Anne Boleyn

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Anne Boleyn (pronounced /ˈbʊlɪn/, /bəˈlɪn/ or /bʊˈlɪn/);[3] [4](c.1501/1507 – 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of Henry VIII of England and 1st Marquess of Pembroke in her own right for herself and her descendants.[5] Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation. The daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire and his wife, Elizabeth Boleyn, Countess of Wiltshire, Anne was educated in the Netherlands and France, largely as a maid of honour to Claude of France. She returned to England in early 1522, in order to marry her Irish cousin James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond; however, the marriage plans ended in failure and she secured a post at court as maid of honour to Henry VIII's Queen consort, Catherine of Aragon.

In 1525, Henry VIII became enamoured of Anne and began pursuing her. She resisted his attempts to seduce her, refusing to become his mistress as her sister Mary had. It soon became the one absorbing object of Henry's desires to annul his marriage to Queen Catherine so he would be free to marry Anne. When it became clear that Pope Clement VII would not annul the marriage, the breaking of the power of the Catholic Church in England began.

The Archbishop of York, Thomas Wolsey, was dismissed to his diocese, allegedly at Anne Boleyn's instigation. (George Cavendish, Wolsey's chamberlain, records that the servants who waited on the king and Anne at dinner in 1529 in Grafton heard her say that the dishonour that Wolsey had brought upon the realm would have cost any other Englishman his head. Henry replied, "Why then I perceive...you are not the Cardinal's friend.") Later the Boleyn family's chaplain, Thomas Cranmer, was appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry and Anne married on 25 January 1533. On 23 May 1533, Cranmer declared Henry and Catherine's marriage null and void; five days later, he declared Henry and Anne's marriage to be good and valid. Shortly afterwards, the Pope decreed sentences of excommunication against Henry and Cranmer. As a result of this marriage and these excommunications, the first break between the Church of England and Rome took place and the Church of England was brought under the King's control.

Anne was crowned Queen of England on 1 June 1533. On 7 September, she gave birth to the future Elizabeth I of England. To Henry's displeasure, however, she failed to produce a male heir. Henry was not totally discouraged, for he said that he loved Elizabeth and that a son would surely follow. Three miscarriages followed, however, and by March 1536, Henry was courting Jane Seymour. In April–May 1536, Henry had Anne investigated for high treason. On 2 May, she was arrested and sent to the Tower of London, where she was tried before a jury of peers and found guilty on 15 May. She was beheaded four days later on Tower Green. Modern historians view the charges against her, which included adultery and incest, as unconvincing. Following the coronation of her daughter, Elizabeth, as queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation, particularly through the works of John Foxe.[6] Over the centuries, she has inspired or been mentioned in numerous artistic and cultural works. As a result, she has retained her hold on the popular imagination. Anne has been called "the most influential and important queen consort England has ever had,"[7] since she provided the occasion for Henry VIII to divorce Catherine of Aragon, and declare his independence from Rome.

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