The Fall of Anne Boleyn complete

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The fall of Anne Boleyn
There is a lot of disagreement among historians about what really happened
to cause the fall of Anne Boleyn. We know what the accusations were, but we
don’t know how much truth – if any – there is in the allegations. On the one hand,
historians like Eric Ives believe that Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s chief
minister, had quarrelled with Anne and took his revenge by falsely accusing her
of committing adultery with a number of men, including her own brother. Most
of the men accused of sleeping with Anne were put to death, enabling Cromwell
to get rid of a number of potential enemies.
Others, like George Bernard, argue that Anne may in fact have been guilty of
at least some of the charges. One of the arguments put forward in support of this
theory is that she was desperate to give Henry the son he wanted (she had had a
daughter, Elizabeth, but her second child, a boy, was stillborn), and may have
slept with other men in an attempt to become pregnant. It is true that Henry
suffered periods of erectile dysfunction (that is, sexual impotence), but
opponents of this theory argue that it would have been very suspicious if Anne
became pregnant during one of those periods.
It was also alleged that Anne and her lovers were plotting to kill the king,
thus making them guilty of treason as well as adultery and (in the case of her
brother) incest.
However much historians disagree about the truth behind the charges, there
is general agreement that the trial itself was a travesty. A number of figures of
Henry’s court– Mark Smeaton, Henry Norris, Frances Weston, William Brereton,
Thomas Wyatt, Richard Page and George Boleyn, Anne’s brother – were arrested.
Some were tortured into making confessions and all but Thomas Wyatt (a poet)
and Richard Page were found guilty. The others were beheaded on May 17, 1536.
Two days later, Anne was herself beheaded. She did not protest her
innocence in her dying speech, but neither did she admit her guilt. It is thought
that she hoped to protect her surviving family and daughter from further
persecution by peacefully accepting her fate.
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