Why Did Anne Boleyn Fall?

Posted By on January 12, 2010

Anne Boleyn in the TowerAnne Boleyn’s fall from favour and her very tragic end is still a hot topic over 470 years on, what with “The Tudors” on TV, the publication of books like Alison Weir’s “The Lady in the Tower” and G W Bernard’s book, “Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions”. We can’t get enough of her story; it troubles us, it gnaws at us, it piques our interest and, for some of us, it even keeps us up at night or haunts our dreams.

What is it about Anne Boleyn’s story that grabs us? Is it the scandal? Is it the fact that she was a queen? Is it that we like to fight for the underdog and seek justice for her? Is it the mystery and puzzle of it?

What drives you to find out more about Anne Boleyn? For me, it is the puzzle of her fall, the reasons behind it and the psychology of the man who let it happen, the man who carried on with his mistress while his wife was waiting to die. I want to know the truth behind the story. I want to find the Holy Grail. I want to be sure of why Anne fell.

Will I ever find out? Will I ever be satisfied that I have found the truth? Probably not, but that doesn’t stop me reading every book and primary source I can lay my hands on!

Possible Reasons for the Fall of Anne Boleyn

Over the next few weeks, I am going to look at the different theories, thoughts and opinions regarding the fall of Anne Boleyn and the Boleyn faction. Here are just some of the theories that I will be examining, but please feel free to add a theory to the comments below if you think that I have missed one out.

  • Anne Boleyn was guilty of adultery and was a traitor to the Crown – There are obviously some people that believe that Anne was guilty of what she was charged with and that, as one Anne Boleyn Files visitor put it, “there is no smoke without a fire”. These people believe either that Anne was guilty of all of the charges or that she was guilty of some. The blurb on Amazon of G W Bernard’s “Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions”, which is due for release in April/May, says that Bernard “argues that the allegations of adultery that led to Anne’s execution in the Tower could be close to the truth”. Did Henry VIII ask Cromwell to investigate Anne and did Cromwell only act against Anne when he had evidence that Anne was being unfaithful and plotting against the King.
  • Anne Boleyn could not produce a male heir so Henry VIII wanted to replace her with a new wife – Were her miscarriages her downfall?
  • Henry VIII got fed up of her – Anne was too outspoken, jealous and argumentative and Henry could not take it any more. She was not queen material.
  • Jane Seymour – Henry VIII had fallen in love again and needed to get rid of Anne. It appears that Jane Seymour may have learned from Anne’s example and refused to become the King’s mistress and held out for marriage, something which Henry could not offer her if Anne was still around.
  • Anne Boleyn was a witch – The theory that Anne bewitched the King, miscarried a deformed foetus and even plotted to poison Catherine of Aragon and the Lady Mary.
  • Anne’s fall was down to a faction battle – Those who believe this see Henry VIII’s court as split between the Boleyn faction, which supported Anne and Reformist ideas, and the conservative, Catholic Aragonese faction who had never agreed with the break with Rome or with Henry’s divorce and remarriage. Was Anne’s fall the result of the tables turning, to the Conservatives getting the upper hand?
  • Thomas Cromwell’s pragmatism – Some believe that Cromwell saw that Anne Boleyn was losing popularity and the King’s interest and so decided to shift his allegiance to the Conservatives and plot against her.
  • Foreign Policy – Some believe that Anne’s Pro-French stance and her influence with the King were wrecking Cromwell’s plans for an alliance with Charles V. Cromwell realised that he needed Anne out of the way or England would suffer.
  • Cromwell’s fear for his own safety – Was it a case of “her head or mine”? It is said that Anne and Cromwell had argued over where the money from the dissolution of the monasteries was going and had become enemies. Cromwell knew that Anne  had the ear of the King and feared that he would end up like Cardinal Wolsey or Thomas More if he did not act against her.
  • Cromwell wanted to get rid of his enemies in the Privy Chamber and replace them with his own men – Is this why Cromwell went after men such as Sir Henry Norris, Sir William Brereton, Sir Francis Weston and George Boleyn?
  • Karma – The idea that “what goes around comes around”. Some may believe that Anne ‘s fall was down to her having been the “other woman”, to her leading the King astray and causing him to treat his wife and daughter so badly.
  • Religion – Was Anne Boleyn’s fall simply down to her reformist ideas?
  • Anne herself – Did Anne’s pride, her ambition, her treatment of those around her and her recklessness lead to her fall? Did she only have herself to blame? Did she dig her own grave?

These are the theories that I will be looking at in my posts over the next few weeks and I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

Can you think of a reason that I have missed out? Please comment below.

See The Fall of Anne Boleyn for an interactive timeline of the events of 1536.

62 thoughts on “Why Did Anne Boleyn Fall?”

  1. I feel for Anne because the king built her up, only to knock her WAY down, surely because she simply could not produce a boy. As someone who has had fertility issues in the past, I sympathize for her plight in a time where there was no reproductive endocrinology nor IVF or other like measures. Ironically, her one girl was destined for greatness but this was lost on Henry. Not necessarily his own fault, since he was simply a creature of his own time period and social standing, really.

  2. Lauren says:

    I believe that Anne’s fall was due to a mixture of many of these theories you have mentioned – the combination of Jane Seymour, miscarriages, and Anne’s closeness with people like her brother and Mark Smeaton. I think you should also include another theory – that Anne’s downfall was due to Jane Boleyn, who later admitted that she fabricated evidence against anne and george – was anne’s downfall purely based on a jealous, attention seeking wife? That is one of the theories I agree with, and I think you should include it. Thank you!

  3. Emma (cotswolds) says:

    There isnt a day when I dont think of her, and about her amazing elevation to Queen and terrible and quick fall. She was the innocent victim of notorious Tudor court! I think Henry needed an excuse to get her out of the way and Cromwell ‘found it’ – he turned innocent courtly love and bannter & brotherly love in to something more sinister, which inturn put Anne to her death. I think Henry was a victim to a degree, but not altogether stupid and went along with the ‘answer’ to his problem because he was desparate to marry Jane Seymore, who had no scruples at all in how she got Anne place.

  4. Andrea says:

    I think her downfall of a combination of may factors: Jane Seymour, her miscarriages, her own personality (as you put it, too outspoken for a medieval Queen) and definitely Cromwell’s plotting. I can see H8 and Cromwell plotting to get rid of her, altough for different reasons. Henry was getting tired of her character and Cromwell did, I believe, fear for his safety, cause while Anne and H8 had up and downs thoughout their marriage, had she not been executed, I believe could’ve done a lot of damage to Cromwell. She still had that much influence over H8!

  5. Andrea says:

    Dear Lord, sorry about that last post. Awfully edited. I was writing too fast and now that I read it again I feel kind of ashamed. What I meant was that if she hadn’t been executed, SHE could’ve done damage to Cromwell. Missed a word or two there, also at the beginning of the post. Sorry!

  6. Eliza says:

    In my opinion, Anne’s fall was a combination of Cromwell wanting the alliance with Spain, Henry seduced by Jane Seymour and Anne not having given birth to a boy.

    Personally, I love Anne and I am inspired by her story, because she is the proof that if you persevere and don’t give up on a dream/goal, it can become true, even if it seems impossible at first! But then again, be careful what you wish for! Right? I am also fascinated by her character, she was so ahed of her time, so intelligent and gifted. And of course, I want to know more about the real reasons of her fall, so I’m looking forward to yur next articles, Claire!

  7. MARIE BURTON says:

    I concur it was the combination of many factors. I think that England was somewhat stable with Henry and Catherine of Aragon, & after many seemingly happy years with Catherine (*& mistresses) the people were shocked that Anne could force Henry to break with Rome and disgard Catherine. The reason that Henry gave to his people for this was that England needed an heir. She failed to give one.
    Then he favored the Boleyn’s & the Howards, which incited hatred and jealousy among the nobles.
    And then of course Anne was described as haughty and sood up to Henry when she felt the need, so that is another step towards her fall.
    Cromwell hastened the fall and also perpetuated Henry’s paranoia that God was punishing him.

  8. Pom says:

    Anne had grown quite a bit older waiting for her opportunity to come through on her promise to provide that long awaited male heir. She was given one real chance and when that wasn’t “successful” her demise seems to have begun.

    Does anyone else find it interesting that the H8 we use to shorten Henry VIII reads as “hate”?

    The jewellry is lovely! 🙂

  9. Melissa says:

    I feel in my gut that Cromwell was behind all of it. The miscarriages too. He had far too much access to Anne & Henry. He was able to poison the kings mind, why not the kings bride? The fact that they were ‘enemies’ due to the monies from the dissolution of the monastaries is a moot point…they were enemies far longer than that. Anne was not a good pawn for Cromwell because she had brains in her head and spoke what she thought & felt. Very dangerous for a manipulative worm like Cromwell who wanted to suggestively put his agenda in the kings mind/reign. Okay hopping off of my soapbox now.

  10. Lesley says:

    Let’s be clear about one thing; had Anne produced a living son nothing and no-one could have displaced her. I believe that it was a combination of the other things you list alongside this most important factor which resulted in her fall. Cromwell most certainly feared her influence and sensing the wind changing siezed his opportunity to save his own skin and clear the path for Henry to marry again and have his longed for son.
    I am completely convinced of Anne’s innocence and I believe that all those involved, including Henry himself, knew the charges were fabricated.
    I’m looking forward to reading your theories. Thank-you!!

  11. lisaannejane says:

    To Pam: That’s really funny H8=hate! I never noticed that before. I agree with the other contributors that it was a combination of factors occurring when they did that led to Anne’s downfall, with the lack of producing a male heir the center of it (does that make sense?). To Claire: I love the way you put all the theories together in a very clear and concise way. You should write a Tudor history book for newcomers to the subject. I would buy it.

  12. Jill says:

    I don’t believe this man was seduced by anyone. If anything, I believe he was infatuated, and as was and is still in the time, ready to blame the woman for how feelings, mistakes and misdirections his life took. Recall the times: Eve seduced Adam into eating the apple from the Garden of Eden. Did he ever take responsibility for his own actions. No and remember that these people were brought up from the beginning to believe the Bible at it’s literal truth. Anne is a tragic figure because of hers and her families ambition (even thought I think she knew what the end result would be. I don’t believe she ever wanted to be married to Henry VIII but rather Henry Percy. ) and because she has been demonized over the centures for the lies that the Tudor and Cromwell administrations spread about her. But if you think of what she left behind her daughter really proved what a woman could be and was. Perhaps your research, Claire and others will dispell some of these rumors and find the real truth.

  13. Tudorrose says:

    I wish that I could come to The Anne Boleyn Experience,perhaps next year.
    I think the main cause in Anne Boleyns downfall was that she just like her predessecor before her Catherine,could not produce a living son.I would not say that it is or was just that one thing alone though.Catherine when married to the king had had countless miscarriages and stillbirths,more than Anne ever had during her courtship with the king.I think to add to the birth of no son and heir it had to be political like Ives suggests in his book on her.I do not think it had nothing to do with religion because Cromwell was a reformist just like the Boleyns were.Plus I think part of the issue was motivated by jealousy undoubtedly.I think that the Boleyn familly were rising so high in power higher than any other lord,duke or knight within the kings realm.I feel that they were really favoured at that particular moment in time.Just the same as their close but distant relatives the Howards they too were vain and probably one of the most attention seeking and attention grabbing noble family in the kings domain.Lets not forget if both Boleyn and Howard famillies did not have the king of Englands eyes and ears undoubtedly it would have been another high ranking noble familly somewhere within his court getting all of the praise and the attention.

    I do not think that she deserved what happened to her,she was not know the outcome or the end result of what was to be.Basically it is just a simple case of bad luck on her part plus her brothers and the other four innocent men that followed her to their untimely deaths.I think it was deffinately those closest to the king that suffered the most.The more popular you were at court the most dangerous it would be or could be! The people who were the furthest away stood more of a chance in having their life spared and keeping their head.

    Even though four of the innocent men had no rank,even though three of them came from wealthy famillies whilst the other had been a commoner and came from a poor background,I still feel that the reason being for this is because of how close they were and how much they mingled with Anne and the Boleyns plus they had been on the receiving end of reform jut like the Boleyn familly.Afterall I would say that theese four men were close aquaintances and friends of George Boleyn.Anne Boleyns brother.

    I also think that Cromwell was scared of Henry just like a lot of people at court probably were,this I would say is a contibutor to the fact as in as a result would have done anything for the king(His most humble and obedient servant) Just to keep his own head on his shoulders.Also not forgetting the quarel that Anne and Cromwell had over alliances just shortly before she fell from favour.He wanted a spanish alliance whilst Anne wanted an alliance with the french.This would have put an end to the bicker.

    According to Ives he mentions that Anne and Cromwells relationship became fatally damaged as a result.So from then on they had become enemies which again would added to her downfall.This just made a bad story worse.

  14. Bella says:

    I feel the same way. I will never be truly satisfied with learning about the Tudors, until I have actually lived the life. Meaning, someone NEEDS to build a time machine. 🙂

    I think Henry felt guilty about what he did to Katherine and grew to hate Anne. I also think that because Anne did not give him a son, he knew that she might not be able to ever give him one and didn’t want her. So, I feel that Anne being called a witch was just a cover up; an excuse to get rid of her because she didn’t have a boy. I don’t think Anne committed adultery; I think that people just made that up because they didn’t like her.

    In other words, I believe that since Anne did not give Henry a son, witchcraft and adultery were excuses to get rid of her, so he could be free to marry Jane Seymour.

  15. Tian says:

    I agree that it was the combination of several factors, but one of the main things: What happened to Anne Boleyn was the same thing that happened to many people King Henry loved and trusted, such as Wolsey and Cromwell. People were, obviously, jealous of her, and grew to resent her. She wasn’t much of a “people pleaser” either, so she ended up making enemies out of almost everyone.

    At first (similarly to others both before and after Anne), King Henry defended her and protected her from anyone who dared to oppose her. But: despite the fact that he was a determined man, when there were enough people pressuring him, he could be easily swayed. With so many people trying to “poison” his ear, he eventually gave in.

    He does have a reputation for being able to fool himself, getting himself to believe what he wants to believe. He might have been in love more with the idea of Anne than Anne herself. He was probably in love with an intelligent and fiery, young woman who could turn into an obliging wife and give him sons after they were married. Of course, Anne failed to represent the latter part.

  16. Kelly says:

    In the book “The Year that Changed Henry VIII, 1536” theres a chapter that also asks the same question. Its really interesting because it talks a bit about hte psychological aspect of Anne fall in regards to Henry. It also discounts the role of her last miscarriage because of his actions towards Chapuys and the Emperor after the miscarriage in defense of Anne. It also discounts the role of Jane Seymour because the author believed that Henry would never have seriously considered marrying Jane if it had not been for Anne’s fall. Interesting, although i don’t think either aspect can be completely abandoned because they would have had SOME affect on the events even if it was a very small affect.

  17. Jenny says:

    Like most people, I agree that the reasons for Anne’s downfall were a mixture of those made by Claire and, possibly the comment made by Lauren about Jane Rochford (Boleyn).

    What I do really believe however is that even if Anne was desperately unhappy with Henry, having already seen what he could be like with other people who “stood in his way”, she would never have countenanced adultery. The “witch” accusation was also another good “card” to play in those superstitious days.

    I always use abbreviations when mentioning Royalty. However, Pom’s comment had never occured to me before but I am definitely in agreement.

    I could go on forever ranting about H8 – I have made my feelings about him very clear in the past – a spoiled brat who never grew up and Anne was the only person who had said “no” to him (after his father) which must have been fascinating to him initially. And he always found a “scapegoat” for his actions.

    It is obvious that if Anne had given birth to a strong male heir, she would have remained queen even if both sontinued to have spats about Henry’s roving eye.

    The problem is that she didn’t produce the goods – the Tudor claim to the English throne had always been tenuous which is why a strong male heir was necessary to continue the line.

    I will be following the forthcoming posts with interest!!!

  18. june says:

    Our fascination with Anne’s fall probably stems from a myriad of reasons, depending somewhat on how each individual feels about Anne’s story. For me, Anne became the underdog, and I feel she was murdered, not executed. It feels right to believe that Henry felt he must produce a male heir, he would never have believed it possible for a woman to effectivly rule alone, which would mean a male from another country becoming King as a husband to Mary or Elizabeth, unthinkable to him I am sure. But, even if that were the only reason, it doesn’t answer the question of why he felt he couldn’t beget another child, a male, with Anne. Her miscarriage of a supposed male child seems likely to have been very upsetting to him, but…. that wouln’t mean she couln’t have another child as miscarriages were common then, much more so than today, but apparently he was already courting Jane by then, so it seems the marriage had already gone south. But even then, he could have just taken his pleasure so to speak, he had certainly done that before! So why did he choose to murder Anne and his own close friends? I have always believed him to be a sociopath, a man with no conscience, and the King, used to getting what he wanted. I have to wonder if Anne thought he really would kill her and the others? In other words she played her hand, and the outcome was brutal.

  19. Jenny says:


    I am not exactly sure of Anne’s age when she miscarried but I believe it was in her 30s which was quite late for a woman in those days although there are references of women and even queens giving birth almost up to the age of 50.

    In my opinion, the fact that he was against someone who could be as “selfish” as him (and Anne did have her faults) did not enter Anne’s head that she could be disposed of in any way chosen by her spouse.

    She wasn’t of Royal Blood so that could not have saveed her – Katherine of Aragon had died, so in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, H8 was a widower in any case. H8 never looked at the consequences of his actions – he just wanted “annoying” people out of the way and had his myriad of “scapegoats” to work out how to get around the situation. I am sure that Anne, having risen so high, didn’t realise that “the higher you rise, the lower you fall”

    As you say, a gamble on her part which she unfortunately lost at the time. But it is interesting when people speak of the Tudor times Anne is one of the Queens most remembered not only for who she was but for being the mother of whom I conder to be the greatest Queen England ever had.

    And BTW EMMA, what part of the Cotswold do you come from?

  20. All the comments are well written. I shall take my time to lament on them
    I would like to thank all of you for your very sound reasoning
    Renee Woolsey Smeaton Burgess Ypsilanti,Mi USA

  21. Claire says:

    Hi The Tudor Tutor,
    Yes, Henry raised Anne high and knocked her down again and he did threaten to do this and he threatened Jane Seymour too. I agree with you about Henry, he was a product of his time and also a product of the Tudor dynasy and so was paranoid about succession. What a shame that he never knew what Elizabeth would grow up to be.

    Hi Lauren,
    I will indeed add Jane Boleyn to my list. I have just bought Julia Fox’s biography of Jane so I will be reading that.

    Hi Emma,
    I do struggle with Henry and how much he knew of the plot. As Elizabeth Norton said in her interview a few weeks ago, Henry was in charge and would have known what Cromwell was up to so the idea of him being a victim of the plot doesn’t really add up. I don’t think Cromwell would have taken the risk of plotting against the Queen without Hebnry’s go-ahead, but why did Henry go from defending Anne to turning against her, what turned him? I’m not sure.

    Hi Andrea,
    Don’t worry, you made sense! I too think that it was a combination of factors and that Cromwell was just providing Henry with what he needed to move on to a new woman.

    Hi Eliza,
    Yes, we should be careful what we wish for! One key mistake that Anne made was in her treatment of those around her. I think she thought she was untouchable and so was not concerned about arguing with Cromwell and annoying others, how wrong she was.

    Hi Marie,
    Yes, definitely a combination of factors and Anne’s attitude not helping her to make friends and allies.

    Hi Pom,
    I love H8 (hate)! I had never noticed it! You’re right about Anne. Although being in your 30s is young theser days, in an age when 35 was the average life expectancy it was quite old for trying to get pregnant. I don’t support the syphilis theory but it is interesting that Catherine and Anne both had so many miscarriages.

    Hi Melissa,
    I just can’t make up my mind about who is to blame for the coup against Anne Boleyn but Cromwell definitely did the donkey work. I think initially that he and Anne were allies as they both had the same reformist ideas but after the argument I think Cromwell began to fear Anne and he also saw that the Boleyn faction may be on their way down and that it was time for him to support the rising Conservative faction.

    Hi Lesley,
    I agree that Cromwell noticed the winds of change and also needed to secure his position by giving the King what he wanted, something he failed to do later when Henry wanted to annul his marriage to Anne of Cleves. I too think that Anne was innocent.

    Hi Lisa,
    I’m just about to start work on my book so I’ll keep you posted! Thanks for your support and encouragement.

    Hi Jill,
    I really hope that my research and writing on here does help people to think more about Anne’s story and not just assume that she was an adulteress and traitor. Yes, Henry had a great way of shifting the blame and responsibility for things didn’t he and then when things didn’t go his way he would assume that it was God’s punishment but not for something he did, something that his wife had done! I would have loved to have given him a good shake or a slap and told him to take responsibility for his decisions and actions and stop being such a stupid man!

    Hi Tudorrose,
    I’m so sorry you can’t come on the tour this year but I really do hope to run one next year.
    Yes, Anne really did miscarry her saviour, as Chapuys put it. A son would have saved her and made her position secure. She would have been mother of the future King of England. Henry would have been grateful to her for that but he probably would have carried on having mistresses. Nobody would have been able to touch Anne but the marriage would not necessarily have been happy.
    I agree with you about the Boleyns and Howards. Their rise had upset many people and so people were looking forward to knocking them down in some way. I also agree with you about Cromwell. It is easy to judge him but he was probably just trying to keep his head!

    Hi Bella,
    I’d like a time machine but I’d like to know that I could get back in it if things got dangerous! I think Henry must have convinced himself that Anne was the problem and that God was punishing them for her sins and justified his actions by telling himself that. How could he have moved on to Jane Seymour so easily otherwise.

    Hi Tian,
    You’re spot on with what you say. Being favoured by Henry was a dangerous thing, either people plotted against you or you lost the King’s favour and upset him in some way. I really don’t blamed Christina of Milan for turning down Henry when he was looking into marriage with her. Apparently she said “If I had two heads, one should be at the King of England’s disposal.”! Love it!!

    Hi Kelly,
    That’s one book I’ve had for ages but have only dipped into, not properly read. I will definitely be using it for my research. Like you, I don’t think we can rule out Anne’s miscarriage and Jane Seymour, as Anen’s miscarriage made Henry think that God might not be pleased with their marriage and fear that Anne couldn’t give him a son and Jane Seymour was there ready to step into Anne’s place.

    Hi Jenny,
    I agree with you about Anne. She was far too intelligent to think that she could get away with adultery and there is no way that she would have taken that risk even if she was desperate to provide the King with a son. The lack of a male heir was definitely an issue but Anne had had no problems getting pregnant so there was still hope. I think it was a combination of many factors but a son would have kept her safe.

    Hi June,
    You’re right, Anne was murdered, not executed, as she was framed and even her old enemy Chapuys did not believe that she was guilty. She was the victim of a horrible miscarriage of justice which took the lives of six innocent people, left a child without her mother and affected many families. It was a brutal, but effective coup, and it allowed Cromwell to get what he wanted and for the King to start over with a new woman.
    What I always find s bit odd is that Henry always worried about what God thought of him and his marriages and whether bad things happening were God’s punishment or God’s lack of blessing, yet he didn’t worry that God would punish him for being terribly cruel to his former wife and eldest daughter or for letting his second wife and five innocent men be executed. Perhaps he thought that by letting other people do the work that he could shift the blame. Hmmmm…

    Hi Jenny,
    Yes, Henry did enjoy making scapegoats. Did he ever take responsibility for his actions??
    It is interesting that Anne is such a remembered queen and that her story just grabs people and draws them in. Fascinating.

  22. Andrea says:

    Just one more thing to add, a poster above me said that KoA and H8 (&Co.) were married for over 20 years despite all the miscarriages and stillbirths, whilst Anne only lasted 3 years as Queen. I actually think that was -indirectly, of course- Anne’s own fault.

    There were problems on the Koa/H8 marriage as early as 1514, IIRC, but it wasn’t until Anne that he actually realized he could get rid of a wife. She gave him the means, she showed him he could do it. Of course, I don’t think she ever thought it would eventually be used on her too. But before Anne, I don’t believe H8 *seriously* considered annulment, maybe he thought there was no way out of his marriage!

    By changing that, Anne set a pattern in all of H8’s marriages after KoA: short tenures, and they made a mistake or lost the King’s favor even if only for the tinniest thing and they’d be gone. The only ones who got away -kind of- were Jane and Katherine Parr. The first, because she died delivering the “goods” and so he couldn’t grow tired of her, and KP because H8 died. But still, KP was awfully close to meeting AB and CH’s end!

  23. Sheena says:

    The idea of the deformed fetus has always perplexed me. I realized that the Renaissance ushered in the revolution of science and medicine, but wasn’t it still (to a degree) in it’s infancy? How much did men and women of that time know about the appearance of a fetus during it’s gestation? I mean- at 20 weeks (roughly 4 months) a fetus hardly looks like the baby that follows 20 weeks later at full term…I have always thought that the “deformed fetus” was really just something that was cooked up by Anne’s enemies, because a layperson of those times probably would call a 20 week fetus “deformed” out of ignorance or lack of education…anyone in the anti-Boleyn faction would have just run with it because it was good gossip. (Doesn’t court seem like a high school, sometimes?)

    I think Anne’s fall was a combination of many factors- a “perfect storm”, so to speak. No one factor alone brought about her downfall, but all of them influenced and help build upon another. Miscarriages alone did not bring down KoA, infidelity alone did not bring down KH, and being intelligent or outspoken about religion/ politics didn’t bring down Catherine Parr. Cromwell, the dispute over the monies from the dissolution of the monasteries, H8’s wandering eye (Jane got engaged to H8 only DAYS after Anne’s beheading? SUSPECT!), the miscarriages, Anne’s tempestuousness, etc, etc… everything- they all lead to her down fall.

    I do think that it is quite ironic that Anne did end up giving Henry the strong monarch that he had wished for in Elizabeth. Maybe, as some would say, it was “God’s will?”

  24. Melissa says:

    After reading everyone’s brilliant comments I have to throw in my two cents too : )

    I do not consider myself a feminist, but lately I’ve framed Anne’s story in my mind as a tale of misogyny. Women were literally considered property, and the fact that what Henry saw essentially as chattel was speaking up for herself was exciting. He wanted to own her (“I have to possess you utterly,” from the Tudors), and like a spoiled child with a new toy, he grew sick of it once he had it. He was the same with all his future wives too.

    The religious climate also obviously contributed to Anne’s fall, and not just the Reform vs. Conservative faction war. The brand of Christianity in England at the time held the notion of a “divine chain of being,” with the king at the very top. In America in the 21st century it seems an utterly foreign notion, but H8 really would have considered himself a god in his own realm. He was a spoiled brat who saw the Pope as a bully trying to take away his toys when in reality the Pope was trying to do a diplomatic juggling act. I think Cromwell realized what he was dealing with and handled everything as pragmatically as possible. Of course, like anyone who ever helped Henry, he lost his life for it.

  25. Starling says:

    You left one big one out. Henry’s marriage to Anne was considered to be illegal in most of Europe. But once Katherine had died, a marriage to Jane would be considered legitimate along with any child she gave birth to. Add that to some of the others, and you’ve probably got the real reasons for Anne’s fall.

  26. Andrea says:

    Sheena- I completely agree with you on that. I’ve always wondered what physicians in Tudor times thought of as a “normal-fetus” at only 20 weeks! It’s very possible that they just didn’t know that the fetus develops and changes so much phisically inside the womb.

    I mean, there were those who believed the Preformationism theory, that said that the sperm cell contained a Homunculus, wich was basically tiny but fully developed human being, and that pregnancy served the purpose of enlarging it to it’s full size. So what would they’ve thought when they saw a real 3-4 months fetus?

  27. Tara says:

    Great points Claire! This is very much related to my assignment!! I believe her fall was due to a number of factors. After Henry took a clear interest in Jane Seymour, Anne’s failure to produce a male heir only sealed her fate. I believe Henry wanted an excuse, any excuse at all, to have her ‘out of the way’, so he had her beheaded for adultery, witchcraft and incest. As far as I know, no proper evidence has been discovered that Anne did any of these things, just cruel punishments on those she was rumoured to have committed adultery with until confession, regardless of the truth. And of course, good ol’ Thomas Cromwell fighting for his life and the easiest way to save it? To defeat his enemy, Anne Boleyn!

  28. Jenny says:

    H8 was married to K of A for almost 24 years. The orginal idea of the marriage came from H7 who was so misely that he did not want to return the part dowry. However, he did persuade his son to sign a secret get-out clause just in case as H7 could see the winds of change blowing on the continent. H8 may have loved H of A at first but I am sure he married her (after his father’s death) just to get one over on a man who had controlled him so closely.

    I am sure that H8 never had an original idea in his life – so where did the idea of “annullment” come rom – I know there was a precedent with Eleanor of Acquitaine and Louis, but someone else must have come up with this. I don’t think it was Wolsey although H8 set him on the path to try to annul the marriage and when Wolsey was unsuccessful he would have had the chop if he hadn’t died “en route” The idea certainly would not have come from Thomas More but does anyone have ideas?

    With regards to the “foetus”, I also think we have to look at Medieval and Tudor Hygiene. How often did people bathe ( I know Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain though it was a sinful Moorish practice despite Philippa Gregory’s novel, The Constant Princess)? Clothes, in general were not washed but “beaten” like carpets – For teh rich, even so often they would move house to more of lesss fumigate the old one. That could have affected pregancies plus also the diets. Did the rich eat really well? Or was it just the consumption of loads of food that showed they were rich? I knew before Claire’s Christmas posting about banquets but, as a small eater, just reading it almost put me off food for days.

    Whoever, got the idea of H8 breaking from Rome certainly showed a precendent for a number of events for the future.

  29. Carolyn says:

    I’m not sure I agree with Tudor-era folk being so unfamiliar with the appearance of a preterm infant. They may not have known so much about the mechanics of conception (referring to the homunculus theory mentioned above, not saying they didn’t know sex = conception. Well, except Anne of Cleves…), but considering the high infant mortality rates then and the much higher rates of miscarriages and stillbirths, if anything, doctors and midwives may have been much more familiar with the appearance of a preterm infant. Personally, I think the rumor of a deformed fetus was as much a fabrication as the allegations of adultery, witchcraft and incest, and was made up to support the notion that Anne was evil/sinful/committing witchcraft, as the belief was that a deformed infant was the result of the mother sinning or doing something wrong. And because, goodness knows, Henry wasn’t ever responsible for anything that went wrong.

    I agree with Tudorrose about political factions at court playing their part. Throughout Henry’s reign, it seems there were factions rising and falling, and no sooner would one side suffer a setback than it would regroup and try to topple the faction that had just toppled them. I’m sure Henry was aware of it and used it for his own purposes. After the break with Rome, Henry seemed to go back and forth, smacking down reformers if they pushed too far, then doing the same with traditionalists; and politically as well, although religion and politics were so intertwined, it was difficult to separate out religious factions from political factions. Look how many times he went back and forth, making treaties with France, breaking those to make treaties with Spain or the HRE, then doing the same to them to make another treaty with France that he wouldn’t keep, either. Is it any wonder he would start to see his wives in the same way? As soon as they would displease him, he’d “break the treaty” and go on to another wife.

    But with the exceptions of Katharine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves, “breaking the treaty” meant death for the wife. With Katharine, her royal connections protected her, and Henry was still feeling his way to discover what he could and couldn’t do. By the time he’d executed Anne, “the lion” had learned his own strength “and no one could control him.” Anne of Cleves was fortunate indeed to tell him what he wanted to hear and escape with her life.

  30. Sheena says:

    Thank you, Andrea, for putting a name to what I was thinking about!

    I know that this has nothing to do with the above conversation topic, but has anyone seen the drawing “Study of the Family of Thomas More” from 1527? Anyone else notice that one of the women in the foreground resembles the portrait of Jane Seymour?



    I was doing some costuming today, and was reading “The Tudor Tailor” for the first time in a while, and I happened upon the portrait and my jaw dropped…

    Anyways, I have always wondered if before his death, if H8 made confession. Allegedly, his last words were “Monks! Monks! Monks!” If he did make confession, I wonder what his last words would have been. Do you think that he would have admitted to his part in the murder of Anne Boleyn? Or do you think that he would have maintained that he did no wrong doing?

    1. Tash Wakefield says:

      “monks monks monks!” famous last words. I was watching Horrible Histories the other night and apparently Nelsons final words were to ask his first mate “kiss me” Do you know if there is a book around that chronicles the last words of famous people?? if not it’s a very good idea 🙂

      1. Christine says:

        His last word were in fact ‘not over the side’ meaning he didn’t want to be buried at sea, the kiss me Hardy is a myth a bit like Marie Antoinette saying ‘let them eat cake’, the fact that Henry did mutter monks a lot shows that he did have a conscience.

  31. Louise says:

    Hello Everyone.

    Just got back from two weeks in Cuba where the weather was chilly and the hotel was dirty. Really glad to be home. Anyway, Happy New Year!

    Interesting that G W Bernard believes Anne was guilty. Of course there are so many books about Anne that anyone bringing out a new one must come up with a fresh slant on the story. Hence Warnicke’s deformed miscarrige/homosexual ring theory. I wonder if Bernard believes in Anne’s guilt or whether it is simply a money making excerise? I think I might bring a book out theorising that Anne and George Boleyn were aliens. I’ll make a fortune!

  32. Andrea says:

    You’re welcome, Sheena! I don’t believe H8 made any confession related to his wives before his death. He lived his entire life with people taking the blame for HIS mistakes, and as a poster above me said “Henry wasn’t ever responsible for anything that went wrong”. I don’t think he ever fully took the blame on anything, his fault or not, and I don’t see him changing his ways befores death.

  33. Claire says:

    I wondered where you were! Paudie from the forum was in Cuba for Christmas. Sorry you had chilly weather.
    To be fair on Bernard, he has held this view for a while as I have a report written by him in 1991 where he suggests the same. But yes, go ahead and write your alien book, I’d buy it!!
    Looking forward to chatting with you again now you’re back.

  34. Laura Andrews says:

    Henry was a spoiled child, what ever he desired he got. When Anne played the hard to get card Henry moved heaven and earth to get what he wanted which was Anne. Unfortunately, once he got what he wanted he tired of her rather quickly and started to wonder why he put himself (and his country) through all the trouble to make Anne queen. Yes, I know Henry wanted a son badly so ousting Katherine was a must and of course if Anne had a son, her fate would have been much kinder. What fascinates me is the whether or not Anne believed that what happened to Katherine would happen to her. Anne was so angry when she found out that Henry was cheating on her and yet, he cheated on Katherine with Anne. Didn’t Anne realize that Henry would treat her the way he did every other woman ?

  35. Laura Andrews says:

    @ Sheena- Maybe Henry was saying “Monks, Monks,Monks” because all the monks he annoyed with the reformation were coming to get him and torture him. lol

  36. Rachel says:

    Perhaps there is no solid answer regarding Anne’s downfall? History is never full of one choice or decision. A lot of factors contribute into an event. Anne’s pride, religion, and standing in the Boleyn faction were only the tip of the iceberg. I think even before Anne became Queen, her fall was already in the works. Her spectacular rise guranteed a number of enemies who would not rest until Anne fell. Think of one of the other English born queens, Elizabeth Woodville who also was brought down and punished for her marriage to Edward IV. While he did not turn against her, she was stripped of her title of Queen mother and declared a whore while her children were bastards.

    I am excited to see how the new book, Fatal Passions, asserts that Anne was guilty of adultery. I hope it will not be as biased as Alison Weir’s book is.

  37. julie b says:

    It seems sad that most of these women in history never wanted to be in the positons they were in to begin with. Katherine of Aragon was used for politics in the marriage to H8. Anne never wanted to “go the way of her sister” and be in a relationship with H8. Anne Howard was set up by her uncle, from what I understand. And also, even moving foward to the doomed, young, Lady Jane Grey who unwillingly became queen for 9 days and was then killed.
    How horrible it seems that the fates of these women were pretty much givin to them without any say. I guess arranged marriages were normal anyway, especially in royality, so I would imagine people were used to not chosing their life partners.

    I am also not too sure about the comment that women were treated as property in those days, which I am sure is true, but that is not the reason these women were killed. Look at the fate of the men killed along with Anne and also, Thomas Moore and the endless number of men who got in H8’s way. H8 was a spoiled tyrant whom I would imagine, never really felt love for any of his wives. I can think that the only person he ever really cared about was Wolsey. And he ended up turning his back on him too.

  38. Kaylaroo says:

    Hey everyone…loved reading this forum..for I also am In love with the Tudor reign…and I will actually say ive gotten Obsessed. Im a little new to it… been reading about it for only a few months now but have gotten myself hooked and it seems all I talk about. Am I the only one..but does the story of Anne make you really sad that it bothers you at night and makes you cry even though you never knew them and cant change a thing about it? Knowing that she died thinking her child would be disowned forever…never knowing she grew up to become a great queen, breaks my heart… I really wish I also could go back in a time machine to the days she was in the tower…and ask her for the whole truth… I believe she was innocent. Mainly because of the way he moved on to Jane the next day.. really makes me believe he just wanted her out of the way. It REALLY bothers me beyond belief that we will never truly know exactly what happened… Is there actual proof of anything from those years? I just wish there was a way to know the truth and I hate that no one really knows and we might never know. As much as I LOVE anne and all the stories…i kind of hate how it bothers me so much even though I cant change a thing haha. They really shouldve documented things more back then! And I also wish she wouldve written a diary, or Henry would of confessed on his death bed. Another reason I do believe iin annes innocence is that she did her final confession before she died and if she was truly at fault for adultury she wouldve confessed it then. They were very passionate in their beliefs then and dying with that on her conciense wouldve been awful for her. Im very weird when it comes to things such as another thing that bugs me is whitehall palace no longer being there. I wish more then anything I can see the room where Anne slept. Or did any of her day to day things. Theres not much nowadays to remember the 16th century by. My dream is to go to England and see the tower …I wish I could see the room in the tower she was held in but i dont know if they even still have it. Sorry I dont have any paragraphs..I was never really good with my writting skills. heh.

  39. Eliza says:

    I totally understand what you are saying, Kaylaroo!! I get the goosebumps everytime I think about what Anne went through her last days… Her pain about Elizabeth and her execution being posponed twice! What a horrible thing was that!

    I too would love to go to her rooms in the Tower. I am visiting London in March and I’m wondering if anyone knows whether visitors can go into these rooms. If so, please, inform me!

  40. Claire says:

    I think that the Queen’s apartments are now residential apartments as the Warden and the Yeoman Warders all live on-site so I don’t think that you can actually see where she was held.

  41. Tudorrose says:

    I have just recently been to the Tower of London.I went for the commemorative exhibit to see the all of king Henry VIII’s armour.”The dressed to kill exhibit” as it is called or was called as it has now ended.I liked the interior and what I saw.I just wished that I had more time to look around.I think that you are just about allowed to look around all of the Tower except the Queens house to the left side of the jewel house and beachump tower.The white tower which is on the left but just before you come to the Queens apartments is undergoing reconstructive work on the exterior of the building but is still excessable.As this is where the armouries are kept.

    The Tower seemed to have a new attraction.On my visit yesterday there were seagulls flocking to the site and flying around the exterior of the place.It looks like that the ravens may have some competition.!

    Have you heard of the story that surround the tower? It is said that if one or all of the ravens flew away the entire tower would collapse.I think that this is just superstition myself.If this ever happened which I doubt as they are seemed to be always confined to their pens.The seagulls would be there in their place to take over.! 🙂

    I would deffinately like to go again.It is a place of historic interest and a interest of mine.The only downside to it though is that is quite cold which it would be as it is near and so close to the river.I just wished that the Queens house was or became accessable for people to view.I am surprised that this has not happened yet considering how long the Tower has existed.It would give more of an insight into certain things historic.I think that we should be able to see where Catherine Howard was imprisioned and where she stayed until her execution.As the Queens house is where she was detained and had been kept.

  42. Carolyn says:

    Tudorrose – would you be able to come to the Tower in May? It should be warmer then. If you can’t swing coming on the Anne Boleyn tour with us, maybe you could visit the Tower when we’re there on May 19 (Anne Boleyn Day)? We should be easy to spot – come up and introduce yourself. I’d love to meet you.

  43. Bella says:

    Just thought of another reason why she may have fallen.

    She obviously didn’t like the attention Henry was giving Jane Seymour. So, she fought back to keep him; unlike Catherine of Aragon. & maybe Henry didn’t like that she wasn’t “Queenly” in not becoming involved in it.

  44. Grey says:

    Henry killed Anne for many reasons, he blamed her for tearing up England, alienating the Catholic Church, treating Catherine of Aragon and Princess Mary badly and finally the ulimate failure not giving him the son he most wanted. Granted, he chose to do all that, however, he needed to blame someone when it did not work out. The reason he gave her a French Swordsmen was because he knew deep down she did not deserve to die because she had signed away all her rights. Rights that stated their marriage did not exist and that Elizabeth was a bastard, thus if she was not married to him, she could not have committed treason and therefore there was no reason to kill her but to make himself feel better he gave her the best death possible.

    1. margaret says:

      henry annulled his marriage to anne to make elizabeth illegitimate and her downfall i think is because of many factors including ,far too much closeness with the men she was too friendly with ,all very innocent im sure but it would not look innocent if up on charges of adultry,conversation with norris and then sending norris to john skip to swear that she ,anne was a good woman, she made too many enemies ,sorry but i think it was her own fault ,and henry had moved on ,i dont blame cromwell ,he was henrys “yes man” and had to look out for himself ,i dont blame jane seymour either ,if henry had still been in love or lust with anne jane would have just been left aside ,in my mind she got far too big for her boots,and you dont do that with henry,she was instrumental in wolsey demise because of the henry percy affair and was quite vindictive about it, she was the other woman in henrys life and did want the crown, she was well able to speak up for herself ,so i dont get “she couldnt say no to the king”why couldnt she just say no and keep saying it,and i also think jane ,george wife probably did say something to whoever ,and land george in trouble too .i think she was very silly with power and took too many chances ,ie alienating people around when she should have been fostering them ,should have followed katherine of aragons example especially when dealing with a dangerous man like henry ,im not bashing her but in a time like tudor times there was a certain code of conduct one had to follow and anne did not follow it .

  45. Abby Lyn says:

    I believe her fall was due to well, many things. One is of children, specificly a son. The only reason, one of the reasons Henry married Anne is so he could gt a son from such a young woman. So, once she lost more than two sons, henry’s eyes wandered, and saw Jane. she was younger than Anne, and thought to be perfect for a son. The other reason is, well, he began to fall out of love with Anne, and saw Jane, but I don’t see what he saw in her. He fell in love with her, and had far to much faith in Anne, and loosened up for Jane, and then Anne was ut of the picture. She was then thought to be a witch, by not granting a single living son. And since Henry was king, and Anne was his consort, he had control over her, and what he said went. If he declaired her a witch, she would be investigated. Since she was also accused of adultery, they recieved the opposite side of the story. Sure George visited Anne, but only as a brother. Mark Smeaton hardly ever saw her when she was queen, so he had no right to be accused of adultery. All in all, I am saying that Anne was innocent, and well, her downfall was alll caused by the bearing of a son.

  46. Uppingham says:

    It’s evident to me that this article is designed to attract thinkers and provoke thought. I found this content to be interesting, digestible and well-written.

  47. Tash Wakefield says:

    I think Anne Boleyns fate is like the first world war, people think they know the real reason, but even tho the whole world was watching and fighting, it is still debateable. Franz Ferdinand or itchy trigger fingers??? “The first casualty of war is truth”, and i think this quote applies to Anne story too…is it a conspiracy? or have we juggled the facts for so long that we’ve lost the plot? Maybe the Boleyns were aliens….it makes as much sense as them being witches!

  48. Tash Wakefield says:

    Speaking of witches, I have been toying with that idea since i read the other boleyn girl (kudos Philippa Gregory) my mum and other people in her social circle claim to be “witches or wiccans” the gift of sight seems to dwell within our family, and our family can be traced back to the plantagenets, and I wonder whether the idea of witchcraft is simply a common scapegoat or an actual fundamental part of english history that is simply over looked? it was said that the plantagenets were born of the devil, is witchcraft supposed to have been linked to the devil and therefore a crime against christianity, or has it been misunderstood since the dawn of time? Makes me wonder….

  49. Jen Fast says:

    Ive just read the book The Anne Boleyn collection-the truth about Anne Boleyn and aside from all the obvious reasons that Anne fell. I also think that the fact that none of her ladies in waiting were taken down with her, and not all the men accused were put to death shows alot. It was the practice then that men of the court flattered the queen no matter who she was by talking of her beauty and writing songs and poems to her. If Anne Boleyn was an attractive woman(and she clearly was for all she accomplished) then its very possible that some of those men did fall in love with her. I dont think she would have returned those advances if they were ever made, but im sure if a man paid her alot of attention then it was surely gossiped about. Another reason is that i think Anne & Henry VIII were alot alike and i think he was probably just as jealous as she was and that could possibly be why certain men took the fall too-he may have seen or heard that they had feelings for the queen and seems like the type of man who thinks ‘if i cant have her no one can’.That may be a large part of why she had to go. Politics aside-he wanted a new wife and a baby boy. Everyone knew it and played on his insecurities. I think he really did love Anne Boleyn, possibly more than any woman he married, but was just a jealous spoiled tyrant. And we all know he never wanted to see anything that caused him guilt or pain-he would either banish or kill them.

  50. B. Morley says:

    When Catherine of Aragon died, she signed Anne Boleyn’s death warrant. Why would Henry keep a questionably legitimate wife who could produce only a questionably legitimate heir? Once Catherine was in her grave, he was free to marry a wife recognized throughout Christendom, who could give birth to an heir likewise recognized. Only Boleyn stood in the way. Do you think it a coincidence that she was executed only four months after Catherine died?

  51. Sheila says:

    How far do we want to go back? In “Winter King” by Thomas Penn there are references to Henry VII walking with the prince who was to become HVIII and being in deep conversation with him. Since the death of Prince Arthur made HVII uneasy on the throne, as it was not a foregone conclusion that HVIII woud inherit on the death of his father, I could imagine that the topic of those conversations was the necessity for production of sons at any cost. Only 5 kings since the Norman conquest and before the Wars of the Roses (when all bets were off) had died without a son or grandson, and with one exception they had a brother waiting to succeed. The young HVIII did not. HVIII’s delight at the birth of Henry Duke of Cornwall when he was 19 years old and full of hope for many more children to come appears to us through the centuries, as does his grief when the Duke died.
    My own view is that it was the lack of sons that sealed Anne’s fate. Everything else could be bolted on to that. Nothing else would have brought about her downfall had she had a son.
    It was lack of a son which did for Katherine of Aragon; HVIII made no bones about it, and probably genuinely believed that his marriage was cursed. Anne was one of the voices which urged him to that conclusion. The surprise is not that HVIII wanted to do away with Anne for the same reason, but that different reasons were put forward to justify getting rid of Anne.
    Both were tragic.

  52. marie says:

    I deeply sympathize with Anne Boleyn and her relationship with Henry VIII. It’s mind boggling to think of how much Henry loved her and made so many reforms just to have her as his wife and queen only to lead to her complete and utter demise. I think that Henry was a product of his era and that type of power is intoxicating, to have whatever he desires immediately and with no recourse. He has a history of becoming infatuated with a woman, put her above all else, then tire of her and move on to the next conquest. For some reason, Anne and Henry thought this pattern would break with their love and marriage yet that was not the case. As to her fall from his favor, many factors may have contributed. Her inability to produce a male heir for Henry, the miscarriages, Henry’s affairs, and Cromnwell’s accusations. His Iago- like whispering in Henry’s ear and planting that seed of doubt might have been the point of no return for Henry’s love for Anne which seemed non-existent at this point because of his courting of Jane Seymor. Had it not been for his head over heels love he developed for Lady Jane, he might have had more sympathy for Anne. The accusations against her, according to the majority of historians are” unconvincing”. Henry was manipulated by those around him and his own insecurity about his inability to produce a male heir which he also blamed on Anne. Ultimately, he no longer cared for Anne and wanted her gone with all the so-called facts he believed to be true about her infidelities corroborating this. Perhaps deep down Henry doubted the vanity of his marriage to Anne as it was reputed to be invalid in the eyes of the Church to the point of his break with the Church in Rome. To speak of the benefit Anne made, had it not been for her, England might undergone a change of religion and the Catholic Church would have maintained its supreme and unchallenged power. Another aspect not mentioned and also overseen is that after his jousting accident which was severe, Henry was never quite the same, he became vengeful, unforgiving and violent to anyone that displeased him. Poor Anne was too outspoken, jealous of his love for others, and proud to be a submissive medieval queen she did not deserve such a bitter end, she could not see that Henry was not the man she thought he was when she fell in love with him.

  53. Laskarina says:

    Thank you for this interesting blog.

    As to the reasons you have given for Anne’s fall, they have merit.

    I concur with many here that the fact that she did not bear Henry VIII a son is certainly the leading one.

    Henry fathered over 100 illegitimate children, some say, so it is a bit odd that he had six queens and many less children. One explanation is that he was riddled with many diseases, syphilis primarily (he certainly had the symptoms), but even chlamydia can cause infertility in a partner who becomes infected.

    One might well ask, where did all those other children come from? Probably other fathers. Anyway, Prince Edward, as well as Fitzroy both died from respiratory illness that was probably tuberculosis, owing to the filthy conditions in which they lived and the lack of anything healthy at all, whether food, or “medical” care, or hygiene. Someone in their thirties was considered old, even in the eighteenth century when the average age of death was 32.

    If you can get past the fact that western monarchs considered themselves Christian, even when they committed torture murder, war, adultery etc., it’s not a big leap decapitate a wife who is in the way.

    Maybe Henry was bi-polar.

    I do not believe one can lay the blame to “spoiling” or that Henry was a tyrant. I believe he was a degenerate, lascivious, sociopath who has been glorified by British and American books, movies, etc. into a romantic figure.

    I have visited the tower and felt the oppressive sadness that permeates it’s damp walls, but while there I heard a story form a guard about a horrible ghost that frightened him nearly to death. It was of an obese, dirty, drooling, man with a coarse laugh who exuded corruption if not evil.

    None of the actors, not even the great Charles Laughton who resembled him very slightly physically, have succeeded in portraying Henry creepy enough.

    Whatever Anne’s faults, I doubt very much they were as portrayed even today.

    Call me a revisionist, but I have done too much reading of real history not to doubt the excuses given by evildoers or their apologists, to justify their acts.

  54. Rogue Fire says:

    Before I state my theory will state my reasons leading up to this theory. True Anne Boleyn refused to become the king’s mistress for some time. Also true is that she did in fact give herself to him before their marriage or his annulment from Catherine. Yet he did not lose interest nor give up his quest for an annulment. H8 also promoted and granted Anne gifts and titles in her own right, aside from the boons he gave to her family. He treated her as an equal in ways even Cromwell was denied. His gifts, devotion and attentions did not cease after he had “conquered her heart and bodily”. He remained completely on her side, taking up her cause when she was spoken badly of, acting as her hero. After the birth of Elizabeth he was disappointed but remains hopeful that more healthy children would follow. Often still being recorded as insisting visiting dignitaries treated her with much respect. Notorious H8 always was for promiscuity he just did not appear to see a problem in having mistresses. But Anne did wait a major portion of her child bearing years to marry the king. Perhaps she expected him to be hers only after all he did to attain a marriage to her. After Henry planned her coronation and continued to show her respect and tokens of gifts and devotions. She was bold and outspoken. She was aware that one queen had already been unceremoniously cast aside. Her jealousy, fear and anger leading to the arguments quite understandable. Then he meets a soft spoken, submissive woman like Jane. For Henry must have seemed a refreshing change. So he starts falling and as he begins to fall so does he also begin to tally the faults of Anne. Then you have the ever present Cromwell. Enemy of Anne. Also a miscarried son (although widely disproven to have been grotesque or disfigured) The king is grieving his loss, pining for Jane and Cromwell whispers in his ear “I have heard rumors the queen is having affairs” Anne the woman he’d loved, protected and elevated above all others. The queen he wanted more than all others for so many years. He’s livid. His ego mortally wounded. His faith displaced. And also his opportunity to be rid of his temperamental queen in favor of the sweet submissive Jane. Why the whole kingdom should rally behind him as obviously Jane is much kinder and more suitable and not rumored to be a witch or associated with Catherine or his split from Rome. Restoration. Even as far as his bloodlines because she may produce the son that Anne had not. If even one shred of evidence can be found…..and Cromwell sets out to find it. Let’s also remember at this time H8 is having his leg treated with crushed pearls and lead among other things so high chance for delusions and psychotic imaginings are quite plausible. Cromwell finds the evidence, H8 orders the execution then revels in the comcompany of his new love feeling as though God has both spared him any further agony and blessed his feelings for Jane by clearing the path

  55. Rogue Fire says:

    I would like to add that his rage probably accounts for her terrible burial. And his hasty removal of all her “memory” not only born from anger but also because he saw this chance to heal the divisions in his country. If people could forget why he left Catharine and not seehis break from the cchurch as anything other than him wanting to wisely rule his people and lead them away from the corruption his position could be strengthened. Just as the birth of his son he believed did. I am not actually convinced he loved Jane Seymour but rather used her to try to heal his country and produce a male heir. Yet another way of hastily removing Anne from memory is to immediately give them a new queen. One completely opposite of Anne. Banishing all thoughts of her presence. He wanted Jane’s coronation to exceed all others and after his son arrived he named het his one true wife. Yet he was enamored which his mistress while they were married. This does not speak of love but a tactical marriage.

  56. Ruby says:

    This topic fascinates me. I don’t know if anybody else gets this or if it is just me perhaps being crazy and weird.. but as you said in the introduction to the article: Anne’s troubles haunt my dreams and subconscious, and I hope that if there is punishment in the afterlife, that Henry is receiving it still! I literally feel haunted by Anne, and I feel overwhelming sadness.

  57. Theresa Roche says:

    On reading accounts of Anne’s sometimes hysterical behaviour and mood swings as the marriage deteriorated it occurs to me that there might have been another factor at play other than the obvious terror of knowing Henry’s character and that he could well get rid of her more easily and a lot quicker than he could Katherine of Aragon.

    Has anyone ever thought that Anne Boleyn might have been born within the earlier timeframe that her birth is usually put in? Maybe even say in 1500? If so, then supposing she found herself going through early menopause? Supposing her periods were becoming less frequent and she showed signs of it? If Henry suspected that, plus the fact that she had miscarried in January 1536, then he knew and she knew her days were numbered.

    One of the symptoms of menopausal women is the mood swings Anne showed.

    A lot of folk will think I’m simply wrong.

    Yet if Anne Boleyn was menopausal or even if she wasn’t menopausal but was heading for 36 rather than 29 years old – that would be a reason enough for Henry, who wanted a son and heir so desperately – to destroy her. Add to that all the other factors and she was indeed doomed. I think her birth date (which is unfixed by historians) is a major factor. I think she was around 36 and not under 30.

    In fact, from Henry’s point of view, when Jane Seymour gave birth to Prince Edward, Henry would have felt that he was justified in destroying Anne for “raison d’etat” and the the good and security of England following the legacy of The Wars of the Roses” that he would have been all to aware of during his childhood.

  58. Kerry says:

    One factor that seems to be missing is Henry’s head injury. His personality shifted very dramatically soon after. I am married to a man who has what is now called acquired brain injury and can say from honest heart-felt experience that his moods shift suddenly and drastically without warning. I also believe that Catherine’s death left Anne vulnerable because whilst she was alive Henry would have had to return to her in the event of a marriage breakdown. Miscarriages were not uncommon, but Henry built up an obsession over a son to ensure succession. He obviously had little faith in his own legislation at the event of his death as such I would envisage him to be an extremely controlling yet insecure man. He was clearly easily manipulated by those around him and concerned about the opinion of others. Psychologically a very complex man and I do wonder about his overall mental health given his moods and extremely violent nature. And yet he shyed away from his own actions, took himself out of the equation with regards to executions and the like. As someone else said he did not like to take responsibility for his own actions.

  59. Theresa Roche says:

    I believe when he had the fall from his horse in January 1536 he damaged the front part of his brain and personality traits already there became more pronounced – paranoia being one of them – it would also suit his own wishes to get a new Queen in Jane Seymour if he could really convince himself that Anne was committing adultery. He was the ultimate hypocrite in the way he saw things anyway – “Katherine’s not my wife” being a classic example of that self-delusion. I also believe that if he was having erectile dysfunction (which Anne had confided was the case to Jane Rochfort) then he would blame Anne and if he had heard the rumour get around court that would be enough to make him want to kill her – such was his ego. I don’t believe he was able to consummate his marriage to Anne of Cleves either and that was another reason he rejected her – he turned things around so that if he failed to do something then it was the woman’s fault. If he had erectile dysfunction with Anne Boleyn then he would be seriously worried about never having a male heir and so the solution seemed simple to him – ditch her for Jane Seymour.

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