How is it that women kept agreeing to marry Henry VIII? Oh, right. It was the 16th century. And he was king. They didn’t have much say.
--On This Day in History, Shit Went Down: May 19, 1536--
Happy anniversary, Harry and Meghan. Hope your marriage works out better than Henry and Anne Boleyn’s did. Because May 19 is also the day Henry had his second wife beheaded.
He was king for 38 years and kicked off the English Reformation because the pope wouldn’t let him annul his first marriage. Power mad, he was a fan of executing people for treason without trial if they looked at him sideways. Treason was one of the things Anne was falsely charged with that led to her execution, but it was really about miscarriages and mistresses.
Henry had been playing hide the royal sausage with Anne’s sister Mary while he was married to his first wife Catherine. But then he decided he liked Anne better. And Catherine was a positively ancient 40 years old and only one of her six children lived, and it was a girl, dammit. (Spoiler: That girl, Mary, would eventually reign as queen for five years and be nicknamed “Bloody Mary” for her prosecution of Protestants). Hank sent love letters to Anne saying he would be loyal to her, and by that he meant he’d fire all his other mistresses and she’d be the only mistress. Anne said no. Queen or GTFO.
I would never say paid subscriber or GTFO. Free subscribers are always welcome. But if you wanna upgrade …
Henry agreed. Catherine was out, Anne was in. But the honeymoon was short-lived. They married in secret because the whole annulment thing with Catherine wasn’t settled; they were in a rush because Anne was preggers with another damn daughter.
Two (or possibly three) miscarriages followed, and by this time Henry was eyeing Jane Seymour, and not the Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman one. Speaking of, I interviewed the modern Jane Seymour; she’s wonderful. Anyway, being Henry, the king had bullshit charges of treason, adultery, and incest drummed up against Anne followed by a quick trial then off with her head. Sucks to be Anne. Especially when you consider how she’s been portrayed as a scheming temptress when in reality she wasn’t all that bad. She’d even done some humanitarian work to alleviate poverty. Her reputation unfairly suffered due to the people liking her predecessor, Catherine, and seeing Anne’s marriage to Henry as a scandalous usurpation.
Perhaps Anne would have taken solace in knowing her daughter, Elizabeth I, would ascend to the throne after the death of her older half-sister Mary, reign for 44 years, and be hailed as one of England’s greatest monarchs.
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Awesome post, as usual. You might also know that modern science is proposing, based on the historical accounts of very similar genetic impairments across most of Henry's stillborn children, that he was at fault for the lack of healthy offspring, let alone healthy male heirs. Not that he'd know - that thinking back then was the fault was with the womb, not the seed ...