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The Anne Boleyn Villain Series: A Love Affair
By Bayly Odgen
In 1521 C.E., after the Field of Cloth of the Gold, Anne Boleyn was recalled back to the England at the age of twenty. Anne’s return to England was during the Shrovetide, the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which placed her arrival during the winter of 1521 to 1522 C.E. She was given a leading part in the festivities, in a play whose theme was woman’s power over man’s heart. Each women in the play portrayed a virtue; Anne was “perseverance.” Anne and King Henry VIII probably met for the first time at the play. Henry himself starred in the performance as one of the noble knights (Starkey 265-266).
After meeting Anne, King Henry VIII was immediately interested in pursuing a “relationship” with her. But he was not her only courter. There were other men interested in Lady Anne. The first suitor was Henry Percy. Henry Percy was the son and heir of the Earl of Northumberland. Anne and Henry Percy met during the festival of Shrovetide, where the attraction between them was immediate. Soon they would enter a secret betrothal.
Another suitor was Thomas Wyatt, a courtier and poet. Even though Wyatt was already married, it did not stop him from courting Anne to become his mistress. Evidence of Wyatt’s pursuit of Anne Boleyn lies in the sonnet “If Waker Care” that he wrote for her (Zagorin 118). Unlike her handling with Henry Percy, Anne avoided the dilemma with Wyatt by being “hot enough to keep in play, cold enough to freeze him out whenever things threatened to go too far” (Starkey 280).
Henry VIII's reaction to the other suitors' advancements was swift. He immediately gave the task of eliminating Percy to Cardinal Wolsey, which resulted in the discovery of the secret betrothal between Anne and Percy. According to the historian Perez Zagorin, Wyatt quickly disappeared when he discovered his rival was the King and admired Anne from afar (Zagorin 122).
The courtship between Anne and Henry VIII began with the exchange of letters. Starkey estimates that the letter-writing phase of their relationship started between 1526 to 1528 C.E. In 1527 C.E., Henry and Anne exchanged vows of commitment and devotion, which made Anne his sole mistress (Starkey 284). This prompted Wolsey to open the Secret Trial of the King’s marriage.
Stay tuned for the next installment of "The Anne Boleyn Villain Series," due out April 2, 2012. Read the original post here.