Fatal Chemistry

Anne BoleynFull Title: Fatal Chemistry: Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

“My lover, my confidante, my soul-mate. Yes, my soul-mate. My soul, alone too long, needed this fellow wanderer. Together we would make a whole. And, wandering stars no more, joined, blaze through the sky…”
Henry referring to Anne (The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George)

Nowadays, the term “soul mate” may seem a bit cliché, contrived even. Not only is this because the idea of finding one’s soul mate seems unlikely, but also because of the misuse or overuse of the term. For many, soul mates are two people who fall deeply in love with each other and remain together for all their lives, much like a fairy tale. Reality, however, proves to be far from a fairy tale. Even soul mates don’t always receive their happy ending. The most beautiful and promising of love stories can end in tragedy. Your “Prince Charming” could very well turn into a madman, ordering your death after years of desperately, obsessively trying to possess you. Thus was the doomed love story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII. Yet, what exactly was their love story- and were they even soul mates after all?

Long before Henry of England first laid eyes on the captivating, dark-haired Anne neither was a stranger to love. Back when the very idea of catching the king’s eye would’ve seem laughable to her, Anne fell in love with Henry Percy, and he with her. Yet their romance was never to last as fate – or, more specifically Cardinal Wolsey and the king- intervened to stop it in its tracks. King Henry, meanwhile, had once loved and truly cared for his Spanish bride, Katherine of Aragon. Yet as the years passed, Henry’s love wavered as he realized that Katherine would never bear his deeply desired son. Of course, even as his love wavered, the king never would’ve even considered a divorce. That is, until one day when everything changed. A single, seemingly ordinary event ignited a flame of passion that would not be put out: Henry met Anne.

Most historical writers who write of Anne Boleyn seem to agree on at least one thing: she was not beautiful. Yet, if Anne wasn’t a raving beauty, why was the King of England so infatuated with her? If you look a little deeper into not only Anne’s appearance, but also her character itself, several possibilities emerge. Perhaps it was her distinctive French hood and wild, dark hair. Perhaps it was her matchless skills as a dancer and singer. Perhaps it was the way she carried herself, exuding a confidence usually found only in queens. Or, perhaps it was even her fiery spirit and the way she always spoke her mind. The answer, ultimately, is everything. Everything about Anne was different and made her more attractive than any other woman Henry had ever seen. Seeing her and speaking with her was all Henry needed to know what he wanted and desired above all things- Anne.

Thus, in 1526, it began- the love story that would shake the world and change England forever. Henry’s pursuit of Anne quickly turned into an obsession, one that shocked and appalled the entire nation. He didn’t want Anne for a night as his mistress; he wanted her forever as his queen and the mother of his son. The king was willing to do anything to see this come to pass. The idea of Henry putting aside his wife to marry a woman of the court was instantly, vastly unpopular. Henry didn’t seem to care, however. He simply wanted to marry the woman he loved, and refused to accept defeat.

One of the things most wondered about Anne Boleyn is whether or not she truly returned the king’s love during this long courtship. That question has no definite answer, but nonetheless Anne is often portrayed as a power-hungry seductress, with her eyes on the throne from the very beginning. This scenario is fabrication at its best, over looking how strongly Anne resisted Henry’s advances in the first place. She respected herself far too much to become his mistress. She knew she couldn’t be his wife because, despite whatever Henry said, Anne knew that he was still a married man. Furthermore, it should be noted that it was Henry who proposed the prospect of divorcing Katherine and making Anne his new queen. If Anne did truly fall in love with Henry, would this have been the point where she did? It is highly likely. After all, before Henry proposed the idea of marriage, Anne had no reason to think that Henry’s feelings for her were anything more than a passing infatuation. His determination to make her his queen, however, proved his feelings to be real.

If Anne indeed fell in love with Henry once his intentions became clear, why exactly would she have fallen in love with him? Of course, most people would instantly say it was simply becomes he was the king. What those people forget, however, is that Henry the man had as many attractive qualities as Henry the king, if not more so. He was athletic and still considered to be very handsome at the time. He was also a man of great intelligence and spirituality. Furthermore, Henry was a skilled dancer and musician, writing his own poems and songs throughout his life. That last statement alone would have made Henry very special in Anne’s eyes. Finally, the degree of passion and love that Henry felt for Anne was undeniably attractive to her. There is likely no woman who could ever resist that degree of devotion.

Now that Henry and Anne’s individual feelings for each other have been examined, where does that leave them as a couple? There are a number of common interests between the two that would certainly lead one to see them as two halves of one heart. First of all, Anne and Henry shared a strong love of the arts, especially music and dancing. This topic alone could have brought them to endless hours of discussions. Furthermore, Anne’s intelligence was highly respected by Henry, as is evident in the trust he had in her opinion. When Anne brought new writings before him, Henry listened to what she had to say and read them. When Anne encouraged Henry to have the Bible translated into English, he did as she requested. Perhaps the greatest sign of Henry’s respect for her is in honoring her wish that they not sleep together during the years of their courtship. A respect such as this could truly come from no other place than love.

Ultimately, the question still remains- were Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn truly soul mates? It is still a hard question to answer, considering how that deep love and respect Henry had for Anne turned into a borderline hatred that would lead to Anne’s beheading under false charges in the year 1536. Many might wonder if Henry really even loved Anne in the first place, since he beheaded her less than three years after their marriage. The answer? Of course he did! Henry’s betrayal and swift remarriage to plain Jane Seymour does not change anything that transpired between him and Anne. It does not change the fact that he fell deeply in love with her almost instantly after meeting her. It does not change how he pursued her with a passion most people never experience in their entire lives. It does not change the fact that for nearly a decade Henry would not rest until his beloved was sitting beside him as his new queen. Most importantly, it does not change the fact that Henry simply and truly did love her. It would appear that if any of Henry’s six wives was his soul mate and one true love, it was most definitely Anne Boleyn.

By Marlessa Stivala