Friday, November 21, 2008

Question from Kelly - Why didn't Henry just take Anne?


This crossed my mind: Since Henry wanted Anne, couldn't he have invited her to a private, sound-proof room and raped her? I am not a pervert, I was just curious.

[Ed note - Kind of a sensitive topic, but I think it raises an interesting point about what Henry's underlying desires were. Did his desire for a legitimate male heir overwhelm his desire for Anne herself?]



3 Comments:

Anonymous Nasim said...

Well, it is hardly chivalrous! It is slightly hard to think of Henry as a romantic given his rather cavalier way of removing wives. But in many respects Henry was quite romantic (or at least liked to think he was) and when we examine his love letters to Anne it is evident that he wished to win her affections and allow him access to her body. Rape is of course the act of forcefully exerting oneself over another without allowing that person to grant any consent. Thus if Henry raped Anne he was not guaranteeing himself of Anne’s love; just satisfying himself. And Henry was very concerned with winning Anne’s affections.

November 21, 2008 10:20 AM  
Anonymous PhD Historian said...

As victims' advocates and psychologists have long attested, rape is not an act of lust. Nor is it an act of sexual gratification. It is an act of violent domination. Men seldom rape women because they "desire" a specific woman sexually, and the act of rape seldom offers the rapist any sexual satisfaction. Instead, a rapist rapes a woman as an expression of anger or rage, and as a way of demonstrating that they have power over that woman. It is very much akin to dogs mounting each other to display dominance.

Henry was not interested in dominating Anne Boleyn. If anything, Anne had considerable control over Henry! Nor was Henry generally angry with or alienated from women as a group. For Henry, seduction of women may well have been one way he bolstered his own ego. It perhaps made him feel good about himself to know that he could seduce so many beautiful women. Physically forcing himself on any woman would no doubt have negated all of that ego-building.

Rape is an act of violence, and Henry VIII is not known ever to have been violent towards women.

November 21, 2008 2:33 PM  
Blogger Foose said...

I think Henry and Anne were following the courtly love script, where a knight vows to serve his chosen lady, invariably a lady of rank. Rape is not part of the script; in fact protecting the lady from rape is a key element.

Lower-class women do not qualify for the courtly love script. There is a story I have seen in several bios of Henry ("The Tudors" of course picked it up and acted it out luridly), where he violated a young woman he came across while hunting, even though she was accompanied by her husband. However, the source of this story seems rather shaky.

I don't recall much rape of high-ranking women by 16th-century monarchs. Francis I of France certainly was extremely pushy with the court ladies and it was dangerous to refuse him. His son,
Henri II, according to some accounts raped a Piedmontese woman, Filippa Duci, who later gave birth to his daughter, while on campaign. Other accounts suggest it was an affair, but notably Filippa Duci was not of the nobility. The Scots kings, James IV and James V, seem to have been aggressive in their courting among the noblewomen, but I don't recall charges of rape.

On another note, I am not sure that they had sound-proofed rooms in Tudor England. Perhaps the Tower would be the nearest equivalent. It might not have been needed, if you are suggesting that Henry would want to conceal his wicked deed from the ears of the court. Anne's family was highly complaisant to Henry and probably would not have made much of a fuss if he had gone too far, provided there was some handsome compensation.

November 21, 2008 4:05 PM  

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