Today we’re wishing Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII a belated happy anniversary. Five days passed marks the day in 1533 of Anne Boleyn’s triumphant royal matrimony bliss. Unfortunately for her, the public was anything but overjoyed. During Boleyn’s coronation parade, the crowd defiantly shouted, “HA”, this was in reference to the royal couple’s painted initials throughout the parade route.
Even through our 21st century eyes, Anne Boleyn would not be held up in the brightest light. She was indeed a home wrecker but one can also argue if it wasn’t her it would have been someone else, most likely someone of greater noble birth. Although Anne Boleyn was viewed as the Whore of Christendom, the Spanish ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, never addressed Boleyn as Queen but that of, “The Lady” or “The Concubine”, there is much to be admired of this disposed Queen.
Anne Boleyn lived in a time where the game of thrones was a life business. The product of success was measured through; a strategic marriage, land, influential seat in government, and winning the favor of the monarch. Paternally Anne Boleyn’s ancestry did not consist of a long lineage of nobility. The Boleyn’s earliest predecessors’ humble beginnings was recorded in the 13th century as tenant farmers. Her great grandfather, a wealthy London merchant set the precedent for the Boleyn clan; he won the favor of his monarch and was knighted, and made an advantageous marriage by wedding a daughter of a baron.
Thomas Boleyn, Anne’s Father instilled that drive and ambition in her, he himself married well. Elizabeth Howard who was born into a wealthy affluent family and was the eldest daughter of the second Duke of Norfolk. In 1513, Thomas Boleyn ensured Anne received the best education he could provide. While he was a diplomat in the low countries, the charming Thomas left such an impression on the regent Archduchess Margaret of Austria that she invited Anne to study alongside her wards. This included Charles V, the future Holy Roman Emperor. Soon after Thomas whisked Anne off to the French court where Mary Tudor was to become a French consort in lieu of becoming the future Roman Holy Empress.
It was in the French court where Anne continued her studies, she became fluent in French, taught fine needle work, and trained in, singing, acting, and various instruments. She also had the privilege to be surrounded by great intellectuals and influential figures such as Leonardo da Vinci, who Francoise I of France, the newly crowned monarch, hosted between 1516 and 1519. Boleyn most likely rubbed shoulders with the French king’s sister, Marguerite de Navarre who was a leading intellectual and patron of writers and thinkers. Marguerite de Navarre was also a key figure in the religious reform movement.
Anne Boleyn’s early education and exposure to these influential figures mostly likely shaped the foundation of her ambition and strive for success. In 1521, Boleyn set sail for England, well educated, refine, graceful, and some say with a hint of a French accent. Her dark tresses were Anne’s crown of glory, her nearly black eyes captivating, and olive complexion was a contrast of the English court. Although Boleyn was not known as a classic beauty, she made up for it in different areas such as her; intellect, charisma, and charm.
Before landing her hard-earned crown of England on her head, Anne learned a hard lesson in nobility social climbing. Anne made her first attempt of taking her fate in her own hands by capturing the heart of Lord Henry Percy, the heir of Northumberland. Without the permission of his father or the King, Henry and Anne became betrothed. His father dismayed, Henry Percy was forced to break the betrothal. Anne chose her suitor well; the marriage would have placed her family in high political favor but it failed to serve a royal or community interest. Now, let’s fast forward, Henry VIII has fallen head over heels in love with Anne but she refused to acquiesce to his proposition of becoming his mistress. Anne Boleyn won his heart and had something to bargain with. She was ten years his junior, fertile, and could provide a much-needed male heir to the English crown, thus eliminated Henry’s much fear repeat of War of the Roses.
What is inspiring about Anne Boleyn is that she overcame the odds of her time. She was fortunate enough to have been born into wealthy aristocracy, and used her resources to her advantage. Not as beautiful as her contemporaries, Anne made up for it with her captivating personality, she set herself apart through her intellect, and was boldly outspoken. Becoming a King’s mistress would have served its purpose as an advantageous political move for her family but Anne did not find it sufficient. Anne Boleyn had a higher self-worth, higher ambitions, and was not willing to settle for less.
Life lesson, even if you’re stricken with roadblocks and the pursuit of your success is a hard way coming, don’t settle for less, capture that golden crown! Now, that is not to be translated into push the first wife out the door and take her place as the doctor’s wife!