Was Anne Boleyn Really a Witch?

Was Anne Boleyn Really a Witch?

"If any person will meddle with my cause, I require them to judge the best" - Queen Anne Boleyn, 1536. 

In life and in death, Anne Boleyn has always invited controversy. She was annihilated in one of the most brutal complots in English history. She was and she is an enigma because, unfortunately, the best documented period of her short life is the last two weeks of it. 

Anne Boleyn has been commonly represented in history as a seductress with six fingers who enchanted Henry VIII and made him make such radical decisions in her name, like to break his Catholic ties and found the Church of England.

Was the second wife of Henry VIII a witch or simply a too advanced women of her time?

As someone with a passionate interest in Tudor history, I find this particular intrigue very juicy. Let's explore it. 


Anne Boleyn


The Great Matter 

Anne Boleyn was born in about 1501. Her father was the diplomat Sir Thomas Boleyn and her mother Lady Elizabeth Howard, the daughter of the second Duke of Norfolk. 

Anne was an outspoken, bold and graceful girl. The ambitious Thomas Boleyn noticed early on that his daughter was exceptionally intelligent, took "all possible care for her good education" and despatched her to the Low Countries to serve as Margaret of Austria's maid of honor, until he found an even better position in the court of the Queen of France.

One observer remembered Anne as "the most bewitching of all the lovely dames of the French court". 

When she returned home almost ten years later, in 1522, everything about Anne was fascinating - very soon, her father secured her a place in Queen Catherine of Aragon's household, Henry VIII's consort. There, with her manners and her grace, she attracted the attention of many men but it took four years for King Henry to notice her.

In 1526, he finally asked the captivating lady to become his mistress.

To his surprise, Anne refused. No one rejects a King and Henry soon became obsessed with her. "Well, madam", he said to Anne, "I shall live in hope". But she made clear she would have marriage or nothing: "You have a queen already and your mistress I will not be". 

Very clever. Catherine of Aragon, the queen in question, was already an aging woman, no longer attractive, with "only" a daughter - the future Mary I- after multiple pregnancies and miscarriages and out of favor. Henry VIII wanted a new wife and a male heir and Anne Boleyn was at the right place at the right moment. Like a man "possessed", the king began showering Anne with expensive gifts, splendid clothes and extravagant jewelry. The lady was attended and courted like a queen. Courtiers and foreign ambassadors were perplexed, especially the French one, who tough Henry "so in love that God alone can abate his madness".

I've read some of the King's letters and they are laughable. No wonder why Anne Boleyn's enemies attributed Henry's passion to witchcraft from the start.



The Church

What began as a romance became a theological and social revolution. Anne Boleyn's most formidable enemy was the woman she has supplanted: Catherine of Aragon. The Queen was a formidable and stubborn woman, ready to fight and determined to challenge "that shameless creature". As the aunt of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, perhaps the richest and most powerful man of his time, she had good allies, and on January 1531, Pope Clement VII sent a letter to Henry VIII forbidding him to remarry under penalty of excommunication. 

Subsequently, King Henry rejected the Pope's authority and in a move that changed England forever, Henry VIII became the head of the Church of England, with complete jurisdiction over his subjects spiritual welfare. Protestantism was taking root in England and English people, included the King, were tired of the Catholic Church's abuse and corruption. 

Anne Boleyn, as well, was a passionate reformer. She supported the idea of a religious change and boldly questioned the authority of the Pope. She openly read forbidden religious books and even asked Henry to take a look at them. She handled the King with such cleverness that in 1533, after years of waiting in vain for the Pope to grant the annulment of his first marriage, Henry banished Catherine of Aragon from his court, broke away from the Catholic Church and secretly married his mistress, who was already pregnant. 

Pope Clement VII was livid by the shocking news and declared that Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn was null and void. Her reputation through Christendom was awful and she was called a whore and an heretic in the courts of Europe. The Spanish ambassador referred to her as "the English Messalina or Agrippina", a"Jezebel" and a "sorceress". Henry, the ambassador added, was “bewitched by this cursed woman... does all she says, and dare not contradict her”.

The King's subjects were not impressed by their new queen, either, and her elevation met with little enthusiasm. 

The royal couple couldn't care less - Anne Boleyn choose "the most happy" as her motto. Before then she used the legend grumble all you like, this is how it’s going to be". Savage. 



With Greater Heights Come Greater Falls 

Henry VIII had done for Anne Boleyn all he had promised to do. He moved heaven and earth to be with her - now it was her turn to deliver her part.

The King expected a son and a humble and obedient wife. On the morning of 7 September 1533, Queen Anne went into labour, and although astrologers' promises that the child would be a son, the new-born turned out to be a girl. 

"You and I are both young", the angry King told his wife, "and by God's grace boys will follow". But this didn't happen. On the 29 January 1536, Anne Boleyn miscarried "a male child". It was her second miscarriage at least.

The King's need for an heir had become urgent. He was forty four now and too old to wait much longer. Henry knew that not having a son to succeed him could lead to another War of the Roses

Henry VIII had again a queen who had only given him a daughter. 

To make things worse, the fourteen week old aborted fetus was said to have been greatly deformed. There is no evidence that the "monster" baby ever existed, but these deformities were intended as God’s punishment and it was an extremely superstitious era. Even the most educated people believed that supernatural powers governed the natural order of things. Great disgraces were caused by divine displeasure or witchcraft and sadly, witches were connected with monstrous births. 

So, on the day of the queen's last miscarriage, Henry VIII reportedly said that "he had made this marriage seduced and constrained by sortileges". 

These days, Anne was no longer the sexy forbidden fruit that had charmed the King of England, but a "thin old woman", unpopular at court, and Henry VIII was already "tired to satiety" of her. 



Only one month later, in February 1536, Henry was reported to have sent "very large presents" to Jane Seymour, one of Anne Boleyn's maid of honor and the queen's opposite in every way. The girl, who was commonly described as quite plain, was placed in front of the King by her family members and became his new conquest. 

The dark clouds arrived. Anne's fall was inevitable.  


Dangerous Enemies 

With power and ambition come enemies, and Anne Boleyn had many. 

Almost all of the Queen's biographers believe that the plot to remove her was instigated by her former ally, Thomas Cromwell, the King's trusted advisor. In his opinion, it would be everyone's interest for the King to rid himself of his unpopular and problematic wife. Thomas Cromwell had a very realistic understanding of the situation and Henry VIII's amazing capacity to believe whatever best suited his capacity at the moment. The queen was an obstacle to reestablishing ties with Emperor Charles V. She failed to give the King the son he craved. And it was clear that Henry had interest in another lady and wanted another wife. 

As the Queen of England, should have been in an invincible position, but as a commoner, her power and influence was at the whim of Henry VIII - she had no grand connections like her predecessors.

But what, exactly, was her crime? Infertility and enchantment were not sufficient reasons to execute a queen. As the purging of her faction was also necessary, the case was initially built on the Queen's filtratious and frivolous nature. Anne loved courtly love and male attention and it was easy to present evidence (testimonials) that she had seduced members of his privy council, including her own brother, George Boleyn, and had conspired with them to murder the King. 

By April, Cromwell's plotting was well advanced and events moved forward quickly. Anne Boleyn was formally arrested the morning of 2 May and taken to the Tower. She passionately protested her innocence and said that, if she were to die, there would "no rain for seven years", a typical witch threat. 

The evening of the day that Anne was taken to the Tower, Henry VIII wept over his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, saying that he "had escaped the hands of that accursed whore" who had determined to poison him. The boy didn't escape, though - he would die just two months later, on what it's described as a "pulmonar infection". 

Anne Boleyn was found guilty of treason on the 15th May 1536, accused of having extramarital affairs with five men and conspiracy to procure the king's death. 


The Mark of the Devil

How could anyone seriously think that the crowned Queen of England was a witch? 

Unfortunately, Anne Boleyn was an easy target. She had a double nail on one of her fingers, "certain small moles" and a wen on her throat, which she hid with jewelry. It was believed that the devil placed upon witches a special mark that was insensitive to pain and did not bleed and Anne seemed to have a few. 

The Queen also had a dog named Urian, given to her in 1532. Urian was believed to be a Satanic name. 



Anne Boleyn believed in prophecies - she said that there was "a prophecy that about this time a queen of England would be burnt".  


Anne Boleyn's Final Days

After her arrest, Anne's family and supporters immediately distanced themselves from her. The atmosphere at court was tense and they were in fear for their lives, especially her ladies-in-waiting, whom testified in court that they’d witnessed the Queen's affairs and knew the King was "charmed by potions or otherwise". 

Anne Boleyn maintained her innocence. She was found guilty of treason on the 15th May 1536, accused of having extramarital affairs with five men and conspiracy to procure the king's death. She always denied the charges against her but was condemned to be beheaded or burned at “the King’s pleasure”. Of course, the trial was a mere formality. Anne Boleyn was now in the way of what King Henry VIII wanted -a son, a new life, and wife number three- and she had to die. 

Henry VIII had specified that the Queen head should be “cut off’ by a French sword, a real gentleness by the standards of the day. The headman was already on his way. 

At nine o-clock on Friday, 19 May 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn died "boldly", even if she could not sleep the night before. A witness reported "Never had the Queen looked so beautiful". 

Eleven days later, Henry married Jane Seymour at the Palace of Whitehall. The new bride gave birth to a prince, the King's legitimate heir to the Tudor throne, a year later, but she died after a difficult labour. 

Did the scorned Anne cursed Jane before her execution? It's tempting to think so. 



The Truth 

Henry VIII made witchcraft a crime in 1542... six years after his wife's execution. Anne Boleyn was not charged with witchcraft. She was executed on charges of incest, adultery and conspiracy against the king. All her crimes were seen as diabolical and carried witchcraft connotations. Tudor's people believed that witches enticed men into sexual immorality and marriage, gave birth to deformed children, committed incest and could afflict men with impotence. 

We don’t have any evidence to confirm that Queen Anne Boleyn practiced witchcraft, but what means evidence? In the sixteenth century, witchcraft was a real problem. Was she supposed to talk about her spells? What Anne did or did not, we can't be sure. At least, she was intrigued by the black arts. 

Historians suspect that the charges against her were exaggerated and at worst wholly fabricated and I agree. Adultery with five men, included her own brother? Yeah, sure.

However, as a witch, I can recognize a sister. Certain authors give credence to the witchcraft theory and I do, as well. 

I first became interested in Anne Boleyn when I visited the Tower of London, many years ago, and I was surprised by the horrible energy of the place. After the creepy tour, I consumed books, biographies, archives and everything else about her. I was fascinated by her glorious ascension and shocked by her disastrous fall, all of this at a moment of immense historical change. 



I loved that she dared to say no to be a king's mistress. She knew what she wanted and made sure she got it. When she saw a chance, she took it. She was not a beauty but she attracted a king. She made history. She inspired intense love and venomous hate. She was ruthless only with those who could have ruined her chances for happiness. She both experienced the great rises and lows of the wheel of fortune. 

I don't see her as a romantic heroine. People should stop romanticising Henry VIII's toxic relationship with her. The truth was much more mundane. Together, Anne and Henry changed England forever and for the good, but the chemistry and passion showed in fiction was non-existent in real life: the queen admitted to have never feel truly attracted to her husband and he never spoke of her again or showed remorse about her execution he arranged. He exhibited no regret whatsoever. It was as if she had never existed. 

But she existed. None of Henry VIII's wives have fascinated the public as the second - Anne Boleyn, the mother of the great Elizabeth I no less.

Both famous and infamous, the most controversial woman ever to wear the English crown, she will never stop captivating our imagination. 


If you need a mantra. “The Most Happy.” (;

Maximilian Horst

What a fantastic article! What a crime it is to be a smart beautiful woman even today. Thank you for this! The only good thing Henry VIII did was tell the Catholic Church to go pound rocks. That is the most corrupt gangster organization on the earth.


As a history buff, I admit I don’t know much about this period of English history: Anne Boleyn was completely unknown to me.

Through this article, I at least learned about a historical figure and that it was at this time that Protestantism began to appear.

If you have the opportunity to write articles about historical figures again, know that I encourage you to do so.

Thank you again for this historic discovery.


This historical post is an impressive and
critical read. The depth of research and reproduction of views proves what an intellectual Lila is. In all honesty, the theory of Anne Boleyn being a witch cannot be validated or invalidated. But if she were, it answers questions regarding her downfall and the unexpected ways magic shows results. Anne Boleyn was a woman who wanted power, riches, fame and glory- which manifested in unexpected ways for if she didn’t rise, protestantism wouldn’t have been incepted, Queen Elizabeth I wouldn’t have been born or ruled England and hadn’t she fallen, wouldn’t have her dramatic and captivating story secured a place in history, making her a legend, thereby fulfilling her overarching ambition of the becoming one of the most sensational queens. May sound wierd, but she got exactly what she wanted but the process was unpredictable.

People think witches don’t fall sick, get divorced or run into hard times, but that’s not true for demons look at the picture from an aerial point of view regarding what to give, how much and when to create an impact and fulfil our overarching goal, even if it is an emotion like love. This is why some of our spells manifest quickly, whereas some take time and in some instances, they don’t do at all, for the demons pair us with the kind of people, opportunities or places that match our energy and intention, which explains why they ask us to be careful about what we wish for, as we just might get it in unimaginable ways.
Humsika Srikanth

I see her as a beautiful, smart and ambitious woman, I think she just likes magic and uses amulets or magic spells to achieve her desires

Eddy Oktoberian Tafal

I have to admit, I always thought Ann Boleyn was a witch. She more than had the King wrapped around her little finger. He seemed bewitched and completely bound, giving into her every little whim or desire.

I often wondered how the spell was broken, with how abruptly he changed and turned so cold towards her. You have me intrigued enough to do more research on her. You are the reason that I watched The Witch and I loved it!

Thank you for another amazing post!

Lauana Autery

I devoured this blog post! WOW!! My appreciation for Lila grows each day. I have always been interested in the Tudor dynasty and have read several books about King Henry VIII and also watched the show about the Tudors. Lila’s take about Anne Boleyn blew me away.

It’s the “re-education” that I am grateful for. The new perspective on archaic and oppressive teachings that have been prevalent throughout time. The raw honesty. I love it all and I love seeing things with new eyes. I don’t think I can put into words how important and powerful Lila’s presence has been in my life.

With much respect and deference, I thank you Lila for being so amazing, generous with your knowledge and skilled in your work. I’m sorry if I sound too dramatic but I believe in giving praise where it is rightfully due. ❤️❤️❤️


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