The death of Anne Boleyn: a correspondent writes to Elizabeth I

Anne Boleyn (there are no authenticated contemporary portraits of Anne)

It is impossible to know what Elizabeth I thought or felt about the fact that her father, Henry VIII, had executed her mother, Anne Boleyn, on charges of adultery with, among others, Elizabeth’s uncle and Anne’s brother. It is entirely possible, given that she was not yet three when her mother died, that she had no real memory of Anne at all. But it is hard to conceive that such a family history would not be the cause of at least a little emotional unquiet.

There would of course have been many around Elizabeth who could have attested to her infant relationship with Anne Boleyn and described to her many maternal intimacies and acts of tenderness and care that we might imagine, from our own experiences as parents and children, but which we cannot recreate from the evidence that now survives.

In fact, the only meaningful description of Anne Boleyn together with her daughter that we have comes from a letter written to Elizabeth I after her accession in 1559.

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