The second of Henry VIII of England’s six wives, Anne Boleyn is known as ‘Anne of a Thousand Days’ because that’s roughly how long she lasted as Henry’s queen. Henry was desperate for a son and heir, and married Anne hoping she would deliver them. But Anne’s first child was a daughter (future queen Elizabeth I of England), and her three successive pregnancies, although sons, resulted in one miscarriage, one stillbirth and one boy who died within minutes of his birth.
Never a patient man, Henry decided to rid himself of another wife (he had already gotten his first marriage annulled). Anne was not so lucky – her marriage too was annulled, but not before she was tried and convicted of adultery, incest and treason (adultery on the part of a queen was considered treason under law). She was sentenced to death, and beheaded in London. Upon her accession to the throne, Elizabeth took steps to restore her mother’s reputation.
Talula — Tori Amos
With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm — Stanley Holloway
Born somewhere between 1501 and 1507, Anne Boleyn was a notorious beauty, and attracted the eye of the English King, Henry VIII, very soon after coming to court in London in 1522. She did not lack for other suitors, but so far as can be determined she refused all of them, accepting the king’s suit only when he proposed marriage (and even then, consumation seems to have been delayed until after the wedding).
Unfortunately, Henry was already married to Catherine of Aragon. But Catherine had provided him with no heir to his crown, and Henry had already considered having the marriage annulled prior to meeting Anne. As his courtship of Anne progressed, the matter became more urgent. But the Pope refused to grant an annulment, and so Henry was trapped.
His solution to this conundrum was to break – albeit by slow increments – from the Church of Rome and appoint himself the head of the new Church of England. (The things a guy’ll do to get laid…) As the supreme religious authority in his kingdom, Henry granted himself his annulment, and married Anne, making her his Queen. During her time as Queen, Anne gave birth to one girl child, Elizabeth (who would later be Queen in her own right), and miscarried three times.
Less than three years after her coronation, Anne would become an inconvenience to Henry (as Catherine had before her), and would eventually be executed on what are widely believed to be trumped-up charges.
Anne Boleyn ‘The Day Thou Gavest Lord Hath Ended’ — Rick Wakeman
The 12th of October 1537 was a great day for England. The succession was finally assured, as Jane Seymour, third wife of King Henry VIII, gave birth to a son. Edward, later Edward VI and King of England in his turn, was christened three days after his birth, by which time it was quite clear that his mother was ill.
She died on the 24th of October, 12 days after Edward’s birth. Although it was widely rumoured that her death was the result of an ill-advised ceasarian section forced on her by her husband, historians now consider that unlikely, and a retained placenta which became infected is now thought to be the actual cause of her death.
It is notable that Henry VIII, who outlived all but one of his six wives, chose to be buried alongside Jane after his own death in 1547.
Lady Jane – The Rolling Stones
Jane Seymour – Rick Wakeman