Her continued refusal to become Henry’s mistress prompted him to promise her marriage, which led to the “Great Matter” of annulling his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. We don’t know whether Anne reciprocated Henry’s love at this early stage, or possibly thought it was a sign from God that she should do her duty and be Queen. In 1532, Anne was made Marquis of Pembroke, a prestigious role which had previously only been given to men - a crucial detail when considering Anne Boleyn’s role as a non-conformist, and even a trailblazer. She was recognised by Francis I of France as Henry’s consort later that year and returned to London to cohabit with the King.
Anne fell pregnant shortly afterwards and faced a lot of criticism from Catholics and supporters of Catherine, who by this point had been demoted to Dowager Princess of Wales. Eustace Chapuys, the Imperial Ambassador, in his correspondence to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, referred to Anne as “the whore” and never Queen. This shows that for Catholic Europe at least, she was an unpopular choice and could be said to be disliked.
Anne was a devout follower of the “new faith”, and was very well read and intelligent. She owned a copy of William Tyndale’s “The Obedience of a Christian Man” and highlighted passages which she thought Henry would find useful. These passages were indeed helpful to him, as they suggested that a King should be answerable to no one except God. Using this text, Henry had the evidence he wanted and proof he did not need Rome’s permission or blessing to annul his first marriage and marry Anne. She was clever enough to encourage the King to read this text, to highlight certain passages that he would find particularly interesting and help him with the “Great Matter”. Henry was reported to have been “delighted” with the book and remarked that “This book is for me and all Kings to read”
They married in 1533 but from the moment she was pregnant, Anne began to secure her child’s legitimacy by having their marriage recognised officially. Against all odds, Anne was crowned Queen on the 29th May 1533. It was a stressful marriage to say the least, with pressure to have a son, an unenthusiastic stepdaughter, Mary, and her lack of popularity with the people. Her daughter, the future Elizabeth I, was born on the 7th September 1533 and Anne was very happy, although they had yearned for a boy. She was not allowed to see her daughter a great deal, as Elizabeth was sent to Hatfield House when she was only a few months old, to be looked after by Lady Margaret Bryan. Anne continued to buy clothes and material for her daughter, however after Anne died, Lady Bryan was forced to write to Cromwell to beg for more material and clothes for the little girl. She wrote that the young Elizabeth “hath neither gown, not kirtle, nor petticoat”. Despite Lady Bryan doing her best to shield the young Elizabeth from the horrors that were happening around her, like her mother, she was incredibly sharp and perceptive. It is said that even at the age of three, she was aware of the change in the way people would refer to her. She is reported to have said “How haps it governor, yesterday my Lady Princess, today but my Lady Elizabeth?”
Anne is sometimes unfairly portrayed on TV and in fiction as being a calculating schemer - a portrayal not necessarily backed up by evidence. The young Boleyn girl simply could not have known her actions would lead to her being Queen. With hindsight, her refusal of the King, and her coyness, are seen by some as “playing hard to get”, although she could not have predicted that this would lead to the break with Rome and her marrying the King. It had never happened before, and would never happen again.