The future Queen Mary I’s relationship with Anne Boleyn

Sarah Bolger as Mary Tudor and Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn in The Tudors (Screenshot/Fair Use)

The 19th of May 1536 will forever be the day that Anne Boleyn was executed. For Mary, who was with her half-sister Elizabeth at Hunsdon, it must have been a bittersweet moment. Mary’s relationship with Anne had, understandably, never been good. Anne had destroyed her mother’s life, and Mary set herself up as the opposition to Anne. Perhaps Mary forgot Anne’s influence on the King, and Mary was put in her place when she was placed in her half-sister’s household, and she was to cease to style herself as Princess. When Henry went to visit Elizabeth and Mary at Hatfield in January 1534, Anne sent Thomas Cromwell after the King to dissuade him from seeing Mary. She perhaps feared that Henry might be persuaded by his daughter. Henry didn’t meet with Mary; he even refused her leave to come and kiss his hand. Instead, Thomas Cromwell was sent in to persuade Mary to renounce her title. Mary did not give up so easily, though, and she appeared on the terrace at the top of the house as he went to mount his horse. The King turned around and saw her on her knees; he bowed to her and put his hand to his hat. Mary would not see her father again for two and a half years. Anne had succeeded in keeping them apart.

Anne and Mary met just a few times during Anne’s marriage to her father. While Anne attempted to reason with Mary, with the promise of better treatment, Mary responded with, “she knew of no Queen in England except her mother, but if Madame Anne Boleyn would speak to her father on her behalf, she would be much obliged”. Anne tried again and even threatened her, but Mary remained unmoved. After Mary’s mother’s death, Anne, pregnant for a third time, tried once more to improve relations. Her efforts were rebuffed and Anne’s response, via Lady Shelton, who was in charge of Princess Elizabeth’s household and coincidentally also Anne Boleyn’s aunt, was deliberately left for Mary to find. Mary copied the letter and sent it to the Imperial Ambassador before putting it back where she had found it. It was a subtle way of bullying. Mary was only more inspired to hold firm.

Her immediate reaction to Anne’s execution is not recorded, but her supporters triumphed. However, if Mary believed her troubles were now over, she was mistaken. 1

  1. Porter, Linda (2009) Mary Tudor. The First Queen

About Moniek Bloks 2701 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.


  1. “she was to seize to style herself as Princess” I try not to be a grammar Nazi, but the flow of the rest of the post is so wonderful and I had to reread just this portion…should read “she was to cease…”

  2. Henry wanted to see her, and Anne told him not to. she was not nice to Mary, and it didn’t need to be like that. Never liked Anne. I fault both Henry and Anne.

  3. Anne was a complex character. But she was ambitious, this being said she did not have to treat May and Katherine that way. Anne taught Henry to be cruel and in the end Kharma came to visit Anne for what she had done to Katherine and Mary was done to her and Elizabeth. (Except of course the execution) Anne played her hand but lost in the end! Unfortunately Mary and Elizabeth suffered because of it!

  4. First of all.. thank you so much for this website!! I LOVE it!!!

    I believe Anne felt so insecure and driven to hold the king’s love, she definitely saw Mary and Katharine of Aragon as a threat to her relationship with Henry, but also to the possible reign of her daughter Elizabeth. I think it was all fear. But Anne, even though she treated these women in a horrible way, did not deserve what she had coming. She was a victim of her own father as well.

    Ik kom ook uit Nederland, ben erg trots dat je zo een mooie site gemaakt hebt!

  5. In a book I read called “Fatal Throne” Anne states in the tower that her death was punishment for her actions against the Lady Mary – her actions being the abuse, punishment, and suffering she put the girl under. I read some article that said that Anne also sent one of her ladies to Mary to apologize for her actions, but I’m not sure if Mary accepted or not.

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