Like so much about Anne Boleyn, there is much debate surrounding her actual birthday. It seems likely that she was born around 1500-1501, probably at Blickling Hall in Norfolk. But some historians have argued that Anne’s birth year was much later around 1507-1509. Antonia Fraser writes that her actual birthday seems to have been around the end of May or early June.
Anne’s father, Thomas Boleyn, was born in 1477 and was the most important influence on Anne’s career. Sir Thomas and Lady Elizabeth Boleyn had three children all born very close together- Mary, Anne and George. Fraser argues that Mary was the eldest born around 1499, followed by Anne in 1500 or 1501, and then George some time prior to 1504. It seems likely that there were other children born to the Boleyn’s that did not survive.
During a mission to the court of the Archduchess Margaret, Sir Thomas Boleyn arranged for his youngest daughter Anne to be educated there. It is from here that Anne wrote her first known letter home in 1513.
In the autumn of 1514, Anne was transferred to the household of the King’s sister, Mary, in France. She joined her sister Mary Boleyn who was already in service here. The following year, King Louis died and so Mary Tudor, now Duchess of Suffolk, returned to England along with Mary Boleyn. Anne Boleyn, stayed on in the household of the new French Queen, Claude.
For the next 6 or 7 years, Anne remained in France. This is where her love of all things French blossomed. It was here that she learnt the French language and the art of conversation and flirtation. In this role Anne would have come face to face with many of Europe’s most powerful monarchs. Fraser suggests that she may even have been present at the Field of Cloth of Gold, although her name is not listed.
She would not return to England until around 1521.