When Henry Married Anne...
On 25 January 1533 King Henry VIII of England married his most famous wife of all the six women he married: the notorious Anne Boleyn. It was, in fact, the second time they tied the knot, having already wed in a secret ceremony on their return from Calais after a visit to see King Francis I of France.
It has become a legendary tale that as a sign of his affection for his lover Henry VIII wrote the popular English folk song Greensleeves. Allegedly, Boleyn rejected his repeated attempts to seduce her and his rejection led to that line "cast me off discourteously".
In truth, the song is so Italian in flavour that many believe he could not have written it, since such a style of composition did not arrive in England until after Henry's death. The song does get a mention in Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor of 1602, so it must have been widely liked and known by then.
Today, classical music fans know Greensleeves through the masterful Fantasia on Greensleeves by Ralph Vaughan-Williams, who had a real affinity for English folk music. Enjoy this wonderful work on this recording of some of Vaughan-Williams' best loved pieces inspired by the songs of his homeland.