The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn is one the most talked about women in England's history. Her intentions and thoughts have been debated hundreds of years after her death. Called a witch by some and a brilliant reformist by others, Anne transformed the course of England's history. She was equipped with fundamental religious beliefs and progressive government ideas. Anne's influence on King Henry VIII changed traditions that were in place for centuries. The movements and reforms that she pushed for would later lead to her demise.

The daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn, one of Henry VIII's French ambassadors, Anne Boleyn was born in the early 1500s. Anne had two siblings. A brother named George and a sister, Mary. As an arrangement for her education, Anne spent much of her early years in France, attending to various queens. Boleyn learned many things in France that she brought back with her to England. She loved French style and poetry. Anne also picked up on the new ideas that the French court was adapting with government and religion. In 1522, she became a lady in waiting to Queen Catherine, a woman she would soon betray. Anne promptly began a romance with Henry Percy. The details of their relationship are unclear. It is unmistakable that Cardinal Wolsey put a end to it. Anne Boleyn drew the attention of King Henry VIII in 1526, as a lady in waiting to Queen Catherine. Anne's older sister, Mary Boleyn, had already had an affair with King Henry. Henry had hoped to gain Anne as his latest mistress, but Anne refused. She boldly insisted upon marriage. She tried using assorted arguments. The most compelling one was that Queen Catherine was unable to provide England with a male heir to the throne.

The King was infatuated with Anne. He would later say this infatuation was caused by witchcraft. Henry VIII showed favoritism towards Anne. Much of his time was spent with her. Henry VIII, who was not fond of writing, wrote numerous love letters to Anne. Some of these letters are still on display to this day. She was made the Marquess of Pembroke in 1532. This was a title created exclusively for her. This gave her specific governmental privileges. After receiving the title, she was in the position to accompany Henry to meetings of the French King. Henry, who was a practicing Catholic at the time, requested the pope to grant him an annulment of his marriage to Catherine. Anne, after refusing Henry for years, grew tired of waiting to become queen. She became pregnant by the end of 1532. The timing of Anne's pregnancy forced Henry to promptly make up his mind. He married Anne later that year. The coronation ceremony for Anne Boleyn was held on June 1, 1553, led by Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Parliament and Henry passed the Act of Supremacy. This act, passed in 1534, gave the King the right to be the head of the Church of England. Needing someone to blame for the dissension in England, commoners pointed their fingers toward Anne Boleyn. She was blamed for Henry's revolutionary ideas regarding government and religion. These ideas were to be later used against her.

Anne gave birth to a girl, Elizabeth. After the birth of Elizabeth, Anne desperately tried to produce a male heir. Her attempts led to miscarriages and stillbirths In the three years that her marriage to King Henry VIII lasted, she was unable to provide any male heirs. Frustrated with Anne, Henry took to another woman, Jane Seymour. The King, besotted with Jane, came up with a plan to get free of Anne. He desired to be allowed to wed Jane. Anne Boleyn was arrested on May 2, 1536. Anne was faced with charges of adultery. Henry went as far to accuse Anne of committing adultery with her own brother. Boleyn fought the charges that were brought against her. Her pleas for a fair and just hearing fell on deaf ears. She was declared guilty and beheaded on May 19, 1536 at the Tower of London Her daughter, Elizabeth, was considered a bastard. The King declared that his marriage to Anne Boleyn never existed and was null. Anne's life might have ended that day in May, but her passion for change and reform lived on through her daughter, Elizabeth, who would become one of England's greatest monarchs.