Saturday, August 1, 2015

Did HenryVIII Love Any or All of His Wives? Wife #2: Anne Boleyn

The One for Whom He Had an Unhealthy Obsession: Anne Boleyn

There were three children in the Boleyn family; in no particular order, and that's because there's no proof; records keeping in England in the 1500's ranged from O.C.D. to non-existent, they were: Mary, Anne, George.

Mary Boleyn slept with Henry VIII years before her sister Anne caught his eye.
Mary's reputation was, and kinda remains, a not-so-bright ‘great whore.' 
Her father recalled her from the French queen's court after word got around that she was sleeping with any-and-everybody, including the King himself. 
If you've ever had a furious parent of a roommate in college show up to tell her to start packing, then you catch the drift.  

Regardless of if she did or not sleep with any and every guy, her reputation was trashed in France.
There are rumors she was called 'the English mare' because she'd let anyone ride her. 
Ouch.

So Mary Boleyn came home and was sent to serve the very Catholic, very proper Queen Catherine of Aragon, wife of the very horny and philandering King Henry VIII.
Frying pan into the fire, anyone? 

Mary brought her act right along with herself to Court, and quickly began a long-term affair with Henry VIII.  
Please don't go all sympathetic with your version of Mary as she was portrayed by Scarlett Johannsen in the movie version of The Other Boleyn Girl - because where there's smoke, there's usually at least a little fire, and Mary was no quivery-lipped scared little thing dolled up in a white nightie waiting for the King in his bed.
"This is my first time. Honest."
Plain and simple: she liked royal sex.
After a couple of years, and after Mary birthed a girl and a boy, she and the King's fun and games came to an end.
Mary had enough street smarts to pack in any idea of remaining at court, and she skedaddled and disappeared off the radar by settling into country life, far away from London.

In 1522, back when Mary and the King were hot-n-heavy or at the very least, heading in that direction, her sister Anne came home from France.
Anne was not considered pretty by the standards of that time (like today, lol, the standards were: blue eyes, blonde hair, fair skin) with her chestnut-brown hair and dark eyes.
Anne Boleyn, and THAT necklace.
She had something else; a personality that blew people away. 
Anne had a gift with words, a quick wit, a flair for making whatever she wore look amazing, she danced 'very prettily,' played a couple of musical instruments, and wrote poetry.

Henry VIII didn't spot her for a couple of years; remember, he was busy doing the naughty with sister Mary, but eventually (and regardless of what you watched on HBO's 'The Tudors,' nobody can say for certain when Henry VIII first noticed Anne Boleyn) Henry VIII got it bad for Mistress Anne Boleyn. 
To say he was besotted is putting it lightly. 
The king went for it with both barrels blazing.

He expected that, like her sister Mary, she'd scarper off with him to the Royal Tudor No-Tell Motel.
Nope.
Anne, who had no problems with self-esteem, knew that being the King's mistress meant she'd be damaged goods in the marriage market.
"No. No. No. No. How many times am I going to have to tell you 'no,' Your Highness?" was her answer to him.
For seven (7!!!) years. 

She held Henry VIII off for those seven long years not because she was initially angling to be a trophy wife with a crown, but more because she actually was serious about keeping things pure and clean 'down there' so she'd have the best odds of marrying a wealthy nobleman.
And Anne did work that angle; she tried ditching the King by hiding out at her parent's house; she avoided him socially, she probably prayed to God that the King would leave her the fuck alone, since he was making it difficult for any other guy to get close to her.
But Henry VIII had a bit of stalker in him - who knew? - and he kept after her as weeks, months, years passed.

One by one, all her boyfriends vaporised either by marrying someone else, or vanishing from the scene. 
Nobody with a brain would challenge the King - with the exception of Thomas Wyatt. Wyatt, who not only had a very fine brain, but was also pretty high up in the social order and hung out with Henry VIII. He told Henry in plain words that he and Anne had done things.
Lots of things. 
All kinds of things.
This pissed off the King, and the result was Wyatt left or was sent away from England (smart man!) and so vanished from the scene.

When Anne decided to hold out on physical love with Henry until there was a crown in her future, there is the distinct possibility that she'd satisfied him with a trick or two she'd learned while in France. 
Not a lot of historians will actually use the word 'blow job' but yeah. 
That.
Again, that's a rumor and there's no way to verify it.

But Henry wanted more. 
So it was time to divorce his middle-aged queen with her middle-aged spread 
Catherine of Aragon after packing on baby weight
(from all the pregnancies she'd had - and only one daughter, Princess Mary, was the result. Not a boy. A GIRL! The horror!) 
Henry declared his marriage to Catherine ‘cursed by God.’
A tiny little problem came up.
Divorce was allowed by the Catholic church, but not so much when the soon-to-be ex-wife had family with clout all over the place in the Catholic church hierarchy.
No biggie - Henry had his lawyers change the law so that the person who was Head of the Church in England wasn't the Pope in Rome, but Henry himself.
Clever, clever Henry.

In the tradition of first wives being dumped by their husbands for a younger, prettier woman, Queen Catherine of Aragon was stubborn and refused to buy into any of this.
To convince her she was on the exit plan with no going back, Henry turned shitty and had her shipped off to more and more remote palaces, farther and farther away. 
To make sure Catherine got the point, Henry also stopped her from seeing their daughter Mary, also in the tradition of crap husbands with a jones for another chick. The cherry on top of the whole horsecrap sundae was Henry made sure the castles Catherine was banished to were as drafty, damp and moldy as possible.

What. A. Guy.

Anne should've paid closer attention to how Henry treated Catherine, rather than gloating about how cool you were and how much the King would move mountains and change religion and the law of the land for you.

In 1532/3, Anne married Henry.
She was anointed Queen in Westminster Abbey.
A little unnerving, though, was the reaction of the people who turned out for her coronation procession; more silence than 'Huzzahs' and instead of taking off their caps as she passed, many men kept them on their noggins.
The verdict was in; the people loved Catherine. 
Not Anne.

Compounding the problem, Anne made a fatal string of mistakes. 
She’d produced a healthy, flame-haired daughter for the royal cradle, and was working on producing a boy.
But while she worked at that, Anne forgot something: the wife of a King was not supposed to have opinions, complaints, and certainly not time alone with other men.
Anne forgot to zip her lip, forgot to count to ten when she got angry, and to stop making sarcastic snotty public comments until England, and, more importantly, England’s King, adjusted to their new Queen.
She also forgot to keep the guys out of her rooms and for that, her reputation began heading in the same direction as that of her sister, Mary. 

So the witty repartee and sass that had enchanted the King so much during their years of dating turned into the nagging snippiness of the Court’s Biggest Bitch EVER. 

Big mistake, Anne.

BIG MISTAKE.

Catherine of Aragon, for example, never said boo to her husband for taking mistresses; but  Anne was NOT going to take that humiliation quietly.
Was it because she knew what she, herself, had been capable of while her husband had been married to Catherine? 
Was she just the hot-blooded, jealous type?  
Doesn’t matter; Henry VIII, worn down by her "reeny, reeny, reeny, rag rag rag" running of her mouth spotted a lady at Court who was happy to sit on his knee, and even better, one who knew TO SHUT HER TRAP. 
And that docile maiden would turn out to be his next queen, Jane Seymour.

Sensing blood in the water, the sharks of the Court started circling and plotting ways to get rid of Anne.
After all, with Anne and her family out of the way, new jobs at Court would open up; who wouldn't want the chance for either a promotion or maybe even a castle or two previously used by the Boleyns?
The King heard lies and half-truths guaranteed to make him furious; that Anne Boleyn had ‘laughed with her brother, George, at the King’s somewhat clumsy love poems.
That she complained the King couldn’t ‘do the deed’ any more.
That she slept with the King’s very close friends, including her own brother – in order to get pregnant with a boy she could pass off as the King's. 

She was doomed.

In early May, 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn and four of the King's closest male friends, plus a guy who was just at Court to play music, were arrested for treason.
What does it say about a man who send four of his very best friends to have their heads lopped off?

On May 17, the men were beheaded by axe on Tower Hill.
Two days later, Anne herself faced a scaffold inside the walls of the Tower of London, where a French swordsman
Not a good day. 
 (she was Queen, after all, no common axe for her!) neatly and with lightning speed sliced off her head after deflecting her attention for a split-second ("Hey! Look over there!") – the only act of mercy shown to the woman who had once held the heart of a King.