Contemporary Descriptions of Anne Boleyn


In the early 1530s, the Venetian Ambassador Savorgnano wrote:
' a young woman of noble birth, though many say of bad character, whose will is law to him, and he is expected to marry her should the divorce take place, which it is supposed will not be effected, as the peers of the realm.... and the people are opposed to it.'

In 1532, a new Venetian Ambassador described Anne thusly:
'not one of the handsomest women in the world.  She is of middling stature, with a swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, bosom not much raised, and in fact has nothing but the King's great appetite, and her eyes, which are black and beautiful - and take great effect on those who served the Queen when she was on the throne.  She lives like a queen, and the King accompanies her to Mass - and everywhere'.

When news of her arrest reached Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, he bravely wrote to Henry VIII protesting.  Cranmer added a suitably apologetic postscript to the letter in which he describes Anne:
'If it be true that is openly reported of the Queen's Grace... I am in such perplexity that my mind is clean amazed; for I never had better opinion in woman than I had in her; which maketh me to think that she should not be culpable...  Next to Your Grace, I was most bound to her of all creatures living... I wish and pray for her that she may declare herself inculpable and innocent... I loved her not a little for the love which I judged her to bear towards God and His Gospel.'

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