Site Index

Home Page | Site map | Pre-Celts | The Celts | Romans | Saxons and Vikings | Normans | Medieval | Articles | Search | RSS

Site News

New: Article on the Medieval minsters of Beverley, Rippon and York, submitted by Stuart Sharp.

We now have an RSS feed so you can stay up to date with the latest news here.

We've added lots more images. Check out the new photos on our Roman history site, such as Hadrian's Wall. Great new photos of Stonehenge and Avebury are on megalithic sites


Our castles pictures and notes have been updated with Farleigh Hungerford Castle. A full list of the historical galleries we have on line is also available now.

An Examination of the significance for the Reformation in England of Anne Boleyn

Page 2

Ives saw Henry as one of the only two English monarchs before Elizabeth II (the other being Edward IV) to marry for love. He evidences the passion expressed in their letters. I feel that other factors, such as the need for an heir and the opportunity to impose his power over the church and profit from its wealth, were also of at least equal importance to Henry. Nevertheless, there were clearly adverse diplomatic consequences for Henry in pushing for the annulment, against Katherine's powerful family connections, so he must have had compelling reasons for pushing the matter.

Hever Castle - Anne Boleyn's Family Seat

Anne (whose sister had previously been Henry's mistress) originally refused Henry's advances and only came to welcome them when Henry made it clear that he was seeking an annulment and would be free to marry her. Henry continued to be reluctant to break with Rome, throughout their courtship and showed indecision, had secret reconciliations with Katherine and quarrels with Anne, but by 1532 he had changed his direction. Boleyn's relatives continually used their influence to encourage him to break with Rome. It was Anne's pregnancy and the opportunity to gain an heir that finally convinced Henry to push through the final acts. This bears out Hume's vision of Henry as a weak and vacillating man. It tends to suggest that Anne was ambitious and determined to become queen.

Where several writers have treated both Anne and Catherine as pawns of their powerful families, this seems a debatable approach to me. Catherine's family was powerful enough to influence the pope in her favour by force and diplomacy, but in this case, they were seeking to act on her behalf and not vice versa. The evidence for a Boleyn faction is confusing (see Loades and Walker.) Anne's relations and Anne herself were certainly passionately anti-Wolsey. I feel that an argument that treats women's kinship connections as somehow determinate but which treats men's kinship connections as merely part of their spheres of influence as flawed is part of the processes of obscuring women's contributions to history. While in power, she sought to advance her family's considerable existing influence at court and in religious issues. Anne's fall was certainly related to the manoeuvrings of her family's enemies (as well as to her failure to bear a live male heir and to Henry's lust for a new bride) but this would be true of any Tudor politician.

Against the view that Anne was almost a cipher for powerful male relatives, several historians have reexamined Anne's role with more attention.


See separate section


Etrusia is in the process of compiling a list of national events. If you are organising, supporting, publicising or simply know of an event related to any part of the UK history then let us know and we will add it to our list.

XHTML 1.1 CSS 2.0