Valentine’s Day – Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII: A great love?

Posted By on February 14, 2017

Today is Valentine’s Day, the traditional day of romance. You can read all about Valentine’s Day itself in an article I wrote for the Tudor Society – click here – but here at the Anne Boleyn Files I want to ask you for your thoughts on Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII.

I want to ask you whether you think their relationship was a great love?

Did Henry VIII really love Anne Boleyn or was it lust or an obsession?

Did Anne Boleyn really love Henry VIII or did she just ‘give in’ to him?

Did love turn to hate?

What do you think of their courtship, marriage and how their relationship ended, with Anne Boleyn being executed and Henry VIII replacing her so quickly?

I’d love to know your thoughts.

Now I’m going to have a bit of a ramble through my thoughts on this, and it is a ramble as nothing is clear cut with this, so please bear with me…

Personally, I think that Henry VIII did love Anne Boleyn. I have a book with photos of all the love letters that he wrote to her, the letters that are now in the Vatican Archives, and as author Sandra Vasoli has pointed out in her research on the letters, there is a marked contrast between the letter Henry wrote to Anne after he’d received news that she was ill with sweating sickness, an illness that could kill in just a few hours, and the other letters he wrote to her. Sandra, who saw this letter ‘in the flesh’, described it as “visually a mess”. The ink is smeared, there are sprays of ink where the nib of the quill caught on the parchment, there are blots, and it is evidence of the king’s panic, his sheer terror at knowing that his sweetheart may die. The letter’s appearance speaks volumes, in a way that the words just can’t.

Did Anne love the king?

I don’t believe that she did at the beginning, and I do think that Karen Lindsey has a point when she writes of Henry’s pursuit of Anne being what we’d see as sexual harassment today, but I do think that Anne came to love him. I think the fact that it was based on love and passion became a problem later. Anne had no country or royal family behind her to protect her and she’d set a precedent by rising from lady-in-waiting to queen, and replacing a queen. Anne was in quite a vulnerable position. It was natural for her to be jealous when her husband paid other ladies attention as she knew that she could be replaced. She must have known that she wasn’t safe until she’d given Henry a son, and that must have been such a stressful position to be in. Another problem was Anne’s personality. Henry had fallen in love with one Anne and yet also wanted her to be another Anne, a traditional and submissive queen consort – how could Anne be the woman Henry had fallen in love with and be what he perceived to be the perfect consort? It is little wonder that their relationship was so volatile, that they were merry one minute and then arguing the next, and then back to being happy. It was a very real relationship.

But if it was based on love, how could Henry VIII let Anne be executed in 1536?

Well, it depends on whether you believe that Henry was also an innocent victim in 1536, whether he believed that Anne really did betray him. Did love turn to hate because of perceived betrayal? Did he want revenge? Did she have to be punished? Or was it all down to Henry? Did he just decide that she needed replacing, that she had to go at any cost?

Hmmm…

I hold Henry responsible for what happened in May 1536 and I see a man who could switch between love and hate when he felt let down by someone. You only have to look at his treatment of Catherine of Aragon and Mary, the falls of Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas More, the brutal ends of the Carthusian monks… Thomas More had been a true friend and father figure to the young king and yet he ended up on the scaffold even though he chose to keep his views private and never spoke against the king. More once said to his son-in-law “I find his grace my very good lord indeed, and I believe he doth as singularly favour me as any other subject within this realm: howbeit, son Roper, I may tell thee, I have no cause to be proud thereof; for if my head would win him a castle in France, when there was war between us, it should not fail to go.” How astute.

We’ve all seen marriages break down and become acrimonious; we’ve all seen couples who truly loved each other end up hating each other and tearing each other apart. You see news reports of people murdering someone they were said to love. Perhaps there really is a fine line between love and hate.

Henry VIII had loved Anne Boleyn with a passion and he ended up hating her just as passionately. In my opinion, he’d moved heaven and earth to obtain her and she let him down; she wasn’t the queen he expected her to be, she didn’t provide him with a son and heir, she didn’t massage his ego and submit to him, she was jealous, she caused him problems, she didn’t agree with everything he said and did… the passion died, the love soured, and hate grew in its place. The blackening of Anne’s name in 1536, the incest charge, the salacious details of her alleged adultery, came, in my opinion, from a man who had come to hate her, from a man with a very personal stake in it all, from a man who felt humiliated by the Boleyn siblings, the way that they were perceived as laughing at him and for the way that they talked about his lack of sexual prowess. Perhaps Henry felt emasculated, I don’t know, or perhaps he’d simply fallen in love or lust with another woman.

Enough of the rambling… It’s all speculation at best, and my own personal view, but what do you think?

By the way, you can read transcripts of Henry VIII’s letters to Anne Boleyn in their original language (some are in French) and in English in The Harleian miscellany: or, A collection of scarce, curious, and entertaining pamphlets and tracts, as well in manuscript as in print, Volume III, page 51 onwards, at https://archive.org/stream/harleianmiscella03oldyiala#page/50/mode/2up

23 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day – Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII: A great love?”

  1. Jess Hollis says:

    I think Henry did not love Anne at first or for very long. At first it was all a game to him, she was just another lady in waiting he could bed. No Anne was nothing special to him until he realized it was not going to be an easy conquest. Henry was a romantic… well as much of a romantic that a man like him can be.

    Henry was not used to being denied anything. When Anne denied him her body that fipped a switch inside him. He went from lusty king to romantic troubadour. He fancied himself in the court of love and he wrote Anne letters to that effect. But I suspect even then he didn’t love her. When she finally began to relent a little and show him her steely personality, wit, and brains he began to see her for more than just her body. He saw a woman who had beauty grace and a brain.

    Anne spent many of her younger years in France as a maid in waiting. She learned to flirt, dance, and charm a man in France. She was a different flavor of woman that Henry had never had before. He feel in love with her because of the contrast she had with the other women at court.

    As for Anne no I do not believe she warmed to the King for a long while. It must have been flattering to have the attention of the king but we must remember she was still grieving the loss of Henry Percy whom she had been bethrothed too. Which Henry had had broken up before the marriage could take place.

    I believe Anne didn’t set out to be Queen… at least at first. I think she used this to try and stall the king or make him go away all together. But Anne was ambitious and I think when she saw some that yes she could actually become Queen of England she began to look it at it all very differently.

    I do believe that Anne did find love with Henry but I do not believe she thought of him as her soul mate.

    Now for the downfall of their relationship I have a therory also. Marriage changes relationships for better and for worse. Marriage beings about a whole new set of expectations. Henry had fallen in love with a quit witted woman who would speak her mind. But as a wife he wanted someone obident and docile. He was married to Catherine for over 20 years, she was what he belived to be a model wife. She was obident(most of the time) she looked past his lovers and still treated him with devotion.

    Catherine was raised by a mother who was a powerful queen and a wife. She was bread for the role she played with Henry, Anne was unprepared to take on the role of obident wife who can look past an affair and still great Henry with a smile.

    Anne went into the marriage with expectations of her own. She probably felt that Henry’s devotion for her would stand the test of time and he would stay so obsessed with her that he would never look elsewhere. I believe she felt herself finally in love with Henry right as he was falling out of his spell of obsession with her. He had waited years for her, and built everything up in his head and when it all finally happened I think he had buyer remorse. (Henry was famous for this i.e. Anne Of Cleve’s, Protestantism)

    Overall I think they both had great love for each other but possibly not at the same time. And I think I they both went into the marriage expecting very different things. When Anne didn’t deliver him a son, and refused to look over his infidelity Henry really started to loose interest. Suddenly the things that made her different from other women would have been things that would have made him crave anything opposite of her.
    Enter Jane Seymour.
    Henry was also like every other man, when they get an idea in their head there is no fact in the world that will change their mind. He wanted out of his marriage with Anne, he was given information that made it seem like she betrayed him in a major way. He found it in his mind to make this true and good enough to warrant getting rid of her. Just like her cast Catherine of Aragon away after 20+ years on the grounds of one bible scripture he was troubled over.

    Sorry this was so long winded. It’s about 1 am my time so I may have lost my point somewhere.

  2. Jess Hollis says:

    I think Henry did not love Anne at first or for very long. At first it was all a game to him, she was just another lady in waiting he could bed. No Anne was nothing special to him until he realized it was not going to be an easy conquest. Henry was a romantic… well as much of a romantic that a man like him can be.

    Henry was not used to being denied anything. When Anne denied him her body that fipped a switch inside him. He went from lusty king to romantic troubadour. He fancied himself in the court of love and he wrote Anne letters to that effect. But I suspect even then he didn’t love her. When she finally began to relent a little and show him her steely personality, wit, and brains he began to see her for more than just her body. He saw a woman who had beauty grace and a brain.

    Anne spent many of her younger years in France as a maid in waiting. She learned to flirt, dance, and charm a man in France. She was a different flavor of woman that Henry had never had before. He feel in love with her because of the contrast she had with the other women at court.

    As for Anne no I do not believe she warmed to the King for a long while. It must have been flattering to have the attention of the king but we must remember she was still grieving the loss of Henry Percy whom she had been bethrothed too. Which Henry had had broken up before the marriage could take place.

    I believe Anne didn’t set out to be Queen… at least at first. I think she used this to try and stall the king or make him go away all together. But Anne was ambitious and I think when she saw some that yes she could actually become Queen of England she began to look it at it all very differently.

    I do believe that Anne did find love with Henry but I do not believe she thought of him as her soul mate.

    Now for the downfall of their relationship I have a therory also. Marriage changes relationships for better and for worse. Marriage beings about a whole new set of expectations. Henry had fallen in love with a quit witted woman who would speak her mind. But as a wife he wanted someone obident and docile. He was married to Catherine for over 20 years, she was what he belived to be a model wife. She was obident(most of the time) she looked past his lovers and still treated him with devotion.

    Catherine was raised by a mother who was a powerful queen and a wife. She was bread for the role she played with Henry, Anne was unprepared to take on the role of obident wife who can look past an affair and still great Henry with a smile.

    Anne went into the marriage with expectations of her own. She probably felt that Henry’s devotion for her would stand the test of time and he would stay so obsessed with her that he would never look elsewhere. I believe she felt herself finally in love with Henry right as he was falling out of his spell of obsession with her. He had waited years for her, and built everything up in his head and when it all finally happened I think he had buyer remorse. (Henry was famous for this i.e. Anne Of Cleve’s, Protestantism)

    Overall I think they both had great love for each other but possibly not at the same time. And I think I they both went into the marriage expecting very different things. When Anne didn’t deliver him a son, and refused to look over his infidelity Henry really started to loose interest. Suddenly the things that made her different from other women would have been things that would have made him crave anything opposite of her.
    Enter Jane Seymour.
    Henry was also like every other man, when they get an idea in their head there is no fact in the world that will change their mind. He wanted out of his marriage with Anne, he was given information that made it seem like she betrayed him in a major way. He found it in his mind to make this true and good enough to warrant getting rid of her. Just like her cast Catherine of Aragon away after 20+ years on the grounds of one bible scripture he was troubled over.

    Sorry this was so long winded. It’s about 1 am my time so I may have lost my point somewhere.

    1. Jess Hollis says:

      Please forgive the typos I typed that all on my phone and I was afraid every minute that I would mess up and have to type it all again!

  3. AB says:

    Firstly I just want to look at some of the wilder theories about the relationship between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Some writers, who have looked at the sources far too imaginatively, have suggested that Henry felt betrayed by Anne, she was not a virgin when they slept together, she had learned sexual practices in France, she was corrupted; some have argued that Henry was deceived or tricked into marrying her, she bewitched him, he fell out of love with her when the spell rang out.

    This is all nonsense. We have no evidence that Anne lost her virginity in France; this is a speculative idea that has put forward by historians who don’t like Anne. Anne grew up in the pious household of Claude of France and occupied herself with embroidery, reading, and assisting her mistress in her daily tasks. She also took part in the ceremonies at court. Anne may have enjoyed some form of relationship with the virtuous and learned Marguerite of Navarre, but we do not know this for certain. Anne does seem to have become interested in the evangelical tradition while she was on the Continent, and this love of religious literature and debate stayed with her all her life.

    When Anne arrived in England at Henry VIII’s court, she was an educated, intelligent, sophisticated and well-dressed young woman. She may not have been the most beautiful woman at court, but she had gorgeous dark eyes, long dark hair, a slim figure and a pretty mouth. I tend to think Anne was actually more attractive than most historians think. She captivated Henry with her wit, intelligence, poise and love of learning. In historical fiction, Anne is sometimes portrayed as a vampish, alluring slattern with a sharp tongue, but this one-dimensional portrayal is not really supported by the surviving evidence.

    No, Anne Boleyn was more than that. She was ambitious, but so were most people at Henry’s court. During the annulment crisis, she encouraged Henry to read reformist texts and intervened on behalf of convicted heretics abroad. She loved reading and debating religion with her brother; Chapuys even thought they were more Lutheran than Luther himself. At the same time, Anne enjoyed wearing the latest fashions, taking part in the court ceremonies and participating in the hunt, dances, masques and plays. She was highly cultured and shared many of Henry’s interests.

    I think Henry was utterly in love with Anne; I do not believe she loved him immediately, but nor do I think she craved the crown with cold ambition. Maybe she grew to love him; at her trial, she admitted that she had been overly jealous of Henry and there is enough evidence that she upbraided him for his infidelities and disliked his attention to other women. However, at the same time, Henry was described as being ‘merry’ with Anne more than with any other wife and they continued to enjoy one another’s company. They had many interests in common and Henry’s love letters testify to his devotion to her.

    Anne was not the dominant partner in the relationship. She had an anxious, highly strung temperament; in one letter, Henry has to comfort Anne when she is worrying about the annulment proceedings. She grew panicky and fearful at a banquet, fearing that all eyes were on her, and later she laughed excessively when Henry went to meet a mistress, causing grave offence to the visiting French envoy. Henry needed to comfort Anne and persuade her that he was still in love with her. Even to the very end, I think Anne was shocked by what had happened to her and could not believe that Henry would sacrifice her. But he did and she met her death with braveness and dignity.

    This was a great love affair, especially on Henry’s behalf, and there was trust, affection and intimacy between Henry and Anne, but as you say Claire, she disappointed him and Henry turned on her, just as he turned on all those who disappointed him. It was not Cromwell who orchestrated Anne’s downfall; no, it was the king. Henry became even more ruthless once Anne was gone. Elizabeth, the daughter of their union, had traits from both her parents; like her father, she was charming, quick-tempered, outgoing and authoritative; like her mother, she was highly strung, flirtatious, intelligent and sophisticated. She revered both her parents, her mother in private and her father very publicly.

  4. Christine says:

    I’m not sure if love actually exists as the scientists say it’s just a chemical balance in the brain, we think we love someone when the object of our affections means more to us than any other and the thought of losing them fills us with horror, we know their ‘the one’ and so we call it ‘love’, yet love is supposed to endure whearas lust fades away usually quite quickly, the fact that Henry had never experienced such a strong emotion before proves that his feelings towards his first wife was quite simply a young mans crush on an older woman, (the five years difference in their ages must have made her appear very attractive to him) then Anne comes along and he fell violently, and it wasn’t just her physical charms though obviously that was the reason he was attracted to her in the first place but it was a meeting of minds also, yes she was interested in the works of Luther and loved discussions on the subject, she was a good musician something else which she had in common with Henry who also penned his own verses, and had a lovely sonorous singing voice, they were both fond of hunting and would often ride for hours together, she also after agreeing to marry him had the theory that he was not answerable to the Pope being chosen by God to rule and his was the divine right of kings, this led to the breakdown of the church and was the catalyst for the break with Rome, Henry agreed the Pope should not meddle in England’s affairs and this way of thinking, ( after failing to get the anullment from Rome) actually sowed the seeds for Annes own downfall as he then believed he all powerful, at the beginning of their courtship Anne was no doubt shocked he felt that strongly about her, she was in love with Harry Percy and was looking forward to becoming his wife, they had become secretly engaged and she was enjoying life at court, Henry determined to break up the couple had Wolsey intervene and the engagement was called off, Anne was sent home to Hever and she stayed there sulking and wounding her bruised heart whilst her lover was packed of to the family estate at Northumberland and married the Earl of Shrewsburys daughter to whom he had been betrothed for some time, (an arrangement made by both the couples parents years before) was Anne in love with Percy and if so did she ever feel the same about Henry years down the line? When some time later she returned to court she was no doubt older and more sophisticated and having had her first flush of youth cruelly destroyed she was maybe harder in outlook, gone was the softer more gullible girl and in her place was a more harder woman who was determined not to let anyone make a fool of her again, her sister Mary had been Henrys mistress for some time and then been discarded, whether Mary was upset we have no idea as her feelings are unknown, did Anne witness her sister in floods of tears or did she see Mary just shrug it of, did Anne feel resentment towards his treatment of her sister and was she a bit contemptuous of her for being easy? Yet had Mary any choice in the matter as once the Kings eye alighted on you what could you do about it, you would hardly want to anger the King by refusing him, yet this is exactly what Anne did and she was brazen enough to tell him she was a virtuous woman, and she was not content to just be his mistress, all this behaviour smacks of a woman completely in control of the situation and unlike her ardent suitor, her feelings were not involved, he was the dog lapping up the crumbs at her table, time and again she left court to get away from him as he placed her in an impossible situation and she must have felt intimidated and threatened, he was not the kitchen hand and she was not the daughter of the cook, he was the most powerful man in the kingdom and her family’s fortune and her good name depended on him, in the end after all the heartfelt letters he sent her and the many gifts and the pleadings to return to court and the protestations of love she finally gave in, and this is where her name became irretrievably blackened as rumours began to circulate that he was intending to replace Katherine a much loved and popular queen with her, we know of Henrys feelings towards Anne and we have his carefully preserved letters in the Vatican to testify, she was the direct cause of the break with Rome but what do we know of her feelings towards him, I believe she resented him initially for ruining her engagement with Percy and she most likely didn’t like the idea of him in bed with her sister, she could not have any other love affair after that as everyone knew the King had claimed her, there was the tale about Wyatt the poet who knew Anne when young and they had a little argument over a locket she had given him, Wyatt himself loved Anne yet had to back down when Henry told him in no uncertain terms she was his, therefore Anne was vilified because the King wanted her but none of that was her fault, no other man could have her and Henry was married, Anne didn’t want to be his mistress and possibly have a bastard to bring up, she didn’t want to be used and cast aside and Henry couldn’t live without her, therefore he decided he would marry her and she no doubt promised him she would bear him many sons, this then became an obsession with him because Katherine would not back down and Anne would not back down either, thus this became the most talked about eternal triangle in history, did she really love him I don’t think so, though on Henrys part certainly this was a great love affair I doubt it was on hers, I think Anne having been in love and lost, then decided to make the best of a rather difficult situation, if your a young girl and you are being wooed by an older richer man showering you with presents its easy to develop an affection for your suitor, I think what she had for Henry was a rather lukewarm affection and the outbursts of anger she showed after he paid court to other mistresses was just the result of having had him to herself for so long, she was so used to being the centre of his affection and felt slighted when his eye fell on anyone else, Henry had split the kingdom apart for her he had discarded his wife of twenty years and had executed some of his well loved and trusted ministers for her, he had caused misery and distress to his daughter Mary and caused religious upheaval, I feel it compares with another great love story, the story of Paris and Helen and the fall of Troy who Paris after seeing Helen decided he had to have her and abducted her and thus began the seize of Troy which lasted for ten years, the tale of which is recounted by Homer, Anne and Henrys love affair lasted for about ten years and when Troy was sacked and lay burning so England burnt also with the religious fires of upheaval, and when Annes head lay bleeding in the straw it was also proof that love does not always last and can be very destructive, after her death Henry never loved another woman the way he loved her, though possibly he came close to it with her cousin Catherine Howard, but I believe Anne had been his one true love and it is one of our most enduring love affairs, happy Valentine’s Day everyone!‍❤️‍‍

    1. Claire says:

      I think the Harleian MS one on Archive.org, which can be downloaded in various formats (kindle/epub/PDF etc) for free and read online, is the best one as it has the letters in their original language too and I love reading the ones Henry wrote in French.

  5. Yes, Henry loved Anne. He respected her ability and courage. Even later, after her execution, he let slip enough to know that. I believe in time, Anne loved Henry as well. I would say when she offered him hope, that was sincere.

    In 1536, it must have seemed clear to him there would be no son. If Anne really was born c1501, she was nearing the end of her childbearing days. She was formidable, as Katherine had been, and Henry would not have wanted a repeat of that mess, nor any question of the legitimacy of any heir produced by a new wife. In addition, he had cause to be afraid, for the Empire and France were on friendlier terms than in decades, and he was vulnerable due to the schism he created. Anne stuck in Charles V’s craw. With her gone, his foreign relations would be eased. At home, she was now at odds with Cromwell, who had the King’s confidence. She was a liability without the protection of powerful foreign or
    domestic relations. Cromwell did what he always did, managed matters so that Henry had what he wanted. Henry may have bought what Cromwell was selling at first, because it fit what he wanted, but he knew better-for he told Jane Anne had died for her interference in politics.

    1. Clara says:

      Hello, can I ask where you have seen/read that he implied that he loved Anne after her execution? Would be interested in evaluating that particular source! From all that I have read, he barely spoke about Anne after her execution apart from his warning to Jane that she shouldn’t meddle in his affairs or she would end up suffering from the same fate as Anne (could this perhaps be construed that he didn’t really respect her that much after all in hindsight?)

  6. Globerose says:

    On this ‘Day of Love’, I’m probably committing an absolute crime against Romance in musing that I don’t think it matters much whether she loved him or he loved her, or when, or if, or for how long; because …. Henry was a King of consummate promise; of strength int he field; of virility; of virtue; the hope of his nation; a messiah’ but he had failed to produce an heir and his entire quarrel with Katharine comes down to this and only this. He can love or not love; battle with giants; take on the known christian world; but what he must do, and what ‘she’ must do, this new love, this new hope, this promise, is to make an English heir – MALE. And nothing else matters.
    Of course, the cruellest irony is that they did make – Anne and Henry together – an English heir. She was Elizabeth 1, the Glory of her Nation. Ipso, the love song of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII is a Tragedy. And we all love it.

  7. Alison Martin says:

    I believe Henry was absolutely besotted with her and had she given in to him in the earliest days of his infatuation, she would be a footnote in the history of England and not a player. She was a challenge he thrived on until she was had and did not conform to the mold of wife and failed to give him the son he required.

    Time and time again throughout Henrys life we clearly see that you were loved until you no longer had use or dared to disagree/question him. Henry was not a man capable of putting the well being of someone above his own desires which ofcourse is the very definition of true love. Unfortunately for those around him, Henrys “love” was always conditional.

    As for Anne, she was a woman that would not compromise her own standards, not even for the King of England. Her feelings were immaterial. The King wanted her and whilst she was not brazen enough to completely ward off his advances, she was not about to be another woman he used and threw away. The rewards of becoming his wife would surely have appealed to her but she was never going to conform to his idea of what a wife should be. Anne was a very intelligent woman and had to know that until she produced his son, she was not immune to his changes of heart that were so common and so devastating to those who fell from grace.

    This was not the great love story that is so often portrayed. It is a simple case of a man who became infatuated with a woman unlike any he had ever met. The very things that caused the infatuation are the very things he began to hate about her once she had given herself to him, and changed a nation forever. He would have indulged her had she given him a son but lets not rebuke Anne for her failure to produce a son. Lets put the blame where it rests. Henry failed to give her a son.

    Great love stories do not end with one of the parties losing their head and the other letting it happen. She died because she, just like every other person who came and went in the life of Henry, lost her usefulness. And in Annes case, I think who she was at the core meant that the son was imperative because submissive she could never be. A story it is, a love story it is not

  8. Esther says:

    IMO, Henry was much too selfish to love anyone (other than himself) … including Anne Boleyn. His selfishness is shown by his unnecessary brutality … especially to Mary — a “good faith exception” meant that he did not have to bastardize her even if the marriage to Katherine of Aragon was invalid. Anne was a challenge — and a potential mother of a son — but there was nothing that could withstand Henry’s conviction that G-d’s will always coincided with Henry’s own wants.

    I’m also not sure how Anne could have sorted out her feelings for Henry as a suitor and husband from her feelings and duties toward him as king

  9. Banditqueen says:

    I believe Henry didn’t love Anne at first as he only wanted a mistress, but he desired her. Anne probably respected Henry as the King, but wasn’t interested at first. She refused him and his desire and obsession soured through the roof. Then, Henry tried a new tactic, one he probably wasn’t used to, courtship. He wooed Anne with gifts and letters and she became intrigued, allowing Henry to visit her and I believe that they really did get to know each other. Although Henry was still looking for a mistress, he was also looking into ending his marriage. It occurred to him that as he was starting to love Anne more passionately that she may offer him a long term solution.

    By 1527, for certain, or even sometime in 1526, Anne and Henry were in a relationship. It’s at this time that they appear to have been spending more time together, realising they had a lot in common and it is believed that they had marriage in mind. Anne was sophisticated, well educated, cosmopolitan, a linquist, great musician, playing loot, viola and other instruments, enjoyed hunting and dancing, talking theology, was interested in reforms and politics, had a lively and witty personality, knew how to own the room, could debate just about anything and was ambitious. In other words, she was a good match for Henry. By now he was aware of all of these qualities and he was definitely interested in Anne long term. He wanted her as his sole mistress, but Anne uped the stakes, leading Henry to want her as his wife. She told him she would only be his wife, but that was impossible. She also told him, however, that if she was his wife, she would give him sons. By 1527 he was writing to Rome for an annulment and permission to remarry someone related to a lady he had slept with. It is now commonly believed that he was seeking leave to marry Anne and the mystery lady was her sister Mary.

    Henry and Anne had agreed to marry, but the question is whether they were in love. Unfortunately I can’t read minds or hearts, especially after almost 500 years, but from the time they were now spending together, their deeper commitment and other clues, yes, I think they were. Henry, certainly was by now passionately in love, he also greatly desired Anne physically, but she had been around him long enough to find him as fascinating as he did her. She was also offering herself as Queen. Yes, however, I do think Anne was at least starting to love Henry and both of them saw marriage as their long term future.

    Henry was to court Anne for another six years, but he must have hoped to marry her long before this. The annulment/divorce dragged on until Henry took his own action in 1533. By 1528 the evidence points to both Anne and Henry being lovers, not in the sexual sense, but as in being really into each other. They were committed, working together on the divorce, working out new ways to approach it; Anne was aware of everything Wolsey and the others were doing and she was kept up to date on embassies by Henry. Anne may even have interested Henry in reform books and translations. Her brother did translations for Anne and he and her family were deeply in favour at court. Henry was a regular visitor to Hever. Anne was more and more in his company and his letters are very passionate at this time. Anne had also given him gifts and both wrote secret notes in each other’s prayer books. When Anne nearly died in Summer 1528 of the dreaded sweat Henry’s letters are sad and desperate and loving. This was not an affair. It was a passionate loving relationship, with a view to marriage and children.

    Henry and Anne by the time they married in January 1533 were still in love, but I believe their relationship was somewhat delicate. I also think that on some level Anne was more in love with Henry than he was her. Although they were clearly enjoying each other’s presence in France and Anne had given herself sexually and spiritually to Henry, by now things were not altogether right. The failure of the court in 1529 to find fault with the marriage and Katherine’s triumphant referral to Rome had left Anne angry and flat. She was fed up and threatened to go home and not come back. She was demanding that Henry prove his love and she pushed for action. Henry himself had lost patience a year later, but real moves to settle things only happened in 1531. After an angry tiff when Anne complained that Katherine still made his shirts, Henry finally ordered his wife to leave. He then began the steps to become head of the church and get his own divorce. The death of Archbishop of Canterbury, Anne’s pregnancy and submission of the clergy cleared the way for marriage. Henry and Anne took matters into their own hands, got married and Cranmer and Cromwell did the rest. It is a measure of how strong their wills, minds and hearts were that Anne and Henry stuck together through all of this, but something changed after their marriage.

    For some reason after only three years it was all over. Anne had one successful pregnancy and two failed pregnancies, the last one a boy, but this was not the cause of her fall. At some point I think they grew apart, with Anne still loving the King, but Henry grew more and more fed up and fell out of love. I think he only wanted to stay with Anne to get a son and no I have no evidence to back that up; it’s a gut feeling. He would have been delighted had she had a son in 1536, but that doesn’t mean he had to stay around her all the time. He was publicly committed to Anne, but in private they had a lot of problems. Anne had a different idea of Queenship than Henry, thinking she was his equal, could not mind her own business or accept his mistresses while she was pregnant, arguing loudly with him, not able to be an obedient wife. Henry carried on his traditional affairs, although he and Anne partied a lot, built together, had two successful working progresses, Anne refused to accept his behaviour. By 1535 Anne was also being critical of Cromwell and Henry’s misuse of reformation funds. Anne was a very socially aware person, with a genuine concern for good causes, education and the poor. She wanted Cromwell to allocate money from the smaller religious houses towards these but he disagreed. Anne was outspoken and made enemies. Anne also didn’t match Cromwell’s ambitious foreign policy and after her sad last miscarriage, she was vulnerable. Her enemies rallied against her and when silly rumours spread about her unguarded words and flirtatious conversation with Norris, Henry ordered an investigation.

    Henry may or may not have been thinking about leaving Anne in 1536, but by April I think their relationship was in big trouble. Anne was very vulnerable, but now she was in real danger. I seriously believe that Henry no longer loved her. He was partly committed to her as his wife, but his deep passion had gone. He only saw Anne now as a way to get a son, but even though they had reconciled, maybe as months passed without any sign of another pregnancy he was getting fed up. Henry was open to the suggestion that Anne was up to no good, had Cromwell investigate, but Cromwell had his own agenda. He conspired to get rid of Anne and when he questioned Mark Smeaton he got the answers he hoped for. He invented a dossier of false but convincing evidence that Anne and others were lovers, starting with Henry Norris, named by Smeaton. Anne could do nothing to make Henry listen, her cell was full of spies and her enemies tried her. Henry was convinced that Anne had betrayed him and wanted to kill him and his son and daughter. Love, if there was any left, turned to hate, grief, anger and fear. Anne didn’t stand a chance. Yet, Henry’s changing her method of death for burning as a female traitor to beheading with a sword shows some regard for Anne as his former wife. His dismissal of her and her memory shows a coldness that cannot be explained.

    Henry had an accident in January which could have explained his behaviour towards Anne and the swiftness that he banished her and her memory from his life. He now began again with Jane Seymour, the mother of his son and the woman he would lay beside for eternity. However, I don’t believe he loved Jane as deeply as he had once loved Anne. It was love, but was it passion? Actually, the only wife I believe Henry really loved, deeply, fondly, heartfelt, passionately, forever, and would have ever loved, but for lack of a son…was Katherine of Aragon. He didn’t divorce Katherine because he no longer loved her, but because he was desperate for a son. Katherine was the benchmark by which the others were judged and not even Anne measured up in Henry’s mind or heart.

    1. Christine says:

      I believe also when Henry first saw Anne he was attracted to her and that was all, there were many prettier women at court but Anne maybe stood out amongst the fair faced English girls for her notable French style, the way French women stand out today for their dress sense, she spoke with a charming accent and was cosmopolitan in outlook, she was possibly taller than average and was very slim and dark, it was this blend of the exotic that possibly attracted not only Henry but Percy and Wyatt and possibly others to, initially he enjoyed flirting with her and thought he would soon be able to get her into bed, the fact that she didn’t only inflamed his ardour, he could not believe she would turn him down, he was called the most handsomest prince in Christendom, he was used to women falling at his feet and since boyhood had had everyone fawning over him, so he was completely taken aback when this young woman said no to him, he was baffled and quite possibly found it exciting, he thought it would only be a matter of time before she succumbed, how little did he know Anne! After months and months he penned her a heart felt letter saying for over a year he had been struck with the dart of love, he then said he would give up all others if she would only be his and she would be his only mistress, but still she would not succumb, she told him she would not be his mistress and it was her obstinate stance over this that made her appear so attractive, so beguiling to Henry, he had never wanted another woman so much but what he failed to realise is, nothing looks so desirable as when it’s out of reach, everything he had ever wanted had fallen so easily into his lap and so what began as a mild fancy soon developed into a deep and very real love, he was obsessed yes, but at the root of his obsession was a genuine feeling of love which involves caring for one another, and there is proof that he did care for Anne in the frantic letter he sent her when she was ill, Henrys problem was another obsession, his need for a son and finally it was this one that outlived the other, Anne could not give him a son after all her promises and after just three years of marriage his feelings whittled away and died, a love that had consumed him for ten years and split the country apart ended in tragedy on the scaffold one bright may morning, and that was the end of one of England’s most enigmatic queens.

  10. Clara says:

    In my opinion, he thought he loved her at first but I think he got confused with lust and love quite early on. He was attracted to Anne, and if she had surrendered herself to him early on he would have moved on to the next conquest. But she didn’t! At first she rejected his attentions and then later his sexual advances and it drove Henry into a passionate frenzy. He wanted her so badly that over time he confused his lustful feelings for love, and who could blame him, from all accounts his feelings were intense and passionate. But you start to see a lull in their relationship quite early on, as soon as she permitted sexual relations with him. It wasn’t all of a sudden but you start seeing that things aren’t quite right early on in the relationship. There fights are as dramatic as their romantic passions, everything is to the extreme. Their relationship is one based on passion and fire, they have intense feelings for each other but they are not compatible. Everything is either storms or sunshine, there’s no neutral ground or domestic contentment. Then when things go wrong, they go really wrong. For whatever reason, Henry decides that Anne has to go. Not only that, but he decides that she must die. Something happened to sour their relationship, there are dozens of factors and points to consider, but for whatever reason, Henry was perfectly happy to let Anne be executed because he didn’t want to be married to her anymore. In my opinion, this alone shows he could not have loved her. How could you order the cold blooded murder of the mother of your child? Yes, he had to rid himself of her, but to execute his wife was completely unprecedented. There were many options available to him but he chose the most extreme. He could not have loved her at the end of their relationship, and my instinct is that he could never have loved her at all, because if he did, there would be a small glimmer of conscience that he should keep her alive. My feelings are that at one point, he realised he wasn’t as attracted to her any more and when he realised the intense passion was no longer there for her, he started to become annoyed by her fiery, stubborn, challenging character and he came to the realisation he had been blinded by lust. He felt betrayed because his lust had practically torn his country apart and there was no redemption in the guise of a male heir. Now his head was clear and he realised he didn’t love Anne, he wanted a clean slate and needed to forget about his foolish, lustful mistake.

    That’s my two cents anyway. In regards to Anne, I was always under the impression that she was not interested in Henry at the beginning, and was co-erced into the relationship, but was flattered by the interest he had in her. Once he began to prove his worth to her, she began to fall in love with him, but she played the game by her own rules and made sure things were to her advantage (again who could blame her in that situation when she is constantly being harassed by the King who won’t take no for an answer). She definitely believed Henry loved her and that’s why she was so bold with him, because she thought he was so enfatuated with her that he would let her take liberties. I can only imagine her shock and confusion when he arrested her after everything they went through in their turbulent relationship, poor woman!

  11. Melanie Hernandez says:

    +500 years later Anne continues to captivate us… the craziest thing is how much I wish I could just catch a glimpse of her even if it was from afar. I feel like even the thought of her leaves an impression, I cannot imagine being in the same room as her. I’m sure in her time some would of not paid her any mind but others like myself think of her on the daily. I wonder if she ever thought that anyone in the future would admire her as we do. Yes I agree that at first Anne was so different from all the other English roses running around his court. She was educated and highly cultured, she could dance and play musical instruments, her hair and eyes so dark. I feel like Henry felt like he finally met his match someone that matched him in intelligence and class. I feel like those times were different in ways I cant comprehend because that was the “norm” executions and hangings… I don’t know if Henry really believed she cheated and committed treason I think he forced himself to believe it and forced himself to move on from it, though I’m sure it had to come back to his mind when he executed Catherine Howard. I wonder if his courtiers ever spoke on such things, and how they really felt about their king (I’m aware it was not smart to speak of the king in a negative manner).

    1. Heather McP says:

      I’M WITH YOU ON THIS. I wish I could go back in time and have a chat or better yet let her see what life is like for women now. I think that she knew she would be remembered in history. Henry did things that had never been done before to be with her. She had to know that she wouldn’t be forgotten, I think she worried that she would be a villain.

    2. Christine says:

      Like Henry were all obsessed with Anne we all admire her for her very strength and tenacity, they way she kept the King at arms length for so many years, she was a highly intelligent woman, the sort who stood out in a crowd and held centre stage, she was unique in that she achieved what she wanted, that of rising from just a knights daughter, a lady in waiting to become the first lady in the land, ironic though it is we find her so fascinating yet if we had actually known her could any of us say we would actually like her? To me she comes across as a mans woman not a woman’s woman, in her lifetime she had some women friends but I think she preferred the company of men better which many flirts do, she had a cutting tongue and was short tempered and sarcastic, not the qualities that make for a warm friendship, I don’t think she was the sort of woman who would give you sympathy if you came to her in floods of tears because you were heartbroken over a man, what you would probably get is a remark like ‘get over it’ not a hug and a kiss, that said she was known to be extremely loyal to her friends and at her execution her ladies were very distressed and protective of her body, whereby they wouldn’t allow any of the Tower wardens to handle her and chose to carry her themselves to be buried, a dreadful task and one which those poor ladies forced themselves to carry out, it must have been dreadful for them as she had been decapitated and it took strength of character to accomplish, after decapitation the amount of blood the body expels is massive, they must have been horrified and it shows the great love they had for her, she did make a lot of enemies and treated her stepdaughter with cruelty and contempt, her first love Harry Percy remarked that she was a bad woman and she alienated several members of her own family yet she had a deep and abiding love for her daughter and loved her pet dogs, these traits showed her to be a warm hearted person capable of deep affection also.

  12. Meghana B says:

    I’ve always believed that Henry thought he loved Anne, or at least before their marriage. Theirs was a six-year courtship, and she was witty, intelligent and attractive enough to keep his attention. While I don’t think Anne loved Henry, I believe she truly grew to be fond of him. It was her character that destroyed her. Anne was not a dutiful or wifely person, and Henry was used to women like Katherine of Aragon. I think Katherine was the only person Henry ever truly loved, and he went through many wives trying to find someone like her, but who could also give him a son, because he was trying to protect his kingdom. I wish all of them had enjoyed happier lives.

  13. Daphne constantine says:

    Henry was an incurable romantic. He needed to be in love. None of his wives were chosen for dutiful or state reasons other than Anne of cleves and he couldn’t bring himself to consummate that marriage as he didn’t fall in love with her. I think he fell hooker line and sinker for Anne Boleyn and she played him like a fish on a line. He would have given her the world if she had asked it but she abused his kindness and warmth with teasing and talk about him behind his back. She knew he was her guarantee of queenship, status and the retention of all the favours she received and relied too heavily on her sexual power over him, in the end he had had enough of her temper, her demands and her high handedness. I think the charges of adultery etc gave him the final shock he needed to get rid of her. I believe Cromwell trumped them up to get himself a lease of life as Anne Boleyn had it in for him. Henry believed what Cromwell told him probably because it was feasible due to Anne’s behaviour and manner, up to that point I think Anne might have won Henry back again. I don’t think she ever loved him, just recognised him as her route to power and comfort. I think he adored her but she didn’t appreciate it until,it was too late.

  14. Joan says:

    I think Henry was trying to escape his marriage to Katherine as it would not have given him any more children.. He was obsessed with having an heir. But Anne was given little chance to provide an heir, then he realized her outspokenness, and I believed when he told Jane Seymour to “remember what happened to the former queen” that was so telling, and was actually the truth. Its cute to have an outspoken girlfriend, but not a wife, and certainly not a queen. I have to imagine a spoiled rich kid who never grew up, never disciplined or held accountable, he got to do and have anything he wanted. I think the better question would be if he could appreciate love, his upbringing taught him nothing. No, just time to move on, toys get cast aside.

    As for Anne, wow, I get the feeling she was logical and was ahead of her time. She could hold her own with Henry, so could Katherine, and I think this is why Jane Seymour got a clue, don’t be like that. I think Anne may have though she loved him, but she didn’t really know him, and that 7 year romance was too crazy with the divorce of Katherine, no time to think.

    A seven year long romance, I can’t even imagine that whole time, but maybe she never really knew him? You have to know someone to love them, at least somewhat. You are right, it was dangerous for her, she had no royal standing on her own.

  15. Veronuca says:

    I doubt very much that Anne was truly in love with Henry. He was not exactly in his prime at this point. Her family no doubt were putting pressure on her to accept his advances because it would benefit the family. Most women whether they were single or married would have given into a King’s advances fairly quickly because their families would have encouraged them. Anne’s uncle sure stabbed her in the back in the end.

    The fact that she held off for so long –and that Henry was still after her is amazing. Sure she had a way about her but she wasn’t known to be a beauty. Henry would have remained sexually active even though Anne held him off.

    Henry was a romantic and loved playing the lover but once he conquered her, his eyes were roaming again for a new conquest. He waited all of two weeks to marry again.

  16. Tracey says:

    Lust at first sight for Henry. Ambition for the Howard family. Not love, not as we like to think of love. Money, placement, and land were important. To Henry an heir was important. Combine these things and you have their relationship. Oh, they wrote poetry and sonnets, sang and danced, but these are just courtly things everyone did in the renaissance times. Underneath bubbled fear, fear of the axe, fear of being expelled from court. I really do not think that love came into this relationship at all. The only women Henry loved were his mother and Jane Seymour, only because the latter gave him his son, Edward.

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