Guest Author - Carol Taller
Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen of England on June 1, 1533. She is probably the most controversial queen in history, and there are large gaps in our information about her life. In fact, her birth date is in question; historians estimate that she was born between 1501 and 1507.
Anne was born a commoner. She was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire and Lady Elizabeth Howard. She studied in France and the Netherlands, and returned to England in 1522 to marry a cousin. When the marriage didn’t work out, she secured a post as the maid to Henry’s wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon.
Henry took a liking to Anne and began courting her despite his marriage to Catherine. They courted for seven years until Henry chose to annul his marriage with Catherine so that he could marry Anne.
Pope Clement VII would not annul the marriage, and the power split between church and state began. As King Henry VIII’s second wife and her ensuing execution she became the catalyst for the religious and political unrest that led to the English Reformation.
Anne took her place beside Henry to rule the court, but supposedly would not take place beside him in his bed until their relationship became legal. That said, it is also rumored that she was already pregnant with Elizabeth before she and Henry were married.
Henry and Anne married on January 25, 1533, and Anne was quickly crowned Queen in May, 1533, since any child born before she was queen would not be able to succeed to the throne. Anne gave birth to Elizabeth I of England on September 7. Henry was disappointed that she had not produced a male heir, but he believed a son would follow shortly.
As Queen, Anne was known for her keen fashion sense, and spent great sums of money on gowns and jewels. Royal palaces were renovated to suit her and Henry's extravagant tastes. Unfortunately, after the birth of Elizabeth, Anne had three miscarriages and by March 1536, Henry was courting Jane Seymour.
In April of 1535, Henry had Anne investigated for high treason. On May 2, she was arrested and sent to the Tower of London. She was tried before a jury of peers and found guilty on May 15.
Anne was beheaded four days later on Tower Green. She was charged with adultery and incest, however the historians find these charges as unconvincing. By the time her daughter Elizabeth was coroneted as Queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation.