In 1525, Henry VIII was wanting of a male heir and growing impatient. And it seemed highly unlikely that his wife Catherine would be able to produce one. At the same time, he grew enamoured with Anne Boleyn. She was young, beguiling, and refused his advances. Even married women would not refuse his advances.
Time passed and Henry considered the options in his quest for that all-important male heir, but the one he favoured most was to make Anne his wife. This was not that easy, but he concocted a plan. He appealed to the Pope to annul his first marriage on the grounds that he should never have been able to marry his brother’s wife. This was refused. And so eventually he decided to break away from Rome as well as Catherine, beginning a series of events that led to the English Reformation.
To be clear, the reformation aligned with some movements already occurring within the country and throughout Europe affecting opinions on the Catholic Church and the practices of Christianity. But this move on Henry’s part, certainly played to his own interests. If we were to parallel this break from Rome with modern day Brexit, Anne Boleyn would be a key figure in the leave camp. Her promise to deliver a son was a dogged slogan slapped on the side of a bus. It’s unclear how devout she was to the Protestant cause, but, it would be fair to say, that convincing Henry not to remain with his wife was a unmistakable power play for the top.
I do like Anne Boleyn though. She was intelligent and she surprised and outplayed a lot of people. She refused to succumb to a traditional female role during Henry’s pursual of her or as his wife. Of course, it didn’t work out that well for her in the end, but she certainly left her mark. And her daughter Elizabeth, once she made it to the top, refused to ever become a wife or a mother, and proved herself to be far more of a strong and stable leader than Edward, Henry’s eventual male heir.