The marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn was an unlikely match when considering the circumstances. When Anne Boleyn returned to England from France, her sister had already been in the English court for two years and was probably by this time already the mistress of King Henry VIII. It is unlikely that Anne would have been attracted to her sister’s lover at this time, and in any case, she was by now betrothed, having returned to England for the express purpose of marrying James Butler, her distant cousin.
As Henry grew tired of his affair with Mary, his eye began to wander to her little sister. Anne was younger, very popular, and didn’t have the sullied reputation that Mary did - Anne refused his advances at first, but Henry didn’t see it like that though. He was a hunter, and here was a hart giving chase-it was all sport at first. He came on very strong-sending her at least 17 love letters full of traditional courtly love imagery, calling himself Anne’s servant. When she replied that she should actually be considered his servant, this tickled Henry. In the courtly love tradition, the man was servant to the woman. By insisting she was actually the servant, Anne gave herself an appealing kind of androgyny that still stroked Henry’s dominant ego. Eventually he decided the French way would probably appeal to her-she could be his maitress en titre-official mistress. Again she refused.
Henry had by this time been conspiring secretly to get rid of his wife and marry another so he could have an heir. He was also completely in the thrall of Anne Boleyn, who probably did not feel the same, at least not yet. The idea slowly dawned that perhaps he could make Anne his queen instead of some foreign princess. He proposed marriage some time around New Year 1527, and this time, Anne could not refuse. We all know what happened next-Henry tried desperately to get a divorce for the next five years, eventually declaring himself head of the Church in England so he could order his first marriage declared invalid. [x]