& 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
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.
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.
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.
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 court 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"
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 read, intellectually curious, politically sharp and highly capable. Indeed, Henry VIII bestowed more independent authority than any other previous queen consort, including Katherine of Aragon.
Henry said of her : "She has the soul of an angel and a spirit worthy of a crown," but her 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
Anne Boleyn was not a catalyst in
the English Reformation; she was a
key element in the equation.
~Eric Ives "The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn"
For more on Anne Boleyn - click the links below
UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER QUOTES
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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
King Henry VIII bestows the title of
Marquess of Pembroke on Anne
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Natalie Dormer speaks about her character Anne
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The Passion of a King
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Till Death us do part