Anne Boleyn - The Nidd Hall Portrait
Anne Boleyn - The Nidd Hall Portrait

On this day in history, 29th January 1536 Catherine of Aragon was interred at Peterborough Cathedral and her successor Anne Boleyn suffered a miscarriage, a huge blow to both Anne and Henry VIII who were desperate for a son.

As I said in my post a couple of week’s ago, there are many possible reasons for the fall of Anne Boleyn and the Boleyn faction, but Retha Warnicke, author of “The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn”, believes that Anne’s fall was caused directly by the miscarriage Anne experienced in January 1536. Warnicke states:-

“her fall was almost certainly triggered by the nature of the miscarriage she was to suffer in late January, for there is no evidence that she had been in any personal or political danger.”

What does Warnicke mean by “the nature of the miscarriage”?

Well, Warnicke is one historian who believes the words of Nicholas Sander who, during Elizabeth I’s reign, wrote that Anne Boleyn had miscarried “a shapeless mass of flesh”, a deformed foetus. If indeed Anne did miscarry a deformed foetus, it is no wonder that this miscarriage led to her fall because in Tudor times a deformity, or giving birth to such a monster, would have been associated with witchcraft or have been a sign that one of the parents had sinner and committed adultery or incest.

So, what evidence does Warnicke give to back up the deformed foetus story that only Nicholas Sander writes of, and he was no contemporary of Anne and Henry?

Here are Warnicke’s arguments for why this miscarriage was so unusual:-

  • Unlike other foetuses miscarried by Henry’s consorts, this miscarriage was not kept secret and details of the gender, age and date of birth were all made public.
  • After Anne’s arrest, Sir Edward Baynton wrote in a letter to William Fitzwilliam: “this shallbe to advertyse yow that here is myche communycacion that nomam will confesse any thynge agaynst her, but allonly Marke of any actuell thynge. Wherefore (in my folishe conceyte) it shulde myche toche the King’s honor if it shulde no farther appeere. And I cannot beleve but that the other two bee as…culpapull as ever was hee.” According to Warnicke, Baynton’s words about the King’s honour and reputation only make sense if Anne had miscarried a deformed foetus because there was a “widely accepted link between the honour of a man and the public awareness of his and his wife’s sexual habits.” Warnicke feels that the fact that several men were accused of adultery with Anne shows that ministers were trying to accuse another man of fathering the child and blaming the deformed foetus on Anne’s sinful sexual behaviour.
  • That Anne hinted to Sir William Kingston in the Tower that her miscarriage had been unusual – Warnicke writes that by telling Kingston of how Elizabeth, Countess of Worcester, was unable to feel her unborn child move because of “the sorow” she had “toke” for her, Anne was hinting that there was something about her miscarriage which was particularly tragic and which grieved the Countess so much that it affected her unborn baby.
  • Anne holding Elizabeth in her arms while pleading with her angry husband – Warnicke argues that Anne could have been showing Elizabeth to Henry to prove her innocence and show that she had given him a perfect child once before. Warnicke states that if Anne’s problem was not being able to bear sons then pleading with Elizabeth in her arms would have served no purpose at all.
  • Anne was “charged with inciting, in a witchlike fashion, five men to have sexual relations with her by the use of touches and kisses that involved thrusting her tongue into their mouths and theirs in hers…The kisses, touches and caresses were minutely described probably because by reason of their motives they could be viewed as mortally sinful.” Warnicke feels that by showing Anne as the instigator and initiator of these acts that the Crown was proving that she was not a victim but that she was a witch. Also, Warnicke states that the ministers chose the dates of the adultery carefully so that Henry’s fatherhood could be denied and that this would only have been important if the foetus was not normal.

But was the foetus that Anne miscarried “a shapeless mass of flesh”?

No, I don’t believe so and I can’t say that I am convinced at all by any of Retha Warnicke’s arguments. Why believe the words of Nicholas Sander, a man whose sole aim was to slander and discredit Anne Boleyn, when contemporary sources do not mention any deformity at all. Surely, if Anne had given birth to such a monster, it would have been used as evidence against her at her trial.

Arguments Against the Deformed Foetus Story

I’m not the only one who disagrees with Warnicke’s theory. Here are some arguments from other historians:-

  • Both Eric Ives and Alison Weir quote Eustace Chapuys, the Imperial Ambassador, as saying that “the child had the appearance of a male about 3 months and a half old.” – Wouldn’t Chapuys, who hated Anne Boleyn, have mentioned any deformities?
  • Eric Ives quotes Charles Wriothesley as saying that Anne had miscarried ” a man child” and that Anne “said that she had reckoned herself at that time but 15 weeks gone with child” – No mention of a deformed foetus.
  • Eric Ives, Anne Boleyn’s biographer and a man who has researched Anne’s life and Tudor history meticulously, states that “no deformed foetus was mentioned at the time or later in Henry’s reign, despite Anne’s disgrace” and that even when Anne Boleyn’s name was blackened in Mary I’s reign, the story of a deformed foetus did not come out.
  • Sander wrote the story of the deformed foetus 40 years after Anne’s miscarriage and Eric Ives is of the opinion that without any corroborating evidence we should dismiss this story as a myth.
  • Alison Weir makes the point that the deformed foetus story was never used in Anne’s trial yet in a time where deformities were blamed on God’s judgement on the parents this “shapeless mass of flesh” would have been the perfect evidence to bolster the charges of incest and adultery.

Was the Miscarriage of January 1536 to Blame for the Fall of Anne Boleyn?

Had Anne Boleyn “miscarried of her saviour” (J. E. Neale, Queen Elizabeth)? Was this miscarriage “the turning point to tragedy” (Ives)? Was it the catalyst of Anne’s fall?

I think that it is far too simplistic to blame the fall of Anne Boleyn on that final miscarriage as there are so many other factors to consider. Yes, this miscarriage had a devastating impact on Anne, who was desperate to prove herself to Henry and give him what he wanted and needed – a son – and to Henry also, due to the fact that he had given up his wife of over 20 years because she was barren and, as Eric Ives writes, Anne’s miscarriages were “the ominous reminder of Katherine’s history” that “brought all Henry’s doubts flooding back.” Catherine of Aragon had suffered many miscarriages and still-births and so Henry had moved on to Anne for a fresh start, yet, like Catherine, all she had given him was a daughter and now history seemed to be repeating itself.

We know that both parents were griefstricken by this tragedy from contemporary reports. Henry VIII had suffered a serious jousting accident on the 24th January, just five days before Anne’s miscarriage, and Eric Ives writes of how he must have been shaken by this brush with death, and reminded of his own mortality and the need for a male heir, so Anne’s miscarriage would have hit him hard. It is no wonder, therefore, that Henry reacted in the way he did, saying:
“I see that God will not give me male children.” (Eustace Chapuys quoted in Eric Ives and taken from LP x351)

George Wyatt tells the story a little differently, giving Anne’s reaction too, and Alison Weir quotes him as saying:

“The King came bewailing and complaining to her [Anne] the loss of his boy, some words were heard [to] break out of the inward feeling of her heart’s dolours, laying the fault upon unkindness, which the King more than was cause (her case at this time considered) took more hardly than otherwise he would if he had not been somewhat too much overcome with grief, or not so much alienate.”

Wyatt also wrote that Henry told Anne that “he would have no more boys by her”.

Alison Weir also quotes Chapuys as saying that Henry “scarcely said anything to her [Anne], except that he saw clearly that God did not wish to give him male children, and in leaving her, he told her, as if for spite, that he would speak to her after she was up” and then the King left Anne “with much ill grace.”

These angry words spoken by Anne and Henry sound serious until we consider their relationship, which Eric Ives describes perfectly when he says “storm followed sunshine, sunshine followed storm”. Anne and Henry would hit out at each other and then make up. They were both passionate people with quick tempers and don’t we all lash out and say cross words, and words we later regret, when we have been hurt or are suffering from grief? I don’t think we can read too much into Henry and Anne’s reactions to the miscarriage and their spiteful words. Also, Eric Ives makes the great point that we can take Henry’s words “I see that God will not give me male children” as Henry emphasising that the miscarriage was “the will of God rather than the failure of Anne.”

Suzannah Lipscomb, author of “1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII”, writes of how Anne’s miscarriage must have not only been a disappointment to the King but also a real worry because “it threatened the stability of the realm at a time when English security was already in jeopardy” because of “an edict issued by the Pope that would have deprived Henry of his right to rule” which was circulating in Europe and which, if formally published, could legitimise an invasion of England and the overthrow of Henry’s throne.

Anne must also have been shaken by this miscarriage and she must have felt Catherine of Aragon’s shadow over her as she suffered this miscarriage on the day of Catherine’s funeral. As Antonia Fraser writes:

“the influence of the dead woman stretched from beyond her grave in Peterborough Cathedral to pull down the woman who had supplanted her.”

Eric Ives makes the point that Catherine’s death left Anne very vulnerable and Mary, Catherine and Henry’s daughter, a “more formidable opponent”. All that was needed for Mary to displace Elizabeth as heir presumptive was for Henry to accept that Mary was “bona fide parentum gotten, conceived and born”, a child of good faith, and this could now be done without “challenging the King’s conviction that the Aragon marriage had been invalid.” Ives also writes that Anne Boleyn’s enemies could now take heart that removing the woman they saw as a usurper did not mean that Henry VIII would have to return to the barren Catherine but that he could move on to a new wife. Alison Weir agrees and also writes of how Anne’s miscarriage and Catherine’s death affected Jane Seymour “who may not only have felt genuine grief at Katherine of Aragon’s death, but must also have realised that, in the eyes of many people like herself – and indeed most of Europe – Henry VIII was now a free man. And suddenly, in the light of the Queen’s miscarriage, Anne’s enemies saw in this pallid young woman, who up till now probably had been of no more significance than any other of the King’s passing fancies, an opportunity to bring her down.”

The miscarriage had certainly put both Anne and Henry in vulnerable positions.


“The miscarriage of 29 January was neither Anne’s last chance nor the point at which Jane Seymour replaced Anne in Henry’s priorities. It did, nevertheless, make her vulnerable again.” Eric Ives

I love that quote because it sums up my feelings about Anne’s final miscarriage. It was not the beginning of the end – Anne was obviously a fertile woman and there was no reason why she should not get pregnant again, and Henry had no reason to doubt this. Yes, she was in a vulnerable position, having no son to endorse her and Henry’s marriage and having powerful enemies at court, but she had the love of her husband. Henry was still sticking up for his wife, talking of their hopes for a son and campaigning for her acceptance as Queen right up until the events of the end of April 1536, three months after the miscarriage. Ives writes of how Henry was “publicly endorsing Anne’s position on the Tuesday after Easter”, so it seems that the miscarriage was not the sole cause, or even a major cause, of the fall of Anne Boleyn; if it was, then surely Anne would have fallen a lot sooner than she did.

On the next couple of weeks, I will also be looking at the question of how many miscarriages Anne Boleyn actually had and what could have caused them.


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39 thoughts on “Was Anne Boleyn’s Miscarriage Responsible for Her Fall?”
  1. I always think that Henry didn’t really give Anne long to give him a son did she? To say they were married for 3 years, I think she got pregnant quite regulary. Many women can try for months, even years before they get pregnany and thats in a day and age where diets and lifestyles are healthier.
    I imagine miscarriage was common and I don’t know why people make out 2-3 miscarriages was that strange. Also even if she had a deformed fetus, it does happen i’m afraid and Queens are not excempt from it. Didn’t Lade Jane Grey have a sister with a hunch back? Perhaps the Tudors may have had some kind of genetic flaw as it seems many of them had illness, miscarriages etc. But then again it could be the times.
    However I think producing one healthy child in the time they were married, was quite acceptable and like you do not think it was the core reason of her downfall, a contribution but not the only cause. If Henry still loved her then he surely would have given her some more years! I think it was more to do with wiping the slate clean and starting afresh

  2. I have always understood that Henry was already intimate with Jane Seymour before Anne miscarried and was already looking for a way out of his marriage to Anne so he would be free to marry Jane.
    Yes it was obvious by this time that Anne would not bear him a healthy son, but at this time he was doing some soul searching and was not happy with what he saw of himself and what he had done to his friends in order to have Anne!
    He was riddled with guilt and started seeing Anne in a different light. Thinking she had bewitched him to do all these awful things and then starting to despise her which was now snowballing into feeling sick in her presence and not being able to even look at her, everything about her repulsed him and irritated him!
    I think had she bore him a son at this point, he would not have regained his feelings for her, they had gone too deep, he may have spared her, but for what, a life of having to avert her eyes to his indiscretions, which is something she was never able to do.
    She would not have faded into the background easily as Katherine had for her. How could he say another marriage was not legitimate, she had to die if at any point in the future Henry would have wanted to marry again. Her life was already a misery from the time she woke till the time she slept, if at all she slept, as she must have been in constant pain, physically and mentally racked with worry wondering when Henry would rid himself of her. Although she lost her life she had the last laugh on Henry, her ‘DAUGHTER’ with him, was to become one of our, if not the greatest Queen ever to rule England…”My blood will have been well spent”! Here! Here!

  3. An excellent article and wonderful way to start my friday. Claire, I agree with you. I agree that the January miscarriage is somewhat involved in Anne’s downfall but is not the main cause. The words spoken were, as usuall for Henry & Anne, spoken in the heat of the moment and held very little meaning. I am currently reading Ives’ book and am enjoying it. To be honest I think that Anne’s greatest downfall (although not producting the promised son is apart of it defintly) is that she was stubbron and unwilling to yeild to what was considered a good wife for Tudor times. As much as she hated Katherine if she had learnt just a little from her predessecor she could’ve been okay. Although giving Henry a son would’ve helpe too . Just my opinions thoug. Great article.

  4. Hello Claire,

    Like you I can see no merit in any of Warnicke’s arguments.

    As for the Baynton letter, I believe he was saying that if adultery was only found against Smeaton then this would offend the King’s honour, because neither George nor Norris would admit to anything. For Anne to prefer a lowly musician to the King of England would humiliate Henry, but if she was found to have committed adultery with numerous men then she could be found to be an evil women fully deserving of death. Following this letter Francis Weston, William Brereton, Thomas Wyatt and Richard Page were arrested. There is a strong argument to suggest they died merely to ensure the King’s ‘honour’ was not hurt. I don’t think Baynton’s words had anything to do with a supposed misformed foetus.

    I agree that Anne died because of a number of competing factors, only one of which was her failure to have a son, but I do think it spelt the beginning of the end for her and Henry’s marriage. His supposed devotion to her right up until April may well have been a face saving exercise, besides which, if by April he was planning to get rid of her by any means, then he would hardly of advertised the fact.

  5. I don’t like the portrait of Anne here, she looks really old and ragged. What I do like about it though is you can see the similarities between this portrait and the most common one.

  6. I miss authors john Edward (Henry VIII (1964)) Bowle and David Starkey. This article is excellent. And I miss the letters from Henry VIII to Ann Boleyn too 🙂

  7. I agree with Gemma: I always felt it was unfair that Henry never seemed to give his women a chance to have children. I always imagined Henry bouncing out of the marital bed in the morning (you know, while he still *could* bounce), tossing off-handed comments over his shoulder on the way out the door like “Well, I did my duty. Get on with that baby-growing, woman.” Of course, it’s not easy for a woman to conceive a child with a spoiled rotten sociopathic meglomaniac who barely comes to their room, is starting to hate their guts, and is already eyeing up the next wife before the current wife has even walked away from the alter.

    1. I agree Amy, for Anne to conceive 3 times in three years without any respites between pregnancies is phenomenal to begin with knowing how Henry VIII spread his seed amongst the ladies in waiting on a regular basis, always had and always would. In my opinion he was a sociopath from the start with megalomaniac tendencies, disregarding any frontal lobe injuries from the infamous jousting incident where he was rendered unconscious for hours. He did not have a great love for Anne as asserted by many, he was a sportsman/hunter that reveled in the challenge to conquer and possess. It was the chase the hunt that enthralled Henry and once he possessed her from then on it was downhill for poor Anne. Even if Anne had produced 3 male babies from her pregnancies, she may have retained his interest for a period of time but in the end Henry would have continued his mod de operates. He was void of any feelings of remorse in how his actions affected the ones he loved or anyone for that matter. Anne was doomed from the start.

  8. I completely agree. The huge huge evidence is that if she would have miscarried a “deformed” fetus, that most certainly would have been publicized, documented somewhere, and used as evidence against her in her trial. The simple fact that it was not mentioned in her trial/accusations tells us 100% that it was not true.
    Also, I have studied embryology and I want to know what 14 week fetus looks completely like a baby. You’d be surprised how strange looking fetuses are in the early stages. You do realize we have tails and gills when we start? Of course they didn’t know that back then, but there was plenty of miscarriages in those days that they would’ve known that early miscarriages would have strange looking fetuses.

    I get that Henry gradually got sick of her and over time wanted to move on, but what I don’t understand is how it happened so quickly? You say that he was still defending her role as Queen in April, so what changed between then and May?

    I can’t imagine Anne’s feelings when she miscarried her son. She must have been so devastated, to lose the son she/he so desperately wanted. No doubt she began to see that her position was beginning to falter.

    What I think is so ironic is that how all of these miscarriages (Katherine’s and Anne’s), its always blamed on the women or God. Oh, Anne was a witch and she had genetic problems so she couldn’t have normal children. No, she was very fertile and evidence of a healthy child is Elizabeth. Does no one ever think that it was Henry??? Of course no one would question the fertility of the king. If so many fetuses were aborted, it’s most likely due to genetics.

    The other thing I find so ironic is what are the chances that the first child Jane has with Henry survives and turns out to be a boy? It’s so ironic and it really pisses me off that Henry loved and remembered her above all of his wives for that simple fact. I really wonder how different her life would have been if she would have miscarried or had a daughter!

    1. seriously the woman in this portrait looks very old it couldnt be jane seymour she was younger than anne boleyn

  9. I’ve read too that the reason for the miscarriages may have been a rhesus problem, since Anne’s firstborn was healthy and she lost her other babies. But no matter the reason, slaying one’s wife and making her toddler an orphan cannot be forgiven. And a deformed foetus would have been recorded since it would be a reason for a witch trial, a good way to get rid of the no more loved wife.

  10. The fact that Warwicke bases her beliefs off of one man’s testimony without anything concrete bugs me. Nicholas Sander was no doctor, he was a Catholic priest/ historian who was an ally of Cardinal Pole. He was born in 1530, so was 2-ish when Anne had the miscarriage of the “shapeless mass of flesh.” The fact that none of Anne’s contemporaries mentioned the deformed fetus, and that it was never brought up on her trial makes it all seem like something someone the anti-Boleyn/ anti-Elizabeth faction would cook up. Court was like a high school cafeteria- if someone had good gossip, it was bound to spread quickly. Anne had enough enemies at court to make sure something like this would be whispered about in the halls.

    Sanders only came out of the woodwork after Elizabeth’s accession to the throne, which makes him real suspect to me. I believe that at one time he was going around saying that Anne Boleyn was H8’s daughter…guess nobody believed that a 10 year old Henry fathered his future bride…that’s why Nicholas Sander earned the nickname “Dr. Slander.”

    I agree with those who say that Henry never really gave Anne the chance to have children. Three pregnancies in a span of 3 years takes is a lot for a woman’s body to handle, ESPECIALLY in those times.

    Whenever women have children back to back, the body never truly recovers 100%…it makes the first trimester pretty precarious, despite the ease of which it was to conceive. I have 2 children, and got pregnant with my second 6 months after giving birth to the first- in my first trimester, I had bleeding and had to be hospitalized for a brief period. My mother in law has had 16 pregnancies, of which only 10 resulted in the birth of a healthy child. Neither she nor I are witches. =)

  11. Oy, just read what I wrote! Sanders would have been 6 when Anne miscarried, not 2- I was thinking the year that Henry and Anne got married! The author that’s sites Sander’s last name is Warnicke. SORRY!

  12. I agree that Anne’s downfall was caused by a combination of circumstances, including the miscarriage. Henry was disappointed with Anne after she did not give him a son, but he was also disillusioned with her due to her refusal to become a meek and docile wife. After their lengthy courtship, Henry must have created such an impossible ideal of her in his mind that there was no way she could possibly measure up to his fantasy. When, true to her independent nature, Anne argued with him after their marriage, he must have been outraged and he blamed her for all of their problems. So of course Henry would gravitate to someone like Jane Seymour, who would be obedient and submissive.
    Another thing that I have been thinking about lately is that Anne was visibly aging. Even though she was only thirty-five, in Tudor times that was considered old. Anne probably began to appear older, especially with the stress that she was under, and she unfortunately did not have the cosmetics that we have to help her age gracefully. Henry must have noticed that her appearance was no longer as young and fresh as it once was, hence his roving eye. Henry also must have been thinking about his own mortality after his fall while jousting in January 1536. Then he shifted from reassuring her that they were both young and could have more children just after Elizabeth’s birth to declaring that he will not have sons by her just three years later. It’s pity that we don’t know Anne’s birthday, because I wonder if she had that milestone thirty-fifth birthday between January and April.

  13. Didn’t the Tudors and the common people in general notice that their animals were also able to have a miscarriage or a deformed baby? I guess they blamed it on the old lonely woman with a cat! I think Anne must have been under a lot of pressure to have a male child and we now know how stress can affect the immune system. I have a difficult boss and have had swine flu and sinus infections. I wonder if the stress she was under was a contributing factor to the loss of the baby. I also notice that I get much worse menstrual cramps when I am stressing over something.

  14. I would just like to say how great this site is, I stumbled upon it a few days back and love it! I always had an interest in The Tudors especially Elizabeth 1 but recently have developed a perhaps greater interest in her mother and this site is exactly what I was looking for informative, well researched and to my surprise very fair and impartial (for a website dedicated to Anne I didn’t expect to see an acknowledgment of her flaws and mistakes) this site really is an invaluable Anne Boleyn source!

  15. Thanks guys and girls for all of the comments and sorry that it’s taken a while to respond.
    Hi Gemma,
    I agree that Henry did not give Anne much of a chance to give him a son, after all, she had no problems getting pregnant with Elizabeth and carrying her to full term. I’m sure that miscarriages were even more common in those days than they are now and there does not seem to be any evidence at all to back up the Sander deformed foetus story – poppycock!

    Hi Emma,
    I’ve got as far as doing a web diagram for my book with all of my ideas on it and I’m going to make a start this week. I’ll let you know when it’s done. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Hi Masquerade,
    I don’t think that Jane Seymour was any more than just a fling at this stage and if things had not conspired against Anne then I think Jane would have been forgotten. I think that Catherine’s death gave the Catholic Conservatives hope and that led them to pushing Jane’s cause more and making her into future wife material rather than mistress, hard to say really. Yes, Anne certainly had the last laugh (if she could look down from Heaven)!

    Hi Angelina,
    Thanks for your kind words, I really appreciate them. The Ives book is my favourite book and I think my dream “date” would be to go for coffee with Eric Ives and grill him about Anne!
    I think you’re right about Anne’s behaviour, she really didn’t help herself did she. She had a tendency to say what she thought, upset people and stir up animousity, and that led to her having many enemies who were just waiting for an excuse and opportunity to bring her down. I’m not saying that she in any way deserved to die but her behaviour was a factor in her fall.

    Hi Louise,
    I completely agree with you about Baynton’s words. I kept reading them and just couldn’t read into them Warnicke’s meaning at all. Also very true about Henry’s behaviour, he could well have been covering up the plot against her.

    Hi Belle,
    I hate the portrait too! Like Melissa says, it looks like Jane Seymour and the only thing that makes it be identified as Anne is the AB brooch. Her necklace is also similar to the one worn by Elizabeth in the portrait done when she was a teenager. Anne looks haggard and old in this portrait but perhaps that’s what being married to Henry does to you!

  16. Hi mlealolmedo,
    I too like David Starkey – great historian. I had his DVD collection for Christmas and must really get round to watching them all and subjecting my husband to Tudor history!! I’m glad you liked the article.

    Hi Amy,
    I love your summing up of Henry’s character – “Of course, it’s not easy for a woman to conceive a child with a spoiled rotten sociopathic meglomaniac who barely comes to their room, is starting to hate their guts, and is already eyeing up the next wife before the current wife has even walked away from the alter.” What stress Anne must have been under, poor woman.

    Hi Christina,
    I agree with you about a foetus of that age not looking like a perfectly formed baby. We all know from scan photos that babies look more like peanuts or aliens in the early stages!
    Yes, Henry’s behaviour and his psyche is puzzling. Historians like Alison Weir regard Henry as an innocent victim of Cromwell’s plot whereas others see him as involved in some way. I’m still sitting on the fence somewhat as I just can’t get my head round his behaviour. If he ordered the plot then how could he go on defending Anne like that but if he was clueless then how could he be so indifferent to the love of his life being executed, after all, he was beside himself when he found out about Catherine Howard’s adultery? I just can’t see Cromwell moving against Anne without Henry’s permission or support because Cromwell would have been risking his neck in plotting against the Queen wouldn’t he? It’s all so puzzling!

    Hi Melissa,
    It looks completely like the portraits of Jane Seymour doesn’t it? I hate this portrait!

    Hi Lexy,
    Yes, Alison Weir wonders if Anne Boleyn was Rhesus Negative and so would never have carried another baby full-term after Elizabeth. Interesting theory.

    Hi Sheena,
    Warnicke’s book is a very interesting read but I hate the whole sexual heresy/witchcraft theory, it makes no sense and I hate the fact that she labels all five men “libertines” and sexual deviants.
    I agree with you about the effect of pregnancies on the body. I got pregnant before my second child’s 1st birthday when I was still breastfeeding and that was hard enough and to think that Anne got pregnant pretty much straight after giving birth to Elizabeth makes me feel very sorry for her. Her hormones must have been all over the place and no wonder historians like Starky have accused her of being “shrewish”.

    Hi Carolyn,
    Agree with you about Warnicke’s issues. I hate criticising historians who know so much more than I do but I just can’t understand where Warnicke gets her ideas from.

    Hi Cindy,
    Yes, I think Henry had this romatic idea of what the perfect wife should be and perhaps based this on his mother, Elizabeth of York. Nobody could live up to his ideal which seemed to be a mixture of his mother and a mistress who could satisfy him. Anne excited him because she was sexual and had a certain magnetism, she was very intelligent and could debate things with him, and she knew what made him tick. Although many have said that she failed to change her behaviour and become “queenly” after the marriage, wouldn’t this have actually made Henry tire of her anyway, she would have bored him surely. I don’t think Henry knew what he wanted and there was nobody who fitted his ideal.
    Yes, Jane was docile and submissive and so was the perfect antidote to Anne but he soon got bored of her didn’t he, much quicker than he tired of Anne, and I find that very interesting.
    I’m sure too that Anne’s looks would have been affected by all the stress she was under.

    Hi Lisa,
    Good point about the animals, although I suppose they felt that humans were made in God’s image and that God was more involved in our lives than those of animals. I do hate the way that Henry blamed his wives’ miscarriages and still-births on them and their sins rather than his own! No, those dead babies couldn’t have anything to do with his infidelity and his cruelty could they??!! Weird.

    Hi Jake,
    Thank you so much for your comment and I’m so glad that you like the AB Files. I am obsessed with Anne Boleyn and Tudor history but I often wonder whether I’d actually like Anne if I met her. I admire her spirit and courage and the impact that she had on England but I would have given her a good talking to about her behaviour and the way that she treated people like Mary!
    I am always willing to get on my soap box and defend Anne against the many myths and lies that are out there, which are not helped by some movies and novels, and I am seeking to educate people about the real Anne, but she definitely had flaws! She died an innocent woman and that’s what I try to educate people about.
    Thanks for your encouragement.

  17. Hi Everyone,

    I think you have said it all!!! I know that what I am writing about H8 and AB will not win the competition but at least it will get out myrage against a tyrant. After all I did recommend that someone (not myself becaue I am not that way inclined) write a book “Henry – the mind of a Pyschopath”

  18. To Jenny: I love the idea of examining Henry from a forensic psychologist’s point of view. I saw a great BBC show showing how the childhoods and other events helped shape the personalities of Hitler and Stalin. It was amazing how much they had in common: abusive fathers who beat them until they almost died, a very close relationship with their mothers, and early artistic tendencies – Hitler wanted to be a painter and Stalin wrote poetry and wanted to be a priest at one point. Henry VIII would be a great subject for such a study.

  19. BELLE- you say you do not like this portrait of Anne, but this is how she looked sometime before she died. It was all the stress she was under every day of her life. The other picture you mention is how she looked either before she married Henry or not long after. Stress and anxiety does alter how you look and does age anyone. It’s such a shame how she changed, I bet this in Henry’s eyes also went against her?

    1. Masquerade…. how do you know for sure what AB looked like before she died? And with that, no one of this day and age does. We have to rely upon the historical accounts of the past….Which we are not apart of. H8’s reign was such a mystical, mysterious, temultuous….etc. time…..we can not even presume to know whose portrait portrayed what and if it was actually that particular person at all……

  20. CLAIRE- but by this time we are talking about Henry must have been looking for a way out of the marriage with Anne, as he thought her evil and witch and felt she had a spell on him, making him do the terrible things her did, and to his beloved friends, some from childhood. He still needed (he felt) a male heir to the throne, so what else to do but marry again, but he couldn’t while Anne was living…she had to be got rid of…

  21. Hi Jenny and Lisa,
    It would be fantastic if a forensic psychologist could investigate Henry and tell us what drove the man. I just can’t understand his psyche but that may well be because I am struggling to understand a 16th century man with my 21st century mindset.

    Hi Masquerade,
    I suppose it all depends on what you believe about Henry. Did he really believe that Anne was a witch who had put him under the spell? Or were his words about sortilege and being bewitched just bluster and him simply saying that he had been “bewitched” by Anne in the way that we are all “bewitched” when we fall in love with someone, we fall under someone’s spell don’t we?
    I can’t work out what Henry truly believed. Perhaps he managed to convince himself that Anne was evil and that’s why God was punishing him, just like he told himself that he should never have married Catherine, his brother’s widow. Hmmm…

  22. Hi Lisa,

    You have “hit the nail on theh head” with your comments. From what I can see, H8 was the “back-ip” for Arthur in a¡case he didn’t survive (and we all know what happened). As a child H8 was extremely cosseted by his mother, ignored by his father, until brother died, and then kept on a vey tight reign until “pa” popped it. H8 was supposed to be highly educated not only to be a cardinal, but in the arts, jousts and sports. Question is, did he really win all the time or was it just a show to be on the right side of him? Some people say that he wrote “Greensleeves” for Anne Boleyn – Others say that someone else wrote it but had to give the credit to the king! And again, from what it seems, Anne Boleyn was the first person to say “no” to him after his father who had died some 24 years before – so that must have been a fascination for him – The “Chase”

    Hi Masquerade,

    Yep, they did not have “Clinique” and such creams in those days to hide the stress that Anne must have been under and I agree, H8 was so desperate for a male heir and Anne was getting to almost past child-bearing days so she had to go. The man didn’t have a “conscience” – That word belonged to other people who suffered by not agreeing with the king. Anyway to get out of a prob.

    Hi Claire,

    Lisa pointed out two 20th century pyschos so I would imagine that whatever century you lived in it was dependent on the power you had. “Vald the Impaler” did exist – He was kidnapped as a boy by the Turks from whomhe learnt all his tricks plus the mentality of his future enemy. Thousands of Turks were impaled in one foul swoop on more than one occasion!!!! And he preyed on their superstitions by appearing at night on a mountain below their camp dressed in the full cape, etc. Think the Stoker Book is great especially taking into consideration that the writer never visited Transylvania – I have and could recognise his descriptions of places.

  23. The problem was Henry’s palace diet. It contained almost nothing other than white bread, meat and booze followed by a sticky pudding and more booze. A recipe for type 2 diabetes and gangrenous ulcers. Just about the only source of folic acid in that diet was the summer glut of strawberries. Women hoping to become pregnant today are expected to take folic acid supplements to avoid spina bifida. It’s seems entirely probable that early in the marriage Anne Boleyn could produce a healthy child. It seems equally probable that after two or three years of the palace meat regime, she was losing her babies. It didn’t need to be a monstrous deformity to have an impact on Henry, it just needed to be more than he could cope with.

  24. Was Anne Boleyn’s Miscarriage Responsible for Her Fall?

    I think the explanation is more organic, less mechanical. These people were all, at bottom, people. Subject to the usual human emotional response. That includes Henry. And the script can be considered as the usual triangle script if we leave out the extraordinary power of one of the actors.

    I think the timeline is significant. Catherine dies, Henry and Anne react by celebrating. Four months later Henry delivers Anne to her death.

    If Anne hadn’t miscarried, if she had produced a healthy son, the outcome would undoubtedly not have been what it was. But she did miscarry, and Henry did deliver her to her death a short time later. Being human, he would not have failed to react to the death of his wife of 24 years. And this was part of his reaction, seeing as he was a king and had this power.

    A healthy newborn son and heir would have gone a long way to dispelling his reaction to Catherine’s death. Life goes on, a new life displaces an old grief. But this is not what happened.

    Interesting story

    1. Some good points, Brenda, and it was so unfortunate that Anne miscarried that baby. I’m sure that Henry could not help but have felt guilty reading Catherine’s last letter to him and perhaps that affected how he felt about Anne and the miscarriage. It’s hard to know what was going on in Henry’s head at that time but he did carry on pushing Europe to recognise Anne as his wife and queen so it seems that he was committed to Anne until the end of April 1536. Poor Anne, she really did miscarry her saviour.

      1. Claire I, agree that Annes fall was totally because she did not produce a son,so sad for all. Regards B V R

  25. I agree that the miscarriage was not the only cause of her downfall. However, I think it is safe to say that she would have lived longer than May 1536 had she not miscarried- King Henry would have hardly had her executed if she was heavily pregnant. At least, I don’t think he would have but that’s just speculation. If she was around fifteen weeks in January 1536, then that May she have been between 7-8 1/2 months along. I believe that if she would have given birth to a living, healthy son, then the worst she would have faced would have been divorce. She had shown herself amenable to an annulment during her imprisonment. I have been really enjoying your website and your book recommendations! Thank you for all of the information!

  26. Anne’s miscarriage just upped the ante, so to speak, for Henry. Another plausible reason to add to all of the others, albeit it most of those ludicrous beyond belief.
    In his own warped mind, Henry no doubt thought this was just another way for Anne to betray him, & let him down. Not fulfill her end of the bargain. I cannot even begin to imagine being faced with execution, let alone the reasons. Where most of those charges were false, Anne had to see herself being gotten rid of, partly due to the fact that she lost a male child. How incredibly heartbreaking.

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