Anne Boleyn 'did conspire to kill Henry VIII' reveals expert
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Anne Boleyn was Henry VIII’s second wife, who he later imprisoned and had beheaded at the Tower of London. The Tower has held a string of key figures throughout history, including Guy Fawkes, Sir Walter Raleigh and Lady Jane Grey. The fascinating story of the 11th-century citadel continues to evolve to this day and is being explored in a new Channel 5 series. ‘Inside the Tower of London’ catches up with those preserving the Tower’s legacy and managing its grounds.
In Episode 2 of a fresh season of the programme, which airs tonight, a pair of baby ravens join the Tower’s famous colony of feathered residents.
Meanwhile, governor brigadier Andrew Jackson and head Yeoman Warder – or beefeater – Pete McGowran are preparing a new event to mark the Tower’s reopening to the public after England’s COVID-19 lockdown.
Anne Boleyn was first interned in the Tower as a queen-in-waiting before her marriage to Henry VIII and subsequent coronation in 1533.
However, in 1536 she was arrested and returned to the prison, where she was executed by a French swordsman.
Her charges included adultery, treason and an alleged incestuous relationship with her brother.
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Anne’s heartfelt written correspondence to Henry during her spell behind bars is well-known, however the King was also a keen wordsmith himself, and penned several love letters to her during their relationship.
Anne was originally Henry’s mistress during his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
He later broke from Rome to secure a divorce from Catherine and married Anne.
However, their relationship deteriorated after she failed to provide him with a male heir and he became besotted with Jane Seymour, Anne’s lady-in-waiting.
However, their love in the early years of their relationship can clearly be seen in the letters he sent her.
One letter from June 1528 showed a “distraught” Henry in a “state of panic”, according to historian Sandra Vasoli.
The author of the book, ‘Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower: A New Assessment’, said in an unearthed 2014 blog for theanneboleynfiles.com that the King’s words had “brought tears to her eyes”.
Henry’s letter to Anne came as he learned that his mistress had been struck down by a bout of sweating sickness, a disease which appeared as an epidemic in England in 1528, as well as on other occasions.
It is part of a cache of 17 letters Henry wrote to Anne, which are housed in the Biblioteca Apostolica in the Vatican Library in Rome.
As Ms Vasoli visited the archives, she said she “drew in her breath in shock” at the sight of Henry’s letter regarding Anne’s illness.
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The historian said his letter – written in French – was “splattered with droplets of ink, smudged from his large hand smearing”.
The King’s message, as well as his aggressive quilling and sprays of ink, were indicative of a man “completely and totally in love”, Ms Vasoli said.
She wrote: “His message, as the pen attacked the page, is emotional and almost pathetic in its poignancy.
“He states that he would willingly bear the illness in her place and bemoans the fact that they are apart at such a terrible time.”
Henry was apparently upset that his chief physician was unavailable to see Anne.
Instead, the King said that “to obtain one of my chief joys on earth – that is the care of my mistress”, he would send William Butts, his second-in-command physician.
Ms Vasoli said: “He then beseeches her to do as the doctor advises.
“He closes by telling her that he hopes to see her again, which will be a greater comfort than all the precious jewels in the world.”
The historian added that Henry’s depth of feeling for Anne was “eminently visible” and that she was clearly the “love of his life”.
‘Inside the Tower of London’ airs on Channel 5 from 8pm-9pm tonight.
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