My questions concern Anne Boleyn/Henry VIII/Thomas Cromwell. Researching this time period has become a hobby of sorts for me. There is a lot of contradictory info out there so I figured it would be interesting to ask questions here to hear different points of view. The questions are really more of learned opinion than fact-based in nature...
1) Did Henry VIII have a hand in not allowing the marriage between Anne and Harry Percy?
2) Is it your opinion that Anne truly loved Henry or was she more so seduced by the power and glory of being a Queen? I know there is also the factor of her family's drive for power and wealth as well, but I often wonder if she truly loved the King apart from all the benefits associated with him.
3) If not for the strong influence of Cromwell, would the Reformation have occurred as it did in England? The winds of reform had already reached England, but prior to Anne and Cromwell those who spoke against the Church were charged with heresy. Cromwell appeared to not only want to serve his King but also further his own religious agenda. But back to my first question here...Do you think Henry would have thought to declare himself Head of the Church and break from Rome on his own?
I can't speak to the second or third points, but I am not aware of any credible evidence that Henry VIII took direct action to break up Percy and Anne* - but under the circumstances it's unlikely he would have needed to.
The two men who did break up the romance (such as it was) were Thomas Wolsey and Sir Thomas Boleyn, who were negotiating a betrothal between Anne and a distant cousin, one James Butler. Their marriage was intended to end a dispute between Butler and Sir Thomas Boleyn over the earldom of Ormond once held by Boleyn's maternal grandfather. Had it taken place, Boleyn would have ceded his claim and Butler would have been confirmed as earl by the King, with his eventual son by Anne succeeding in due course. The deal would have also cemented Ormond as the premier peer of Ireland and at the same time diminished the power of the fractious Earl of Kildare.
Boleyn had another reason to prefer Butler to Percy. The Ormond earldom was quite wealthy and its holder was one of the great lords of Ireland, while the Northumberland earldom was highly prestigious but encumbered by towering mountains of debt incurred in defending the Scots borders. Percy's father the Earl was also constantly bouncing in and out of royal favour (much like the Earl of Kildare, in fact) so he wasn't a particularly good choice for a rising man like Boleyn to hitch his wagon to.
Northumberland also had his reasons not to agree to the marriage. One was that he'd already betrothed his son to a daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury; the other was for all her noble blood Anne was only a knight's daughter and far below his son in rank. (I also suspect he knew he wouldn't get the kind of dowry Mary Talbot would surely bring.)
* Cavendish wrote in his biography of Wolsey that Henry had already noticed Anne by 1522 and became involved to ensure she was free. The issue with that report is that although Cavendish was one of Wolsey's gentleman ushers he wasn't privy to his dealings with the King; modern historians are of the opinion that Henry didn't take an interest in Anne until 1526, or four years later. At the time Anne met Percy the King might not have yet known her by name.
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