I'm not sure why we don't hear more of Anne's mother because she was, afterall, a Howard. Elizabeth Boleyn (nee Howard) was the daughter of Thomas Howard, the 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and his wife Elizabeth Tilney, and she was a direct descendent of Edward I. In fact, all of Henry's six wives are descendents of Edward I - funny but true!
Elizabeth was a lady in waiting to Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII's mother, and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and it was rumoured that she had had an affair with Henry VIII, although this is now thought to be a myth and a mix up between the names Elizabeth Boleyn and Elizabeth Blount.
Elizabeth Boleyn died just two years after the executions of Anne and George and instead of being buried alongside her husband at St Peter's Church, Hever, her resting place is in the Howard aisle of Lambeth Church, which is now the Museum of Garden History. When I spoke to Elizabeth Norton about Elizabeth's resting place, she mentioned that it was traditional for a wife to be buried alongside her husband in the family plot, and the Boleyn's children who did not survive childhood are buried at Hever. One wonders, therefore, whether her burial at Lambeth was to do with an estrangement between Elizabeth and Thomas after the deaths of Anne and George.

Thomas Boleyn survived the fall of the Boleyn faction and was able to regain royal favour after a time. He was present at the Christening of Edward VI, helped squash the Pilgrimage of Grace and when he died in March 1539 Henry VIII ordered masses to be said for his soul. I don't think that he betrayed Anne and George, and that he agreed to their executions, I think he just survived the whole affair by doing nothing. Many criticise Thomas Boleyn for manipulating his children and then turning his back on them but I think he was just a product of his time, a man looking for royal favour, basking in the glory of royal favour when he had it and then keeping his head down when things went tragically wrong. He was not an evil man, just a survivor.


35 thoughts on “Why do we hear so little about Anne Boleyn’s mother? What happened to her mother and father (Thomas Boleyn) after Anne was executed? Is it true that Thomas Boleyn tried to save his own life by betraying Anne (by agreeing to her execution)?”

  1. One Like The Lioness says:

    I agree, Claire. I think it is difficult for us to understand but we should not judge Tudor times by 21st Century morality.

    Thomas Boleyn was probably a loving father who found himself in a horrifying situation. It is interesting to speculate that possibly he & Elizabeth were estranged following the executions of Anne & George. I can imagine such a traumatic event causing a marriage to breakdown.

  2. Lauren says:

    I would have to agree that Thomas Boleyn was a survivor who understood the politics of court and knew when to play it safe when he was in danger. I imagine it must have been a bit harder for Elizabeth, though, to try and put the past aside to regain the favor of a man who had executed two of her children and that might’ve been a big factor behind the couple’s estrangement. I wonder how hard it must have been for Thomas to be at the christening of Edward VI, knowing his daughter had been in Queen Jane’s position less than two years before and had been unable to conceive the son Henry so wanted.

  3. Vesper says:

    Thomas Boleyn died in March 1538 according to the brass plate on his tomb. That’s less than two years after Anne & George and around the same time as his wife. It must have had a huge a effect on him and his health. Survivor or not, that’s a huge toll.

  4. Whisper says:

    wtf I don’t get it

  5. Hannah Spedding says:

    I’d like to do some research about Anne’s mother, Elizabeth. Fascinating really, that she was Elizabeth I’s grandmother. If it was me, I’d have died of a broken heart having seen 2 of my children executed. Who knows what they felt, both parents, we can only guess. But both of them dying soon after their children might suggest how they felt.

  6. Diane says:

    I have just read a book ‘The Boleyn Bride’ by Emily Purdy that is from Elizabeth Boleyn’s view point. It was a good read and I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommend it.

  7. The whole suituatiom was sad Anne Boleyn was innocent but her brother was gay

    1. Claire says:

      There’s no contemporary evidence that George was gay.

    2. c.hll says:

      No, theres no evidnece. I believe you are think of the tv program The Tudors where in that George and mark smeaton do flirt.

  8. Tinkerbell says:

    I have no sympathy for Thomas Boleyn, he basically whored his daughters without a thought for them or their mother, he appeared to act as if it was expected of them. I’m glad that Mary lived her days with a man who loved her and cared for her

    1. Claire says:

      But there is no historical evidence that he “whored his daughters”, that only happens in fiction. See https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/in-defence-of-thomas-boleyn-father-of-anne-boleyn/

      1. Ira Schafer says:

        I go with Tom the survivalist. He had a wife and daughter, maybe more family to support and raise. Why wouldn’t he be relieved to be freed? Wouldn’t Anne have understood the situation according to 16th century social standards? Wouldn’t Anne have loved her Mother, sister and extended family enough to be grateful her Father was spared? I would like to know more about the presumed reconciliation that apparently brought Boleyn back in favor with Henry. Did Boleyn’s diplomatic skills, if any, become useful again?

    2. Barbra Ann says:

      I don’t believe that he whored them at all. I actually have a solid theory that he did everything he could to protect Anne from the king because she was infact, not interested in him the least. His love letters to her and those seven years he courted her (though her letters aren’t here anymore) it seems as if her father is always sending her far away from the king’s reach or that he’s always “missing her or longing for her” maybe they did that in hopes he would get over his infatuation with her and her kindness or flirtations, which were expected of chaste women at that time, were just her trying to pacify him and appease God. He also already had a legal queen and it seems it’s not a plan someone would aspire to for themselves or children. Sure they wanted the king’s favor for the benefits, land, salary and decent suitors for his daughters and son. But not reaching that high would be against law, god, decent morals and religion on earth. If he had an affair and possibly a child with her sister too and discarded her soon after that would be a turn off for any woman and would make them think he would quickly get over his obsession with Anne so in good time he’d forget it or find another. This could also acocunt for their endless quarrels and her jealousy towards him. Maybe she really loved Henry Percy and never got over it. Maybe she harbored some hatred or jealousy towards the king for those reasons and more (wasting many of her childbearing years) and that accounts for her verbal and physical behavior. She couldn’t turn the king down and would have no other suitors if he was that interested in her, and she had been forced into the marriage eventually after all he DECIDED to do to have her fully. Would anyone dare tell the king straight up “no?” Unlikely. Also, it explains why she didn’t want to have sex with him for so long. If the king wants a mistress or sex he surely got it and her “denying” him wasn’t her social climbing or playing hard to get. Maybe it was as simple as she was not interested in him at all, infact was repulsed by him, his greed, selfishness and disregard for others especially women when done with them and his current queen. All the shows and movies portray a lot of rumors and exaggerated storylines but I have a deep rooted feeling that it started much more logically simple and makes the most sense. I think at that time they make women appear to be backstabbing, social climbing creatures when in fact women were legal property of men. Even educated and wordly any woman noble or not would aspire to have a happy life, marriage and home. Being queen is far from that ideal aspiration and far from true happiness. Henry might have been a romantic at heart having parents whom had an ideal marriage but like with most humans psychologically, when you can’t or don’t have something it makes you want it more. It’s not about the person or thing it’s proving that you can. That satisfaction of obtaining it. He never considered what he was doing to others, their families, their children nor his own! That’s a clear cut sociopath and narcissist but kings are raised into having that mindset. They truly believed God seen all sin and would punish you in life if you sinned and I’m convinced that people where more weary of him and the fact that the king is bidding God’s will on earth, the closest living human personally anointed by him, who would turn down nor deny Henry? You’d be offending and turning down God and God’s will. Maybe, just maybe, they tried to aspire for love, happiness, a fair match for all their children and their days at court were to try and eventually ensure their children’s futures but the kings lusts and wants came into play and he went further, longer, than they could hold off, intervene or ever thought he would. Doesn’t seem fair to Anne herself or likely that what we do know about her, is even close to the truth let alone the whole of it. All I know is that usually the simplest and most logical answer is 99% of the time the correct one. Women might have had strong wills and personalities but it was a different time. Women didn’t express themselves truly or was rasied that way. Their religious beliefs played a major role and women did not ever directly try to influence nor play a hand in the kings politics or business like they portray her often doing and being at fault for. If she was intelligent like they say she was, she would have stood by his decisions to have what he wanted or do what he wanted including justifications for breaking from Rome. Nearly everyone would have stood by him, he’s the king. Especially one with a history of arresting and killing people for things he once condoned and kept close to him. No one would have purposely wanted to anger or deny him. She maybe was unhappy. Very unhappy and found it hard to reconcile and come to terms with her life and marriage. I don’t think she’s at fault at all but of course it seems that way because it would never be the kings faults. She was a victim of forced circumstances and unhappiness as well as her family members. Whoring them out though, a Hollywood sterotype and highly unlikely. Children that did survive birth then were very lucky and therefore deeply loved, cared for, wanted and cherished. I find it hard to believe that a father wouldn’t be protective and want the best for his children. Until the best, turned out to be the exact opposition of.

      1. Jasmine says:

        I have always believed that Anne never really cared for Henry VIII, that the man she truly loved was Henry Percy, and that she understood that she could never be with him once the King had decided he wanted her. First loves are very strong, and I think Percy loved Anne just as much as she him.. He was never the same after Anne, he was physically sick when her sentence was read out, his marriages were disasters, and he was known to be extremely depressive.. Anne was completely trapped by Henry. His own feelings of inadequacy meant that he could NOT accept any rejection, no matter how ridiculous… I believe Anne tried to make the best of a difficult situation, tried to be loving and charming, but her heart wasn’t fully in it. I see her admission of “Never having sinned with her body” as her way of giving an honest account of her true feelings before death. Having said all that, I also think that Anne began to enjoy being the center of Henry’s universe, and grew angry and jealous when, after “winning her” his interests changed.. She was young, and too outspoken for her own good it was all around a recipe for disaster.. If I imagine her father as being more of a soft spoken demur and kindly man, then I can sort of see why he would have been spared.. Maybe Henry saw Thomas as a victim of scheming children or wife/in-laws? We just don’t know what he was really like.. the lack of info about her mother is just as baffling, I read that she was living with a pastor in her last illness, before she died, and thought that strange as well.. It’s one of those historical mysteries with just enough to keep us seeking answers, but never enough to say we have solved it.

  9. faolan says:

    At the end of the day, All the Boleyns were victims of Henry VIII,, he was a serial womaniser with a lethal power.

    1. CAROL BRADWELL says:

      Indeed, blaming anyone but the vicious power mad Henry 8 is absurd. Although one does have to question a father who turned both his daughters over to a mad king for.profit. the whole story is a warning on the dangers of unbridled power.

  10. Toina says:

    The Boleyns were trash…..all,of,them, and they paid the price for,it…

    1. Claire says:

      And why do you say that?

    2. Jan says:

      Toina whyever would you say that? It was pretty typical court behavior at the time. You had to look out for yourself.

  11. Bannana says:

    I’m just doing homework

  12. Jacqueline Pearson says:

    Poor Henry didn’t know that he had to produce the Y chromosome to make a boy, dumb ass.

    1. Rebecca says:

      Amen to that a big dumb ass for sure

  13. Ali says:

    I think Anne Bolyen was innocent and she was well educated at her time.

  14. Ali says:

    I think Anne Bolyen was innocent and she was well educated at her time. Her father and mother even uncle (I think her Uncle was judge in prison) did not try to save their daughter’s live, if she was my daughter I would try to go the king or against to the king and fight for my children’s life. Absolutely they loved their children but not tried to save them all of Bolyen family and Howard Family. For me they were enemies together.

  15. Michelle Verges says:

    I have read or watched every documentry on the tuders i can get my hands on. I feel like Henery gave the boleyns a bum shake. He didnt need to kill Anne. He could have sent her to a nunery. What I want to know is did the Boleyns get contact with Elizabeth after Annes death. What came from the affair with Mary? Did Mary really have a child with Henery and if so what happened to that child?

    1. Claire says:

      I think Catherine had been such a thorn in Henry’s side that there was no way that he was leaving Anne alive to be the same.

      There is no evidence of the Boleyns having any contact with Elizabeth, but then Elizabeth Boleyn died in 1538, Thomas in 1539 and Mary in 1543 anyway.

      You can read more about Mary Boleyn in my article https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/mary-boleyn-one-big-boleyn-myth/. We only know that Mary and Henry slept together at least once and we only know that because Henry applied for a dispensation to cover “affinity” when he wanted to marry Anne. A big love affair makes great fiction, but we know absolutely nothing about what happened and it is more likely that the Carey children were fathered by Mary’s husband, William Carey. Henry had arranged a marriage for his previous mistress Elizabeth Blount when he had finished with her, and we know that he helped arranged Mary’s marriage to William Carey, so I would say that he had finished the relationship at that point. That makes more sense.

  16. Hans says:

    1) In her latest book on Anne Boleyn Alison Weir says that George was involved in some way in the death of Katherine of Aragon. Is there any evidence for this assertion ?

    2) Did Anne’s mother Elizabeth die before or after the death of Anne Boleyn ? Did Anne have a step mother ? In some books on Anne Boleyn it is said that at the time of Anne’s execution
    her step mother was alive and that she was greatly affected by Anne’s brutal death and after that her relationship with Thomas Boleyn was never the same because, apparently, Thomas Boleyn showed no sadness at the death of two of his children.

    3) I would like to know more about those people in England who did not believe the preposterous and outrageous “evidence” that was presented at Anne Boleyn’s “trial” which
    seems to me to be a travesty of justice.

  17. Lucy in the sky says:

    This whole story is horrific. No one living 500 years after the fact can begin to know how those people felt.I do know that trying to survive under the rule of a mad man, is much like the Jewish people who tried to survive under Hitler. Men always have the propensity to become evil. Woman can be evil but with much less regularity. We must always look for our better angels, because as we can see with Trump, evil is alive and well

    1. Michael Neuhaus says:

      You would prefer the political skank Hillary? A person who falls down or forgets her speeches mid-sentence? You liberals would give away SS to illegals and allow Muslims to be treated as Americans while pushing Sharia garbage on us. I would rather have Henry than the Clinton/Obama traitors. Democrats should be deported.

      1. C moore says:

        Wow you really are evil yourself, we could say the same about republicans, as a matter of fact evil is in office right now and I pray that he gets a just reward for his insane cruel behavior

        1. Jenna says:

          You are brainwashed

  18. Gill says:

    Henry was not mad, neither was he evil. As has already been said, we must be careful of comparing the behaviour and attitudes of that time in with our more enlightened 21st century views.
    It is true that he is often seen as tyrannical and ruthless, and he certainly had a temper and a cruel streak- however, what is not so well known is the fact that during the earlier years of his reign these traits were much less apparent. He was generally regarded as excellent company, amiable and even kind. In fact, it is not until the second half of his reign that he became the unpredictable, bad tempered and somewhat cruel ruler we are more familiar with.
    It is a matter of some debate as to what caused the change in his personality-Henry suffered at least three head injuries at various times, and it’s certainly possible that he suffered the type of brain injury that results in the type of personality changes he displayed. Or maybe these less desirable aspects of his personality were always there, but tempered during his younger years by his natural geniality and charm.
    Whatever the reason, he was neither mad nor evil, but simply a man of his time- a time when the power of the King was largely unrestricted, when Kings were under immense pressure to secure the succession by siring a legitimate male heir, and when Royal marriages were less about love than for securing political alliances and providing thatheir.

    1. Claire says:

      I don’t think it is necessarily judging him with our 21st century views if we view him as a tyrant, particularly when some of his contemporaries viewed him as such. Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador, compared Henry VIII to Theramenes and his reign with the reign of terror of the Thirty Tyrants, and Charles de Marillac wrote of the king being tainted with vices.

  19. I, as a mother in our time, cannot imagine putting my daughters out there to be concubines to Henry VIII. Even in there own time I would think that was in bad taste. It would be one thing to stand behind them if their relationship happened naturally between them and the king, but that was not the case. Their Uncle Norfolk came up with the plan and Thomas Bolyne was all for it. That to me was evil for a uncle and father to comtemplate.

  20. I am ashamed of Thomas Bolyen and his brother in law, the Duke of Norfolk. Thomas could have
    said No to his brother in law. The Duke of Norfolk was a very ambitious man.. Mary and Anne
    were used for the advancement of the Howard Family.. Mary got used like a common tramp.
    Henry VIII never took any responsibility for his two children. They were thought to be Mary’s
    1st husband’s children. What good did it do for the advancement of Mary’s 1st husband. He
    died. What a shame to let your wife be in an adulterous affair with the King?

    Anne didn’t won’t to be used like Mary. Anne was murdered by Hrnry because she couldn’t give
    Henry a son. Poor George, well he was one of Henry ‘s men. He was murdered along with some –
    other men, based on a pack of lies.

    I didn’t even know, that Thomas and Elizabeth were at,the Tower during the executions.

    Mary did well in the end, marrying a man who loved her.

    I guess, that Elizabeth Bolyen died of a broken heart. Lady Jane Bolyen suffered later at the
    tower like her husband. Jealousy didn’t help her.

    Katherine Howard got used by the Duke of Norfolk. She went to the block.

    The Duke got saved from being executed when Henry died.

Please note: Comment moderation is currently enabled so there will be a delay between when you post your comment and when it shows up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *