Anne Boleyn (1501/1507–19 May 1536) was Queen of England as the second wife of King Henry VIII. Anne Boleyn was also Marquess of Pembroke in her own right.
Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation. The daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard, Boleyn was of more noble birth than Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's later wife, but much less than her predecessor, Catherine of Aragon.
Anne Boleyn was educated in Europe, largely as a lady-in-waiting to Queen
Claude of France. She returned to England in 1522. In 1525, Henry VIII became
enamored of Anne and began his pursuit of her. Anne resisted the King's attempts
to seduce her and refused to become his mistress, as her sister, Mary Boleyn,
had done. It soon became the one absorbing object of the King's desires to
secure an annulment from his wife, Catherine of Aragon, so he could marry
Boleyn. When it became clear that Pope Clement VII was unlikely to give Henry an
annulment, the breaking of the power of the Roman Catholic Church in England
began. Anne Boleyn was Elizabeth I's mother.
Thomas Wolsey was dismissed from public office, allegedly at Anne Boleyn's instigation, and later the Boleyn family's chaplain, Thomas Cranmer, was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. The wedding between Henry and Anne took place on 25 January 1533. On 23 May 1533, Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry and Catherine null and void. Five days later Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry and Anne to be good and valid. Soon after, the Pope launched sentences of excommunication against Henry and the Archbishop. As a result of this marriage, the Church of England broke with Rome and was brought under the King's control.
Boleyn was crowned Queen of England on 1 June 1533. Later that year, on 7 September, she gave birth to the future Elizabeth I of England.
To Henry's displeasure, however, Anne Boleyn failed to produce a male heir; and by March 1536, he was paying court to Jane Seymour. In April and May 1536, Henry had Anne investigated for high treason: tried and found guilty, Anne Boleyn was beheaded on 19 May. Historians view the charges against her, which included adultery and incest, as unconvincing.
Following the coronation of her daughter, Elizabeth, as queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation, particularly through the works of John Foxe. Over the centuries, she has inspired or been mentioned in numerous artistic and cultural works.
As a result, Anne Boleyn has retained her hold on the popular imagination.
Anne has been called "the most influential and important queen consort England
has ever had," since she provided the occasion for Henry VIII to divorce
Catherine of Aragon, and declare his independence from Rome.
This Anne Boleyn Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub