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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII

Lovely Anne Boleyn was a woman with a mind of her own from a very early age. Born in 1501 to Thomas Boleyn 1st Earl of Wiltshire and Lady Elizabeth Howard, Anne was educated in the Netherlands and France to be a maid of honor to Claude of France. She was brought home to England in 1522 to marry her cousin, but the marriage plans fell apart and Anne became secretly betrothed the next year to Henry Percy, son of the 5th Earl of Northumberland.

This match was never to be, and Henry Percy was forced to withdraw his betrothal and follow the preexisting marital arrangements made by his family.

Anne was sent home, and was soon the object of Henry VIII's unwanted attention. She had already observed the tragic consequences of her sister's life as Henry's mistress and she refused to follow suit. Henry, not accustomed to being denied his pleasures, became obsessed with winning Anne's hand. He broke faith with the Roman Catholic Church in seeking a divorce from Catherine of Aragon and caused even more controversy by marrying Anne.

Anne bore Henry a daughter, Elizabeth, but this birth was followed by three miscarriages. Not getting the son he yearned for, Henry's affections wandered toward Jane Seymour, and Anne Boleyn found herself in grave danger. Wanting to, again, free himself of a wife, Henry had Anne investigated and arrested for high treason. Harsh measures of persuasion forced accusations from those most close to her, and Anne was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Four days after her trial, at the age of 35, Anne Boleyn was executed. She climbed the scaffold and gracefully addressed the crowd who had gathered to watch the beheading. She begged her listeners to forgive her if she had not "used them all with becoming gentleness" and asked for prayers for herself and for the King. She also asked God to be compassionate to those who had condemned her. The crowd wept as the executioner swiftly used his sword.

In her gracious farewell speech, in which she praised the King, Anne Boleyn was offering a mother's last protective act for her not yet three year old daughter, Elizabeth.

Despite many obstacles and dangers, Anne's Elizabeth succeeded her tyrant father,Henry VIII and ruled for 45 years...perhaps the most famous queen in English history.

Elizabeth never married.