Michael Hirst, on the “psychological crisis” that led to Anne’s execution,and how it altered Henry:
He had attacked the church on the basis of a love affair, largely. And he felt sure of what he was doing at the time, and Anne had mistaken promised him a son. After she’d given him a daughter and had the miscarriages, it began to seem to him as though he’d gone horribly wrong. He was plunged back into reality, which is messy and not perfect. And I think that as he confronted the huge seriousness of it, he began to be screwed up about what he’d done, and began to think in weird ways, that she was a witch and so forth. This of course, shows how juvenile he still was. At the same time what it revealed was this absolutely ruthless streak which his father, too, had possessed. So he somehow reconciled his psychological issues and persuaded himself:”oh well, hey ho, I’m the king, I can do what I like.” And went off merrily to another wife. He did have a psychological tussle with himself, he did have a crisis. And he came out of that crisis as a much worse person. He killed off the best part of himself. Something profound happened, and as a result it led to him becoming a complete tyrant and monster.