Was Anne Boleyn a homewrecker?
Posted By Claire on March 7, 2019
In 1533, King Henry VIII married his sweetheart Anne Boleyn, the woman he’d been pursuing for at least six years, and then had his marriage to his wife of nearly 24 years annulled – yes, he did it that way round!
Some fiction would lead us to believe that this was all Anne Boleyn’s fault. Apparently, she set her sights on the crown and laid a trap for Henry VIII. He was putty in her hands. He just fell into her trap… Face palm, head bang, sigh…
“Anne Boleyn was nothing but a homewrecker” (that’s me putting it politely) is a comment that I quite often receive on social media. I’m asked how I can defend her when she stole someone else’s husband. But was she really like that? Let me share my views on this, and I’d love to hear yours.
You can find the “Questions about Anne Boleyn” playlist, which includes “Did Henry VIII love Anne Boleyn?” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CedlPPOO-_E&list=PLepqWJ7TpkrKpzoJ8DPHBLgzGr0Gg2IcU
39 thoughts on “Was Anne Boleyn a homewrecker?”
No. Anyone who believes Henry fell to Anne’s feminine wiles is ignoring Henry’s primary motivation. Catherine was no longer able to have children and Henry wanted a son. The fact that Bessie Blount was able to give him one only confirmed for him that the fault was Catherine’s, not his own. I’m not sure how able Anne was to say no to Henry’s offer to marry her. At this point he hadn’t reached the epic tyranny he would show later but he still went to great lengths to punish those who crossed with him (Woolsey, Buckingham, More, Fisher, Cromwell…) Katherine Parr didn’t seem to think she had a choice even though she was in love with someone else. I truly believe if it hadn’t been Anne, it would have been someone else but Henry was set getting a new wife. Did Anne use her position – I believe so. She was an intelligent woman and made sure her family was advanced. Still, I can’t help but believe they may have actually lost much if not everything had she had twarted him and hurt his pride.
Did Anne use her position or did the men in her life use it? I dare say it was more than likely the men who discovered the attraction Henry had for Anne. It’s hard to imagine this time when women who considered inferior to men in every way. Women had little to no say in their lives, especially when an advantageous marriage was a possibility. Using Jane Grey as an example makes an excellent point. Her desire to not become queen is well documented, yet she followed where she was led. I believe there are several reasons why Jane Seymour was never painted as a homewrecker. She married Henry after the execution of Anne, of course, but also Catherine of Aragon had died & was no longer in the picture. Catherine of Aragon was a beloved queen who was replaced by Anne. This event did not sit well with the English people so poor Anne never had a chance to win their hearts. Jane Seymour was seen as a welcome relief after a turbulent time. I believe another reason that she has been painted as a lady of grace is that she delivered the only surviving legitimate son of Henry VIII. The chroniclers of the time saw goodness & glory even though in reality she fit the bill as a homewrecker as much as Anne. I so enjoy your videos & inspire me to ponder this fascinating part of history.
A modern woman might see this question and say, hell, yeah! I might even say yes, but then that would be to ignore the evidence and pretend I haven’t read or studied Anne and Henry since the beginning of time. I completely agree with Lorna, because Henry was indeed examining his marriage before his relationship with Anne. In any event why is it the woman who is to blame for “home wrecking” when the more guilty party is the married man who is cheating on his wife? Regardless of what was ” accepted practice ” that is the King having sexual needs satisfied by a temporary mistress while his wife was pregnant, Henry and anyone else cheating on their spouses or with a married person was and is an adulterer. Henry by wanting Anne in the first place, by desiring another woman was committing adultery “in his heart” at the very least. Anne didn’t want him at first, but once she consented to be his lover and his future wife she became as guilty as the King. She may not have wanted to sleep with Henry, they may have been in love and agreed to marry, but they were both complicit in ending Henry’s marriage. However, that doesn’t mean that Henry wasn’t in this case already looking to find a way out of his marriage.
Henry before he began his relationship with Anne had met with Divines and had asked Cardinal Thomas Wolsey to hold a secret hearing with the other Church scholars to look at how he could bring the marriage to Katherine of Aragon to an end quietly and quickly. He had come across the verses in Leviticus that suggested his marriage to his brothers widow wasn’t blessed, although he did have a healthy child, his daughter, Mary. Henry was advised to interpret the verses as meaning he was denied sons and the reason was that his first wife had been married to his brother, Arthur. Henry’s motivation for ending his marriage was of course to find a new wife who could provide him with his much needed son and heir. The marriage was not over, but certainly Henry had ceased to sleep with Katherine a year earlier and he had convinced himself his marriage wasn’t valid. Katherine had married his brother, but the marriage wasn’t consummated she would swear in confession and open Court, she and Henry had married for love and she had taught him how to be a King. Henry was devoted to her, he loved her and he had shared the tragedy of the loss of five children with her. Henry was, however, a second son, never raised to be King, the second only Tudor King and he saw the end of his Dynasty without a living son. However, Henry didn’t want to humiliate Katherine and hoped for a quiet annulment. Katherine found out, Wolsey declared he wasn’t qualified to rule on the marriage, Katherine refused to accept her marriage to Henry wasn’t valid and secrecy wasn’t an option.
Thanks Clare for an informative view on Anne Boleyn and the acussation that she was a home wrecker. I concur that Anne and all of Henry’s wives were merely pawns in a ‘white male’ dominated era! Anne would have had no idea what the future would bring and as mentioned, Henry was the one with the unfaithful past.
Keep up the good work!
Now Anne didn’t want to become the King’s mistress but Henry had liked what he saw of Anne around his wife’s household, he began to woo her and she wasn’t playing ball and went off to Hever. Henry continued to woo her and she accepted his friendship and let him Court her but nothing more. We have early letters and no response, then we have playful responses and Henry was set aflame by desire for Anne. Henry and Anne sometime during 1525 began a relationship, he fell in love with her and by 1526 it appears that they were in a mutual love relationship. By the Summer of 1527 the couple had agreed to marry. In 1526 Henry had written to Rome to ask for permission to marry a woman who was related to another woman that he had slept with, in code can he marry Anne Boleyn after having an affair with her sister, Mary Boleyn. I believe Anne said to Henry that if she was his Queen he would get a son by her because she wrote a love note to him under the image of the Virgin Mary being told by the Angel Gabriel that she was to have the Christ Child in her prayer book. Henry had written under an image of the Biblical Man of Sorrows. Henry wanted to leave Katherine and he loved Anne so why not marry the woman he loved? Their love was mutual and they had a lot in common. Anne’s position as a woman and Henry’s power and Kingship was a factor but I don’t believe Anne was as powerless as she is portrayed or as ambitious and ruthless as she is in fiction. Anne agreed to the offer of marriage and I believe she did want to be Queen. She showed open disrespect to Katherine and she soon took her role in the Court. By 1529 Anne and Henry were on one course to become King and Queen and Anne was pushing him and supporting him in the annulment. She was ambitious and so were her family, but they had been in service to the crown for over two decades, she wasn’t pimped out by her family, but they gained from her relationship with King Henry. The couple were in love, they wanted to marry, Henry needed sons and he needed a new wife. Katherine said no because she was the true Queen and saw Anne as “the scandal of Christendom” and her husband as going mad. She saw Anne as many modern people do, as the ordinary people did, as the traditional Catholic powers and families did, as a whore who had lurred the King into her claws and away from his devoted wife and daughter. Anne was blamed because she was the woman. Henry was a devoted protector of the Papacy before Anne came along and he was now being drawn away from his faith by his harlot, the scarlet woman and she was casting her spells on him. That’s how many people saw Anne Boleyn and that has become her reputation. By 1529 both Anne and Henry wanted to marry as soon as possible because the biological clock was ticking. Anne wanted children and said she had wasted her life as there was no end in sight. Henry begged her to come back. Anne told him to leave Katherine and he did. Only then could they move forward. Anne somehow introduced him to the ideas in William Tyndale that he should not be ruled by Rome and Henry drew his own conclusions that he could now get his own annulment by breaking with Rome.
Henry was shaping up to be an independent and powerful King and Anne had some influence on this. If Anne was a home wrecker, which really is a modern projection onto the past, Henry was as well and they were partners in what happened to Katherine and Mary. However, it was a far more complex and long term relationship which developed into a love affair. Henry wanted a new wife who could give him sons and Anne became his choice. Anne was the woman he desired and her yes pushed him onwards to annul him marriage, but he probably would have tried anyway. What he may not have done was break from Rome. Henry was a man who was hard to say no to, charming, athletic, charismatic, intelligent, fun to be around and Anne had many qualities that he admired. Their decision may not have been right, but it was a mutual one by two passionate people in love, so didn’t they both bring his marriage to an end?
Jane Seymour is an enigma. She is often painted as meek and quiet, but she was much more than that. Known for guarding her own virtue, Jane was also devoted to Queen Katherine and to Princess Mary as were most of the Court and the Realm, but Anne had tried her best to win people over, being very charitable, caring about education and reforms, she did her duties as a Queen but she was also unlucky and lost her babies, save Princess Elizabeth. Henry became frustrated because Anne also had a temper and was unable to accept that Henry would not give up other women for her and she couldn’t transform from opinionated mistress to an obedient wife. Henry saw something different in Jane, possibly that she looked peaceful and domestic, but Jane later had a mission, to bring harmony to the Realm, by getting Mary restored to the succession. Some time between the Summer 1535 and February 1536 there was talk of a relationship between Henry and Jane but we have little evidence of it. Jane was very much in obscurity for a few years, although she had served Queen Katherine and then she had come into Anne’s service. Chapuys wrote of talk of Henry and Jane and that she was in his company and that Anne was out of favour and about public arguments. Anne did have her sad but natural miscarriage of her son at the end of January 1536,_there was a breach between herself and Henry, he was asking questions about his second marriage. There is a difference of opinion as to how and when Jane Seymour came into the King’s close attraction but in March 1536 he sent her a letter and purse of money. Jane kissed the letter and returned it unopened with the purse saying she was of a good family and if the King was going to send her presents then he should send it when she made a good marriage. That meant she was offering herself as the King’s wife, or was she? Again we have hindsight and we know that Jane was prepared to win the King by the Seymour faction and Sir Nicholas Carew, but we can’t really say that she knew she would be Queen. The King does appear to have seen Dr Sampson about the possibility of an annulment but not acted on it and Anne was reconciled to Henry, certainly by Easter. Jane was promoted as a potential Queen or at least the main mistress of the King by an entire faction, led by Thomas Cromwell, her family and supporters of Mary, whom Cromwell was also promoting to Eustace Chapuys as part of an alliance between Henry and the Emperor. As with Anne, Jane’s declaration of virtue seems to have made Henry more ardent for her and he was playing court to her. It is disputed as to whether or not Henry wanted Jane as a wife or mistress but Jane most certainly wasn’t going to be the latter. What we do know is that the tense political situation at Court took on a life of it’s own and a conspiracy was formed in mid April to bring the Queen down, Henry was on one hand looking for a way out and then insisting on Anne’s public international acceptance as Queen. Cromwell saw his foreign policy as falling apart because Anne was opposed to some of his policies for the monasteries, she was rising in favour again and he saw her as being in his way. Henry was angry over the interference of the Emperor in how he dealt with Mary and Cromwell got the blunt of his anger. What happened next is open to debate but within a few days the legal apparatus for a treason investigation and arrests had been set up, Grand Juries convened and a Commission of Oyer and Terminar ordered. The upcoming trip to France was postponed and Cromwell was absent from Court. Henry was seeking to end his marriage and he was looking at Jane as a replacement so he needed a solution quickly. We don’t know why, when or how, but somehow love turned to hate and Henry heard rumours about Anne and other men and told Cromwell to investigate. Then Anne made a series of fatal mistakes and Cromwell had the excuse to make his first arrests. While the events of the end of April 1536 and May 1536 went on Jane was sent away from Court to the home of Sir Nicholas Carew and it was hinted at that Jane should prepare herself for marriage to the Queen. Anne was arrested, accused of treason, adultery with five men and incest with her own brother, conspiracy with all five and treason with each of them. Innocent of all crimes, Anne and George Boleyn, Mark Smeaton, who actually did confess to three counts of adultery with her, under torture or 24 hours of intense questions and Cromwell, Sir Henry Norris, Francis Weston and William Brereton were all beheaded, Anne on 19th May and the men on 17th May 1536. To some Henry was shocked and believed the evidence, to others he was behind the conspiracy to be rid of a woman he now hated for good and Cromwell was more than happy to come up with the goods. Henry was free to marry, his wife was out of the way, his marriage also null and void so as his daughter Elizabeth was illegitimate and no threat to his future heirs with Jane, now preparing herself for her wedding.
What if anything was the role of Jane Seymour in this? Jane had nothing to do with the conspiracy to arrest and execute Anne and we don’t know how she felt but neither did she now say no to Henry, and perhaps as a woman, she couldn’t do so because her honour and family defended on her saying yes. She wasn’t forced to marry him, forced marriage is against canon law, consent is essential for any marriage to be valid. Nor was she being the meek and mild peaceful wife to calm and sooth and comfort the wronged but angry King as she is sometimes seen at this point. Jane Seymour married Henry Viii because she was a woman with her own personal agenda and because she headed a faction of traditional families who hoped to reconcile Mary with her father. Was she behind the scenes pushing an agenda that Anne was being cruel to Mary or putting negative ideas into the King’s head about Anne? We actually don’t have any information about that but it is very possible. Nicholas Carew was helping Jane to know how to handle Henry and he certainly thought that the King had been delivered from a hellish marriage into paradise. Jane was a more obedient wife, a more traditional wife to be sure, but she was no pushover. Yes, she was well aware that Henry no longer wanted a teacher and partner or passionate lover but a wife he could rely on to be supporting and loving and calm, peaceful and to follow his wishes and to give him his much needed son. However, she also wanted to make him happy and she thought the best way to do that was to bring Mary back to Court. Within days of their marriage at the end of May people were talking to Mary that Jane would promote her cause and Mary wrote to her new step mother and to her father, paying her respects and asking for Henry’s blessings. Jane raised the subject but Henry rebuffed her. Careful to turn things around Jane said she only wanted to bring Mary to him for his own peace and contentment and that of his Kingdom and was thinking of their future children. It was a very clever way of getting Henry to at least think about his daughter. Henry had become harder through his divorce and marriage to Anne and was no longer able to stand opposition. Mary had to bow to his authority and to sign articles which accepted him as Head of the Church and the end of her parents marriage. A delegation was sent to her and, probably acting on their own authority, Mary was threatened. It was Chapuys and Cromwell who helped Mary to sign and draft her letter of submission to her father. Jane, who had kept in touch with Mary now brought the family together and Mary was welcomed back to Court. Jane had showed that she was as much a woman with a reason to marry the King as Anne had been and perhaps shown a ruthless streak in being able to accept the crown as her ex mistress prepared for death. It’s unfair to blame her for Anne’s death, that is on Henry, but she was as willing as Anne to marry the King, to allow his courtship while he was still married. However, it was Henry who must ultimately be held accountable as it was his decision to go wife hopping in the first place. Desperate as he was for a son and heir his harsh treatment of two women he claimed to love and the unbecoming way he married so soon after Anne’s execution, shows a man who was not only determined to get an heir at any human cost but one who disregarded women, even though he claimed to honour them as a true knight.
Something that I can’t wrap my head around is Henry and Anne’s marriage was annulled so how could she be accused of adultery/treason? Was this legal or a case of ‘the will of the king’?
Hi Michael, yes indeed many have said that how can Anne have committed adultery and treason if she had never been his wife in the first place, the answer is that at the time Anne and both the King thought they were legally married and thus she had to conform to the behaviour of a queen consort, of course Henrys later behaviour in using his association with her sister is mere hypocrisy, there were none of his ministers who would dare tell him that, the same cry must have circled round the court the whole of England, and the courts of Europe as well, but this omnipotent King who was fast becoming a tyrant made up his own rules as he went along, and he knew no one would oppose him.
Thank you Christine for clarifying what I pretty much suspected.
When a marriage breaks up and there’s another woman involved she is always labelled the home wrecker, but only those close to the couple and know the true situation judge fairly, in the case of the eternal triangle that was Henry V111 and his first queen and Anne Boleyn, there are those as Claire rightly says that still call Anne very unfairly the home wrecker, who took a virtuous King from his good queen and caused misery and strife towards her and the kingdom, who loved their queen and wanted no other,in fact as is often the case in many marriages then and now, the couple may well have been drifting apart for years, Katherine had lost her last child a baby girl and was now approaching the menopause, she had taken to spending more time than ever at prayer and the King had stopped sharing her bed, they possibly only saw each other when they dined and in the evenings, she did not know it but there are sources that state he was in secret negotiations with Wolsley his chief adviser to end his long dead stale marriage which had produced only one girl, and enter into a new one, Wolsley ever a friend of the French favoured a French one, all this was before Anne caught the Kings eye, why was Anne blamed for the ruin of his marriage? Answer the female of the species has always been seen as lustful more frail and given to wanton pleasures than the male, a true descendant of Eve who tempted Adam in the garden of Eden which incurred the wrath of the almighty, those who vilified Anne forget or choose to forget how she left court time and again to escape the attentions of the King, which she neither encourage or wanted, they say she set her sights on the crown long ago and was using her bewitching wiles to seduce the King and so bringing that to pass, they say her so called virginity was all an act and she held out as she wanted the King to offer marriage but no one knows what was in her mind, none of us do, none of us know what she really wanted in the beginning but I feel that her absences from court give us an indication that she found the Kings affection too irksome, too obsessive maybe and she felt very uncomfortable, years later she herself was to say that she had never sought his favour, she had been engaged to the young Henry Percy heir to the earldom of Northumberland and had seen her hopes destroyed, after Wolsley had ended it on the grounds he was engaged to another, we can only guess how she felt was it a case of thwarted ambition or had she truly loved him? All we know is she was furious and Wolsley became the target of her anger and frustration, she had caused quite a ripple at court with Thomas Wyatt the poet who later dedicated several poems to her and the last sadest ever I feel in English literature, relating to her death and that of her so called lovers, he was married but unhappily to a woman who was unfaithful to him, (but he had a son), the tale that tells of how he angered the King by showing him a locket Anne had given him is well told, aware he had angered his monarch he retired gracefully into the background thus Anne was known to be untouchable now, as Henry had claimed her as his own, so here we can see how she was in a sense caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, what could she do, she could not marry another as Henry was now so passionate about her he would never allow it, she prided herself on her virginity, her enemies derided her for this saying she was a calculating minx as it was all part of her plan to trap their beloved King into marriage, but Anne was very pious she was a flirt but a flirt does not make a woman a whore, she had been reared in the strict household of Margaret of Savoy, she had instilled in her as she did all her pupils a sense of piety and dignity and honour, such a pupil does not suddenly become a tramp as soon as she leaves that household, also during her years in France there was never any salacious gossip about her, her very character I feel was defined in her early years and she had a sense of self awareness in her that she was above such tawdry behaviour, she thought highly of herself, that is not to say she looked down on others, but she had been a pupil of that doyenne of virtue Margaret of Savoy and I think her education stayed with her all her life, it was to manifest after she became queen and it was said her household was ran so virtuousl, more in fact than any of Henrys wives, how can such a pious virtuous woman be blamed for ruining the Kings marriage? I feel the answer lies somewhere in her very character which was not calm and unassuming, after many years of waiting she turned into a bad tempered woman who began to hate Katherine for refusing to go quietly, she could not see why she had to make this ridiculous stance and began to hate her, who had been her one time and possibly well loved mistress, thus the sympathy was all for Katherine, Anne also suffered insults from Mary therefore she began to fight back, hurling insults at her and saying she should like to kill them both, such talk was foolish but Anne was furious and she began to make enemies at court, the sweet young lady who first arrived at court and wished to marry Henry Percy was now a hardened woman who was seen as hell bent on destroying Queen Katherines marriage and anyone who stood in her way, people who had liked her maybe even sympathised with her after the Harry Percy affair now began to see her as a wicked woman who did not care who she hurt, they forgot she in a way was trapped as Katherine was, Anne had never wanted to be a cast of mistress and this is a good point which Claire says, she had no way by refusing to be Henrys mistress that she would be offered marriage, how can a woman know that, how can any of us know, Anne herself must have been shocked when he proposed to her, and what would any woman at the court of Henry V111 do, what could Anne herself say to him, she knew as mentioned before she would never be allowed to marry another and all the men at court knew it, so she took the only course she had and accepted his proposal, which women up and down the land hated her for, the deaths of More and Fisher and the seeds of the reformation which began with her added to the hatred and enmity she caused, she was no shy retiring woman who was content to fade in the background and let events take its course, she wanted to be seen as queen and in the years that followed Katherines household was reduced and Anne held court like she was the real queen, so we can see why she was labelled the home wrecker, her very character which became quite violent and aggressive did not help, in the case of Jane Seymour who was completely the opposite, quiet passive, the original wallflower in fact, the same label did not apply to her as by her very nature she was seen as virtuous and noble, the fact as we all know, and again which Claire states in her video, that she was encouraging Henrys interest and courtship in her did not matter, she was seen more as the saintly woman who would rescue the King from a hellish woman, a woman who had seduced him by wicked wiles and false promises, the truth as we know is very different, and it’s this fact that Jane did not flee Henry as Anne did in the early days that makes her not as interesting or fascinating as her predecessor, I agree with Bq she is an enigma in herself, but not as mysterious as Anne or colourful, there is something in fact very dislikeable about a woman who sets out to wreck a marriage unhappy though it maybe, the fact that Jane had not Annes seductive charms also makes it appear odd, she was not Lady Barbara Castlemaine who was beautiful and whose character was much like Annes, she was not Elizabeth Shore who was Edward 1Vs favourite mistress who was said to be pretty and witty, she was plain Jane who many thought in Chapyus words, not much of a beauty, how odd that she thought she could ensnare the King, that in itself is a mystery.
Hi Michael and Christine, this question always causes confusion and a simple answer might be Henry believed what was convenient.
When they married as far as Henry was concerned, they were legally married and Parliament passed the necessary laws to protect their heirs as well as Thomas Cranmer declaration of the marriage lawful and his marriage to Katherine null and void in 1533.
However, it was no longer convenient for Henry to be legally married to Anne now that she had “betrayed” him and gone with ” over 100 men” as he crudely put it. There was a huge question mark over the legitimacy of his children, or rather, his daughter, if Anne was an adulteress and the future children he had with wife no three, waiting round the corner had to be free from doubt. As Christine says as Queen Anne had to behave as a Queen, regardless of how Henry wanted to see himself after her death. To everyone they were married and if she had had a living son, none of this would have been invented. If Henry and Anne had made a mistake and been unaware that they were not lawfully married, which was actually the case with Katherine and him, the Church could make the marriage good or annul it but protect the legitimacy of any children. This was a good faith clause but Henry dumped this when he broke from Rome and he had Parliament declare Mary illegitimate, possibly more out of anger and annoyance than any true legal reasons. The same might have applied to Elizabeth but not with Henry Viii whose use of his Supremacy to rewrite history is staggering.
Henry didn’t want to be a widower, which his wife’s disgrace and execution left him, he wanted Anne forgotten, his marriage wiped out as a great error and himself as a victim of her plots. Henry wanted a clean break and no doubt at all over the marriage he was about to make with Jane Seymour being lawful and no doubts over their children as his heirs. At the moment Princess Elizabeth was his heir but Henry wanted to change that, giving her the same status as Mary. To do this, his marriage to Anne had to be null and void. Her execution still left Elizabeth as his heir so this was simply to make Elizabeth illegitimate.
Henry chose two grounds. Cromwell revisited the old problems of 1532 when Mary Talbot took her husband, Henry Percy, now Earl of Northumberland to Court saying he and Anne Boleyn had been betrothed and involved sexually and so her marriage to Percy was null and void. Both Anne and Percy denied it, him swearing on the Host before two Archbishops and several witnesses that it wasn’t true. Cromwell asked him now to say it was true but Percy refused and sent a sharp worded letter to deny it. So that was out.
Then Henry declared he had slept with Anne’s sister, Mary and that made his marriage incestuous. Without a proper dispensation he couldn’t marry her. It was on these grounds and perhaps with a bribe for her life, that Anne agreed a couple of days before her execution. Conveniently Cranmer declared the same the evening after her execution, clearly recovered from his distress that afternoon. Parliament that Summer passed an Act of Parliament confirming the two Princesses as illegitimate and to have the title Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth and declared all of the inheritance of the crown in the children of Jane Seymour. Remember both women were later conveniently restored to the Succession in 1544 but not declared legitimate. A special phrase was added to allow Henry to name whom he wished as his heir. Why the same thing didn’t happen to Kathryn Howard, who was stripped of her Royal dignity as Queen, but remained his legitimate wife was probably due to two things. One, Henry had his heir. Two, he and Kathryn had no children to be questioned as to their legitimate status. This also to me shows Henry believed what he wanted and that very few of his reasons make sense, but he had a good way of working stuff out legally and presented this decision in those terms.
You are quite right, Michael and Christine, you can’t commit adultery if you are not legally married but you can commit treason. Adultery wasn’t a crime, it was a sin, but seducing the Queen was as any children may be passed off as heirs and here Anne was accused of imagination of the King’s death or plotting to kill him. She didn’t need to be his wife to commit treason. However, the matter of the marriage being null and void was merely a convenient way to make Elizabeth illegitimate and to protect the children Henry would have with Jane Seymour. Jane would, of course be lucky and have a son, which was one of the reasons Henry married her, she came from a larger family of ten children, several of whom were living males. I hate to think what sort of chaos would have followed if all of his wives bore only living daughters.
You brought up the situation with Katherine Howard. According to Gareth Russell in ‘Young & Damned & Fair’ the reason for going the legal route and making sure that all was on the up and up was that Henry was aware that people were sure that the charges and trial of Anne were questionable (to say the least) and Henry didn’t want to have this case appear like hers.
FWIW, adultery was not a capital crime when Anne Boleyn was executed; she was also charged with (and convicted of) treason, her comment to Norris “if aught came to the king but good, you would look to have me” was stretched into “imagining or compassing the death” of the king. Also, Henry wanted a son because his rivals (Francis and Charles) had sons — no monarch genuinely concerned about the succession would have left the throne to an infant girl (Elizabeth). over one of marriageable age (Mary) when the “good faith” exception would allow him to protect Mary’s legitimacy while still annulling the marriage to Katherine.
Wasn’t adultery against the king considered treasonous in itself, though? At least, it seems to have been considered so with Catherine Howard; I don’t believe she was accused of having contemplated the king’s death. Granted, the rules were always rather flexible in these situations!
Yes, Michael, definitely, but he was also embarrassed by Anne’s trial, which, of course, was public, especially as Anne’s brother George made the comments about his performance in bed. A Bill of Attainder allowed for the charges, evidence to be read out and voted on and guilt declared and the punishment at the same time, along with the inheritance and loss of property for their heirs. However, in an interview on the Tudor Society Gareth Russell points out that Katherine was offered a trial but turned it down. In his book he does show that the Parliament and Council sent a delegation to Henry as they weren’t happy about the Queen not defending herself and it was agreed they could talk to her. However, from what I remember, this was changed, the Bill was passed on the second attempt and the delegates only allowed to inform the Queen of her fate. Katherine was charged with leading an unchaste life and intending to carry it on, not straight forward treason or adultery. It was on the presumption that she intended to commit treason which she was sentenced to death. Lady Rochford was charged and condemned in the same Act as the one who knew, hid and abetted her actions. We don’t for certain know KH committed adultery but her admission of wanting to go further meant she was found guilty and the men had already been condemned so the women had no chance.
I agree with everything you say, Esther.
In regards to comparing the situation with Anne and Jane Lauren Mackay on 11th August 2010 on here Jane Seymour Redefining the Myth which shows that in many ways both women found themselves in similar positions and both had to find a way for acceptance. It’s an interesting read and this is a very thoughtful and thought provoking video and debate.
We simply cannot project the 21st century onto the 16th and at the end of the day, Anne was the victim of a vicious husband who discarded loyal wives because he could and became power hungry through his own will. Yes, he was a charming enough man when Anne met him and they had a genuine love, but his real love had been Katherine of Aragon. Yet, he discarded her, because he couldn’t accept a daughter, his rivals had sons and that was how things were. Maybe there were alternatives, but they weren’t guaranteed any more than a second and third marriage. I believe he genuinely did need and want a male heir but the lengths he went to get one were extreme even for his era.
I had forgotten that KH turned down the offer of a trial.
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Yes we can see Cromwell’s legal mind trying to sort this mess out about the adultery issue when her marriage was being called into debate, Anne herself must have argued this but she would have still been guilty of impugning the succession, adultery or no, high treason against the kings majesty was a serious crime however and was punishable by death, and therefore high treason had to be thrown in and so Anne was accused of trying to kill the king, it’s dreadful that one persons life mattered so little against a kings quest for a son that she had to be put to death, and not just her five more innocent people were used as scapegoats to achieve that end, we can see how the law was changed to please the king, and really it debased the very act that the law is meant to uphold- that of justice, there was no justice for Anne Boleyn or Lady Margaret Pole or lady Rochford, Thomas More or Buckingham, Bishop Fisher etc, Henry V111 was supposed to be the head of justice in his realm, as Katherine of Aragon implored to him once at the trial of Blackfriars, yet he used it to suit his own ends and commit the heinous act of murder, in his second queens case, five times over.
Aye, he lost the right to that title with Anne’s execution and perhaps before, but he may have deserved that title, like in 1517, when he pardoned 500 or so youths involved in the Evil May Day Riots in a great show of public mercy or the reluctance he showed to execute even traitors during his first two decades, but these last years, the end of his annulment and during his marriage to Anne, Henry had turned on friends and foes alike and finally on his loving, innocent wife and five innocent men. He would do worse, become paranoid, lose faith in everything and everyone and the executions increase. Margaret Pole, executed because she was the head of a rival House, she was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarance, niece to King Richard iii and King Edward iv, but whose family had survived under the Tudor Kings and flourished at their Court. Margaret Pole had been the Governess to Princess Mary and friends with Katherine and Henry. Her family were close to King Henry but they had been destroyed when he couldn’t get his hands on the radical Reginald Pole, her third son. Henry Pole had been executed, her son in law as well and her grandson was a prisoner, as was her younger son. Geoffrey had turned states evidence and also tried to kill himself, so he was spared and released because of his youth. Their grandchildren suffered as well and Margaret’s eight year old grandson, another Henry vanished without trace, possibly killed or allowed to die. Margaret was left alive for another eighteen months, clothes were sent by Kathryn Howard, she was then, in May 1541,_apparently without any warning she was taken like a lamb to a brutal slaughter. Others died for being associated with them, accused of having knowledge of some imaginary plot based on careless words, like Sir Nicholas Carew and later even the mighty Howards faced the block. Henry was a builder on one hand and destroyer on the other, lover and killer, friend and deadly enemy to those closest to him, all well beyond his quest for a son. He could be generous and dangerous, he could be just one moment and full of vengeance the next, he could speak to lift men up or rebuke to cast them down, he could still be charming, but he could turn dark in a moment, he trusted few people and yet he still achieved greatness even during these last ten years of tyrannical behaviour.
At Henry’s passing, after reigning for almost 38 years there must have been a collective sigh of relief, especially by many in the nobility.
Yes, although Henry was mourned. One thing he had achieved was to hold the Realm in protection from outside enemies and in relative security barring the trouble of 1536/7,_which threatened to topple his regime, but was skilfully out done by deceit and power, for almost four decades. That was one thing he could boast of, an achievement considering the fact that he was excommunicated and all of Europe free to topple him and invade. For much of this last decade, however, France and the Holy Roman Empire were at loggerheads and unable to enforce the Bull of Excommunication published in 1538. Henry wasn’t daft, though, he planned and plotted and mapped the entire coastline. If it wasn’t fortified, it had one built there. It was an incredible and well planned engineering project, paid for no doubt from the spoils of monastic vandalism and the financial benefits of the Supremacy. Church taxes and revenues such as First Fruits were now paid to the crown. Although the crown became rich, Henry also built and expanded the various palaces he had inherited or acquired and he expanded his fleet of warships and the new naval colleges. He was extravagant and money was spent on war with Scotland and an expensive campaign in France in 1544. By the time Henry had collected six wives and six weddings, with the celebrations to boot, by the time of his last year we could no longer afford to hold Bordeaux or anything else and Henry faced attack in July 1545. Two hundred and forty ships plus many smaller vessels sailed up the Solent and threatened Kent and the South. The fleet was gathered at Southsea and Portsmouth and once the wind turned they took on the French. The Mary Rose sank in this encounter, her gun ports open, heading for the sand banks with the loss of all but 37 hands. After four days the enemy was fought back and limped home. Henry’s coastal defences held. They are actually good enough to blow ships out of the water and mounted guns even in World War II. Some would need repairs before the attack of the Spanish Amarda in 1588 but for the majority they were in reasonable shape and still are. The only problem with Henry’s spending was he ran out of money and so did the economy. Henry had to debase the currency in order to make it go further. Much of what Henry planned for his grand tomb and memorial was never completed or later dismantled because it cost too much. Fittingly the sarcophagus of the Father of the English Navy was used to house the great naval hero, Admiral Lord Nelson, and sits above his tomb under Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London.
No matter what we think of Henry Viii, he shaped this country for better or ill and his legacy, mostly present in Elizabeth I and Mary I has remained visible in every inch of this land. More than that it has been packaged and branded and sent around the world. Few monarchs fascinate quite as much as King Henry Viii. I don’t know which is the more fitting memorial, the declaration on the side of one coastal castle of Saint Maurs in Cornwall : May the Spirit of Henry Viii Live for Ever and Ever or the simple black marble stone which marks his coffin and that of his wife, Jane, his true love, mother of his son and heir in the centre of the Quire before the High Alter of Saint George Chapel, Windsor Castle, amidst the banners of knights and warriors. Or maybe his best legacy is merely his name and the controversial debates he always inspires.
Trivia..The most people killed inside the Tower of London wasn’t during its so called bloody history, but during World War One and Two, when we executed spies and traitors, deserters and held hundreds of prisoners of war there.
Yes, I am sure the nobles sighed a sigh of relief, but not all of them sighed for very long as Tudors and Stuarts continued to despatch them, although maybe not with as much regularity. Hat sales much definitely have gone up, ha.
Interesting about the tower during the two world wars. I was aware of prisoners held there and the execution of spies but didn’t know of the large number. Very interesting.
I am very pleased that Lord Nelson is in that sarcophagus. He certainly deserves such a beautiful resting place.
Not so large a number, though as only a handful of people were killed at the Tower of London, well technically. Hundreds of people were executed outside of the Tower up on Tower Hill, on the public scaffold where there is a garden memorial to each person now. Within the Tower at the scaffold site about five or six people actually were executed, two being Henry’s wives, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, her Lady in Waiting, Lady Jane Boleyn, Vicountess Rochford and Lady Jane Grey were all executed there. Margaret Pole and the Earl of Essex were the other two proper executions there and one very odd and an execution which is particularly controversial as it was a Summary and may have been an unofficial execution, that of William Lord Hastings in June 1483.
However, in World War One ten so called spies and traitors, including Karl Lodi were shot within the Tower, but another eighteen were executed off site by hanging and only one execution took place within the Tower, that of Joseph Jacobs in 1941, seated in a chair, by firing squad. Confirmed executions for Tower Hill and other places such as by the Chapel wall are 122 between 1383 and 1700 and 5 1722 and 1746 when the last execution took place before 1914. Although it is a small number it is officially the single bloodiest period in the history of the Tower. Some 400 to 1000 prisoners of war were held there, in new barracks and converted cells, some for two years or more, although many were moved elsewhere. It’s amazing, but there aren’t thousands killed at the Tower or even kept there, although some of the figures are not as you think as many people are held there and executed somewhere else, such as Smithfield or Tyburn which did see larger numbers of execution as did Cheapside and even the Old Yard at Westminster. Sixteen people who were arrested as spies were hung in local prisons. Even so, executions in and around the Tower are much smaller than a lot of people realise but what is most surprising is that there was the last execution in 1941, with the revival of executions in 1915 after over 180 years. Joseph Jacobs granddaughter was interviewed by Susanna Libscomb a few years ago when she was researching his case during a documentary on Tales of the Bloody Tower back in 2006. She showed her a letter that she received in 1993, which was the ladt letter he wrote to his wife and children, but never given to them, because he was an enemy spy, not even after the war. That was very sad and he wasn’t even that much of an important spy or a dangerous one. He was found by locals as soon as he landed and was in the news thanks to the farmers who found him. He had two young children. He is buried here in the Catholic Church of Saint Michael Churchyard, near a small cross and his granddaughter comes to visit every year. Totally ridiculous that his last letter wasn’t given to his wife as soon as peace came, but then Winston Churchill had the same mindset as Henry Viii.
I have often wondered why Henry V111 chose to be buried in Windsor instead of with his parents in the Chapel of Henry V11 in Westminster, it is a beautiful Tomb and one where their great grandson James V1 and 1st chose to lie, as discussed Henry wanted the opulent black tomb that now houses the remains of Lord Nelson, as possibly that was because he wanted his own resting place to be a unique memorial to himself, and of course he must have believed when he was first married to Katherine of Aragon, that they would lie together for eternity surrounded by their descendants, life has a way of surprising you, because quite often what we believe will happen, very rarely does.
Hat sales must have gone up again!
Why does the reply button appear to be working for me but nobody else?
It’s just worked for me now so that’s good
Hi Christine, yes, the site of Windsor was chosen because it was symbolic. It was a place Henry was fond of and the castle was associated with the Knights of the Round Table because they were commemorated in the Order of the Garter founded by Edward iii and set at Windsor where they meet still every year on 21st April, Saint George’s Day, usually over the nearest weekend. The Monarch and the limited number of Knights parade and worship in their traditional swagger and robes and each has their own stall in the Quire and their own seat in the Great Hall. Their helmets and banners hang over their tombs. If they are buried in the Chapel, a symbolic helmet hangs close by. The entire place looks more like a military museum than a palace and to be honest, Windsor itself has been transformed by the Georgians. Originally the Sarcophagus was meant to be used by Thomas Wolsey who is buried in what was Leicester Abbey, now the park in the city outskirts. A memorial lies close to his burial place. The tomb Henry had planned had large candle sticks around it, hereldic beasts, angels and of course the usual large effigies and shields. It would have been enormous. The Quire is of course appropriate as the place of the highest honour. Where else would a man who thought of himself as our greatest King be going? He certainly wouldn’t share his family tomb as they were lesser in their achievements. If it wasn’t to be Windsor I imagine Henry having himself in the middle of the Lady Chapel in Westminster, even if someone had to be moved. Of course he chose Jane Seymour to lie with for eternity, her tomb and effigy at his side. The Quire is also symbolic because of the heraldic banners and stalls around for his knights and it is all Henry. He is also not far from his ancestors. The York King and Queen Edward iv and Elizabeth Woodville are close by and Henry vi, his Lancastrian step uncle is also in the Chapel, moved there by Richard iii, who probably would have been buried in the Quire or in Westminster, had he not been killed at Bosworth. It is often assumed wrongly that he wished to be buried in York but that was highly unlikely and there is no evidence of his wishes. Yes, he built the largest Chantry Chapel there but it is not designed for a large tomb. On the other hand, Henry iv was buried with his second wife and Queen, Joanna of Navarre in Canterbury Cathedral. Henry was full of his own importance by now and you can well imagine how grand this was meant to be and he always thought of himself as a chivalrous knight, playing with other knights and ladies so his choice was obviously inspired by all of that. The timb was dismantled unfortunately, but I think there is a sketch or impression somewhere. To the right, in the South Transit, practically level with Henry and Jane is the tomb vault of Sir Charles Brandon, who was of course given a fancy state send off on Henry’s orders and paid for by him. However, his tomb also is a black stone as well, inscribed and his arms inscribed on it. A number of tombs appear to be the same. At least the coffins of Henry and Jane and many others have been restored and are in an orderly vaulted crypt, with proper protection. Actually, I like the black marble stone, it is sort of majestic. The soul moves on but the remains are in a place of honour and Nelson having his sarcophagus seems very appropriate.
I did see an article on here recently, while exploring, asking if Henry should be exhumed and examined scientifically but was horrified by one response that yes, because it’s good for the tourist trade. The commenter compared digging him up to the finding of Richard iii, which says a lot. Richard iii wasn’t removed from his burial place and exhumed for scientific examination, he was lost and was discovered during an archaeological dig by the Looking For Richard iii Project and his grave had been lost when the building it was in, Greyfriars Priory was destroyed after the Reformation. His grave was found and he was exhumed for one purpose, to be reburied with dignity in a more suitable location. Any scientific examination was with the view to his identification and learning about his life. He wasn’t exhumed for the tourist trade, he was removed from under a Victorian carpsrk, on his original burial site to a place of Christian worship in a tomb to honour him. Henry Viii is currently buried, with his wife, in consecrated ground, in a place of worship, not a public car park. His remains may bring in the public by the grace of the current Royal family, whose home Windsor Castle is, something we must respect, but they are not there for public amusement. His remains may be able to tell us a lot, but the tourist trade is better served leaving him were he is, even if it is only his human remains. I would love to learn more, but with respect. If his remains are temporarily exhumed it must be quietly and by experts and under strict scientific and scholarly conditions, scans and none invasive procedures done only and then carefully reburied in his tomb vault. Personally, though, having seen that comment, I am afraid that would not happen and the press would be there. I think now more than ever that Henry Viii should not be disturbed. I wouldn’t move Anne Boleyn either. Her resting place is beautiful, well looked after and very peaceful. I also think we can do more for her restoration by being honest about her and analysis in a balanced way, ensuring her reputation is restored and by supporting other sites which honour her.
Ah it worked. Weird. Technology eh?
Can anyone bee a homewrecker if there are two adults persons involved ??
Even if henry had dropped Anne he would still be in need a son. he could not be sure that Mary would be accepted as a queen in her own right. If he died suddenly without a legitimate heir. Civilwar may have brooken out. Only 40 years earlier England had had an on and of civil war for 30 years about the succession. henry had good reason to be worried it was not just a horny king wantiing a younger woman..If he had not been worried he would have been a bad king.
I agree, Henry did fear civil war, he was worried about it before he even had a living heir in Mary, who was treated as if she was his heir, right up to his marriage to Anne Boleyn, when she is called back to Court, before she is sent to her sister’s household later that year, as her servant. Elizabeth was then heralded as his heir, but Mary was sent to rule in Ludlow as Princes of Wales had been since Edward iv. Henry may have questioned his marriage as early as 1514,_but obviously changed his mind as Mary was born in 1516 and he still thought he would have a healthy son. He did express concern about his not having an heir in 1520 and his execution of Buckingham is often seen in the light of fear over rivals for his crown, of which there were a number, but nobody who was a serious threat. The House of York and Lancaster, of which the Tudors are an illegitimate offshoot via the illegitimate House of Beaufort, made legitimate by the Pope and Parliament, fought each other on and off from 1455 to 1461, then intermittently during the 1460s to 1471, then York ruled in peace until 1483. Then there was the death of Edward iv, the ascension of Edward V, the declaration of illegitimate status of Edward and his siblings, the lawful ascension of Richard iii and the unknown fate of Edward V and Richard, Duke of York. Then we have two years of Richard iii, who was actually doing a good job for ordinary people and his betrayal by Stanley at Bosworth in 1485, in which he was killed. Henry Tudor was the first Tudor King but he, himself was also plagued by rebellion and wars because the claim of York would not die as Warwicks and Dukes of York popped up for over a decade. His eldest son, Prince Arthur died, leaving Prince Henry, the ten years old second son as his only heir. When Elizabeth of York his mother died, Henry Vii was left with no more sons. If anything happened to young Henry, his new Dynasty was gone and civil war could start again. This is what Henry feared, although during the 1520s and 1530s it wasn’t a likely thing. People were fed up and Mary most probably would have been accepted. Henry couldn’t take the chance. Katherine of Aragon could see her daughter as ruling and there was nothing to stop her, the old nobility had lost most of their power. Katherine had led the country to war and organised the army and defence of the Kingdom under the Earl of Surrey in 1513 at the Battle of Flodden. Katherine was capable of ruling, her mother had ruled and she saw her daughter as being of the same mettle. Certainly when her succession was threatened in 1553, Mary rallied the people to take her crown from Jane Grey. However, Henry couldn’t foresee that and he was genuinely concerned. His rival Kings had sons. He didn’t understand why he didn’t have them. He believed it was a punishment for marrying the widow of his brother. Yes, it became more of a convenient excuse the second time and it doesn’t excuse his treatment of either Katherine or Anne Boleyn, his later brutality or his treatment of Mary, but it does underpin what his motivation was to seek to end his marriage from 1526 onwards and seek to marry again, this time to the woman he loved and thought would give him sons. It was his duty to give England peace and security and sons were the way to do that.
By the way, Claire and Tim, button is working now, thanks.
We have to remember Henry V111 was no different from his contemporaries none of whom wanted daughters to succeed them, in France they had the Salic law to prevent female offspring inheriting, and they were only considered important to cement alliances, his concern over the succession was genuine and whilst there are those who scoff at Henry V111 for not considering his eldest daughter Mary as his heir, ( saying her mother and grandmother were both capable rulers in their own right) this was not the way kings minds worked, yes Mary had in her the blood of Isabella of Castile but if the country was left to her, there was the risk of invasion and civil war which is the worst of all, Matilda’s disastrous reign was something all monarchs had been taught about in the schoolroom, and no English King ever wanted a girl to inherit, it was seen as a failure in that male dominated world and just as bad as leaving the throne to a young boy, as in the case of Richard 11, women were the weaker sex and only fit for needlework and rearing children, also we have to remember his concern over the fact that he had many of the old Plantaganet families at court, many who thought they were more Royal than the Tudors, the Tudor dynasty was new and his father could well have imposed on him the importance of having a male heir, whilst he was very fond of his daughter and she was after all, clever and musical like him, she was not what he wanted in an heir, we have to try to understand this was the way of thinking in the medieval Tudor and Stuart world, Henry V111 was the product of his age like many of his fellow continental monarchs, the frustration he felt after each death or miscarriage of his children grew more and more over the coming years.
I completely agree. As Esther points out his contemporaries had sons, Francis I was very fortunate with more than one son. His oldest died but his second son, Henri became the second of his name for France and he too had four sons, at least three became King. Charles V had one son who lived beyond infancy, the famous Philip II, but Henry didn’t even have one son. He had lost at least three sons by Catherine and potentially two unborn sons by Anne, but also they had born two living daughters and lost three still born girls between them. Henry was married for twenty eight years before he finally had a son to succeed him. People poo poo his desperation, but imagine that today, with any husband or wife, desperate for children. If we lived in a Patriarchal society where boys had more value than girls as heirs to a fortune or government or just to carry on the family name, we would understand how Henry felt. The sixteenth century put more value on men as capable rulers, men as warriors, men as strong, as the head of the household and even a Queen had to obey her husband as his subordinate, or so the general belief went. She would also have to withdraw from society to have any babies she was blessed with and her consort take over. This was seen as her main duty, while men were trained to rule, men were accepted as superior, even in the Royal family, a female may have every good quality needed to reign but they were not preferred as leaders. We only know with hindsight that Mary and Elizabeth and Queens since could rule well, but Henry didn’t have hindsight, he had every passing year with no male heirs in sight. I have just received the new book by Catherine Hanley and her attempt to rule was not successful, but of course as with all female rulers she has been misrepresented. She was regarded as haughty and proud for demanding her regal rights and revenue from the citizens of London who drove her out before her coronation. Thus we had the war with King Stephen until peace was granted with the succession of her son, Henry ii. As you say, Mary could have the blood of Katherine and Isabella, but she wasn’t a son, a son was still preferred, and that was how it was in the mindset of a sixteenth century King, any King, so Henry was no different, but he was more desperate. Henry thought himself and his marriage cursed and he was trying to do everything to remedy that, but nothing worked. His subsequent actions were a direct result of his efforts to put his life in order, be right with God and pray He granted Him a son and heir.
Thanks Claire for this video. What you said really makes sense. I would like to give my view of why Anne refused Henry’s advances in the beginning. I believe Anne was sincerely a very religious woman. And religion was the intense issue of the day. I don’t believe that Tudor times can be understood without understanding the religious issues of the time and how profoundly people felt about those issues. In my opinion Anne refused Henry’s advances at first because she knew that such a relationship was against God’s standards as stated in the Bible, and she had a very high regard for the Bible. I would appreciate your thoughts on Anne’s refusal of Henry at the beginning being due to her religious convictions.
You made a really good point that Anne had every reason to believe that Henry would seek an easier love interest and would forget about her once she refused him. I really enjoyed your explanation of how she went from the point of refusing Henry’s advances to the point of falling in love with him and wanting to become his wife. Your videos are very well done and reasonable in my opinion. Please keep up the good work!
Hi Gerald, I agree with you, religious beliefs were very important at this time, very much so, you literally marked out the hours of the day, the times of the year and so on with religious services or practices. Anne, as you say was very fond of and a promoter of Holy Scripture. Yes, I do believe she guarded her virtue because of her personal Christian Faith, based on the Bible and saw Henry’s suggestions that she should become his mistress in terms of what the Bible says about adultery. She believed in remaining chaste and as a Queen had very high standards which she expected her household to follow. She also saw what happened to women who slept with the King, her sister had been his mistress and then he went back to his wife. She was an Evangelical and believed the Bible in English was the way forward and people should find faith that way. Henry was knowledgeable about the Bible and an expert on theology and Anne had been interested in the learning of the French reformers as well as those who saw the answer in Scripture and introduced Henry to the work of William Tyndale who wrote that the King was subject to none but God and not to the Pope. In this way Anne influenced his break from Rome and his way out of his marriage through theology not law. Anne would not be his mistress, but her religious faith had a lot to do with it and her faith influenced much of her work as Queen as well. Her brother, George was also of the same mind and a reformer. Many of her friends and household were interested in reform. Most certainly this had a lot to do with her decision to refuse his advances and to accept his offer of the crown and marriage. It is now accepted, although not universally, that she was active as a Queen in some of the reforms Henry allowed.
Thank you very much BQ for your insightful reply. Your mention of William Tyndale reminded me that he weighed in on the King’s Great Matter. Basically he said that the prohibition of having relations your brother’s wife was for when the brother was still alive. But if the brother died then his brother was actually commanded to take her as wife to raise up offspring for his dead brother. (Deuteronomy 25:5, 6) So William Tyndale felt that there was no valid reason for divorcing Catherine. To me this speaks well of his adherence to Scripture because it would be an obvious advantage for the Reformers to have Anne on the throne. I have often wondered what Anne thought of Tyndale’s opinion. I can just imagine what Henry thought.
My opinion isn’t super popular, but to me, it seems because Henry’s father took the crown through battle and not birthright, Henry the 8th had a fragile hold on it as it was let alone not having a male heir. In that time, women weren’t the first choice to rule, obviously, so Catherine’s refusal to accept the divorce was understandable in some ways, very selfish in others. She knew he needed a male heir or his rule/dynasty were lost, and medical science hadn’t yet advanced enough for them to know that the gender of the child is decided by the father’s genes..or why his male children seemed to inevitably not survive.
We have theories now, but anyway my point is that he had to remarry, and would have done so, whether the next wife had been Anne Boleyn or some other woman. The fact that he had her beheaded rather than even deal with another ‘great matter’ and married Jane Seymour before Anne’s body was cold is evidence of that.
A living son was his true motivation, and quite overshadowed lust or love for any of these unfortunate women.