Anne Boleyn questions – Did Anne Boleyn miscarry a deformed foetus?

Posted By on January 29, 2019

On this day in history, 29th January 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn suffered a tragic miscarriage. It is often said that she miscarried a deformed foetus, or even a “monster”, but is this true?

In my latest “Anne Boleyn questions” video talk, which you will find below, I take a look at what the contemporary sources say about Anne’s miscarriage and also examine the origin of this myth, and it is a myth.

This video is part of a series answering Anne Boleyn Files followers’ questions about Anne Boleyn, her life, her time as queen and her family. You can find the other videos in the Questions about Anne Boleyn playlist on YouTube. I am also doing “on this day in Tudor history” videos on a daily basis which you will find on the Anne Boleyn Files and Tudor Society channel, which you can subscribe to to make sure you are notified when new videos go live.

You can turn on “CC” (closed captions/subtitles) on the video by clicking on “CC” or the cog settings icon if you cannot have the volume turned on or you are hard of hearing.

 

If you prefer reading articles, you can read about this miscarriage in my article Anne Boleyn’s Final Pregnancy.

Notes and Sources

  • Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume X, 282.
  • Hall, Edward, Hall’s Chronicle, p.818.
  • Wriothesley, Charles, A chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559, p.33.
  • de Carles, Lancelot, Poème sur la Mort d’Anne Boleyn, lines 317-326, in La Grande Bretagne devant L’Opinion Française depuis la Guerre de Cent Ans jusqu’a la Fin du XVI Siècle, Georges Ascoli. My translation was done at my request by Paolo Dagonnier.
  • Ives, Eric (2004) The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Wiley-Blackwell, p.297.

41 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn questions – Did Anne Boleyn miscarry a deformed foetus?”

  1. Michael Wright says:

    It’s kinda hard to be upset at Nicholas Sander as Protestants did the same kind of thing but what is striking is the damage seems to have really taken hold centuries later.

    I don’t mind these accusations being in fiction but c’mon people, quit trying to pass this off as historical fact!

    1. Claire says:

      Yes, you’re right, there was so much propaganda from both ‘sides’, but this idea does seem to have clung on. I think Sander would be rubbing his hands with glee!

  2. Banditqueen says:

    No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Poor Anne had a tragic miscarriage because of her husband giving everyone a shock and her Uncle probably upset her by assuming it was worse than it was and probably told Anne Henry was seriously hurt. It wasn’t the kindest news to bring a pregnant Queen and there is a second report that Anne found Henry with another lady on his knee soon afterwards. Two shocks within a few days caused a natural miscarriage, the child was recognised as a boy, the mass of shapeless flesh from sixty years afterwards. I have read the previous article. Yes, the latter is a myth and I am surprised at Professor Warnicke who gives Father Sander standing. I am not surprised at Philippa Gregory who writes for entertainment and believes her own theories to be established fact, even when they have been shown otherwise.

    I have a question about the date of the miscarriage? The sources seem to agree with a date of 29th or 30th but I am certain I read somewhere a date of 24th, the day of the accident or 26th? Chapuys gives a very clear indication that there is a few days in between Henry’s fall and Anne’s miscarriage because he gives other reasons. Anne said it was Henry’s fault as she saw he loved others and her heart broke, which is during a quarrel so has to be taken with caution. Norfolk is blamed for bringing her the news in an offhand manner and fright or bad news was seen as a cause of harm to unborn children at the time. Warnicke saw the miscarriage as being an indication that Anne was seen as a witch and leading to her execution but there is no evidence to support this theory. I am just curious about the other dates. Is there any evidence for a miscarriage on 24th to 26th or is 29th/30th the only likely date?

    Cheers.

    1. Claire says:

      Chapuys states that it happened on the day of Catherine’s burial – so 29th, Hall states February, Wriothesley states “three daies before Candlemas” – so about 30th as Candlemas is 2nd Feb, and De Carles doesn’t give a date, just says when Anne heard news of the accident. I haven’t seen another date given for it. I think it was probably a coincidence that she miscarried a few days after the accident. It is possible for shock to cause problems, but I suspect that the foetus was not viable. I know some women hold off telling people about their pregnancies until they’re over the 13-week danger period, or until they’ve had a scan, as there is a higher risk of miscarriage in those early weeks. Anne thought she was 3-4 months, but she didn’t know for certain, and it’s certainly not unusual for a woman to suffer a miscarriage around that time.

      It is a shame that some historians and authors have put so much store in Sander’s work. The idea of the deformed foetus has become so prevalent that people just take it as fact, even when they question Sander’s other statements, e.g. that Anne had a projecting tooth, a wen and an extra finger. Very odd!

      1. Esther says:

        Did any reliable historian (other than Warnicke) ever take Sanders seriously? It seems to be common in 16th century writings for physical abnormality to be the sign of a bad character (think More’s Richard III with the hunchback and withered arm), so I am not surprised that Sanders gave such abnormality to Anne (and to her miscarried child), but I am surprised that a modern historian would give it such weight.

        1. Banditqueen says:

          Thanks, Claire for your response, it was a very sad event anyway and quite common for miscarriages in the first few months, especially back then. Poor Anne, it might also have been fatal, although I doubt it caused her fall five months later but made her more vulnerable to whispering in the King’s ear. They looked for a reason of course because they saw fate in everything, what the poor woman ate, saw, dreamt, thought, did, it was all under scrutiny and the will of a higher power.

          Esther, I don’t know of anyone else but Professor Warnicke in her work The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Sexual Heresy at the Court of Henry Viii is dedicated to the theory of Sander and the notion that such a miscarriage was due to witchcraft or sexual deviance of the worst kind in both men and women. She doesn’t believe Anne was guilty of the charges but that this is why such charges arose. The men were targeted because they were all homosexual and Anne because she had this mass of flesh and Henry felt bewitched. For some odd reason she dismisses Chapuys who of course isn’t favourable to Anne and gives total credence to Sander writing decades later and with an axe to grind. The problem is there is no evidence to support Anne having anything but a sad and natural miscarriage, or for the accused men being gay. The prof has done her homework in the attitudes to sexual deviance at the time but it doesn’t fit with the contemporary facts. Henry may well have been wondering what on earth was going on as the same pattern as his first marriage continued with Anne, may have made an odd comment about being bewitched, but he was upset and there is no evidence that he seriously saw Anne as dabbling in witchcraft. She wasn’t accused of this at her trial. Being fed up with his wife because he was obsessed with having a male heir is not the same as thinking she was a witch. How on earth any historians could take this source seriously is beyond me as well, but Professor Warnicke has done just that. The example of Richard iii by More or Shakespeare is the perfect example. Like Sander More was a child, but he also grew up in the household of the Bishop John Morton an enemy of Richard and most probably got his tales from him. Shakespeare decades later reported the same nonsense for entertainment. In the same way Philippa Gregory took some of her ideas from Warnicke, twisting them for a modern audience and adding her own ideas about Anne having a baby with her brother to the mix for her book, presenting her mixed up nonsense as if it was fact.

        2. Banditqueen says:

          No other historians seem to take his arguments seriously but Dr David Loades wrote that his belief is plausible because there is some evidence to support the theory that a deformed foetus came about because of illicit sexual conception. Professor Warnicke does cite two thesis from 1536 and 1552_with extremely long names that back up her research. Dr Loades, like most historians confirmed that there is no contemporary evidence for a miscarriage due to anything other than normal circumstances.

          Dr Nicholas Sander was writing we have to remember as part of a persecuted class and in circumstances where many others in England for taking holy orders as a Catholic priest, faced arrest, torture, death and life in hiding and on the run or being forced to flee to the continent. His book is still regarded by many scholars as an invaluable source describing life during the Protestant Reformation in England from a Catholic point of view. His description of Anne Boleyn is horrible, yes, but has to be read in the light of the circumstances this man found himself and the terror of the age. It is also only a small part of a much larger work. In a modern translation published in 2013 an introduction shows a number of other sources which backup some of his claims, well in a broad sense. There are other sources which broadly back claims regarding Anne and Henry’s alleged father and daughter relationship, but they are very obscure and not very specific. There is a wealth of scholarship available as academic texts and the work has been analysed by several Universities. I don’t know anyone, however, who gives credence to the claims in what is a long treatise as Professor Warnicke does.

  3. Christine says:

    Nicholas Sander was politically motivated in that he wanted Queen Elizabeth removed from the throne and Catholism restored, so his debasing of her mother’s memory he must have felt was justified, as she was the viper who had caused the split from Rome and the cause of the reformation, only Catholics who hated the queen would have read with glee this dreadful piece of slander, Annes name was vilified and she died an horrific death decades earlier, now she was being attacked again because this one man a Jesuit who never knew her, wanted her daughter off the throne and England back under the yoke of Rome, he not only attacked her looks (and here we can see the element of witchcraft in her story) he said she had a tooth that protruded from her top lip, a buck tooth and a large wen or mole on her neck, moles and big teeth were said to be the mark of the devil and her complexion, which the poet Wyatt who knew her, described as fresh and clear became sallow like jaundice as Sander wrote, he must have heard no doubt that she had been of a dark complexion and such people do have moles but he was really trying to make her out to be some devil woman who was therefore not only evil, but ugly to boot, she was known to have had an extra nail on her right hand, so somehow that became an extra finger sinister to behold, it was as if Sander was trying to say she had been a sorceress and of course this was the basis of Warnickes theory about Annes fall, the worse thing he wrote which I think was utterly shameful was that her last baby who she sadly miscarried, was a monster another piece of slander with no credence to it, Anne had been surrounded with her women during her miscarriage and the court was a hot bed of information, yet as Claire says and every other reputable historian to, that there was nothing abnormal in the dead infant and the only info we have on it, was that it looked like a male child, no extra eye or huge head etc, had it been deformed news would surely have leaked out, people today write all sorts of things some unjustified, you pick up the papers and there’s all sorts of gossip on the royals and celebrities, it does not make it true, the pen is mightier than the sword and Annes enemies and therefore her daughters, believed what they wanted to believe but because the reformation was still new in England Elizabeth, the daughter of Anne the heretic had many enemies all around Europe which was still Catholic and who saw her as nothing less than a bastard, what Elizabeth really thought of her mother we will never know but she did revere her memory in lots of small ways, her maternal relations were much loved, she used her mother’s falcon badge as her emblem, there was a life size effigy of her on Elizabeths coronation day, in her later years she had a ring commissioned where two miniature portraits were inset, one of the queen and her mother, it is believed she had some of her jewellery melted down and made into other pieces she wore, her famous pearl necklace for example, Elizabeth must of heard of this particular pice of slander from her faithful servants no doubt but must have scoffed at it, she had been surrounded with some of her mother’s faithful servants from childhood and knew the truth from them, Annes inability to carry a healthy child full term is a matter of much debate, her predecessor had the same problem suffering several miscarriages but Katherine was able to carry her babies to full term too and sadly they died soon afterwards, did Anne have a medical condition that caused her male children to die in the womb, some women cannot carry male infants, was she rhesus negative and Henry rhesus positive, another theory put forward by medical men who say that if that were the case, because of their incompatible blood groups, they could never have another child, I think stress and Annes own jumpy nature could have contributed a lot to her sad obstetric history, it was so important she had a son she could well have unwittingly caused their deaths, stress is a killer yet it was not recognised in early times, and she was under a lot of pressure to have a son, she had after all promised Henry she would give him sons, it was one of the reasons he had married her, in fact it probably was the only reason he had married her, he adored her we know but he was certain she could deliver where Katherine had failed, the sad thing was, she was no more fortunate than Katherine had been, they had a dreadful row when Henry visited her after the birth, with Henry bitterly accusing her of not taken better care of his child, and Anne blaming her uncle who had caused her much anguish of the news of his earlier fall at the joust, she then told him it made her so unhappy to see he loved others more than her, a reference to Jane Seymour possibly, but Annes uncle it was noted had been very careful when he told her of Henrys accident, after all he knew it was of the utmost importance she was alright and her baby, Norfolk would not risk Anne getting too upset, it could have been she was upset on hearing of Katherines funeral which was taking place that day, was guilt uppermost in her mind too? But Anne does not strike me as a woman who after all had striven to be queen for so long knowing that the previous one had to be replaced, to shed tears on that rivals death, who she had ousted her from her position why should she feel guilty now, it was a bit late for that, but maybe because of her highly emotional state, hearing the news of Henrys accident enduring the knowledge that he was cavorting with Jane Seymour, that her enemies were waiting to bring her down, that her future security rested on her unborn child coupled with Katherines funeral, was all too much for her highly agitated state of nerves and she suffered a miscarriage because of it, the grief between Henry and Anne must have been dreadful and like people who suffer such distress they point the finger at each other, Elizabeth years later would have been told about her baby brother’s death and how it must have certainly made her lose faith in her father’s eyes, maybe she believed like many others that his death had contributed to her fall, though she adored her father she must have believed in the innocence of her mother and the sadness must have made her weep in private for her who she had never known and maybe could only vaguely remember, her mother’s friends and relatives who had loved her must have impressed upon her how she had been the victim of malicious slander, and maybe Elizabeth told herself, to justify her father’s actions that he too had been deceived, it was something she had to deal with all her life and so Sanders allegations would not have bothered her, what do we know of this man who wrote such rubbish about Anne Boleyn, he has a fan in Prof. Warnicke that we do no but it seems she’s the only one.

    1. Michael Wright says:

      I agree with most everything you say but one thing: It wouldn’t have been just Catholics who wanted Elizabeth removed who would read Sander’s work. It also would have been literate people who perhaps had no other sources of information. Remember, no paintings or known likenesses of Anne. A lot of her contemporaries had died by the time he wrote this. No 24/7 news. This may be the only information some people ever got about the Queen’s mother. It may have even turned some people away from Elizabeth. It may not have been that many but enough to pass the stories down through the centuries so that many still believe them. I hate to say it but Mr. Sander did a good job. Claire is right, he would be very pleased with himself.

      1. Christine says:

        Hi Michael, today when anything happens we hear of it instantly due to television the Internet etc, but back then it was just by word of mouth, those who could read and were wealthy enough to afford books had the advantage but yes, I see what you mean as by the time Sander wrote his defamatory remarks about Anne all those who knew her were dead, there were none that could argue with him, but George Wyatt grandson of her great friend Thomas who had known her very well, remarked on the praise his grandfather had heaped on her, here was someone who was connected to a man who had known her and he was enchanted by what he saw, a clear complexion grace and intelligence, beautiful black eyes and always stylishly attired, however he was looking at her through a hopeful would be lovers eyes but no one else ever made such nasty comments about her appearance, apart from a Venetian ambassador in France who said rather ungraciously she was flat chested, and was not one of the most handsomest women in the world, maybe he preferred delicately featured blondes, he did however comment on her wondrous eyes, down the years people can give credence to what was written especially those who had reason to dislike the subject, for eg those who were friends of Katherine and her daughter, Charles V and those Catholics and yes non Catholics to, reading years afterwards would no doubt gobble it up, in Spain Anne was disliked intensely and still today her name spelt ‘Anna’ is synonymous with that of an awful wicked woman who turned the King from his true wife and the true religion, Mary 1st herself has had a rather bad press as many people believe she was called ‘Bloody Mary’ by her subjects but she never was, that is attributed to writers in the 17th c, those who are knowledgeable with the deragotory works of Nicholas Sander today, are aware it was just a piece of vile propaganda to cause unrest in Elizabeths England, we know he was not born when Anne was alive and therefore never knew her, fifty years had elapsed since Anne had died and here was this nobody trying to stir up trouble for who was a very popular queen, he was writing not in England so he could spout his vitriol and not be called to account for it, it’s strange but the sixth finger still persists and it’s something which sounds sinister even to us today, writing in this enlightened age, an extra finger how odd, the beefeaters in the Tower love telling the tale of the queens six th finger and it somehow enhances the story of mystery and magic that surrounds her, lots of people have an extra digit, an extra toe or finger, some are born with all their baby teeth, I think one of the children of Charles 1st was or was it the King himself? But it was just a tiny nail near her full grown one, many possibly did not notice it unless their attention was drawn to it, such deformity slight as it was possibly added to the elegance of her hands, like a mole near the eye can somehow enhance not detract it’s beauty, many years ago I watched a tv programme on Britains monarchs narrated by Huw Wheldon who is now no longer with us, speaking on Henry V111 and his wives he also commented on Annes sixth finger, it’s strange how stories can be distorted down the years, another tale is that Anne is said to have a very long slender neck the result of an extra bone in the vertebrae but as Lofts writes, one of her many biographers how would anyone know that? Her bones when exhumed were those of a graceful female, which were consistent with reports of her appearance, no deformity whatsoever, it may not have been Anne however I think it could have been Jane Grey as she also was described as graceful, but Sander really went to town with her appearance, here’s another thing, how could anyone so monstrous attract so many admirers at the French court and the English one, much less a King ?

        1. Michael Wright says:

          Funny how things are interpreted at different times. In Anne’s time a mole could be interpreted as a sign of bad character, in The time of James VI/I a mole could be a ‘witch’s mark’, in 17th and 18th century France Noble men and women would wear white makeup and apply what they called a ‘beauty mark’ to one cheek. It was a false mole! Those fashiions faded away but somehow Nicholas Sander wrote his account at just the right time for it to take hold. Thank heavens for sites like this that are trying to correct those injustices for the future.

        2. Banditqueen says:

          We also have to remember that not all of the description of Anne is incorrect. She did have the start of a sixth nail, that was noted by George Wyatt, she probably did have a mole or two, everyone has and maybe it was in a visible place, she could have hidden both of these. She was also noted as being tall and slender and graceful and refined in his description. Remember also his sister went to the convent that she visited and other people who knew her gave him information. The rest he wrote is gossip but her description can be verified in part at least. He didn’t say she was covered in moles. A protruding tooth is a bit more difficult to explain and may or may not be true. I don’t think she had protruding sticking out teeth but it wasn’t unusual to have loose or misshapen teeth, probably pushing her chin out a bit, which would push your lips out, as in the Holbein drawing. It is hardly noticeable but she does have a slightly raised tiny lump in her chin, just under her lower lip, just like you would if your tooth was sticking into your lower gum. Given the hit and miss dentistry and the amount of sugar they ate, a wonky tooth is possible at the time of her portrait. Now yes, of course he was only a child so most probably didn’t see Anne, but that doesn’t mean he invented everything either. He is writing from second and third hand and much later on.

          His talk of her affairs with butlers and bakers and so on of course is nonsense as she was already in France before fifteen and probably at twelve in Belgium. She moved from one Court to the other and her refusal of the King does not sit with a young girl sleeping her way around her father’s household or acting out sexually at the French Court. Anne was at the Court of Claude who most certainly would have sent her home with a flea in her ear had she been as described. I think the idea of Henry Viii or another relative being her father can be dismissed out of hand as can the birth of a mass of flesh. There is no contemporary or other evidence for either. There was never any accusations of witchcraft even from the ordinary people and no such accusations were made at her trial. I am not defending Dr Sander, but his work has to be read with care and as a view from the other side, if you wish, a part of the debate.

          Elizabeth was defamed from all over the place with even people at home questioning her legitimacy. A number of writers at the time and afterwards were very critical of Elizabeth and her age and a couple of fantastic books have recently brought together those works. Dissing Elizabeth is excellent but more recent critques have balanced her reputation with propaganda and the reality of her reign from new research. Sander was one of the most famous and the notorious of her detractors, but he wasn’t the first. He certainly wouldn’t be the last. Michael is quite right, however, such works are found on both sides, with polemic being hit at each other well into the twentieth century. Today historians try to take a balanced view, assessing sources carefully, but for much of history, no such rules were observed and criticism and creative opinion very much ruined reputations rather than giving us the truth of historical fact.

    2. Globerose says:

      As I am a possessor of an ‘accessary nail’, (or rudimentary or double nail) on my two pinky toes, which is not common but not so rare either, I’ve always been drawn to Anne’s ‘extra bit of nail’ on her finger. I can find no mention of this phenomena in general either, except mention of a 28 year old man with an accessory nail on his left middle finger.
      There is a medical condition called ‘baby split nail’ where a splinter of nail grows alongside the little toe and often comes off and re-grows. Does anyone know more about this kind of deformity, especially in relation to fingers?

      1. Banditqueen says:

        I only came across this recently because of this article and reading more on Sander as I was interested as to what he was actually referring to. I looked up about accessory nails and it doesn’t seem to be that rare. It was common as an extra nail on the fifth toe in the Chinese population and can be removed by surgery according to an American article. The main problem it causes is fungal disease, which is common on the toes in most cases. It has only been written up in three research articles.

        I read recently that something called Weyers Acrofacial Dysostosis which is a variation of Ellis van Creveld Syndrome, was researched among the Armish community and found to be a regressive genetic gene going back to the original seven founding fathers one of which had a sixth nail or finger and two of his descendants married each other and the gene appeared every so often. The deformity appears in people of smaller stature and in people whose parents or grandparents were closely related to each other. Apparently it was also noted as a feature of members of the Han Dynasty and seen as a sign of greatness by their subjects.

        If Anne was of small stature, or her parents were closely related maybe she did have a small nail extended from her finger. It’s a mystery.

        1. Globerose says:

          Thanks for commenting BQ and for the info. How interesting about the Amish. So there are actual cases today of this odd sounding extra nail on fingers: it’s not just toes. Have to add, my little toenails are tiny and the extra nail does look a tad like a claw (I have kept it hidden away, needless to say) – though today we no longer shy away from deformity or believe that a woman who is a witch must be deformed. Thanks again.

        2. Banditqueen says:

          Hi Globerose, yes, I found it interesting based on research from John Hoskins University, and it’s a shame we still feel we have to hide things today, but at least we don’t have the fear of being named as witches as people did in Anne’s time. She would have faced even worse scandal if she had have born a deformed child and some people really did think it had something to do with illicit sexual behaviour, especially in light of the fact she was accused of incest with her brother. Of course, there isn’t even the slightest hint from another source of her having anything but a tragic but natural miscarriage which made her vulnerable to her scheming enemies and indirectly led to her downfall. Nor, of course was she guilty of the horrible things she was accused of or the loss of her baby mentioned at her trial. Chapuys was no fan of Anne’s but is usually considered an honest commentator, if a naturally hostile one, who loved the inner gossip of the Court, especially about Lady Anna. He may have said I am reporting what I have heard but if he was wrong he later corrected himself, but he is also often backed up by others. Imagine if he had have heard from the maids or midvives or a doctor that Anne had miscarried a “shapeless mass of flesh” ! Wow! News of the World time. Front page headlines for Eustace Chapuys but he doesn’t. Like everyone else he says that Anne had an abortion of a baby which looked like a male about three and a half months old. One source says “a fair boy” so again nothing to corroborate the report of Anne having a deformed child. So, while Dr Sander can pass on some accurate details of what Anne looked like, which are verifiable from people who saw her, his sister for one who was much older than him, he certainly cannot be using anything other than imagination or later gossip to describe the loss of her child and her subsequent downfall.

          The other thing she may or may not have had is something called a wen which has been interpreted as a mole or other growth at her neck. Anne is always shown with a collar with a B which could hide a small mole, but a mole wasn’t actually seen as a sign of witchcraft. Moles were well known and well documented. Moles don’t generally bleed but in some cases if they get a second growth on them and you scratch them hard enough they do. They also change and become malignant and grow and become a nuisance. Today many are signs of skin cancer. Older people can have a large number of moles. There are other skin growths which did cause concern and suspicion, especially in intimate places. When a physical examination of a woman was made for Devil marks the pricker used a retractable knife or instrument with a false edge and if something didn’t bleed he would use his false blade to make certain and make a false claim it was the Devil mark. Just what a wen was and if Anne had one remains totally unclear, but it probably wasn’t so prominent that it was unattractive. A recent work by Silvia Zupanac called The Daring Truth About Anne Boleyn caused some debate and controversy because she revisited things like this wen and accusations of witchcraft in a negative way, almost proposing new evidence to support them. She also challenges whether Anne was in France and a host of other things, which is fair enough but some of her conclusions are not as much daring truth as daring new myth. It’s an interesting book but it also should be read with caution and Claire has done a number of articles which balances the debate well. She asked an expert what a wen was and her arguments are quite compelling. I actually can’t remember the findings but I am sure the article is full of explanation. In the article called Anne Boleyn, Nanny Mcphee and Nicholas Sander, Claire points out that a wen is a goitre which is a bit more than a wart or mole and that no contemporary descriptions give her a wen. It is well worth a read. We really don’t properly know what Anne looked like and we don’t know as much about her personality as we would like to because so many people wrote from an anti point of view. However, we do get a snapshot from a number of Ambassadors and from one or two letters from people who knew her. We think she was slender and elegant. We know she had a long and slender neck, she had beautiful eyes, a little mouth, was of medium height, had a moderate chest, probably her best features, was of average but attractive looks, her hair was dark, but the colour is unknown, described as auburn, brown, black, many other shades, her hair was very long, she carried herself well and was confident and charming. Her intelligence and wit made up for any lack of beauty and she was as a “French woman born” which made her stand out. Anne had book intelligence and was a leading ambassador of fashion. Anne was interested in theology, was a good dancer and huntress, loved to design and take part in masquerade, she was politically savvy, she was sexy and sassy and she was interested in reform. She was also a woman of ambition and determination, she wanted to be at the heart of everything, she had a dark temper, a fiery nature, she was passionate and she was as much a mass of contradictions as the man she would marry, King Henry Viii. She was confident when dealing with Ambassadors and she was not content to sit back and be a traditional Queen Consort. We are told of Anne’s callous attitudes towards Katherine and Mary, but we must remember Henry’s poor treatment of them. However, we are also told of her work to promote education and her criticism of how money from the monasteries was used. We are also told of her personal assistance of many ordinary people and her interest in charity, which yes, one can say is her responsibility but she does appear to have had a personal interest in such things. One has to have a holistic view of Anne from many sources, but because she replaced a much loved Queen, we have always to remember that she was described and seen in that light. Her reputation has suffered because of her role in history.

        3. Globerose says:

          Thank you so much BQ for this and taking time out to share your research with us all. I’m fascinated by your approach to the past and the way you tase out little snippets of info and spread them out before us like a jigsaw puzzle, from which you manage then to bring to fleeting life our very resistant yesterdays, Going to write down this description of Anne in my Keeper book because I think you’ve caught her (and her mass of contradictions) here.
          In passing, I’d like to mention the new format here on TABF and Claire’s vids which I am especially enjoying.
          I’ll still go on hiding my little toes – old habits….

        4. Banditqueen says:

          Thank you so very much, Globerose, you are very kind to say such lovely things. I have always loved research and history. My teachers only had to say those magic words about doing a project and my eyes lit up. I can’t resist. When I read about this condition and it met with the potential description of Anne’s nail, I had to explore further. Steve was employed as a Medical Statistician so he knows about many rare conditions and medical advances and new drugs. As medical research was also part of my own degree, it’s a useful substitute to use with history as it gives you a completely different level of understanding of some of the obscure descriptions in ancient sources and helps with understanding some of the mad people of history. These days its more of a hobby but I think I just don’t like unanswered questions. I love a mystery but I also enjoy trying to find out more. I do worry sometimes that I might be over analytical or rambling, but well, if any information helps, it’s a pleasure to share it. I enjoy learning from you and Christine and Michael and everyone as we all have different gifts and life experience and knowledge to share. Claire’s site is excellent and she puts a lot of effort and dedication into her articles. I love the videos, they are very informative and being on U Tube brings them to a wider audience who may not know about this wonderful site. It’s good to share and debate. It’s also a sensible site with good communication and an open and welcome atmosphere. I was so pleased to find this site and when Steve was poorly everyone was so supportive. Thanks again, Globerose, and thanks Claire and everyone on here as well.

          If I sound a bit emotional, it’s because it’s ten years since Stephen was diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and we are so lucky to have him more or less in one piece still. I have been also asked to do a film review on Mary Queen of Scots for the Tudor Society site and feel very honoured. I will try to do it justice. Thanks again. Take care.

        5. Claire says:

          Wow! Ten years since his diagnosis! I’m so glad that he’s doing ok now. You two have been through so much. Thank you from me for everything you do do here and to Michael, Christine Globerose, and all the other regular commenters here. I’m busy juggling things like crazy at the moment but I know the AB Files is is good hands with you lords and ladies.

        6. Globerose says:

          Just to add BQ, you do so thoroughly deserve our thanks and praise for your really generous contribution to TABF and I’m so looking forward to this film review.
          As they say elsewhere – you go, girl!!

  4. Tina Samuels says:

    Excellent video which demonstrates why its so important to know all the historical sources and delve into the motivations of the writers. Its a shame people do not take the effort to understand the background. For me the real history is always more interesting than the fictionalized.

    1. Michael Wright says:

      I’m with you. The Tudor era was 118 years of some of the most interesting times in English history and some people think it needs to made more exciting. Read the factual history. Those years were their own soap opera.

  5. Alison Browning says:

    Even if she did have deformed baby it must have been horrible for her, many miscarriages happen because of foetal abnormality we know today it’s not the woman’s fault but nature being horrible but back then in superstitious, unforgiving times they would have been accusing her of all sorts. I’d give her a big hug and let her grieve, she might even be an ancestor as on my paternal grandmothers side there are Bullens from Norfolk. I do hope so.

    1. Christine says:

      Yes any sign of deformity was seen as something evil, warts were seen as the Devils marks, today we are still biased for are not witches often portrayed as warty old hags, this is were Sander made much of Annes large ‘wen’ she sought to hide behind a jewelled collar, most people have moles and dark skinned people have more than most, but there must have been more dark skinned women at court as well as Anne who had the odd mole, it’s interesting you may be a relation of Anne, I’m distantly related to her as well through her father’s side.

    2. Tina says:

      Yes I agree it must have been incredibly horrible for her. My heart always breaks watching the scene in “the tudors” when she miscarries. And as if a miscarriage was not tragic enough she must have been filled with terror knowing full well it would mean her marriage, life as she knew it, and possibly her life itself, was about to change radically for the worse.

  6. Gail Marion says:

    In Tudor times, scurrilous propaganda was widely believed and made for good gossip. False claims directed at Henry’s ‘unlawful’ wife took so much root that some question their accuracy even to this day!

    1. Banditqueen says:

      We haven’t changed in that respect. We still enjoy good gossip, especially when it comes to the rich and famous, only these days we call it social media.

      If the work of Dr Sander or any part of it made it to England, it became popular. Tracts were always made from parts of such work or published for popularity to spread ideas, even Henry and the nobility did the same to promote each side of the annulment, new monarchy or reformation. Aiming tracts at Queen Anne or Cardinal Wolsey or against heresy would be like a free press run for the gossip papers today. Twitter is especially the place for gossip and destruction of reputations and because it’s on there people are stupid enough to believe it. We are drawn to scandal for some reason and Henry’s court certainly would have been the source of entertainment for the general population. Popular songs and rhyme and drama would have been full of allusions to the marriage wows of the King, in spite of the laws of 1534. Unfortunately, even in the middle of tragedy some people would have been cruel enough to make up lies and scandal, scandal which later found its way into works of propaganda.

  7. G k venkatesh says:

    Henry 8ths time was in a state of flux. Roman catholics their beliefs & practices were questioned by the reformists. Henry, Anne Boleyn were caught in the cross fires of Religious turmoil in England.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      Yes, very, very, true, there were several changes in social, religious and political systems, it was a time of uncertainty and flux, each bride brought a variety of religious change, the next thirty years saw four major changes in religion and I am guessing many people were confused and afraid or just got on with things. Henry Viii literally changed the landscape of England forever and is certainly our most colourful monarch.

  8. Michael Wright says:

    Hi BQ. I agree with Globerose. Thank you for all you contribute. This goes to Christine too. Any time I ask a question you and/or have the answer or direct me where to find it. I have learned a lot on this site because of that and really enjoy reading both of your comments.

    1. Michael Wright says:

      Left out the word ‘her’. Sorry.

    2. Christine says:

      Thanks so much Michael I must add iv learnt a lot from Bq myself she really is remarkable, I bought from a discount bookshop the other day Alfred The Great by David Horspool reduced from £9.99 to £3.00, I want to find out if it’s true he really did burn the cakes as that is what every schoolchild learns, have a nice evening.

      1. Michael Wright says:

        Good price. I’ve heard that he did and that it is just a story. Let know what you learn.

        1. Christine says:

          Definatley Michael.

  9. Michael Wright says:

    We owe you a thank you Claire. Without this wonderful blog we would not have such a great place to discuss our favorite topic.

    I am really enjoying your daily videos.

  10. Christine says:

    Yes me to and it’s a special treat listening to you as well, I love hearing the bells ring, it reminds me of Italy and I love catching a glimpse of one of your pets and hearing them in the background.

  11. Banditqueen says:

    Many thanks to you all, Claire, Michael and Christine and Globerose, all of your contributions are brilliant and knowledgeable (although I think Christine has a secret crush on King John lol) and your responses to questions and debate. Thanks for your very kind remarks. Much appreciated.

    I have learned much as well. I think many people have great ideas or knowledge which adds to our knowledge. I especially enjoy attempts to analyse Henry and his strange goings on and what a patient he really is, probably one we will never fully understand.

    1. Christine says:

      Ha ha no I havnt got a crush on him, actually it’s Charles 11 and Francis 1st of France iv got a crush on, maybe because they were both womanisers, they both seemed to appear (in their day) irresistible to women, I would love to go back in time to see them in the flesh and especially, to see how the world was then.

    2. Christine says:

      I’m glad Steve is well now that cancer is a very common one in men, and it’s marvellous the research they do to help find ways to combat this most distressing of illnesses, we must always think positive and look on the bright side, where there’s life there is always hope.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        Hi, yes indeed, very lucky. Radical surgery, followed by radiotherapy and then checking every three to six months, then his scare in 2015 with a ruptured bowel and one percent chance of living, then more radiotherapy last year and hormonal therapies. He has a good prognosis and the therapy was only for a tiny nut sized lump but they don’t take any chances and his tests were clear but he has some after affects which he is having treatment for, but nothing serious. It’s quite normal after prostate cancer. He plans to have his stoma reversed this year sometime which is more surgical stuff but it’s better than having a bag. His surgeon is the top man in the country with a 100% success rate. Yes, he is doing very well considering and better than me at the moment. Yes, where there is life, there is always hope. When we go back to visit the nurses, they are astonished to see how well he is doing.

        1. Christine says:

          That’s great Bq

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