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Anne Boleyn’s Fall and Me

Posted By on May 21, 2012

As you know, I was counting down, day by day, to Anne Boleyn’s execution on The Fall of Anne Boleyn timeline. Well, by this time in 1536 Anne was dead and gone and was about to be replaced by a new queen. I do have more articles to add to The Fall site, but I wanted to write here about the impact that researching Anne’s fall has had on me personally and to share my thoughts…

I have read the primary source accounts of Anne Boleyn’s fall many times over the past three years, so many times that I know speeches and letters almost by heart, but my horror at those bloody events and the awful miscarriage of justice never fades, not one jot.

My husband, Tim, will tell you that I hate injustice and have always had a strong sense of ‘fairness’, so perhaps part of my horror is down to that, a need to fight for the underdogs, the victims of injustice, and to clear their names. I am chilled to the bone by the speed of events that April and May, and angered by how completely innocent conversations and examples of the great chivalric tradition, courtly love, were used to bring down a Queen and kill six innocent people. I am convinced of the innocence of Anne Boleyn, George Boleyn, Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton and Mark Smeaton, and agree with the imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, who wrote that the men “were condemned upon presumption and certain indications, without valid proof or confession”. They were not saints, they were not martyrs, but they were victims of a brutal coup.

Yes, there are historians who believe that Anne Boleyn may have been partially guilty and that there’s no smoke without a fire, but we all know that there can be plenty of smoke without a fire, and that its easy to blacken someone’s name and bring them down with rumours and gossip. I have gone over and over the documents from 1536 and cannot find one piece of solid evidence that Anne or the men were guilty of any crime. Anne Boleyn was a victim of her own success and her vulnerable position, as a queen without a son, and the men were simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong friends.

Today, Anne and the men would have been acquitted, but in Tudor times the onus was on the accused to prove their innocence, rather than the Crown proving their guilt. Defendants did not have counsel, they were not aware of what evidence was being presented against them, they could not prepare their defence case and all they could do was react to what was said in court. They were at a serious disadvantage and when you combine all that with a hostile jury and a jury who knew very well what Cromwell and the King expected of them, then you realise that Anne and the men were ‘dead men walking’.

We know that Anne and George defended themselves admirably. As I said in my article about their trials, the chronicler Charles Wriothesley wrote that Anne “made so wise and discreet aunsweres to all thinges layde against her, excusing herselfe with her wordes so clearlie, as thoughe she had never bene faultie to the same” and that George “made answer so prudently and wisely to all articles laid against him, that marvel it was to hear, but never would confess anything, but made himself as clear as though he had never offended”. So eloquent was George in his defence that “several of those present wagered 10 to 1″, but it made no difference to the outcome. He, like Anne, Norris, Smeaton, Brereton and Weston before him, was found guilty and sentenced to death. Contrary to Hilary Mantel’s fictional account of his trial, George did not weep as his sentence was pronounced, he confessed that he deserved death and begged the King to pay his debts out of his estate. This noble and courageous man was worried about those he owed money to, rather than dying.

Then we have Anne Boleyn’s remarkable composure. She was due to die on the 18th and spent the night of the 17th/18th in prayer. She prepared herself by making a final confession to Archbishop Cranmer and then celebrated the Mass, swearing on it twice that she was innocent of the charges laid against her. After making arrangements for alms to be distributed, she waited for Sir William Kingston’s footsteps, for him to collect her and walk her to her death. But her execution was cruelly postponed. I cannot imagine how Anne must have felt. We’ve all psyched ourselves up for something and then had it postponed and had to go through the worry all over again, how much worse must it have been to have one’s death postponed? Yet, Anne was strong and courageous, even joking about her “little neck”. Another day to wait and another night in prayer…

Although I am struck with the injustice, the cruelty, the horror and the immorality of it all,  the courage and dignity of those who died in those ‘bloody days’ is what makes a bigger impression on me. These people are not fictional characters, they were real people who were good and loyal servants to their King. They did not deserve to die as traitors in 1536 and they do not deserve to have their stories twisted to entertain readers today. They deserved to be respected and admired.

I certainly don’t want to have a dig at Hilary Mantel because her book, Bring Up the Bodies, is fiction and it is very well written. It may be based on Anne’s story, or rather Cromwell’s, but she is clear in her author’s notes that it is a fictional re-telling of the story and that we cannot know what exactly happened because evidence is lacking, documents are missing and we have to deal with the bias of those recording the events. Mantel is also writing from Cromwell’s point of view, how he saw things. However, I did worry as I read it that another generation of readers was going to come away from it with very warped views of Anne and the men, plus, of course, Jane Boleyn. None of them are likeable characters in the book. If I hadn’t researched George and Jane Boleyn then I think I would have been quite happy for them to get their come-uppances, and don’t get me started on Anne! “Will readers have any empathy for these people?”, I kept asking myself, “Or will they be baying for their blood?” It will be interesting to see how people react to the book. What do you think?

Other News

Thank you to all those who spread the news of The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown promotion over the weekend. The book got to No. 2 in the Top 100 Kindle Free Titles and over 26,000 people downloaded it. A huge thank you!

I mentioned last week that we had tickets for a private after-hours evening tour of the Tower of London plus Ceremony of the Keys for sale for the 23rd June. Well, due to popular demand, we’re now selling them as single tickets rather than as group tickets – see Exclusive Tower of London Evening Tour and Ceremony of the Keys Tickets for Sale for more information.

Comments on
"Anne Boleyn’s Fall and Me"

50 Responses to “Anne Boleyn’s Fall and Me”

  1. Susan Bordo says:

    Claire, I share your concerns about Mantel’s book. In fact, two weeks ago I published a piece on it in “The Chronicle of Higher Education.” We are having trouble with the link to the published piece, so I re-posted the piece as a note on our Facebook page. Your readers may be interested in it: http://www.facebook.com/notes/the-creation-of-anne-boleyn/when-fictionalized-facts-matter-from-anne-of-the-thousand-days-to-hilary-mantels/430970926921649

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    Claire Reply:

    It is such a tricky subject, Susan, as I would never want historical fiction authors to feel that they cannot be creative or to feel stifled in any way, but I know what an effect historical fiction can have because I get so many emails about The Other Boleyn Girl. Yes, readers should not take everything that they read at face value but when they know that an author has researched a book then they may be inclined to believe it. It’s a conundrum!

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  2. Jeane Westin says:

    “Will readers have any empathy for these people?”, I kept asking myself

    Claire, I have not one doubt that yours will be the counter voice to all who buy the Cromwell propaganda now and in the future. There is no way that readers who want to know won’t be able to hear her voice through you.

    Jeane Westin

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Thank you, Jeane! I think it’s fine to empathise with Cromwell but not when it’s at the expense of Anne and the men. Thanks for your encouragement!

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    Esther Reply:

    Well written article. IMO, the “pro-Cromwell” slant of the Mantel books is far outweighed by the “anti-Cromwell” slant in other works, especially “Man for All Seasons” … this might start some people thinking (but I doubt it). Seriously, since so many people don’t care overmuch about serious history, I think a best-selling novelization of something more realistic would do more for the reputations of Anne and her co-victims than any amount of real research. Look at Richard III … most people’s view of the debate over who killed his nephews is made by works not intended as serious history … Shakespeare’s play, Tey’s “Daughter of Time” and/or Penman’s “Sunne in Splendor”.

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  3. bobbi says:

    Claire,thsnk you for a beautiful piece about these innocent people. I have been held in fascination of tbis story for over 30 years.I also have a very strong zince of right and wrong and this is so wrong.Why there has been nothing done to rectify this verdict and make things right is beyond me.It is never to late to make things right.And why Queen Anne has never been given the respect due her station is beyond me.Thank you again for all your research and for trying to right a wrong.

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Hi Bobbi,
    Tim laughs at me because I would take in every waif and stray if I was allowed and I get really cross about injustice! I feel so strongly about Anne and the men and it annoys me that they’re still being maligned and misunderstood today.

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  4. Clare says:

    I love this article, Claire. It is passionate and well balanced at the same time. Your commitment to the Boleyns and to the men who died with them is a credit to you as an historian, but also as a person with enormous compassion and humanity. x

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    Claire Reply:

    Thank you! You’re lovely!!

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  5. NanBoleyn says:

    Thank you Claire for a very cogent article. You have expressed my feelings. This week I keep waking up and thinking of them all. I have always been in awe of how Anne faced her death. Another example of her tremendous courage is in Garet Russell’s blog (link Below) that Henry: ‘After hearing the councillors’ report, the King looked away and grunted: “She hath a stout heart, but she shall pay for it.”
    I have read extensevely about Anne; but your blog and Garet’s have really fleshed her out for me, she’s almost palpable to my touch, and my sorrow is now deeper.

    http://garethrussellcidevant.blogspot.com/2010/05/may-11th-1536-queen-and-council.html

    [Reply]

    Neil Walker Reply:

    I think Anne would have responded with a red face to any reference to her, pseudonymous or not, as Nan Bullen. What she would have made of NanBoleyn, I really cannot say. Most probably, any mix of modernity and scholarship in quite such measure would quite have overcome her. Poor lass!

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  6. Tiffaney says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve written here Claire. What was done to Anne, George, Henry Norris, Francis Weston, Mark Smeaton, and William Brereton was unbelievably cruel and without merit. When just these hateful words passed over their tongues, this was malicious and totally unwarranted gossip. It takes only one person with enough charm, swagger, and influence to begin the character-rot of another person. In the present times however, this can be accomplished without the personality flaws but with the freedom of the presses.

    ~I recently finished “1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII” by Suzannah Lipscomb and I must say that while I know that the author holds to her belief that “everyone” in this equation was innocent, I most strongly disagree. There is plenty of evidence, before Anne’s quick descent, that correlates with Henry VIII being a hugely charismatic, impulsive, borderline personality. Henry saw everything in black and white. There were no grey areas for this guy. He saw what he wanted & moved the pieces on the board to obtain his desire for a male heir and a wife that he could have a stronger influence over. (<<<Sorry…not REALLY related to this topic but, I had to get that out!)

    ~Perhaps the problem in historically inaccurate "entertainment" is not in the writer but, in the audience. Many (not all) Americans, in particular, thrive on entertainment and often, it would seem, on the demise and dirty closets of other people. While I have not yet read, "Bring Up The Bones", I must admit that a part of me wants to snub this story just as I have snubbed anything of Philippa Gregory's. I do believe that everyone's creations deserve a look but, when it comes to the story of what happened to Anne, George, and the four other men, I absolutely will not allow myself to engage in any story of folly. ~Wolf Hall was a difficult book for me to get through simply because of the way that it was written. After all, how often is it that we find ourselves inside the mental processes of another person <<< especially, Thomas Cromwell?!

    That said, because, I did enjoy the book, I am tempted to open up Bring Up the Bones and at least, have a look. I don't like to sit around and, like a voyeur, wait for what other people have to say. I am tempted to just buy the damned thing and find out for myself, how Mantel's story plays out. If it's unjust and filled with despicable inaccuracies well then…, at least I'll know. At any rate, I do hope that anyone else who reads, "Bring Up the Bones" by Hillary Mantel will share their reviews on perhaps Goodreads (<< great, great place to review and read reviews).

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    WilesWales Reply:

    Claire, I have to give you my heartfelt thanks for all the years of research, investigating, reading original documents, and so much more. This article is very thought provoking – of course, which of yours are not?

    I am also in awe that you found this quote from this leacherous man,

    “Eustace Chapuys, who wrote that the men “were condemned upon presumption and certain indications, without valid proof or confession.”

    and I loved this as well as I have never seen it wrtten so accuratly and succinctly,

    “They were not saints, they were not martyrs, but they were victims of a brutal coup.”

    I was going to comment in reply to and do most agree with Esther, but Tiffaney brought up some very good points even if I am a U.S. Citizen, and part of hafll the world which is American (please no offense, but I do agree with her on “(not all), adn agree with what she said about entertainment as it was the BBC Televsion series in 1971 when I was eight that got me hooked on Queen Anne Boleyn, and then when I was 13 when they showed each wife each week in the same series “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” on 8mm film at the public library by choice.

    Pillipa and “The Tudors” have filled minds who don’t know what we do with everything we’ve already heard and read about her. I did try to read “The Other Boleyn Girl,” and I’m surpriseed I made to about 80 pages, and just put it down, and was red with anger.

    in that I am going to get Lipscomb’s book, and review it. I did receive “Bringing Up the Bodies” today, and I must agree about the writing, and even if it did win the “Man Booker Prize,” falls in with the reviews in “Library Journal,” and “Publisher’s Weekly” (our library system provides them for us to read) that I do agree with Tiffany.

    I, too, willl do what Tiffaney says in her last paragraph, and do the same thing, if I can stand it. find out if there are despicable inaccuracies, then I’ll just know. It no longer makes me red, but I find it sometimes awesome to count how many there are. I also hope that anyone else who read it will place a book review on this site as well! Ahhh, and Ugggh…Phillipa has gone on lying about her credentials and publishing such blatant historical inaccuracies (and reading C.W. Gortner lately, I know how Ms. Gregory did not research her books, but relied on who knows what) at least will get someone interested in Queen Anne Boleyn and find their way to this site! Thank you so very much! WilesWales!

    I will defend Queen Anne Boleyn as long as I am around, and she also gave England Queen Elizabeth I, the greatest absolute monarch that country ever had!

    “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” ~ Psalms 118:23

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    Baroness Von Reis Reply:

    WilesWales,I to agee that the trail was all made up of nothing but presumtion,also in MYERS 1905 he talks about the trial,and in the arcives if you read them of the trail ,no proof,made up ,I gess if you think your close to God because your a King,anything GOES, inclueding your ,Queens and your best friend!! I would rethink if I lived back in the day! I was floored when I was reeding the info on the trail OMG ,I’m still picking my jaw up from off the floor.. Chapuys also called his Queen cocubine,Elizabeth,little bastard.If there was any proof I would like to read about,most likely will never happen,well not in my time,I was on fire,as only the King and his trusted,Cromwell,Chapuys and who any scath he could find.I thouht the Queens were under the Kings portection from arrest and trial,must of had someone one get rid of that to.Queen Anne and all others under the rule of this King had know chance,what a shame. THX Baroness x Were there any laws back in the day???

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    WilesWales Reply:

    Thank you Baroness, and I agree that Chapuys said all those other things and and more, but for this repsonse, I just was amazed he said even one good thing about Queen Anne!

    I started reading “Bringing Up the Bodies last night, and read enough of it to not makek me so red, but making me feel, like her first novel as if I were reading “Moby Dick” again. I got far enough, and yes, it is better than her first one, but cannot fathom why she won the “Man Booker Prize!” So I went and found otu about it, and now understand who’s on the board of the foundation, how the judges are selected, et cetra. The link I read was their official site at:

    http://www.themanbookerprize.com/prize/about/faqs

    I ended up returning the book today, by the homebound service, “Books by Mail,” so she’s now out of my life.

    I do still agree with Claire and her very thougthful article, and that’s what this was the subject of the article and comment were about. Thank you for you compliment, once again. Thank you! WilesWales!

    I will defend Queen Anne Boleyn as long as I am around! She was definitely innocent of all charges. She gave England a gift in Queen Elizabeth I, the greatest absolute monarch that country even had!

    “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” ~ Psalms 118:23

    Lynn Donovan Reply:

    Hi Baroness,

    As an American i take offense to the remark that we look just for entertainment etc. I am an American whose passion is Tudor History. The Tudors series was entertaining but very inaccurate historically. I try to be fair where Anne Boleyn is concerned. While I feel she was innocent of the charges she was executed for, She was guilty of being a ruthless politician in a very dangerous court. SHe was a powerful consort in a man’s world and her BIG mistake was threatening Cromwell. She also had analienated some of her most powerful allies at court. This left her vunerable to the whim of the King and cost her. Politics plain and simple.

    [Reply]

  7. Sonia says:

    Hello Claire,
    Thankyou for your passion!

    I keep thinking about how wonderful it would be if some of the injustices of nearly 500 years ago were partially undone-and Queen Elizabeth II or Charles or William could rebury Anne in Westminster Abbey as a Queen of England-and not as a traitor to the crown as she was buried-In my humble opinion- it would be a fitting way to honour a former Queen of England-
    I keep thinking about her mortal remains in that arrow chest-and it upsets me beyond what words can describe. Mary Queen of cots has a beautiful tomb right near Elizabeth as you know-It would be fitting to reinter Anne with her daughter Elizabeth…..

    [Reply]

    Sonia Reply:

    *Mary Queen of Scots(apologies for the typo)

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  8. Neil Walker says:

    It will not have escaped your notice, Claire, that Henry dished out injustice in cartloads also to Catherine of Aragon; who can say whether, if Jane Seymour had lived, she would also have been on the receiving end, at some point, of Henry’s ‘justice’. Certainly Catherine Parr was heading that way when Henry died. Catherine Howard was nothing more than a pretty little girl, so was it ‘justice’ to have her beheaded mostly on account of former ‘sins’, albeit her affair with Thomas Culpepper was not a ‘former’ sin. Hilary Mantel believes that there is no such thing as objective history, so there is little point in worrying about anything she writes from the point of view of whether it is factual or not. She also loves to champion a rogue, hence her composition of ‘Wolf Hall’ as a story told from Cromwell’s point of view. I haven’t read ‘Bering Up the Bodies’ yet, but if she is in the business of defending the indefensible in that volume, I shan’t be surprised. She does not seek to be admired as a historian.

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Hi Neil,
    I didn’t mind the sympathetic view of Cromwell, it was more the fact that it was at the expense of everyone else. At the end of the day, it’s fiction and Mantel doesn’t claim otherwise, but I just worry about what some readers will think.

    [Reply]

  9. Kim Kloes says:

    Hi Claire:
    As always, thank you for your articles.

    I thought that Anne was offered her life if she allowed the marriage to be annulled and I thought that is what happened when she was in the Tower. The part that’s missing for me is what happened to make the powers that be execute her anyway?

    Kind regards.

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Hi Kim,
    We don’t know what Cranmer said when he visited her at the Tower, it is not recorded as it was a private conversation. All we know is that Anne mentioned to Kingston at dinner that night that she was in hope of her life and that she thought she might go to a nunnery. We can put 2 and 2 together and assume that Cranmer led her to believe that of she agreed to the annulment then the King would be merciful and let her live, but it is just an assumption and no more. I think that Henry wanted rid of Anne for good. Catherine had been a thorn in his side, he had never been free of her until her death, and I don’t think he wanted the same with Anne. Anne was a strong character and there was no guarantee that she’d remain in the background and accept her lot in life if he sent her to a convent.

    [Reply]

    michelle Reply:

    It is only supposition on my part but, I wonder had Anne been allowed to live, would Elizabeth been allowed the throne. As malicious as Henry was, I doubt it.

    Queen Ane and Queen Elizabeth have been my heroines all my life. I confess I am a redhead ith a difficult past. Their courage and strength always inspired me. Even as a small child, I never believed the stories about Anne.

    Anne of a Thousand Days was my favorite. I never see it mentioned.

    Where could I find copies of original documents in america? I love research. I wonder good or bad, what might be in the Spanish and Portuguese records.

    [Reply]

  10. Janet says:

    Wonderful article Claire! Personally, I find Cromwell a fascinating character. I just wish Mantel hadn’t felt the need to make Anne et al look guilty. Of course, I’m strictly going on what others have said. I have yet to read “Bring Up The Bodies”, but I know that I’ll continually be reminding myself that it’s fiction and trying not to get angry. ;)

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Yes, Cromwell is a fascinating character, I love John Schofield’s biography of him. What I found difficult with Bring Up the Bodies was the characterization. I just couldn’t empathise with any of the characters.

    [Reply]

  11. I bought Wolf Hall a few years ago, & I really DID try to read it. Hilary Mantel is a
    different style of author…I could not even get through a third of that book. I found
    it to be extremely confusing and dragging. I will not, therefore, be reading Bring
    Up The Bodies. I have a dozen books of the Tudor period, & of Anne Boleyn, by
    several different authors, but no more of Ms. Mantel.

    [Reply]

    Neil Walker Reply:

    Hi Patricia! You’re not alone. I struggled through until the end, but although I for the most part admired Mantel’s writing, I found it exceedingly difficult to follow. Friends have found the same, all but one having given up on the book before the end. Most of my friends are not dim-wits; I like to think I am not, either! I have just read an article by Mantel in The Guardian of 12.05.12. She really does court obscurity! Having told us at the begiinning that we simply do not know even the most general of facts about Anne, she then goes on to tell us simply masses of ‘facts’ about her. At the end, she reiterates that we can know very little of Anne. At least the article is not in the continuous present tense, however!

    [Reply]

    Adrienne Reply:

    Oh it took me so long to get into Wolf Hall. It was very hard to follow especially because of lack o puncuation, she doesn’t even use quotation marks and often times has to say he, Cromwell, so that we know who is talking. I did finally get into it more towards the end. I was sucked into Bring Up The Bodies right off the bat because I was looking for inaccuracies. But it was still hard to follow. Especially the part about Rafe and Gregory throwing Weston out the window or pretending to. I had to reread it a couple of times and I am a book nerd so it wasn’t because I was dumb, haha.

    [Reply]

  12. Anne Burns says:

    Hi Claire

    Thanks for another excellent article. It is your passionate belief in the innocence of Anne, George and the others excecuted with them, that keeps me returning again and again to this remarkable site. I have spent much of my life reading about Anne’s life and death, since I fould out that I was born on the anniversary of her death. For my birthday this year, my husband gave me a copy of her ‘B’ necklace. I found it a very emotional moment, especially when my daughter announced that I had to wear it to her wedding! I have bought jewellry to go with an outfit before, but never the other way round! It does lead me to the question of whether anyone knows what happened to her necklace after she died? I have found no record of it being given to Elizabeth, or Anne’s mother, which is what I think should have happened to it. Neither have I read where it came from in the first place. Did she inherit it, was it given to her by her family as a gift, or did it come from Henry?

    I have often wondered whether if Anne had been more ‘accommodating’ of Henry’s affairs like Catherine of Aragon, and less keen to promote the new religion that allowed Henry to put Catherine aside, she would have lived longer and maybe even, given time, have produced the heir Henry so desperately wanted. As it was, it is clear from the nature of the charges brought against her however, that there could be no conviction other than the death penalty for her. Any chance of a reprieve was dashed after the trial of Weston et al, as how could she be innocent if they were guilty. I believe that Cromwell made absolutely sure that she was given the death penalty by having so many men accused of having ‘carnal knowledge’ of her. I think I am right in saying that incest alone would have sent her and George to the scaffold, so why bring in so many others, unless someone (like Cromwell) wanted to make sure Henry never fully trusted a member of his privy council or chamber again. I do not believe she was offered her life for an annulment, she would have known that would have made Elizabeth illegitimate, and I don’t think she would have done that, any more than Catherine did.

    Thank you again for such a thought – provoking site, and many congratulations of the success of ‘The Fall of Anne Boleyn’.

    [Reply]

  13. Deborah says:

    Claire,
    I totally agree with you on everything, but the paragraph you wrote about these people being real people and not fictional characters really got me thinking. I, of course, am aware of this when I’m reading about them, but I think we have the inclination to think of them as actors in a “play” when we’re reading. If we stop to think that these people were flesh and blood, loved and were loved, had family and friends, we are all the more horrified by their fates. Imagine the anxiety, the depression, the fear and the despair as they sat in the Tower and awaited their destinies. They knew that they would never receive justice, they were at the mercy of the times. If we think of them as being someone we know, having this miscarriage of justice done to them, we can begin to feel some of the pain that all who knew and loved them felt. Not to mention they themselves. I can’t imagine being as brave as they were facing such unimaginable deaths. It’s wonderful that they had such a strong belief in God, I think that is what gave them the courage to face eternity with such strength.

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  14. Linda S Moore says:

    The first time I heard anything about the Boleyn sisters was a movie my husband and I watched called, “The Boleyn Sisters”. I loved watching it and then started looking for anything I could find about Anne Boleyn. When I ran across your web site I was so excited. I got a free copy of your book, “The Fall Of Anne Boleyn” and just started reading it last night. It is absolutely wonderful and first I want to thank you for the copy for my ereader. I thought, even though the movie was just that, a movie and in its way portrayed Anne as a selfish person who would do what ever it took to get what she wanted. I know that was just a movie and even there I didn’t think she deserved what happened to her. She was spirited and that is a good thing. It also made it appear as if her own dad and I believe it was her Uncle that more or less promised her to the King whether that was what she wanted or not. I just wonder if any of that was true, or was it just to make the movie more interesting? From other things I have read here I don’t believe that she or any of the others deserved what happened to them and it is a shame that she is not buried by her daughter. It also came across as if Henry was a bit on the crazier side and easily influenced by the girl that went and told him that Anne and her brother were having a relationship. Did her sister also have a child by Henry or was that just a movie thing also? Thank you for such a wonderful and very interesting site to read and find out the truth about Anne and other people from that era. Knowing this is a true historical site makes it even better to read; and knowing that you have to put so much time and research into it has made it a very enjoyable place to read and find out exactly what happened to them all. I love reading and nothing has held my interest about King Henry VIII like this has. It does break my heart that Anne and her brother both were killed in such a horrible way and from lies along with the other men that died with them. I hope this does not sound stupid as I did refer it to a movie, but that was what first got me interested in the story of Anne Boleyn and her family.

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  15. Bridgett says:

    i think that it will put curiousity in their hearts and they will seek truth. with your website here, they will find great truth, and come to better conclusions.

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  16. Jane says:

    What a great article, Claire, it so encapsulates how I feel about the tragic end of Anne, George and their friends, the breathtaking injustice of it all.

    Now you might recall me having a real go at Hilary Mantel’s book and a couple of posters have touched on why exactly it made me so cross. For the same reason that Philippa Gregory and the film of The Other Boleyn Girl (hinting that Anne and George might well have been guilty of incest, having Anne blubbering on the scaffold) make me mad. The problem is that Ms Mantel and co can argue all they like that they are writing fiction, but the trouble is that many people believe them rather than the historical facts. (I also took issue with Mantel specifically dismissing the historical evidence as inaccurate rather than saying it was at variance with her story.) We saw the same thing with that Da Vinci Code nonsense, people believe all that conspiracy theory despite it being debunked. We who post on here are obviously much better informed.

    Oddly enough, though The Tudors series was “soaped up and sexed up”, it used more actual historical quotes and sources than almost any fictional representation I have seen, although it also took some liberties. Of course, Natalie Dormer was wonderful as Anne!

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    Adrienne Reply:

    My question is how does she even know that the historical evidence is inaccurate? I’m not entirely sure why she is so dimissive of it. Not to mention the fact that historians have been relying on those accounts for centuries.

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  17. Elyssa says:

    I wanted to personally thank you Claire for your dedicated and unbiased articles defending these innocent victims of this tragic coup. I have admired Elizabeth since I was a little girl and thru here I “met” her parents, I have always been horrified and still am whenever I read about the events leading up to the executions of all six of these innocent people. Its so aggravating thinking about how Henry and Cromwell put these people to death just to satisfy some political agenda haha I get so mad!!:) Thanks to you for keeping their memory alive and educating us all who are curious to know them a little better.

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  18. Lisa Davis says:

    Your article has really intrigued me Claire and I find myself thinking about what you said about building up a character at the expense of others. And then, of course, the fact that they were not character but real people. I can understand wanting a sense of fairness for those who died without any compelling evidence against them. While I am not a big fan of poetry, the “bloody days” one by Wyatt just breaks my heart. That poem just seems to sum up the injustice and the loss of the men involved in Anne’s fall better than most things that I have read. In telling a historical event, I am not comfortable with building up someone to make another person look bad either.

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  19. TinaII2None says:

    Claire — thank you again for taking us through those events of April and May 1536, and while I’ve been a member of your forum for roughly a couple of years, this commemoration just seemed to be even more touching and yes, very educational. As someone who has been in love with history since I was about 7-years-old, especially the Tudors, you often wonder if we’ll run out of things to talk about when it comes to them, but like technology, just when you believe you’ve seen it all, something even more incredible comes along. The Tudors are like that too. I will think I’ve heard it all, and then historians like you will discover something others have missed, or build a timeline for us to follow closely, and we have a new revelation.

    I hate using the word “fan” so I’ll go with interested. I became interested in not only Anne’s story, but Katherine of Aragon’s thanks to the PBS airing ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ back when I was a kid in the 70’s. To this day, I still remember my grandmother asking me why I was crying over a TV show, and me telling her (in a way only a kid of 12 or 13 could) that because some nasty king wanted rid of his second wife so he could remarry, he was having her and others charged with all kinds of horrible things so he could execute them. I’ll never forget the speech they gave Dorothy Tutin’s Anne, declaring her innocence to those condemning her and telling them that God in Heaven knew she told the truth. I cried so hard I was almost sick, and I only hoped somehow she’d get justice on the ones who had plotted against her (like that Cromwell guy. BOOOOOOOOO). Anne may have angered that 12 or 13-year-old me for “stealing” Henry away from Katherine, but now all I saw was a hideous miscarriage of justice. But even then, I knew who Anne’s daughter was…And it got me started on my love of all things Tudor — be it fiction, or movies, or miniseries, or well-written biographies.

    So now it’s all these years later, and I still can’t get enough. Claire, because of you, I’ve seen all six wives even more fairly and clearly. I guess I always did with Katherine and Anne and even Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr (KP is my favorite wife after KoA and AB), but it really takes an amazing writer/historian/researcher to make me see Jane Seymour and poor little Katherine Howard in a different light. And good GRIEF — I’m even having a change or heart about *gasp* Jane Boleyn *triple gasp*, a woman I’ve hated since ‘Six Wives…’ Now I’m not saying I’m a “fan” but you have made me look at all sides and seek true answers, which is key to someone who wants true history as best we can get it.

    I’ve gone on long enough, but one final thing. I had thought about reading Wolf Hall; even had a Kindle sample downloaded. I barely finished it. The other week I downloaded the Kindle sample for Bring Up the Bodies — finished it but felt nothing. I won’t be ordering the full versions of either. I have heard so much praise for both, but while I find Cromwell an amazing self-made man, reading two novels from his POV would take more patience than this crime scene technician is willing to give him. Perhaps I’m being unfair to him, and hey, come on, I’m even trying to give Jane Boleyn a chance, but there is something about Cromwell…I’m sorry, I can’t do it. I think of him historically; I think of his portrayal in ‘Six Wives'; I think of him in ‘Anne of a Thousand Days'; I know that if it hadn’t been Cromwell, Henry would have found someone else to do his dirt. But Cromwell was thick in the middle of the Anne coup, like some little Wormtongue eager to please his master Saruman and spending my time reading a trilogy about him, well, as one of my coworkers would say “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no…uh….no.”

    Claire — you’re a breath of fresh air in a world filled with Philippa Gregory wannabes. Thanks for everything.

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  20. Baroness Von Reis says:

    Claire excellent read,but you know how I feel about Cromwell,snake oil salesmen ,klimbing the Kings latter,well what comes around goes around,he surely got his just deserts,Hope Anne was watching. THX Baroness x

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  21. Ramona Sprague says:

    I have waited for a long time for some one to defend Anne Boleyn, using research and you have done a great job. Henry was not going to wait 6 more years to have a son. She had to be killed and her family disgraced because the Howard had power. He wanted a clean slate. No ex wife hanging around. I

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  22. Ramona Sprague says:

    I have waited for a long time for some one to defend Anne Boleyn, using research and you have done a great job. Henry was not going to wait 6 more years to have a son. She had to be killed and her family disgraced because the Howard had power. He wanted a clean slate. No ex wife hanging around.

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    Baroness Von Reis Reply:

    Ramona, If you want to learn all about Queen Anne Boleyn,then you have come to the right site,there was only one wife that wasn’t a X wife Jane Seymour as Jane died shortly after gigng birth to Edward1 and he didn’t last to long either,if you want to learn about Henry and his 6 wives,buy Clairs book it will tell you want you need to know,its a very good book and you can buy them new or used on Amazon. Kind Regards Baroness

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  23. Solace says:

    Hi,

    There is no doubt in my mind that Anne was framed by Cromwell and others; Henry knew what was up and went along with despite Alison Weir’s reluctance to implicate Henry in any way. The fact that He put Anne Seymour and family in apartments adjacent to his two months before Anne’s death and also called for the Executioner for Anne from Calais NINE DAYS before her trial leaves not much to my imagination.

    Anne Boleyn has become an obsession – but such an interesting one. Having said that, Anne per Ivers was no Angel and she had no problem not intervening on a priest’s death who she could have saved from being hung and quartered. She replied “we have too many anyway”. So she is not the nicest either. But wow, is she brave – making jokes about her neck prior to her death.

    P.S. I love Eric Ivers books – there is no doubletaking when you read, as with Weir’s, because there is so much, so much contradiction in her writing.

    I guess that is what makes for interesting discussion – different opinions – but different opinions are one thing and contradiction is another. I find it very difficult to finish Weir’s book on Boleyn because of that. But I still buy her books.

    Looking forward to reading yours. Thanks for this site. It is wonderful!!!!

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    Baroness Von Reis Reply:

    Solace, I to agree Anne had a temper and she was at times not the nicest person,back in the day the. Royals made there point,and that was on one of them, I’m sure the King also had a lot to do with this chain if evence ,I rather think Henry enjoyed the killing of anyone he felt crossed him.Yes Cromwell did start the frame work for Henry to frame Queen Anne,I canot stand that man ,nor Chapuys.I m’ to glad that Cromwell lost his head, no one deseved more.But Solace,take a gander at Queen Mary1 that women was heartless she had know problem burnnig one at the stake,not to mention I think she was one of the meanest and one of the worst Queens ever to rule.She left England in ruine and Elizabeth had to clean up her mess! Just my thouhts. Kind Regards Baroness x

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    Claire Reply:

    I do feel sorry for Cromwell. A botched execution, not a nice end and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. In my opinion, and it is only my opinion, he was the King’s servant and it is Henry who has to take the responsibility for Anne’s fall.

    All the Tudors are cruel to our 21st century eyes – More encouraged the executions of heretics, Henry VIII executed many, including the elderly Margaret Pole, Mary I had heretics burned and executed Lady Jane Grey, and Elizabeth I executed Catholics and, of course, Mary Queen of Scots. They were cruel times but also times when monarchs had to show their power and authority and punish those they viewed as traitors and rebels. I’m so glad I live now and not then!

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    margaret Reply:

    yes indeed ,a terrible time to live in and they all were responsible for death ,executions ect ;i dont think any of them really liked each other .they were all intent on getting the crown on their head regardless of who had to be done away with to get it ;but saying that it was the times they lived in

  24. Emma H says:

    I’m surprised that so many people found the way this book was written difficult to follow. I thought it was very straight forward in style. I don’t think there is any danger of anyone taking this book as the gospel truth. Hilary Mantel, as Claire said, makes it clear that this is a fiction, her own interpretation of events rather than a straight history. She is promoting her book but she is not trying to pass herself off as an expert in Tudor history. Also I doubt there will be a great deal of crossover with readers of Phillipa Gregory and the ‘bodice ripper’ style of historical fiction. Whilst reading both this book and the first I always kept in mind that the events were being filtered through Cromwell’s perception of them. Just because he believes something or forms on opinion on someone’s personality or motives it does not mean the reader has to agree with him.

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  25. Adrienne says:

    You already know what I think. And of course someone else’s opinion as well ;) Keep on doing what you do! You’re amazing!

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Thank you, Adrienne! You know what that means to me x

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  26. Conor Byrne says:

    Excellent article Claire. I’d also say that the executions of Katherine Howard and those involved with her were as tragic. She was a very young queen manipulated by those around her.

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Yes, I agree, Conor, and I do feel for Katherine.

    [Reply]

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