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Anne Boleyn Questions – Did Henry VIII love Anne Boleyn?

Posted By on January 18, 2019

A few months ago, I asked you for questions about Anne Boleyn that you would like me to answer. Thank you for coming up with so many, and also for asking such interesting ones. I knew I could count on you!

I decided that I’d do a series of videos answering a question at a time and I’ve just recorded this video on the question “Did Henry VIII love Anne Boleyn?”. As I explain in the video, it’s impossible to answer and only Henry could tell us, but I am sharing with you what I think.

I’d love to hear what you think so please leave comments below sharing your opinion, or you can comment on the video on YouTube. You can also subscribe to the Anne Boleyn Files and Tudor Society YouTube Channel to be notified when these videos and my new “on this day in Tudor history” videos go live by clicking on the red “subscribe” button at https://www.youtube.com/user/AnneBoleynFiles/.

If you don’t want the volume turned on, or you are hearing impaired, then you can turn on closed captions by clicking on the “CC” or the settings cog in the right-hand bottom corner of the video. They’re not perfect but they will help.

Notes and Sources

  • Cavendish, George (1827) The Life of Cardinal Wolsey, Second Edition, Harding & Lepard, p. 121.
  • Starkey, David (2004) Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, Vintage.
  • Ives, Eric (2005) The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Wiley-Blackwell.
  • “Sandra Vasoli on the love letters of Henry VIII”, talk on 6 January 2015, The Tudor Society.
  • Lindsey, Karen (1996) Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation Of The Wives Of Henry VIII, Da Capo Press.

74 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn Questions – Did Henry VIII love Anne Boleyn?”

  1. I believe Henry did love Anne in his own way but how quickly he turned to his hatred is still confusing was it no male heir or did he believe she was unfaithful.

  2. Diane Payne says:

    I do agree with you Claire regarding Henry falling out of love with Anne and becoming infatuated with Jane Seymour. Do you think that the indecent haste with which Henry despatched Anne may have had something to do with the possibility that Jane Seymour may have been pregnant or at least there was the possibility of a pregnancy. That Henry and Jane had begun sleeping together.

  3. Christine says:

    It is very difficult to analyse the feelings of Henry V111 towards Anne Boleyn in the early days when he began to woo her, like most men he noticed a fine figure huge eyes and flowing hair, obviously he felt desire but when unsatisfied he realised he could not get her out of his mind, I believe he had a fancy for her which grew and grew until it turned into an all uncompassing love, the hastily written letter he wrote when he realised she could be dying is proof of that, he turned the world upside down for her he would not do that for a girl he had a mild fancy for, and who had rejected him time and again, they pledged to marry and I believe they were both content to wait before sleeping together because of the risk of a bastard child, so yes I believe he did genuinely sincerely love her, he waited for seven long years for the pope to dissolve his first marriage and during that time his feelings towards her did not waver, what is much harder to define is why his love for her began to die, It is something which puzzles a lot of historians, surely the love which had made a King defy the pope endure forever? Henry V111 and Anne Boleyn to me are like Tritran and Isolde Paris and Helen, Nelson and Emma Hamilton, Napolean and Josephine, those loves endured through bad times though some are mythological, but the fact is Henry V111 caused political upheaval in his country and rejected his faithful wife of twenty years all for love of Anne Boleyn, then just three years into their marriage she was dead, some would say this is proof that he was just obsessed with her and the need for a son, and that obsession was fuelled by her initial rejection of him, in the early days maybe but I believe his actions as I explained are proof of his very real love for her, his letters stored in the Vatican proclaim to the world that of a man as he himself declared ‘struck by the dart of love’.

    1. Henry was no different then anyone else–we knew he liked to hunt! Then chase of a woman is no different—the chase and the giggle is gone and marriage settles in–most of us can love and stay married but someone like him can love and decide working at a marriage is not worth his time—-NEXT PLEASE!!!

    2. I agree that Henry was fickle about whom he loved . He. Lost jane Seymour before he had the opportunity to replace his love for her with someone else . Plus, Jane was young and beautiful and had given him a son. I think jane ‘s death from puerperal fever, that was caused by a rough delivery, stirred up some guilt in Henry. Henry chose to be buried with Jane whom he identified as his “ true” wife.

  4. Debra Cole says:

    I believe Henry thought he was in love with Anne. He was in ” lust” for her. When she turned him down, he became infatuated. I think to Henry that meant he was in love with her and had to have her. I think once he had her, she got pregnant, and he married her in secret. Once she gave birth to Elizabeth, I think his infatuation started to end. And as she had miscarriages, I think his feelings started to turn away from her. Started to turn to disgust and eventually to hate.

  5. ElanaBeth Fariss says:

    No way could he have truly loved her, in my opinion. Love is sacrifice, it stands the test of time. There are many kinds of love, and quite possibly you could say he did in a more superficial kind of way. Perhaps it was the thrill and not the kill of the chase, no pun intended.
    Henry served Henry. That’s what I believe, otherwise he would have honored his marriage to Catherine in the first place and left her alone to be with the one that loved her.

    1. In my opinion Henry loved no one but Henry . His ego could not allow it . Had either one of his first two wives given him a male heir things might have been markedly different and history changed . Also due to his own philandering nature Henry felt that he was privileged to do as he pleased . After all he was the King . One must also consider the era. , Then it was quite the norm for behavior of this sort , privilege quite outweighed morals .

      1. Banditqueen says:

        I agree with you regarding the overwhelming need for a male heir, either Anne or Katherine would have been untouchable if even one of their male babies had have survived, but the evidence shows a man more than capable of love, especially during his first two decades on the throne.

        I must disagree with your comment on his philandering nature, however. As you say we must consider the times, that men were expected to show masculinity and sexual dominance, which included having a temporary sexual partner during the latter stages of their wives pregnancy. Compared to his contemporaries and contrary to legend Henry wasn’t that much of a philanderer. He had very few mistresses and he married two of them. That also doesn’t prove that he loved nobody but himself, although I respect your opinion. I believe the woman he loved most, however, wasn’t Anne Boleyn, although he was passionately in love with him and she actually flattered his ego, but his first wife, Katherine, because Henry used her as the benchmark his other wives, including Anne could never measure up to. He even said so in one of their public rows. I believe Katherine, alive and dead was like a huge shadow between them. We only see his relationship with his Queen for over 20 years in terms of his later treatment of her, but that is not a balanced view. We should also remember that for years Katherine was the one he adored, the one he rode for at tournaments, danced with, shared loss and laughter with and held in high regard. He didn’t even tell her to leave until Anne moaned in 1531. Katherine was later treated unfairly and poorly but she still had all her needs met, servants, 200 of them and adequate accommodation, but she was separated from her daughter and moved at the Kings command and her health suffered. She was also sent commissioners but refused to accept she wasn’t Queen. Henry was willing to be more than generous had she done so, but he now had changed and he wasn’t going to be told what to do or defied. Katherine was restricted more and more because of this. Things became especially hard when she moved to Kimbolton Castle which was luxurious but suffered from dampness. She was also restricted visitors. However, Chapuys managed to see her as did her friend who turned up in the snow, gained access and went to Katherine’s rooms. Henry ‘s behaviour may seem as if he didn’t care, but that’s the problem, he did care, ironically, which is why he tried so hard to change her mind. Whatever the truth of how he felt now he had loved Katherine very much, the evidence clearly shows this. People and circumstances change and Henry changed. The love letters he wrote to Anne are proof he loved her but again the tragic pressure of needing to provide a son and heir tore them apart. Henry ceased to love Anne, probably for many reasons and in fact love turned to hate. We make the mistake in judging Henry in light of what happened to Anne Boleyn, because she was innocent, but when he courted her, he fell deeply in love and he was a very different person. That is something we often forget.

  6. Diane Epstein says:

    I believe that Henry was infatuated with Anne……She played ‘hard to get’ and this encouraged him to pursue her. He fell out of ‘love’ very quickly….when she wasn’t delivering as expected. She must have been quite intriguing for Henry to want to divorce Catherine. Does ‘love’ enter the picture ? I don’t know what ‘love’ meant in the medieval world….!!

  7. Alison Browning says:

    Very infatuated with her I think, she was likely to be very in love with him hence she wanted marriage not to be just yet another mistress , Henry like a lot of men was turned on by her playing hard to get, as time went on he began to tire of her with his wondering eye and when she miscarried and didnt give him a son he decided to get rid of her as his obsession with having a don was stronger than any romantic feelings.

  8. George Tynan Crowley says:

    Love, human desire, these are fleeting states. For a responsible ruler or manager or, in this case, king, the fate of the nation takes precedence. We can see this in the present royal storyline (anybody watching THE CROWN?). The present queen Elizabeth was willing to destroy her sister’s happiness for the sake of appearances. She was also willing to endure what seems to have been a very emotionaly arid companionship with her husband. Country first. Love last.

    I think Starkey’s suggestion that Anne’s unabating ambition to intrude into politics, specifically in the area of the suppression of the monasteries, just got too too too risk-y. There also seems to have been overtures from Spain thet indicated, once Catherine of Aragon had died, that getting rid of the false queen, namely Anne, would clear the way for Henry’s kingdom to be somewhat reconciled with Spain and the Empire. That was worth something in the balance of power between the big three nation-states.

    I imagine Henry’s ardor for Anne may have cooled, but, as happened with his devotion to More, any ruler knows that dispensing with a mate or a friend is inconsequential when weighed against matters of state.

    Yes, Henry had those emotional and physical sensations that we have come to associate with the phenomenon called “love”. And he had those feelings for Anne. Sure. But he also came to have them for Jane, and then Katherine Howard, and maybe Katherine Parr. Love can re-blossom. He probably knew that. He was probably taught that. Machiavel’s precepts were Henry’s.

    Love never stood a chance when weighed in the balance with his love for his country. Like father, like daughter (Elizabeth).
    Mary I was different; more like her mother. She allowed romantic love (her love for the wily Philip) get in the way of what was best for her country.

  9. Mariella Moretti says:

    Thank you Claire for your generosity in sharing your immense knowledge on Anne Boleyn with all of us who love her.
    I agree with you entirely, love and then hate and why – but for the fact that Jane Seymour “with rosy lips and cheeks” was there at the right moment and just round the corner.
    As a comparison I reflect on what the Bard wrote, Elizabeth being his queen:
    ” Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove:
    O no……

    Thank you again, dear Claire.
    Mariella, from Italy

  10. CAROL Thomas says:

    I agree with everything you said about the love and hate between HenryVIII and Anne Boleyn. You certainly clarified your thoughts on the matter and I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation. Being an American I also enjoyed listening, for an extended period of time, to your lovely British accent..

  11. Jenny Mc Fie says:

    I think Henry did Love Anne But Anne not giving him a son His love soon turned to hatred
    With Jane Seymour in the wings he just wanted rid of Anne Getting a son was all consuming
    For Henry and nothing was going to stop him
    Thank you so much for your wonderful Video Looking forward to lots more x

  12. I think Henry VIII was in love with her. He then lost interest a few years into his marriage (which is not unheard of) and also by that time Anne probably annoyed him with her demandng character. I don’t really believe that Anne loved Henry romantically; I think since she couldn’t do anything about it anyway, she saw it all as a career chance.

    1. Christine says:

      I agree I doubt she ever loved Henry though she must have told him she did many a time, I believe she became fond of him which woman wouldn’t he offered her a crown, showered jewels on her a title, Marchioness of Pembroke, her father was made an Earl, she was probably in love with her old suitor Lord Henry Percy and they were separated, she could well have been broken hearted over him, Henry then staked her as his own so all other suitors had to fade into the background, Anne knew she could never marry another because of the King so what was she to do? Better throw in her lot with him and accept his offer of marriage, she could have children which as she was to say later is the greatest consolation in the world, here she is being not cold hearted and ambitious, but merely practical, she was saying to herself make the most of her situation, Anne knew well how to manage him as a mistress, all she had to do was be sexy alluring and dazzle him with her tinkling melodious singing voice her witty repartee, all these qualities she possessed was what Henry loved about her, her downfall was she knew not how to manage him as a queen, one of the greatest love stories in history was doomed to failure because of her very character which Henry had once found so enchanting, Charles 11 had as his mistress the beautiful but bad tempered fiery Barbara Lady Castlman, he was enamoured of her for many years and they had several children together, a connoisseur of women he knew had they married he would have found her behaviour unsatisfactory in a queen, he fell heavily in love with Lady Frances Howard and was tormented by her as she would not become his mistress, but he never dreamt of putting his queen away and he was in the same situation as Henry V111, he had many bastard sons as well as daughters unlike Henry however, who only had Henry Fitzroy and Mary, in the end France’s married another but Charles could well have loved her all his love, the unattainable is always more attractive, had he married France’s he could well have grown tired of her, she is said to have been rather immature fond of childish games, and she even hid behind the curtains once when he tried to kiss her, Charles unlike his predecessor would not risk a constitutional crisis by discarding his queen for a girl he loved, he was too practical, Henry’s other need apart from Anne was for a son, it was intoxicating because here he thought he had found some one who could fulfill that need, no wonder he was prepared to wait, after their marriage the abstinence from physical love which they had both waited so long for possibly was not as earth shattering as they both thought it would be, they were older people now, both weary with the battles they had fought to overcome no longer in the first flush of youth, Anne was past thirty, Henry much older no longer the Adonis of his youth, it’s a very real shame that these two people who had wrecked a kingdom apart to be together were really so unsuited as husband and wife, Annes tragedy also was her inability to bear a son which made Henry feel cheated, if she had learnt humility and graciousness towards him who had after all given her a crown I doubt sbe would have fallen so dramatically, her behaviour was still that of a beautiful nagging mistress, perfectly acceptable in a mistress but that’s not what the King wanted in a wife, intelligent as she was she failed to see that, a doomed love affair that had started out with so much passion had completely utterly died.

      1. Globerose says:

        I really enjoyed your nicely rounded synopsis, Christine. Thanks!

        1. Christine says:

          Thank you Globerose

    2. Anne loved a man by the name of Percy. I can’t recall his first name . I somewhat agree with your comment that Anne May have looked upon her marriage to Henry as a “ career move.” After all Anne was a woman who was ahead of her time. I be,i Eve Anne was getting pressure from her family that enjoyed privledges that went along with Anne satisfying the king.

  13. Lorna A Smith says:

    I think Henry saw Anne like a spoiled toddler sees a new toy – he wants it and no amount of reasoning will stop him from having will he wants. I also believe it was an issue of pride for Henry. Once he’d been told he couldn’t marry Anne, then it became of matter of proving he as King of England could have what he wanted no matter who said otherwise. I point to the fact that once Queen Catherine and Chapuis had finally acknowledged Anne, Henry dropped her like a hot potato. He only really wanted two things. First, a male heir, and second, to prove he was the Alpha Male and could do as he pleased. Anne had failed on the first account with a girl child and multiple miscarriages. With Catherines, death and Chapuis’ acquiescence, and she was no longer needed to prove the second so she had no value to Henry. Lastly, if as some speculate, Jane was indeed pregnant in early 1536, once Anne miscarried the child she was carrying at that time, he knew he could not look to Anne for another child. If he was to get the male heir he wanted so badly, he needed to get rid of Anne quickly so any son Jane produced would be legitimate. If Anne were guilty of treason, he could justify (at least in his own mind) her death. Although I do be Anne was innocent of the crimes she was charged with, fortunately for Henry, Anne;s flirtatious nature at court and Cromwell’s need to remove Anne from power and please his King worked to Henry’s benefit. This would certainly explain the extreme haste in which he married Jane after Anne’s execution. Did Henry love Anne? No, he loved absolute power and he loved Henry.

  14. Cathy says:

    Thank you Claire for this video! I think it was the thrill of the chase and Anne’s continued teasing Henry of things to come that inspired his “love” for Anne. But after marriage and the failure of a son damaged his “love”. Her antics before marriage now rang of hollow promises. His obsession with continuing the Tudor dynasty (& her political interferences) overcame whatever remaining feelings he had for her. She then became expendable fell victim to courtiers ‘ jockeying for position and influence with the King. I also don’t think that Henry really believed the charges against Anne but took this option as plausible deniability for him. The kingdom always came first.

  15. Kerry says:

    I think Henry loved himself and the game of the chase–conquest like many men—when it’s new it’s wonderful–but the bloom came off the rose when it came to that man and his love of anyone but himself

  16. Janice Cody says:

    I think that Henry had narcissistic tendencies, encouraged and allowed by his belief in a ‘god given right’ to rule. He.was.the.king. Everything and everyone bowed to his will. What woman dared say NO to a King ! Aaahhh … Anne Boleyn does just that. Both highly intelligent and educated and with Anne ( oh my ! ) setting the boundaries in the relationship and continuing to say no, there must have developed over time a huge sexual tension between them. No-one had ever stood up to Henry, wanting to be treated with respect as an equal. So I think that it became a tantalizing game for both, although of course a highly dangerous one for Anne. Maybe after a while of the consummation of the relationship henry became bored and realized that the ongoing promise of consummation was more tantalizing that the act itself. … he did start to look around. One thing that puzzled me about Anne is that she promised the King a son which I feel was a stupid mistake for obvious reasons. She also admitted towards the end that she had not always been as respectful towards Henry as she should… i would say she should have been more ‘careful’ than ‘respectful’ Henry being the King and a narcissist who always got what he wanted realized in the end that the cost for Anne had been too high and she didn’t play the role as well as Catherine did; overlooking his wanderings for instance. As kings ( or narcissists) don’t make mistakes, she had to go. Wiped away from existence and his memory. For me a sad story, she was only 28 years old.

    1. Christine says:

      It’s commonly believed that Anne was around 35 when she died Janice as there is evidence her birthdate was c1501, this is borne out by the year she went to France and became lady in waiting to the French Queen, she would not have been in attendance on her if she was too young, also there is more evidence in a letter she wrote to her father, analysed it was clearly written by a teenager, had she been born around 1504 -5 as is previously thought, she would have been too young to write it.

  17. Ruth Cheronis, Lovettsville, Va., USA says:

    I think HenryVIII was infatuated with Anne Boleyn. She seems to have been well read, witty, musical, and self-assured, and coming from the French Court, had the freedom from certain rules of behavior the English followed. I think she must have been very interesting. However, could a man like Henry VIII, who was one of the most powerful men in the world, with innumerable women at his command, and who had every other creature comfort available at that time, feel true love for anyone, especially when the one he “loved” could not provide him with the one thing he wanted more than anything in the world and that was a son? But the good thing about it all is that the marriage produced a great, wonderful Queen — Elizabeth whom the state where I live — Virginia — is named for her.

  18. Lois says:

    I have always believed that the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. Henry was never indifferent to Anne. There is actually a thin line between love and hate and that line was crossed. I agree with you completely, Claire, that for Henry to have risked the enmity of Charles, and perhaps Frances I, and to have broken with Rome which he had for so many years been firmly a part of, indicates a love, not a lust. Anne did not fulfill the role of queen as Henry saw it. . . more like his mother, Elizabeth of York. Those attributes that attracted him initially were not acceptable in a queen. And, of course, she did not provide him with the son he so desperately wanted and that was most likely the final step to crossing over that line.

  19. carrie Sjoholm says:

    THIS was AWESOME !!!! I TOTAL AGREE WITH U !!!!! we all do fall in love and out of love and end up truning it into hate. if im correct didnt anne end up kinda being mean to him like making fun of him. I think she did that because she held a grudge aginst him due to his cheating on her, maybe if he was faithful to her HA HA she might not have been so mean. LOVE THIS THANKS !!!!!!

  20. Banditqueen says:

    I believe the evidence is very clear, that Henry fancied Anne Boleyn and wanted a mistress but at this point no he didn’t love her. He wanted a chivalrous courtship of a lady as was a custom for those days. He may have liked her at the pageant in 1522,_but he wasn’t interested in a very romantic way. He saw her married, much prettier older sister, Mary and found her a better prospect and he could safely go after her. We don’t know when these two had a sexual relationship as Henry was discrete about his mistresses and didn’t have that many.

    I agree about the break up of the relationship of Sir Henry Percy the heir to the Earl of Northumberland have nothing to do with Henry Viii wanting her in 1521. She was the daughter of a sixteenth century knight and gentleman of the Tudor Court, he was the heir to a powerful Northern Earl, and King’s usually didn’t interfere with Northern Earls, not unless they had their own power base in the North, she was the unmarried second daughter, in the market being offered to the Earl of Ormond, in a inheritance row, he was betrothed to another Earl’s daughter, Mary Talbot and both young people were subject to their families. The King and Queen had to give their permission as both parties served in both household, the Cardinal had to give his permission as Percy was his apprentice and could not marry until he finished his service and such a dalliance with Anne was against all of these things. His love affair with Anne, if it even happened, wasn’t politically correct and the King saw the bigger picture as did both sets of parents and the pair were rightly separated. That might seem harsh but it was the way things were. Duty and family came before romantic love and Percy was obviously more bound by the former as the pair could just have run off, made some vows and slept together to be married. The Church Courts would have to decide if they were to remain married. Canon law allowed them to be so.

    By 1526 Henry Viii was obviously involved in some way with both Boleyn sisters, had been with Mary and afterwards he wanted to move on to Anne. We don’t know the circumstances of his attraction to her at this time but he fancied her and when she said no he became obsessed. He began to write to her, to Court her, to send her gifts, she teased him and probably pointed out he was married. Henry tried other more slower forms of courtship and sent her letters. I don’t accept she wasn’t interested in him. Anne was ambitious and she was flattered by him. She went to Hever but we don’t know if it was to get away from Henry or if she was banished. Henry visited Hever and I believe her parents did encourage her even if they didn’t pimp her or Mary out. Thomas was ambitious and he had been in service for a long time. It was known in the inner circles in Court that Henry was looking for a new wife and wanted a son. He had questioned his marriage in private commission in 1524_and 1525. Henry may have been in lust but as they spent more time together, as they began a relationship in 1526 it was clear that he was falling in love. Anne is said to have given Henry the idea that she could be his Queen because she made a remark that if she was Queen she would give him lots of sons. This may or may not be a legend but Henry saw her as a potential wife especially as she refused to be with him sexually without a ring on her finger. Anne Boleyn was an intelligent woman. She knew Henry would want her more if she kept saying no. It kept his interest alive. Having gotten him thinking about her as a potential wife their relationship developed, the pair fell mutually in love and they became more and more passionate in the hot steamy letters they exchanged. I do believe Anne responded and I believe she said yes. The final decision to refrain from a full sexual relationship was most probably mutual and I believe historians now say the evidence for this is because any children would not be legitimate so Anne could not risk pregnancy. Henry also respected many attributes in Anne, her brains, her wit, her education, her theological knowledge and understanding, her love of fashion and dancing and wild entertainment, her conversation and her sassy ways. Yes, by the end of 1526/7 Henry Viii and Anne Boleyn were deeply in love and planning to get married.

    I further agree that the way Henry panicked in 1528 over his lady love possibility of dying of the sweat is evidence he loved her. He waited that long for her, tore England apart for her and broke from Rome. He would not have done any of these for a woman he didn’t love. Now I hear the cynical ones out there but he didn’t even know how much power the Supreme Headship could bring him until he looked into it, which he wouldn’t have done but for his need to annul his marriage. Even then it is doubtful he would have but for his long-term wait for Anne. His relationship with Anne led people into his service he wouldn’t have given a second glance. Maybe he might have considered it on the appointment of Cromwell or Cranmer which had nothing to do with Anne Boleyn but with a Catholic alliance to an orthodox Catholic Princess from Europe it is doubtful Henry would have gone as far as his actual departure from Rome or made Cranmer Archbishop.

    Unfortunately, Anne and Henry’s marriage was one of storms and sunshine and fell apart within three years. There are numerous reasons for her fall from power, but love turned to hate. Whether her failure to provide the promised sons or her public arguments or being on the wrong side of future trade deals or whatever led to the coalition that plotted against her, Henry became fed up and wanted a new wife. Anne wasn’t the victim of sexual harassment, but she became an innocent victim of vindictive men, including her husband and was set up on horrible and false charges of incest, adultery and treason, by the same man who had gone mad to marry her and now couldn’t wait five minutes to execute her, put her out of his mind and act as if she had never existed.

  21. Jessica Olive says:

    I think Henry was in love with the idea of being in love, and not actually in love with any of his wives.

  22. Kathleen Mustoe says:

    Fabulous insight into the life and love of King Henry VIII.

    I am in the belief that King Henry had an intense infatuation with young Anne Boleyn. Whether love or lust, the king treated human beings as disposable if they did not do as he wished. He was extremely selfish in his perspective on life never considering the well-being of those who devoted their entire life to serving him. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, for instance, had provided invaluable counsel to the king. However, Wolsey lost favor with Henry when he failed to arrange an annulment for the king.

    People fell in and out of favor with King Henry VIII based on their ability to grant him what he wanted.

    Anne Boleyn’s inability to provide the king with a male heir to the throne, which we now know to be solely due to the king, resulted in her downfall and subsequent death by beheading.

    King Henry VIII was a narcisstic man consumed with his own desires. He loved Anne Boleyn as much as he could love anyone.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      I don’t believe it is entirely possible to analyse Henry Viii in terms of being narcissistic or have any other disorders from the distance of almost 500 years, because the character faults we would associate with this psychological disorder, envy, extremely obsessed by ones looks and self wishes, selfish desires, etc; because these characteristics also describe any post Medieval King without a son and with power and the confidence in his righteousness in the face of the Divine and in fact most sixteenth century men of power. Henry is more extreme, however, because he needed a son to follow him. This also fuelled his initial desire for Anne as much as it fuelled his later hatred for her and desire for another wife. I wouldn’t normally agree with anyone trying to make any kind of diagnosis of this nature on someone who lived 500 years ago, because in many ways, this was how a noble Lord or King was expected to be. There are other aspects of Henry’s personality that fit as well, though, like feelings of constant guilt and failure to accept shame. I doubt he was excessively vain but certainly his self image was delusional in his later years. When he met and fell in love with Anne, however, there was nothing in his appearance or ability that would have given him concern and he still had many other qualities which counter balance any negative ones. He was still approachable, still fair, still compassionate, still generous, still fun to be around, still listened to people and still popular and wise. These would change as the years leading up to his annulment dragged on. I am not certain I would be the same person if I went through a seven years struggle to end my marriage. Into the 1530s it was clear his personality was changing, although the fall in 1536 pushed him fully over the edge. His power grew beyond the dreams of any King following his Supremacy. In 1536 Henry had the power to do anything he wanted. All he lacked was a male heir. At this point I would agree most of the qualities of a narcissistic personality do seem to be present and after the loss of another male baby, this time in the womb, his potential head injury, those qualities came out more violently. Added to this violent mood swings and a paranoid condition, Anne’s own behaviour, in that she humiliated him in public, he fell out of love with her, his mood darkening and turning to hatred, yes, he found with the help of Cromwell a permanent way to rid himself of a troublesome Queen. Anne had loved Henry and was jealous because of that love because for some reason he didn’t keep his temporary affairs discreet as he had with Katherine, she confronted her husband and Henry got fed up. He had genuinely loved her, I believe for many reasons, but he no longer did so. In a form of extreme domestic violence he had her judicially murdered. Anne’s trial followed ever legal protocol, every legal process was observed, but it covered a set up. The charges were made up, the two Grand Juries filled with those who could give Cromwell the right verdict, the Judges at her public trial all had some reason to bring her down, or were related to someone who did or owed someone a debt of patronage, the men selected all appear to have rubbed Cromwell up the wrong way, a series of conversations were twisted to make Anne look guilty and certain events fell into place by coincidence.

      Anne Boleyn and five innocent men were killed because of a King’s paranoid and dangerous desire and in the interests of getting a son. Henry was fortunate in his third wife who was no doormat and did challenge him, but had the good sense to shut up and the divine luck to give him a son. Henry’s mourning for Jane was deep and genuine, as it would have been had either Katherine or Anne died in such circumstances. His behaviour afterwards does lead even me to ask was there something medically or genetically or psychologically flawed about Henry? A number of very good theories have been proposed. While one, syphilis, can definitely be ruled out and has been disproved a long time ago, anything from a rare blood disorder to narcissism has been suggested. Yes it’s possible. However, it’s impossible to prove.

      1. Christine says:

        Too true Bq, Henry’s character was friendly and affable fond of play acting, the a childlike trait, I have never gone with the theory that he was a narcissist, no doubt he was possibly a bit conceited he had people fawning over him since he was born, we have to remember he was exceptionally good looking and athletic as well as musical too,
        much of the praise was mere flattery of course because he was the king, but he was talented and as well as being a good poet and musician but he was no different as you mention from any other medieval king, they were all puffed up with their own importance, look at his great rival Francis, he thought himself a great lover of women so did JF Kennedy yet some of his ex’s said he wasn’t very skilled in bed, Henry was really no different from many of his contemporaries.

      2. I’m curious about your statement that it was proven Henry did NOT have syphillis . Do you recall how that was proven ? The women in his life had many fetal deaths and miscarriages . The disease affects the embryo . And Henry’s behaviour indicated the possibility of mental illness , ( such as PARASIS. ?? I may have misspelled “parasis” which is fourth degree syphilis in the brain.) The lesions on his skin that would not heal could also have been an indication of advanced syphilis.

        1. Claire says:

          We have Henry VIII’s medical receipts and they do not include mercury, the standard treatment for syphilis at the time, whereas those of King Francis I, his contemporary, do. His records also do not mention the symptoms of syphilis, which were known as the time. He had varicose ulcers, rather than lesions. It was a Victorian idea and there just isn’t evidence to back it up.

        2. Banditqueen says:

          The ulcers were from an old accident. His legs were also damaged by varicose veins caused ironically by his garters, meant to show off his legs, which cut off his blood supply. An old wound was opened up after an accident and became infected. Ulcers formed which had to be kept open and didn’t heal. They just got worse. If they closed his leg became black and extremely poisonous. This had to be drained and caused him much pain. On one occasion he passed out and was laid up for ten days and his life was despaired off until the decision was made to burst his ulcers. There have been several studies done of Henry’s medical conditions from his own doctors records and everything was recorded and no extensive withdrawal of six to eight weeks or use of mercury as Claire says have been recorded. His medical records were particularly studied by Arthur McNutley and Frederick Chamberlain and Robert Hutchinson. Syphilis would also have covered his entire body eventually and there is no record of ulcers anywhere other than one part of his legs.

  23. Mary says:

    I believe Henry DID love Anne initially. Sadly, due to many influences, the love turned to indifference and then to hate.

    1. Gail Marion says:

      Not an unheard of progression in some marriages today.

  24. Everyone brings up some excellent points.

    Personally, I think he loved her. The love letters themselves point to this. Her coronation is proof of this. Her ennoblement is proof of this. All this stemmed from the will of Henry VIII.

    To me, it is a small miracle that we at least have one side of this storied romance with Henry’s letters.

    But Henry’s love is that of a narcissist, that of an all powerful king who hasn’t heard no since his father died. If Henry felt personally rejected by Anne in some fashion, he could very easily become angry enough to sanction murder. How many of us have read of some woman killed because she rejected a man? Anne was in a vulnerable position and if Henry felt rejected on top of it, he could have well agreed with her death. At trial, Anne WAS accused of speaking of Henry slightingly to her brother, George-a charge more likely to be true with Anne’s fiery tempermet, than being unfaithful as Queen of England.

    Anne was vulnerable for any number of reasons (many outlined here) and the loss of the king’s love doomed her.

    Whether he felt personally rejected by her cannot now be determined but on the basis of the letters and other actions, I think he did love her, but perhaps selfishly.

    Interesting video. I look forward to more.

  25. Alison Stephenson says:

    Henry I think was a Narcasist! They have no emotional feelings. So no, not in love.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      In that case he couldn’t be one as he was very passionate, didn’t hide his feelings and so he probably was very much in love. The evidence supported him being in love. You have to remember that Henry was nothing like he was much later in life and try not to judge him with modern theories. If Henry was a narcissistic personality then so was Francis I who was also a Tudor age peacock. Henry was naturally outgoing, naturally a force of nature, a natural athlete, was naturally charismatic and he appreciated the sophisticated ways of Anne Boleyn. A narcissist would have been threatened by her from the start, Henry wasn’t. In fact there is no evidence that he really felt anything but passionate love for her until two years into their marriage and that was more to do with political and dynastic pressures than anything else. It’s not something to be dismissed but it definitely should not be put as a proven theory, especially from a distance of 500 years.

  26. Mrsfiennes says:

    I think Anne was a novelity to Henry something at first he couldn’t have but as time progressed and he sent her love letters and gifts and pursued her only to hear no she wouldn’t sleep with him without the benefit of marriage I think the game changed.He knew he needed to be serious about this girl and willing to commit to win her and possibly a male heir in the bargain and like Wolsey had said about him, once you put idea into his head it’s impossible to remove.So he went all out for her, trying to divorce Catherine,casting off Rome so he could do so.He wasn’t a half way type.So yes at one point I do believe he loved Anne.As for the love letter I don’t necessarily think that’s proof though I think the 6 years of waiting answers that.

  27. Globerose says:

    After listening to Claire and reading your many interesting comments, I’ve got a couple of questions and wonder if you can resolve them for me.
    Q1. How would a courtly love affair (played by courtly rules, with the courtly knight pursuing and his courtly lady refusing and being ‘unkind’) differ in appearance from an ordinary romance.. man seeks woman as mistress or wife even?
    Q2. If Anne had given Henry three sons out of wedlock and then Henry had subsequently married her after Queen K’s death, would those children remain illegitimate and would the marriage not legitimise them?

    1. Christine says:

      Hi Globerose, no doubt Henry would have had them legitimized a son was what he dreamt of, but would parliament have agreed to put them in the succession probably not, I think Henry V111 would have done his utmost to make it happen though, the children of John of Gaunt were legitimized but of course barred from the succession by Henry 1V I believe, I doubt if by marrying the mistress the offspring automatically became legitimate a bill had to be passed to allow that to happen, Henry however would have no doubt used all his force to put his sons in the succession no doubt threatening to decapitate a few of his councillors, in the case of Mary Tudor really she was legitimate as her parents had lived together in holy wedlock for many years (even though her father was trying to saying it had never been a true marriage) yet by the law at the time if the parents believed they were truly married then the children would undoubtedly be legitimate, I believe had Anne given him at least one son he would have done his best to legitimize that child, there was Fitzroy of course a healthy young lad but then suddenly struck down with what could have been TB, there were rumours at one time the King was intending to make him his heir, the question was getting parliament round to his way of thinking, a bastard son or a legitimate daughter? Parliament at the time knew how precarious the Tudor dynasty was and the disaster that could happen if a woman inherited the throne, Matilda’s ghastly attempt at rule resounded throughout history, they knew of Henrys desperate need for a son, indeed Englands desperate need for a son, maybe because there was only Mary they would have agreed to put Henrys bastards in line to the throne, we have to remember the scenario with John of Gaunts children was entirely different, then a King ruled and his succession was not at risk from what Henry believed disaster.

      1. Sarah Hayse-Gregson says:

        Somehow I don’t think Anne would have accepted the role of mistress. She was too well born for that. By that I mean long term, not a quick roll in the hay. Had Henry wanted to, he would have married her off to be respectable.

  28. Globerose says:

    Very interesting. Thanks so much, Christine.

  29. Christine says:

    Your very welcome Globerose.

  30. It is certainly anachronistic to diagnose Henry VIII as a narcissist at a remove of 500 years. But I would say in this case the diagnosis fits. While narcissitic tendencies in the noble or ruling class were certainly the norm, I think Henry VIII went too far in that direction. He was certainly a proud man as seen in his lavish dress and court. He spent a lot on this to show off the splendor of his royal line and reign. Many narcissists can be very charming. How do you think they attract those they can abuse? It’s not because they’re a toad right off the bat. It’s because they are likeable and play with you with light touches. Henry VIII had the common touch and could draw people to him.

    1. Mindy says:

      Not just a narcissist. We are all healthily narcissistic.

      But I believe Henry had Malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

      I wrote a comment below you might want to check out, Lauri.

  31. Christine says:

    Looking at Henry’s V111’s Lost Palace Elysnge Palace, it was on television a few evenings ago, just watching it now and its location was Enfield my home, had no idea I’d heard of it of course but did not know Henry V111 had built it, very intriguing!

  32. Gail Marion says:

    I believe Henry was head over heals in love with Anne. She was without reciprocation and once realized there was no escape from his embrace, played her hand for all it was worth.

  33. Kathy Gallimore says:

    Great video, Claire.

    Did Henry love Anne? My simplistic view is that he believed the Boleyn girls shared the right genes to produce healthy boys. Mary had a son by him and Anne would too. I am sure he loved the idea of marrying Anne and having children but whether he loved Anne for herself – well, I’m not so sure. To have gone to such lengths to entice Anne to his bed and keep his testosterone in check is a tribute to his patience and stamina! A man desperate to have a son is how I see it, whatever the cost.

    1. Claire says:

      We don’t know when Mary Boleyn and Henry VIII had their sexual relationship, though, so Henry Carey may have been her husband’s son and I think that’s more likely.

  34. Esther says:

    IMO, Henry was much too selfish to be capable of love, and his desire for a son was largely an ego-trip, especially since his rivals — the Emperor and the King of France — both had sons.

    I don’t believe he was sincerely concerned about the succession — no monarch who genuinely cared about the succession would have done what Henry did in disabling a female who was of age to rule (Mary) in favor of a female infant (Elizabeth), since English history made clear that child monarchs were as problematic as a female one. Also, Henry’s family history gave him alternatives … he could have found a husband for Mary (either her cousin in Scotland or one of the Poles, with their Yorkist blood, would have blocked factional problems) and leave the throne to a grandson, just as Henry VII displaced his mother, even though she held the claim.

    1. Mindy says:

      Esther, the problem with your “theory” is that Mary would not then be a Tudor, and any reign that would have followed would have been the start of a different dynasty.

      And if he married Mary to a Pole, it would have been the return of the Yorks and the Plantagenets–something he could never stomach, as he would see it as failure to his father.

      It is interesting to think that if Mary had married one of the Stuarts of Scotland, not only would we never had Elizabeth as Queen, Mary Stewart would have probably married into the French dynasty or remained a “minor” personage, or, if Mary didn’t have children with her Stuart husband–we’ll never know if her lack of children with Philip of Spain was do to her advanced age at the time or because she was infertile, even when young–she just might become Queen of England.

      1. Esther says:

        Bringing a Plantagenet back as a marriage partner for his child would merely re-create the successful marriage that his parents had. Furthermore, that upon marriage, the queen would no longer be a Tudor wouldn’t be any different for the infant female heiress Elizabeth — in fact, they would be much greater because of her youth (think of the power Henry II of France claimed over Scotland when Mary queen of Scots was being raised in France and married to the dauphin). Yet Henry tried (during the first three years of her life) to have Elizabeth accepted as his successor if he had no son. That Henry tried to establish an infant female as an heiress over an older female as an heiress (IMO) casts down on his alleged “concern” for the succession.

  35. Mindy says:

    Imho, Henry really only loved himself. He was what we would call today a “Malignant Narcissistic Pathology” personality. Any woman whom he claimed to love was pathologically just an extension of himself. And when. in whatever way, be it an inability to conceive, or an inability to give him a son, or criticizing him in whatever manner, that was a reflection upon himself…which he would instantly reject, as he was incapable of accepting any kind of personal flaw, whether it be physical, emotional, or psychological.

    His increasing gluttony was a symptom of this, as he used food to soothe himself. (The opposite of bulemia and anorexia nervosa.) . He was, in a very real sense, trying to “fill himself up” with love and acceptance.

    We have

    1. Wow ! Your short can ment nailed the problem with Henry VIII. He probably had constant anxiety about his inability to father a make heir and the food probably calmed his nerves . As a woman myself , I give much credit to any woman who stand being married to him . He was a terrible husband and father . Lucky for him that he was born royal . For that fact he would’ve been left by everyone.

    2. Banditqueen says:

      Please present evidence to back up your interesting theory, as unfortunately without a proper examination of Henry no psychological assessment can be taken as fact.

  36. Christine says:

    King Henry was genuinely concerned about the succession he had been brought up to believe that crowns should go to princes, it’s seems daft to us today but this is the 21st c not the 16th and you are forgetting that the Tudors was a new dynasty, with rival claimants to the throne, they were from a bastard line from Edward 111 via John of Gaunt, their claim was not deemed strong enough as Henrys father had won the throne through right of conquest, his father had to deal with the pretender Perkin Warbeck in his reign who claimed to be the younger of the missing Princes in the Tower, it was a very real worry to him and had instilled in his son the need to marry and have male heirs, it wasn’t really an ego trip though of course the lack of a son possibly made him feel at times less of a man than his rival Kings, however when he became the father of his bastard child by Bessie Blount he was overjoyed and really believed there was something wrong with his marriage, why had his wife been unable to give him a son and his mistress had? You have to look at this through the eyes of a 16th c monarch, belief in the almighty was very strong and I do believe he sincerely thought his marriage was an abhorrence to God because of what the passage in Leviticus said, although Henry did believe (as Starkey noted what he wanted to believe) he was a highly religious and superstitious man, both he and Katherine were very pious Katherine more so, therefore why was he not blessed with sons- answer it had to be his marriage which should never have taken place, displacing Katherine had been on his mind for some time before he met and fell in love with Anne, his wife had given birth to her last child a daughter who died barely two days after birth, she then went through the menopause so Henry was then in secret talks with his ministers about venturing into marriage with another lady, Anne was the catalyst for this, she did make him think of leaving Katherine the thought was already there, but because he fell passionately in love with her and I know you disagree on this, he decided she was the one he wanted to marry and thus her enemies blamed her for Katherines downfall, I understand what you mean about passing over Mary for Elizabeth but that was because he had married Anne and Katherines marriage was annulled, therefore Mary had to be disinherited and Elizabeth was proclaimed as his heir, he had hoped she was a boy but sadly she was female but he and Anne hoped for more sons to follow, I do not understand why he hadn’t married Mary of much sooner but after she was proclaimed illegitimate her marriage prospects were ruined, however the idea of leaving his crown to a grandson instead of a femal daughter was not really out of the question, Mary was a teenager when Henry sought to end his marriage to her mother, he could have had her married of to one of her Plantaganet cousins but maybe he feared they would try to rule through her, later on he was to behead several members of the Pole family, he may have toyed with the idea and dismissed it as we have to remember his passion for Anne overruled everything else, all he knew was he wished to have sons with her, later on he wanted his son Edward to marry the little Queen of Scots but that was because he wished to have Scotland in his grip, I doubt he would have wished Mary to marry her Scottish cousin James V as he feared James may wish to control England when she succeeded him, it was never clear cut but then as we have seen, Anne came along and he was hooked, Margaret Beaufort did not wish to rule the crown was for her son Henry V11, her legacy to him was her Beaufort blood and her right to the English crown.

  37. Christine says:

    Meant Anne did not make Henry think of leaving Katherine the thought was already there. I do like to rectify my errors.

  38. Henry was no different then anyone else–we knew he liked to hunt! Then chase of a woman is no different—the chase and the giggle is gone and marriage settles in–most of us can love and stay married but someone like him can love and decide working at a marriage is not worth his time—-NEXT PLEASE!!!

    1. Banditqueen says:

      Yes, that explains why he remained married to one woman for eighteen years before becoming concerned about the legitimate succession. It also shows you know nothing about how people thought in the sixteenth century and how important it was for a King to provide an heir.

      1. debfr says:

        Depending on the birth year you use for Anne Boleyn, her age could have been from 29 years to 35 years at her death. I don’t understand why Henry would think that producing a male heir was out of the question for her.. Of course, I’m not a historian and I admit to not understanding a lot of different factors that might have surrounded her downfall.

        1. Banditqueen says:

          35 for a woman to be having children at that time was a lot more dangerous than it is now, in fact childbirth was dangerous for women full stop, but the younger you married the greater chance of survival.

          Henry and Katherine of Aragon had been 24 (her) and 17 (him) when they married and produced only one surviving child, Mary from six known pregnancies, born in 1516, after seven years of marriage. Another daughter, still born followed, their last child in 1518. By 1524 Henry realised that no more children would follow.

          Due to the long time it took to be free from Katherine, Henry and Anne didn’t marry for seven years in 1533. Henry was still confident of a male child but the sad procession of ill fated pregnancies followed. Anne’s pregnancies are hard to distinguish because of scanty information.

          However, Anne gave birth to Elizabeth in September 1533 but Henry had married her for sons but he put on a brave face and Anne was pregnant again in 1534. This pregnancy is a mystery. Some people think it ended in the Summer with a miscarriage in the last couple of months, others that she had the symptoms of pregnancy but wasn’t actually pregnant.
          In 1535 there is debate around another potential miscarriage but the evidence is not very good.
          By the late Summer or early Autumn of 1535 Anne was definitely pregnant again, but at the end of January 1536 she miscarried again, this time of an identifiable baby boy in her fourth or fifth month, which was a natural miscarriage and not a mass of flesh or deformed child as reported by Nicholas Sander in a hostile report 60 years later.

          Henry by now was becoming impatient and he was starting to feel he wasn’t going to get a son by Anne after all. The reasons for Anne’s fall over the next few months are various but this miscarriage made her vulnerable to the attacks of other people. I don’t believe this miscarriage led to her doom but events in April that year did because Henry had fallen out of love and given up on getting sons by Anne. Henry saw the same pattern emerging as with Katherine and consulted an expert on canon law to see about an annulment. For some reason Henry abandoned the idea and appeared reconciled to his Queen. However, something was brewing under the surface and he sought a way to end his marriage more permanently. Whether Henry or Thomas Cromwell instigated the investigation that led to Anne’s trial and execution, he definitely wanted an end to the marriage and to Anne. As a result of extreme paranoia Anne and five other innocent people were all executed on false charges of adultery, incest and treason. Henry couldn’t see any more healthy children arriving and he made a clean break. We don’t know if Anne could have any more children, she didn’t become pregnant as far as we can tell from the sources again after her final miscarriage. Henry was also feeling his own middle age and his health began to deteriorate. He seems to have felt his second marriage was cursed and he doesn’t appear to have reasoned he could still have children with Anne or maybe he didn’t want to try. He wanted a new wife and that was his reasoning. Beyond that we have a mystery.

  39. may says:

    I think Henry Viii loved Anne Boleyn as she was witty, a good musician, good dancer, had a graceful figure and spoke French and had been resident at a couple of European courts. He got rid of her as she had a history of not producing a male heir and was getting on in years if she was born in 1501. Also, the qualities that he appreciated in a mistress wit and a sharp tongue was not appreciated in a wife who was expected to be docile according to the mores of the time. Finally, he was a romantic who imagined himself in love with all his wives and mistresses but he finally fell out of love. This romance lasted longer than most.

  40. rose says:

    Claire, A. Weir bio of Mary Boleyn, says that Elizabeth I was given back – on her accession – all of her mother’s confiscated properties. what where they , and why were they given back to her?

    1. Claire says:

      Do you know what Weir bases that on? Does she cite a reference? I have never read that in any of the records.

      1. rose says:

        Weir does not cite a reference in “Mary Boleyn” and yet she treats this book as historical, not fiction. she just wrote that Parliament gave back to Elizabeth, what had been given to her mother.

  41. debfr says:

    As far as loving Anne Boylen, I think in his own way, Henry loved her. It seems that he had an unrealistic idea that once he married Anne she would magically transform from a witty, exciting, intelligent woman who wanted to be treated as an equal partner into a docile, meek woman who didn’t expect much say in politics.

  42. Sarah Hayse-Gregson says:

    Wasn’t it established that Henry had a genetic problem? He was at fault for the embryos not developing. With the exception of Elizabeth 1, none of his other children who survived birth, lived a long life. Mary was considered to be a sickly child and never in good health, she couldn’t conceive.

    1. Claire says:

      There have never been any tests on his remains so there are only theories.

  43. Deb says:

    I first became aware of Anne as a small child at the age of about 4 or 5 in the mid 60’s. I remember a ‘portrait’ in a book somewhere and a terrible sorrow which I couldn’t understand or explain. All I can say is I wanted to find answers. I graduated in 1983 having unvestigated her to my utmost. In those days ther was no internet, it was all a labour of love and every find so very precious, so special. I treasured and pondered over. I still do!!
    Enigmatic. Even so I now I thank god for the internet and your website. For now only Henry knows the real reasons for his brutal behaviour. We can all have our theories… I believe she was destroyed by Cromwell before she had chance to destroy him. Alas, who can say. None of us were there. God bless you
    Anne the queen x

  44. Banditqueen says:

    Although it would be interesting to do a full genetic study on the entire Royal family, because we also know that later monarchs had trouble with birthing healthy children, such as Queen Anne who had two living children from seventeen births, both of whom died by the age eleven, it would also be an impossible under taking. A number of interesting theories concerning Henry, such as a rare blood disorder have been put forward regarding his inability to father healthy children. However, we don’t know if these are fact or theory as no tests have been done. I find comments like it was his fault absolutely appalling because nobody is to blame for any genetic condition that they are unfortunate enough to carry. The conditions being from the female line can’t be ruled out.

    Where is the evidence that Mary was not healthy as a child? Nonsense.
    Where is the evidence that Elizabeth was more healthy as an adult than Mary? Again nonsense.
    There isn’t even any evidence that Edward was particularly sick as a kid either. He is recorded as having one bout of tertiary fever which was life threatening and the fact that he lived shows he was robust. He was healthy until his final months, then he may have contracted the Tudor curse, tuberculosis.

    How does anyone know Mary was unable to have children before she was in her late thirties and early forties? She wasn’t married until then and her difficulty may have developed around that time, we just don’t know.
    How does anyone know she couldn’t conceive earlier in her life. Mary had some health problems once she began to be into adolescence due to irregular periods, she also had stress related illnesses into her twenties, which is not surprising given her parents behaviour and her life was in danger. There is no evidence that she was a sickly person growing up.
    Elizabeth I was no more sick or unhealthy than anyone else. She had plenty of nervous illnesses during times of stress and a serious bout of smallpox. She had just as many fevers as other kids.
    Nobody knows how fertile she was or wasn’t as she was careful to give the impression that she was a virgin.
    Mary’s real health problems started one year into her marriage and reign and appear to have been related to stomach cancer or some other diseases which made her believe she was pregnant. She probably died from Tudor influenza which was epidemic at the time and was very dangerous, far more so than today.
    However, apart from stomach problems connected to her fears and stress, which Elizabeth also suffered from, there is little to say she was a sickly child.
    The Tudors have had scientists, psychiatrists, neuroscience, biologists, hydrology and genetics fascinated, as have the Stuarts in more recent times, because modern health problems in our Royal family appear to have their roots back to these related Houses. Gynaecological experts have teamed up with historians as have those from every medical field available in order to study and attempt to answer numerous questions on why a higher number of stillbirths and miscarriages or even mistaken pregnancies led to the extinction of both dynastic families. However, without proper tests on human remains or organic material or DNA, unfortunately scientists and scholars are shouting in the dark.

    We have some medical records which give us clues but genetic tests are not possible, without a major upheaval of several bodies and even then may not be possible. The genetic picture is not that straight forward either, because many of the Stuarts and the Hanoverians were fertile and didn’t have prophyria or any other genetic blood disorder. Most of the sons of George iii didn’t marry until they were past middle ages and even then to women past their prime. The problem may also have lay with the inbreeding of the Hapsbergs or the insanity of the Valois family. Mary was thirty seven when she became Queen and thirty eight when she married, very late for her time and her health problems certainly date in their most extreme from this period. She had two mistaken pregnancies which were down to potential cancerous growths in her womb or other abdominal organs. Again there are a number of theories. It is unlikely that she inherited cancerous ovaries or cancer of the womb from her father. Cancer of the stomach is another potential candidate and like most cancers, more than one cause is attributed to it. However, she did have painful and probably irregular periods, but she wasn’t generally always ill. In her early twenties Mary developed illness more often, but then she was separated from both parents, was being bullied by her stepmother and father and was in fear for her life. Elizabeth went through similar things when she imagined her life was in danger or put on illness in order to delay being questioned or forced to go to Court. Stress causes a wealth of symptoms, stomach upset, lack of appetite, comfort eating, digestive distress, headaches, migraines, palpitations, insomnia and so on. These symptoms are not due to genetics but life events. Elizabeth, as I said, never married, so we don’t have evidence that she was fertile or not. Of her mother wasn’t, if her father could only father daughters and sadly children who died as infants or in the womb, then Elizabeth probably did inherit their genetic problems, if any existed. Henry Viii does appear to have escaped certain illnesses passed on to his siblings and possibly to his sons. The origins of those medical problems is unclear because the House of York didn’t have them. However, other medical problems did reduce what appeared to be a fertile family quite significantly and was inherited. What is known is that Edward iv and Elizabeth Woodville had several apparently healthy kids but what is less well known is that ( Tower Princes aside as we don’t know what happened to them)more than half either died before they were fifteen or developed genetic disorders which would have killed them early in life. The future Edward V had a bone disorder and a diseased jaw. Prince Arthur was healthy most of his life but developed a long illness which killed him after his marriage by the time he was sixteen. Was his condition genetic? Did he contract the sweat which kills in hours? Did he die from testicular cancer? Both Mary and Margaret Tudor developed consumption after many years of good health and Henry Fitzroy may have had the same problem as Prince Arthur.

    After 500 years it is impossible to determine and even a study of remains may not be fully conclusive. I certainly find the comment made that Henry was to blame very unscientific and am amazed by it as today one would never dream of blaming parents for the life challenging disabilities or medical conditions or for any tragic loss of children their families may suffer. The loss of children to Henry and his wives was tragic. Yes, the loss of babies was common but it was still heart breaking and trying to blame either party is awful in a modern age, especially without any real evidence.

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