Anne Boleyn – Chronology
Obviously, the events which happened during Anne Boleyn’s all too short life are enough to fill a book, so I’m just going to give you the basic dates here.
The following dates and details are agreed upon by the majority of modern historians.
Anne Boleyn’s Life
1501 – Birth of Anne Boleyn “The Most Happy” – Daughter of Thomas Boleyn (Earl of Ormonde and Wiltshire) and Elizabeth Boleyn (née Howard, daughter of the Earl of Surrey), and sister of George and Mary. It was originally thought that Anne was born around 1507 but it is now known that Anne was a maid of honour at the court in Brussels in 1513, a position that was only open to a girl of around 12 or 13, not 6.
1513 – Anne is sent abroad for a European education – Anne was maid of honour to the Regent Margaret of Austria at the Habsburg Court.
1515 – Anne enters the household of Queen Claude, Francis I of France’s wife. It is thought that she remained with Queen Claude in France for nearly 7 years.
Back to England
1521 – Anne is called back to England – Anne was summoned back to England to marry James Butler, son of Sir Pierce Butler, to settle a dispute over land and the title of Earl of Ormonde. The marriage which was being arranged by Cardinal Wolsey never takes place, perhaps because Henry VIII decides he wants Anne for himself.
1522 – Anne takes part in an English Court pageant on Shrove Tuesday playing the part of “Perseverance” and becomes one of Catherine of Aragon’s maids.
1522 – 1527 – Anne becomes involved in some way with Henry Percy, Thomas Wyatt and then is noticed by King Henry VIII.
1524 – Henry VIII stops sleeping with Catherine of Aragon.
1526 – Henry VIII loses interest in his mistress Mary Carey (née Boleyn), Anne’s sister, who it is said gave birth to two of Henry’s children (Catherine and Henry Carey). Henry is attracted to Anne.
1526-1527 – A series of love letters are written by Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, including one asking her to be his one and only mistress. Anne stays away from court and away from Henry. Henry realises that Anne will only be his if he marries her and asks the Pope for a dispensation to marry again.
1528 – Anne acquires a copy of “The Obedience of the Christian Man and How Christian Rulers Ought to Govern” published by William Tyndale. She later shows parts of it to Henry. This book said that rulers were accountable to God, not the Pope.
1530 – The Fall of Cardinal Wolsey who had opposed Anne Boleyn and failed to get a divorce for the King. Wolsey died in November 1530 after being arrested.
1531 – Henry makes moves to be recognised as “sole protector and supreme head of the English church and clergy”, but has to accept the additional words “so far as the law of Christ allows”.
1532 – On the 1st September Anne is given the title of Marquess of Pembroke in her own right.
1532 – October – Henry takes Anne with him to the French Court to meet with Francis I. Anne finally sleeps with Henry.
The Events of 1533
25th January – Anne becomes Henry VIII’s wife.
February – Anne talks of being pregnant.
30th March – Cranmer becomes Archbishop and grants the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine. Catherine of Aragon is made Princess Dowager of Wales and her daughter (and Henry’s) Mary is to be known as “Lady Mary”
1st June, Whit Sunday – Anne is crowned Queen
7th September – Birth of Henry and Anne’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth, future Queen Elizabeth I of England. The birth was a disappointment because Henry was desperate for a son and heir.
The Events of 1534
The Act of Supremacy – Henry VIII becomes the Supreme Head of the Church of England.
The Act of Succession states that only the offspring of Henry and Anne are lawful heirs to the throne.
Summer – Anne Boleyn miscarries a baby, Henry starts to have problems with impotency and rifts are noticed in the Royal marriage.
October – Anne is pregnant again.
The Events of 1536
January – Henry becomes interested in Jane Seymour.
7th January – Catherine of Aragon dies at Kimbolton Castle.
24th January – Henry VIII’s horse falls, causing Henry to fall and be knocked unconscious for around 2 hours. Some suggest that this accident caused some brain damage and was the cause of Henry’s behaviour towards Anne – her execution even when their marriage had been annulled etc. 5 days after Henry’s accident, Anne miscarries a boy. Propaganda by Catholics in Elizabeth I’s reign alleged that this baby was a deformed monster, but there is no evidence of this.
Spring – Anne argues with Cromwell. Cromwell begins to see Anne as a threat and starts planning to remove her from “power”.
The Fall of Anne Boleyn
24th April – A “commission of oyer and terminer” set up, allegedly with the King’s approval, to investigate treason and other offences committed by a group of people, including Anne.
30th April – Mark Smeton is arrested for committing adultery with Queen Anne. Smeton confesses after 24 hours of interrogation, and probably torture.
2nd May – Henry Norris is sent to the Tower and Queen Anne is accused of adultery with three men. Sir Francis Weston and William Brereton are also arrested and charged with adultery and treason. Rochford (George Boleyn, Anne’s brother) is arrested for incest and treason. Also around this time, Henry begins to have secret meetings with Jane Seymour.
12th May – Brereton, Weston, Smeton and Norris appear in court. Norris, Brereton and Weston plead “not guilty” to all charges and Smeton pleads “guilty” to adultery, but “not guilty” to the other charges. They were all found guilty and sentenced to “drawing, hanging and quartering”.
15th May – Anne and her brother, George (Rochford), are tried. Both plead “not guilty” but are found guilty. Anne is sentenced to death by beheading or burning.
17th May – Brereton, Smeton, Norris and Weston are beheaded on Tower Green, having had their punishment changed by the “mercy” of King Henry. Rochford is also beheaded.
18th May – Anne is due to be beheaded but the execution is cruelly postponed. Cromwell announces that Henry’s marriage to Anne was null and void, and that Elizabeth is illegitimate. An ecclesiastical court also grants Henry a dispensation to marry Jane Seymour.
19th May – Anne is beheaded on Tower Green by a French swordsman, who must have been sent for from Calais before the court even found Anne guilty! Anne’s body is wrapped and taken to the Church of St Peter ad Vincula.
20th May – Just one day after Anne Boleyn’s execution, Henry VIII becomes betrothed to Jane Seymour.
30th May – Henry VIII marries Jane Seymour.