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As you may remember from Philippa Gregory\'s bestseller-turned-motion picture The Other Boleyn Girl, Anne Boleyn\'s only sister, Mary, was the mistress of Henry VIII before her sister entered the picture. While that story contained plenty of inaccuracies, this claim was, in fact, correct.
The two sisters worked together for years. Along with Anne, Mary Boleyn once served Henry\'s sister, Mary, when she was Queen of France. Unlike Anne, Mary may have become the mistress of the new monarch of France, King Francis, who ascended to the throne once Louis XII died. Francis called her "my English mare" and a "great whore," but some scholars think these names were actually meant for Anne and Mary might not have had sex with Francis.
But Mary did definitely have relations with her sister\'s eventual husband, becoming Henry VIII\'s mistress once she returned to England. She succeeded Bessie Blount, mother of Henry\'s only acknowledged, legitimate child, in his bed, but their affair didn\'t last beyond a year or so. And despite The Other Boleyn Girl\'s claims, Mary\'s two children were most likely not Henry\'s, but those of her husband, whom she married around this time.
Mary\'s past with Henry came back to haunt Anne when the king sought to marry Mistress Boleyn. Technically, by legal standards of the time, trying to marry a woman whose sister he\'d seduced was incestuous, so Henry had to seek a papal dispensation. Ironic, considering one of the excuses Henry used to cast off his first wife was that Catherine had been his brother\'s wife.
Anne May Have Encouraged Her Cousin to Have Sex with Her Husband
Once they got married, Henry didn\'t remain fascinated with Anne for long, so he sought sexual healing elsewhere. Anne enlisted her own allies and relatives to spy on the king and be Henry\'s mistresses so that he wouldn\'t favor one of her enemies, who might turn Henry against her.
The ladies Anne convinced to seduce her own husband included one of her cousins, either Margaret or Mary Shelton (daughters of her father\'s sister). Ultimately, witnessing a relative have an affair with her husband made Anne intensely jealous and didn\'t really soften Henry up much.
Rumor Has It Her Mother Also Slept with Henry VIII
Anne\'s fiercest opponents spread a rumor that her eventual husband slept with her mother, Elizabeth Boleyn, Countess of Wiltshire. The Catholic confessor of the future Queen Mary I, who hated Anne for displacing her mother (and eventually her country\'s faith), hinted that Henry had had sex with three Boleyn women: the mother and her two daughters. A goldsmith\'s wife also suggested that Anne should be burned because Henry had slept with both her and her mother.
Henry definitely did sleep with both Boleyn sisters, Anne and Mary, but there\'s little evidence to suggest he ravished Elizabeth, as well. According to an account by a Catholic priest, Nicholas Sander, who hated the pro-Reformation Queen Anne, Henry\'s second wife was actually his own daughter by Elizabeth Boleyn! That claim was definitely as false as could be.
The Spanish ambassador to England admittedly hated Anne with a passion, instead supporting Henry\'s first wife, the aunt of the Spanish king-cum-Holy Roman Emperor. He reported that Anne plotted against Catherine of Aragon, Henry\'s first wife, and her daughter. When Catherine finally died, in January 1536, the ambassador recalled, Anne was so happy that she wore yellow, a color of joy, not mourning. Henry shouted in glee that they were finally free of the threat of war from Catherine\'s nephew. The day after Catherine\'s death, the happy family - mother, father, and their daughter, Elizabeth - paraded to church, the legitimate royal clan of England.
Shockingly, for the Time, She Was Crowned Using a King's Crown
Surprisingly for a consort (especially a non-royal one), when Anne was made Queen in 1533, she wore St. Edward\'s Crown. That was one of England\'s most ancient diadems, usually reserved for monarchs. When Catherine and Henry were crowned together years before, Henry got to wear St. Ed\'s diadem, but Catherine only wore one that had belonged to his wife.
This crown emphasized that Anne and the child she was carrying at the time of her coronation were the real royal family (excluding Catherine and her daughter, Mary). To be fair, though, Anne later donned a crown made especially for her, which was probably a bit lighter, but still pretty regal.
Before their marriage, Henry made Anne a peer (noble) in her own right in 1532, more than just a "lady" by virtue of her father\'s title as an earl. He appointed her Marquess of Pembroke, a title that was actually meant for a man: The wife of a marquess would be a marchioness. Unlike the majority of female nobles, who attained their titles by virtue of their fathers or husbands, Anne would hold a title in her own right, just like a male lord.
It was also important to make Anne a noble in her own right because Henry was taking her on an official visit to his biggest frenemy, Francis I of France. So Anne needed to be of sufficient rank to merit meeting a foreign king and being a consort of the English monarch. She was thus on par with - and actually outranked - many of the male nobles in the kingdom. Henry gave her the most gorgeous jewels in town, even asking his first wife to send back the royal gems, but she refused.
Henry Ordered a Special Swordsman for Anne's Execution
Once Henry had determined that Anne must die, he was kind of nice about it. He hired an expert swordsman from Calais, one of England\'s last territories in France, to make Anne\'s death was quick and (relatively) painless.
Anne herself was alternately happy and hysterical right before she was killed. One can imagine that facing death in that way could wreak havoc on anyone\'s emotions! A letter from the constable of the Tower of London, where she was held, mentioned that Anne even joked that she might be remembered as "Queen Anne Lack-Head" after her death.
She Probably Didn't Have an Extra Finger or Too Many Moles
Sure, Anne was cast in a witchy role late in life to justify her execution, but reports have lingered that she had a sixth finger on one hand and lots of moles all over her body, sorcerous features. Almost a century after Anne\'s death, a manuscript supposedly written by Anne\'s teenage sweetheart, the poet Thomas Wyatt, appeared. Wyatt\'s nephew circulated the information published therein, hinting that Anne had the beginnings of a fingernail on one hand, indicating an extra finger, and she had a few moles. But a few unusual features hardly made her a monster.
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> 18 Facts About the Dramatic Life of Anne Boleyn
Tagged: Anne Boleyn, historical facts, world history, top 10
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