Parents: Walter & Katherine Cromwell (dates unknown)
Siblings: Katherine Williams / Elizabeth Wellyfed (dates unknown)
Noble Connections: Cromwell was first in the service of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, before moving into the service of Henry VIII. He was liked by Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second queen, and assisted in achieving her marriage, as well as her execution 3 years later. His son, Gregory, married the sister of Henry VIII’s third queen, Jane Seymour. Cromwell also promoted the marriage of Henry VIII to Princess Anne of Cleves. Continue reading “Spotlight – Thomas Cromwell”
Throughout the book, Alison Weir shows how Katherine was raised to confirm to contemporary cultural and religious norms, and how this influenced her thinking and her actions. What impression did this make on you, and did it aid your understanding of her dilemmas and conflicts? Did this take on her story allow you to empathise more closely with Katherine’s choices?
I think that the standards and norms of 16th century England were very different to today. People believed very strongly in God and in the existence of heaven and hell and purgatory. They saw their lives on earth as a prelude to the afterlife. I think my background in history really helps me to understand the cultural and religious norms of the 16th century. I think that the understanding of the dilemmas and conflicts that Katherine faces in the novel depend on the contemporary culture and standards. You can’t understand Katherine’s motivations and feelings without understanding the context of the 16th century. I think that the emphasis on her religious devotions and the wellbeing of her soul were the central considerations for Katherine and understanding this made me understand more about what drove her to make the choices she did – she wasn’t being stubborn on purpose, she really believed she was saving her soul, and that of her husband. Continue reading “Discussion Questions – “Katherine of Aragon: the True Queen” by Alison Weir”
The education of Mary I was influenced mainly by her mother and her tutor, Juan Vives. They expected a lot from her – she was not taught only feminine pastimes, but also how to rule a country.[i] Mary had experience in ruling a court and country from a young age, since she was Princess of Wales until such a time as Henry VIII had a male heir, so she took up residence in that country. It was an unusual education for a woman, even for a princess, but Katherine’s own parents were unusual in that respect.
Katherine knew that women could rule a country, as her mother Isabella I of Castile had done in Spain, and Mary came to believe that one day she would be Queen and rule England as her grandmother had ruled Spain.[ii] Katherine was more closely involved in Mary’s childhood and education and so she became the primary influence on her daughter. With the death of Katherine’s father, Ferdinand II of Aragon, Katherine transferred all of her familial affection and loyalty to Mary.[iii] As Mary was Katherine’s only surviving child after a number of stillbirths and miscarriages, it was no wonder that they were very close. Continue reading “How Far was Mary I Influenced by the Life and Memory of her Mother, Katherine of Aragon?”
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was Henry VIII’s chief minister from his accession in 1509 until his dramatic fall in 1529. The reasons for this sudden fall are hotly debated amongst historians – was it his inability to give Henry VIII a divorce from Katherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn? Or was it that the nobility were jealous of Wolsey’s huge amount of power and influence? Or was it just bad luck? At what point did his fall become inevitable? These ideas will be discussed in the following short essay.
The issue of Henry VIII’s divorce or “great matter” has taken over the history of this period. This and the break with Rome seem to almost characterise the Tudor dynasty. However, there was so much more to it than fame. Henry VIII’s desire for Anne Boleyn brought down his chief minister, and led to England’s division from the Papacy in Rome. It also led to the idea that a king could marry for love. Continue reading “Why Did Thomas Wolsey Fall from Power in 1529?”
I recently finished reading Karen Harper’s The Last Boleyn, written in a similar vein to Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl.
Generally, I thought it was relatively engaging, although I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Other Boleyn Girl. Similar to Gregory’s novel, it wasn’t really very historically accurate. For example, Anne was arrested in February when it was actually May. I enjoyed the telling from Mary Boleyn’s point of view, and what made it better than The Other Boleyn Girl in my opinion was the way it explored Mary’s time in France, which Gregory didn’t do, although the accuracy is dubious.
Genre/s: Historical Fiction / Romance / Drama.
Setting: Paris (France), London, Hever (UK)
Characters: Mary Boleyn, Anne Boleyn, George Boleyn, Jane Boleyn, Thomas Boleyn, William Carey, William Stafford, Henry VIII, Francis I, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Wolsey, Jane Seymour, Queen Claude of France, Katherine of Aragon, Mary Tudor Duchess of Suffolk, Elizabeth I, Mary I, Henry Carey, Catherine Carey.
So I finally got around to watching Anne of the Thousand Days starring Richard Burton as Henry VIII and Genevieve Bujold as Anne Boleyn.
A bit of background: alongside Burton and Bujold, Irene Papas, Anthony Quayle, Michael Hordern and William Squire star (as Katherine of Aragon, Thomas Wolsey, Thomas Boleyn and Thomas More respectively). The film was adapted from a play of the same name which ran for 288 performances on Broadway. The film was released in 1969 and was directed by Charles Jarrott. It received mixed reviews from critics but won an Oscar for Best Costume Design, nominated for a further nine (including nods for Burton, Bujold and Quayle). It was also nominated for two BAFTAs, although failed to win, but it did win four Golden Globes for Best Director, Best Motion Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Actress for Bujold. Continue reading “‘Anne of the Thousand Days’ – Review”
The short answer is no, I do not think Henry VIII deserves his reputation as a tyrant, at least not fully. Henry VIII was a victim of the court in which he lived. He was constantly manipulated; by his wives, particularly Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, his ministers like Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell, and even the clergy like Stephen Gardiner and Thomas Cranmer. Rarely any of the decisions he made were actually his own.[i] Although Henry VIII was in part manipulated, at least in his early years, he did gain some measure of control over the affairs of his country and himself later on in his life. This began with the issue of his lack of a male heir and divorce from his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. It was enhanced by his changing religious beliefs to enable him to get a divorce, and it was certainly developed in his quest to choose his own wife and to marry for love. Only two of his wives came from diplomatic pressure, his first and fourth (Anne of Cleves). The other five were born and bred in England, and whom he married for personal choice rather than diplomatic pressure.[ii]Continue reading “Do I Think Henry VIII Deserves his Reputation as a Tyrant?”