Henry VIII suffered ‘great grief’ over Anne Boleyn’s death

Anne Boleyn conspiracy theory discussed by expert

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Anne Boleyn was the second wife of Henry VIII, the woman he famously fell for during his first marriage. Anne was a lady-in-waiting for the King’s first wife Catherine of Aragon, and Henry, who reigned as King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547, was immediately enthralled by her beauty. His captivation with her — and Catherine’s failure to give him a male heir — led the King to ask Pope Clement VII for an annulment. When his appeals to the pontiff were rejected, he split from the Catholic Church and created the Church of England. Henry and Anne married, but when, like Catherine, his second wife was unable to give birth to a healthy baby boy, the King famously ordered her execution, a brutal decision that one historian claims Henry came to regret.

Henry and Anne spent a few years in marital bliss, the pair welcoming a daughter who would go on to become Queen Elizabeth I. While the King professed to love Elizabeth, he was disappointed by the birth of a baby girl and still longed for a son to succeed him.

By 1536, three years after their official wedding, Anne had suffered three miscarriages. Her and Henry’s relationship soured, with hostilities only exacerbated by rumours surrounding Anne’s infidelity.

Henry had already begun courting Jane Seymour, who later gave birth to his successor Edward VI.

That same year, Anne was arrested and tried for adultery, incest, and high treason. She was executed on May 19.

A historian has since revealed that Henry may well have regretted his actions towards his second wife, with key evidence about his feelings towards her “going unnoticed” for centuries.

Sandra Vasoli, author of the acclaimed study Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower, explained Henry, in his final hours, expressed remorse for the execution of Anne.

Ms Vasoli made her discovery in a French book held in the archives of the British Library.

The expert previously told Express.co.uk: “You can see this writing, although it’s difficult because it’s all in old French. There might even be more in his book about it, but who is going through this humongous volume of old French? Nobody. So, a lot of this stuff I think goes unnoticed.”

Henry revealed his regret to those close to him as he lay dying in 1547.

Bishop White Kennett, a 17th-century historical expert and translator, by whom the volume Ms Vasoli unearthed from the archives was written, said Henry acknowledged “with great grief” the death of Anne.

He cited the book, Cosmographie Universelle, written by French writer, traveller and Franciscan friar André Thevet, who lived at the same time as the Tudor King and may have been present at his death.

Thevet wrote: “The King acknowledges with great grief at his death the injuries he had done to the lady Anne Boleyn and her daughter. Several English gentlemen have confided to me that he has repented upon his deathbed of the injustices done to Queen Anne Boleyn.”

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He continued: “Of her having been falsely accused, and for the punishment imposed upon her that she died in good Christian standing and is to be buried in accordance with the church of Rome. It is in association with this situation, that he [Henry] has attempted to right these injustices, and with his whole heart, signs his name to this testimony.”

Ms Vasoli argued the account provided by Thevet corresponds with what historians already know about Henry’s final days.

She said: “It does actually fit in, because in the last hours of his life, in the last days of his life, there were only a very select few people who were around him. We know Sir Anthony Denny was asked to tell Henry that his hours were limited and his death was imminent.

“And at that point, they summoned Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop, but by the time he arrived from wherever he was, Henry couldn’t speak anymore. There were a few people who were there with him at his time of death.”

She concluded: “You have to wonder to whom Henry confessed this grief and if they confessed it or told it to this Franciscan friar.”

Henry VIII died in 1547 having suffered from deteriorating health for some years. He was succeeded by his only surviving son, Edward VI.

It was Henry’s daughters who became more famous rulers, however, with Mary I, daughter of Catherine of Aragon, reigning after Edward’s death in 1553 until her own in 1558, and Elizabeth I, daughter of Anne Boleyn, ruling for 45 years thereafter.

Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower: A New Assessment was written by Sandra Vasoli and published by MadeGlobal Publishing in 2015. It is available here.

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