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Anne Boleyn was the daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn, who would later become earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard. After living in France for a time during her youth, Anne returned to England in 1522 and soon established a residence at King Henry VIII’s court as maid of honor to Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s queen consort at the time.
By the mid-1520s, Anne Boleyn had become one of the most admired ladies of the court, attracting the attention of many men, among them Henry Percy, the 6th Earl of Northumberland. When Henry VIII caught wind of Lord Henry Percy’s desired marriage with Anne, he ordered against it. Around this same time—whether it was before or after Percy’s interest in Anne had developed is uncertain—the king himself fell in love with the young maid. What is known is that Anne’s sister, Mary Boleyn, one of the king’s mistresses, had introduced her to Henry VIII, and that the king wrote love letters to Anne circa 1525.
In one of the king’s letters, he wrote: “If you ... give yourself up, heart, body and soul to me ... I will take you for my only mistress, rejecting from thought and affection all others save yourself, to serve only you.” Anne replied with rejection, however, explaining that she aimed to be married and not be a mistress: “Your wife I cannot be, both in respect of mine own unworthiness, and also because you have a queen already. Your mistress I will not be.”
Anne’s response surprised Henry VIII, who is believed to have had several mistresses at that time, reportedly entering into these adulterous relationships because he badly wanted a son, and Catherine of Aragon had not borne a male child. (Queen Catherine would not bear a son that survived infancy throughout the duration of their marriage, from 1509 to 1533; the couple’s first child to survive infancy, Princess Mary, was born in 1516.) But Henry was desperate to have Anne, so he quickly configured a way to officially abandon his marriage with Catherine. 
After Anne gave birth to a stillborn male child in January 1536, Henry VIII decided that it was time to take hold of his legacy. He quickly settled on taking Jane Seymour as his future wife and sought out the annulment of his marriage to Anne. He then had Anne detained at the Tower of London on several false charges, among them adultery, incest and conspiracy. 
Until tomorrow: Always keep your smile. That’s how I explain my long life.