After historian Dr Suzannah Lipscomb revealed the background leading up to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s courtship in the first episode of this series, in the next programme of Henry and Anne: The Lovers Who Changed History she discusses how a seven-year whirlwind romance led to Anne ruling as Queen for just 1,000 days before her rapid fall and execution. How did Henry suddenly turn against the woman he was supposedly infatuated by to then send her speedily to her death? This final episode of the Channel 5 series will ask whether the romance was destined to fail from the offset, or did the relationship simply become too strained and pressured in a world of fast-paced politics and changing alliances?
Just as seen in the first episode, Dr Lipscomb travels to the locations where the Royal couple’s romance blossomed. To begin with, Suzannah takes a trip to Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire, where Henry and Anne spent a ten day break together in 1535. Nowadays, the castle is unique as it allows couples to not just get married within the castle grounds, but it also acts as a hotel and lets visitors stay in the same room that Henry and Anne once slept in.
This episode takes a closer look at the King himself. Was Henry VIII the same man as we see in his lavish portraits? Or was he a complex character, who struggled with how he wished to be portrayed? Dr Lipscomb looks particularly at how the events of the 1530s effected Henry politically and emotionally, including the death of Catherine of Aragon, Princess Mary’s forced allegiance to her father, and Anne’s failure to produce a longed-for male heir. The King’s serious jousting accident that occurred in this period is sometimes disregarded as having any effect on the diplomacy of the 1530s and his relations with his wife. However, this episode looks carefully at how such a near-fatal incident could be a clear indicator into how a popular, Renaissance King allegedly turned into a cold and cruel ruler.
Suzannah also visits the Tower of London where Anne once entered the fortification’s walls the night before her coronation. Harrowingly, after a trial condemning her for ‘imagining the King’s death’, alongside rumours of incest and adultery, Anne re-entered the same walls to await her death by a French swordsman on Tower Green. Suzannah travels back to Anne’s childhood home, Hever Castle, so to view a prayer book that Anne supposedly kept with her in the Tower before her execution. It is in the pages of this book that Suzannah reveals an inscription by Anne’s hand of great poignancy, creating an idea of a woman, convicted to death, who forever bound herself to her King and her husband.
The second episode of Henry and Anne: The Lovers Who Changed History will be broadcast on Channel 5 at 8pm on Thursday 27th February. It will be available to watch online on Demand5 soon after the first broadcast.