Marriage for Anne Boleyn?
A few days ago I introduced you to two sisters, Anne and Mary Boleyn, who had been raised in the French courts and whose father had fully supported the Tudors. Whenever the name Anne Boleyn is heard people instantly think she was either a witch, whore and a troublemaker. Yet we tend to forget that it was her older sister, Mary, who had that reputation in France. It wasn't uncommon for European kings to be unfaithful to their queens. King Henry VIII had more restraint than most kings of his time in that he had fewer affairs. The English king had loved his queen yet by the time the Boleyn girls arrived to England his marriage had already begun to fall apart.
Return to England
Anne had returned to England sometime in 1521 while Mary's relationship with King Henry VIII was drawing to a close. Anne did not return to England to seduce the English king. On the contrary, King Henry VIII had been involved in arranging Anne's marriage to James Butler, the ninth Earl of Ormond, while he was in a relationship with her sister.
Henry VIII had written to Thomas Boleyn and Thomas Howard in September of 1520 to determine whether of not the Earl of Ormond would be willing to marry his son to Anne Boleyn. The king had been wanting to use the marriage to unify the two families and end their troubles. Troubles? What troubles was the king talking about? And how could a marriage between Anne Boleyn and James Butler, the ninth Earl of Ormond, ever cease those problems?
It's All About Politics
Thomas Howard's father had served four kings in his lifetime as was loyal to monarchy. You remember when I had mentioned a couple of posts back that Thomas Boleyn had married into nobility? His wife, Elizabeth, was Thomas Howard's younger sister. It was through that connection that Thomas Boleyn was able to maintain and build upon his royal connections.
|Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk|
Thomas Howard had served as a member of the king's council before 1516. His father had been granted the title Duke of Norfolk on February 1, 1514 on the same day Thomas was granted Earl of Surrey. Thomas gained more prominence at court and on March 10, 1520, King Henry VIII granted promoted him as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Thomas Howard's roles now included as the representative of the King (the "viceroy") in Ireland;
- the head of the executive in Ireland;
- a member of the English or British Cabinet;
- the font of mercy, justice and patronage;
- commander-in-chief in Ireland.
- Grand Master of the Order of St. Patrick
Thomas Boleyn was Irish. His mother was Lady Margaret Butler. Margaret's father had been Thomas Butler, the 7th Earl of Ormond. Thomas Butler died on August 3, 1515 without any male heirs and as such he left his entire estate to the male heir of his daughters, Margaret (the Boleyn family) and Anne (St. Legers family). King Henry VIII had been instrumental in Thomas Butler's decision to leave half his estate to the Boleyn family. The problem with the Irish inheritance was that Thomas Butler's cousin, Percy Butler, had already assumed the estate would go to him since he was Thomas Butler's closest male kin. Percy had begun to address himself as Earl of Ormond even though a hearing in November of 1516 had proven the Boleyn and St. Leger families were the rightful heirs. The problem was the Irish nobles refused to recognize the ruling and were backing Pierce Butler's claim to the estate.
The only way to solve the problem, in King Henry VIII's eyes, was through the marriage of Pierce Butler's son to Thomas Boleyn's daughter. Thomas Howard and the Council of Ireland agreed with the English king.
Anne was summoned back to England to serve as on of Queen Catherine of Aragon's ladies in waiting while her marital arrangements were being made. Her first recorded appearance in the English courts was on March 1, 1522 at a masque ball. Her marital arrangements to James Butler fell through and she once again she found herself unspoken for.
Yet she won't be lonely for long.