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Henry XXVIII and Anne Boleyn by Dr Josepha Josephine Wilkinson

Posted By on December 19, 2014

punch-and-judyThank you so much to author and historian Dr Josepha Josephine Wilkinson, author of The Princes in the Tower, Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress and Anne Boleyn: The Young Queen to Be, for sharing this article with us today. And we haven’t made a typo, it really is Henry XXVIII!

It was not unknown for puppets to be conscripted into the service of one political cause or another. The Russian version of Mr Punch, Petrushka, is a famous, if tragic example. Another is Mr Punch himself who, by the early twentieth century, had become such a well-known figure that he could be used for such purposes to great effect. Mr Punch was brought in to comment on one of the several political upheavals that threatened to rock the country in the early part of the twentieth century: the emerging suffragette movement.

At the time, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s production of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, was playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Beerbohn Tree’s production was enormously popular, accomplishing no less than 254 consecutive performances between September 1910 and April 1911. Naturally, such a success came to the attention of the mountebanks and puppet showmen, and a Punch and Judy show opened for business close to the theatre.

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Abuse and Dishonour in the Life of Katherine Howard – Guest Article by Conor Byrne

Posted By on December 17, 2014

Katherine Howard bookHistorians, particularly popular writers, have customarily identified Katherine Howard’s relationships as consensual. Believing that she was, in fact, older than she actually was, they have suggested that she was the dominant party in her liaisons.

Tracy Borman termed Katherine ‘a sexual predator’, believing that Katherine ‘knew exactly what she was doing’.1 Lacey Baldwin Smith similarly affirmed in his biography of the queen: ‘that Catherine knew exactly what she was doing is undeniable’.2 These accounts have largely ignored the early modern culture of sexual coercion, while failing to factor in their analyses culturally constructed notions of masculinity and the subservient position of women within aristocratic households. This short article seeks to redress this deficiency by examining Katherine’s experiences in the 1530s in line with these cultural and social conditions.

Because Katherine identified her seducers as ‘vicious’ and persuasive, it is helpful to examine early modern constructions of masculinity and attributes that were deemed essential to successful manhood. Early modern men were socialised to be fiercely protective of their honour. Jennifer Feather and Catherine E. Thomas’s research has demonstrated that, because social expectations for men came under extreme pressure during this period, masculine ideals became closely connected with aggression.3 Violence was a way in which manhood was reaffirmed and protected from threat for, as Alexandra Shepard notes, misgivings emerged in this period that, ‘far from being self-contained exemplars, many men constantly worked against the patriarchal goals of order and control’. To protect their honour and safeguard their manhood from the threat of an allegation of effeminacy, men employed violence.

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17 December 1559 – Matthew Parker consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury

17 December 1559 – Matthew Parker consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury

On this day in history, 17th December 1559, Matthew Parker was consecrated as Elizabeth I’s Archbishop of Canterbury. Parker had been offered the post of Elizabeth I’s Archbishop of Canterbury in 1558, a post which he did not believe that he was right for or fit enough for (he’d had a nasty fall from a […]

The Excommunication of Henry VIII

The Excommunication of Henry VIII

On this day in history, 17th December 1538, Pope Paul III announced that Henry VIII had been excommunicated from the Catholic Church. The original bull of excommunication had been issued on 30th August 1535, but the excommunication had been suspended in the hope that Henry would mend his ways. The final straw for the Pope, […]

16 December 1485 – Birth of Queen Catherine of Aragon

16 December 1485 – Birth of Queen Catherine of Aragon

Sometime during the night of 15th/16th December 1485 Queen Isabella I of Castile gave birth to a daughter, Catalina, at Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid. Catalina was the last child of Isabella and her husband Ferdinand II of Aragón and was named after her maternal great-grandmother, Catalina of Castile or Catherine of Lancaster. Of course, […]

Lady Karola and the Christmas Stranger – A Short Story by Robin Maxwell

Lady Karola and the Christmas Stranger – A Short Story by Robin Maxwell

Robin Maxwell, author of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn – which is a wonderful Anne Boleyn novel by the way – has recently published a children’s book called Augie Appleby’s Trouble in Toyland, which is the story of Santa Klaus being kidnapped on December 22nd and his glamorous wife, Karol, hiring junior detective Augie […]

The Third Sunday of Advent – What Anne Boleyn would have read

The Third Sunday of Advent – What Anne Boleyn would have read

If you’ve read my previous two Sunday articles, you’ll know that I have been sharing readings from French Reformer Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples’ book “Epistres et Evangiles pour les cinquante et deux semaines de l’an”, or “Epistles and Gospels for the 52 Weeks of the Year”. Anne Boleyn owned an illuminated manuscript of Lefèvre’s work, a […]

12 December 1546 – To the Tower for the Howards

12 December 1546 – To the Tower for the Howards

On 12th December 1546, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey was led through the streets of London from Ely Place, where he had been held since the 2nd December, to the Tower of London. There, he was joined by his father, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, who was taken to the Tower by barge along […]