Moonday’s Heroic Hunk in History: Henry VIII Tudor & Anne Boleyn

Henry in his Prime

     King Henry VIII Tudor during the Anne Boleyn years is Moonday’s Heroic Hunk in History. Henry quickly became infatuated with Anne when she returned to Court from France and was named Lady in Waiting to the Queen (Have we heard this story before?). Unlike her naughty sister Mary, Anne was reported by the Archduchess Margaret of Austria to be “presentable and so pleasant.” Having royal mistresses Bessie Blount and her sister Mary who had been cast off with little provision as models, Anne determined that the same fate would not be hers.
     Anne played hard to get for about five years until she convinced Henry to obtain an annulment to marry her, even if it meant a break with the Roman Catholic Church. Although Henry had been awarded the title “Defender of the Faith” by Pope Leo X for writing the Assertio Septem Sacramentorum (“In Defense of the Seven Sacraments”) in response to a treatise by Martin Luther, separation from the Catholic Church had several benefits.
     Henry and Anne married on 25 January 1533. It was not until May of that year that Cranmer granted Henry and Catherine’s divorce. Katherine steadfastly denied that she had ever consummated her marriage to Arthur, and asserted that Henry “knew the truth of it.” Five days later, Cranmer declared Henry and Anne’s secret marriage valid. The Pope excommunicated Henry who assumed leadership of the Church in England. Unlike his miserly father, Henry had spent money liberally. Henry dissolved the Churches and monasteries, kept most of the assets himself, and granted properties to his supporters. In 1530 the Abbot of Whitby wrote: “The King’s Grace is ruled by one common stewed whore, Anne Boleyn, who makes all the spirituality to be beggared, and the temporality also.” The English people preferred Queen Katherine and called Anne “The Great Whore.”
     Anne was crowned Queen of England in June, 1533. On 7 September, she gave birth to the Princess Elizabeth (Unfortunately for her, another daughter for Henry). After three miscarriages by 1536, Henry—despairing of having a son by Anne—began courting Jane Seymour. (Made even easier by Katherine’s convenient death.)
     On 2 May of 1536, Anne was arrested for treason and sent to the Tower of London, where she was tried before a jury and found guilty on 15 May. Her crime? She was charged with adultery, treason (that’s adultery when your husband is the King), and incest with her brother George. Her real crime? Failure to deliver a healthy son for Henry and pissing off Thomas Cranmer over government policy. One of the men confessed under torture while the others proclaimed their innocence until their execution. Multiple inconsistencies in the trial that supported Anne’s innocence were ignored.
     Anne was exhausted—almost ready to die. She wrote shortly before her execution: “O Death, rock me asleep, bring me to quiet rest, let pass my weary guiltless ghost out of my careful breast.” On May 19th, Anne was beheaded on Tower Green with a sword—the King had graciously allowed beheading instead of burning at the stake which was the actual penalty. Anthony Kingston, the Tower Constable, quoted Anne on the morning of her death, “I hear I shall not die afore noon, and I am very sorry therefore, for I thought to be dead by this time and past my pain.’ I told her it should be no pain, it was so little. And then she said, ‘I heard say the executioner was very good, and I have a little neck.’” Her body lay where it fell until a worker placed her head and body in an arrow chest and buried her in St. Peter ad Vinicula in an unmarked grave. Anne was one of England’s most influential Queens but her daughter Elizabeth would become one of England’s greatest monarchs.   Compare the portraits of the real Tudors with the pics of Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as Henry VIII and Natalie Dormer from the Tudors. Next week, more Tudors. RitaVF
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