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You have a right to speak your mind about Anne Boleyn and I’m not going to tell you not to post your ideas about her. I only wish that you would keep an open mind; Anne was a very complex woman, love her or hate her, and you cannot be one-sided when it comes to discussing her life as there were many sides to it. In general a woman can’t be polarized as a saint or a whore -- Anne Boleyn was neither, and if you are going to call her either one, then you are just plain wrong.

Are biographies of Anne Boleyn biased? Yes, they are — but not all of them in favor of her. A biography of Anne Boleyn is a historian’s interpretation of the letters, records, poems, and chronicles detailing her life and not all of them agree. G.W. Bernard’s Anne Boleyn is an entirely plain woman guilty of adultery; Joanna Denny’s Anne Boleyn is a Protestant hero; Eric Ives’ Anne Boleyn is an ambitious, intelligent but ultimately imperfect humanist. If you agree with none of their interpretations and find them all biased, that is just fine; you could pick out the Letters and Papers, chronicles of ambassadors, quotations of contemporaries and other records and find your own Anne Boleyn based on the facts. I can almost guarantee that if you did that, you would not find a ‘lecherous whore’, and if you are unwilling to do so, then you have no right to judge her.

Was Anne Boleyn truly a lecherous whore with a grasping family? Anne Boleyn was seductive, flirtatious, and, even before catching the king’s eye, attractive to an abundance of men. Even before spurning the king she had spurned Sir Thomas Wyatt for being a married man, so it is not so impossible that she initially denied Henry VIII for matters of her authentic virtue. Anne did not push for Henry’s love and her family probably did not push her; she tried to elude it but was intelligent enough to realize a king’s love had benefits, and there is nothing wrong with that, as his desire was inevitable anyway and that was no fault of hers. The king bestowed upon her and her family titles and wealth of his own accord. Anne Boleyn was not a man-stealer or a homewrecker. Henry VIII had left Catherine’s bed two years before pursuing Anne, and had begun exploring the chance of annulment two years before pursuing Anne. She had a strong enough knowledge of foreign diplomacy and scripture to help him in his case, endorsing reformist pamphlets and leading secret reform meetings for the king, and for that she should be admired and not slut-shamed.

How was Anne a good Christian woman if she encouraged the king to rid of Catherine? Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon were pious in their own ways. Catherine was raised believing that the only true faith was Roman Catholicism, while Anne was brought up in the French court where Marguerite of Navarre encouraged evangelical reform and even Protestant ideas. Marguerite shaped the religious views of the Protestant Princess Renee (sister of King Francis's wife, Queen Claude), and Renee and Anne were famously close; there is no question these ideas were spread to Anne Boleyn especially based on her treatment of the English Reformation later in life. Anne agreed with Henry that canon law forbid his marriage with Catherine, and she encouraged him to follow scripture. She did not just manipulate reformist ideals to have her way and become queen through appointing whichever Protestant bishops supported her or using whatever reformist laws condoned her relationship with Henry. If she was only fighting for whichever cause suited her best, then she would not demand a poor 'heretic' man being persecuted for his views be left alone/forgiven. If she was note genuine about her ideas for religious reform and tolerance, she would not see the need to implore mercy for reformers who lacked power to help her. If she was not a good Christian then she would not have fought Cromwell, and thus fallen further out of favor with her husband the king, for moneys of monasteries to go to education and the poor.

Did Anne Boleyn get what she deserved? Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn were both victims of the same man. It is difficult to revere one and not the other. Again, Anne Boleyn did not steal any man’s husband; Henry was already separated from his wife and she only guided him in what they both believed was morally right — that his marriage was against canon law. He knew that he needed a son, accepted in his heart that his marriage was null, and desired Anne Boleyn. HIS treatment of Catherine was often more cruel than necessary, but I see nothing evil or deserving of the loss of five loved ones and a head on Anne’s part, from the above list. Even if Anne Boleyn had stolen Henry from Catherine’s bed and trained his mind to ridding of her, I think that that is far from deserving of death, humiliation, and eternal shame.

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