Anne Boleyn, Women’s Martyr

 

anne-boleyn_fan_art

On May 19, 1536, Anne Boleyn, Queen of England and second wife of King Henry VIII, was executed by beheading, after being held prisoner in the Tower of London for four days and declared guilty of high treason.  The formal charges against her were adultery, incest and plotting to kill the king.  (Most historians agree these were bogus accusations.) However, Anne’s actual crime was miscarrying two babies and not being able to provide a male heir to succeed King Henry.

As we know, Anne had given birth to a daughter named Elizabeth who later became queen, one of the strongest monarchs ever to rule Great Britain. King Henry, of course, would never live to see this. Henry, in his quest to bear legitimate male heirs, notoriously married six times, broke with the Catholic Church and changed the trajectory of Great Britain’s future. He divorced two of his wives (Catherine of Argon and Anne of Cleves) and sent another two to the block — Anne Boleyn and her cousin Katherine Howard.  All of these woman had committed the crime of not bearing a son.

Why all the fuss over a male heir?

Apparently, the laws had strictly adhered to a thing called ‘male preference primogeniture’ which meant, in essence, boys came first. Girls became rulers only if there were no available boys to take over.

Anne-and-Elizabeth

Females had a slim right to the throne, but it was complicated: “Male-preference primogeniture accords succession to the throne to a female member of a dynasty if she has no living brothers and no deceased brothers who left surviving legitimate descendants. A dynast’s sons and their lines of descent all come before that dynast’s daughters and their lines. Older sons and their lines come before younger sons and their lines. Older daughters and their lines come before younger daughters and their lines.”  — Wikipedia

This archaic practice was in effect for over 900 years. It began with the Norman Conquest and stayed strong all the way up to 2011 (yes, 2011!)  when sixteen Commonwealth leaders finally agreed to change the succession laws. In 2013 a formal a act of parliament changed the established ‘male preference primogeniture’ to ‘absolute primogeniture’, thus allowing female babies an equal part in the royal heritage .

Great Britain, what took you so long?

If only they had been so enlightened 500 years earlier! They would have put an end to Henry’s worries, saved Anne’s head and certainly given Elizabeth a much easier reign…

As it turned out, Anne’s daughter ruled England for over forty years.  She defeated the Spanish Armada, stabilized religion, avoided a lot of unnecessary wars and brought peace and prosperity to the land.

She was known as ‘Gloriana’ and ‘Good Queen Bess’.

red head

Here is an interesting documentary about Anne’s execution. (Running time about 30 minutes.) Hope you get a chance to watch!

 

 

 

 

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29 comments on “Anne Boleyn, Women’s Martyr

  1. matxi_books says:

    Very interesting post! I haven’t read anything about it but watched the hollywood adaptation.
    Isn’t it funny, or ironic I would say, how Henry basically didn’t give a fuck about women and at the end it was a woman who reigned his domains, far better than he would have ever done??

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Great piece! Super easy and fun to read, yet full of info!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s death which occurred as she bore a daughter not a son. Up untill 2015 in UK younger males had rights to royal throne over older sisters: This was changed in 2015 before Prince William had his first child. However as Prince William’s oldest child (George) is a boy, for while this change is unlikely to make a difference. But a change in law before Anne Boleyn’s time, could have made a big change. If King Henry had respected women could rule then he could have changed that law rather than breaking with Rome.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on Wonderwall and commented:
    The anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s death which occurred as she bore a daughter not a son. Up untill 2015 in UK younger males had rights to royal throne over older sisters: This was changed in 2015 before Prince William had his first child. However as Prince William’s oldest child (George) is a boy, for while this change is unlikely to make a difference. But a change in law before Anne Boleyn’s time, could have made a big change. If King Henry had respected women could rule then he could have changed that law rather than breaking with Rome.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well at least in England, women COULD inherit the throne. In France, they had the Salic Law, which forbade any women from ruling directly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 2011! Ack! Isn’t that awful? The world would be so much better if women ruled.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. […] Anne Boleyn, Women’s Martyr […]

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  8. She is an intriguing historical figure…

    Liked by 2 people

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  10. Vicky V says:

    I love the easy way you write about history! I was actually stunned when Britain changed the succession law to allow females equal rights. Stunned but very happy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! As you know, the Tudors are close to my heart. I first heard the news when Kate Middleton was pregnant with baby George (ironically turned out to be a boy). I remember thinking FINALLY! It’s about time lol 🙂 As others have mentioned, it is insane that Henry took on the gargantuan task of breaking with Rome, rather than just changing this silly little law.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. poeturja says:

    Another fascinating blog, as always, Christine! I still puzzle over the prejudice against the matrilinear line. I mean, we almost always know who the mother is but the father can be ANYONE! Sigh…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. poeturja says:

    LOL, all those “good” kings were sired by the butler 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  13. poeturja says:

    Oh, yeah, let’s not forget that babe! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Lady Beltane says:

    I loved the video and post. I had no idea about the laws of England changing. If it were not for women leading and/o fighting along side men there would have been no England to name much less rule over. Look back to Bruhdica (sorry for the misspelled name) one of the strongest and most powerful leaders of all times! I often wonder if Queen Elizabeth 1 was her reincarnated? I reblogged this to Coven Life, thank you for the opportunity to share some factual information!

    Liked by 2 people

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