Who Is Anne Boleyn?

A short biography on Anne Boleyn, a mistress of Henry VIII who became the Queen of England.

Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII, was born in 1507 and was the daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn, by Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Duke of Norfolk. She spent some three years at the court of France, and soon after her return to England was wooed by Lord Henry Percy, and by King Henry himself, who in 1522 began to shower wealth and honors on her father. Not until the king's divorce from Catharine of Aragon was set afoot, did Anne seem to have favored his advances; but long before Cranmer pronounced the divorce, she was Henry's mistress. They were secretly married in January, 1533, and Anne was crowned the following June. Her daughter, the famous Elizabeth, was born on September 7 of the same year.

Anne continued to be much loved by the king until 1536, when the disappointment caused by the birth of a still-born son alienated his affections. On next May day, the king rode off abruptly from a tournament held at Greenwich, leaving the queen behind, and on the next day she was arrested and brought to the tower.

The story is told that his jealousy was kindled by her dropping a handkerchief to one of her lovers in the playing field below. A special commission was secretly engaged in looking into the charges of Anne's adultery with her own brother, Lord Rochford, and others, including Mark Smeaton, a musician. Only Smeaton made any confession; but they were all convicted of high treason and met death. Smeaton was hanged and two days later on Tower Green, Anne was beheaded. The next day, Henry married Jane Seymour.

It is interesting that it was through the influence of Anne Boleyn that the translation of the Scriptures was sanctioned by Henry VIII. Her own private copy of Tyndale's translation is still in existence.

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