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English Reformation: Anne Boleyn's Faith

"Le temps viendra, Je Anne Boleyn" - Anne's inscription in her Book of Hours - Anne Boleyn Files

By Claire Ridgway - Posted at The Anne Boleyn Files:

In my last article, I looked at Anne’s role in the Reformation and today I continue the theme of religion by looking at Anne Boleyn’s personal faith and the clues and evidence which give us an idea of what she truly believed in her heart.

One of Anne Boleyn’s Book of Hours is on display at Hever Castle and it is in that book that we can see not only Anne’s signature but the inscription “le temps viendra“, “the time will come”, under an illumination of the Last Judgement. Eric Ives, in “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”, writes of how these words are an abbreviation of the proverb “a day will come that shall pay for all”, a precis of part of “The Ecclesiaste”, an illuminated manuscript produced for Anne, which says “the judgement of God shall be general and universal where as all things shall be discovered and nothing shall abide hidden, whether it be good or evil.” The fact that Anne wrote this inscription in her own Book of Hours shows that these words had real meaning to Anne and it was something that she was pondering deeply.

But before we look at the clues to Anne’s faith, let’s consider the people who had influence on her when she was growing up:-

Thomas Boleyn

Joanna Denny describes Anne Boleyn’s father, Thomas, as a “firm advocate of the New Religion” and writes of how he used his diplomatic missions to import heretical tracts into England. This was a dangerous thing to do as he could easily have been caught and condemned for heresy. Denny also writes of how he translated one of these heretical publications and dedicated it to Anne, an act which suggests that Anne was interested in these works.

In 1513, at around the age of 12, Thomas Boleyn sent Anne Boleyn to the continent to become one of Archduchess Margaret of Austria’s maids of honour. She stayed on the continent for nearly 9 years so it is important that we look at the people she spent time with, the people who may have influenced the teenage Anne and shaped her mind and her faith.

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