“Yes, for Anne had seen for herself that it was possible to be an independent thinker, set free from the pattern of sinful Eve or patient Griselda.”
– Joanna Denny, Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England’s Tragic Queen
Some historical figures just capture the imagination. Whether it’s their heroic deeds, incredible bravery, legendary deviousness, or even their sheer evil, these are the people who will live forever in the hearts and minds of people all over the world.
Anne Boleyn is one of those figures.
Anne was Queen of England for three years. She ruled from 1533 to 1536, as the husband of King Henry the Eighth. Before their marriage, Henry pursued Anne for years… although she repeatedly refused him. Which is saying something: a medieval woman with such strong opinions on her own matchmaking was extremely rare. It was only after Henry left his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, that Anne finally agreed to the match. Talk about hard to get.
In a time when women were often little more than pawns in the games that men played, Anne stands out as an empowering (if ultimately tragic) figure. As the stigma and misogyny she would have faced are becoming better understood, so to is Anne’s story. To this day, historians debate Anne’s actions and motivations as they would any other character of historical importance. And for a woman born in medieval Europe, that’s no small feat. In the face of difficult circumstances, she managed to build a legacy that stands alone.