The second of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn, was the wife that arguably changed the face of the Tudor monarchy. With her insistence that Henry annul his wife Catherine and marry her, Henry was forced to break with the Catholic Church and form his own church. A decision which would ultimately cause the religious upheaval that features throughout the reign of every Tudor monarch at some point. Henry’s desire to marry Anne caused him to break away from Rome and the Church, forming the Church of England, where he could make his own rules, and more importantly, grant himself the annulment he most desperately wanted.
Anne was of noble birth and grew up in Hever Castle in Kent, she was very well educated in the ways of royal courts, having spent much time in the French court herself. When Anne came to England and the court of Henry VIII she made a big impression on the King. Originally there to serve the Queen, Henry’s affections for Anne grew and eventually led to Anne wanting nothing less than to be his wife and Queen. In 1527, Henry began toying with the idea of annulling his wife Catherine, leading to some of the most turbulent years in the Tudor period, with much debate on the issue of religion and other problems which surrounded Henry’s marriage to Anne.
Anne was in no way the most popular of Henry’s Queens, with her falling gradually out of favour with both the people of England and those at court. Anne’s influence over Henry and the religious reform that she brought about with the break from the Catholic Church, ultimately led to widespread ill feeling towards her. Many individuals had good reason to dislike Anne, one of them being Mary Tudor who was pushed out of succession by Anne to make room for any children she would give Henry. However, the failure to produce a male heir, combined with the rumours of her being a witch and unfaithful, put great stress on the marriage of Anne and Henry, meaning that the marriage only lasted three short years and ended with Anne being beheaded. This cleared the path for the next wife of Henry, one of Anne’s ladies, Jane Seymour and the long line of wives that Henry would have in his life.