How I Remember Anne Boleyn
by Judith Arnopp
Editor’s Note: In anticipation of the anniversary of Queen Anne Boleyn’s tragic execution on 19 May, James Peacock, founder of The Anne Boleyn Society, and Beth von Staats, blogger of The Tudor Thomases and owner/administrator of Queenanneboleyn.com, went on a fact-finding mission by asking several historians, historical fiction writers, and history lovers “What should Queen Anne Boleyn be most remembered for?” The response was overwhelming. Today we welcome historical fiction author Judith Arnopp. Be sure to visit her website at Judith Arnopp — Author of Historical Fiction.
Many people persist in thinking of Anne Boleyn simply as a marriage breaker, a wicked stepmother, a traitor, or even as a witch but there was a great deal more to her than that.
Fresh from the French court, not conventionally pretty, Anne’s foreign manner and sparkling wit captured the king’s attention. He courted her but unwilling to become a royal mistress, she kept Henry dangling for seven years. She was intelligent, witty and cultured, a sharp contrast to the ageing Catherine of Aragon whose reproductive years were over; Anne offered Henry a vibrant future and most importantly, the promise of sons.
Anne was a woman of the Renaissance, excited by the innovations that were emerging in Europe and keen to bring them to England. Undefeated by the Pope’s refusal to grant Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon, Anne opened Henry’s rather conservative mind to the changes that were taking place in Europe and encouraged the break from Rome. This not only facilitated their marriage but inadvertently opened the door to what would become the Protestant religion.
Once crowned queen, Anne continued to champion religious reform. She fell out with Thomas Cromwell when their visions for the future of the church collided. While Anne campaigned for the monasteries to be turned into seats of learning, Cromwell saw the immense wealth of the church as a way of restoring Henry’s empty coffers.
Anne made two mistakes. She failed to give Henry a son and lost the support of Thomas Cromwell. As the king’s interest began to drift, the bonds of marriage loosened and Cromwell’s mind began to consider other, more pliable wives for Henry. The trial that followed was a farce; the charges of infidelity and incest clearly false. Anne conducted herself like a queen, deftly destroying the accusations against her but it made no difference. The jury was hostile, the outcome was a forgone conclusion and Anne was found guilty and sentenced to death.
Anne went to her death on the 19th May 1536 never dreaming that her greatest legacy lay in her infant daughter. After her mother’s execution, Elizabeth was named illegitimate and sent away from court but as she grew she developed a mind as keen as Anne’s and went on to become the greatest monarch England has ever had. Anne’s daughter, whose birth had been such a disappointment to the king, went on to have the greatest impact of any Tudor in English history.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Judith Arnopp is a prolific historical fiction writer from Wales, United Kingdom. Always passionate about history, after raising her children to adulthood, Judith graduated with a Master’s Degree in medieval history from the University of Wales, Lampeter, where she also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing. Judith’s writing is varied, focusing on Welsh, early English (Anglo-Saxon) and Tudor English history. For more information about Judith Arnopp, visit her website at JUDITH ARNOPP HISTORICAL FICTION AUTHOR.