Documentary Notes – ‘The Last Days of Anne Boleyn’


Anne Boleyn National Portrait Gallery.
Anne Boleyn National Portrait Gallery.

Framed? By whom? What reason?
Weir “Anne burst upon [the English court] with a certain brilliance.”
Gregory “sexiest girl at court.”
Mantel = too detached and intelligent to stake everything on love – did Anne ever love Henry?
Lipscomb “Anne as a usurper.”
Starkey = “Anne changes all the rules” but Henry is a failure without a son.
Mantel = Henry thinks of annulling his second marriage due to lack of consent.
Gregory – malformed foetus. Adultery, incest or witchcraft – Mantel disagrees, sees above as Catholic propaganda.
Mantel – Jane was Anne’s opposite.
Starkey – Jane was plain “she doesn’t really exist.”
Lipscomb – Henry didn’t want to annul his marriage, he saw Jane as a mistress.
Walker = Anne wasn’t like Katherine and was involved in politics – John Skip sermon “wonderful satirical sermon.”
Mantel – Cromwell was Henry’s first minister “clever as a bucket of snakes.”

Suzannah Lipscomb, historian.
Suzannah Lipscomb, historian.

Starkey “declaration of war” Cromwell vs. Anne to the death.
Weir “power struggle” Anne and Cromwell threatened each other.
Lipscomb = chaplain not necessarily “Anne’s mouthpiece.”
Henry or Cromwell to blame?
April 1536 – Chapuys recognises Anne.
Lipscomb “diplomatic coup.”
Weir = Anne regained influence?
Bernard – as late as 18 April Henry did not intend to be rid of Anne.
Mantel – Cromwell and Chapuys conspire.
Lipscomb = struggle for Henry’s affections?
Rumours spread from Worcester.
Walker = Henry “genuinely staggered” by evidence – “bombshell.”

Alison Weir
Alison Weir

Starkey “best and most convenient liars believe their own lies.”
Walker – law wouldn’t help Anne if Henry didn’t want it to.
Lipscomb = women naturally lustful i.e. “of the devil”, “lack of sexual dominance.”
Starkey = magnitude of charges makes them believable.
Mantel “breath of suspicion” was enough, Cromwell didn’t have a strategy, used fear against them “series of events spiraled out of control.”
Walker “every step [Henry] takes could lead to his own ruin”.
Weir “one of the most shocking and audacious plots in English history.”
Lipscomb – Cromwell acting for Henry.
Starkey = Henry driving force.
Lipscomb “game of courtly love gone wrong.”
Walker = Henry “destroys the people he thinks betrayed him.”
Weir “her courage … is remarkable.”
Bernard “perhaps there might have been something in [the charges]” – “Anne … did sleep with Smeaton and Norris.”

Hilary Mantel wins the Man Booker Prize for the second time!
Hilary Mantel wins the Man Booker Prize for the second time!

Gregory – incest “perfectly plausible”, not brought up as siblings.
Lipscomb = dates “made up to achieve an end” – can be disproven.
Gregory “extraordinary” “very very dramatic.”
Lipscomb = Anne swore on the damnation of her soul “very serious act in this religious day.”
Gregory “she’s the victim of a husband who decides to kill her.”
Mantel “she was not a victim … she played a winning hand. Ultimately she lost.”

Author: Helene Harrison

I have an MA in History, with a thesis entitled 'The Many Faces of Anne Boleyn: Perceptions in History, Literature and Film'. I have an interest in the Tudors and the Wars of the Roses along with my love of reading and literature.

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