Anne Boleyn
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Anne Boleyn (abt. 1501 - 1536)

Anne "Queen of England" Boleyn aka Bullen
Born about in Blickling Hall, Blickling, Norfolk, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married 25 Jan 1533 (to 17 May 1536) in Whitehall, London, Englandmap
Died at about age 35 in Tower of London, London, Englandmap
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Early Years

Anne Boleyn (/æ:n bʊlən/*) was born about 1501 at Blickling Hall in Blickling, Norfolk, England. She was the second child and daughter of Thomas Boleyn KG KB and Elizabeth Howard. She spent her early years between Blickling Hall and Hever Castle, in Hever, Kent. Her father inherited them from his father when she was very young.[1][2][3]

Hever Castle

In 1513, Anne was sent to France and trained in the skills as a lady of the court by Margaret of Austria. She became fluent in French and impressed Margaret with her intelligence. In August of 1513, Anne was with her sister in France when Mary Boleyn served as fille d'honneur to Mary Tudor, Queen of France, when she married King Louis XII of France. When King Louis XII died in 1515 she joined the household of Queen Claude of France the queen of King François I.[3][4][5]

By 1522, Sir Thomas, Anne's father requested that she be returned to England after the death of Queen Claude. Henry's sister Mary (Tudor) Brandon the Duchess of Suffolk appointed Anne to the household of Queen Catherine. Shortly after arriving in England, Anne became one of the Queen's ladies. That year, she attended and participated in one of the revels at the court of Henry VIII.[6]

Life with a King

It was around this time that the King began to take an interest in Anne. Thus began a struggle for the King to win Anne's affections. She aspired to become more than just another mistress and refused him. With her vibrancy and intelligence, she would woo Henry and then push him away. This continued for several years until Henry realized his only recourse was to marry Anne. His battle to obtain an annulment from Catherine had already begun.[7][8]

There were many letters exchanged between Anne and Henry. A year after Henry became enamored with Anne he wrote a letter to her:

" In turning over the contents of your last letter, I have put myself in great agony, not knowing how to interpret them, whether to my disadvantage, as you show in some places, or to my advantage, as I understand them in some others, beseeching you to earnestly let me know expressly your whole mind as to the love between us two. It is absolutely necessary for me to obtain this answer, having been for above a whole year stricken with the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail in finding a place in your heart and affection, which last point has prevented me for some time past from calling you my mistress; because, if you only love me with an ordinary love, that name is not suitable for you, because it denotes a singular love, which is far from common. But if you please to do the office of a true loyal mistress and friend, and give up yourself body and heart to me, who will be, and have been, your most loyal servant, (if your rigour does not forbid me) I promise that not only shall the name be given you, but I will take you for my only mistress, casting off all others besides you out of my thoughts and affections, and serve only you. .......... H R "[9]

On 1 September 1532, she was, created Marchioness of Pembroke.[10]. Anne first secretly married Henry on 25 January 1533/4. Anne became pregnant and the Archbishop Of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer approved the annulment of Henry and Catherine's marriage.[11][12][13] [14] On 19 May 1533, Henry publicly declared his marriage to Anne. He made Greenwich Palace, her home, and a great celebration took place.[15]

A Princess is Born

On 7 September 1533, their first child Princess Elizabeth was born at the Palace of Placentia. Elizabeth's birth was celebrated in full royal regalia. However, Henry wanted a male heir, which was a concern for Anne. Elizabeth was the only child that Anne gave birth to that did not die as an infant.[15][16]

Palace of Placentia

The christening of the Princess was a grand affair. It took place at Greenwich Palace, and Dukes and Duchesses and many others were summoned to attend. The palace was decorated in true royal fashion. The Archbishop of Canterbury was Godfather and christened the baby girl.[16]

Jane Seymour had been appointed one of Anne's ladies, and the King took an interest in her. His dissatisfaction after three years of Anne not being able to produce a living male heir had grown. In April of 1536, Henry was admitting he had grown weary of Anne.[17]

The Downfall

She was accused of beguiling several men, committing adultery and incest, with her own brother George Boleyn, Lord Rochford. Anne along with these gentlemen were all convicted of adultery and plotting to kill the King. One of the men accused, Mark Smeaton initially denied the accusations, but eventually confessed and threw himself at the mercy of the King. Some of the other men accused were Sir Francis Weston, Henry Noreys, and, William Bryerton, they all pled not guilty but, all were convicted. A few days later, Anne and her brother George declared their innocence of the accusations.

" Your Grace's displeasure and my imprisonment are things so strange unto me as what to write or what to excuse I am altogether ignorant. Whereas you sent unto me, willing me to confess a truth and so to obtain your favour, by such an one whom you know to be my ancient professed enemy, I no sooner received this message by him than I rightly conceived your meaning; and if, as you say, confessing a truth indeed may procure my safety, I shall with all willingness and duty perform your command." But do not imagine that your poor wife will ever confess a fault which she never even imagined. Never had prince a more dutiful wife than you have in Anne Boleyn, "with which name and place I could willingly have contented myself if God and your Grace's pleasure had so been pleased." Nor did I ever so far forget myself in my exaltation but that I always looked for such an alteration as now; my preferment being only grounded on your Grace's fancy. You chose me from a low estate, and I beg you not to let an unworthy stain of disloyalty blot me and the infant Princess your daughter... "

They too were convicted and condemned to execution. The men were beheaded before the Tower.[18][19] [20]

The Archbishop of Canterbury pronounced Henry's marriage to Anne null and void on 17 May 1536, [21] and on 19 May 1536 Anne was beheaded at the Tower of London, her punishment chosen by the King. The same day the Archbishop of Canterbury declared Anne's daughter, Princess Elizabeth illegitimate.[18][22][23]

Anne was interred at St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower.[24] In 1976, there was a request to have Anne re-interred at Lambeth in London.[25]

Research Notes

  • In 1752 the calendar in England changed from old style to new style. Previous to 1752 the new year began on March 25th in 1752 it was changed and began January 1st. Dates prior to 1752 occurring between January 1st and March 24th will be recorded as dual years to reflect the change.
  • There has been an ongoing dispute about whether Anne was the older or younger daughter. Claims to her birth being between 1501-1507, it is widely believed to be 1501. Some have claimed Anne to be older than her sister Mary. In 1597, Mary's grandson the second Lord Hunsdon petitioned Lord Burghley. He claimed the Earldom of Ormond by right of being the grandson of the eldest daughter. A petition that would be seen by Queen Elizabeth I, who would have known whether her mother or her aunt was the oldest daughter.[3]
  • Greenwich Palace was also known as the Palace of Placentia. These names are used interchangeably for the palace.
  • There are many who believe that Anne and the others accused were innocent. The King was obsessed with having a male heir. After the ordeal with his first marriage, it would have been best that he had a valid reason for disposing of Anne.
  • The ghost of Anne has been seen on numerous occasions at the Tower of London. It is said her ghost haunts the place of her death, beheaded on Tower Green on the 19th May 1536. A number of people have also claimed to have seen Anne's ghost at Hever Castle, Blickling Hall, Salle Church, and Marwell Hall.[26]
  • The pronunciation guide given is an approximation of how the family is believed to have pronounced their name, provided so as to limit confusion over the possibly Francized surname spelling the family chose to use; it is worth noting that the individual lived in a time prior to the standardization of English spellings, & that a "correct" spelling could not have existed, as such, the fact that numerous documents from the time period use spellings like Bullen, Bolan & the like, & the fact that this pronunciation is still relatively common in England, it seems accepted that this is the most valid guess as to what pronunciation the family would have used, along the lines of "Bull-en," so as to rhyme with the English word 'woolen.'
  • Anne Boleyn: Arrest, Trial, Execution, Documentary - Tracy Borman, Historian researches King Henry the VIII's second wife - Anne Boleyn during the year 1536. Tracy delves into the three days of Anne's arrest, her trial, and the execution of Anne.[27]


  1. Francis Blomefield. "Hundred of Humble-Yard: Mulbarton," in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 5, (London: W Miller, 1806), 75-83. British History Online, accessed March 5, 2021,
  2. Jonathan Hughes. "Boleyn, Thomas, Earl of Wiltshire and Earl of Ormond, (1476/7–1539). Published 4 October 2007. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Accessed 23 Jan 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Round, John Horace, 1854-1928. The Early Life of Anne Boleyn: a Critical Essay. London: E. Stock, 1886. Accessed 27 Jan 2021
  4. E. W. Ives. Anne Boleyn (c. 1500–1536). Published by Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23 September 2004. Accessed 30 Jan 2021
  5. Elizabeth Ogilvie BENGER, Lucy Aikin 'Memoirs of Life of Anne Boleyn, Queen of Henry VIII..'. Longman, 1827.
  6. 'Introduction, Section 5', in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4, 1524-1530, ed. J S Brewer (London, 1875), pp. ccxxv-cclxxxv. British History Online accessed 31 January 2021.
  7. Benger, E. (Elizabeth), 1778-1827. 'Memoirs of the Life of Anne Boleyn: Queen of Henry VIII'. 2d. ed. London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1821. Accessed 6 Feb 2021.
  8. Reginald Drew. 'Anne Boleyn'. Published by Sherman, French & Company, 1912. Accessed 7 Feb 2021.
  9. Henry VIII, king of England, 1491-1547. [from old catalog]. 'The Love Letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn: With Notes'. Boston [etc.]: J. W. Luce & company, 1906. Accessed 7 Feb 2021.
  10. Cokayne, George E.(1825-1911). 'Anne Boleyn', Vol 10, pgs. 403-404. The Complete Peerage Of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain And The United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct, Or Dormant, Vol. 10. Accessed 13 Feb 2021.
  11. "Henry VIII: May 1533, 11-20," in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 6, 1533, ed. James Gairdner (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1882), 211-228. British History Online, accessed May 19, 2021,
  12. Harpsfield, Nicholas. A Treatise on the Pretended Divorce Between Henry VIII and Catharine of Aragon. Westminster: Nichols and Sons, 1878. pp 234-235. Accessed 7 Feb 2021.
  13. Williams, Neville. Henry VIII and his Court. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1971. p 124.
  14. Starkey, David. The Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII.' New York: HarperCollins, 2003. Accessed 7 Feb 2021.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Edward Walford. "Greenwich," in Old and New London: Volume 6, (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878), 164-176. British History Online, accessed February 8, 2021,
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Henry VIII: September 1533, 1-10," in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 6, 1533, ed. James Gairdner (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1882), 449-466. British History Online, accessed February 7, 2021, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 6, 1533.
  17. "Henry VIII: April 1536, 26-30," in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 10, January-June 1536, ed. James Gairdner (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1887), 310-329. British History Online, accessed February 8, 2021,
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Henry VIII: May 1536, 16-20," in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 10, January-June 1536, ed. James Gairdner (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1887), 371-391. British History Online, accessed February 8, 2021,
  19. "Henry VIII: May 1536, 1-10," in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 10, January-June 1536, ed. James Gairdner (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1887), 329-349. British History Online, accessed February 8, 2021,
  20. "Henry VIII: May 1536, 11-15," in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 10, January-June 1536, ed. James Gairdner (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1887), 349-371. British History Online, accessed February 8, 2021,
  21. 'Henry VIII: May 1536, 16-20', in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 10, January-June 1536, ed. James Gairdner (London, 1887), pp. 371-391. British History Online [accessed 14 February 2021].
    Sentence pronounced by the archbishop of Canterbury of the nullity of the marriage between the King and Anne Boleyn, in the presence of Sir Thos. Audeley, chancellor, Charles duke of Suffolk, John earl of Oxford, and others, at Lambeth, 17 May 1536.
  22. "Henry VIII: May 1536, 21-25," in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 10, January-June 1536, ed. James Gairdner (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1887), 391-401. British History Online, accessed February 8, 2021,
  23. "Henry VIII: May 1536, 26-31," in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 10, January-June 1536, ed. James Gairdner (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1887), 402-420. British History Online, accessed February 8, 2021,
  24. Wikipedia contributors, "Church of St Peter ad Vincula," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed June 24, 2021).
  25. Queen Anne Boleyn. Coggan 40, ff.105-111. 14 Aug-15 Oct 1976. Lambeth Palace Library.
  26. Space:Ghost Profiles on Wikitree
  27. Roku TV, Frndly TV, Channel-"Great Women through History", Title - "Anne Boleyn:Arrest, Trial, Execution", viewed on 4 July 2023 by Arora
  • Warnicke, Retha M. "Anne Boleyn's Childhood and Adolescence." The Historical Journal 28, no. 4 (1985): 939-52. Accessed January 24, 2021.

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Comments: 21

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Anne was buried in an unmarked grave in the Tower of London's chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula. Her skeleton was identified during renovations of the chapel in 1876, during the reign of Queen Victoria and her resting place is now marked in the marble floor.
posted by Patricia (Long) Kent
Looking at the dates in the data field, did Anne stop being Henry's wife two days before her death?
posted by Jack Day
The marriage was declared null and void two days before the execution. - I've added the reference from the State papers.
posted by Jo Fitz-Henry