Wolf Hall Bring Up the BodiesEarlier today, Susan Bordo, author of The Creation of Anne Boleyn, drew attention on her Facebook wall to a review of the RSC stage adaptations of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.1 The review by Morning Star includes the comment “Lydia Leonard’s spitefully ambitious Anne Boleyn – a wife who one feels any king would be justified in beheading”,2 oh dear. But, it made me think…

Now, Mantel is writing from Thomas Cromwell’s perspective and the Boleyns do not get much sympathy (well, apart from Mary Boleyn), so we have to take that into account. Another review, this time by The Daily Mail, talks of the Boleyn family being “burdened by a feckless brother”3 when George Boleyn, in reality, was anything but feckless. But, I digress. While I would disagree with anyone who says that Anne Boleyn’s execution was justified, that it was karma and she deserved it – and I would hate to see a portrayal of Anne which made the reader/viewer/audience feel that Henry was justified in doing what he did to her – there is no denying that Anne was ambitious and that she could be spiteful at times.

As much as I admire Anne Boleyn, she had her flaws. She’s a huge part of my life, nobody coming to my house or reading my blog or Facebook page could miss the fact that I am completely fascinated with this woman. Eric Ives described Anne as the third woman in his life after his wife and daughter,4 and I know just what he means. Anne has got under my skin, as have her whole family, I spend every day researching the Boleyns and I love it, they are my passion. But, and it’s a big but, I don’t put them on pedestals. I would say that it’s their flaws as much as their admirable qualities which make me so fascinated with them. Here was a queen consort who was so human. Yes, she had admirable qualities – she was ambitious and highly intelligent, she put her neck on the line to help people (for example the reformer Nicholas Bourbon), she helped to promote religious reform and the dissemination of the Bible in English, she was charitable and was concerned with poor relief and education, she was a patron of the Arts…. – but she also had a fiery temper, she let her mouth run away with her and said exactly what she thought, and it is reported that she said spiteful things about Catherine and Mary. We cannot ignore that side of her character.

An example of Anne’s spiteful side is when, in 1534, according to Eustace Chapuys, the Imperial ambassador, Anne claimed that if Henry ever left her as Regent while he was away then she would have Princess Mary killed. George, Anne’s brother, stepped in and warned her that an action like that would offend the King, but Anne said that “she cared not if she did, even if she were to be burnt or flayed alive in consequence.”5 Another example is in 1531, when, before she was queen, Anne “said to one of the Queen’s ladies that she wished all the Spaniards in the world were in the sea; and on the other replying, that, for the honor of the Queen, she should not say so, she said that she did not care anything for the Queen, and would rather see her hanged than acknowledge her as her mistress.”6 Harsh things to say about her former mistress and Henry VIII’s daughter. Her words were spiteful, unwise and not becoming of a Queen, or queen-in-waiting, but it doesn’t mean that Anne was bad through and through. She was frustrated, she was angry that these women were not doing what they were told, that they wouldn’t just go away, and while that is no excuse for Anne’s words, it does make them understandable. Eric ives writes of how “Anne was ranting, not thinking” and that “Anne’s language was violent and threatening, but this sprang not from malevolence but from self-defence”,7 and he has a point. Anne had tried her hardest to build bridges with Mary and Mary had rejected her, and rather rudely too. Yes, Anne should have kept her temper, she should have kept her thoughts to herself, but she didn’t. We’re all spiteful at one time or another, but Anne was queen and it was up to her to set a good example. Of course, we have to take into account Chapuys’ bias here and the fact that he may have exaggerated her words somewhat. Did she even say them? We don’t know.

Anne Boleyn is often blamed for the ill-treatment of Catherine and Mary, and the executions of the Carthusian monks and men like Thomas More and Bishop Fisher, but I feel that this is going too far. After Henry offered her marriage and the crown, Anne set her heart on being queen. She’d been raised to be ‘somebody’ and she appears to have had natural ambition and drive. I believe that Henry convinced her that his marriage to Catherine of Aragon was not valid, that the Pope should never have issued a dispensation for it because it was against God’s laws. Henry appears to have convinced himself of that and it would have been easy for God’s anointed sovereign to have convinced Anne of that, he was her King after all.

Anne and Henry did everything in their power to make things go their way, to do what they thought was God’s plan, but Anne cannot be blamed for the executions of those men, that was up to Henry. Perhaps some people see her whispering evil plans in Henry’s ear, manipulating him to do dastardly deeds, but Henry VIII was not a man to let himself be manipulated by anyone, never mind a woman. People like the Carthusian monks, More and Fisher had to be punished because they were disobeying their King, they were rebelling and betraying him and Henry saw that as treason. It was the same with Catherine and Mary, they had to be punished for defying him. Anne encouraged the ill-treatment of Mary, and it was something she later regretted,8 but Mary’s treatment actually got worse after Anne’s death9 and it was all down to Henry. Henry was willing to acknowledge Mary as his daughter and to mend their relationship if she toed the line, it was that simple in his eyes.10
Anne can be blamed for supporting Henry, for letting these things happen, but what could she have done anyway? Henry did not like meddling from the women in his life. As Ives points out, blaming Anne for Mary’s ill-treatment “made it much easier for Charles V [Catherine of Aragon’s nephew] to keep up some civil relationship with Henry”11 so Chapuys could paint Anne as the bad guy. It was also easier for Mary to blame her step-mother for the way she was being treated, rather than her father and King.

There is a moving scene in the play Fallen in Love: The Secret Heart of Anne Boleyn.12 In it, George Boleyn is consumed with guilt and grief over the brutal executions of the Carthusian monks and the things that have happened as a consequence of the rise of the Boleyns, and he tries to talk to Anne about it. Anne too is upset, but she sees the brutalities as the unavoidable cost of her rise to queen. We cannot know how the real Anne felt, whether she felt guilt and remorse over what happened as a result of Henry’s quest to marry her or whether she saw them as unavoidable and for the greater good. We can’t get inside her head, we have no sources to tell us how she felt and so we cannot judge her. If we are to blame someone for those atrocities then we have to blame the person who was responsible for them: Henry VIII, and even then we have to understand that he saw those people as traitors who deserved to die. We live in a very different world and it is impossible for us to understand Henry VIII.

The Anne I have come to know through my research was definitely ambitious and was spiteful at times, but she wasn’t “spitefully ambitious”, that makes her sound like someone who was spiteful through and through and who used spite to realise her ambitions. I don’t see that at all. She didn’t set out to be queen at all costs, she didn’t manipulate Henry VIII into making her queen, but she did everything she could to be queen once that was on offer – there’s a difference.

I know I’ve rambled. I’m full of cold and my brain is not functioning, and I also just wanted my thoughts to flow – sorry! But Anne did not deserve to die in 1536, her death was not justified and I find it sad that any portrayal of her would make people think that. However, she also was not an angel and we can’t whitewash her. Let’s accept that she was human, that she was downright nasty sometimes, but she was also loved and respected, and she certainly did not deserve to be framed, to have her name blackened and to die such a horrible death. And the “feckless brother”, well, I could write a book arguing against that description and presenting the man I believe to be the real George Boleyn… perhaps I will!

What do you think? Spitefully ambitious? Spiteful and ambitious? Neither? Do share your thoughts.

Other articles of interest:

Notes and Sources

  1. The Creation of Anne Boleyn Facebook page
  2. Theatre: Wolf Hall/Bring Up the Bodies, Morning Star, 14 January 2014
  3. Superb! A groaning banquet of political shenanigans: Quentin Letts reviews the stage adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s award-winning novel, Daily Mail, 8 January 2014
  4. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives, pxiv
  5. Calendar of State Papers, Spain, 1534-1534 p198
  6. Calendar of State Papers, Spain, 1531-1533, p3
  7. Ives, p198
  8. While she was imprisoned in the Tower, it is said that Anne asked Lady Kingston to ask Mary for forgiveness for the “wrongs she had done her”. (The History of Great Britain, John Speed, 1611)
  9. See 15 June 1536 – Henry VIII’s Council Bullies Mary
  10. ” As to the legitimation of our daughter Mary, we answered that if she will submit to our grace without wrestling against the determination of our laws, we will acknowledge her and use her as our daughter; but we would not be directed or pressed herein, nor have any other order devised for her entertainment than should proceed from the inclination of our own heart.”LP x.726
  11. Ives, p197
  12. Fallen in Love: The Secret Heart of Anne Boleyn, Joanna Carrick

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61 thoughts on “The Spitefully Ambitious Anne Boleyn”
  1. Of course Anne Boleyn was ambitious. Self-initiative is a quality of a successful person.

    Tempering that quality with diplomacy in act and in word is necessary; at times Anne Boleyn found it impossible to adhere to the diplomacy part.

    Unfortunately for her, the consequences were death. No sooner had she blurted out a true feeling or two, then that those within earshot carried the message to either the King or to his inner circle of cronies. Within a short time, her own words were the snare that caught her, twisted round her neck and ended her.

    Now, there’s a lesson in restraint.

    1. In regards to her outbursts- I think many would have felt the same in her situation. Though Some would not have voiced their thoughts out loud. I agree I think it was frustration that made her voice her thoughts aloud without thinking. I know I an very capable of doing the same thing. I don’t always mean what I say in anger, its just frustration at not being able to do anything about circumstances. While I don’t agree with sone of the things she said I think people should consider her situation & circumstances and not be so quick to judge. her. Also some forget, it was Henry who initially chased her relentlessly, she tried to get away. She didn’t go after him.

  2. Hi, I’ve seen the elegant productions of both Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. At no stage is there a suggestion that Anne deserved her fate. On the contrary what we witness is Cromwell’s revenge on those who jeered at Cardinal Wolsey, coupled with the slick state machinery he set in motion to gratify the King. It is chilling and I was still left baffled by Henry’s ability to set aside the wife of under three years for whom he waited so long. For me the most telling indication of his awareness that he was sacrificing Anne and that that she was not guilty of treason was the agreement that an executioner be brought over from Calais. Treasonable Queens could be burned alive! Mercy towards his treasonable Queen would indicate that Henry knew exactly what was going on…

  3. I see the real villain in all these stories as Henry VIII. He had to marry Catherine since she was his brother’s widow, and perhaps he felt some fleeting affection for her, but he is the fickle one in all of his relationships with his wives/concubines/bona fides. Henry chased Anne, not the other way around. He abandoned her when she failed to give him a son, and made up all sorts of lies-or at the least listened to them- about her, like he had done with Queen Catherine. And who’s perfect? I think Anne would have fit in just fine in this era-she’d be the CEO of a corporation or something.

    1. I totally agree with Kimberley – King henry viii was the crazy one who mis-used his power because he could (just about!). Yes, I agree he was the fickle one.

      Yep, I also think Anne would have been a great CEO or politician these days. We also have to remember that Anne was brought up around kings and queens and other greatly influential people from her time – she didn’t go from being a commoner to being the Queen of England – she was born into the right family, she was educated by overseas Royals, the right circumstances presented themselves for her to appear and work in the English court – we all evolve/become ourselves from what we are surrounded by in our lives. I don’t remember reading anywhere that Anne forced herself into the English court by corrupt means? To say that she was spitefully ambition I too believe is wrong, I agree that it was psycho king henry viii who became obsessed with her and the opportunity to become Queen presented itself to her, but I don’t agree that it was Anne’s aim at all, everything just happened the way it did – I too agree there would have been any way to force psycho King henry viii to marry Anne because yes, he sounded so fickle/picky anyway – we’ve all seen the human nature of naughty good looking boys going for girls who pay almost zero attention to them, rather than the girls than would do anything at any time……I think that was true back in the 1500’s too (apparently King henry viii was quite attractive too when he was younger before his knee accident).

      Kind regards

      1. (I mean I too agree there would have been NO way of forcing King Henry vii to marry Anne Boleyn)…..to this day we see powerful men choose beautiful young ladies as wives, who most probably never paid them as much attention as other girls because they would know their power and the game of sucking-up – it would have been too obvious to King Henry viii if Anne Boleyn was marrying not for love.

  4. everybody’s spiteful sometimes. i don’t think she tried her hardest to build bridges with mary i because she could have let a few things slide. didn’t she order mary i to sit at the tables where the head of household was elizabeth and forbid her to address elizabeth as “sister” instead of princess? i got this info from alison weir’s the lady in the tower. maybe it was because wanted them to know that she was in complete control?

      1. Mary’s future actions don’t have anything to do with Anne’s actions towards her. It’s a moot point point, and if you are going to use the term Blood Mary, you may as well apply it to almost every monarch.

      2. Actually, Henry, Mary & Elizabeth were all much bloodier than Anne. As far as Mary’s title “Bloody Mary” I think that was due to her REASON for killing so many, (They refused to convert to Catholicism.) Also, she really had no reason to execute Lady Jane Grey. Henry= The ridiculous trumped up charges against Anne, then Henry’s playing the victim and refusing to take responsibility for it. Which brings us to Elizabeth who signed the warrant for the execution of Mary Queen of Scots then tried to claim she didn’t give the go ahead. Both Henry & Elizabeth refused to take responsibility.

  5. Excellent article. It’s depressing that, so often, I find both male and female historians effectively blaming royal women like Anne and Elizabeth Woodville for the dire situations they found themselves in. Apparently the sexism of centuries past still holds sway…

    1. Do you work for the BBC by any chance? Are you trying to appease the female sex with this completely groundless ‘pc’ comment? If a female historian ‘effectively’ blames royal women, how can that be ‘sexism of centuries past’ still holding sway? Maybe you can name and shame? Opinion is one thing, sexism is another.

      1. It isn’t a pc comment; merely my opinion. As an ad hoc, off-the-cuff example of the way in which royal/noble women are stereotyped by many established historians and authors through the ages, consider the prevalence of unfounded witchcraft accusations against them; consider how they are pigeon-holed as ‘endlessly scheming’, ‘manipulative’ , ‘wantonly vicious’ and ‘probably guilty’ regardless of the actual evidence. At best, it’s lazy thinking; at worst, sexism.

  6. I’m with you Claire. I don’t know how many times I have debated with people about their belief that “She had it coming”, “It was justified”. To me nothing she’s done justifies death and it scares me that people still to this day can make judgement on people they don’t know the real facts about and that to execute someone for adultery is alright. I can understand people believing that during the tudors time but now? When we have equality and freedom to make our own choices in life and adultery is a common subject. I’m sorry I can’t understand people who feel they can say things like that.

  7. Hi
    Very interesting perceptive and one I tend to agree. I am my early days in forming opinions but I really feel that politically she was controlled by a family. But she had her own character and did a lot of good for her own beliefs. As Elin says no one deserve to die in particular under false accusations.

  8. Often those of us with a dedicated interest in Anne Boleyn are accused of “fangirling” or “fanboying,” and there are those few out there who refuse to believe Anne ever set a foot wrong in her life. It may be tempting at times to let our defense against attempts to vilify Anne spill over into a complete whitewash of her character. But most of us, I think, are more realistic in our evaluation of her as a whole woman – a remarkable woman in a remarkable situation in remarkable times – but a 3 dimensional, fully human being nonetheless.

    I think Retha Warnicke pegged it when she presented Anne as dynastically ambitious as any woman of her position, and that Henry convinced her that it was her destiny to become his queen and, by bearing his male heir, the saviour of the Tudor dynasty and of an England that had seen far too much civil war. I think she also felt destined to play a significant role in the reformation of the English church.

    But that by no means makes her a paragon, and the pressure – public and private – over several years’ time would push even a saint into outbursts of anger and frustration. Frankly, I doubt any woman in her position could keep from becoming downright bitchy at times; add her rapier wit and the backing of a king, and one may wonder why she didn’t become the power-mad virago she is sometimes made out to be.

    Anne Boleyn the perfect paragon makes for a very boring person. Anne Boleyn the power-mad puttana makes for a very boring person as well. Anne Boleyn the fabulous but flawed human being whose very existence changed world history is the person we find so fascinating, a person who has held humanity’s interest for 500 years and will continue to do so.

  9. Did she have it coming? Perhaps to some extent. And no, I do not mean that she was spitefully ambitious. She had it coming because that was how things started to work out for her. I remember some one saying once that Mary Tudor (the Queen) was painted too black. Sure, she was, but she did offer a can or two of black paint herself. And I guess Anne did have some black paint on offer as well. Which does not mean that her fate was justified. It was not.
    Who was the villain? It’s very easy to pick some one and blame her or him. Some blame Anne, some have other villains, like Cromwell or Henry VIII. But appointing some one to be the villain is simplifying history. Henry was certainly not innocent, but nor were many others. They all acted the way they did for their own reasons. Anne included.

    I think Anne was a “jumper”. A jumper is some one who acts first and thinks later. Perhaps not always, but even to be a jumper a few times can be damaging, depending on when you jump before thinking.
    A friend of mine was a jumper. Many times we had to “bail him out”. We did so because we loved him, cared about him. Like anyone Anne had many good qualities, just like my friend had. One thing can be said about jumpers. Life would be boring without them. In general jumpers tend to be interesting persons…

    So, Anne ambitious? Certainly she was. Bitchy sometimes? That too. But a purely bad person? No way…

    1. I agree. Also, she was no worse than a lot of others who didn’t have their heads cut off.

      I don’t think most supporters of Anne (myself included think she was a Saint) If Henry had just divorced her or had their marriage nullified she would not be so famous.. She’d probably be forgotten. But her being wrongfully executed is why she is still so popular and why so many today defend her.

  10. Thank you, Claire, for this well-balanced view of Anne. I, too, like to think of her as a complete human being, filled with both light and dark. She was under tremendous strain unlike anything most of us will ever experience in a world that is no more. 500 years after the facts, it is very hard for us to imagine what she must have gone through. She did not try to ‘hook’ Henry; he was interested in her and she rebuffed him for a long time. Finally, she sort of threw down the gauntlet and said she would marry him and be his queen, but not his mistress. I think she did this because she really had no interest in him and thought such a comment would surely turn him away. Her words had just the opposite effect! The tensions at court must have been almost unbearable-I’m sure she did get bitchy at times–who doesn’t, even these days! Her mingled elements are what I find so fascinating–because she IS fully human. I have not yet read Bringing Up the Bodies but I thought there was a lot of misogyny in Mantel’s Cromwell (which most likely, there was–women were not held in high esteem in those days!) Anyway, great article!

    1. We are all filled with positive and negative characteristics. I’m not debating the fact that Anne had positive traits. However, I do believe that she was an accomplished manipulator. At least she learned to be with the king. If she was under so much strain, it is only obvious that she would have agreed to become the king’s lover or mistress. But no, she didn’t succumb. Really? He’s the almighty king and she’s able to say no for several years? I find hard to believe that she was able to hold him off for so long without an ulterior motive….like becoming the queen.

  11. I have a rather strange theory that I just want to put out there. Perhaps at the beginning Anne didnt want Henry. We don’t have her replies to his letters which have a lot of moaning about not being able to see her, asking her when she would come to court again why she didnt reply etc etc. maybe she went back to Hever hoping he would tire of her? After a time maybe she may have developed feelings for him and grew to love him. But she never slept with him so it was easy in a way to be flattered and spend time with him. Maybe she doubted Henry would ever be granted a divorce? Then things moved along too quickly and she couldn’t have stopped the wheels in motion even if she had wanted to. You didnt go against the King after all! I feel that all the actions taken were directly instructed to come about by Henry himself. If he had defended his daughter when Anne was slating her then she would have abruptly stopped. But he never did. That shows his own feelings about his daughter pretty well!!! 🙂 x

    1. Quote” : “If he had defended his daughter when Anne was slating her then she would have abruptly stopped. But he never did. That shows his own feelings about his daughter pretty well!!!”

      This, I totally agree with. While I don’t think Anne should have treated Mary that way,
      Anne took her cue’s from Henry. He treated Mary badly, so Anne followed suit.
      Henry is the one who ALLOWED it. Further, after Anne’s execution, Henry continued to treat Mary the same way.

  12. I have always felt that Henry VIII set in motion a chain of events that once started could not be stopped.

    Catherine of Aragon was royal, proud and from a long line of Spanish Kings. She felt that her destiny was to be in England because her parents wanted the English alliance, first with Arthur and than with Henry. I also believe that she was telling the truth that her marriage had never been consummated with Arthur. I think he was just too sickly and was making those boasts to save face. By the time that Henry wanted out of the marriage, around 1527, they had been married 18 years and had several children, with only Mary surviving. Catherine still looked at Henry as the boy king she loved and married and probably believed his feelings for Anne Boleyn would go the way of all the others. She was not inclined to retire to a religious life (which is probably what she should have done in retrospect as things might have turned out different for all those involved) and refused to say that she had never been married to Henry or that Mary was not the heir to the throne.

    Conversely, Anne had the example of seeing her sister cast off as one of Henry’s mistresses and was determined to make a grand marriage. She would have been much happier if they would have allowed her to marry Henry Percy (as he would most likely have been) but because they blocked this marriage, she wanted to make an even grander alliance. When she found that the King was interested, she probably decided to hold out for marriage and the crown after seeing her sister’s example.

    Mary always seemed to be partial to her Spanish roots and was very close to her mother while adoring her father. It is unfortunate that she was not as small as Elizabeth when the “Great Matter” of her parents came up because she might have been spared a great deal of suffering. She was around eleven years of age (as opposed to Elizabeth not being three years old when Anne was executed) and was already a devout Catholic so it is not surprising that she took her mother’s side against her father and refused to obey him which, in the long run, ruined her life when she had to betray her conscience in order to preserve her life.

    All the women in this situation (Catherine, Anne and Mary) were firm in their convictions and held to their positions. Because each women were tied to a political and religious faction, sides were taken in the matter and the inevitable outcome for the losing side was going to be forfeiture of estates, imprisonment, death by natural causes, death by execution or the loss of one’s soul.

    It is fascinating to play the what if game in this case because if Catherine had retired to a nunnery or if Anne had been allowed to marry Henry Percy, things would have been vastly different. The same is true if Catherine’s first son had lived or if Anne’s boy had lived.

  13. IMO, one of Anne’s biggest difficulties is that she couldn’t (and didn’t) fit into the “mold” of what was socially acceptable behavior for a queen … which made her fair game. There was no evil that could not be attributed to an “uppity woman” Also, I think that her treatment of Mary showed a degree of thoughtlessness … the peace overtures coming while Mary was still mourning a dearly-beloved mother were not likely to be accepted. I wonder what might have happened if, for example, Anne had pleaded with Henry to allow Mary to visit Catherine (with a trustworthy Spanish-speaker to monitor the conversation). It probably would not have changed the final cruelty, but it might have helped Anne’s reputation … at least with those who, unlike Mary, did not have a compelling need to exculpate Henry.

  14. Claire, you nailed it perfectly and I am in complete agreement with you. Too many people are wiling to give Henry a pass without stopping to realize just how many people he killed, often due to personal enmity. Anne was his victim just like all the others, no more and no less..

    1. I think that this was a clear case of sexual harassment as it might operate in a royal court. The King held all the cards- once he’d fixed on her, she really, couldn’t ignore him, leave, or spurn him; she certainly couldn’t take the veil or marry someone else. The only thing she really could do was submit. But taking a lesson from her sister Mary, she made the best of a bad thing byt insisting that he marry her.

      I’d have been cranky and spiteful too.

      1. It gets on my nerves when people act like Anne had a choice when it came to Henry VIII. She didn’t he was the King and you don’t say no to the king, especially him. I think she said what she did about marriage to get him to leave her alone and it backfired on her. I can’t imagine the pressure she was under to deliver the longed for heir.
        By the way Claire I love this site!

  15. Considering the court of king henry, I dont think she could have been any other way. I mean anyone who was a reviled as ;she was by Catherines supporters might appear to be ambitious, but jeez, who wouldn’t be spiteful? everytime she lay her head down she didn’t know if she might be murdered in her bed……….

  16. Great article, Claire! As always.
    I believe that Anne was highly intelligent, very temperamental and sharp tongued, and unable to control it; a religious idealist to some extent,and ambitious. But intelligent though as she was, she didn’t see Henry’s reaction to her not bearing forth sons, coming. Possibly because she thought his besottedness with her would override any difficulties in their marriage. Well it didn’t. Still, we must not forget Henry’s warning to his next queen, Jane Seymour, not to meddle in politics like her predecessor had done, and the price she had paid. I find that warning very revealing, showing that Henry was fully aware that the charges against Anne in court were false. Her meddling was the real reason for her trial and execution, not any form of adulterous treason. But Henry didn’t want the world to know that. So, I do disagree with professor Ives who thought Cromwell was behind it all. I think it more likely that Henry was, and that Cromwell carried out his orders. I may be wrong, of course. 🙂
    I also agree with those of you who think she at first tried to make Henry lose interest in her by escaping to Hever, but when he persisted, promising her marriage and queen consort status, she changed her mind and went for it. No wonder she thought her hold over him would last forever!


  17. Once again a fascinating read. I am also intregede by Anne a lady surrounded by many opinions. I think you have hit the nail on the head. I think she was a passionate women and like many would have said things in the heat of the moment but I dont think for one moment that she was an overly spiteful women at all.

  18. I think a neglected aspect of the whole Anne’s character ambiton etc is neglected. It’s odd that for many years she was viewed as “The Concubine”, “the King’s wh*re” etc, when she actually wasn’t. I wonder-and I say wonder- because for all of us baring a miracle, it is all conjecture, why it is so easy to villify Anne. She actually refused to be a Mistress- perhaps because she saw thta it did little for her sister, perhaps becausedshe had her own moral values. I believe that there is a strong possibility that she did not encourage Henry to begin with because she did not want his attention. She probably did not “Love” him as we relate to the definition. And by the time they married in 1532 henry was already in his 40’s and perhaps not the attractive young king he started out as. Perhaps Anne did as time passed get worn down and start to think she would like to become Queen- who knows.
    Anne is often seen as the evil doer and her biggest victim is Katherine, but Katherine was actually the longest lived of all Henry’s wives and if she was moderatly happy until 1526 when Henry and Anne met, she was already at 41 the same age as the next longest lived of hs wives Anne of Cleves when she died. Henry tresated her atrociously and this cannot be denied. However Henry, was self indulgent and mean.

  19. In every story that seems to captivate us there needs to be a good guy(Catherine of Aragon),a bad guy(Henry8 and Anne Boleyn) and some sort of justice or injustice.If you add Henry’s four other wives,the beheadings and the desolution of the Catholic church it becomes an explosive story that few can resist.There are no grey areas.Anne was a grey area to me because like everyone else was saying she was human.No,I don’t believe she was overly spiteful,ambitious yes.I think Anne learned her lessons well and went after what she wanted.I don’t think that makes her a bad person.Just someone knowing what they want.It’s sad when people cast her as bad but that’s just her role that she has been assigned to play.The only real justice Anne ever had in this story is Elizabeth.

  20. Anne’s behavior seem to be veer to the extremes one way or the other at all times. I kind of suspect that she was manic depressive, which would explain her extremes.It is too bad that there is not enough written information as to do a proper biography on her neurosis. I had read one about Napoleon’s before and it was fascinating

  21. Great article. I think the end result for Anne was inevitable when she did not have a son. … the world empires did not recognize her and her daughter as English royalty – Henry had little choice if he wanted to leave a Tudor line as his legacy – he had to start again with a new queen and conceive a son to be king …. so was she spiteful – probably – was she ambitious – maybe – was she executed based on lies – probably – I don’t think any of it mattered by this time. She had to go so Henry could get on with the most important matter to him – a son that would be recognized as his royal line and not a bastard.

  22. Anne Boleyn certainly could be spiteful to downright vicious in her speech. None of that makes her ‘deserve’ to be wrongfully convicted of adultery and executed. The main villain in these matters was Henry himself. I felt a bit bad for Cromwell, who came to such a horrible end, not for arranging a kangaroo court for Anne, but for trying to serve his king and his realm by arranging a good and strategic marriage with a presumably fertile young woman (Anne of Cleves).

  23. Hi my name is Miranda Reed. Why was King Henry The eighth so mean? What made him be so mean to four of his wifes?

  24. I wonder if Henry got his meanness from his father. Was henry thee eighth father mean? Can someone tell me what made henry so mean?

    1. Henry VIIII was what is known as an absolute Monarch, he believed himself to be appointed by God, and that he had to have a male heir to continue the Tudor line. Also this was a time when people had strong religious beliefs that affected ng in their lives.Hemprementale may have totally believed that Anne of Cleves’ failure to produce a living heir was indeed a Divine punishment for his marrying his former sister-in-law. Anne Boleyn also failed to produce a male heir, by this time Henry isn’t getting any younger, she was probably quite a temperamental woman and in all probability pushed her luck too far,dhe may also have raised eyebrows with her French style court and semi-flirtatious ideas of chivalry. Jane Seymour died of post puerperal fever, from lack of knowledge on antisepses. Anna of Cleves was the “mail order bride” that just didn’t match the advert and seemed to make a reasonable life as “the king’s sister”, Catherine Howard, sadly thought she could cuckold an elderly husband by “playing away” today this would be grounds for a messy and public divorce (think Prince Charles and Princess Diana) and the last one was probably more nurse than wife. He wasn’t, by the standards of the time and his position. especially cruel.

  25. By our standards, Anne was living in a perpetual pressure cooker. Waiting for the divorce, keeping Henry’s interest without yielding to him for so many years and dealing with the haters on a continuing basis was probably very stressful. When she became Queen, it probably became worse after the birth of a daughter, not to mention the hormonal hell off several pregnancies and miscarriages within only a few years. Then there was the issue of mistresses and an a fickle husband. So, after years of continued high intensity stressful situations, it’s a wonder she kept it together as well as she did. She was quite amazing.

  26. I believe that HRVIII would have turned a blind eye to Anne’s outbursts while he pursued his great matter. However I think he expected Anne To be submissive & obedient once they were married. I’m sure given Anne’s explosive temper at times she would have found the adjustment hard.

    Of course she did not deserve the death meated out to her. Once Cromwell had presented the ‘evidence’ did HVIII have a choice? If Anne had taken the veil or been exiled with Pss Elizabeth would Anne have continued to meddle or gone away quietly?

    The courage of Anne & others faced with that dreadful fate with no power & no way out is incomprehensible to me.

  27. An interesting discussion. Even if Anne was “mean” or “spiteful” does this ever justify her execution/murder? The answer should be a resounding NO. If we subscribe to the view Mantel presents to us in her books about Cromwell,y that NO becomes nuanced into a “maybe” — at least for me. I am not a big fan of sugar coating tyrants or their enablers.

    I have a question for the forum. One of the first laws passed under Queen Mary was to repeal the treason statutes that were in effect during King Henry’s reign. Did this repeal have the effect of nullifying the treason convictions of Anne and her fellow defendants?

  28. It is just done to capture the view of the audience no matter how true or how false the same applies for the story writer as well as the daily mail or if this is really their take on the situation then it differs entirely from one to one. Entirely. I agree with Klaire and the said above. She could be “Tempestuous” at times but no body has the patience of a saint no body and no one. Jane was considered to be “Even” tempered in contrast. So the opposite. 🙂 Anne must have had her reasons for loosing her temper no matter how just or unjust but that is nothing in comparison to what the “King” and Cromwell did though. Anne did not succeed in killing anyone as they did. Well the King did most assuredly. Like another post said I think the same. She probably at times did act before thinking even though it should be the other way around!. Last but not least I have to disagree with the title and everything it stands for!.

  29. I think a lot of people don’t make the effort to understand Anne. No question, she was ambitious, impulsive, had a short temper, and therefor probably often blurted things out without thinking first, especially when she was angry, that she’d later regret.
    But especially with the way she treated Mary, there are things to be remembered. Anne waited for years to be queen, and when she finally was, the majority of the people would still not truly accept her as their new queen. The Catholics didn’t acknowledge her , nor her daughter, at all. It must have cost Anne quite an effort to offer Mary to intercede with the king on her behalf just to be disrespected by her. After all, Anne now was Henry’s according to the law, and Mary was committing treason. I could imagine that Anne feared the opponents of her and her marriage to Henry were thinking they could get away with it, and she knew very well that she wasn’t in a secure position until she gave Henry a male heir. And granted, I would be frustrated and angry too if I brought myself to try to be kind to someone as the queen of England of all people, and would get a defiant answer by my disobedient step-daughter, but that might just be my personality. It’s not that I don’t understand Mary, I do, and I even admire her a little for that, but I think more people should take the time to see things through Anne’s eyes.

  30. no one could live like she had to without some sort of outbursts of some description ,everyone needs to offload at times to someone and anne did but she really was living as a comment or said above in a pressure cooker ,I think if she had had a son ,and preferably two she would have been maybe safe but I would not say 100% safe by any means ,henry had for a long time been married to Katherine and had got probably very used to her turning the other way and never speaking or complaining about his antics (his other women) im sure anne was very disturbed by his behaviour and philandering after he spent years chasing her and swearing undying devotion and love ,I know it was acceptable for kings and most men to take mistresses but most marriages of the time were arranged so neither partner cared and turned a blind eye and a lot were glad to as well,although I feel absolute horror at what happened to her and many others I still feel she should have been more prepared for life with henry knowing how he treated Katherine and as I have said before ,run like hell away from this mad man henryand stayed away .

  31. I enjoyed this article as it gives a good overview of Anne’s rise and her character. Firstly, I am not a great fan of reviews of plays by media as they are often distorted by the political constraints that the paper is operating from. The Morning Star is a communist paper and would see anyone with any real ambition as being unworthy of any praise. The Mail is a Tory paper and would recognise ambition as a necessary thing to get on in the world, but that being spiteful as being a weakness. They probably see George as holding the family back. But if anything he was probably as ambitious as anyone and in a position to make the fortunes of others. Media also take more note of the way the person is portrayed by the actor rather than the actual message being given by the author. So I am not influenced too much by media reviews. I prefer to watch something and decide for myself. I have not seen the play and actually did not know these two excellent books had been made into a drama. But as you say, it is from Cromwell’s point of view that we see Anne and as he fell out with Anne at some point he may be seeing her from a biased view point.

    Anne and her family were ambitious; of course they were, they were at court, the place where you went to further your career. Thomas Bolyen had risen to become a useful aid to the king as he had skills that Henry could use in the diplomatic field and he held positions at court. He had married into the other rising stars of the day: the Howards and he ensured that his family had good educations; seeing in Anne great potential he made sure that her education was the best money and influence could buy sending her to the best finishing schools in France and the Netherlands. If the Boleyn family were not ambitious: then what where they doing at court?

    But why is ambition seen as a negative thing? Well may-be in a woman it was rare and not acceptable in the 16th century and this is why Anne gets such criticism for her ambition. But she did not start out that way; when Henry first made his intentions clear to make her his mistress she attempted to run a mile in the opposite direction. She had no ambitions in that direction as she had seen what had happened to her sister Mary who had not gotten a good deal from being the King’s mistress. Henry had made sure she had a good husband and given her gifts, but that was essentially it. He did not even claim her son as his, it is commonly believed today that her husband was the father of both of her children. But Anne may have had something else in mind when she refused to be Henry’s mistress. According to Cavendish she was in love with another man and content to be his wife and stay away from the court.

    The man in question was the son of the Earl of Northumberland and had she married Harry Percy she would have spent much of her time away from court in the north of England. Somehow I do not see this being a role that Anne would have accepted for the rest of her life and she would have insisted on being taken to court as often as possible. Anne was a passion flower of the court and sparkled like a rare diamond when she was at court, the centre of attention and loved to dance, sing, and be part of the entertainment and was a woman that attracted attention. I cannot see her in the role of country house wife; or lady of the manor, I think she would have soon been back at court. But at first she does not seem to be ambitious; just a woman in love, enjoying her remarkable life at court and home.

    Anne also had a remarkable intelligent mind, was dynamic and matched Henry in this: he saw his intellectual equal in Anne and they matched whits on a number of occassions. It was after some time that Anne began to realise the true potential of accepting Henry’s romantic gestures and starting a relationship with him and at some point she saw that she could fulfil an important role that would satisfy a need in the King, her family and that was growing in her: she could offer herself as Henry’s future Queen. When this revalation took root or when Henry and Anne began to look at each other as a future married couple is debated by historians and the sources do not give us a clear answer, but it seems to have been some time between 1527-1528 when Henry was making moves in his divorce proceedings. In this Anne shows herself as ambitious, calculating and clever. I think at this point her character flaws also began to emerge as time went on and it was all too painfully clear that she and Henry were not going to walk down the aisle any time soon.

    After 1528 and certainly after 1529 when the Legatine Court failed to deliver both Anne and Henry were frustrated, angry and desperate and Anne was quite distressed at the lack of resolution in the divorce. We see Anne complaining to the King about the failure of Cardianl Wolsey and the progress of the divorce and we also hear her complaint that she has wasted her time here at court when she could have made a profitable marriage and had children, a woman’s greatest consolation, in her own words. Anne thinks that Katherine will never give Henry a divorce and now that the case has gone to Rome she sees the entire thing as hopeless. Anne becomes more and more angry and anxious and it is after this that she also shows signs of spite and just seems to want one thing Katherine out of the way and herself as Queen. Her ambitious side begins to show, and not always in a positive manner.

    From 1531 when Anne is being seen more and more as the King’s only mistress and his consort in public, she seems to begin to take Katherine’s place, and I agree that as her confidence grows so does her arragonce and her careless side comes out. Her words about Katherine were foolish and it is not clear if she is thinking straight or really does not care anymore: she just wants to marry Henry and be Queen. She has waited a long time and is angry. Reports from the ambassadors point to Anne pushing Henry a bit more forcably, reports of arguments emerge and reports of her nagging start to emerge. But is this spite or frustration? Clearly she is ambitious at this point and so are the rest of the family; they see a great futue with Anne as Queen and the fortunes of the family are on the rise. Henry ennobles the male members of the family and Anne herself is made a peer in her own right. But are they anymore ambitious than any other family who see a royal wedding as a way to achieving their ends or to the family’s star ascending? Are they any more ambitious than the Woodville’s after Elizabeth married Edward IV or the Seymour’s after Jane became the mother of Henry’s heir?

    When Anne finally saw her dreams come true as she got into a barge to go to her coronation, six months gone with the King’s child, she must have believed everything was coming together and her family must have been very proud of her. Even after the disappointment of giving birth to Elizabeth she must have still had hope that she could provide Henry with his own heart’s desire: a son and heir. Her star was in the heavens and the world seemed to be at her command. It was only with the dashing of those hopes and dreams that we see a spiteful Anne emerge in a way that has defined her with writers of fiction, drama, and critics at the time and ever since. It is now that she is blamed for the deaths of the holy monks and the martyrs St Thomas More and Saint John Fisher and others. It is now as she failed in her given task to provide an heir, which is not her fault, but which at the time, it was seen as the woman’s fault so Anne was blamed; that she becomes afraid and paranoid and thinks that the world is against her. In this mood she makes threats against Mary and Katherine and others and her ranting becomes illogical and foolish. But Anne feels that she is abandoned and that she is losing the King’s love. She is not being rational. She is spiteful and callous, yes, but it seems to be out of some sort of fear and depression. I think that Anne may have had some form of either clinical anxiety or post natal depression. She may even have been drinking heavily and been sleep deprived. This could have led to paranoid delusions and may-be she even felt that her own life was being threatened. People tend to lash out in all sorts of ways when they feel hemmed in and in 1534 and 1535 there is some evidence that this is how Anne felt.

    Her threats towards Mary may also be put into the context of the fact that Anne was Henry’s Queen and as such she should have demanded and commanded respect. She had made some efforts to reach out to Mary if she would acknowledge her as Queen but Mary, now a young woman and a teenager was showing signs of deliberate disobediance and having temper tantroms as stroppy teenagers and young adults do when their mother is replaced with another woman. But with Mary it went further as she believed that her own beloved mother was the only true Queen and that Anne was an inter-lopper who had no right to take her mother’s place. Mary adored both her father and her mother and was convinced in her own mind that Anne was totally to blame for her poor treatment and that Anne was to blame for her father’s poor behaviour as well. Even Katherine who was treated even more cruelly by the King did not blame Henry, whom she still loved, but blamed evil council and Anne for her trouble and for being a bad influence on the King. It is this image that has come down to us and has coloured our image of Anne in history and mythology. Drama has taken this image and run with it.

    I think that it is a good point that those who Henry executed for their religious beliefs owed him obedience, and in this Anne cannot be entirely to blame. The religious changes and Henry’s break from Rome are the consequences of Henry’s marriage to Anne, not as a result of Anne pushing him into these changes and decisions. In the famous and popular portrayal of Anne in Anne of the 1000 Day’s there is a scene when Anne is arguing with Henry and insists that he now executes his friends who oppose them; and there is a myth that Henry blamed Anne for the death of Thomas More on hearing of his friend’s execution. This powerful image has stayed with many people and again coloured the historical view of Anne. Cromwell in my view is responsible for the treason laws that led to these deaths and not Anne. I like the image of George worrying about the consequences of his sister becoming Queen and the deaths that followed; but did Anne also worry about this? We will never really know.

    To conclude there are many words to describe Anne: these words must be used in the correct context of her history and her relationships; not as a blanket metaphore for her name. She was at times ambitious, at times showed spite, in certain unwise moments; she was intelligent and matched her future husband’s whit, she was passionate and shone at the court entertainments; she got noticed by all, not just the plyable King; she was calculating, she worked out that she could offer herself as Henry’s Queen and her family must have played some role in that as well; realising what it could mean if Anne could provide Henry with a living son; she was a whirlwind, taking the English court by storm, but she also looked out for herself. Anne knew how to protect herself and when to withdraw to allow things at court to settledown, she did not commit herself until she was sure of the King and had his undivided attention, and she knew what she wanted. Most of all, Anne was that rare thing for a 16th century woman; she was her own person and had her own ideas about what she wanted from life. Henry recongised all these qualities and he was attracted by them. Had she come across as spitefully ambitious he would have been repelled by Anne not attracted to her as she would have been too negative a personality. But he saw something different in Anne and he was hooked. Yes, a darker side to her personality emerged in time, but the circumstances that led to this have to be examined as well as Anne’s somewhat wild rantings. I do not believe that she deserved to die for her personality flaws. However, I do think that unfortunately for Anne, those flaws made her and her family a lot of enemies and as those enemies began to gather and fight back, Henry started to listen and they were able to influence things to bring her down. May-be they did not lke the changes that they saw around the King or the country and hoped a quieter Queen would reverse things.

    In every age there have been powerful families who have risen our of nowhere and seem to take over the court and the government. Are the Boleyns anymore ambitious than any of them? Is Anne any different than Elizabeth Woodville or Jane Seymour or was she merely less fortunate in both her choice of husband and in that fate did not give her the son that could have saved her life?

  32. Like Celia, I was lucky enough to see Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, and I too disagree with the reviews. The play definitely shows too much of Anne’s darker side, there are only two brief scenes where the audience is treated to what must have been a considerable charm. The rest of the time she is quite cold, shrewish and unsympathetic as a character. I think perhaps this was a conscious choice, in order to make Cromwell appear less unsympathetic when he effectively has her killed.

    I disagree though with the review that says the play implies she deserves her fate. It shows her as desperate, reckless, and confused when events turn against her, but it definitely shows her as the victim of Henry and Cromwell’s machinations. At one point Henry actually says to Cromwell ‘Do what you have to do. I will back you.’ The play also makes it clear that the executions came about through Cromwell’s fear that, if the attempt to bring down the Boleyns failed, vengeance upon him and his family would have been swift and bloody. He needed them not just out of favour (and Henry’s favour was notoriously fickle), but crushed and unable to revenge.

    George is clearly portrayed as feckless, a bit of an idiot, and a positive hindrance to the advancement of the Boleyns. Poor George. History never seems to treat him kindly! The play does have both of them facing their deaths with resignation and bravery though, and particularly in Anne’s case, considerable nobility. That scene was beautifully played by all concerned.

    One of the things I thought was interesting was the explanation Cromwell comes up for her reported comment on the steps of the Tower ‘It is too good for me.’ When asked what she meant he says: ‘She’s failed. One thing she set out to do – get Henry and keep him. She’s lost him to Jane Seymour, and, believe me, no court will judge her more harshly than she will judge herself. Henry made her Queen. If he turns his back, what is she? An imposter. Worthless. Her rooms are empty. Jane will wear her clothes. She’s dead to herself now. All we have to do is bury her.’ I’m not sure I entirely agree with that, but I think it’s an interesting assessment of Anne’s state of mind.

  33. I have come back to this wonderful article as I forgot on my visit to ask a question, Claire. In 2010 there was a play that I have heard got really great reviews about Anne Boleyn and I think I read in this site at the time that it is the first real drama that shows Anne, not just as a sexy mistress, but more as an equal to Henry and emphasised her Evangelical influence at court. My question is: Do you have the name of the play or the playwrite and is it available in written form to purchase or download or do you have any information about where it can be seen showing in the next year?

    Thanks in advance


  34. Anne remains endlessly fascinating and somewhat of an enigma.

    My feeling is that initially Anne did not want to marry Henry. I think this is why she seemed somewhat less involved than him. He was already in his mid thirties when their relationship began and he appears to have been the pursuer. I doubt, very much, the Anne could have realistically held any expectation of marriage. He was already married to a princess of Spain, no less. Anne was of relatively minor nobility. I don’t think she wanted to be a mistress of anyone-let alone Henry, she had witnessed his treatment of her sister. At Some point in the passage oft time, I think perhaps either Henry broached it or perhaps it did occur to her to aim for marriage, and who can blame her? When anti-Anne remarks are made thy are normally made by people who are Katherine’s supporters. I think it is fair to see both women as victims of Henry’s ego and power trip. Also I think it’s a fair observation that perhaps that some people sympathize too much with Katherine, she actually lived 10 years longer than any of Henry’s other wives and was relatively happy-one assumes- until about 1527, when she was already 42 -about the same age as Anne of Cleves, the 2nd longest lived of his Queens.

    1. What does that have to do with anything? Relatively happy? You mean with her husband having affairs left and right and having an illegitimate son in 1519? Her age and her lifespan have nothing to do with how she was treated.

  35. Anne in her young days was described as sweet and cheerful this was before the disappointments of life soured her and made her into the shrew she later became, she must have thought the divorce would go ahead easy, Catherine would disappear out the picture and everything would be ok, that was naive of her but she was only young, her bad temper and vindictive nature can be easily explained by the frustration of the long years of waiting, by the obstacles that kept occurring, the enemies she had at court, it must have been enormous pressure, add to that the constant dangling of keeping Henry at bay, she was worn out with it all, Henry thought Anne would be the perfect Queen but what he failed to realise was that her very nature which had so enchanted him in the first place, was what made her so unsuitable to be his consort, had he not been so blinded with lust he would have seen that.

  36. I can’t address you point by point as it would take too long, but since quite a lot of what I read here seems to be directed at a number of posts i have entered here (and taken quite a lot of abuse for only to see copied later I may add) I will just address one that sums it up for me:

    “Harsh things to say about her former mistress and Henry VIII’s daughter. Her words were spiteful, unwise and not becoming of a Queen, or queen-in-waiting, but it doesn’t mean that Anne was bad through and through.”

    This totally misses the point. It does not matter if she was or wasn’t bad thru and thru and I don’t real anyone ever saying she was. I certain would not be that simple minded. The point is that she had the power, through her relationship with Henry, to ACT on her words and is seen as having done harm to people she had actually spoken against. Had she no power than all her bile would have been ignored – but the point is she DID. People took her seriously,.

    The problem the most irrational Anne defenders have is they think any attempt to look at the situation from more than one point of view means evil intent. It is so anti-intellectual is makes me sad that Anne is actually so poorly served. She strikes me as one who enjoyed a good tangle – she sure loved herself the vicious brutality of bear baiting so I think she could take a good telling off in stride.


    1. “since quite a lot of what I read here seems to be directed at a number of posts i have entered here” – No, this post has nothing to do with any comments you’ve written, it’s addressing the Morning Star review of the RSC’s adapations of Hilary Mantel’s novel and the way that Anne Boleyn comes across in those plays. This article, as you can see, was written in January 2014, months before your heated interactions with other commenters on this site.

      I always step in when things get too heated in threads, but disagreements are not abuse and you always appear to give as good as you get, as the saying goes. If people do feel abused or unhappy by how comment threads are going then I am always here for people to contact so that I can do something to remedy the situation.

  37. I think the Boleyn an Seymour men wanted position and titles and used their daughter and sister to achieve this goal.

    I don’t think Anne found the King attractive at all, but I feel that she probably, like many women in her time period , had no control over her destiny because it was in the hands of her father. Since the King was going to be part of that, she decided to go for it all as she felt that she deserved it. THere is a letter written by Anne when she was 14 to her father, it is disputed as to how old she actually was. In this letter she thought of herself as a “star”.
    She was not going to settle for mistress if she was forced to end up with the King and was unable to refuse his favors. Henry loved the chase, she probably knew that, and was able to keep herself from his bed because of this. Jane Seymour did the same thing by rebuffing gifts

  38. I think the Boleyn an Seymour men wanted position and titles and used their daughter and sister to achieve this goal.

    I don’t think Anne found the King attractive at all, but I feel that she probably, like many women in her time period , had no control over her destiny because it was in the hands of her father. Since the King was going to be part of that, she decided to go for it all as she felt that she deserved it. THere is a letter written by Anne when she was 14 to her father, it is disputed as to how old she actually was. In this letter she thought of herself as a “star”.
    She was not going to settle for mistress if she was forced to end up with the King and was unable to refuse his favors. Henry loved the chase, she probably knew that, and was able to keep herself from his bed because of this. Jane Seymour did the same thing by rebuffing gifts that he sent to her as she said her virtue and honor were worth more than any gem. She played her cards on this one and she or her family guessed right. This only made the King want her more.

    It is all politics and the sad part it is the women who are the pawns and used to the male relatives advantage with little regard as to what happens to them. The Seymour men would stop at nothing to gain power.

    I think, according to accounts, that Ann was very fiery and had little tact and diplomacy. This is found “sexy” in a mistress but not a Queen. Her downfall was quite simple, she could not provide Henry with a son and he lost interest in her. She had many good qualities, she played along with her family, a dangerous game and she lost.

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