Henry VIII - king of England, The Rise of Anne Boleyn, Queen Anne, The Fall of Anne Boleyn referat





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"If a lion knew his strength, it were hard for any man to hold him."

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By

Stanciu Diana Alexandra

 

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CLS aVII-a E

Coordinating teacher: Genoveva Preda

Henry VIII (1491-1547), king of England (1509-1547), the image of the Renaissance king as immortalized by German artist Hans Holbein, who painted him hands on hips, legs astride, exuding confidence and power. Henry VIII had six wives, fought numerous wars in Europe, and even aspired to become Holy Roman Emperor in order to extend his control to Europe. He ruthlessly increased the power of royal government, using Parliament to sanction his actions. Henry ruled through powerful ministers who, like his six wives, were never safe in their positions. His greatest achievement was to initiate the Protestant Reformation in England. He rejected the authority of the pope and the Roman Catholic Church, confiscated church lands, and promoted religious reformers to power.

Prince Henry

Henry Tudor, named after his father, Henry VII, was born June 28, 1491 in Greenwich Palace. Since he was the second son, and not expected to become king, we know little of his childhood until the death of his older brother Arthur. We know that he attended the wedding celebrations of Arthur and his bride, Catherine of Aragon, in November 1501 when he was 10 years old. Shortly after the wedding, Arthur and Catherine went to live in Wales, as was tradition for the heir to the throne. But, four months after the marriage began, it ended, with the death of Arthur Prince of Wales.

A treaty was signed that would allow Catherine to marry the next heir to the throne -- Prince Henry. Until then, Catherine's parents, Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain would send over 100,000 crowns worth of plate and gold as a wedding gift and Henry would pay the agreed upon dowry. It was deemed necessary for a papal dispensation to be issued allowing Henry to marry Catherine, as she was his dead brother's wife, and this marriage was prohibited in Leviticus. At the time, and throughout her life, Catherine denied that her marriage to Arthur had even been consummated (and given the boy's health, that is most likely the case) so no dispensation was needed. However, both the parties in Spain and England wanted to be sure of the legitimacy of the marriage, so permission from the pope was sought and received. This issue would be very important during the Divorce and the Break with Rome. The marriage still did not take place however. Henry VII had been slow to pay his part of the arrangement and her parents were refusing to send the marriage portion of plate and gold. The stalemate continued until Henry VII died on April 22, 1509 and his son became Henry VIII. Henry was just shy of 18 years old when he became king, and had been preparing for it from the time of his older brother Arthur's death. At this age, he was not the image that we usually call to mind when we hear the name Henry VIII. He was not the overweight and ill man of his later years. In his youth, he was handsome and athletic. He was tall and had a bright red-gold cap of hair and beard, a far cry from the fat, balding and unhealthy man that is often remembered.Henry's marital career is probably the thing that he is most known for. The story of Henry's wives is told on their own pages.

King Henry VIII

Shortly after becoming king, Henry VIII took Catherine of Aragon as his bride. He inherited £1.5 million pounds from his father. There has probably been more interest in the wives of Henry VIII than in the King himself, although it is impossible not to wonder about the man that brought these six women together in history. Their lives were all unique, yet all had fates ultimately decided by the same man. Two were divorced, with one getting a much better deal than the other. Two were beheaded, one falsely accused, the other probably not. One died shortly after giving birth to the male heir Henry so desperately longed for. One survived as his widow. There has been some of discussion of the spelling of the wives' names, especially with regards to the three Catherines. It is not possible to say that any one spelling is correct or incorrect since in all cases, they each employed different spellings for their own names. Here is the convention I decided to use after reading "Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII" by Karen Lindsey: Catherine of Aragon, Kathryn Howard and Katherine Parr. This way they can each be referred to with little confusion.



Divorce and Reformation

Catherine Parr

Catherine of Aragon was the youngest surviving child of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. She was born on the 16th of December 1485. As was common for princesses of the day, her parents almost immediately began looking for a political match for her. When she was three year old, she was betrothed to Arthur, the son of Henry VII of England. Arthur was not even quite two at the time. When she was almost 16, in 1501, Catherine made the journey to England. It took her three months, and her ships weathered several storms, but she safely made landfall at Plymouth on October 2, 1501. Catherine and Arthur were married on 14 November 1501 in Old St. Paul's Cathedral, London. Catherine was escorted by the groom's younger brother, Henry. After the wedding and celebrations, the young couple moved to Ludlow Castle on the Welsh border. Less than six months later, Arthur was dead, possibly of the 'sweating sickness'. Although this marriage was short, it was very important in the history of England, as will be apparent. Catherine was now a widow, and still young enough to be married again. Henry VII still had a son, this one much more robust and healthy than his dead older brother. The English king was interested in keeping Catherine's dowry, so 14 months after her husband's death, she was betrothed to the future Henry VIII, who was too young to marry at the time. By 1505, when Henry was old enough to wed, Henry VII wasn't as keen on a Spanish alliance, and young Henry was forced to repudiate the betrothal. Catherine's future was uncertain for the next four years. When Henry VII died in 1509 and one of the new young king's actions was to marry Catherine. She was finally crowned Queen of England in a joint coronation ceremony with her husband Henry VIII on June 24, 1509. Shortly after their marriage, Catherine found herself pregnant. This first child was a stillborn daughter born prematurely in January 1510. This disappointment was soon followed by another pregnancy. Prince Henry was born on January 1, 1511 and the was christened on the 5th. There were great celebrations for the birth of the young prince, but they were halted by the baby's death after 52 days of life. Catherine then had a miscarriage, followed by a short-lived son. On February 1516, she gave birth a daughter named Mary, and this child lived. There were probably two more pregnancies, the last recorded in 1518. Henry was growing frustrated by his lack of a male heir, but he remained a devoted husband. He had at least two mistresses that we know of: Bessie Blount and Mary Boleyn. By 1526 though, he had begun to separate from Catherine because he had fallen in love with one of her ladies (and sister of one of his mistresses): Anne Boleyn. It is here that the lives of Henry's first and second wives begin to interweave. By the time his interest in Anne became common knowledge, Catherine was 42 years old and was no longer able to conceive. Henry's main goal now was to get a male heir, which his wife was not able to provide. Somewhere along the way, Henry began to look at the texts of Leviticus which says that if a man takes his brother's wife, they shall be childless. As evidenced above, Catherine and Henry were far from childless, and still had one living child. But, that child was a girl, and didn't count in Henry's mind. The King began to petition the Pope for an annulment. At first, Catherine was kept in the dark about Henry's plans for their annulment. When the news got to Catherine, she was very upset. She was also at a great disadvantage since the court that would decide the case was far from impartial. Catherine then appealed directly to the Pope, which she felt would listen to her case since her nephew was Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. The political and legal debate continued for six years. Catherine was adamant in saying that she and Arthur, her first husband and Henry's brother, did not consummate their marriage and therefore were not truly husband and wife. Catherine sought not only to retain her position, but also that of her daughter Mary. Things came to a head in 1533 when Anne Boleyn became pregnant. Henry had to act, and his solution was to reject the power of the Pope in England and to have Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury grant the annulment. Catherine was to renounce the title of Queen and would be known as the Princess Dowager of Wales, something she refused to acknowledge through to the end of her life. Catherine and her daughter were separated and she was forced to leave court. She lived for the next three years in several dank and unhealthy castles and manors with just a few servants. However, she seldom complained of her treatment and spent a great deal of time at prayer. On January 7, 1536, Catherine died at Kimbolton Castle and was buried at Peterborough Abbey with the ceremony due for her position as Princess Dowager, not as a Queen of England.

Anne's Early Years

For a woman who played such an important part in English history, we know remarkably little about her earliest years. Antonia Fraser puts Anne's birth at 1500 or 1501, probably at Blickling (Norfolk) and the date of birth seems to be at the end of May or early June. Other historians put Anne's birth as late as 1507 or 1509. Anne spent part of her childhood at the court of the Archduchess Margaret. Fraser puts her age at 12-13, as that was the minimum age for a 'fille d'honneur'. It was from there that she was transferred to the household of Mary, Henry VIII's sister, who was married to Louis XII of France. Anne's sister Mary was already in 'the French Queen's' attendance. However, when Louis died, Mary Boleyn returned to England with Mary Tudor, while Anne remained in France to attend Claude, the new French queen. Anne remained in France for the next 6 or 7 years. Because of her position, it is possible that she was at the Field of Cloth of Gold, the famous meeting between Henry VIII and the French king, Francis I. During her stay in France she learned to speak French fluently and developed a taste for French clothes, poetry and music.

Anne's Appearance

The legend of Anne Boleyn always includes a sixth finger and a large mole or goiter on her neck. However, one would have to wonder if a woman with these oddities (not to mention the numerous other moles and warts she was said to have) would be so captivating to the king. She may have had some small moles, as most people do, but they would be more like the attractive 'beauty marks'. A quote from the Venetian Ambassador said she was 'not one of the handsomest women in the world...'. She was considered moderately pretty. But, one must consider what 'pretty' was in the 16th century. Anne was the opposite of the pale, blonde-haired, blue-eyed image of beauty. She had dark, olive-colored skin, thick dark brown hair and dark brown eyes which often appeared black. Those large dark eyes were often singled out in descriptions of Anne. She clearly used them, and the fascination they aroused, to her advantage whenever possible. She was of average height, had small breasts and a long, elegant neck. The argument continues as to whether or not she really had an extra finger on one of her hands.

Life in England and the Attentions of the King

Anne returned to England around 1521 for details for her marriage were being worked out. Meanwhile she went to court to attend Queen Catherine. Her first recorded appearance at Court was March 1, 1522 at a masque. After her marriage to the heir of Ormonde fell through, she began an affair with Henry Percy, also a rich heir. Cardinal Wolsey put a stop to the romance, which could be why Anne engendered such a hatred of him later in life. It has been suggested that Wolsey stepped in on behalf of the King to remove Percy from the scene because he had already noticed Anne and wanted her for himself. Fraser asserts that this is not the case since the romance between Anne and Percy ended in 1522 and the King didn't notice Anne until 1526. It is possible that Anne had a precontract with Percy. Somewhere in this time, Anne also had a relationship of some sort with the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt. Wyatt was married in 1520, so the timing of the supposed affair is uncertain. Wyatt was separated from his wife, but their could be little suggestion of his eventual marriage to Anne. Theirs appears to be more of a courtly love. Exactly when and where Henry VIII first noticed Anne is not known. It is likely that Henry sought to make Anne his mistress, as he had her sister Mary years before. Maybe drawing on the example of Elizabeth Woodville, Queen to Edward IV (and maternal grandmother to Henry VIII) who was said to have told King Edward that she would only be his wife, not his mistress, Anne denied Henry VIII sexual favors. We don't know who first had the idea marriage, but eventually it evolved into "Queen or nothing" for Anne. At first, the court probably thought that Anne would just end up as another one of Henry's mistresses. But, in 1527 we see that Henry began to seek an annulment of his marriage to Catherine, making him free to marry again. King Henry's passion for Anne can be attested to in the love letters he wrote to her when she was away from court. Henry hated writing letters, and very few documents in his own hand survive. However, 17 love letters to Anne remain and are preserved in the Vatican library.



The Rise of Anne Boleyn

In 1528, Anne's emergence at Court began. Anne also showed real interest in religious reform and may have introduced some of the 'new ideas' to Henry, and gaining the hatred of some members of the Court. When the court spent Christmas at Greenwich that year, Anne was lodged in nice apartments near those of the King. The legal debates on the marriage of Henry and Catherine of Aragon continued on. Anne was no doubt frustrated by the lack of progress. Her famous temper and tongue showed themselves at times in famous arguments between her and Henry for all the court to see. Anne feared that Henry might go back to Catherine if the marriage could not be annulled and Anne would have wasted time that she could have used to make an advantageous marriage. Anne was not popular with the people of England. They were upset to learn that at the Christmas celebrations of 1529, Anne was given precedence over the Duchesses of Norfolk and Suffolk, the latter of which was the King's own sister, Mary. In this period, records show that Henry began to spend more and more on Anne, buying her clothes, jewelry, and things for her amusement such as playing cards and bows and arrows. The waiting continued and Anne's position continued to rise. On the first day of September 1532, she was created Marquess of Pembroke, a title she held in her own right. In October, she held a position of honor at meetings between Henry and the French King in Calais.

Queen Anne

Sometime near the end of 1532, Anne finally gave way and by December she was pregnant. To avoid any questions of the legitimacy of the child, Henry was forced into action. Sometime near St. Paul's Day (January 25) 1533, Anne and Henry were secretly married. Although the King's marriage to Catherine was not dissolved, in the King's mind it had never existed in the first place, so he was free to marry whomever he wanted. On May 23, the Archbishop officially proclaimed that the marriage of Henry and Catherine was invalid. Plans for Anne's coronation began. In preparation, she had been brought by water from Greenwich to the Tower of London dressed in cloth of gold. The barges following her were said to stretch for four miles down the Thames. On the 1st of June, she left the Tower in procession to Westminster Abbey, where she became a crowned an anointed Queen in a ceremony led by Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury.By August, preparations were being made for the birth of Anne's child, which was sure to be a boy. Names were being chosen, with Edward and Henry the top choices. The proclamation of the child's birth had already been written with 'prince' used to refer to the child. Anne took to her chamber, according to custom, on August 26, 1533 and on September 7, at about 3:00 in the afternoon, the Princess Elizabeth was born. Her christening service was scaled down, but still a pleasant affair. The princess' white christening robes can currently be seen on display at Sudeley Castle in England. Anne now knew that it was imperative that she produce a son. By January of 1534, she was pregnant again, but the child was either miscarried or stillborn. In 1535, she was become pregnant again but miscarried by the end of January. The child was reported to have been a boy. The Queen was quite upset, and blamed the miscarriage on her state of mind after hearing that Henry had taken a fall in jousting. She had to have known at this point that her failure to produce a living male heir was a threat to her own life, especially since the King's fancy for one of her ladies-in-waiting, Jane Seymour, began to grow.

The Fall of Anne Boleyn

Anne's enemies at court began to plot against her using the King's attentions to Jane Seymour as the catalyst for action. Cromwell began to move in action to bring down the Queen. He persuaded the King to sign a document calling for an investigation that would possibly result in charges of treason. On April 30, 1536, Anne's musician and friend for several years, Mark Smeaton, was arrested and probably tortured into making 'revelations' about the Queen. Next, Sir Henry Norris was arrested and taken to the Tower of London. Then the Queen's own brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford was arrested. On May 2, the Queen herself was arrested at Greenwich and was informed of the charges against her: adultery, incest and plotting to murder the King. She was then taken to the Tower by barge along the same path she had traveled to prepare for her coronation just three years earlier. In fact, she was lodged in the same rooms she had held on that occasion. There were several more arrests. Sir Francis Weston and William Brereton were charged with adultery with the Queen. Sir Thomas Wyatt was also arrested, but later released. They were put on trial with Smeaton and Norris at Westminster Hall on May 12, 1536. The men were not allowed to defend themselves, as was the case in charges of treason. They were found guilty and received the required punishment: they were to be hanged at Tyburn, cut down while still living and then disemboweled and quartered. On Monday the 15th, the Queen and her brother were put on trial at the Great Hall of the Tower of London. It is estimated that some 2000 people attended. Anne conducted herself in a calm and dignified manner, denying all the charges against her. Her brother was tried next, with his own wife testifying against him (she got her due later in the scandal of Kathryn Howard). Even though the evidence against them was scant, they were both found guilty, with the sentence being read by their uncle, Thomas Howard , the Duke of Norfolk. They were to be either burnt at the stake (which was the punishment for incest) or beheaded, at the discretion of the King.

The Executions

On May 17, George Boleyn was executed on Tower Hill. The other four men condemned with the Queen had their sentences commuted from the grisly fate at Tyburn to a simple beheading at the Tower with Lord Rochford. Anne knew that her time would soon come and started to become hysterical, her behavior swinging from great levity to body- wracking sobs. She received news that an expert swordsman from Calais had been summoned, who would no doubt deliver a cleaner blow with a sharp sword than the traditional axe. It was then that she made the famous comment about her 'little neck'. Interestingly, shortly before her execution on charges of adultery, the Queen's marriage to the King was dissolved and declared invalid. One would wonder then how she could have committed adultery if she had in fact never been married to the King, but this was overlooked, as were so many other lapses of logic in the charges against Anne. They came for Anne on the morning of May 19 to take her to the Tower Green, where she was to be afforded the dignity of a private execution. [Read the Constable's recollection of this morning] She wore a red petticoat under a loose, dark grey gown of damask trimmed in fur. Over that she was a mantle of ermine. Her long, dark hair was bound up under a simple white linen coif over which she wore her usual headdress. She made a short speech [read the text of Anne's speech] before kneeling at the block. Her ladies removed the headdress and tied a blindfold over her eyes. The sword itself had been hidden under the straw. The swordsman cut off her head with one swift stroke. Anne's body and head were put into an arrow chest and buried in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula which adjoined the Tower Green. Her body was one that was identified in renovations of the chapel under the reign of Queen Victoria, so Anne's final resting place is now marked in the marble floor.



Anne of Cleves

Henry VIII remained single for over two years after Jane Seymour's death, possibly giving some credence to the thought that he genuinely mourned for her. However, it does seem that someone, possibly Thomas Cromwell, began making inquiries shortly after Jane's death about a possible foreign bride for Henry.Henry's first marriage had been a foreign alliance of sorts, although it is almost certain that the two were truly in love for some time. His next two brides were love matches and Henry could have had little or no monetary or political gain from them.But the events of the split from Rome left England isolated, and probably vulnerable. It was these circumstances that led Henry and his ministers to look at the possibility of a bride to secure an alliance. Henry did also want to be sure he was getting a desirable bride, so he had agents in foreign courts report to him on the appearance and other qualities of various candidates. He also sent painters to bring him images of these women. Hans Holbein, probably the most famous of the Tudor court painters, was sent to the court of the Duke of Cleves, who had two sisters: Amelia and Anne. When Holbein went in 1539, Cleves was seen as an important potential ally in the event France and the Holy Roman Empire (who had somewhat made a truce in their long history of conflict) decided to move against the countries who had thrown off the Papal authority. England then sought alliances with countries who had been supporting the reformation of the church. Several of the Duchys and principalities along the Rhine were Lutheran. Holbein painted the sisters of the Duke of Cleves and Henry decided to have a contract drawn up for his marriage to Anne. Although the King of France and the Emperor had gone back to their usual state of animosity, Henry proceeded with the match. The marriage took place on January 6, 1540. By then, Henry was already looking for ways to get out of the marriage.

Anne was ill-suited for life at the English court. Her upbringing in Cleves had concentrated on domestic skills and not the music and literature so popular at Henry's court. And, most famously, Henry did not find his new bride the least bit attractive and is said to have called her a 'Flanders Mare'. In addition to his personal feelings for wanting to end the marriage, there were now political ones as well. Tension between the Duke of Cleves and the Empire was increasing towards war and Henry had no desire to become involved. Last but not least, at some point, Henry had become attracted to young Kathryn Howard.

Anne was probably smart enough to know that she would only be making trouble for herself if she raised any obstacles to Henry's attempts to annul the marriage. She testified that the match had not been consummated and that her previous engagement to the son of the Duke of Lorraine had not been properly broken. After the marriage had been dissolved, Anne accepted the honorary title as the 'King's Sister'. She was given property, including Hever Castle, formerly the home of Anne Boleyn. She divorced from Henry in July 1540. Anne lived away from court quietly in the countryside until 1557, and attended the coronation of her former step-daughter, Mary I. She is buried in an somewhat hard to find tomb in Westminster Abbey

Last Years

Cromwell, who now had more power than Wolsey, was capable of crushing resistance, but not of gaining support. In order to deal with the problems of administering and selling the church lands confiscated by the crown, he initiated important changes in the way government business was conducted, creating greater efficiency and control. He established separate departments of state, with their own collectors, secretaries, and judges, to receive the wealth confiscated from the church. These courts, as they were called, were able to resolve disputes quickly and prevented the traditional royal courts from being overburdened with cases. Cromwell served as the effective head of Henry's government for eight years, and Henry left him to run the business of government. Ultimate power, however, remained in the king's hands, and Henry used it to become involved in the series of matrimonial disasters for which he is famous. By 1536 Henry had tired of Anne Boleyn, and Cromwell joined with several councilors to turn the king decisively against her. In less than a month she was tried on trumped-up charges of adultery, executed, and replaced by Jane Seymour. Jane finally provided Henry with his male heir, the future Edward VI, although she died in childbirth. Henry's next three marriages occurred in rapid succession. The king married Anne of Cleves as part of Cromwell's plan for a Protestant union with German princes, but divorced her after only six months—Henry's displeasure with Cromwell over this match led to Cromwell's execution. Henry then married Catherine Howard, had her executed within a year, and finally settled down with Catherine Parr in 1543, the wife who survived him.

As Henry aged he became bitter and angry. One by one he had either killed his old councilors or driven them from royal service. In 1542 he again entered into continental warfare, joining Emperor Charles V in his war against France. That same year the Scots invaded England and were again defeated, this time at Solway Moss where their king, James V, received mortal wounds. James's death freed England from the threat of invasion for the next generation. The wars of Henry's old age were no more successful than those of his youth, and to pay for these wars Henry had to sell the richest of the monastic lands, raise taxes, and debase the coinage. His popularity diminished with his strength. He died on January 28, 1547, and was succeeded by his ten-year-old son, Edward VI.


Assessment

Viewed by some as the embodiment of the warrior king who restored England's honor, by others as a tyrant who ruled by the chopping block, the life of Henry VIII has been a source of continuous fascination. Catholic writers pictured him as the devil, English Protestants credited him as the founder of their religion. His appetites became legendary, whether he was wrestling with Francis I, eating and drinking enormous meals, or marrying six women. After the civil wars of the preceding century that had weakened the monarchy, Henry VIII reestablished the power of the English crown. This was done largely through the work of his powerful ministers Wolsey and Cromwell. They made use of the new Privy Council (the former royal council) and Parliament, whose members included the aristocracy and gentry. As these groups were brought into government, their individual ability to challenge the king diminished. The confiscation of church wealth enabled Henry's heirs to rule without new revenues for the rest of the century. The dual defeat of the Scots made his kingdom safe from armed invasion while his strengthening of the navy made it safe from attacks by sea. Henry's break with Rome was a critical step in the development of English national identity. His vision of an English empire encouraged successive generations to look outward with the spirit of enterprise that eventually led to England's expansion overseas.











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