Anne Boleyn 'did conspire to kill Henry VIII' reveals expert
The life and trials of Henry VIII are embedded in British life, with the bloody killing of thousands of his subjects for treason as well known as his string of relationships. Of particular interest to historians, and the generations of children who have learned about the monarch, is his marriage to Anne Boleyn, the second of his six wives. It has commonly been believed that Henry VIII demanded Anne be executed after accusing her of being unfaithful to him with five other men, including her own brother.
But this is a common misconception and Tudor historian Tracy Borman has explained that it was in fact another moment in their relationship which sealed Anne’s fate in the 16th century.
She argued there was no evidence that Anne had an affair while with Henry VIII, but that the “warning signs” were in place that the monarch had become unhappy with his wife.
Anne, Ms Borman said, was “way ahead of her time” because she “wasn’t prepared to accept women were second class citizens” or that they were “weaker than men”.
This trait was “particularly attractive to Henry VIII” when she was at first his mistress, but soon after they married the King “tired of it”.
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She explained: “He didn’t want a nagging wife to tell him what to do. People were deeply suspicious of her because women weren’t so forthright.
“People despised Anne, a ‘concubine’ who had usurped Henry’s first wife, the much-loved Catherine of Aragon.”
But when tragedy struck for both Henry VIII and Anne, the marriage was all but doomed and soon His Majesty would be looking for his third wife.
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Ms Borman added: “When Anne miscarried the male heir that Henry was desperate for, her fate was sealed.
“As Henry said she ‘didn’t close her eyes as her betters had done’ after discovering he had been unfaithful early in the marriage.
“Anne could be cruel and vicious herself but there was a lot to admire.”
As their marriage deteriorated, allegations of infidelity were fired at Anne, which led to her arrest and trial for allegedly plotting to kill Henry VIII so she could run off with her supposed lovers.
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Archive documents from 1536 show that Anne should have been “burned at the stake, or hung, drawn and quartered” as a penalty for committing treason.
Yet, Henry was “moved by pity” and opted to instead request an executioner be sent to remove Anne’s head in a bloody ceremony in Greenwich, London.
Ms Borman added: “Henry sent for a swordsman from France because in England we tended to use the axe and it wasn’t that reliable, taking a few blows. Whereas the sword was much quicker.
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“He was cold and clinical about her death, even down to ordering a new suit of clothes for the executioner.”
Royal insiders at the time were so convinced that Henry VIII would not go through with the execution, that a coffin was not arranged for Anne.
Ms Borman told The Independent that in modern accounts “everyone talks about how obsessed Henry was with Anne”, comparing it to “one big love story”.
She explained that this theory came as Henry VIII was willing to do “everything to marry her, overturning religion, and the establishment”.
This stemmed from Henry VIII ripping apart the Church of England in order to divorce Catherine.
With Anne’s body barely cold, the King married Jane Seymour – less than 24 hours later.
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