Anne Boleyn, Queen Consort of England - Essay on Anne Boleyn written by me copyright by ancestry Judith Bateman

Started by Judith Bateman on Friday, March 1, 2013


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3/1/2013 at 4:13 AM

In the ancient church of leafy Blickling in Norfolk, Anne Boleyns ancestors brasses stretch back for centuries. She was the niece of the Duke of Norfolk, a descendant of Geoffrey Boleyn, Lord Mayor of London and even related to Edward I. In short, she was a noblewoman, In the most well-known portrait of her in the National Portrait Gallery, we can see Anne Boleyn had an oval face and her thick hair which was a lustrous dark-brown was drawn back into a French hood, Her face had character, with high cheek-bones, and her magnificent eyes were a glorious brown with dilated pupils. Her sensual gaze would alight from man to man, engaging their attention and then looking away demurely, leaving them desperate for her to look back again, completely bewitched. ..Her skin was not “so white and fresh as we above all may esteem”., according to George Wyatt. Her nose was regular with a round tip, but she would purse her lips , giving an air both “prim and provocative” She was vivacious and “passing skilled” as a dancer, keeping her head high during a masque.William Forrest who was really commenting on Catherine of Aragons faction at court called Anne “a fresh young damsel who could trip and go”. Anne Boleyn was born either at Blickling Hall in 1501 or 1507 at Hever Castle. No-one really knows. Her father was Thomas Boleyn, a courtier, diplomat and linguist and her mother was Elizabeth Howard, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. Anne had two siblings, Mary and George. It was 1513 and across the Channel, the continent beckoned. Annes destination was the Habsburg court in Mechelen, where she would join Margaret of Austria as a maid of honour. Anne was but to study under a tutor called Symmonet. The Archduchess wrote to Thomas Boleyn, who she knew in his capacity as a diplomat, that her first impression of Anne was that she was “bright and pleasant.”Anne wrote in 1514 saying in clumsy French that she “ was keen to persevere in speaking French and in being a woman of good reputation.” She certainly improved her French, although the English commoners found plenty of fault with her when she was Queen. The essential skill of a Renaissance court was dance, with all the fashion for noble Kings, exotic foreigners and all the aspects of courtly love, Here, Anne would learn rallying wit and later indulge in doubles entendres. Anne remained in France for the next six or seven years, transferring to the court of Mary Tudor, Henry VIIIs sister.Later Anne joined the household of Queen Claude, gaining a reputation for an appealing personality and charming manners. Queen Claudes court was libidinous, with Francois I being the most lecherous of all. Brantome remembered Anne Boleyn as “the fairest and most bewitching of all the lovely dames of the French court”. Francois I who said terrible things about Annes sister, Mary, who was sent back home in disgrace, praised Anne to the skies.. Lady Antonia Fraser says Anne at least came back home with “an honest reputation.”In circa 1521, Anne was recalled from France concerning a marriage to James, Lord Butler. There was a dispute of the Butler- Ormonde inheritance which would have been resolved by Annes marriage to James, or so it was thought. While the matter of the marriage was sorted out, Anne Boleyn was placed in the household of Catherine of Aragon. Annes appearance at York Place was on March 1st, 1522.. Eight ladies took place, including Mary Tudor, who could still re-enact the part of “Beauty” and The Duchess of Devonshire was “Honour” Anne Boleyn shone in the part of “Perseverance.” The women wore white satin with their “character” picked out twenty-four times in yellow satin and the head-dresses were cauls of Venetian gold set off twenty-four times in yellow satin. Opposite them were eight male counterparts with their ideal masculine characters- “Gentleness”, “Loyalty” “Liberty” etc with Henry VIII as leading man. The women were stationed in the turreted “Chateau Vert” and the theme was unrequited love. Henry VIII led the male attack on the Castle, bombarding the fortress with fruits and sweetmeats. Did Henry catch a glimpse of Anne Boleyn in the melee? He then had the exquisite Mary Boleyn as his mistress and Anne was not so pretty as Mary. But no doubt Annes vitality and style, even from afar, made a deep initial impression on Henry VIII. Her dark eyes and lustrous hair never seemed to leave his memory.It is fair to say that Anne Boleyn was a small sensation at the English court. The projected marriage did not prosper. About the same time, Henry Lord Percy, an heir to great estates in the North, became attracted to Anne. The exact nature of their intimacy remains shrouded in mystery. Percy began by going to the “Queens Chamber” for recreation and fell deeply in love with Anne. They became precontracted but Henry VIII was himself taken with Anne who “for her excellent gesture and behaviour did excel all other “ and ordered Wolsey to intervene and break the precontract.. Henry VIII ensured much later that there was a papal dispensation in case liberties had been taken, and Henry Percy became a “ruined man.”Anne was sent home to “simmer” at Hever, while Henrys interest in her sister began to dwindle and Mary was cast aside when she became pregnant and was married to William Carey, a courtier, Anne returned to court c. 1525. Queen Catherine of Aragon was by now very stout due to her many pregnancies, and Anne, in sharp contrast, was slender, exotic and alluring. King Henry VIII had the body of an athlete and would have been a magnificent figure of a man in any gathering. When Anne came back to court, the Tudor poet. Thomas Wyatt became her admirer. Did they have an affair? No-one knows, but his most famous sonnet shows an interest in Anne particularly.: “There is written her fair neck round/ “Noli me tangere, for Caesars I am/And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.” Thomas Wyatt remains a mysterious character in Anne Boleyns history- he is sometimes put forward as a rival to Henry VIII. Having discarded Mary Boleyn Carey Henry VIII turned his attention to her younger sister, who he had held in his consciousness since the masque in 1522. At Shrovetide, 1526, King Henry VIII began his courtly pursuit of Anne Boleyn, having fallen deeply in love with her. Anne was put off by Marys experiences with the King, and she held herself aloof and refused to become Henry VIIIs mistress. In Autumn, 1526, Henry wrote the first of seventeen love letters to Anne in French, which are now in the Vatican Library. Later, the King, impelled by passion would write in language rivaling a Shakesperean sonnet to try and win Annes heart. In early 1527, Henry made consultations about an annulment from Catherine of Aragon..In mid 1527, Anne sent an etrenne or diamond brooch to Henry to seal their love and signify her surrender. Henry was ecstatic and promised to match her love entirely, assuring her that thenceforth his heart would be dedicated to her alone. The King had discovered a verse from Leviticus that he had had an incestuous marriage with Catherine of Aragon, Prince Arthurs wife. Whether there was self-delusion on Henrys part we cannot say, it certainly would not be the first time that Henrys conscience had played devils advocate. The pressure on the King to be divorced was greater still.. In 1528, Anne emerged into the Court from the Queens cloistered household feeling her marriage to the King was imminent. She was unpopular at Court because she was a Lutheran. Anne Boleyn was sufficiently independent to be interested in the religious reform she had encountered in England and the Continent. When Cardinal Campeggio arrived from Rome in October, 1528, there were to be five long years of wrangling with Rome before Henry VIII became Supreme Head of the English church and broke off relations with the Pope. On 1st September, 1528, Henry VIII made Anne the Marquess of Pembroke.She received many manor-houses up and down the country, which made her more unpopular with the commoners than ever. The truth can never be known for certain, but it is believed that Henry VIII made love -fully- to Anne Boleyn some time before the end of 1532. Some critics coyly limit this to their first sexual encounter, while other critics, notably Alison Weir, say the couple had been using”coitus interruptus” for several years.There was no doubt, however, that it was a love match. Around the end of the first week of December, 1532, Anne became pregnant. As the months went by, the question of Henry and Annes marriage became more urgent.On about St Pauls Day, 25th January, 1533, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn were married in a secret ceremony. In characteristically outrageous fashion, Anne announced to the court that she had such a craving for apples and burst out laughing, retiring from the shocked court. On the 23rd May, 1533, Archbishop Cranmer gave his judgement that the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon was invalid. On the 1st June, 1533, the reign of Anne Boleyn reached its apotheosis and she was crowned Queen. Anne Boleyn was six months pregnant, and Archbishop Cranmer commented adversely on this, in a letter. Henry VIII mobilized the whole of London in homage to his new wife. At eight o clock, on Whit Sunday, Queen Anne entered Westminster Abbey, resplendent in her purple robes, trimmed with ermine. Over her was carried the gold canopy of the Cinque Ports, As tradition demanded, the coronation was set in the context of a high mass. Cranmer prayed over Anne as she prostrated herself before the high altar. Then he anointed her and crowned her with St Edwards Crown, delivering the sceptre and the rod of ivory. Henry VIII was watching from above. He had delivered a massive vote of confidence in his new bride. With the passing months, Henrys relationship waxed and waned, although at the moment, there was always a rainbow round the corner. Professor Eric Ives writes how apt the expression “Anne of a Thousand Days”is, From its zenith at Annes coronation to her downfall in the Tower. On the 7th September, 1533, the Princess Elizabeth was christened. She was fair like her father. The Princess Elizabeth was announced as the Kings first “legitimate child”, but the joust to be held in the event of a male heir was cancelled.. In 1534, Anne had a stillbirth and Catherine of Aragon died still yearning for Henry. The death of Annes rival in 1536 should have brought about a triumph for Anne, but instead it ushered her downfall.Henry and Anne appeared in joyful yellow at court after Catherines death and Henry VIII showed off the Princess Elizabeth to all and sundry. On 24th January, 1536, the Kings horse fell at a joust and knocked him unconscious for two hours.On the 29th January,1536, Anne miscarried a child that was recognizably a boy. The loss of a son was a great psychological blow to Henry and once again his conscience told him that Anne had used witchcraft to incur a miscarriage. “You shall have no more sons by me!”He raged bitterly. In February, 1536, Henry VIII decided to rid himself of Anne Boleyn. Thomas Cromwell began to hatch his plot against Anne, with Henry VIIIs approval. On Sunday 30th April, Cromwell had his first subjects under arrest - Norris, Smeaton, Brereton and Weston were accused of adultery and treason with the Queen. George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford was accused of incest with the Queen, his sister These charges were undoubtedly fabricated. Meanwhile, Anne was arrested and told that Henry had sent for the Swordsman from Calais. She entered the Tower via the same apartments she had occupied before her coronation. She fell on the steps crying out: “My mother! My mother!”, When she reached the rooms near to her scaffold, her body was consumed by deep racking sobs. alternating with wild laughter. Constable Kingston explained to Anne that the execution “would not be painful”, that the blow would be “so subtle”. Anne replied: “I heard say the executioner was very good and I have a little neck.” Then she put her hands round her neck and laughed hysterically,

3/1/2013 at 8:53 AM

Hullo Judith
What a very interesting article. Thank you for posting it.
Anne Boleyn is my 3rd cousin 12X removed so I am very interested.
I am also a historian and am busy tracing the royal bloodlines as they relate to our ancestors. Have been working on the Asian link today. Philippa of Hainault ( wife of Edward III) was the first to introduce Asian genes into the British royal family through her matrilineal line. Cannot quite trace the Chinese connection yet but have been working on the Cuman link today and that is interesting and straightforward..
Best wishes
Daphne Beames

3/1/2013 at 12:55 PM

Thankyou very much for your positive feedback and all the more interesting because Anne is your 3rd cousin 12x - I value your opinion. As for fluctuating bloodlines -it must be lovely researching Philippa Hainault. I am following Anne Boleyns position in my family tree at the moment -fourth cousin has been forthcoming, but that has now been discounted. Kind regards, Judith Bateman. P.S. What do you think of Hilary Mantels books about Anne Boleyn ?

3/2/2013 at 12:38 AM

Did Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn have a love match? Was it a case of Henry VIII in headlong pursuit of a girl who was judged only moderately pretty, but who “breathed sex “ and had dark “sparkling eyes”? Or was Anne the cold and calculating “other woman” in Henry VIIIs divorce case from a marriage of over twenty years to Catherine of Aragon. Catherine was now stout with years of fruitless childbearing and was described as “deformed” by a cruel ambassador The jury was out. The scene was set in 1st March 1522 when Henry Viii saw Anne Boleyn in the “Chateau Vert” masque in an elaborate dance.She had lustrous -brown hair and the flame was lit when Henry saw her dark tempting eyes, Her body was agile under her white and yellow satin dress.Henry VIII stood out amongst the crowd at the Chateau Vert - he was still athletic and exuberant .But he needed an heir. Henry and Annes lives were intertwined in the following years and and Anne entered more and more into the Kings consciousness as they went about their life at court.The Tudor court was a place of extreme pleasure and extreme terror- passion seethed. Meanwhile, by 1524, Henry had stopped sleeping with Catherine of Aragon. Henry was tempted by the beautiful fair Mary Boleyn, Annes sister, but Mary became pregnant and was cast aside.This must have always been at the back of Annes mind and she vowed to avoid her sisters fate.In c. 1524, Lord Percy was precontracted to Anne Boleyn in secret meetings at the court,Henry showed his jealousy and ordered Wolsey to break the precontract. Certain liberties were said to have been taken, but this might be defamation instigated after Annes death, There were many rumours that the unhappily married poet Thomas Wyatt fell in love with Anne in the early 1520s. Noone knows, we only have the evidence of his poetry. “Noli me tangere, for Caesars I am, And wild for to hold, though I seem tame” Henry VIII fell deeply in love with Anne Boleyn very suddenly. Most critics agree it was at Shrovetide, 1526. Henry VIII wrote his first letter to Anne in autumn 1526. At the beginning at least they were letters of courtly love- Henry sent Anne a side of venison, considered an appropriate present for a noblewoman in Tudor times, There are seventeen letters at all, in language almost rivalling Shakespeare, Annes replies have not survived, perhaps because of security.In 1527, Henry had written “I have now been struck by the dart of love for one year”The coup de foudre had come from Anne Boleyns ravishing eyes.. By April, 1527, Henry was actively seeking a divorce from Catherine.With the prospect of marriage, Annes muted response turned to surrender. She sent Henry a diamond brooch or etrenne to seal their love. Henrys reaction was ecstatic and he promised to outdo her in his passion. Henry and Anne were engaged In June 1528 Anne caught the sweating sickness and went to the country to recuperate. Henry was a well- known. hypochondriac and kept his distance and wrote to her that he wished he was resting his head on her “sweet duckies”ie breasts. Anne recovered after Henry sent her his private physician, Dr. Butts. By 1528, Anne was emerging at court and her involvement with Lutheran reform made her unpopular.Meanwhile, Henry VIII deluged her with jewellery, gifts and gowns.In 1531, Henry created Anne the Marquess of Pembroke and in the autumn of 1532, Anne accompanied him on a trip to Calais. They had probably used “coitus.interruptus”, for years but some coy critics limit them to no sex at all before marriage. While they were stuck in Calais for a few days,Henry VIII, momentously, made love fully to Anne Boleyn.At the end of the first week of December., The Marquess of Pembroke did become pregnant- announcing mischievously to the court that she had a yen for apples.About St Pauls Day -25th January 1533,Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn got married in a small private ceremony.For years Henry had been struggling to have his marriage annulled and in the end he had to break from Rome and on the 25th May Archbishop Cranmer announced that Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragons marriage was invalid. On 1st June, 1533 Anne Boleyn was crowned. She looked beautiful with her dark hair hanging over her shoulders Henry VIII mobilised the whole city of London to pay homage to his new wife Anne was six months pregnant and the pressure was unmistakeable .Henry was said to be in a frenzy saying that “ with the great love he had for Anne, he would rather she miscarried than any harm come to her person.”. Anne was resplendent in robes of purple velvet and she walked along a railed route of blue ray carpet to the high altar of Westminster Abbey., preceded by the Lord Chamberlain carrying the crown of St Edward . Archbishop Cranmer prayed over Anne as she knelt before the high altar Then he anointed and crowned her as the choir sang a Te Deum. It was truly an endurance test and the mood of the people was lukewarm at Henrys magnificent vote of confidence in his new wife ..Catherine of Aragon .was still extremely popular ,The child that would be Elizabeth I was born on the afternoon of September 7th,1533.Henry was unperturbed and said:”We are both healthy, there will be sons”Anne was now in her thirtes and was looking her age with the constant pressure on her to produce a male heir.Annes temper was shrewish and she would belittle Henry, rather than being in awe of his majestyWhen Anne criticised him for womanising, he said she should say nothing,”just as her betters had done”(By this, he meant Catherine of Aragon}On the 6th of January, 1536, Catherine of Aragon died and Anne felt a lot more secure.In a display of insensitivity, Henry and Anne wore yellow at court.The removal of her old rival should have brought about Annes triumph., but instead it ushered her downfall.At the end of January Anne miscarried a recognisable male child..Henry VIII accused her of witchcraft and said: “You will have no more sons by me!”It was the beginning of the end and soon Anne was in the Tower, accused of treason,adultery and incest,Of course all the charges were fabricated .In her cell,Anne was speaking incoherently and rambling.Constable Kingston avoided revealing his ignorance of the timetable by saying the the execution would not be painful, the blow was "so subtle". Anne said "I heard say the executioner was very good and I have a little neck" and she put her hands round her throat and laughed hysterically With Catherines ambassador, Chapuys, there to report every argument, there was reason to doubt Annes reference on that last, terrible morning to a” gentle and merciful prince.” But of course there was the Princess Elizabeth to consider, the pretty two and a half year old girl born out of Henry and Annes joy. Yes, it had been a love match and the outcome would be Elizabeth I, the jewel of the Tudors, also known by her subjects as “Gloriana”

3/2/2013 at 4:43 AM

Hi Judith
Yes, I have read both Hilary Mantel's books and they are very well written. Also so enjoyed She Wolves by Helen Castor with in intro by Hilary Mantel. It is about the strong women who rules England from the days of the Conqueror.
Do send me your email address so that I can send you my link to Ann Boleyn. Mine is
Worked all night last night and finally found a link to the Chinese bloodlines and the Han dynasty coming through Atilla the Hun.
Cheers and good wishes

3/2/2013 at 5:24 AM

Hi, Daphne, I too liked Hilary Mantels works, although I found her a bit malicious in her descriptions of Anne. Where was the laughing girl that Henry undoubtedly loved? Of course the book was written at the end of their story, when Henry VIII murdered her. Cheers and good wishes, and good luck with your bloodlines, Judith

Private User
3/2/2013 at 5:48 AM

@ Hi i am amazed at all the family history to the Rice name my line to Anne Boleyn Queen Consort of England anne is my 6th cousin 13 times removed and this is my lineage Judy Rice,Arthur Rice My Dad,Israel Tekarihoken Rice his father,Pierre Atawenrate Rice his father,Ignace Awennaietha Deer Rice his father,Marie Madeleine Kiatawinon Deer Rice his mother,Thomas aka Atonwa Aronhiowonen her father,Silas Rice his father,Edmund Rice his father,Samuel Rice his father,thomasine Rice (Frost)his mother, Thomasine Frost(Belgrave)her mother,Joanna Belgrave her mother,Catherine Johanna Strutt her mother,Anne Scott her mother,Elizabeth dePympe her mother,Sir John Pashley her father,John Pashley his father this is my blood line find geni grt Judy Rice

3/2/2013 at 6:23 AM

Hi, Judy and congratulations on your closeness to Anne Boleyns family tree at 6th cousin 13x removed. She is my favourite historical figure and Im glad that geni brings life to your blood line. Judith Bateman

3/2/2013 at 7:10 AM

my relative helena snakenborg was the wife of Katherine Parrs brother , william Parr, and later married a relative of Anne.

3/2/2013 at 7:48 AM

How exciting ! Katherine Parr has been in the news lately with Dr David Starkeys revelations that Katherine had a platonic affair with Thomas Seymour, the "prettiest boy" in court, while she was married to Henry VIII, David said a cache of letters between Thomas and Katherine had been discovered,

3/2/2013 at 11:40 AM

It is her brother William who married my relative Helena Snakenborg Bååt , but he died after a year or so, then remarried thomas gorges , a cousin or something of Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth, the queen was mad over they married with asking her first . she was a favourite of the queen.

3/2/2013 at 1:07 PM

Thats an interesting bit of family history, but Im confused to which Elizabeth you mean. The obvious Elizabeth that springs to mind is Elizabeth I

3/2/2013 at 2:13 PM

Elizabeth l, yes.

Elin Ulfsdotter Snakenborg, Marchioness of Northampton

Helena Ulfsdotter Snakenborg is your fourth cousin 16 times removed's wife.

3/2/2013 at 11:05 PM

Thanks,Erica, and thanks for telling me my relationship to Helena.

3/3/2013 at 12:56 AM

i was not online 11.13 last night

3/3/2013 at 6:08 AM

Anne Boleyn is my 1st cousin 16 times removed thru her aunt Margaret Boleyn Sackville

3/3/2013 at 10:04 AM

Hi, Carrie, so youre in the original Boleyn line. For me, with my fascination with Anne Boleyn, thats probably as good as it gets, Is your ancestral aunt Margaret Boleyn Sackville any relation to the writer Vita Sackville- West and the stately home, Knole?

3/3/2013 at 10:14 AM

Vita Sackville-West

Vita Sackville-West is my 13th cousin.

3/3/2013 at 10:18 AM


Did you like the film, Anne of the Thousand Days?

I was struck by the young Geneviève Bujold's portrayal of Anne.

3/4/2013 at 1:48 AM

Hi Judith
What a very interesting discussion you have got underway here.
By the way, I loved your essay. What do you do? Are you a writer or a student? I am a freelancer writer and incorporate historial details into my travel writing. Have had over 90 articles published. Am a History and Anthropology graduate. Live in Cape Town. WSould love to read more of your writing; Know just how you feel about Hilary Mantel. There is a lot of viciousness and a lot of concentration on cruelty and violence. The romance and lightness of the moment does not come through. I love Anya Seton's Katherine ( wife of John of Gaunt) although it is not an academic historical biography. Loved Amanda Formans Duchess of Devonshire and enjoyed Helen Castor's She Wolves.
Good to chat. Was researching Philippa of Hainault's ancestry yesterday and how she brought the Asian genes into the Royal family. That led me to the Cumans, Huns and Chinese so I had an interesting day. Cheers and good wishes Daphne

3/4/2013 at 4:06 AM

Hi, Daphne, what a very kind remark. I wrote professionally for a magazine about second-hand books when I was twenty-five, then went freelance. But I have been ill for many years and cant afford support myself professionally I only got O level English and envy you your degree, although your natural talent shines through. Im glad you were resea rching Philippa of Hainault ancestry yesterday, its what you love most isnt it?, As for Hilary Mantels viciousness in her books, "Bring up the Bodies" sounds like the title of a Stephen King novel to me. But then I suppose Thomas Cromwell is the main character. Very many best wishes, Judith Bateman

3/4/2013 at 5:18 AM

Hi, Erica, Genevieve Bujold made a wonderful Anne Boleyn - Eric Ives, the Boleyn scholar says "Anne of a Thousand Days" describes her reign incredibly well. But Professor Ives says Anne had a face full of character, with extremely expressive eyes, unlike her sister Mary, who was an out-and out beauty. Paradoxically, Professor Ives, who has written the definitive biography about Anne, says she" radiated sex". The book called "The Other Boleyn" set out to explore these themes, Has anyone seen the book (or seen the film) ? Thankyou for introducing this idea, Erica.

3/4/2013 at 5:28 AM

Hi, Erica, how interesting to be related to the charismatic Vita Sackville West. I love her writing about the famous garden at Sissinghurst and reading about her enigmatic relationship with Virginia Woolf. Vita had such an exciting and scandalous life, Very best wishes, Judith

3/4/2013 at 9:21 AM

OK I did it - yay me!

Anne Boleyn, Queen Consort of England is Geneviève Bujold's 8th cousin 13 times removed.

Anne Boleyn
Geneviève Bujold

Their common ancestor

Marie de Brienne, dame de Beaumont

3/6/2013 at 2:16 AM

What changed Henry VIII from a Renaissance Prince into a ruthless older King with little or no conscience? As a young man he was built on a heroic scale like Edward IV, his maternal grandfather, but by the time Matuys had painted his portrait, he was enormously fat, with as Antonia Fraser said, a face “like a potato”He was born in 1491, the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.At his older brothers wedding, he was a head taller than the Prince of Wales, who married Catherine of Aragon, the plump auburn-haired Spanish Princess.But the marriage wasn’t consummated and of course twenty-five years later, the fumblings of Arthur and Catherine became of paramount importance, during the Kings Great Matter. Henry lived a secluded life while his father was alive, having to go through his fathers bedroom to reach anywhere. Six weeks after the death of Henry VII, Henry VIII married his Cinderella bride, Catherine of Aragon. on 11th June, 1509. Henry had a happy capacity for falling in love and on Midsummers Day, the couple were crowned in Westminster Abbey.Henry VIIIs first duties as King were to get rid of the traitors,Dudley and Empson, by execution. Meanwhile, the young King had less weighty things on his mind as he took part in masques to entertain the Queen. He was fair-skinned and had auburn hair, he could wrestle, joust, and play any energetic sport.He could play the lute expertly.. compose music and speak Latin and French. He was 6’ 2” and looked every inch a King as a young man. He could engage in debate with Sir Thomas More and Erasmus and question theology.In 1513, Henry went to fight the French and left Catherine of Aragon as Queen Consort. James IV of Scotland sensed the weakness and Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk killed 10,000 Scots at Flodden Field, including James IV.. Catherine sent James Ivs bloodstained coat to Henry and the King was delighted at her bravery and courage.The Kings boyish passion was inevitably dwindling to affection by the time Catherine had given birth to the Princess Mary on the 18th February, 1516. There had been a short-lived baby prince in 1511 and after that a prince was expected at every birth. But Henry VIII was still optimistic: “Sons will follow” he said. Fate had dealt unkindly with Catherine of Aragons appearance by now with many years of childbearing. She was deemed “stout”,” ugly” and “deformed”, while Henry still had the body of an athlete. The Queen still continued to show excessive piety and charity, no doubt these virtues endeared her to the commoners in the dark times ahead; The Queens next child was a girl who was born dead and salt was rubbed in the wounds when the Kings mistress , Bessie Blount gave birth in June 1519 to Henry Fitzroy . The King began to face the fact that he could not have a male heir.When Henry VIII elevated his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, to the Duke of Richmond, Queen Catherine was for once furious with him.By 1524, Henry and Catherine had ceased to have sexual relations and the Queen found solace in her religion and looking after the PrincessMary needs .In 1522, Henry VIII first saw a vivacious, dark girl at a masque atYork Place. He could not know she was going to be the love of his life.In 1524, the exquisitely pretty fair Mary Boleyn became Henrys mistress,but she had a child and Henry cast her aside and she was married to William Carey, a courtier.It transpired that the dark girl who had danced at York Place was Marys sister, Anne Boleyn. Henry had begun to notice how stylish, graceful and sensual she was, with bewitching eyes and dark, thick hair.Courtly love and flirtation were popular at the time, and Henry VIII fell in love with great suddenness with Anne Boleyn at Shrovetide, 1526. In Autumn 1526, Henry began to write the first of 17 emotional love letters to her. She was aloof and would not sleep with him until he enquired about a Divorce from Catherine in early 1527.Annes mute response turned into surrender and she sent him a diamond brooch to seal their love.Henry was young and exuberant and pursued Anne relentlessly.,By 1528, Anne was emerging at court and her involvement with Lutheran reform made her unpopular.Meanwhile, Henry VIII deluged her with jewellery, gifts and gowns.In 1531, Henry created Anne the Marquess of Pembroke and in the autumn of 1532, Anne accompanied him on a trip to Calais. They had probably used “coitus.interruptus” for years.,but while they were stuck in Calais for a few days,Henry VIII, momentously, made love fully to Anne Boleyn.At the end of the first week of December. The Marquess of Pembroke did become pregnant- announcing mischievously to the court that she had a craving for apples.About St Pauls Day -25th January 1533,Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn got married in a small private ceremony.For years Henry had been struggling to have his first marriage annulled and in the end he had to break from Rome and on the 25th May Archbishop Cranmer announced that Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragons marriage was invalid. On 1st June, 1533 Anne Boleyn was crowned. She looked beautiful with her hair on her shoulders and her purple robes, but her reception was lukewarm by the people. They still loved Queen Catherine with her compassionate, charitable ways. Meanwhile, Anne grew shrewish after the birth of the Princess Elizabeth in September 1533. So much had depended on the birth of the prince and the pressure to have an heir was enormous. The couples relationship waxed and waned as those of lovers have always done.Anne had two more miscarriages and started to lose her looks. One ambassador called her “that thin old woman”. The glitter had started to fade and Henry found comfort in one of the Queens maids of honour, Jane Seymour ,who was the antithesis of Anne . She was submissive, pale and meek.. Anne raged and Henry began to fall out of love with her. Cromwell played devils advocate and by the time he had finished Henry was willing to believe that Anne had had a hundred lovers and was plotting to poison Henry Fitzroy and the Princess Mary, The King, that martyr to self delusion started to think, with persuasion from Cromwell, that Anne had committed incest with her brother and plotted treason and committed adultery with four other courtiers. Anne was tried and found guilty of these fabricated charges.She was imprisoned in the Tower and veered from levity to body-wracking sobs and every incoherent word was reported to Cromwell.On 19th May, 1536, Anne was executed on Tower Green and her body, which had once been the most desired at court lay unclaimed in an arrow-box in the Church of St Peter ad Vincula. Henry had started to become utterly ruthless and had lost all vestige of human kindness. Ten days after the execution Henry VIII married Jane Seymour who based her activities as Queen on Catherine of Aragons. David Starkey has said she was totally colourless next to Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon, but she was Henry VIIIs favourite Queen.She didn’t last as long as Catherine or go as high as Anne, but she still gave Henry the best gift of all - a son and heir to the throne, Edward On October 24th, 1537, just twelve days after the birth of her son, Queen Jane died of puerperal fever. The burial of Jane was planned for 12th November but before this date the question of a new queen had been discussed. Henrys grief was sincere though..He missed his favourite wife, Jane Seymour, missed her calming influence.Henry had become enormously fat, his face was bloated and his eyes were small and sunken.His legs had suppurated ulcers and he was lame.His temper was erratic and it was "woe betide" his ministers if his leg was giving him pain.His auburn hair and beard had turned dark. Henry began his quest for a new Queen of England at the beginning of 1538 and having investigated the possibility of Christina of Milan and Mary deGuise set his sights on Anne of Cleves. At Cromwells behest. Holbein was commissioned to do a portrait of the lady in her homeland. The painting was flattering and it showed a picture of a woman who, out of all Henrys wives would be considered the best-looking today. Anne of Cleves had arrived in this country by New Year, 1540 for her wedding and Henry rode to Rochester to meet her. He took an immediate dislike to her- she was large, a bit ungainly, had mottled skin and a bulbous nose. But she also exuded kindness and a gravity beyond her years. Henry had made up his mind that he couldn’t love this lady and sure enough was impotent on his wedding-night, blaming the Queens appearance unsparingly.Luckily, the language barrier protected Anne from being hurt by Henrys insults.This situation went on and Henry could see the only solution was an annulment.By April the Queen had got her dower - she was given leave to stay in England and have two manor-houses. Meanwhile as Spring turned to summer, the King had become besotted with Norfolks niece, Catherine Howard..She had a background of sexual escapades, unknown to the King, and was just nineteen years old. She was tiny, pretty and the old King caused her his “Rose without a thorn.”But the young girl knew all about contraception, which Henry didn’t see fit to question ,On the 28th July, 1540, the day Cromwell was executed in the Tower, Catherine Howard and Henry VIII were married . On the Progress North in 1541 ,Catherine recklessly started an affair with Thomas Culpepper, a courtier, She seemed to thrive on the excitement. Then, whisperings from the past caught up with her as Francis Dereham, to whom shed been precontracted at the age of seventeen came out of the to court .He was unwisely hired as Catherines secretary.. When the news came. it came very quickly and the King was handed a note at Mass. He was said to be “much perplexed” and then the , ruthless old King broke down and cried. This gave way to extreme anger and he refused to see Catherine, lest she swayed his emotions.She was dragged screaming to Syon House. Catherine was transferred to theTower and executed at the same place Anne Boleyn had been not quite six years previously. Chapuys likened the Kings grief, after Catherine Howards downfall to that of a woman crying more over the death of her tenth husband than the other nine. In short, Henry had no-one else in mind. In July, 1543, Henry VIII married a Lutheran widow, Katherine Parr. She had been married to two invalids before and by now Henry was walking with an apparatus and needed careful nursing.However, Thomas Seymour, Janes brother, was” holding a candle” for Katherine Parr and it has recently been discovered that the two exchanged letters while Katherine was married to the King.Katherine was an excellent stepmother, lively and entertaining. But she overstepped the mark, while arguing with the King about religion. Henry and Katherine were reconciled when Katherine, not really being true to herself, promised to obey Henry in all things. After a terrible illness of several weeks, possibly suffering from an embolism,King Henry VIII passed away at two “o” clock in the morning, on the 28th January, 1547. On the 14th February, Katherine watched sixteen gigantic soldiers winch him into his grave. And four, short scandalous months later, Katherine Parr married the “prettiest boy in court”, Thomas Seymour - Essay on Henry VIII and his wives by Judith Bateman -copyright Ancestry

3/7/2013 at 5:23 AM

Hi Judith! Margaret Boleyn Sackville is my 16th great grandmother. I am descended thru her son Richard. I was not aware of Vita Sackville, the writer but Im sure we're related. By the way I loved the book She Wolves! I am currently reading " Mistress of the Monarchy" by Alison Weir which is about Katherine Swynford

3/7/2013 at 5:33 AM

I consider Alison Weir to be an excellent fictional as well as factual writer. I prefer to call John of Gaunts mistress Katherine Rouet;No-one was supposed to like John of Gaunt, were they?

3/7/2013 at 6:01 AM

I read some of her fiction writing too. John of Gaunt seems to be portrayed as loved by all, but honestly he was just a slut. Why does Katherine get all the beef? Politically and personal life a slut. John is my 19th and 20th ggrand father thru his children Elizabeth Holland, Joan of Westmorland, and John.

3/7/2013 at 6:08 AM

By the way Judith, I enjoy your essays very much. Are you planning on writing a book? I sincerely hope you do because you will be successsful and would love to read more of your writing on paper back.

3/7/2013 at 1:05 PM

Vwry interesting. Now a lot about it too

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