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Anne Boleyn

Boleyn, Anne (bŏlˈĭn, bŏlĭnˈ) [key], 1507?–1536, second queen consort of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I. She was the daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn, later earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde, and on her mother's side she was related to the Howard family. After spending some years in France, she was introduced to the English court in 1522. Soon Henry, who had already enjoyed the favors of her older sister, fell in love with Anne. Unlike her sister, however, Anne refused to become his mistress, and this fact, coupled with Henry's desire for a male heir, led the king to begin divorce proceedings against Katharine of Aragón in 1527. In 1532 Anne finally yielded to the king, and the resulting pregnancy hastened a secret marriage (Jan., 1533) and the final annulment (May) by Archbishop Cranmer of Henry's previous marriage. Anne was crowned queen on June 1. Her delivery of a daughter (Elizabeth), in Sept., 1533, bitterly disappointed Henry. In 1536, after the miscarriage of a son, Anne was brought to trial on multiple charges of adultery, including incest with her brother, accusations that have been disputed ever since. Under great pressure, a court headed by her uncle Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk, condemned her, and she was beheaded. Two days before her death her marriage was declared void by the Church of England.

See the often published love letters of Henry VIII; biographes by M. L. Bruce (1972), C. Erickson (1984), and E. W. Ives (1986); W. S. Pakenham-Walsh, A Tudor Story (1963); M. H. Albert, The Divorce (1965); A. Weir, The Lady in the Tower (2010).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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