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Anne Boleyn
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Biographical Information
Real Name: Anne Boleyn
Title: Queen Anne

Lady Anne Boleyn

Born: 1501/1507
Age: 28-35
Religion: The Church of England
Gender: Female Female.png
Height: 5'7
Originally From: Hever Castle, Kent, England
Husband: King Henry VIII
Family: King James V(Nephew)

Mary Boleyn (sister)

Children: Elizabeth Tudor (Daughter)

Mary Tudor(Step-Daughter)

Affiliations: Kingdom of England

House of Boleyn‏‎
House of Tudor (Marriage)

TV Character Information
Signature: Anne Boleyn Signature.png
First appearance: To The Death
Portrays: Anne Boleyn
Portrayed by: Krystin Pellerin

Anne Boleyn was the second wife of King Henry VIII. Her marriage to him lasted for three years until he had her beheaded in favour of a new wife. They originally courted each other for over five years while he was married to Catherine of Aragon, while she was his wife's Lady-in-Waiting. During their courtship, he stayed exclusively loyal to her and never took another mistress or went back to his wife. She is the mother of his second daughter, Elizabeth Tudor.


Anne had been of average height and she had a slender build with long straight and thick black or dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, a considerably strong nose, a definite wide mouth with slim lips, and an olive complexion. She was considered to be brilliant, charming, driven, elegant, forthright, and graceful with a keen wit and a lively, opinionated, and passionate personality. Anne enjoyed cards and dice games, drinking wine, eating French cuisine, flirting, gambling, gossiping, and hearing a good joke. She was fond of archery, falconry, hunting, and the occasional game of bowls. Yet Anne also had a sharp tongue and a terrible temper, but exerted a powerful charm on those who met her.


People seemed primarily attracted by Anne's charisma. She made a good impression with her fashion sense, inspiring many new trends amongst the court ladies. As queen, she understood the importance of ostentatious display, as befitting a Renaissance monarch; a notion emphasized even more by her daughter Elizabeth I. William Forrest, author of a contemporary poem about Katherine of Aragon, complimented Anne's "passing excellent" skill as a dancer. "Here," he wrote, "was [a] fresh young damsel, that could trip and go."  

In The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Alison Weir writes: “Anne’s charm lay not so much in her physical appearance as in her vivacious personality, her gracefulness, her quick wit and other accomplishments. She was petite in stature, and had an appealing fragility about her… she shone at singing, making music, dancing and conversation… Not surprisingly, the young men of the court swarmed round her.” 

She was a devout Christian in the new tradition of Renaissance Humanism, determined to reform the Catholic Church and purge it of superstition and abuse. She also gave generously to charity and sewed shirts for the poor. In her youth she was "sweet and cheerful" and enjoyed gambling, drinking wine, and gossiping. She was also fearless, determined, charming, ambitious, politically astute, highly intelligent and intellectually driven. However, under stressful circumstances, Anne could be sharp tempered, verbally aggressive and sharp tongued. Her daughter certainly exhibited a distinctly similar temperament.

Early Life

Anne was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard. Thomas Boleyn was a well respected diplomat and a favourite of King Henry VII.. Anne and her siblings grew up at Hever Castle in Kent. A lack of parish records from the period has made it impossible to establish Anne's date of birth.

At the time of Anne's birth, the Boleyn family was considered one of the most respected in the English aristocracy. Her early education was typical for women of her class. When she was little, she was invited to join the schoolroom of Margaret of Austria and her four wards. Her academic education was limited to arithmetic, her family genealogy, grammar, history, reading, spelling, and writing. She developed domestic skills such as dancing, embroidery, good manners, household management, music, needlework, and singing. Anne learned to play cards, chess, and dice. She was also taught archery, falconry, horseback riding, and hunting.

Time in France

Her Father's charm won the admirers of Margaret of Austria, who ruled the Netherlands on her nephew Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor's behalf. She was so impressed with him she offered Anne a place in her household. Ordinarily, a girl had to be twelve years old to have such an honour, but Anne may have been younger. Anne made a good impression in the Netherlands with her manners and studiousness, Margaret reported that she was well spoken and pleasant for her young age. Anne stayed with Margaret from spring 1513 until her father arranged for her to attend Henry VIII's sister Mary, who was about to marry Louis XII of France the following year.

In France, Anne was a maid of honour to Queen Mary, and then to Mary's 15-year-old stepdaughter Queen Claude, with whom she stayed nearly seven years. In the Queen's household, she completed her study of French and developed interests in art, fashion, illuminated manuscripts, literature, music, poetry,and religious philosophy. She also acquired knowledge of French culture, dance, etiquette, literature, music, and poetry and came to gain experience in flirtation and the game of courtly love. Anne's education in France proved itself in later years, inspiring many new trends among the ladies and courtiers of England.

Anne's experience in France made her a devout Christian in the new tradition of Renaissance humanism. Anne's European education ended in 1521, when her father summoned her back to England. She sailed from Calais in at the start of 1522.

Return from France

Anne was recalled to marry her Irish cousin, James Butler, in an attempt to settle a dispute over the title and estates. Her father spoke to King Henry about the matter, Henry fearful the dispute could be the spark of a civil war in Ireland, sought to resolve the matter by arranging an alliance using their children James, and Anne Boleyn. The plan ended in failure, because her father hoped for a grander marriage for his daughter, or because he himself coveted the titles. Whatever the reason, the marriage negotiations came to a complete halt.

Mary Boleyn, Anne's older sister, had earlier been recalled from France in late 1519, for her affairs with the French king. She married William Carey, with Henry VIII in attendance; soon after, Mary Boleyn became the English King's mistress. Historians dispute King Henry VIII's paternity of one or both of Mary Boleyn's children born during this marriage.

Anne made her début at the Chateau Vert (Green Castle) pageant and took part in an elaborate dance accompanying Henry's younger sister Mary, several other ladies of the court, and her sister. All wore gowns of white satin embroidered with gold thread. She quickly established herself as one of the most stylish and accomplished women at the court, and soon a number of young men were competing for her.

Anne was courted by Henry Percy, and entered into a secret betrothal with him. The romance was broken off when Percy's father refused to support their engagement. Anne was sent from court to her family's countryside estates, and upon her return to court, she again entered the service of Catherine of Aragon.

Courtship with King Henry VIII

Allegedly Anne resisted the King's attempts to seduce her, refusing to become his mistress, often leaving court for the seclusion of Hever Castle. But within a year, he proposed marriage to her, and she accepted. Both assumed an annulment could be obtained within a matter of months. There is no evidence to suggest that they engaged in a sexual relationship until very shortly before their marriage; Henry's love letters to Anne seem to suggest that their love affair remained unconsummated for much of their seven-year courtship.

It is probable that the idea of annulment had suggested itself to Henry much earlier than this and was motivated by his desire for an heir to secure the legitimacy of the Tudor claim to the crown. He and Catherine of Aragon. had no living sons: all except Mary died in infancy. Catherine had first come to England to be bride to Henry's brother Arthur who died soon after their marriage. Since Spain and England still wanted an alliance, a dispensation was granted by Pope Julius II on the grounds that Catherine was still a virgin. Eventually Henry became dubious about its validity, due to Catherine's inability to provide an heir being seen as a sign of God's displeasure. His feelings for Anne, and her refusals to become his mistress, probably contributed to Henry's decision that no Pope had a right to overrule the Bible. This meant that he had been living in sin with Catherine of Aragon all these years, though Catherine hotly contested this and refused to concede that her marriage to Arthur had been consummated. It also meant that his daughter Mary was a bastard, and that the new Pope Clement VII would have to admit the previous Pope's mistake and annul the marriage.

Anne determined she would yield to his embraces only as his acknowledged queen. She began to take her place at his side in policy and in state, but not yet in his bed. In 1528, sweating sickness broke out with great severity. In London the mortality rate was high. Henry left London, frequently changing his residence; Anne retreated to Hever Castle, but contracted the illness; her brother-in-law, William Carey, died. Henry sent his own physician to Hever Castle to care for Anne, and shortly afterwards she recovered.

Pope Clement VII was at that time, prisoner of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, as a result of the Sack of Rome in May 1527, where Catherine de' Medici was being held prisioner. The Pope was still a veritable hostage of Charles V, and Charles V was the loyal nephew of Henry's Queen, Catherine. The Pope forbade Henry to contract a new marriage until a decision was reached in Rome, not in England. A year later in 1531 (two full years before Henry's marriage to Anne), Queen Catherine was banished from court and her rooms were given to Anne.

Public support remained with Queen Catherine. In 1532, Thomas Cromwell brought before Parliament the Supplication Act, which recognised royal supremacy over the church, thus finalising the break with Rome.

Even before her marriage, Anne Boleyn was able to grant petitions, receive diplomats, give patronage and had enormous influence over her future husband to plead the cause of foreign diplomats. It was essential to have her approval if one wanted to influence the English government.

During this period, Anne Boleyn played an important role in England's international position by solidifying an alliance with France. She established an excellent rapport with the French ambassador. Anne and Henry attended a meeting with the French king at Calais in winter 1532, in which Henry hoped to enlist the support of Francis I of France for his intended marriage. On 1 September 1532, Henry granted her suo jure the Marquessate of Pembroke, an appropriate peerage for a future queen; as such she became a rich and important woman: the three dukes and two marquesses who existed in 1532 and she ranked above them all.

Anne's family also profited from the relationship. At the magnificent banquet to celebrate her father's elevation, Anne took precedence over the Duchesses of Suffolk and Norfolk, beside the King which was usually occupied by the Queen. Thanks to Anne's intervention, her widowed sister Mary Boleyn received an annual pension of £100, and her son Henry Carey was educated at a prestigious Cistercian monastery.

Queen of England

Soon after returning to Dover, Henry and Anne married in a secret ceremony. She soon became pregnant and to legalise the first wedding there was a second wedding service, which took place in London on 25 January 1533.

Catherine of Aragon was formally stripped of her title as queen and Anne was consequently crowned queen 1 June in a magnificent ceremony at Westminster Abbey with a banquet afterwards. She was the last queen consort of England to be crowned separately from her husband. On the previous day, Anne had taken part in an elaborate procession through the streets of London seated in a litter of "white cloth of gold."

Pope Clement VII condemned the marriage to Anne, and in March 1534, he declared the marriage to Catherine legal and again ordered Henry to return to her. Henry now required his subjects to swear the oath attached to the First Succession Act, and recognised Anne Boleyn as queen. Those who refused, were then placed in The Tower of London. In late 1534 parliament declared Henry "the only supreme head on Earth of the Church of England". The Church in England was now under Henry's control, not Rome's.

After her coronation, Anne settled into a quiet routine at the King's favourite residence, Greenwich Palace, to prepare for the birth of her baby. The child was born slightly prematurely on 7 September 1533 who was christened Elizabeth, in honour of both their mothers. But the birth of a girl was a heavy blow to her parents, since they had confidently expected a boy. The French king had already been asked to stand as his godfather. Now the prepared letters announcing the birth of a prince had an s hastily added and the traditional tournament for the birth of an heir was cancelled.

Elizabeth was given a splendid christening, but Anne feared that Catherine's daughter, Mary, now stripped of her title of princess and labelled a bastard, posed a threat to Elizabeth's position. Henry soothed his wife's fears by separating Mary from her many servants and sending her to Hatfield House, where Princess Elizabeth would be living with her own sizeable staff of servants, and where the country air was thought better for the baby's health. Anne frequently visited her daughter at Hatfield and other residences.

The new queen had a larger staff than Catherine's. She had over 250 servants, everyone from priests to stable-boys. There were over 60 maids-of-honour that would accompanied her to social events, and employed several priests who acted as her confessors, chaplains, and religious advisers. One Matthew Parker, become chief architects of Anglican during Queen's Elizabeth's reign.

The king and his new queen enjoyed a reasonably happy accord with periods of calm and affection. Anne Boleyn's sharp intelligence, political acumen and forward manners, although desirable in a mistress, were, at the time, unacceptable in a wife. She was once reported to have spoken to her uncle in words that "shouldn't be used to a dog". After a stillbirth or miscarriage as early as Christmas 1534, Henry was discussing the possibility of divorcing her without having to return to Catherine. Nothing came of the issue as the royal couple reconciled and spent summer 1535 on progress. By October, she was again pregnant.

Anne Boleyn presided over a magnificent court. She spent lavish amounts of money on gowns, jewels, head-dresses, ostrich-feather fans, riding equipment, and more, maintaining the ostentatious display required by her status. Her motto was "The most happy". Anne was blamed for her husband's government and was referred to by some as "The king's whore". Public opinion turned further against her following her failure to produce a son.

On 8 January 1536, news of Catherine of Aragon's death reached the King and Anne, who were overjoyed. The following day, Henry and Anne wore yellow, the symbol of joy and celebration in England, from head to toe, and celebrated Catherine's death with festivities.

The Queen, pregnant again, was aware of the dangers if she failed to give birth to a son. With Catherine dead, Henry would be free to marry without any taint of illegality. At this time Henry began paying court to Jane Seymour. He gave her a locket with a miniature portrait of himself inside and Jane, in the presence of Anne, began opening and shutting it. Anne responded by ripping off the locket with such force her fingers bled.

Later that month, the King was unhorsed in a tournament and knocked unconscious for two hours, a worrying incident that Anne believed led to her miscarriage five days later. Another possibility for the miscarriage was an incident in which upon entering a room, Anne saw Jane Seymour sitting on the lap of Henry. After flying into a rage. Whatever the cause, on Catherine of Aragon's burial, Anne miscarried and "seemed to be a male child". This loss was the beginning of the end of the royal marriage.

Given Henry's desperate desire for a son, the sequence of Anne's pregnancies has attracted much interest. As Anne recovered from her miscarriage, Henry declared that he had been seduced into the marriage by means of "spells". His new mistress, Jane Seymour, was quickly moved into royal quarters.

Towards the end of April men in Anne's service were being arrested. They initially denied being the Queen's lover one later confessed, under tortured or promised freedom, the rest, even under torture plead innocent. The final accused was Queen Anne's own brother, George Boleyn, arrested on charges of incest and treason, and found guilty. On 2 May 1536, Anne was arrested and taken to The Tower of London In the Tower, she collapsed, demanding to know the location of her father and brother, as well as the charges against her.

3 days later, Anne and George Boleyn were tried separately in the Tower of London, before a jury of 27 peers. She was accused of adultery, incest, and high treason. The other form of treason alleged against her was that of plotting the king's death, with her "lovers", so that she might later marry Henry Norris. Anne was found guilty. On 14 May, Cranmer declared Anne's marriage to Henry null and void.


Although the evidence against them was unconvincing, the accused were found guilty and condemned to death. George Boleyn and the other accused men were executed on 17 May 1536. Henry commuted Anne's sentence from burning to beheading, and rather than have a queen beheaded with the common axe, he brought an expert swordsman from Saint-Omer in France, to perform the execution.

Shortly before dawn, she called William Kingston to hear mass with her, and swore in his presence, on the eternal salvation of her soul, upon the Holy Sacraments, that she had never been unfaithful to the king.

On the morning of Friday 19 May, Anne Boleyn was executed. She wore a red petticoat under a loose, dark grey gown of damask trimmed in fur and a mantle of ermine. Accompanied by two female attendants, Anne climbed the scaffold and made a short speech to the crowd:

"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 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"
Anne Boleyn

Anne lifted off her headdress, tucking her hair under a coif. After a brief farewell to her weeping ladies and a request for prayers, she kneeled down and one of her ladies tied a blindfold over her eyes. She knelt upright, in the French style of executions.

The execution consisted of a single stroke. Before doing so he asked Anne for her forgiveness, and she graciously agreed. She was then buried in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula. Her skeleton was identified during the reign of Queen Victoria, and Anne's resting place is now marked in the marble floor.


  • Anne Boleyn is the most notable out of all King Henry VIII's wives.
  • The exact date of Anne Boleyn's birth is unknown, thus making her exact age unknown. She was beheaded between 28 and 35 years old.
  • King Henry VIII had two children with Anne's sister, Mary Boleyn before he knew her.
  • Pregnant 3 times by King Henry VIII, but gave birth twice, and only Princess Elizabeth Tudor survived.
  • Anne Boleyn was locked inside The Tower of London for weeks before her beheading.
  • Beheaded by sword, as it is sharper and quicker than an ax. Henry decided to order a sword for her, historians are not certain as to what this display meant. He beheaded his fifth wife Catherine Howard(also Anne's cousin) with an ax, though for some reason Anne received the sword. Right before her beheaded, he asked for forgiveness, to which she granted him.

Family Tree

Thomas Boleyn
Elizabeth Tilney
William Carey
Mary Boleyn
William Stafford
Anne Boleyn
King Henry VIII
George Boleyn
Jane Parker
Henry Carey
Catherine Carey
Anne Stafford
Edward Stafford
Queen Elizabeth

Other Faces of Anne Boleyn

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