8 Şubat 2011 Salı

A Dangerous Love Affair

When Anne Boleyn was first recalled home from France it was because her Father was in talks to marry her to her Irish cousin, James Butler, in order to secure the Earldom Ormond which their cousin, Piers Butler, had hijacked for himself upon the death of Anne’s grandfather. At this time her sister, Mary, was both married to William Carey and had, under the direction and guidance of their Father and Uncle, become the mistress to King Henry VIII. With the Butler-Boleyn marriage talks still in progress Anne settled into court life as Maid-of-Honor to the Spanish born Queen, Katherine of Aragon, and made her offical debut into society in a masque called Chateau Vert playing the womanly virtue of Preserverence. The Masque was apart of celebrations for the marriage talks between the King and the Emperor of Spain for the six-year-old Princess Mary Tudor.

The marriage between Anne and James never came to pass and Anne found herself head-over-heels in love with another striking, and very welathy nobleman: Lord Henry Percy, who was the son and heir to the Duke of Norththumberland. Henry himself, although 6-years-engaged to Lady Mary Talbot, was smitten with Anne. The two played a game of courtly love that ended in a secret bethroal service and Anne being sent to her family home in Kent to think about what she had done. Henry Percy was made to marry Mary Talbot, who later gave evidance to a pre-contract between the two to wiggle out of her loveless, unhappy marriage and to possibly bring down Anne’s marriage with the King. when Anne returned from Hever after the Percy affair she once again set herself up to be the rising star of Henry’s court. She dressed in the latest French fashion, could sing beautifully and dance with much elegance. She held herself as if she were princess-born, excuting tremendous amounts of sex-appeal driving half the young male coutiers mad with lust. When she spoke it shone with confidence, intelligence, charm and sedution all in a pretty, French accent that the Boleyn girl had picked up from her days in the French court. She enchanted half the court and eventually drew the King of England to her and played him like she would a lute.

When Henry Tudor first made his pursuit of the noble-born girl she made it clear she’d not consent to be his mistress, not wanting to share her sister’s fate. She returned his gifts, and refused his advances, causing the King to become quite angry. After he got over the inital shock of being turned down, for the first time in his life, he came back in his pursuit at full speed, proclaiming he’d not lie with Anne until they were legal married. He than set off on a seven-year-mission that changed England forever and shook it to its very core. It took the couple seven years to get what they wanted, or so they thought they wanted. Shortly before they departed for Calais in the winter of 1532 the King bestowed Marquess of Pembroke on his future wife, befitting her with an aproiate title, before they left to meet the French King, Francis I and his sister. Even though Francis couldn’t directly defy the Pope he did give the couple his blessing and held a private meeting with Anne. It is rumored that they married directly upon returning to Dover. They married again, in another ceremony shouded in secrecy in London, and it became apparent that Anne was already carrying the King’s child.

June 1st, 1533 Anne recieved her reward for her wait and was crowned Queen consort of England, with King Edwards crown. She was showing her pregnancy as she sat in the traditional cloth of gold and white, her long & dark hair flowing to her waist. The seven year wait for marriage turned into a fiasco due to Anne’s unwillingness to conform to the submissive role expected of her, and her jealous nature surfaced whenever Henry would look at another girl. The birth of Elizabeth was a disappointment to both, even though Henry claimed he loved the girl anyways. Anne than suffered in the same way Katherine had, she miscarried and Henry started courting one of her own Maid of Honors, Jane Seymour. It is never been established what Anne felt for Henry, or if the King held more than simple lust for the beautiful Boleyn girl. If she didn’t love Henry for himself it is very likely she loved the persona he’d built up of the adored King and white knight. Henry admired his second wife’s intelligence, strong will and strength because they would’ve been what drew him to her. However, while those things were looked for in a mistress they didn’t fit into the mold for a wife.

Weather or not they loved each other, which I will forever believed that they did. Their relationship, though passion driven and ending in death produced one of the greatest monarchs to ever rule England: Elizabeth I

By AG Foucault-Wickman.

Read more: http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/anne/anne-boleyn-and-henry-viii/a-dangerous-love-affair/#ixzz1DOvUZQME

From Deep Love to True Hate

‘My mistress and friend: I and my heart put ourselves in your hands, begging you to have them suitors for your good favour, and that your affection for them should not grow less through absence’

This words are written by famous King Henry VIII of England to his beloved Anne Boleyn in the time when he was courting her. Would this man in love ever think that after few years his feelings for Anne grow from love to hate? Probably – not.

What is so special in this love story that makes it different from other love stories? And why after almost 400 years people are still inspired by the affair of a lady and the King?

Anne Boleyn always was and always will fascinate people all over the world. She is one of the most powerful Queens that England has ever had. It is no wonder that King Henry VIII fell in love with this well educated, beautiful and inteligent young lady. But we all know how did this love story ended, and we all are asking ourselves – how it is possible that from such powerful passion and love Henry moved to hate Anne Boleyn?

What could attract Henry to Anne? Was it her beauty? From the contemporary accounts we know, that Anne Boleyn was not considered as beautiful for her times, but still she had ‘something’ that draw the attention. Was it beauty from inside? Maybe her sharp intelligence and political acumen? Surerly Anne was not afraid to speak out her opinions about many things, and this makes her different than other woman who simply listened what man had to say. Anne Boleyn was a woman before her time – she dared to reach for something that other woman would only dream about. Henry VIII knew that Anne is extraordinary woman and that she is a perfect match for him, because they were similar in many ways. The King married Anne – it was not an easy thing to do, and had certain expectations about her.

Before marriage Anne promised Henry something he desired above all – a son, male heir to the English throne and a living image of his father, Henry had no reason to doubt that Anne will indeed give him a son – she was young and able to have a healthy child. What was Henry’s dissapointment when their first child was not a boy, but a girl. However the couple was still happy togeather and Princess Elizabeth was beloved daughter to the King.

Unfortunatly, it was not Anne’s destiny to provide a male heir. It is believed that Anne miscarried three times in a row – first in July 1534, then in June 1535 she probably gave birth to stillborn, the boy was named Henry. Last miscarriage took place in January 1536, and it was also a boy. It is hard to describe how King Henry VIII could feel. He sacrificed so much to marry Anne – first he divorced his wife Catherine of Aragon, separated from the Catholic Church and executed his friend Thomas More. He expected that soon his beloved wife will give him a son, but instead she gave him a daughter and two dead sons. Henry expected also that Anne would obey him in everything. But as I mentioned before – she was not afraid to speak out her opinions, and probably she was expressing her mind in front of Henry. Henry was a man who did not like when somebody is telling him what to do.He was the King of England and it was him to give orders. Many times Anne was also many times jelous of woman near her husband – perhaps she loved Henry and it caused her pain to see him with others, but perhaps she was scared that one of her ladies in waiting will take her place, just as she took place of former Queen.

The 16th century was the times when people used to believe in wiches, and dark powers. Perhaps Henry started to wonder if Anne is not cursed ( she was condemn to die for witchcraft among other charges) and he had right to think this way – she was not able to have a healthy son. Perhaps Henry could not stand that Anne is controlling him and trying to put pressure on him. Also Anne’s jelousy made Henry mad on her, because he expected that she would ‘shut her eyes and endure’ as his previous wife. did.

In my opinion, if Henry knew that Anne will not give him a son, he would probably never married her. But what is very ironic n this story is the fact, that Henry and Anne’s daughter – Elizabeth I Tudor – not the son Henry was so desperate for – was a great ruler, one of the best that England has ever had.

Many times I wonder, did Henry VIII ever regret what he did to Anne Boleyn? He never officially said nothing about this, but we never know what was he thinking about when he was alone. The fact is that this love story will always inspire people, and Anne Boleyn will always remain a mysterious figure in history.

By Sylwia Sobczak Zupanec

Read more: http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/anne/anne-boleyn-and-henry-viii/anne-boleyn-and-henry-viii-from-deep-love-to-true-hate/#ixzz1DOr9HQtc

The Mysterious and Maligned One...

There’s no denying that Anne Boleyn is the most maligned and misunderstood of Henry VIII’s six wives. Even today, in an age where we have unprecedented access to primary sources and the likes of historians Eric Ives and Alison Weir spreading the message that Anne Boleyn was innocent and framed, Anne Boleyn is still misrepresented in fiction, non-fiction, TV programmes, movies, radio shows, podcasts and online. I am regularly asked why I feel the need to dedicate my time to researching and writing about an historical character who was a traitor to the crown and a homewrecker – aaaggghhh!

So, what are the labels that Anne Boleyn is wrongly given?

  • Whore – The imperial ambassador never referred to Anne Boleyn by name and instead called her “the concubine”, “the she-devil” and “the whore”, the Abbot of Whitby called her “Common stewed [professional] whore”, a lady called Margaret Chanseler (quoted in Eric Ives “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”, p200) referred to Anne as “The Goggle Eyed Whore” and she was also known as “The Great Whore”, “The King’s Whore” and a “naught paike”!
  • “The Scandal of Christendom” – This is what Catherine of Aragon called Anne.
  • Homewrecker or the other woman – This is the kind of label you see in Team Catherine vs Team Anne type arguments. People who give Anne this label feel that Anne purposely broke up Henry’s marriage to Catherine.
  • Seductress, plotter, tease and sexual predator – The belief that Anne Boleyn set out to purposely seduce and trap Henry VIII so that she could be queen.
  • Poisoner – In “The Other Boleyn Girl”, Philippa Gregory, suggests that Anne poisoned Bishop Fisher and his dinner guests, Cardinal Wolsey and Catherine of Aragon.

Anne Boleyn B Necklace

  • Witch – The idea that Anne Boleyn was a witch who put Henry under a spell. If you are eagle-eyed, you will have spotted Anne Boleyn’s portrait on the wall of Hogwarts in the first Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (The Sorcerer’s Stone).
  • Deformed – Nicholas Sander, a Catholic recusant in Elizabeth I’s reign, wrote of Anne Boleyn having six fingers, a projecting tooth and a large wen under her chin.
  • Adulteress – Anne was charged with adultery and incest and some people believe that ‘there’s no smoke without a fire’.
  • Traitor – She was executed as a traitor, as someone who had not only committed adultery and slept with her brother, but also as someone who had plotted against the king.
  • Bigamist – In “The Other Boleyn Girl”, Anne Boleyn marries Henry Percy and they consummate their union, therefore, according to Philippa Gregory, Anne was a bigamist.
  • Kidnapper – In “The Other Boleyn Girl” (do you get the idea that many of the stereotypes and labels can be blamed on this novel?!), Anne adopts her sister Mary’s son, Henry, without Mary’s permission. She steals him.
  • That she gave birth to a monster – The idea that Anne gave birth to a monstrously deformed baby and that this was a sign that she had committed incest or was a witch.

And I’m sure you can think of more.

But those who seek to avenge Anne Boleyn also make her out to be someone she is not:-

  • Protestant martyr and saint – One website (Reformation.org) claims that Anne’s “only ‘crime’ was breaking up an incestuous relationship between King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon”, that her death was part of a conspiracy to keep England under the Catholic Church, that her doctor made sure that she did not have a male heir and that Anne should therefore be seen as a saint and martyr.
  • Victim of poison – The same website I mentioned a minute ago speaks of how Anne was given the cantarella of Borgia (poison) to make her miscarry.
  • A Sibyl or prophetess – I heard that one radio show on Anne Boleyn was claiming that Margaret of Austria ran a spiritual academy for sibyls (seeresses and prophetesses), a Renaissance version of Hogwarts, and that Anne was educated as a sibyl and groomed to be queen.
  • The Leader of the Reformation in England – Some people believe that not only was Anne groomed to be queen by the likes of Margaret of Austria and Marguerite of Angoulême, but that she was also groomed to break the Catholic Church in England and lead the Reformation.
  • Vampire – I had to add this as there seems to be a trend at the moment in fiction for Tudor characters to be portrayed as vampires. A kind of Twilight meets Sookie Stackhouse meets The Other Boleyn Girl! Hmm…

Reading through that list, I’m not sure which is worse: the labels given to her by those who sought (or seek) to discredit her or the ones used by Anne Boleyn “avengers”!

Obviously, at the end of the day, we are never going to know who the real Anne Boleyn was because we just don’t have the primary sources to give is that full pictures. Our theories, and those of historians and academics, are just that, theories, based on our interpretation of the sources and if you look at how two esteemed historians like Eric Ives and G W Bernard can disagree over Anne, then you can see what a minefield the subject of Anne Boleyn is. Anyway, I digress, let’s look at these labels and the truth behind them…

Anne Boleyn the Whore

It’s easy to understand why Eustace Chapuys would label Anne “the whore” or “the concubine” because his allegiance was with Charles V, Catherine of Aragon’s nephew, and therefore with Catherine and Mary. In his opinion, Anne was the evil other woman, the woman who had led Henry VIII astray, and he did not recognise their marriage. Also, think about the general public, the people who had had Catherine as their queen for over 20 years. She was well respected and popular and Anne, in their opinion, had usurped her position. Just think about the public’s reaction to Camilla Parker-Bowles when they found out that Prince Charles had always loved her and had spent his honeymoon with Diana ringing Camilla. Also consider that the royal family are concerned that Camilla will never be recognised as queen by the British public, yet we are in the 21st century, a time where divorce is a fact of life. I know it’s not quite the same, but it does help us to understand people’s reaction to Anne Boleyn and the fact that she was labelled a whore, even though it is pretty clear that she was a virtuous woman who tried to refuse the King’s advances.

The Scandal of Christendom

An understandable reaction from Catherine, she’s not exactly going to praise the woman who has caught her husband’s eye and who is the cause of all her woes. Just look at what happened to Catherine and her daughter, it’s easy to see why they held Anne accountable for the annulment, their loss of status and the cruel treatment they suffered. Once Anne was dead and gone, Mary had a rude awakening when she realised that it was her father who was ultimately responsible for her treatment, when things got worse instead of better. It is understandable that Catherine blamed Anne because she loved her husband and Mary loved her father, but it doesn’t make their assessment of Anne a true one. Now, I’m not trying to paint Anne as a angel, as she certainly was not, she said spiteful things and she flew into rages, making rash threats against Catherine and Mary, but we have to hold Henry accountable for what happened to these women really.


The people who label Anne as a “homewrecker” are people who look at the love triangle with 21st century eyes. What we have to remember is:-

  1. There were rumours of Henry VIII annulling his marriage to Catherine in 1514, long before Anne came on the scene and he had already stopped sleeping with his wife.
  2. Anne did not chase Henry, she did not initiate the affair and she actually said “no” to begin with.
  3. Henry had already concluded that his marriage was not valid or legal, that it was incestuous.
  4. Anne had no choice – She tried saying no and it didn’t work, she tried retreating to Hever and that didn’t work, Henry always got what he wanted and he was the King.

So, please let’s blame Henry for the deterioration and subsequent end of his marriage, not Anne Boleyn.

Sexual Predator

I think this idea stems from books and films like “The Other Boleyn Girl”, where we see Anne purposely throwing herself at Henry VIII while Mary is pregnant so that the Boleyns still have influence. In the book, Elizabeth Boleyn says of Anne, “Thank God Anne has him in her toils. She plays with him like you might tease the queen’s dog. She has him on a thread” and we come away with the idea that Henry is powerless and that Anne’s sexuality gives her all the power, that she is calling the shots. Well, anyone who knows anything about a woman’s place in Tudor England and about Henry VIII knows that although Anne may have been an influence on Henry she certainly was not the one pulling the strings.

Author Karen Lindsey (“Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII”) goes as far as to say that Anne Boleyn could have been the victim of sexual harassment. Henry was infatuated with Anne, he wrote her 17 letters, when he usually hated writing, and he complains in those letters about Anne not replying to him and rejecting his advances:-

“Today, Henry’s approach to Anne would be instantly identifiable as sexual harassment. Anne however, had no social or legal recourse against a the man who ruled the country. She continued, as so many women before and since have done, to dodge her pursuer’s advances while sparing his feelings. It didn’t work… It was a hellish position. Could she really tell the king to his face that she had no interest in him? She could reiterate her desire to keep her chastity and her honor, but clearly he didn’t respect that. She could ignore his letters and stay away from court, but he refused to take the hint. To offer him the outright insult he asked for would be to risk not only her own but her father’s and brother’s careers at court. She undoubtedly kept hoping he would tire of the chase and transfer his attentions to some newer lady-in-waiting.

But he didn’t and she was trapped: there was no chance of her making a good marriage when every eligible nobleman knew the king wanted her. She began to realize she would have to give in. [as Wyatt wrote in his poem 'Whoso list to hunt'] ‘Nole me tangere, for Caesar’s I am’.

Virtually every account of Anne’s story cites the poem, yet its central image is ignored. Anne was a creature being hunted, and hunted by the king — like the buck he had killed and so proudly sent to her. There could be no refuge from the royal assault; no one would risk protecting her from Henry’s chase. She could run, hide, dodge for a time, but the royal hunter would eventually track down his prey. And he would destroy her. The hunt was not an archaic metaphor in sixteenth century life, it was a vivid integral part of that life and everyone knew what happened to the wild creature at the end.”

In my opinion, Anne was definitely more prey than predator. Henry fell for her and he wanted her, he was not used to someone saying no to him and did not give up, he pursued her relentlessly. Of course, we don’t know what Anne’s feelings were, as we only have his letters, but it is clear from those that he had to persuade her into the relationship. However, I don’t see Anne as a victim of sexual harassment, just the object of a very passionate man’s affections, and I think she was flattered by him and then fell in love with him. They shared many interests and they were very alike at that time, so it was a very natural partnership.

Poisoner and Murderess

In “The Other Boleyn Girl” book, Mary Boleyn is told by her husband, “She [Anne] poisoned Bishop Fisher, poor sainted man, and she has the deaths of three innocent men on her conscience for that. She poisoned Cardinal Wolsey and Queen Katherine…” and in her notes on the book Philippa Gregory writes of how Anne Boleyn was guilty of at least one murder – who? There is absolutely no evidence that Anne tried to poison anyone and she was not charged with murder or attempted murder at her trial. There were rumours that Catherine of Aragon had died of poisoning after it was found that her heart was black and that her illness had worsened after drinking some Welsh ale, and, after Anne’s fall, Henry VIII led Henry Fitzroy to believe that Anne had planned to poison him and his half-sister, Mary, but there was no basis to these accusations. Catherine died of cancer and Henry VIII was just ranting and blustering – he also spoke of Anne having 100 lovers!

A Witch with Six Fingers

OK, just because Anne Boleyn’s portrait is on the wall at Hogwarts it does not mean that she was really a witch – ha! Seriously, although Henry VIII said to a courtier that he had been “seduced and constrained by sortilèges“, sortilèges meaning “sorcery, spells or charms”, and that his marriage must be cursed because he had not been blessed with a son, it does not mean that he believed that Anne was a witch. In her book “1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII”, Suzannah Lipscomb writes of how, at the time, “sortilèges” meant “divination” and that Henry could have meant that he “was persuaded into the marriage by the premarital prophecies that Anne would bear sons” or that Henry could simply have been referring to his infatuation with Anne, how she had bewitched him, entranced him.

In “The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn”, Retha Warnicke writes of how Anne Boleyn gave birth to a deformed foetus in 1536, what Nicholas Sander describes as a “shapeless mass of flesh”, and that this was a sign that Anne used witchcraft and that she had committed some kind of sexual sin. When we combine that with the fact that Sander describes Anne as having six fingers, a projecting tooth and a wen under her chin, then it makes us wonder where she hid the black cat and broomstick!

There is a “but” of course, and it’s a big but – BUT, there is NO evidence that Anne miscarried a deformed foetus or that she had six fingers etc etc! Nicholas Sander did not even know Anne (he was born around 1530) and he was a Catholic recusant writing during the reign of Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth I. His aim was to discredit Elizabeth by blackening her mother’s name. Surely, the rather paranoid and vain Henry VIII would not have considered marrying a disfigured woman, never mind breaking with Rome for her, and you would think that Chapuys would have joyously spread the news of Anne’s monstrous baby, rather than describing it as a male child of around 3 and a half months in gestation. Need I say more!

Adulteress and Traitor

At her trial, on the 15th May 1536, Anne Boleyn was accused of incest, adultery, promising to marry Norris after the King’s death, conspiring the King’s death and laughing at the King and his dress. Although Anne protested her innocence, a jury of her peers (or rather her enemies!) found her guilty and she was sentenced to death. The men that she was said to have committed adultery with had already been found guilty, so her trial was completely prejudiced, and the executioner had been ordered from Calais before her trial had even taken place.

You can read more about my thoughts on why I feel that this trial was a show trial and that Anne had no hope of justice in my article “A Foregone Conclusion”, but if you consider that the dates of Anne’s offences listed in the indictment make no sense, that even the man who called her “the concubine” did not believe she was guilty, that Henry was off gallivanting with ladies (and Jane Seymour) and that Anne’s household was broken up before the trial, her guilt was definitely a foregone conclusion. The majority of historians believe that Anne was innocent and that she was framed, I agree wholeheartedly.


No! Anne may have been in love with Henry Percy and the couple may well have been planning to marry BUT Cardinal Wolsey and Percy’s father, the Earl of Northumberland, put a stop to the relationship and Percy was married off to Mary Talbot. According to a letter written by Chapuys in July 1532, Henry Percy had to deny, in front of the whole council, that there had been a pre-contract between himself and Anne Boleyn, after his wife reported that he had claimed, during a quarrel, that their marriage was not real because he had been legally contracted to Anne Boleyn. Percy also denied the pre-contract in 1536 when Archbishop Cranmer questioned him. There is, therefore, no evidence that Anne and Percy had been pre-contracted or that they had consummated their union (à la “The Other Boleyn Girl”).


Another “The Other Boleyn Girl” misrepresentation of Anne. In the book, after the death of Mary Boleyn’s first husband, Anne Boleyn adopts Mary’s son, Henry Carey, without Mary’s permission, she takes Mary’s beloved son and Mary says, “She takes everything… She has always taken everything. But I will never forgive her this.” The truth behind this accusation is that Henry VIII appointed Anne Boleyn as Henry Carey’s guardian in 1528, after the death of his father, William Carey. This was nothing unusual. Mary Boleyn Was a widow and Anne was in a position to provide for Mary’s son and to ensure that he had a good education. As Anne Boleyn Files visitor, Rachel Fitzpatrick pointed out, in a discussion we had on Facebook, that it was standard practice for the King to grant wardships to wealthy and influential courtiers, for example, Lady Jane Grey was Thomas Seymour’s ward and Catherine Willoughby was Charles Brandon’s.

Protestant Martyr and Saint

As I said earlier, Reformation.org call Anne Saint Anne Boleyn and write of how her story mirrors that of the Biblical Queen Esther:-

“Like her Old Testament counterpart Queen Esther, Queen Anne risked her life to tell Henry the good news of the Gospel of Christ. All the time she was carefully watched by wolves like Cardinal Wolsey and Sir Thomas More.”

The martryologist, John Foxe, wrote of Anne Boleyn in his Book of Martyrs (Actes and Monuments):-

“Godly I call her, for sundry respects, whatsoever the cause was, or quarrel objected against her. First, her last words spoken at her death declared no less her sincere faith and trust in Christ, than did her quiet modesty utter forth the goodness of the cause and matter, whatsoever it was. Besides that to such as wisely can judge upon cases occurrent, this also may seem to give a great clearing unto her, that the king, the third day after, was married in his whites unto another. Certain this was, that for the rare and singular gifts of her mind, so well instructed, and given toward God, with such a fervent desire unto the truth and setting forth of sincere religion, joined with like gentleness, modesty, and pity toward all men, there have not many such queens before her borne the crown of England. Principally this one commendation she left behind her, that during her life, the religion of Christ most happily flourished, and had a right prosperous course.”

But however much we admire Anne and however much she helped to promote reformist ideas and encourage the reading of the English Bible, she did not die because of her faith. Dictionary.com defines “martyr” (in the sense we mean) as:-

  1. A person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion.
  2. A person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause: a martyr to the cause of social justice.

Do either of those definitions describe Anne? No, they don’t.

Also, Anne Boleyn did not risk her life by smuggling reformist books into England, her father and brother did that.

Victim of Poison

What is it with Anne Boleyn and poison?! Despite Reformation.org’s claim that Anne’s miscarriages were caused by poison, there is absolutely no evidence that her miscarriages were anything but bad luck. The same site also claims that Catherine of Aragon’s was “shut up” by God to prevent her having male children as her marriage to Henry was incestuous. I applaud the site for its passion but it does not present any evidence for its wild claims.

A Sibyl or Prophetess

Michelangelo's Delphic Sibyl

Another outrageous claim! For those of you who have not got a clue what a “sibyl”, Dictionary.com define a sibyl as

  1. Any of certain women of antiquity reputed to possess powers of prophecy or divination.
  2. A female prophet or witch.

As I have said, the radio show I heard about was claiming that Margaret of Austria ran a special school for gifted girls and women, for sibyls, and that Anne was one of those women. At Margaret’s school, Anne was also encourage to fulfil her destiny and groomed to be Queen of England. Now, Anne Boleyn went to the court of Margaret of Austria in 1513, just 4 years after Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon and a time when Catherine was fertile and was getting pregnant. Obviously we are meant to think that as a sibyl Anne knew her destiny, but there was no hint then that Henry would give up Catherine. To me this claim is just way off base. What do you think?

Leader of the Reformation

In my article, “Anne Boleyn: The Myths and Bad History”, I quoted playwright Howard Brenton as saying that Anne Boleyn was “a Joan of Arc, driven by religious vision” and in his play he certainly does paint her as a brave reformer who changed English history. Well, I agree that Anne had courage, that she had reformist views, that she owned books that could have got her condemned as a heretic, that she influenced the appointment of reformist bishops and that she had a genuine strong faith, but I would not say that she led the English Reformation or, as I heard someone claim, that she broke the Catholic Church in England. I stand by what I said in that article:-

“We also have to remember that Anne Boleyn was no Protestant, that label did not even exist then. She may have been a catalyst of the English Reformation and influenced Henry VIII with her ‘heretical’ reading material, but she was reformist rather than Protestant and she died in the Catholic faith. As my good friend, Olivia Peyton, said to me: ‘Anne Boleyn did not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater’, meaning that Anne could see that the Catholic Church was fundamentally ok, she did not reject the established religion and its rituals, but she realised that reform was required – the church needed some work! Anne’s almoner, John Skip, defended the ceremonies and rituals of the Catholic church in a sermon supported by Anne, defending them as aids to memory rather than the belief that they had sacred power. Eric Ives points out too that the reformist literature Anne was reading was not necessarily challenging the belief in transsubstantiation, that Christ’s body was present in the consecrated host, but instead was challenging “the late medieval focus on the miraculous mechanism of the mass rather than its significance”.

Eric Ives explains that:-

“Her attitude would be characteristic of all shades of English evangelical reform for at least a decade more: real spiritual experience, yes; the priority of faith, yes; access to the Bible, yes; reform of abuses and superstition, yes; but heretical views on the miracle of the altar, no.” “


Do I really need to argue the case against this one? One recent vampire book had Anne Boleyn being hanged as obviously you cannot be a vampire if you have been decapitated. As much as I’d love to imagine Anne as a kick-ass vampire causing havoc in Tudor England, it’s just not Anne is it! I love historical fiction and I love vampire novels but that doesn’t mean that I love Tudor vampire books!


So, where does all this leave us? Who was the real Anne Boleyn? What was she really like? Well, she didn’t fit into any of the above labels and stereotypes! The real Anne Boleyn for me is the one Eric Ives describes so eloquently in his book “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”. As I read about her background, her relationship with Henry, her reaction to the birth of Elizabeth, her love of fashion, art and culture, her strong faith, her downfall and the courage and dignity with which she faced her last days, I see glimpses of the real Anne Boleyn and begin to know her. She is a puzzle and always will be, she is an enigma and we will never know the entire truth about her, history won’t let us, the sources are not there.

What we do know is that she wasn’t an angel or a saint, but she also was not the devil incarnate. She was a woman who was passionate, intelligent, forward-thinking, hot-tempered, reckless at times and also quite spiteful. She didn’t care what people thought of her (“let them grumble”), she tossed around empty threats and had a cruel streak (she ordered that Mary’s ears be boxed if she didn’t start toeing the line), she had heated arguments with her husband and was not afraid to question his judgement and disagree with him, she was jealous, she was insecure, she had reformist ideas but was not a radical. Although I admit to admiring her and being obsessed with her and her story, I’m not sure, if she was alive today, that we would be friends, I’m not sure I could cope with her mood swings and I think she was more comfortable in the presence of men.

Anne Boleyn is different things to different people and the puzzle of her story allows us to form her into what we want her to be and to love and admire her with a passion. Even today, she is causing arguments and heated debates, provoking strong reactions; and perhaps now, more than ever, inspiring people to write books and produce art and craft dedicated to her. She is like a modern day celebrity in that way, yet she lived over 450 years ago. Anne Boleyn is an icon.

Read more: http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/anne-boleyn-the-mysterious-and-maligned-one/8136/#ixzz1DOpW0Mta

30 Ocak 2011 Pazar

Her Wordly Attraction...

by Roberta Philbrick

People have been attracted to the story of Anne Boleyn and her life with King Henry VIII for centuries…I believe the draw is because she was an “empowering” woman in a time where women had no “legitimate” power in the world and because she was once the “underdog” we can all relate to.

In the 1500’s the people of England and most other lands were ruled by fear. The church governed the masses with the fear of an afterlife in damnation. The Roman Catholic Church held their “virtual” power by keeping the public ignorant and not permitting the Bible to be translated into other languages. The Church itself feared, and rightly so, that if the general masses could read and actually interpret the bible for themselves, then in turn they would be capable of governing their daily lives and “afterlives”.

The English Monarchy ruled with fear by determining your place or “station” in daily life. In order to rise above your borne station or “class” in life you had to be in the favor of the “court” and the ruling monarchy. Anyone in the “court” fiercely protected themselves and any “favor” they may have gained from King Henry VIII at the time. Our fascination with Anne Boleyn begins here, I believe, because she was able to move herself up through the court and into the favorable eye of Henry. As she is moving up, the “Court” supports her, for everyone loves an “underdog” and wants to come along for the ride and any favorable “scraps” they can grab. Yet, once the “underdog” achieves its higher ground, everyone can’t wait to “knock” them back down to their “rightful” place amongst us.

With education and technology our society has truly evolved, yet, even today you see the same “human” behavior. Daily, we all “tune-in” to all forms of media to catch any hype on individuals whom achieve greatness in all avenues of life; sports, music, business, etc. We love and encourage them all on the way “up”, admiring their glorious achievements. Then along with the paparazzi, aka the “court”, we crouch in the bushes and wait to capture their “fall” so that we no longer feel “inferior”.

Anne Boleyn’s second attraction was as basic as they come…her sex. Anne was keen to the ways of the world in the “court” and in the “bedroom” after living in the French court with her sister, Mary. Unlike her sister and, the many other prior mistresses of Henry, Anne knew her only “leverage” was her “virginity”. Anne’s existence in the French court taught her that her virtue was priceless…so long as she kept it intact. I believe that she learned that men in power need to be “stimulated” or, they loose interest very fast. Anne “titillated” Henry all the way to the alter and secured the future of her daughter, Elizabeth, as a legitimate heir to the thrown.

Some say that Anne helped to reform the Church of England…I’m not sure if she “knowingly” did this or if she did what ever she had to do at the time, with the only “tools” she had to use to survive at this time when it was truly a man’s world. Which to me is why I’m so fascinated with her story, she was a survivor!

Read more: http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/resources/addicted-to-anne-boleyn/#ixzz1CXHwvv3E

Anne Boleyn, Henry 8 and Elizabeth I.

29 Ocak 2011 Cumartesi

The Best of Anne Boleyn

An Interview with Elizabeth Norton

Elizabeth Norton is an historian and author whose books include “Anne Boleyn: Henry VIII’s Obsession”, “Jane Seymour: Henry VIII’s True Love”, “Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII’s Discarded Bride” and “She Wolves: The Notorious Queens of England”. She is presently working on a book about Catherine Parr.

Elizabeth gained her first degree from the University of Cambridge and her Masters degree from the University of Oxford. She is one of our guest speakers at The Anne Boleyn Experience 2010 at Hever Castle in May.

Here is an exclusive Anne Boleyn Files interview with Elizabeth:-

The Tudor series portrays Thomas Boleyn as a manipulator who used his daughters to gain favour and titles yet to Joanna Denny he is some kind of Reformation hero and caring father who strove to protect his daughters, what do you think?

From what is known about them both, I would say that Thomas Boleyn and Anne were very similar characters and Anne was very influenced by her father in her youth. It was Thomas Boleyn who first recognised Anne’s potential and secured a place for her with Margaret of Austria and, as the best French speaker at the English court, it is also likely that he instilled in Anne an early interest in the French language and French culture. Anne’s earliest extant letter (written in school girl French) is addressed to her father.

Thomas was ambitious for his family as a whole and benefited from the rise of first Mary and then Anne. It is difficult to see his influence as a manipulator behind either Mary or Anne’s relationships with the king and, the evidence for Anne at least is that she won and held the king by herself.

Thomas, like Anne, was influential in the early religious reform movement and so, to a certain extent, can be seen as a Reformation hero. However, his court career and ambition were certainly the driving forces in his life and he was prepared to make use of his daughters’ positions in order to further his ambition, and distance himself from them when they fell into disfavour.

Mary Boleyn has been called Henry VIII’s ‘favourite mistress’ and Henry VIII himself called Jane Seymour his true love, but who do you think was really Henry VIII’s true love?

Looking back over his life with the benefit of hindsight, it is likely that Henry himself would have said Jane Seymour. From a dynastic point of view, she was his only successful wife and the wife with whom he requested to be buried. It is clear however that she was not so cherished during her marriage and Henry is known to have mentioned soon after his marriage to Jane that, after seeing two new beauties at court, he wished he had not been so hasty in making his choice. Jane was also very aware that, like her two predecessors, her position was vulnerable until she bore a son.

Henry VIII believed himself to be in love with Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard at the time of his marriages to them. His relationship with Catherine Parr was also a fond one. The length of his relationships with Bessie Blount and Mary Boleyn also suggest that he may have been in love with them. I think it is difficult to see Henry VIII as having one true love and various women filled that post at different points of his life. Henry’s relationship with Anne Boleyn was the greatest love affair of his life and she may well merit the title of his true love but, given that he eventually had her executed, it is clear that he would not himself have considered her to have that honour.

Henry VIII was unusual for a king of his time and he chose to marry women who, for most kings, would have been merely mistresses. There is no doubt that he was a romantic at heart and he built up romantic ideals of most of the women with whom he was involved, including Anne of Cleves before he actually met her. It is Jane Seymour with whom he had the most enduring affection, albeit mostly posthumously.

Anne Boleyn is known to have had a number of admirers in her early years. Who do you think Anne really loved and was she in love with Henry VIII at any point?

Anne was ambitious and, whilst she was happy to flirt with Thomas Wyatt, she was aware that, as a married man, he could offer her nothing. It is therefore unlikely that she was in love with him. James Butler, the man she returned from France to marry, is also unlikely to have meant anything to her and neither Anne nor her father appear to have been particularly interested in the match.

If Anne had an early love, it was Henry Percy. Marriage to the heir to the Earl of Northumberland would have been an extremely advantageous match for Anne and so it is difficult to identify what Anne’s true feelings were. Henry Percy was in love with Anne and Anne’s later enmity towards Cardinal Wolsey, who was responsible for breaking off the match, also suggests that she felt strongly about Henry Percy. If Anne consummated her relationship with anyone before Henry VIII, it is most likely to have been with Henry Percy. She certainly consummated her relationship with Henry VIII once it was clear that her marriage was inevitable and she may have felt in a similarly secure position with Henry Percy following their betrothal.

It is likely that Anne was also in love with Henry VIII. Again, this was obviously an advantageous marriage and Anne’s personal feelings are difficult to separate from her own ambition. However, Henry VIII in the late 1520s and early 1530s was still the most handsome and cultured prince in Europe and, unlike the ailing and bloated king of his later years, he would have been an easy man to fall in love with. Anne’s jealousy over Henry’s infidelities and, also his relationship with Catherine of Aragon, were partially motivated by a fear that her position was insecure, but her reaction is also likely to have been the result of genuine emotional hurt at his betrayals of her.

Alison Weir, in her latest book, talks of how Anne and Henry’s marriage was unhappy from the start, do you agree with this?

Anne and Henry’s marriage was certainly controversial and the actual ceremony was secret and kept deliberately vague. However, I cannot agree that it was unhappy. Anne and Henry were blissfully happy for the first few months of their marriage: they had finally been able to consummate their relationship and they were expecting a longed-for ‘prince’. Within months of her marriage Anne was able to appear publicly as queen and was also crowned as queen. Henry was also finally able to disentangle himself from Catherine of Aragon and marry the woman he loved. Their marriage was dogged from the start by political problems, but, on a personal level, they are likely to have been among the happiest few months of Anne and Henry’s lives.

There are different opinions about Henry VIII’s involvement in Anne Boleyn’s fall, do you think he was involved in the conspiracy or was he also an innocent victim of Cromwell’s plot?

Henry VIII remained, until the end of his life, in full control of his kingdom. The plot against Catherine Parr, in which she was very nearly sent to the Tower for heresy in 1546 shows that it was not possible for Henry’s wives to fall without his express agreement. Henry’s seeming compliance in agreeing to Catherine’s arrest was part of a test of his wife and an attempt to push her back into a more domestic sphere.

In contrast, Anne Boleyn was allowed to fall and there is evidence that Henry had tired of her. Whilst he did still seek Imperial recognition of his marriage to Anne as late as April 1536, it is clear that he was already by then becoming more committed to Jane Seymour – he perhaps simply had not found the mechanism by which to engineer Anne’s fall. Cromwell and the other factions working against Anne provided the means by which she could be brought down, with the rumours of infidelity and the precontract with Henry Percy. It was Henry VIII himself who had to agree to the final attack on Anne and, his conduct at the May Day jousts shows that he did indeed agree to this.

Which of Anne’s early loves do you think she should have married?

Anne did not really have the opportunity to marry any of her early loves. Her proposed betrothal to James Butler came to nothing, perhaps because of Thomas Boleyn’s hopes of securing the Earldom of Ormond for himself. Anne’s betrothal to Henry Percy was broken by Cardinal Wolsey. Thomas Wyatt, the third man with whom Anne was definitely linked, was married. The match with which she would have been happiest is, however, likely to have been that with Henry Percy. The couple were similar in age and apparently in love and Anne’s ambition is likely to have been satisfied with being Countess of Northumberland. Of course, this was not to be, and she secured a much greater match for herself…

Do you agree with Joanna Denny and Karen Lindsay, who say that Anne was a victim of sexual harassment and that she was ‘stalked’ by Henry? Could she have turned Henry down, or was to keep her virtue and have the relationship on her terms her only course of action?

Henry VIII certainly ardently pursued Anne, bombarding her with letters when she retreated to Hever. Anne had seen how Henry VIII had treated her sister, simply discarding her once his interest had waned. It is clear from her involvement with Henry Percy that Anne was seeking an advantageous marriage. She therefore had no intention of becoming Henry VIII’s mistress and made this clear to him throughout their courtship. She could, perhaps, be seen as a victim of sexual harassment and stalking by Henry VIII. However, Anne was well able to hold her own in a flirtation with a married man as she had shown with Thomas Wyatt. She is also likely to have been flattered by Henry VIII’s interest although, until he finally made the proposal of marriage, she is unlikely to have known just what to do with him.

I think that Anne could have turned Henry down. It would have been difficult for her to do and she would have been under considerable pressure from her family. However, the fact is, she did turn Henry down, even refusing his offer to make her his official mistress. For all his dubious record with women, there is no evidence that Henry would have actually forced Anne to become his mistress and he was therefore forced to either abandon his pursuit of Anne or offer her marriage. It was the offer of marriage that finally persuaded Anne that Henry was serious about her and changed the course of their relationship, allowing her to deal with Henry on her own terms.

What do you think Jane Seymour was like? Was she an innocent, demure, meek and mild woman or was she scheming and ambitious?

Jane Seymour was as politically ambitious as Anne Boleyn. She is likely to have come to court with the purpose of becoming the king’s mistress but, following Anne’s final miscarriage, she changed course, seeking marriage with the king. This can be seen in her willingness to accept Henry’s advances before Anne’s miscarriage (for example, that Anne herself was said to have blamed her miscarriage on the sight of Jane on Henry’s knee). Following the miscarriage, she made a great show of her virtue and her image as Anne’s opposite.

Jane’s political interests can also be seen after she became queen, in particular, her support of Princess Mary and the Imperial party. Even after becoming queen, she was forced to maintain her meek image and Henry had set a dangerous precedent for his subsequent queens in his treatment of Anne Boleyn.

How did the fate of Anne Boleyn affect Henry VIII’s relationships with his subsequent wives and mistresses?

By marrying Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII demonstrated to other women that, by insisting on remaining virtuous, it was possible for them to aspire to becoming queen. Jane Seymour obviously followed this course, as did Catherine Howard when she ousted Anne of Cleves. The danger of this approach was obviously that each of Henry’s later queens risked bringing their own successor to Henry’s attention and this may be why Jane Seymour was so strict in her requirements for her maids’ dress. One notably pretty maid of Jane’s, Anne Basset, was required to wear an English Gable Hood rather than the more flattering French Hood on Jane’s express orders.

For Henry, the fate of Anne Boleyn also made it more difficult for him to actually obtain a bride. Following Jane Seymour’s death there were rumours that Christina of Milan said that she would only risk marriage to Henry if she had two heads. It is unlikely that she actually said this but, certainly, she was concerned by Henry’s dangerous reputation as a husband. Catherine Parr is also reported to have said she would prefer to become Henry’s mistress than his wife.
Finally, Anne’s execution provided a terrifying precedent for all Henry’s future wives. Henry reminded Jane Seymour of Anne’s fate when she attempted to involve herself in politics during the Pilgrimage of Grace and this was her last recorded overtly political action. Anne of Cleves is also likely to have feared that she would be imprisoned and, perhaps, beheaded, if she did not comply with Henry’s wishes in her divorce and Catherine Parr was terrified when she found herself at the centre of a plot to send her to the Tower.

No king of England either before or after Henry went so far as to actually execute their wives and Anne’s execution, even to those of her contemporaries who did not recognise her marriage or saw her fall as her just desserts, were shocked by what happened.

Elizabeth Norton’s Books

All of Elizabeth’s books can be found in the Elizabeth Norton sections of our special Anne Boleyn Files Amazon UK Store and our Anne Boleyn Files Amazon US Store.

Read more: http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/interview-with-elizabeth-norton/3694/#ixzz1CQPztB1w