30 Unforeseen Facts About Anne Boleyn
30 Unforeseen Facts About Anne Boleyn

30 Unforeseen Facts About Anne Boleyn

Trista - February 11, 2019

30 Unforeseen Facts About Anne Boleyn
A picture of Anne Boleyn. The Famous People.

10. Anne Wasn’t a Saint, Either

Anne had been engaged at least twice before marrying Henry. The first engagement was to the Earl of Ormond, but that one fell apart, probably because her father was unhappy with the plan. The second was to Henry Percy. The two were secretly engaged and planned to elope, but when the king began pursuing Anne, she couldn’t refuse. If she had, she could have been killed.

30 Unforeseen Facts About Anne Boleyn
A painting titled Anne Boleyn in the Tower by Edouard Cibot. Queen Anne Boleyn.com.

9. Anne Boleyn Was Executed for Adultery

Henry had Anne arrested and executed on charges of committing adultery and conspiring to kill the king so that she could marry her alleged lover, Henry Norris, one of the king’s servants. The evidence was flimsy, and modern historians agree that she was executed because she didn’t produce a male heir for Henry.

30 Unforeseen Facts About Anne Boleyn
Coat of Arms for Anne Boleyn created as fan art by Sodacan. Wikimedia Commons.

8. Other People Were Executed With Her

When Anne was in prison at the Tower of London on charges of adultery, she mentioned other men who had confessed their love for her as part of a testimony to try to prove her innocence. What ended up happening was all of the people were seen as co-conspirators and were also killed, even though they had nothing to do with the investigation.

30 Unforeseen Facts About Anne Boleyn
Queen Anne’s memorial plaque. On the Tudor Trail.

7. Anne Never Slandered Henry

On the chopping black she said, “Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law, I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God to save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me, he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul.”

30 Unforeseen Facts About Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn’s beheading in Two’s Wolf Hall. BBC/ Independent.

6. Anne Boleyn Never Lost Her Sense of Humor

Anne’s sarcastic with had carried her through some difficult situations, and she held onto it until the very end. When she was waiting to be executed, she said, of the executioner who would behead her, “I hear he’s quite good. And I have a very small neck!” People sentenced to death by beheading often had to endure a painful experience in which the executioner had to whack at them multiple times before decapitating them.

30 Unforeseen Facts About Anne Boleyn
A painting of Catherine of Aragon, King Henry’s first of six wives, attributed to Joannes Corvus. Wikipedia Commons/ Public Domain.

5. Some People Hated Anne From the Beginning

Many called her “the king’s whore” because he was divorcing Catherine of Aragon and splitting from the Catholic church so that he could marry her. They blamed Anne, not Henry, for the dissolution of the royal marriage. When she was killed so that he could marry Jane Seymour, they had to put their feet in their mouths.

30 Unforeseen Facts About Anne Boleyn
A book titled In The Footsteps of Anne Boleyn by Sarah Morris and Natalie Grueninger. On the Tudor Trail.

4. We Don’t Really Know Much About Anne

For all of Anne’s prominence, we don’t even know what year she was born. Maybe she came into the world in 1501, but she could have been born as late as 1507. She could have been as old as 35 – middle-aged by Medieval standards – when she was executed, which would change much of the narrative about her ill-fated marriage and death.

30 Unforeseen Facts About Anne Boleyn
The only tangible evidence that Anne Boleyn owned this songbook is an inscription that reads “Mistres ABolleyne nowe thus’ – ‘nowe thus’ was her father’s motto. Classic FM.

3. Anne Boleyn May Have Been a Composer

A songbook that many believe may have belonged to Anne Boleyn is in the custody of London’s Royal College of Music. In 2016, the orchestra performed a selection of songs in the book, some of which may have actually been written by the queen about her feelings towards death in the face of her upcoming execution.

30 Unforeseen Facts About Anne Boleyn
A German engraving c. 1830, showing Anne Boleyn’s execution. Lisby/ Public Domain/ Atlasobscura.

2. She Was the First, But Not Last, Monarch to be Publicly Beheaded

Anne’s death was a notable first that most people probably would not be too keen to set. She was initially sentenced to burn at the stake, but Henry must have felt a twinge of sympathy when he changed the method of execution to beheading. He even had an expert swordsman brought in from France to do the deed, rather than leave it to a regular axeman (read: butcher).

30 Unforeseen Facts About Anne Boleyn
Henry’s reconciliation with Anne Boleyn by George Cruikshank. Published by Cunningham & Mortimer in 1842. US Library of Congress/ Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain.

1. The King Was Only Human

After Anne gave birth to a daughter instead of a son, many of the traits that had previously drawn him to Anne repulsed him. It wasn’t at all unlike finding that someone isn’t who you actually thought they were and then seeing everything about them to be a complete disappointment. Hey, the guy was only human. He just had a little bit too much power for his own good.

 

Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

“Anne Boleyn: witch, bitch, temptress, feminist”. The Guardian.

“Anne Boleyn and Henry Percy.” Anne-Boleyn.com. August 2011.

“Britain’s King-Sized Monarch: 5 Fascinating Facts about Henry VIII”. History Collection.

“Anne Boleyn – Ex-pupil of Hogwarts?”. Anne Boleyn Files.

“30 Tragic Facts About Anne Boleyn.” Factinate.

“The ‘Sweating Disease’ That Swept Across England 500 Years Ago is Still a Medical Mystery”. Discover Magazine.

“Life and Reign of the Infamous Henry VIII”. History Collection.

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