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Anne Boleyn
Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, hélas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

-Sir Thomas Wyatt, "Whoso List to Hunt"




Yet what comes does come to us across the centuries is the impression of a person who is strangely appealing to the early twenty-first century. A woman in her own right - taken on her own terms in a man's world; a woman who mobilized her education, her style, and her presence to outweigh the disadvantages of her sex; of only moderate good looks, but taking a court and a king by storm. Perhaps, in the end, it is Thomas Cromwell's assessment that comes nearest: intelligence, spirit and courage.
- Eric Ives, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn


Name: Anne Boleyn, Marquess of Pembroke

Former Titles: Queen of England

Likes: France and all things French, Henry, George Boleyn, Thomas Wyatt, finely illuminated Bibles, church reform, dancing, witty conversation, music, power, the latest fashions, Elizabeth, Henry Percy, jewels, and having all eyes on her

Dislikes: Thomas Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell, Henry, Thomas Boleyn, Thomas Howard, superstition, being denied power, when Henry's attention strays, Jane Seymour, Jane Rochford, gaucheries, thinking about her end, corruption, and that six-finger rumor

Tl;dr history:The second wife of Henry VIII of England, Anne remains one of the most controversial figures in English history. Long regarded as a grasping whore, she is currently being rehabilitated by modern historians.

Her story is one of politics, lust, and betrayal. Born to a daughter of the illustrious and ancient Howard family and an intelligent, ambitious diplomat, she spent her late childhood and adolescence in two of the most sophisticated courts of her time. It is her time in the second court, that of France, which would have the greatest impact on her life.

Recalled to England when tensions between England and France threatened war, she made a splash among Queen Catherine's ladies with her elegant carriage, dress, and deportment. She was a wit, and soon acquired many admirers. Among them was Henry Percy, son and heir to the Earl of Northumberland. She returned his affections, and the young pair plighted their troth in secret.

But secrets could not be kept at court, and soon news of their betrothal reached all the wrong ears. Cardinal Wolsey, main counsellor to the king, was first to castigate the pair for ignoring their family's plans for them. Though they initially tried to resist, eventually they were forced to repudiate each other. Percy was sent back to the northern domains he would inherit to marry another, and Anne was sent from court.

When she returned to serve the aging queen again, things soon shifted again. Anne was no stranger to the game of courtly love, but now a new suitor was petitioning for her favor: Henry Tudor, king of England. Anne had every reason to be wary of Henry; she had watched him woo and discard her sister, and wanted no part of such scandal.

No one had said "no" to Henry in quite some time. Instead of cooling Henry's passion, it only inflamed it, and he continued to court her and seek her favors. She blew hot and cold, alternately delighting and baffling the king, and through it all his passion for her only deepened.

But Henry was a man with more than women on his mind: his marriage to Catherine had only produced one daughter, and Henry needed sons to perpetuate the still new Tudor dynasty. And from his desire for both a son and Anne, a plan was formed: to annul his marriage to Catherine and then marry Anne.

He proposed to Anne, laying out his reasoning. Catherine had first been married to his brother, and according to Leviticus, his marriage to her was incestuous. God was even showing his disapproval, denying Henry the sons every ruler so desperately needed. She accepted.

They expected a few month's wrangling with the Pope, perhaps some objections from Catherine's nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor. What they got was a seven-year fight against the Pope, Catherine, her allies in the court, and much of Europe. Diplomatic gambit followed diplomatic gambit while the Pope stalled, unwilling to offend anyone when the ideas of Luther were spreading like wildfire.

The ideas had already spread to Anne. Though not a Lutheran, she was certainly of a humanist bent, who favored a Bible in the vernacular, less corruption in the church, and an increase in the social services the church performed. Unlike pious Catherine, Anne did not consider the church hierarchy to be above reproach. She shared these ideas with Henry, and many of her faction were of the same bent.

Seven years, and she and Henry were no closer to marriage. He treated her like a queen, and even planned to take her on a diplomatic meeting in France instead of Catherine. Henry, ever a master of propaganda, even procured the royal jewels from a protesting Catherine to adorn Anne for her presentation to the court. He also granted her a title: she would journey to France as the Marquess of Pembroke. She was the first woman to be granted a peerage in her own right, she and the title would pass to the heirs of her body. Rather scandalously, it would pass to her heirs whether they were legitimate or not.

The trip to France was not a success in many ways for Anne, who was snubbed by the French queen (a relative of Catherine's). But historians speculate that it was about this time that Anne finally became physically involved with Henry. Giving in without a crown was a risk, but it paid off. Anne was pregnant, and now Henry was pushed to do what he would not before.

They married in secret, with few witnesses, without approval. And then Henry VIII began the process that would make him, and Anne, forever infamous: the repudiation of the Pope's (or the Bishop of Rome, as he was now to be called) spiritual authority, and the establishment of the Church of England, of which Henry was the head. Despite mass objections, Henry had his way.

On June 1, 1533, Anne was crowned Queen of England. Dressed in white and noticeably pregnant, she nonetheless comported herself well during the all-day coronation festivities. Both were elated, and confident that soon Anne would give birth to a son.

She didn't. Instead, in September, she gave birth to a girl, Elizabeth. The royal couple consoled themselves with the thought that the next would be a boy, and set upon their business. Anne was a power to be reckoned with at court, both leading the style, having the king's ear, and having the power to grant petitions on her own. Henry too was expanding his power, continuing to form the Church of England.

Their popularity plummeted when Thomas More was executed, and Anne's popularity further waned when she miscarried. When the king, acting under the advice of Thomas Cromwell, began dismantling the monasteries, the new influx of wealth calmed the nobles but only served to further offend the common men and women.

In Janurary of 1536, Catherine the discarded queen died. What should have been Anne's triumph instead was the beginning of the end for Anne. Her unpopularity was at its height, even with many of her former supporters, and Henry was tiring of her sharp tongue along with everyone else. She miscarried again. Henry found solace in Jane Seymour, one of Anne's ladies. It was not the first time he had, but this time Henry refused to tolerate Anne's eruptions over the matter.

Things reached a crisis point a few months later, when Henry was knocked unconscious for hours after a jousting accident. Though he escaped relatively unscathed (save for a sore that would plague him the rest of his life), the accident left their impression on Henry: he needed a son, and fast, or England was doomed to chaos.

The final blow was Anne's public opposition to the dissolution of the monasteries. Though she was all for dissolving the corrupt ones, she would sooner see the funds go to re-establishing new orders and to education, instead of the king's coffers. This convinced Thomas Cromwell that she was a danger to him, and needed to be removed.

Within a month, Cromwell had a plan. Almost a month after she had made public her disapproval of his policies, Anne was arrested and taken to the Tower of England. She was charged with incest, adultery, and treason. Five men were accused of adultery with her, one of whom was her brother.

Though she was kept in royal style, there was no mistake: Anne knew she was sent to die. She and the men were proclaimed guilty in a sham trial. Her marriage to Henry was dissolved, rendering her beloved daughter illegitimate. Three days later she watched the men she was accused with executed. Two days later, on the 19th of May, she was executed. In a macabre sort of consideration, Henry had sent for a French swordsman to do away with his second wife. She was beheaded by a single stroke of his sword. No accommodations had been made for her burial, and the once Queen of England was buried anonymously in an arrow chest.

A day later Henry and Jane were betrothed, and they were wed June 4th.

But Those Aren't Tudor-Era Clothes!: As it turns out, Anne didn't go to heaven (or hell, sorry Mary I), but instead found herself in a whole new world after her execution.

A world with particularly unstable walls, which seemed to collect lost souls like a child collects marbles. This world, with its particularly unstable worldwalls, had been introduced to several things before its time. The most influential of these was the steam engine.

The Catholic Church, weakening in Anne's own world, discovered its salvation in the steam engine in this new one. In a London where the skies are dotted with the newfangled airship, bishops and cardinals still parade through the streets, Anne found herself, wholly without the power or wealth she had once enjoyed.

But one so unlucky in death found luck here in her new life. Though Luther's ideas has never disseminated widely, they survived despite the Church's suppressive efforts. Small groups of reformists existed in every city, and Anne was found by one of them. They made her one of their own.

Now with sometime access to power and those who wield it, Anne provided the group with something they desperately needed: a spokesperson with obvious breeding and charm. Now she works to convince and recruit new allies in the nobility. Styled the Marquess of Pembroke (though not truly holding the title), she amuses the nobility and tries to plant the seeds of rebellion against the church.

And among the clergy, rumors are beginning to swirl: two women, one dark and one fair, who find and punish the most corrupt of their order.

Skills: Schmoozing, dancing, displays of temper, making her own way, chastity, speaking multiple languages, flirting, flashy displays of wit, and looking her best.

Seasonings: French sea salt, red and white rose petals, a vial of blood, a page from the Tyndale Bible, russet velvet, black silk, a gold and pearl 'B' necklace, and bitter gall

About the Six Finger Thing: No, she didn't have six fingers. Or a mole on her neck. Seriously, if you try to argue with me I will cut you with scholarship.





 
 
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