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Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII, served as queen of England in the 1530s. She was executed on charges of incest, witchcraft, adultery and conspiracy against the king.
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Anne Boleyn was born circa 1501, likely in Bickling (Norfolk), England. She was the second wife of King Henry VIII—a scandalous marriage, given that he had been denied an annulment from his first wife by the Roman Church, and that his mistress was Anne's sister, Mary. Thusly, King Henry VIII broke from the Church to marry Anne. She gave birth to a daughter, but could not sire a son. On May 19, 1536, Anne Boleyn was executed on false charges of incest, witchcraft,
"I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord."
"Your wife I cannot be, both in respect of mine own unworthiness, and also because you have a queen already. Your mistress I will not be."
adultery and conspiracy against the king. Her daughter, Elizabeth, emerged as one of England's greatest queens. Anne Boleyn died on May 19, 1536, in London, England.
Anne Boleyn was born circa 1501, likely in Bickling (Norfolk), England, the daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn, who would later become earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard. Living in France for a time during her youth, Anne returned to England in 1522 and soon established a residence at King Henry VIII's court as maid of honour to Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's queen consort at the time.
By the mid-1520s, Anne had become one of the most admired ladies of the court, attracting the attention of many men, among them Henry Percy, the 6th earl of Northumberland. When Henry VIII caught wind of Lord Henry Percy desired marriage with Anne, however, he ordered against it. Around this same time—whether it was before or after Percy's interest in Anne developed is uncertain—the king himself fell in love with the young maid. What is known is that Anne's sister, Mary Boleyn, one of the king's mistresses, had introduced her to Henry VIII, and that the king wrote love letters to Anne Boleyn circa 1525.
In one of the king's letters, he wrote to Anne: "If you ... give yourself up, heart, body and soul to me ... I will take you for my only mistress, rejecting from thought and affection all others save yourself, to serve only you." Anne replied with rejection, however, explaining that she aimed to be married, not a mistress: "Your wife I cannot be, both in respect of mine own unworthiness, and also because you have a queen already. Your mistress I will not be."
Anne's response surprised Henry VIII, who is believed to have had several mistresses at that time, reportedly entering into these adulterous relationships because he badly wanted a son, and Catherine of Aragon had not borne a male child. (Queen Catherine would not bear a son that survived infancy throughout the duration of their marriage, from 1509 to 1533; the couple's first child to survive infancy, Princess Mary, was born in 1516.) But Henry was desperate to have Anne, so he quickly configured a way to officially abandon his marriage with Catherine. In his petition for annulment to the pope, he cited an excerpt from the Book of Leviticus stating that a man who takes his brother's wife shall remain childless, and claimed that he and Catherine (who was his brother's widow) would never have a son who survived infancy because their marriage was a condemnation in the eyes of God.
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