Own stock used
maipulated in PS Elements 7
Anne Boleyn or Nan Bullen (about 1502 – May 19, 1536) was the second wife and queen consort of Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Henry’s marriage to her was the cause of considerable political and religious upheaval.
Anne was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire, and Elizabeth Howard, daughter of the 2nd Duke of Norfolk. The year of Anne’s birth is uncertain but in the range 1499 to 1507 and probably 1502, with 1507 being the second most likely. Anne’s father secured a place with Margaret, Archduchess of Austria and daughter of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, for Anne to be educated in the Netherlands where she lived from the spring of 1513 to the autumn of 1514. This was followed by some years in France, until 1521, initially in the royal nursery, but the last year probably in the French Court.
On her return to England, Anne apparently became an attendant of Mary Tudor, the former queen consort of France and Henry VIII’s sister, and Anne probably resided at the English court during Mary’s visits.
Probably in the spring of 1523, Anne became betrothed to Lord Henry Percy, the future 6th earl of Northumberland. Lord Henry’s father refused to sanction the marriage when he heard of it from Cardinal Wolsey. The next recorded appearance of Anne in the historical record is in 1527, by which time she had become one of Queen Catherine’s maids.
Anne’s younger sister, Mary, (though it is not absolutely certain who was the elder), had previously been Henry’s mistress and may have borne him a child, and many historians believe their mother Elizabeth Howard had been Henry’s mistress too, though Henry denied it. Anne, however, was reluctant to remain merely a mistress. When, in 1532, Henry created her Marquess of Pembroke, it was the first time a woman had ever been created a peer in her own right. Having become the King’s favourite, Anne was the object of much courtly admiration, including that of Thomas Wyatt. Anne was described by the Venetian Ambassador (who supported Catherine of Aragon and who therefore may have been a little negative) as being of average height and not particularly beautiful, except for her beautiful black eyes.
It is often thought that Henry’s infatuation with Anne led him to seek a way to annul his existing marriage. However there is good evidence to suggest that Henry may well have made the decision to set aside his marriage with Catherine of Aragon solely because of her failure to bear him a male heir. He believed this was essential to prevent the collapse of the Tudor dynasty which had only been secured by his father Henry VII of England on winning the Wars of the Roses in 1485.
On January 25, 1533, before announcing the decision that his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, was invalid, he secretly wed Anne, either at York Place or at the Palace of Westminster. In any event, the marriage was not made public knowledge for some months, but Anne was already pregnant and gave birth to Elizabeth, future Queen Elizabeth I of England, in September of that year. Henry was reasonably pleased and believed that he and Anne could always have another child, even if the first was a girl.
Unfortunately for her, her next three pregnancies all ended in miscarriage or stillbirth. The last of these pregnancies resulted in a stillborn male child in January 1536.
In May, 1536, Anne was accused having used witchcraft to trap Henry into marriage and to entice five men to enter into adulterous affairs with her; of creating competition and jealousy between the five; of afflicting the king with bodily harm (believed to have been impotence); and of conspiring to effect his death – treason. The men alleged to have been involved in adultery were a groom of the Privy Chamber – Mark Smeaton; Anne’s own brother – Lord George Rochford, Henry Norris, Francis Weston and William Brereton). Anne’s brother was effectively held to have been the father of the stillborn child. It’s now generally accepted that none of the charges was valid.
Anne was arrested on May 2 1536, and taken to the Tower of London. On the evidence of Smeaton’s false confessions, possibly obtained by torture, and on the evidence of the members of Anne’s court, Anne was convicted at her trial on May 15. On May 17 her marriage to Henry was annulled, though the arguments used aren’t known since the records were later destroyed. On May 19, 1536 Anne was beheaded with one blow at the Tower of London. At her special request, a sword brought from France was used for the execution. The five men accused with her were beheaded on May 17.
Shortly before her death, Anne was stripped of her titles and her marriage to the King was declared void, disinheriting her daughter Elizabeth from any chance at the British throne. After her execution, the former Queen was buried in an arrow chest, since a coffin was not available, and interred under the floor of St. Peter ad Vincula; her body was later discovered during the reign of Queen Victoria. Elizabeth’s title was later reinstated, and she later went on to become Queen of England.
Oh Death, Let Pass My Very Guiltless Ghost
In the Tower of London, Anne penned this poem:
Rock me asleep
Bring on my quiet rest
Let pass my very guiltless ghost
Out of my careful breast
Ring out the doleful knell
Let it sound
My death tell
For I must die.
But Death brought no quiet rest for the spirit of Anne Boleyn… She has been seen in various places, particularly at the several homes where she once lived, and accompanied by the phantom coaches and headless horses that have always been associated with witchcraft and devil worship.
At Blickling Hall in Norfolk, Anne Boleyn makes a spectacular appearance every year upon the anniversary of her death. She drives up the avenue to the Hall in a coach, drawn by headless horses and a headless horseman, holding her dripping and severed head in her lap… Sometimes the whole grisly equipage vanishes into the air, sometimes Anne alone enters the Hall and walks the corridors until dawn. A similar ghastly vision has been seen driving furiously along the roads of Norfolk, followed by an otherworldly strange blue light.
Every Christmas-time, the ghost of Anne Boleyn has been reported in Kent, being driven up the avenue of Hever Castle at a furious pace and in a funeral coach drawn by six black headless horses. It was here, in this thirteenth-century castle, under the magnificent oak, that Henry courted both Anne and her sister Mary.
Also during Christmas-time, the Rochford district of Essex is haunted for twelve nights by a headless witch, dressed in a rich silken gown. Anne Boleyn lived at Rochford Hall when she was a girl.
The ghost of Anne Boleyn has often been seen standing at a window at Windsor Castle, but Anne’s most persistent haunting is in the Tower, where she met her death…