My notes from the first half of ‘Anne and Henry: the Lovers Who Changed History’


Suzannah Lipscomb, historian.
Suzannah Lipscomb, historian.

Hever Castle “vale between past and present has become thin”
Book of Hours – treasured possession, importance of faith – wrote in it “le temps viendra je Anne Boleyn” (the time will come I Anne Boleyn) Christ raised above the Earth, day of judgement? Destined for greatness?
Henry VIII – handsome sportsman, well-loved, kind, charismatic
Erasmus “gentle friendship”
Henry tormented by his lack of a male heir
February 18 1516 – Mary I born – women not fit to rule
Henry’s relationship with God, lack of a male heir judgement from God? Married his brother’s widow Leviticus 18:16 20:21 childless means no sons
Anne brought up in Netherlands and France – huge influence, educated, art of love?
Chateau de Blois lady-in-waiting to Queen Claude, fashionable, great architecture, arts, Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci, intellectualism, piety
Came of age, “native-born Frenchwoman”
Learned French, present at important court occasions, different from English ladies, piety and religion, aspirations of acceptance in England “all virtuous repute”
Black and white terms – sexual or chaste, pious or loose, not entirely true
Pious and worldly, sophisticated and innocent, attractive because she’s complex
Early 1520s Anne returns to London
Politics and theatre in court, politics and fun, desire, love and sex – lots of time with not much to do – love = promotion and politics, courtly love is a game
Competition to catch Henry’s eye – Henry had mistresses particularly when Katherine of Aragon was pregnant
“Fitzroy” means “son of the king”

Anne Boleyn Hever Castle Portrait
Anne Boleyn Hever Castle Portrait

1522 Henry’s mistress was Anne’s sister, Mary – relative unknown, high-spirited
Very little known about the beginning – courtly entertainments? Stories came together in early 1526, writing love letters and giving her gifts – miniature gold whistle pendent, scoop for ear wax and pick for teeth
Deeper than a traditional mistress “begging you to recommend us to your good grace” “mine own sweetheart” “fervency of love” “in my sweetheart’s arms” “I think it long since I kissed you” “you will think of the hunter” “my heart shall be dedicated to you alone”
Unknown dates and no responses to the letters
Political forces behind the scenes – passionate love affair – letters ended up in the Vatican used as evidence against the divorce
Sweating sickness potentially lethal, Anne forced to stay away from the king, fiction written to fill in the gaps that Anne left – Lipscomb believes both wanted to do what was right and Henry wanted a male heir
Thomas More “politics be king’s games and most be played on the scaffold and love is a political affair”
1529 never been a divorce by royalty before, “piece of work that needs must be done” ‘The Play of the Weather’ – mocked Katherine over the divorce and lack of a male heir, underestimated the feasibility of ending the marriage
Religion – Pope didn’t cooperate, document 1529 asking about annulment, clergy come together – Wolsey, Warham, Ely, etc – conscience troubled, something has to change, the lengths Henry would go to
Rochester – important figure, said to have signed document, but claimed he never did, would eventually be executed
Another solution – Anne herself suggested Tyndale ‘Obedience of a Christian Man’ – supreme authority is scripture over Pope, shameful for princes to be under a Pope, king’s highest author “judge overall and over him there is no judge”
“This is the book for me and all kings to read”
Could decide on his own marriage if he were the supreme authority – egotism
Love affair would change the faith of England – papal authority removed, COE, supreme head – risk of war with Spain
December 1532 French trip, approval wanted

Henry VIII by Hans Holbein 1540
Henry VIII by Hans Holbein 1540

Henry and Anne could marry, by the time they returned to England they were lovers according to evidence
Passionately in love – British Library Book of Hours Flemish 15th/16th century written entries from Henry and Anne
Flayed Christ – lovesick king “if you remember me in your prayers as strongly as I adore you then I shall scarcely be forgotten”
Enunciation Virgin Mary – male heir “by daily proof you shall me find to be unto you both loving and kind”
Wedding vows? Son and heir, loyalty, faith – make union official at Whitehall burnt down 1689
Marriage celebrated at Whitehall January 1533, few witness accounts, Anne pregnant
Defied a Pope and redefined a kingdom, love conquered all

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