The relationship of Queen Anne Boleyn and princess Mary
Anne Boleyn and Mary Tudor shared so many qualities. Both were fashionable, very well educated, were musicals and very strong . However, destiny chose both to be enemies.
I admit it was very hard for me, both are my favorite Tudor historical characters (besides Elizabeth) and the same time and devotion that i dispose to study and write about Mary, i do exactly for Anne Boleyn.
In this article i want to seek how both woman felt. What’s the situation that lies behind the Queen and the princess to show why they acted as they did.
Princess of no realm
Mary, as we have seen in the previous article (the relationship with Catherine and Henry) was raised very closely to Catherine and was very influenced by her, that’s maily the reason why she stood up by her mother’s side in the time of “the great matter”.
carolyn Meyer book's cover, Mary, Bloody Mary.
Also, as i have Said in the previous article, Mary was in the middle of a battle between her parents and she paid the much higher price. Until the new queen bore her child no politcs were made in regard of Mary, she was still the king’s heir, the king’s rightful daughter, the princess of England, eventhough he was already married to queen Anne Boleyn, she was already crowned and Catherine with a new title, princess dowager. Soon it would change, in september 7th of 1533 Queen Anne delivered not the expected baby boy, but a health baby girl, named Elizabeth.
Now, make a little exercise, put yourself in this Young girl’s place. Your world is just falling apart and you can’t even go after your mother for help.
Mary lost her father’s affection , lost the contact with her mother and friends such as lady Salisbury. Worse than that was to serve her new born sister, princess Elizabeth. Mary was feeling humiliated and wronged. Who Mary blame for her world falling apart? Her name was Anne Boleyn.
When Mary was stripped of her titles and household she said that would call Elizabeth her sister as much as she did with Henry Fitzroy (bastard son of the king by Bessie Blount) but the title of princess still belongs to her.
When Anne heard of it, according to Anne Whitelock in her book on Mary:
“As soon as Anne Boleyn came to hear of this, she quickly stepped in, instructing her aunt that if Mary continued to behave in this way she was to be starved back into the hall, and if she tried to use the banned title of princess she was to have her ears boxed “as the cursed bastard.”
So, was Anne that “wicked” stepmother from fairytales or there was a reason behing her behaviour
Now we Will se Anne’s side of the story.
Wicked stepmother or an insecure Queen?
Anne knew (or she thought) what would happen to her if she didn’t give to the king what he desired most and what the dinasty need, the heir of the throne, the Prince of England. Princess Mary’s obstinancy made things even worse .
According to Eric Ives on his book on Anne says:
“This is not to say that Anne was guiltless. Chapuys’ letters are full of her
railing against Mary and of her lurid threats to curb ‘her proud Spanish
blood’. But much though the ambassador warned of poison and worse,
Anne was ranting, not thinking. There is an obvious ring of truth in his
story that, assuming she would be regent if, as expected, Henry went to
Calais to meet Francis I again, Anne swore to seize that chance to put
Mary to death. When her brother pointed out, very simply, that this would
anger the king, she retorted that she did not care, even if she was burned
for doing it.
So Anne’s language was violent and threatening, but this
Sprang not from malevolence but from self-defence.”
Anne was well known for her temperament , she was explosive, but not necessarily a cold murder and there was no way that the death of Catherine and Mary, as her making, would help her nor she would do it knowing the consequences of these acts.
Eric says too how Anne tried to have a good relationship with the princess
“On three distinct occasions Anne put out feelers for a better relationship. In February
or March 1534, when on a visit to Elizabeth, she offered to welcome
Mary if she would accept her as queen, and to reconcile her with her
father. Mary’s response was that she knew no queen but her mother, but
that if the king’s mistress would intercede with her father she would be
Sarah Bolger as princess Mary and Natalie Dormer as Queen Anne Boleyn
That was portrait in the tudors.
“By a message if Mary would obey the king she would find Anne a second mother, and be asked for minimal courtesies only. When Mary replied discouragingly that she would obey
her father as far as honour and conscience allowed, Anne tried to frighten
and warn her at the same time”
Warn about if she didn’t obey her father, the king, something worse could happen to her. From who did Mary believe these threats were coming?
Would Henry VIII demand the execution of his own daughter? The once pearl of his kingdom?
i really do not doubt of that option.
Now, let’s make the same exercise we did before.
Put yourself on Anne’s place. The king’s now ex-wife still calls herself Queen, her daughter still calls herlsef princess, you should give a baby boy to the king, but you give him another “useless” girl, you are not the most “popular” Queen of your country while the ex and her daughter won more and more empathy and affection.
from Carolyn Meyer's book cover "doomed queen Anne"
She went paranoid and afraid and i really agree with Eric Ives when he says that her actions towards Mary, the horrible treatament to the poor girl, are consequence of a self – defense behaviour.
Henry VIII: The really one to blame
When Queen Anne was “plotting” against her stepdaughter, it was Henry VIII, Mary’s father the obligation to protect her from anything Anne would (or not) do against her.
But he didn’t, simple because Mary denied to accept his changes in the policies, the religion and in the family matters.
So she would pay.
According to Anna Whitelock:
“The following day, Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk, was sent to Beaulieu to inform Mary that her father desired her “to go to the Court and service of [Elizabeth], whom he named Princess.” Mary responded that “the title belonged to herself and no other.” Norfolk made no answer, declaring “he had not come to dispute but to accomplish the King’s will.” When Mary was told that she would be allowed to take very few servants with her, Margaret Pole—her longtime governess and godmother, who had been in Mary’s entourage since the princess was three—asked if she might continue to serve Mary at her own expense and pay for the whole household. Her request was refused.9 Henry wanted Mary, like Katherine, to be separated from those she trusted to encourage her submission.”
And according to stakey:
“‘He had not spoken to [Mary]’, he informed the French ambassador, ‘on account of her obstinacy, which came from her Spanish blood.”
So Henry VIII, Mary’s father appoint her to the humiliation of being her half sister’s servant and about her obstinancy, he blames her “spanish blood”, so it’s like she is not his daughter at all or in less horrible way, her “flaws” comes from her mother, not him.
Anne Boleyn, already kept in the tower asked to the wife of lord Kingston to go and “kneel before Mary and beg her pardon for all the wrongs she had done against her.”
Mary in a letter to Cromwell in the year of 1536:
““I perceived that nobody durst speak for me as long as that woman lived, which is now gone(referring to queen Anne) whom I pray to our Lord, of his great mercy to forgive”
So still, Mary believed was Anne Boleyn to blame for her situation, however the truth still come . the princess was still out of favour after Anne’s death, to be welcome back to her father’s affections she should do it, recognize her illegitimacy, the most difficult thing Mary have ever done. Accept she was a bastard to her father’s law and eyes, that her mother was never Queen and she was never a princess.
Who is to blame for Mary’s suffering? To me is only Henry VIII.
Anne Whitelock: Princess, bastard and Queen
Eric Ives: Life and death of Anne Boleyn
David Starkey: The six wives of Henry VIII
Claire Ridgway’s article on Anne Boleyn files: Anne Boleyn and Mary Tudor.