About this time the Protestant Reformation started poking up & Henry got a nice medal & title of Defender of the Faith from the Pope for writing a rebuttal to Martin Luther's nonsense, so he was chuffed.
Henry VIIIs Defender of the Faith medal
His head got so swelled that he got a little careless in choosing a new GF. Bessie Blount, unlike Anne Hastings, didn't have a convenient hubby in case of an oops, & an oops there was. Cath was humiliated b/c while she had another stillborn girl, Bessie produced (tediously) Henry, Duke of Richmond. Henry was all HA HA tisn't me that's the prob, tis Cath, looky, I got me a nice fat n sassy baby boy what lived! He was eager to acknowledge & display his new offspring & set the kid up in a princely household. Cath was concerned he might try to legit little Richmond b/c the title alone was a Tudory one (had last belonged to Uncle Jasper), & thereby steal the throne out from under her Mary. They still weren't fussed w/ female rulers, tho occasionally it happened nowadays when they ran out of boys (like Joanna of Castile or Mary of Burgundy).
Henry decided to thumb his nose at Cath's rellies & buddy up to Francis, so they planned a huge extravaganza summit. This was known as the Field of Cloth of Gold b/c it cost a small fortune. He brought up betrothing his daughter to Francis's son & was shocked when Mary's legitimacy was brought into question.
The dispensation for his marriage to Cath had to be looked at b4 Francis would agree to engaging his heir to Mary. Henry said hmmm & had a thunk about that. If he couldn't get a legit son out of Cath, might it be used in some way to get rid of her? Peeps were remarking about the king's old wife.
Catherine of Aragon & her pet monkey LOL
Cath was short & had gotten tubby from all those pregnancies & now she looked all middle-aged & frumpy while her hubby wasn't yet 30 & still looked fab from his athletic activities like jousting & wrestling & riding & hunting & archery & all that stuff.
Henry still looked young & Cath didn't. Those icky gable hoods didn't help. Henry had a little chat w/ Wolsey about it b/c that was his go-to guy. Wolsey said hmmm & began to look into it.
In the meantime, Henry'd heard all about Mary Boleyn's prowess & decided he was in need of a hot new GF.
Francis passed her over b/c he had his eye on some Frenchie chick, anyway. Mary B was married to William Carey, one of Henry's gentlemen of the bedchamber (snigger) who was a very complaisant spouse. Cath just closed her eyes to the whole thing & started praying her rosary a lot more hoping she'd get pregnant again, but she didn't. Some peeps thought Mary Bs kids, (tiresomely) Catherine & Henry, were the king's, but he never acknowledged them & the timing was off IMHO b/c whilst he was romping w/ Mary, a young lady newly returned from Queen Claude's retinue caught his eye.
Anne Boleyn was Mary's sister.
Nobody can determine the birth order of the Boleyns or even get better than a range on when they were born b/c nobody kept good records on peeps who weren't important when they were born. Tis somewhere btwn 1499-1507 & who knows if Anne, Mary, or their brother George came 1st or last or in the middle. But it's generally accepted they were somewhere in their 20s when they came to the king's notice. Their father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, was Henry's ambassador to France, which explains how he was able to get his daughters into foreign courts to serve royal ladies. Nobody's quite sure when where how old they were when such occurred, & besides the French queen's peeps, it's conjectured Anne may have also served Francis's sister, Marguerite, & perhaps had a wee stint in Burgundy, too. Their mother was Elizabeth Howard, a daughter of the Duke of Norfolk.
At any rate, quite the conundrum for Henry to have one Boleyn girl as GF when the 2nd caught his eye. You'd think he'd have some decorum b/c that's rather icky. But he began to pursue Anne & she gobsmacked him by saying NO. Prolly no one had said NO to Henry since Granny demised LOL Anne was supposed to be betrothed to an Irish lord to solve a property dispute on her father's side of the family, but that didn't pan out. Supposedly she also caught the eye of Henry Percy, heir to the Earl of Northumberland & a member of Wolsey's household, but that came to naught as well.
Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland
And supposedly her neighbor, the poet Thomas Wyatt, was a BF.
Sir Thomas Wyatt
Nobody wrote anything down so who knows who she may have been kissing b4 Henry beckoned. The main thing is she said NO. Peeps wrote THAT down, b/c it wasn't done to a king. Kings generally got what they wanted when they wanted it, but Henry wasn't getting anything from Anne Boleyn. By this time it had been almost 10 yrs since Cath's last pregnancy, so Henry was elbowing Wolsey & griping to be got out of this marriage anyway. If Anne was going to say NO, he could just as well marry her as some unknown foreign princess. But he didn't tell Wolsey THAT bit. Wolsey wanted to set him up w/ Claude's sister Renee & ally more firmly w/ France. Henry figured he'd let Wolsey get him off the hook 1st & then announce he was going to emulate Grandpa & marry a commoner.
Henry was furious when the Pope also said NO regarding getting rid of Cath. The dispensation was in perfect order. Worse, young Charles of Castile, who'd trumped Henry & Francis both in the election for Holy Roman Emperor after Maximilian demised, was warring in Italy & his troops scandalized all Christendom by sacking Rome.
Charles of Castile, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles was Cath's nevvy & he now effectively controlled the papacy. Things were not looking good for that dissolution of marriage Henry hoped to buy. Finally Wolsey got the Pope to agree to send a peep over to England to convene a legatine court & at least have a look-see at what was known as The King's Great Matter. Said peep, one Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio, was old & riddled w/ gout & took yonks to ride his mule from Rome all the way to London. 1st Campeggio approached Cath w/ the reasonable suggestion that since all she did lately was pray her rosary, maybe she could retire into a convent & become a nice nun & free Henry up for a fresh young bride. Cath said um NO. She insisted her marriage to Art was never consummated & therefore she wasn't really Henry's brother's wife & so all those Biblical passages frowning on such that Henry was citing as the basis of his case were totally irrelevant. Her Mary was Princess of Wales & Henry's heir & that was how it was going to stay.
So the court was convened at Blackfriars & anyone who was anyone made sure they got a good seat for it. Henry & Cath were subpeona'd to appear as humble defendants in this church inquiry. Henry played his part nicely but Cath wouldn't. She told him off & flounced out. He thought that was good & showed what a stubborn old hag she was. Then he practically had a coronary when, after all was presented, Campeggio said twas traditional in Rome to have a nice summer break & that he was taking it & was going to defer back to Rome for the decision!
Henry immediately separated his household from Cath's & sent her off to a series of old & decrepit royal manors. He further separated Mary's household from them both. Then he basically presented Anne to the court as his consort even tho they weren't married & even tho she was still saying NO. He sent Percy to arrest Wolsey for his bungling incompetence. Wolsey died en route to the Tower, probably of fear for his old head & shock that Henry meant to marry Anne Boleyn rather than a nice princess. Anne introduced him to a clever new peep, Thomas Cranmer.
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury
Cranmer was a Boleyn chaplain & he had an equally clever underling, (tediously) Thomas Cromwell.
They put their heads together & decided Henry should poll all the prestigious European universities for their learned theological opinion on the validity of his marriage. Most of them said it was null & void, but not all. Cath still said pffft to the nunnery idea even tho she was right back to where she'd started as Princess Dowager, stuck in crummy old houses w/ hardly any funds. Mary got sick & Henry refused Cath's request to go nurse her unless she got nunnerized. Anne glared at everyone b/c my wasn't this getting old & she complained to Henry that she could've made a nice marriage yrs ago & twas all his fault she was going to die a dried-up old spinster.
Then the Pope made his decision & twas that the marriage was solid & Henry wasn't getting out of it nosiree. In fact, if he didn't take Cath back posthaste, he was going to get excommunicated & go straight to Hell. Henry likely went & banged his head on a wall somewhere b/c this nonsense had been going on a good 5 yrs by now & Anne was still saying NO. Imagine. Cranmer & Cromwell put their heads together some more & said, well, who needs the Pope? Why dontcha just BE the Pope your good self & start your own church?
The Defender of the Faith said hmmm & pondered the notion. Henry really didn't want to irk God TOO much & become some heathen Protestant sect, just stay nice & Catholic & not listen to the Pope anymore. The prob w/ that was the highest churchman in the land, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was one of the few peeps who had the cojones to disagree w/ Henry's twisted theological reasons for wanting out, & he'd be the dude to perform Henry's new wedding. Henry just bet he wouldn't do it even if he threatened him w/ the axe, & if ya wanna stay on God's good side then ya can't run amuck beheading venerable old church peeps. Cromwell pointed out that England would no longer have to pay Peter's Pence to Rome & therefore could hang onto a slew of groats. And there were lots of lovely corrupt monasteries that could be investigated & shut down, too, w/ their riches reverting to the crown pockets. Henry, who'd been left the biggest treasury in the history of England when his cheeseparing father demised, said hmmm again b/c maintaining all these households was getting mighty expensive & he could do w/ a nice infusion of wealth w/o making peeps grumble about taxes.
So Henry said he'd hmmm it over on his trip to France. He & Anne were going over to Calais to have a nice visit w/ Francis & twas quite important b/c this was the 1st time Anne would be acting publicly as his consort. Was he in for a surprise. Queen Claude had demised after having her 11dy6th kid & Francis had made the colossal error of getting captured by Charles in a little war they were having & forced to marry his widowed sister Eleanor as the price of his ransom.
Eleanor of Austria, Queen of France
Naturally Eleanor, as Cath's niece, was not about to receive her replacement, esp as no one believed that after all this time Anne was still saying NO & Henry was sighing & agreeing to it. Anne was screamingly insulted when Francis suggested the Duchesse de Vendome act as his hostess in his wife's stead, b/c said duchess was saying YES to Francis. The whole thing was almost called off at the last minute. Finally Anne agreed she would hostess in Calais when Francis came by, but he was NOT to bring any loose chicks w/ him & she wasn't going w/ Henry when he popped over to Francis's castle. So they went & there must've been something in the Calais water b/c Anne suddenly decided to say YES!
That piqued Henry's interest LOL Soon Anne told him she was pretty sure she was pregnant & what was he going to do about it, have another bastard son like Richmond? Twas time for Henry to man up already. So somewhere near the end of January 1533 they were secretly married b/c he considered himself a bachelor anyhow. Then there was jigging b/c the Archbishop of Canterbury had the demises. Hurriedly Henry submitted his choice of replacement to Rome & it was automatically approved. That replacement was Thomas Cranmer & his 1st act of bidness was to declare that Henry had never been married & was now the Supreme Head of the Church in England. On Easter Sunday the churches across the land were instructed to pray for the health of not King Henry & Queen Catherine, but King Henry & Queen ANNE, the king's new bride, AND their forthcoming heir. Peeps were gobsmacked & afeared for their mortal souls when it was known Henry had broken off w/ Rome for good just to marry his pregnant sweetheart when there was still Cath to consider. Sure that after all this time God would not deny him a son, Henry did lots of happy dances & started planning one whopper of a coronation for the new queen.....