Henry VIII and His Six Wives s01e02 Episode Script

Anne Boleyn

DAN JONES: Henry VIII is the most Infamous monarch in English history.
I Katherine I Anne, take thee Henry to be my husband.
I do.
SUZANNAH UPSCOMBE: Famously, over his 38-year reign, he married six times.
DAN: Divorced, beheaded, died SUZANNAH: Divorced, beheaded, survived.
DAN: But the women Henry married were more than just six wives.
SUZANNAH: They were the six queens.
The six queens were formidable individuals.
Some were ambitious, some brave, some ruthless.
All changed history.
They shaped the man who became the monster and in turn they shaped England itself.
But who were these women? What drove them, and what was it really like to be married to Henry VIII? SUZANNAH: In this series, we 'll dissect these marriages from the rival perspectives of Henry and his queens.
I will call you Henry.
DAN: We'll uncover the passions that created them, the obsessions that darkened them and the betrayals that brought them to an end.
SUZANNAH: This time, Anne Boleyn was the most notorious mistress in English history.
She was intelligent, sophisticated and ambitious.
I'd rather see her hanged than acknowledge her as my mistress.
DAN: She captivated King Henry VIII and together they destroyed the queen, Katherine of Aragon.
But Anne grew too confident.
You would look to have me.
And paid for the Crown with her life.
SUZANNAH: 1529, and Henry has been in love with Anne Boleyn for 3 years.
She had been Lady-in-Waiting to his wife.
Queen Katherine of Aragon but Anne was tired of being mistress and wanted to be queen.
To get the Crown she promised Henry the one thing Katherine had failed to give him in 20 years of marriage - a living son.
DAN: But Anne had one condition.
She wouldn't sleep with Henry until he left his wife.
Henry tried to divorce Katherine but she refused to step aside for Anne Boleyn.
SUZANNAH: Katherine had been Henry's loyal wife for two decades.
She had loved him, supported him, even fought a war for him.
She wasn't going to give up Henry without a fight You are not my wife.
DAN: Katherine asked Henry to allow their marriage to be judged in a public court.
He had little choice.
Please, let me defend myself.
I agree that it should be so.
SUZANNAH: Katherine now had a chance to save her marriage and her crown.
Without knowing it, Katherine had been preparing for this moment all her life.
Her childhood under her warrior mother.
Those agonised years of waiting, first for Arthur, then for Henry.
Even her command of troops at Flodden.
Every stage had reinforced her utter determination not to be crushed by any man.
If she lost, she would lose her husband and have to declare in public that her 20-year marriage was a sham.
It was all or nothing.
DAN: On June the 21st 1529 in the Great Hall of Blackfriars Priory, London Henry VIII's struggle to get Anne Boleyn was finally made public.
He faced Katherine in the divorce court.
The public packed the gallery, eager to see this sensational trial.
We know the details of what was said, thanks to eye-witness accounts.
I come for a swift decision.
Am I legally bound to this lady? DAN: Henry's case rested on the fact that Katherine had once been married to his older brother, Arthur.
Marriage to your brother's widow was forbidden in at least two places in the Bible.
SUZANNAH: It was now the queen 's turn to speak.
According to court convention Katherine was supposed to give her testimony stood beside her chair but she refused to do as she was instructed.
DAN: Henry was caught off guard.
It was humiliating to have Katherine acting as an innocent victim.
Sir, I beseech you, let me have justice.
Get up, Katherine, get up.
For 20 years I have been your true wife and by me you have had many children although it has pleased God to take them out of this world.
This was no fault of mine.
You're making a fool of yourself, get up! DAN: By kneeling, Katherine had driven Henry to anger making him look brutal, and now she played her trump card.
As God is my judge when you had me at first I was a true virgin without touch of a man.
SUZANNAH: Katherine said that 26 years earlier she and Henry's brother, Arthur, had slept in the same bed but she claimed that in the five months they were married they had never had sex.
Under Church law this meant that they had never been married.
DAN: Henry knew that if Katherine was believed by the court his case for a divorce and his hopes of a swift marriage to Anne Boleyn would be in ruins.
Get up.
His only chance was to keep Katherine there while his lawyers attacked her testimony.
SUZANNAH: But Katherine had another act of defiance in store for Henry.
She stormed out, never to return.
By walking out, Katherine had stopped the divorce case in its tracks.
She and Henry were still married and now the case would be sent to the Pope and he was sympathetic to Katherine.
DAN: Henry had wanted to deliver Katherine a knockout blow.
Instead she had given him a slap in the face.
But worse was to come.
Anne Boleyn had been waiting for the news she hoped would make her queen.
Now Henry had to explain his failure to the woman he loved and had promised to marry - Anne Boleyn.
I am beyond anger.
That woman will not see reason.
Did I not tell you that whenever you disputed with the queen she would surely have the upper hand.
SUZANNAH: But if Henry was looking for sympathy, he had come to the wrong place.
It was I - Fine warning.
You will succumb to her reasoning and cast me off.
I've waited too long for this to happen.
- I would never All this time I might have contracted some advantageous marriage.
I may even have had children.
But no, farewell to my time and youth.
By 1529 Anne was almost 30 years old.
In Tudor terms, she was entering middle age.
By 30, Katherine of Aragon had had four pregnancies; Anne had had none.
She'd given three years to this affair and had listened to Henry's promises but nothing had happened.
The despair was beginning to show.
SUZANNAH: Anne's hatred for Katherine now took a far darker turn.
I care nothing for the queen.
I would rather see her hanged than acknowledge her as my mistress.
Her despair now turned to action.
She went on the attack.
Anne now banned Katherine's male courtiers from visiting her.
She infiltrated Katherine's entourage with her own spies.
The Spanish ambassador said that Anne was braver than a lioness.
She wasn't going to let the greatest prize of all, the king, get away from her.
In the backstabbing world of Tudor politics Anne was revealing herself to be a ruthless operator.
She wasn't yet queen but she began taking control of the court.
As Anne attacked Katherine at home.
Henry took his fight to the international stage.
DAN: Henry couldn't leave Katherine because the Pope refused to annul his marriage.
But if the Pope wouldn't give him what he wanted then Henry would take it for himself.
DAN: Driven by his absolute obsession and desire to marry Anne Henry made one of the most momentous decisions in English history.
He would split the English Church from Rome.
Henry reasoned that if he were free from the Pope and made himself head of the English Church he could force his bishops to grant him an annulment.
DAN: Now this was a staggering decision.
Nearly a thousand years of English Catholic tradition would go up in flames but Henry's obsession with Anne knew no limits.
He would literally move heaven and earth to get the woman he wanted.
SUZANNAH: This was the moment the couple had been waiting for.
After holding off for seven years.
And confident that they would soon be married Henry and Anne finally had sex.
Anne had got her king.
Now she would give him his prince.
But there was still one major problem.
Any son they had would be illegitimate and couldn't inherit the English throne.
So Henry and Anne took their next dramatic step.
DAN: On 25th of January 1533, the King of England committed bigamy.
He married Anne Boleyn in a secret ceremony, attended by just a handful of close friends.
I Henry take thee Anne to be my wife.
This was an extraordinary move by Henry.
In the eyes of Catholic Europe he was still legally married to Katherine of Aragon and here he was, marrying his mistress.
To have and to hold from this day forward.
For better for worse, for richer for poorer.
But Henry didn't care what anyone thought.
All he cared about was Anne.
She was the woman who had promised him a son and heir.
I Anne take thee Henry to be my wedded husband.
SUZANNAH: It had taken seven years but Anne had finally married the man she loved.
For richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.
And now she was making history.
No mistress had ever married the King of England.
And thereto I plight thee my troth.
I now pronounce you man and wife.
It was Anne's triumph and the wedding was just in time because, exactly as she had promised.
Anne was pregnant.
ANNE PANTS AND CRIES in the first week of September 1533 Queen Anne went into labour at Greenwich Palace in London.
ANNE SCREAMS DAN: Henry eagerly awaited the birth of the son he 'd dreamed Of for more than 20 years.
He was so fired up, he had letters prepared in advance announcing the birth of a prince.
BABY CRIES SUZANNAH: On the 7th of September a strong and healthy child was born but it wasn't the boy Anne had promised.
It was a girl, Elizabeth.
This was a real blow to Henry's pride.
His astrologers had assured him that the child would be a boy and in his excitement, the king had arranged a tournament a show of manliness to greet the new prince.
DAN: Now the jousts were cancelled.
There was no need for them.
SUZANNAH: Despite Henry's initial frustration the birth of Elizabeth wasn't a complete disaster for the royal marriage.
Elizabeth showed that Anne could have healthy children and once Henry got over his disappointment he was soon taking pride in his bonny daughter.
What's often forgotten is that Henry and Anne now began more than two years of happiness together.
They were described as being merry with each other far more often than Henry with any of his other wives.
They had worked seven long years to be together.
Now they were going to enjoy it.
SUZANNAH: But as the king and queen's happiness grew life for Katherine became intolerable.
Even after her marriage to the king had been annulled Henry and Anne kept up their attacks on her.
For the next five years Katherine was deprived of money and supporters.
Henry moved her at will from house to house.
One of her last residences was here at Buckden, now in Cambridgeshire but even here, Katherine's rebelliousness refused to die.
SUZANNAH: In December 1533 Henry sent the Duke of Suffolk to Buckden to stamp out the fast flames of Katherine's defiance.
Katherine declared that she would rather be hacked to pieces than accept the king's new marriage.
She then retreated to her rooms looked the door and shouted through a hole in the wall if you want to take me with you, you'll have to break down the door.
But it was too Sate for Katherine.
It was the tragic end to one of the greatest love stories in English history.
As a teenager, Katherine had lived as a virtual prisoner, waiting for Henry.
In her final years, cast out by him, she became a prisoner once again.
But what I find incredible about Katherine is that she didn't give up hope in her husband.
She wrote of 'the great love that hath been betwixt him and me' and said that for her that love was as faithful and true as it ever was.
In her last line of her last letter to him, she said 'mine eyes desire to see you above all things.
' Despite all that she had suffered, for Katherine one thing never faded - she never gave up on the man that she had married.
SUZANNAH: On the 7th of January 1536 three years after Henry married Anne Katherine died.
She is thought to have been killed by cancer of the heart.
To the very end she insisted on being called Henry's queen.
Henry was delighted.
Katherine had been a thorn in the side of his marriage and now, at long last, she was dead.
One observer said that Henry was transported with joy and there was even better news to come.
Anne was pregnant again.
Henry's great gamble was paying off and he celebrated the best way he knew how.
DAN: On the 24th of January 1536, just two weeks after Katherine's death Henry was at Greenwich Palace to joust.
He was addicted to this thrilling and dangerous sport.
He didn't yet have a son but he could still show off his man/mess to the world.
Henry suffered a terrifying fail.
The force was more than enough to kill a man.
Anne Boleyn hadn't yet given him his heir.
Henry VIIIs life and the Tudor dynasty hung by a thread.
CLERGYMAN: I now pronounce you man and wife.
ANNE PANTS - BABY CRIES MAN SCREAMS ANNE: I Anne, take thee Henry to be my wedded husband and thereto I plight thee my troth.
Finally, after two hours.
Henry came round.
Henry's brush with death was more than just a painful experience.
It was a reminder of the fragility of his dynasty.
In the 27 years that he had been married, first to Katherine of Aragon and then to Anne he still hadn't secured the succession.
Henry was 45 years old and time was running out.
All his hopes for the future now rested on the child in Anne's belly.
SUZANNAH: But five days after the [ousting accident, tragedy struck.
Anne had a miscarriage.
She thought it had been caused by the stress of Henry's fall and the foetus had developed enough to show that it would have been a boy.
I see that God will not give me male children.
I'll see her when she's up.
DAN: Henry must have feared that history was repeating itself.
SUZANNAH: Katherine of Aragon 's pregnancies had ended in the deaths of at least five babies.
It looked as though the same thing might be happening to Anne.
Now she was vulnerable.
What's worse, she was soon to make a fatal mistake and it was caused by the very thing that had attracted Henry to her in the first place.
Anne's flirtatious sex appeal had been the key to her success.
DAN: Henry's court was a hotbed of sexual tension.
Courtiers teased each other in a game of organised flirtation known as courtly love.
SUZANNAH: it was supposed to be innocent fun but the ambiguity of the game made it thrilling.
The greatest player of them all was Anne Boleyn.
As queen, Anne couldn't stop playing the game of courtly love.
In fact the reverse was true.
She was now the summit of all male desire at the court the queen bee around whom all men swarmed and she had to absorb their compliments without dishonouring the king.
It was an incredibly fine line to walk and caught up in the thrill of playing the game, Anne slipped.
SUZANNAH: On the 29th of April 1536 Anne Boleyn was in her private apartments.
As she always had done, she began to tease the men of her court.
Her attention was drawn to a court musician called Mark Smeaton.
Why do you look so sad? It's of no matter, my lady.
Do you want me to talk to you - is that it? I cannot talk to you as I would a nobleman as you are an inferior person.
No madam - a look suffices me.
DAN: Smeaton appeared to have a crush on Anne.
She had told him she was out of his league but the focus of Anne's next flirtation was far more controversial.
Henry Norris.
Henry Norris was a gentleman of the king's privy chamber and Henry VIIIs oldest and closet friend.
He was handsome, rich and powerful.
Tell me, Henry, why have you not yet married Madge Shelton? I shall take my time.
You come into this chamber more for me than for Madge.
I think you look for dead man's shoes, Henry for if anything bad should happen to the king you would look to have me.
SUZANNAH: Even though this was just flirtatious banter what Anne was saying was that Norris wanted to marry her if her husband was dead.
That meant that Anne had imagined Henry dying.
To imagine the death of the king in words was high treason.
If I had any such thoughts I would have my head cut off.
Oh Henry, come back! Henry! Anne realised her mistake but the words could not be taken back.
The Tudor court was rife with gossip and malicious tongues soon started to wag.
Anne had dominated this world but her power had made her many enemies.
DAN: It didn't take tong for the scandal to reach Henry's Chief Minister, Thomas Cromwell.
Cromwell was a cunning and ruthless politician.
He had risen from nothing to a position of great power.
Now he saw an opportunity to serve his master.
- Your Majesty.
Sire, I have been informed that the queen has been acting freely with gentlemen of her Chamber.
Freely? She has spoken words of love and they to her.
What? Sire, it may have gone further.
It isn't yet known how far.
DAN: If the rumours were true and Anne had been unfaithful it would throw into doubt the legitimacy of all future royal children.
I want this investigated, fully.
She's not to know.
Cromwell began to round up suspects.
One of the first to be questioned was the musician, Mark Smeaton.
How well do you know the queen, Mark? I have served her court for three months, sir.
There are reports that she has given you special favours.
Is that true? I cannot discuss it.
You will, Mark.
One way or another.
What happened next is unclear but some reports say that Smeaton was tortured by Cromwell 's men.
SM EATON SCREAMS SMEATON WHIMPERS Whatever the truth, Smeaton made an extraordinary confession.
These are his exact words.
The queen took me to her bed.
Go on.
She gave into my passions three times.
Smeaton 's confession may have been obtained under torture but true or not, Cromwell now had evidence against the queen.
CROMWELL: Give me the names of the others.
Fear swept through Henry's court as six courtiers were arrested.
They included Anne's own brother, George Boleyn, and Henry Norris.
DAN: Norris was one of Henry's closest friends.
He'd known him for over 20 years but in a heartbeat, with no evidence beyond an accusation Henry decided that Norris was guilty.
Now the fact that he would do that to his friend tells you just how lacerated Henry was by the idea that Anne might have been unfaithful.
He'd been obsessed with having her and the thought that someone else might have, turned that obsession into a desperate jealousy.
SUZANNAH: The very next day, Henry lashed out at the woman who had made him so jealous.
Anne Boleyn, the Queen of England.
Was arrested and taken to the Tower of London.
Imagine how terrifying this must have been for Anne.
The day before, she was the most powerful woman in the kingdom.
Now she was in the tower, denied access to Henry and with no idea of the charges against her.
Shall I die without justice? SUZANNAH: But the case against Anne was still weak.
There was Smeaton's dubious confession but no one else confessed any wrongdoing and there were no witnesses.
But then events took a terrible turn for Anne.
She wasn't to know it, but she would be the architect of her own downfall.
SUZANNAH: Desperate to work out why she had been arrested Anne wracked her brains for things she might have said or done to offend the king.
I said why have you not yet married Madge Shelton and he said, and he said, he was taking his time.
DAN: But Anne wasn't alone in the tower when she spoke.
Several female attendants kept her company.
I said you look for dead man's shoes, Henry.
You look for dead man's shoes.
Little did Anne know, the women were spies, passing everything Anne said back to Cromwell.
She asked Mr Norris why he did not go through with his marriage and he replied that he would wait a while.
Then the queen said to Norris you look for dead man's shoes or if bad things came to the king, you would look to have me.
The case against Anne was growing stronger but the man who mattered most had already made up his mind.
Henry's obsessive imagination now went into overdrive.
He claimed that Anne had slept with more than 100 men and he wept in gratitude at having escaped her attempts to poison him.
He reacted this violently because he honestly believed that Anne had deceived him.
In Henry's eyes, he was the victim.
Anne was the villain.
On the 15th of May 1536 the Kings Hall at the Tower of London was the location for arguably the most famous trial in history.
Anne Boleyn, the Queen of England, stood accused of high treason and adultery.
The judge was Anne's own uncle, the Duke of Norfolk and a jury of 26 men looked on.
Henry VIII was nowhere to be seen.
Seven years earlier, Henry had been humiliated at his divorce trial.
Get up.
You're making a fool of yourself.
Get up! It appears he wasn't going to make the same mistake twice.
Henry was relying on his lawyers to secure Anne's conviction.
SUZANNAH: As Anne sat on the witness stand she still had no idea of the accusations against her.
The first she knew was when the clerk of the court stood and read out the charges.
These are the original words spoken in court that day.
Queen Anne has been married to King Henry VIII for three years and more despising her marriage and entertaining malice against the king and following daily her carnal lusts.
She did procure by base conversations and kissings, touchings and gifts many servants to be her adulterers and concubines.
CROWD CHATTERS JUDGE BANGS GAVEL - Silence, silence! On the 6th of October she did procure Henry Norris of Westminster gentleman to the privy chamber, to violate her.
They had illicit intercourse on many occasions and she did also on the 2nd of November incite her only natural brother, George Boleyn, to violate her alluring with her tongue into George's mouth and George's tongue into hers.
CROWD GASPS SUZANNAH: The salacious detail of the charges was deliberate.
The river Of scandal that poured forth, including adultery and incest was meant to blacken her character beyond redemption.
Anne Boleyn, you stand charged with treason, adultery, incest plotting to marry Norris after the king's death, plotting the king's death.
How do you plead? Not guilty.
DAN: Now it was up to the jury to give their verdict.
In an ordinary trial it's highly likely that Anne would have been acquitted due to lack of evidence but this wasn't really a trial at all.
Every member of the jury owed allegiance to the king and thought they were doing his will.
Anne didn't stand a chance.
My lords, how do you find the accused? Guilty.
- Guilty.
- Guilty.
- Guilty.
JUDGE BANGS GAVEL - JUDGE: Silence! Silence! SUZANNAH: The Duke of Norfolk now passed sentence on his niece.
Because you have offended against our Sovereign, the king's grace in committing treason you shall burn here within the Tower of London on the green or else have your head smitten off.
Do you wish to speak? Do you wish to speak? In her darkest hour.
Anne Boleyn showed her true strength.
My lords.
I am clear of all the offences you have charged me with.
I have always been a faithful and loyal wife to the king.
I confess; I have had jealous fancies and suspicions of him but God knows, and is my witness that I've never failed otherwise towards him.
SUZANNAH: It's an extraordinary moment.
Anne had just been condemned to death, yet here she was confessing that there were parts of the love affair she'd got wrong.
She'd been jealous and headstrong.
In an overwhelming atmosphere of manipulation and lies Anne was trying to be honest about her own character.
It gave her a dignity that's often forgotten, but it couldn't save her life.
SUZANNAH: Four days later, Anne became the first Queen of England to face execution.
She had waited for seven years to get Henry.
Her whole world collapsed in just three weeks.
Anne knew she was innocent but at the last, she chose to accept her fate with dignity.
Good Christian people, I have not come here to preach a sermon.
I have come here to die.
I pray God save the king for to me he was ever a good, gentle and Sovereign Lord.
Anne kept looking around, perhaps hoping for a reprieve from Henry but none came.
DAN: The king did show some mercy.
Executions were traditionally carried out by axe but this was a painful and clumsy way to die.
Henry paid for a swordsman to sever Anne's head more skilfully.
SWORD SLASHES SUZANNAH: Anne Boleyn gambled for the very highest stakes.
She played a brilliant hand and she almost won.
She was brave, strong and dignified.
But she could never stop being the dangerously flirtatious woman that Henry fell in love with.
But if Anne couldn't change, Henry did.
DAN: He began as a smitten lover but his obsession with Anne drove him to break his Church and seize more and more power.
His jealousy turned to murderous paranoia which he kept long after he cast her off.
After Anne, Henry was a tyrant.