Anne Boleyn creates strong reactions when her name is brought into conversation. Whether you believe she “deserved what she got” or you believe she was a “victim” of Henry VIII, it all comes down to the fact that she was a woman. A woman in 16th century England was generally at the mercy of her father’s ambitions. Whether Anne Boleyn acted on her own fruition, or was at her father’s bidding, I’m not sure we’ll ever know for sure. What we do know are the major events of her life.
Upon creating this timeline for Anne Boleyn I didn’t believe I’d have much to put into it. It wasn’t until I started to dig deeper into her life that I started realizing there were more events than at first thought.
I’ve included the combined Kent and Middlesex Indictments as well, you will see them noted as (Alleged Offenses). Included in these are links to the Anne Boleyn Files webpage where I gathered the information. If you click on the date it will bring you to the page.
I’m certain I’ve missed some events. If you notice a major event that I’ve missed please let me know.
- Anne Boleyn was born at Blickling, Norfolk, to Thomas Boleyn and his wife, Elizabeth Howard.
- Anne is appointed a maid-of-honour at the court of Margaret, archduchess of Austria. Anne later leaves to serve Mary, queen of France, wife of Louis XII (and Henry VIII’s sister).
- January 1 – King Louis XII of France died. Anne remained at the court of the new French queen, Claude for almost 7 years.
- Anne’s sister, Mary Boleyn wed her first husband William Carey.
- Anne is recalled to England by her father, Thomas Boleyn. At this time Anne’s sister, Mary is the King’s mistress.
- Anne had returned to England to marry her cousin, James Butler. The marriage proposal was agreed upon by their fathers to settle the claim of the family Earldom of Ormond. The proposal was eventually dropped.
- March 1 – Anne made her first (recorded) appearance at Henry VIII’s court while playing the part of Perseverance in a Shrove Tuesday pageant at York Palace in London.
- Anne was secretly betrothed to Henry Percy
- January – Cardinal Wolsey broke the betrothal of Anne and Henry Percy. Anne was sent back home to Hever Castle, and Percy was married to Lady Mary Talbot, to whom he had been betrothed since adolescence.
- Anne’s sister Mary Boleyn gives birth to a daughter, Catherine Carey, thought to be the illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII.
- Historian David Starkey dates the start of Henry’s feelings for Anne to Christmas and New Year 1524/1525, shortly after he had stopped sharing a bed with Katherine of Aragon.
- Anne’s brother George Boleyn weds Jane Parker.
- The King’s secretary was sent to the Pope Clement VII to request an annulment of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon.
- June – Anne contracted the Sweating Sickness while at Hever Castle. Henry VIII sent his personal physician, William Butts, to care for Anne at Hever – she recovered.
- Mary Boleyn’s husband, William Carey died of the Sweating Sickness
- October – Cardinal Wolsey was officially stripped of the office of Lord Chancellor, and was required to return the Great Seal.
- November 29 – Cardinal Wolsey died.
- January 5 – Pope Clement VII wrote to Henry VIII forbidding him to remarry and threatened excommunication if he took matters into his own hands and disobeyed Rome.
- Katherine of Aragon is banished from court and her rooms were given to Anne.
- Autumn - Anne was dining at a manor house on the river Thames and was almost seized by a crowd of angry women. Anne just managed to escape by boat. (Source: Fraser, Antonia The Wives of Henry VIII New York: Knopf )
- September 1 – Anne was made Marquess of Pembroke.
- October 25 – Anne is introduced by Henry to King Francis I of France.
- November 14 – Anne and Henry secretly wed.
- January 25 – Henry and Anne marry in “public.”
- April 12 – Anne attended Easter Sunday mass “with all the pomp of a Queen, clad in cloth of gold, and loaded with the richest jewels”. It was her first public appearance as Queen and she wanted to make a statement that she was indeed Henry VIII’s rightful wife and Queen.
- May – Henry’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon was annulled.
- May (a few days later) – Thomas Cranmer declared Henry and Anne’s marriage valid.
- June 1 – Anne crowned as Queen consort
- September 7 – Anne gives birth to a daughter, Princess Elizabeth.
- October 6 & 12 – Anne “procured” Sir Henry Norris “to violate her” at Westminster. (Alleged Offense)
- November 12 & 19th – Anne “allured” Sir Henry Norris “to violate her” at Greenwich. (Alleged Offense)
- November 16 & 27th – Anne and Sir William Brereton at Greenwich. (Alleged Offense)
- December 3 & 8th – Anne “procured” Sir William Brereton “to violate her” at Hampton Court. (Alleged Offense)
- Anne’s sister, Mary wed in secret her second husband William Stafford. The secret marriage angered both Henry VIII and Anne because Mary married beneath her station. This resulted in Mary being banished from the royal court.
- It has been disputed that Anne may have become pregnant and miscarried this year.
- April 12th – Anne “procured” Mark Smeaton at Westminster (date for Anne procuring Smeaton). (Alleged Offense)
- May 8 & 20th – Anne “procured” Sir Francis Weston at Westminster. (Alleged Offense)
- June 6 & 20th – Anne “allured” and then slept with Sir Francis Weston at Greenwich. (Alleged Offense)
- Anne became pregnant again.
- April 26th – Mark Smeaton “violated” Anne at Westminster. (Alleged Offense)
- May 13 & 19th – Anne “allured” and then slept with Mark Smeaton at Greenwich. (Alleged Offense)
- October 31st – Anne and some of the men plotted the King’s death at Westminster. (Alleged Offense)
- November 2 & 5th – Anne “procured” her brother George Boleyn,Lord Rochford, “to violate her” at Westminster. (Alleged Offense)
- November 27th – Anne gave gifts to the men at Westminster. (Alleged Offense)
- December 22 & 29th – Anne “allured” and then slept with her brother George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, at Eltham Palace. (Alleged Offense)
- January 7 – Katherine of Aragon died.
- January 8 – Anne plotted the King’s death with Rochford, Norris, Weston and Brereton at Greenwich. (Alleged Offense)
- Sometime after the death of Katherine of Aragon it’s possible there was a fire in Anne’s bedchamber. There is no definitive evidence to confirm these claims.
- January 24 – Henry VIII has his famous jousting accident.
- January 29 – Anne miscarried a male fetus.
- April 28 – Henry Norris came to Anne’s household – she asked him why he had not yet married the maid of honour he kept visiting. When Norris shrugged that he preferred to ‘tarry a time’, Anne joked: ‘You look for dead men’s shoes, for if ought came to the king but good, you would look to have me.’ Imagining the death of the king was a treasonous offence, and Norris replied, aghast, that ‘if he should have any such thought, he would [wish] his head were off’.
- April 29 – Mark Smeaton taken for questioning.
- May 1 – May Day: Henry attended a joust with Anne at Greenwich Palace. When the tournament ended, a message was passed to the king. Henry abruptly rose from his seat and left for Westminster by horse. Leaving Anne behind.
- May 2 – Anne was arrested and taken to the Tower of London along with her brother George.
- May 15 – Trial of Anne and her brother George where they were found guilty.
- May 17 – Cranmer declared the marriage between Henry and Anne was null and void. This sentence meant that it was as if the marriage had never happened. Their daughter Elizabeth automatically became illegitimate with this declaration.
- May 19 – Anne was executed on Tower Green inside the walls of the Tower of London.