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.” Continue reading “Documentary Notes – ‘The Last Days of Anne Boleyn’”

Undergraduate Dissertation Chapter – Portrayals of Anne Boleyn in Portraits and Literature


Portrayals of Anne Boleyn

“I have never had better opinions of woman than I had of her” – Thomas Cranmer

Anne Boleyn was an unpopular Queen. As Eric Ives said, she was ‘perhaps a figure to be more admired than liked’.[i] She has been portrayed in many different ways: through plays, portraits, biographies written through religious eyes and through the eyes of the man who loved her, and killed her.

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

With Anne Boleyn living her life largely in the public spotlight, there was a ‘calculated distance between the public persona and the inner self’.[ii] This in itself poses a problem as Anne did not want to show weakness in the face of her enemies so it is unlikely that the surviving contemporary evidence portrayed who Anne Boleyn really was; it more likely shows the face that she wanted the public to see – the Queen rather than the woman.

Stephen Greenblatt expands on this idea and says that there was a widespread idea in sixteenth century England that the self could be fashioned, but that it was constrained due to family, state and religious implications; these imposed a rigid and disciplined order on society as a whole.[iii] In reference to Anne Boleyn, state implications were particularly important, but also religious implications, as Anne was widely known as having reformist tendencies. Greenblatt’s arguments will be examined in this chapter. Continue reading “Undergraduate Dissertation Chapter – Portrayals of Anne Boleyn in Portraits and Literature”

Tudor-Related Books


So I’ve put together a list of all of the Tudor and Wars of the Roses related books I want. The ones scored through are the ones I’ve already got or read. Any opinions on any of them, or are any of them better than others? Any opinions would be greatly appreciated as I don’t think it’s sensible to splurge and buy them all at once!

Ackroyd, Peter, ‘Foundation’ (2011)

Ackroyd, Peter, ‘London: the Biography’ (2001)

Ackroyd, Peter, ‘Tudors’ (2012)

'Anne Boleyn: Queen of Controversy' by Lacey Baldwin Smith (2013).
‘Anne Boleyn: Queen of Controversy’ by Lacey Baldwin Smith (2013).

Baldwin Smith, Lacey, ‘Anne Boleyn’ (2013)

Baldwin Smith, Lacey, ‘Catherine Howard’ (2010)

Baldwin Smith, Lacey, ‘Henry VIII’ (2012)

Baldwin Smith, Lacey, ‘Treason in Tudor England: Politics and Paranoia’ (2006)

Bernard, George W., ‘Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions’ (2010)

Bernard, George W., ‘The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church’ (2007) Continue reading “Tudor-Related Books”

Book Review – ‘Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions’ by G.W. Bernard


George Bernard's 'Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions', first published in 2010.
George Bernard’s ‘Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions’, first published in 2010.

Bernard, George W., Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011), first published 2010, Paperback, ISBN: 978-0-300-17089-4

George W. Bernard is a scholar of Reformation England, but had written several articles on Anne Boleyn before publishing this, his first book on her. Here, Bernard delves into a lot more detail, looking at things like her religion and role in the break with Rome, and her fall. Bernard controversially argues that, contrary to most opinions, ‘Anne had indeed committed adultery with [Henry] Norris, probably with [Mark] Smeaton … and was then the victim of the most appalling bad luck’ (p. 192). Bernard seems to argue against most accepted arguments about Anne, including her fall and religion, which are the most controversial chapters.

The book is generally in chronological order, going through her early childhood to her relationship with Henry and the divorce, to Anne as Queen, to the evidence for her fall, and possible reasons, taking a break to delve into her religious sympathies. The title of the book is Fatal Attractions, a fiery title, adhering to how the book is aimed at a general readership rather than a scholarly audience. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions’ by G.W. Bernard”

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