Has anyone else ever noticed Anne Boleyn’s portrait in Hogwarts?
Well, Anne Boleyn’s many political opponents and people like Nicholas Sander (a Roman Catholic priest of the time) spread rumours of her being a witch in an attempt to discredit her for her radical ideas, her ‘dangerous’ reformist politics, and her eagerness to have England form an alliance with France.
In Tudor times, people believed firmly in the existence of witchcraft. They believed that certain women worked for Satan on Earth, and that these women were immoral and committed unnatural sexual acts.
Queen Anne Boleyn was charged with adultery, incest, and treason, so people trying to present Anne as a witch would have also implied with that that she’d been unfaithful to the King, and it would also have given weight to the utterly preposterous charge that she committed incest with her brother George (2nd Viscount Rochford).
Anne suffered a miscarriage not long before her downfall, and many people would have used that as ammunition against her, as witches were supposedly capable of giving birth to the Devil’s ‘monstrous’ children. It was easy for her political opponents to spread rumours of this nature as a way to destroy her reputation, because there was such fear of witchcraft, and she could not openly speak out against the slander.
The popularised notion that Anne had a sixth finger (which many people use to imply she was a witch) is most likely untrue. After all, King Henry who was notoriously picky (see Anne of Cleves), would have been unlikely to set his sights on a woman with a sixth finger, for the simple reason that it would have been seen as a demonic mark or ill omen in the sixteenth century.
Anne was certainly very different from the blonde haired, blue eyed, plump, demure and obedient Tudor ideal, but most historians agree that she did not have a sixth finger, and she certainly was not a witch!
What Anne was, unfortunately, was a woman who refused to conform to the rigid gender roles of her time, and ultimately paid for that with her life.
As much as I appreciate the touch of the portrait in Hogwarts, because it’s nice to believe that the Wizarding world would hold Anne in such high esteem, there is no truth to the whole witch myth whatsoever, and Anne herself would probably have been horrified by the entire thing.
(Apologies for my addition to this post, but I always like to dispel the myths about Queen Anne when I can.)