Friday, March 13, 2009
Question from Sam - Anne Boleyn's second pregnancy
Sorry in advance if this has been touched upon before... I'd be interested to know what you think about Anne Boleyn's rather mysterious second pregnancy. From what I understand, she conceived within months of Elizabeth's birth and the baby was due the following summer. She was showing a 'goodly belly' in June but after that, all goes quiet until Chapuys reports, in the September, that 'The Lady is no longer to have a child' (or words to that effect). Antonia Fraser's take on it (in '6 Wives') is that royal miscarriages/stillbirths didn't tend to be public news (she uses the end of Katherine of Aragon's first pregnancy as an example- reported only in a private letter to her father some months later) but it doesn't quite hold water for me in Anne Boleyn's case. After all, the eyes of the world were upon her (many of them hostile) almost exclusively in relation to her fertility (or otherwise) especially following the birth of a daughter instead of the long-expected son. So what's the explanation? Was she pregnant or was it wishful thinking? If she did have a late miscarriage/stillbirth why didn't the sex of the child leak out, especially as it did (the boy 'born before term') when she miscarried following Katherine's funeral?
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I suspect in this case because Henry was not anxious to have another failure made public. It must be remembered Anne suffered her third miscarriage in January, 1536 after collapsing in public, and it took place only a short time after Henry had a serious fall, the shock of which Anne blamed for her miscarriage.
The second pregnancy obviously ended before she "took to her chamber" for the birth. So it may have been a sudden miscarriage, or premature birth, and very little was said.
In January, 1536, Henry was already involved with Jane Seymour, and Anne's enemies were hoping for any scrap of misfortune to bring down Anne and her supporters in the eyes of the king, and so the tragedy of this pregnancy's end was used against her.
In the case of the 1534 pregnancy, however, Anne was still riding high in Henry's favor, and so it might not have been the smartest thing to chastise the queen for her failure at that point when she was still in the king's favor. He may have had a roving eye during her pregnancies, but he was still seemingly in love with her.
That is just my opinion. What does anyone else think?
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