Anne Boleyn

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Anne Boleyn, Queen Consort, 1st Marquess of Pembroke as portrayed by Natalie Dormer
& Muireann O'Donoghue (as Young Anne)
Motto: "The Most Happy"

Born 1501/1507* - Crowned June 1st, 1533 -
Marriage annulled May 17th 1536
Executed May 19th, 1536
by order of Henry VIII

Character's Backstory:
Anne Boleyn was born at either Blickling Hall in Norfolk or at Hever Castle in Kent: the best evidence suggests Blickling. She attended the Archduchess Margaret of Austria from 1513 to 1514, where she learned French under the tutelege of Symmonet, a male tutor in Margaret's household. She was transferred to Paris, France upon the marriage of Louis XII to Mary Tudor, Henry VIII's youngest sister (late 1514). Louis died within months of the marriage, but Anne remained in France upon the accession of Francis I. While in France, she became a favoured lady-in-waiting to the pious, dignified Queen Claude and may have served as an interpreter whenever high-ranking English dignitaries visited the French court. It is quite possible she might have seen Leonardo da Vinci and his "La Gioconda". In the queen's household, she completed her study of French and acquired a thorough knowledge of French culture and etiquette; as well as French and English, she demonstrated a working knowledge of Latin. She also developed an interest in fashion and religious philosophy that called for reform of the Church. Her European education ended in the winter of 1521 when she was summoned back to England on her father's orders. She sailed from Calais, which was then still an English possession, in January 1522, for an arranged marriage to James Butler, a distant cousin, in order to settle a dispute over the Ormonde title. It is unknown why the alliance did not take place.

Her debut in court was in March 1522 at a pageant, the "Chateau Vert" as "Perseverance". Around 1522, Anne began being courted by Lord Henry Percy, the son of the earl of Northumberland & probably in the spring of 1523, they were secretly betrothed. Lord Henry's father refused to sanction the marriage when he heard of it from Cardinal Wolsey, who was possibly acting upon the king's instructions to leave Anne free for him. Anne was sent from court to Hever Castle in Kent. It is not known how long she remained away from court, although she was certainly back by mid-1525.

At Shrovetide 1526 Henry began the serious pursuit of Anne Boleyn. Anne refused to become the king's mistress, and she effectively dodged his advances and avoided him for over a year. Henry wrote Anne a series of undated love letters, seventeen of which are now in the Vatican. Feminist historian Karen Lindsay suggested Anne suffered as a silent victim of sexual harassment. Henry proposed marriage to her sometime in 1527 (probably around New Year), after some hesitation, she agreed & this was marked by a gift she sent to Henry of a Symbolic Jewel. It was set with a fine diamond & took the form of a ship in which a lonely maiden was storm tossed. A letter of 'interpretation' accompanied it, which no doubt explained that the maiden was Anne herself & that Henry would henceforth be her refuge from the storms of life. [source: D. Starkey] And so ensued a long 7 year betrothal where Anne continued to hold-out for marriage and marriage alone.
The Tudors Costumes - historical - The Tudors Wiki

Gentility: Anne Boleyn was, on her mother's side, the granddaughter of the second Duke of Norfolk and niece of the third Duke of Norfolk; a Howard, one of England's most prominent families. Her father's ancestors, although mercers in the 14th and 15th centuries, included a Lord Mayor of London. Boleyns made ambitious matches, and married into Irish nobility.

Personality type:
Anne was a self confident,determined, ambitious, quick-tempered, passionate and spirited person. She was pious but not rigid; clever, conniving, and loyal to those she loved - family and friends. She had a gentle heart when needed -- showing kindness to the poor. Like her daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, she was adventurous, influential and perceptive.

Signature look:
Anne was not a "looker" according to the standards the times which prized pale skin & blonde hair. Her looks were more exotic with her olive-toned complexion, dark brown hair, and captivating dark eyes. Anne was also noted for her long, elegant neck. She knew she possessed a beauty like no other and used this fact to her advantage.

“She was never described as a great beauty, but even those who loathed her admitted that she had a dramatic allure. Her dark complexion and black hair gave her an exotic aura in a culture that saw milk-white paleness as essential to beauty. Her eyes were especially striking: 'black and beautiful' wrote one contemporary, while another averred they were 'always most attractive', and that she 'well knew how to use them with effect."

“Anne’s charm lay not so much in her physical appearance as in her vivacious personality, her gracefulness, her quick wit and other accomplishments. She was petite in stature, and had an appealing fragility about her… she shone at singing, making music, dancing and conversation… Not surprisingly, the young men of the cour
t swarmed around her.”[Ives]

In 1532, a new Venetian ambassador described Anne as
'not one of the handsomest women in the world. She is of middling stature, with a swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, bosom not much raised, and in fact has nothing but the King's great appetite, and her eyes, which are black and beautiful - and take great effect on those who served the Queen when she was on the throne. She lives like a queen, and the King accompanies her to Mass - and everywhere.'

By 1536, Ambassador Chapuys who had no love for Anne Boleyn calling her the concubine and wh*re, would call her "a thin old woman"

Endearing trait(s):
Vivacity, intelligence, wit and impeccable style, love for her daughter, care for her advancement of a more tolerant religious point of view, loyal to friends, determined, ambitious, cultured, and musically talented. She was also well r
ead, intellectually curious, politically sharp and highly capable. Indeed, Henry VIII bestowed more independent authority than any other previous queen consort, including Katherine of Aragon.

Annoying trait(s):
Henry said of her : "She has the soul of an angel and a spirit worthy of a crown," but h
er independent, outspoken & willful spirit which initially attracted Henry became an affront to him after they married.ed.
Also ambitious, haughty, very emotional, high-strung and jealous, particularly under stress.

Talents : Anne was said to have been an impressive musician and composer, accomplished at several instruments including the lute, harp, virginals and blockflute. She was also renowned for her singing voice. She was also a talented embroiderer and with her ladies embroidered bedding, wall hangings, carpets and nightgowns. A bed valance thought to have been worked by Queen Anne survives. Rumour has it Anne composed poetry and wrote masques; she and Henry VIII shared an interest in Renaissance architecture and design motifs.

"She (Anne) knew perfectly how to sing and dance…to play the lute and other instruments". —Lancelot de Carles

* Re: Birthdate : Earlier historians considered 1507 to be the accepted date but in 1981, the art historian Hugh Paget successfully demonstrated that a letter Anne had written in 1513 from Brussels when she was a maid of honour in that court, a position which was only open to a 12 or 13 yr old was not the hand of a 6 yr old. [Ives - Life & Death of Anne Boleyn]
See :Controversies about Anne Boleyn

Did Anne have six fingers?
Nicholas Sanders, an English Catholic priest who was opposed to the Church of England and advocated the deposing of Elizabeth, made a number of claims about Boleyn, which were reworked and published after his death in De origine et progressu schismatis Anglicani (The origin and progress of the English Schism), 1585. It must be noted that Sanders never knew or saw Anne at any point during her life. Sanders was the first to claim in print that Boleyn was deformed, giving her the features of a witch. His allegations included the claims that she was a nymphomaniac with an excess of lovers; and that she had a projecting tooth; and that she had six fingers (hexadactyly) on one hand. All these features were traditionally associated with witches.
In fact her unearthed skeleton showed ten fingers, all perfectly formed and slender.There is no contemporary evidence to support such allegations, despite their popularity and inclusion in many modern textbooks.

"Anne's character has fascinated-- and often eluded-- historians for centuries. She was certainly ambitious, determined, tenacious, and even ruthless. Her loyalty to, and pride in, her family was strong, and she seems to have been particularly close to her brother George. She was sophisticated, vivacious, and witty but could also be high-strung, sharp tempered and vindictive. Yet her strength, boldness and courage were never in doubt. Unlike most women of her time, she had an independent spirit.

It was more than just sex appeal and wit that attracted Henry to Anne. Several writers testify to her love of fashion and her expensive tastes. which she shared with the King. Like him, she had a flair for the decorative arts and a lively interest in architecture and display. Her accomplishments were many. she was well-educated, intelligent and articulate, was fluent in French and knew some Latin.

Like Henry, Anne was passionately fond of music and very talented in that sphere.....She was an accomplished dancer...Anne and her brother and their young friends were all keen poets. Anne herself 'possessed a great talent for poetry'..."
~Alison Weir "Henry VIII: The king and his court"

“Anne was that rare phenomenon [in Tudor times], a self-made woman. But then, this became her demise, because she was a challenging personality, and wouldn’t be quiet and shut up. So all the reasons that attracted [Henry] to her, and made her queen and a mother, were all the things that then undermined her position. What she had that was so unique for a woman at that time was also her undoing.” - Natalie Dormer

Last Words (in the series):
"Good Christian people, I have come here to die according to the law and thus yield myself to the will of the King, my lord. And if in my life I ever did offend the king's grace then surely with my death, I do now atone. I pray and beseech you all to pray for the life of the king, my sovereign lord and yours who is one of the best princes on the face of the earth, who has always treated me so well. Wherefore I submit to death with a good will, humbly asking pardon of all the world. If anyone should take up my case, I ask only to judge it kindly ...Thus I take my leave of the world and you and I heartily desire you all to pray for me....Lord Jesus receive my soul.."

Anne Boleyn as played by Natalie Dormer
Young Anne portrayed by Muireann O'Donoghue
Young Anne portrayed by
Muireann O'Donoghue

Anne Boleyn - The Tudors Wiki

"Commend me to his Majesty, and tell him that he has ever been constant in his career of
advancing me. From a private gentlewoman he made me a marchioness, from a marchioness
a Queen; and now that he has
no higher degree of honour left,
he gives my innocence the crown of martyrdom as a saint in heaven.”

~ Anne just prior to her execution (Strype)

Anne Boleyn was not a catalyst in
English Reformation; she was a
element in the equation.
~Eric Ives "The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn"

Anne Boleyn - The Tudors WikiAnne Boleyn - COA as Queen Consort


“It was because of the delicacy of the diplomatic situation, and the volatile nature of Henry’s relationship with Anne, that her enemies struck in the way that they did. The King had to be temporarily convinced that she had been guilty of a monstrous and unforgivable betrayal. The very passion which had made their union so politically potent could then be used to destroy it.” ~ David Loades Six Wives of Henry VIII (2009)

“The Queen walked forth in all her
fearful beauty
and she came not as one accustomed to being called to account, but as one accustomed to great honour.”
~Lancelot, Bishop of Riez,
on Anne Boleyn at her trial

At her trial upon receiving her death sentence Anne said:

"I do not say I have always shown him [King Henry] that humility which his goodness to me merited. I confess I have had jealous fancies and suspicions of him, which I had not discretion enough, and wisdom, to conceal. But God knows, and is my witness, that I have not sinned against him in any other way. Think not I say this in the hope to prolong my life. God hath taught me how to die, and He will strengthen my faith. As for my brother, and those others who are unjustly condemned [to die], I would willingly suffer many deaths to deliver them, but since I see it pleases the King, I shall willingly accompany them in death, with this assurance, that I shall lead an endless life with them in peace." ~ The Six Wives of Henry VIII, by Alison Weir

[in the series she said these words to Thomas Cranmer when confessing]

Contemporary quotes:

"For her behaviour, manners, attire and
tongue she excelled them all." ~ Lancelot de Carles

" Imbued with as many outward good qualities in playing on instruments, singing, and such other courtly graces,
as few women were of her time" ~ William Thomas

"Very beautiful." ~Francesco Sanuto, Venetian Diplomat

"For the rare and singular gifts of her mind, so well instructed, and given towards God, with such a fervent desire unto the truth and setting forth of sincere religion, joined with like gentleness, modesty and pity toward all men, there have not many such queens before her borne the crown of England" ~an obituary written during Queen Elizabeth I's reign by martyrologist John Foxe

[A] woman who is the scandal of Christendom." Katherine of Aragon describes her rival, 1531

"I have never had better opinions of woman than I had of her......She who has been the Queen of England on earth will today become a Queen in Heaven." ~ Thomas Cranmer

"Just as the golden sun dispels the gloomy shadows of night and at day-break makes all things bright; so you O queen, restored as a new light to your French and enlightening everything, bring back the Golden Age." ~ Nicholas Bourbon, whom Anne saved from burning as a heretic.

"The King’s Grace is ruled by one common stewed wh0re, Anne Boleyn, who makes all the spirituality to be beggared, and the temporality also" ~ The Abbot of Whitby,1530

"To us she appears inconsistent – religious yet aggressive, calculating yet emotional, with the light touch of the courtier yet the strong grip of the politician … A woman in her own right – taken on her own terms in a man’s world; a woman who mobilized her education, her style and her presence to outweigh the disadvantages of her sex; of only moderate good looks, but taking a court and a king by storm. Perhaps, in the end, it is Thomas Cromwell’s assessment that comes nearest: intelligence, spirit and courage.
~ Eric Ives' The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn

" Anne brought into Henry's life that combination of youthful charm and mature sophistication
that Katherine possessed no longer. She was adept at the game of courtly love and her relationship with Henry began as just another chivalric flirtation. Indeed, Anne's behaviour in the early days of their relationship can be explained as the anxiety of one who perceived that the game was getting out of hand". ~ Derek Wilson, A Brief History of Henry VIII 2009

" Neither saint nor seductress, victim or witch Anne Boleyn was essentially a modern woman. She saw her opportunities and took them, causing a scandal that shocked England and Europe."
~ Elizabeth Norton, Anne Boleyn - Henry VIII's Obsession 2008

"Chapuys...states that Anne, ludicrously "was also charged, and her brother likewise, with having laughed at the King and his dress" and making fun of his poetry, "which was objected to them as a great crime" ; in sum, "she showed in various ways she did not love the King but was tired of him". ~ Alison Weir's Lady in the Tower
(could it be that Henry's feelings were hurt?)

"No English Queen has made more impact on the history of the nation than Anne Boleyn, and few have been so persistently maligned." ~ Joanna Denny Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England’s Tragic Queen

For more on Anne Boleyn - click the links below


Family Members:
Paternal Grandfather: Sir William Boleyn
Paternal Grandmother: Margaret Butler
Maternal Grandfather: Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk
Maternal Grandmother: Elizabeth Tilney
Father: Sir Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire
Mother: Lady Elizabeth Howard
Brother: George Boleyn
Sister: Mary Boleyn
Sister-in-law: Jane Boleyn
Husband: King Henry VIII
Cousins: Madge Sheldon and Katherine Howard

Daughter: Elizabeth I, Queen of England -- September 7th, 1533

Unknown Child: Miscarriage -- July, 1534
Stillborn son: -- January 29, 1536
Anne Boleyn - The Tudors WikiHenry Percy, Lord of Northumberland <a class="external" href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="(read a contemporary account of Anne & Henry Percy's romance here">(read a contemporary account of Anne & Henry Percy's romance here)</a>
After his betrothal to Anne was broken, Lord Percy was immediately forced to marry Mary Talbot, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury, who had been betrothed to him in early adolescence. The marriage was a disaster.
Henry VIII forced Henry Percy, to sit on the jury that found Anne guilty of adultery. When the verdict was announced, Percy collapsed and had to be carried from the courtroom.
Percy left no children, suffered from stomach problems, and died only months after Anne's execution. (This relationship was not shown on the series)

Thomas Wyatt wrote of his love but there was no proof it was reciprocated by Anne. Although the series showed a romantic/sexual relationship between the two.

(Also historically, was set to be betrothed to James Butler, Earl of Ormonde but inexplicably this never materialized and was not shown on the series)

George Boleyn
Margaret Wyatt, Lady Lee (* see Nan Saville's profile) -- Anne Boleyn's closest friend. She was ambitious, intelligent, witty, outspoken and cultured like Anne.
Mary Wyatt -- both sisters of Thomas Wyat
Henry Norris --a dear a loyal friend, also accused of adultery with Anne but defended her good name till the end of his life
Thomas Cranmer --Anne's chaplain and eventual Archbishop of Canter
bury. He was a close friend and ally and also heard her last confession.
Matthew Parker --Chaplain who believed Anne had in some way commended Elizabeth to his spiritual care. Elizabeth I made him her Archbishop of Canterbury.
Thomas Wyatt --It will never be clear what her relationship was to him and may never will be since many speculations are bias.

Queen Anne's Household
It is estimated that Anne had approximately 60 Ladies-in-waiting (& 250 servants) Including:
Anne (Nan) Gainsford ( Later Zouche)
Anne (Nan)Saville

Margaret Dymoke
Honor Grenville
Elizabeth Holland (Bessie) The Duke of Norfolk's mistress

Margery Horsman
Mary Scrope
Elizabeth Wood, Lady Boleyn (wife of her uncle James Boleyn)
Margaret Wyatt, Lady Lee
Mary Wyatt
Bridget Wiltshire, Lady Wingfield
Madge Sheldon (Mary Shelton who was sometimes confused with her sister Margaret Shelton)
Jane Seymour
Lady Worcester - who gave evidence against Anne
Jane Boleyn, nee Parker, Viscountess Rochford- also gave evidence against Anne
Anne (Nan) Cobham - witnessed against Anne
Mistress Stonor
Mistress Cosyns
Since the politics of the Tudor court was determined by factions and favourites, Anne's friends and enemies were not constant and was always open to change.

Initially her Uncle, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex supported her but this changed and they became instrumental in her demise.

She had no fondness for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey since he put an end to her Romance with Henry Percy but Wolsey worked in her behalf with regard to "the King's secret matter", when he was unsuccessful, it was his downfall.

The Catholic faction which supported Queen Katherine of Aragon & Princess Mary Tudor were always working against Anne.

The Seymour faction which included Thomas & Edward Seymour & Sir Nicholas Carew worked against Anne to make Jane Seymour the next queen.

Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk & his 1st wife

Mary Tudor (Princess Margaret Tudor in the show) who said she was a "vulgar" woman and "usurper." Anne Boleyn, though, might have disapproved of Charles Brandon's inappropriate flirtation with Margaret of Austria, and his later conduct with Mary Tudor, the Dowager Queen of France.

The dynamics of the Tudor court meant that if you were in the King's favour, you were a target for any number of enemies.

Anne Boleyn


  • "This is the king, this is the queen ... and this is me, with my head cut off..." --Season 2 Promo

  • "Love you? I trust you!"

  • "Your wife I cannot be, both in respect of mine own unworthiness, and also because you have a queen already. Your mistress I will not be"

  • "It is foretold in ancient prophesies that at this time a queen shall be burnt. But even if I were to suffer a thousand deaths, my love for you would not abate one jot"
  • "Remember me when you do pray, that hope doth lead from day to day" Written by Anne in her prayer book which she gave to Lady Margaret Lee before she was executed.

  • "...and if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best." --from Anne's speech, at her execution

  • " to my own mother, I know no woman alive that I love better...." Anne about Margaret Wyatt, Lady Lee
  • In episode 5, when Henry meets her and everyone is bowing. He takes her hand and raises her up, then tells her, "Your neck. I love your neck."
  • In Episode 10, Anne enters court dressed in a purple gown (the color of royals), looks at Queen Katherine's ladies in waiting and states "Sometimes I wish all Spaniards were at the bottom of the sea". When reproached for this comment, Anne adds: I rather see Katherine hanged than acknowledge her as my mistress."

Anne Boleyn - The Tudors Wiki

19th Century painting compared to a promo shot
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Anne Boleyn

Hoskins Miniature of Anne Boleyn - most authentic likeness
Anne Boleyn
Miniature by John Hoskins (commissioned by Charles I) based on "an ancient original"& considered by Historian Dr. Eric Ives (Author of Biography : "The Life & Death of Anne Boleyn) to be the closest likeness to the real Anne Boleyn
Henry & Anne
King Henry VIII bestows the title of
Marquess of Pembroke on Anne
Anne Boleyn - The Tudors Wiki

Anne Boleyn - The Tudors Wiki
Queen Anne
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Natalie Dormer speaks about her character Anne
Anne Boleyn - The Tudors Wiki
Anne with baby Elizabeth
<embed height="253" src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="322" wmode="transparent"/>
The Passion of a King
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Till Death us do part
For more on Anne Boleyn - click the links below

  • See also: The Tudors Cast | The Tudors Episode Guide