Beginning of the affair
Before Anne Boleyn became Henry VIII’s ‘sweetheart’ she was romantically linked with Henry Percy, son of 5th Earl of Northumberland. Did Anne love Percy? Did they consummate their relationship?
Henry Percy was born around 1502. As the eldest son of 5th Earl of Northumberland, Henry Percy was his father’s heir – he was to become the next Earl of Northumberland. He started his career at court as a young boy – he served as a page to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.
Anne Boleyn returned from France in 1522 because she was about to marry her Irish cousin, James Butler. The marriage was to resolve a dispute her father Thomas Boleyn had with James’ father Piers over the Ormond inheritance and title. James was born around 1496, so he was few years older than Anne. Anne probably was not aware of the match when she was recalled to return from France, but James certainly knew about plans for his marriage, because he was present at English court at that time. 
Anne made her debut at English court in 1522 on ‘Chateau Vert’ where she played the role of her life – Perseverance. Anne was praised for her beauty and elegance, and she was soon admired by many men. One of them was Henry Percy.
When Anne Boleyn was Queen Catherine of Aragon’s lady-in-waiting , Henry Percy took an interest in her ‘and there would fall in dalliance among the queen’s maidens, being at the last more conversant with Mistress Anne Boleyn than with any other, so that there grew such a secret love between them that at length they were ensured together intending to marry.’