King Henry VIII Marries Anne Boleyn During A Secret Ceremony

Daniel Maclise 1806-1870, National Portrait Gallery, London

Today on January 25th 1533, King Henry VIII of England secretly marries Anne Boleyn at a private ceremony in London.

King Henry VIII was one of England’s most notorious and scandalous monarchs. Henry had six wives throughout his 38 year reign with Anne Boleyn being his second bride. He was initially having an affair with Anne’s sister while still married to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Henry’s eyes eventually gazed towards Anne and she initially resisted his sexual advances. However, by early 1533, it became clear that Anne was pregnant with her first child. Henry was forced into taking quick action and married her during a private ceremony in London. His marriage to Anne created religious tension and forced him to officially break ties with the Roman Catholic Church.

Five months later, Anne was formally crowned as Queen of England in a lavish ceremony held at Westminster Abbey. In September, she gave birth to their only child named Elizabeth Tudor. Anne’s daughter would eventually ascend to the throne as Elizabeth I and become one of England’s longest reigning monarchs. As time went on, Henry became increasingly obsessed with having a son and male heir. Over the next two years, Anne had two miscarriages. From Henry’s perspective, it became clear that she would not fulfill his needs and blamed her for this misfortune.

In 1536, Anne was suddenly arrested on charges of adultery and witchcraft. She was investigated by a secret commission that included her father and uncle. The adultery charges claimed she slept with five men including her own brother, Lord George Rochford. She was swiftly convicted, imprisoned in the Tower of London and beheaded. Of Henry’s six wives, Anne Boleyn is perhaps the most well-known. Here’s an easy way to remember the sequential fate for each of Henry’s wives: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

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