I take my leave of the world and of youall, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commendmy soul. Anne Boleyn, before her execution Anne Boleyn is a historical figure who fascinates. She was executed in May 1536 after being convictedof crimes she probably never committed. Her marriage to tyrant, King Henry, led toher tragic demise. He accused her of witchcraft, incest, conspiracyagainst the King, and adultery. She was beheaded by a French swordsman. Henry felt that he was showing mercy by usingthe swordsman, rather than subjecting her to the rough blade of a guillotine. Today, wed like to share 10 fascinatingfacts about Anne Boleyn, who used sheer grit, intelligence and feminine wiles to win thelove of King Henry VIII and to usurp his lawful wife, Catherine of Aragon. 10. Annes Sister was Henrys First Mistress Anne wasnt really Henrys standard type. She represented a marked deviation from thenorm. Before he met the charming and intelligentAnne, who had very dark hair and a slim build, he preferred buxom, golden-haired ladies.Annes own sister, Mary, who didnt haveAnnes book learning, vaulting ambition, progressive religious views and rapier wit,did fit Henrys (initial) ideal of what a woman should look like and she caughtthe eye of the King before Anne came to his court, by way of the more sophisticated FrenchCourt. Anne and Mary were both lovely-looking, butvery different from one another. The two sisters are often portrayed as rivals(this is surely an accurate portrayal in at least some respects!), most notably in thepopular, beautifully-written and compelling Phillipa Gregory novel, The Other Boleyn Girl,which was adapted into a film. The movie starred Natalie Portman as brunetteAnne and Scarlett Johansson as the honey-haired Mary. 9. Annes French Manners Enchanted Henry Anne Boleyn spent seven years serving FrancesQueen Claude, who was crowned in 1517. During this phase of young Annes life,she was likely a translator for Claude de France, who would have needed to understandwhat English guests who visited the various royal residences in France were saying. Her duties as lady-in-waiting to the Queen(who reportedly had a sweet nature and suffered from scoliosis) exposed her to French ways,dress and manners.As she adopted French mannerisms and embraceda Gallic-inspired image, she honed her natural feminine wiles to a sharp point. The decadence of the French court was thestuff of legend and Annes time there gave her a veneer of exoticism which allowed herto edge out her sister, Mary, as the Kings favorite. Mary suffered great damage to her reputationdue to her status as Henrys mistress. Marys family encouraged her to enchantthe King, just as Anne was later encouraged to replace her. The Boleyns were pragmatic (cold-hearted?)in terms of pushing Anne forward and alternatively used her and her sister (sometimes, they usedboth at once) to secure riches, position and favor for the family, until they settled exclusivelyon Anne for this purpose. At this stage in history, almost all womenwere mere pawns in the games of men. However, Anne distinguished herself as a strongerplayer than her sister, until her short, three-year reign ended and she met her tragic fate.Anne was a notorious royal who played a verydangerous game. Her story calls to mind the words of the fictionalQueen Cersei from Game of Thrones: When you play the game of thrones, youwin or you die. Lady Mary, whod had a liaison with KingFrancis I of France prior to becoming the mistress of the English king, lacked Anneslust for power, but didnt lose her life with one expert swipe of a Frenchmans sword! 8. Anne Held a Grudge Against King Henry Before she began a relationship with KingHenry VIII, its certain that Anne was no fan of his. Its also probable that she was no fan ofhis afterwards. She was a fan of power, money and social positionand this was what the King offered to her, at the highest possible level, in the greatestpossible abundance. King Henry VIII had stepped in to break herbetrothal to the man that she loved.By all reports, Anne had loved the young man,whose name was Henry Percy, quite fiercely. Against her familys wishes (the Boleynssurely knew that the king would disapprove, as Henry Percy had been promised to another,Lady Mary Talbot, by Percys father, and therefore Annes family very sensibly discouragedthe match), she had secretly become engaged to the young man, who was the scion of oneof Englands most powerful and established families. Anne did hope to marry very well and the matchwould have been a coup for her. Henry intervened. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey broke the betrothalupon Henrys request, to Annes great rage and sadness. Henry Percy, who was the 6th Earl of Northumberland,was later forced into a marriage with Lady Mary Talbot. The marriage was not a happy one. Historians are not in agreement as to whetherKing Henry had a romantic interest in Anne when he arranged to have the betrothal broken. However, they all agree that Anne was veryunhappy with the situation. 7. She Played Hard to Get Anne worked hard to get what she wanted fromHenry.Her goal was marriage. To be a mistress was never her ambition, asmistresses cant enjoy the pleasures and prestige of being true royalty. She learned about the transient nature ofbeing a kings mistress from her own sister! With her goal always in mind, she held himback by refusing to sleep with him (for a long time, anyway), while romancing him andencouraging him to do away with Catherine of Aragon (pictured above), who was his lawfulwife. King Henry VIII was under Annes spell. He was bewitched by her social acumen, brainsand style. He went to extreme lengths to make her hiswife. It was not an easy task to complete. However, his acts against her, when she nolonger pleased, were equally extreme. 6. She Sparked the English Reformation One of the most important consequences ofAnnes dalliance with the King was the English Reformation. Henry made the decision to get rid of hiswife Catherine, despite the disapproval of the Catholic Church, which was based in Rome.With a mind to bypassing the Church and gettingwhat he wanted, he made himself the head of a new Church (The Church of England). This change gave him the power to access alegal divorce. The English people werent too upset aboutthe English Reformation. They felt that Romes Catholic Church wasusing them all for financial gain. 5. She Failed to Hold the Kings Interest Even Anne, with her considerable charms andher single-minded desire to hang onto power and position, could not hold the Kingsinterest forever. He was a difficult man and he become morecantankerous as he aged. With Henry, love inevitably turned to hate. During the marriage, the King became disillusionedas he mulled over the grand sacrifices that he had made for the sake of marrying AnneBoleyn. Hed broken from Rome, had friendsexecuted, put aside his first wife (who loved him well!), hurt his daughter, Mary (by Catherineof Aragon) and then proceeded to experience the cooling-down of passion that often happensafter the honeymoon phase of a marriage winds down.As well, Anne had promised to give him a son,and she hadnt delivered. Her failure to produce a male heir was likelythe catalyst for her demise. 4. Anne Couldnt Bear Henry a Son Kings in Henrys time needed male heirs. Anne gave birth to a daughter (and what adaughter she was!), but could not bear him a son, despite her repeated promises to doso. This likely caused the couple a lot of stressand pain. Catherine of Aragon had also failed to giveher regent a son. Catherine had borne him a baby boy who diedin infancy. Then, she miscarried another son. Like Anne, she had produced one girl for herKing. Henry began to feel that God was telling himsomething. He considered his union with Anne and feltthat it might be the reason why God was denying him a male heir. This line of thinking led to Annes execution. Henry would try again with Jane Seymour. It was Jane Seymour who produced the much-desired,legitimate male heir (a mistress, Bessie Blount, had previously given him an illegitimate sonnamed Henry Fitzroy).However, Henry paid a heavy price for hislittle prince. Seymour perished due to post-natal complications(within two weeks of giving birth to the future, King Edward IV). 3. She Was Accused of Heinous Crimes Anne was accused of the worst. Historians believe that she couldnt havecommitted the crimes that she was accused of and convicted of, including incest withher own brother, since records demonstrate that she wasnt in the right places at theright times on the dates in question.The truth is that Anne had likely crossedHenry at a crucial juncture, when hed become infatuated with her future replacement, JaneSeymour. The King had a nasty habit of turning on friends,family, and lovers when they no longer served a purpose or when he perceived betrayal. They say that absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is perhaps why he chose to hurt Anneas much as possible by painting her as a witch, adulteress, participant in incest and conspiratoragainst himself. He may have hurt her because he could. No one could stop him because no one elsespower exceeded his own. Another possibility is that smearing her inthis manner meant that the problem of Anne could be solved rapidly. The drawn-out process of banishing his firstwife, Catherine of Aragon, with a mind to replacing her with Anne, had surely taughthim that expediency was preferable. While its certain that Anne Boleyn wasno angel, its safe to say that the trial against her was a bona fide Kangaroo Court.2. Her Eleventh Finger is Likely a Myth King Henry VIII had six wives. However, one of them, Anne Boleyn, probablydid not have six fingers on her right hand! The story of the eleventh finger ofthe doomed Queen is most likely the product of a vicious smear campaign. The tale of the eleventh finger waswritten by Nicholas Sander, who was a Catholic propagandist. He wrote about the Queen decades after shedbeen executed. In his writing, he referred to seeing a sixthfinger on her right hand, as well as a tooth under her lower lip which projected most unattractively. As if these two imperfections werent enough,his ungentlemanly account included information about an unsightly cyst on her throat. The problem is that Sander never actuallysaw the Queen in person. Also, Henry was not typically attracted towomen who werent conventionally good-looking, whether blonde (Mary), brunette (Anne), orredheaded (Catherine of Aragon had red-gold hair). With Henrys tastes in mind, its veryunlikely that Anne would have enchanted him (as she clearly did, and for quite a while,too!) if she had an extra finger, a tooth which stuck out, and a prominent cyst on herswanlike neck.While the idea of Anne having the extra finger,which could be perceived as the mark of a witch, is certainly dramatic, its probablyway off base. Well never know for sure, though. 1. Anne Gave Birth to the Virgin Queen Anne failed to deliver a male hair. However, she produced something exquisitenonetheless. Her daughter, Elizabeth, was born on the seventhof September, 1533. Elizabeth underwent many trials and tribulations(including a year of imprisonment) before being crowned Queen Elizabeth I on the seventeenthof November, 1558.She reigned as the Virgin Queen until herpassing in March of 1603. What did the Virgin Queen do for England? Plenty. Notable achievements during her reign (andthis just scratches the surface!) included the creation of a moderate religious policy,the writing of a Poor Law which benefited the needy, the defeat of the Spanish Armada,and the promotion of literacy and scientific thought. Elizabeth was just eight years old when sheannounced that she would never marry. She stuck to her decision.Her desire to avoid matrimony was logicaland understandable..