have lived. Henry probably would have found love with another woman because, well he was just a whore like that, lol, but he would not have discarded Anne like he did to Catherine. But there was a lot more going into her downfall then just her misfortune of not having a son.
The fact is that Henry had been contemplating to his advisor, Thomas Cromwell, about getting rid of Anne as early as October 1534. Anne was very outspoken, argumentative at times, and highly opinionated, something that was considered unthinkable for the wife of a man who expected total submission from all those around him. But Anne was not submissive, one of the things I really admire about her. It is ironic because it was Anne’s outspoken nature that was one of the many things that attracted Henry to Anne in the beginning.
By 1536, Henry had turned his eye to Jane Seymour, the complete polar opposite of Anne. Meek, sweet and obedient. Jane, like Anne, refused to be Henry’s mistress and by this point Catherine was dead so Henry began to think of the possibility of marrying Anne and getting a son off of Jane as Anne had suffered two miscarriages after the birth of Elizabeth and with the most recent one, the fetus was said to have all appearances of being a boy.
To add to it, Anne and Thomas Cromwell, although originally allies, were beginning to butt heads as well. In Henry’s desire to marry Anne he brought down the power of the Catholic Church in England and had began getting rid of the monasteries and taking away vast wealth and riches of the clergy. Anne wanted these riches distributed to educational and charitable causes but Cromwell wanted to fill up the king’s treasury with these riches and take a cut for himself. Recent evidence strongly suggests that Cromwell orchestrated Anne’s downfall and I do believe it to be true.
Either way on May 15th 1536, Anne was put on trial for adultery, incest, and plotting to kill the king; and was found guilty. In the beginning of this post I said that her execution was also a murder, that’s because it’s true. Anne was 100% innocent of the charges against her and basically was killed for no reason at all save for the fact that Henry had tired of her and wanted someone new to put his dick in.
This video here describes much better my thoughts. Her thesis is so dead-on and very impressive.
Take note between 13:39 to 14:14. Preparations for Anne’s downfall had begun BEFORE she was condemned! But what really angers me the most is how some people still view Anne as a harlot. She was not! Was she scheming? Yes. Was she intemperate? Yes. Was she ambitions? Yes. But that is what made her such an amazing woman in my eyes and I believe that the fact that her daughter Elizabeth lived on to become one of England’s greatest monarchs is karma. Henry did eventually marry Jane Seymour afew weeks after Anne’s death and they did have a son, but she died soon after and their son (named Edward) died after only about 5-6 years of being king at the age of 15.
Another video, this one describing in great detail, what happened during the morning of Anne’s execution.
Little Elizabeth looks on as she hears the cannons signifying the death of her mother, probably not understanding that the direction of her life is now about to change completely.
I feel as though I am rambling now. Before I end this, let me share this beautiful Tudor styled gown from the taobao lolita brand Surface Spell based on gowns from the 2008 film “The Other Boleyn Girl”.
I honestly don’t think much of that particular film more than the fact that it is sensationalist tripe based on one of Gregory’s books. But it is an extremely rare thing to find a good quality accurate historical costume under $200. I plan to order it very soon for an Anne Boleyn cosplay that I hope to debut this year at Anime USA. In the meantime if you are interested in learning more about Anne, I suggest this site above all others:
This website is run by a woman who is as devoted to Anne as I am if not more. There are a lot of different articles on this website, not just about Anne but about Tudor history in general and the people in her life.