The Boleyns and the Seymours by Clare Cherry

Posted By on May 24, 2012

Jane Seymour and Anne BoleynToday we have a guest post from Clare Cherry looking at the two families affected by the events of April and May 1536 and how they are viewed by people today. Thanks, Clare!

The Boleyns and the Seymours

The Boleyns came from humble beginnings. They were social climbers and upstarts who used their daughters to gain power and wealth. Anne went on to become queen after her single-minded pursuit of the throne, following which her father and brother gained prominence at court due to her position as queen. They were a family who would stop at nothing to realise their ambitions, including murder.

The Seymours’ daughter, Jane, married Henry VIII in 1536…
Hang on a minute, where’s the abuse? Where are the insults?

The Boleyns have been demonised by writers of fiction and non-fiction for centuries. Contrast that with the Seymour family, who have received nothing like the bad press that the Boleyns have. So why are the Boleyns demonised to a far greater degree than the Seymours?

Thomas Boleyn and John Seymour

Both families were ambitious, although perhaps no more so than the majority of courtiers who surrounded Henry. Is the Seymour family lineage questioned? Were they commoners, social climbers and upstarts? The Boleyn and Howard lineages are far more impressive than that of the Seymours, with both Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn coming from aristocratic backgrounds. Yet it is the Boleyns who are accused of being social upstarts while very little is mentioned of the Seymours’ background.

Both Thomas and John had highly successful careers long before the King married their daughters. Yet in Thomas’ case that is very often overlooked. Thomas is accused of pimping his daughters to the King for advancement of himself and his family, and although there is no evidence of that, he has been vilified for it throughout history. Has John Seymour suffered the same vilification? Admittedly John cannot be accused of profiting from his daughter’s marriage. He died in 1536 and it’s hard to gain preferment when you’re dead!

Perhaps Thomas’ court career and popularity with Henry pre Mary and Anne is deliberately overlooked. After all, it doesn’t fit in with the carefully constructed story does it?

Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour

Anne is accused of pursuing Henry with a single-minded determination to be queen. She withheld sexual relations with Henry until she got what she wanted. Alternatively she was used by her family by being pushed into Henry’s arms in order to obtain favours for the Boleyns and the Howards, albeit doing so willingly.
Jane, on the other hand, is seen as merely a woman who allowed herself to be used by others, specifically her brothers and the anti-Boleyn faction.

Anne withheld sexual favours from Henry in order to lure him into marrying her, which seems a rather risky strategy to me if marriage was her aim bearing in mind Henry was not known for his patience!
Jane withheld sexual relations with Henry due to either her virtue or/and because she was advised to do so on the ground it had worked in the past. Jane’s character may have allowed her to be used by others, but what about Anne’s? Anne fled to Hever when Henry started to show an interest in her. Did Jane flee to Wolf Hall? A number of facts are conveniently overlooked because they don’t fit in with people’s pre-conceived perceptions.

Jane did not make waves during her short reign, whereas Anne’s position as queen only came about due to the break with Rome, which caused huge upheaval throughout the land. And of course Jane died in childbirth giving birth to the long awaited Prince, and without giving Henry enough time to get bored of her, whereas Anne died as a convicted, though innocent, traitor. There is also the fact that Anne replaced the popular Catherine whereas Jane replaced the unpopular Anne. Do you think any of that may have something to do with the different perceptions of the two women!?

I am not trying to knock Jane or criticise her in any way. I’m only making the point that the general bias against the Boleyn family creates double standards.

George Boleyn, Edward and Thomas Seymour

George Boleyn has taken a dreadful battering in the last thirty years or so, mainly in fiction. Edward and Thomas Seymour have fared far better, yet it is them, and not George, who pushed their sister towards the King. This, at least, is an allegation rarely levelled at George.

George’s court career, much like his father’s, is often overlooked as is the fact he was a popular courtier before Mary and Anne even arrived at the English court. The Seymour brothers, particularly Edward, reached dizzying heights at court following their sister’s marriage to Henry, but they are not criticised for this. It is of course true that Edward was a highly capable man, and certainly both brothers had longer careers than the unfortunate George Boleyn. Of course they did because they lived a damn sight longer.

It is difficult to understand why George Boleyn has been so vilified, when it is recognised that he was innocent of the charges levelled against him. Again, I am not trying to knock or criticise the Seymour brothers, particularly Edward. He was an ambitious and capable man, just like George Boleyn. Edward was lucky enough to have lived long enough to make more of a political impact than George, but I cannot accept that as justification for the demonising of one over the other.

Perhaps, once again, presenting an accurate portrayal of George Boleyn does not fit in with the picture of the Boleyns that so many authors and film makers try so hard to project.

Overview

  1. Thomas Boleyn and John Seymour were both successful courtiers prior to their daughters catching the King’s eye, Thomas even more so.
  2. Thomas cannot be proved to have manipulated his daughters towards the King, whereas both Edward and Thomas Seymour were prepared to use their sister.
  3. Anne did not actively encourage Henry’s advances, and in fact she fled to Hever to avoid them.
  4. The Boleyns and the Seymours were similar creatures. They were ambitious courtiers whose daughter/sister happened to catch the King’s eye and ended up marrying him. Neither family should be applauded for it or vilified for it.

And yet the Boleyns continue to be demonised. Why? It was perhaps understandable in the sixteenth century due to religious upheaval and the Boleyns’ fall. As we all know, history is written by the victors. But why does the vilification continue? Is part of it because the Boleyns continue to fascinate us, whether we love or hate them. Put simply, for good or bad, they stand out.

In many ways the two families were similar, but in many other ways there was a world of difference between the Boleyns and the Seymours. Are we fascinated by the Seymours? Compared with the Boleyns most of us would say no. Both families were competent courtiers who had highly successful careers, and like Anne and George, both of the Seymour brothers ended their lives on the scaffold. Yet they pale into insignificance compared to the continuing appeal of the Boleyn siblings.

The Seymours received no fame for their poetry and music, and neither are they referred to in the same sentence as the Renaissance. Likewise they are not remembered for their complex, and often contradictory personalities. George and Anne’s relationship continues to fascinate us all these years after their deaths, not because we think they were guilty of incest, but because we love that they were close and had a loving sibling relationship. Anne was complex, outspoken and uniquely Anne, with her imperfections which add to her allure rather than detract from it. In a man’s world she was a force to be reckoned with. The coup against the Boleyn family, and Anne and George’s response to their destruction is, and will always be, remembered. The Boleyn family, love or hate them, had a magnetism and charisma that has survived the centuries. The Seymours are unable to compete with that on any level, which is why they fail to fascinate us in the same way as the Boleyns do. They may not be demonised in the same way that the Boleyns are, but likewise they will never be able to captivate us in the same way either. Perhaps, after all, the Boleyns would consider that to be a fair exchange?

Comments on
"The Boleyns and the Seymours by Clare Cherry"

55 Responses to “The Boleyns and the Seymours by Clare Cherry”

  1. Jeanette says:

    I agree with you when you say that the Seymours will never captivate us as the Boleyns did. Even though history paints them to be saints, the Boleyns just had that flair that attractches us all; but we all know that the great, their victories lay hand in hand with their doom.

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Like Clare, I find the different perceptions of Jane and Anne, the Seymours and the Boleyns, very interesting and also unfair, but the Boleyns are far more interesting!

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  2. MMawn says:

    Ifind your sight about two weeks ago and I have fallen in love!
    Thank you for all the great posts. Everything at home is falling behind as I get lost on the world of Tudor England!

    Have you ever put out a list of your faborite books for those of us that are just begging our journey into this topic?

    MMawn

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Hi MMawn,
    I’m so glad you found the site. I know what you mean about everything else falling behind as that is how I am when I find a new historical document, I just immerse myself!

    You can find lists of books on Anne Boleyn at http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/resources/books/anne-boleyn-books/. The best biography of Anne is the one by Eric Ives as it covers absolutely everything about her.

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  3. Brian says:

    The article by Clair Cherry is facinating. Thank you for that!

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Clare does write some wonderful articles, she always makes me stop and think about things.

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  4. NanBoleyn says:

    Great Article! At first I was going to fire up an angry response to the opening statement
    ‘The Boleyns came from humble beginnings. They were social climbers and …”
    Good thing that I read the whole post! Such a daring and provoking statement, I’m still settling down… But now this view has got me thinking: Are we being fair to the Seymours? I have not studied them and I continue to accept the view that they did push Jane into Henry’s path and the crown. Is this completely true? or are we demonising them, sort of a payback for the death of Anne?
    Thank you Clare Cherry, you are such a scholar, I love your posts!

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    Claire Reply:

    Clare does like to be provocative!

    I think there is a danger of demonising Jane Seymour. I know many Anne ‘fans’ who hate Jane and I actually had to removed some comments from The AB Files Facebook page the other day because they were very offensive, they were telling Jane S to “F*** off” and they felt that she deserved to die after giving birth. Not nice! I hate the whole Team Anne versus Team Jane, or even Team Catherine versus Team Anne, mentality, it’s just not right. Clare is right though about the general perception of the Boleyns and Seymours, the Boleyns are definitely more maligned, although I do see Thomas Seymour being accused of a paedophile and child molester quite often online. How can we judge these people when we don’t know all of the details and we cannot understand the time they lived in? Bizarre.

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    Emma H Reply:

    ‘How can we judge these people when we don’t know all of the details and we cannot understand the time they lived in ?’
    Claire I think you have totally summed it up perfectly. I totally agree with your removing comments saying that Jane deserved death. However the same comments about Thomas Cromwell are often posted on this site and are not removed. So if we like someone it’s offensive to take pleasure in their death but if we don’t then that’s okay ? I appreciate that the majority of the posters on this site including yourself believe that Anne’s death was a direct result of a plot of Cromwell’s. However during discussions about this the reason given is that Anne & her faction were planning to destroy/execute Cromwell so he struck first to save himself. If so it seems strange that Jane & her brothers who were never in danger but were involved in ousting Anne are the ones who are protected.

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    Claire Reply:

    Hi Emma,
    I don’t remove comments about people deserving death, I answer them pointing out that they are not appropriate or someone else often beats me to it. I deleted the Jane comments because they contained the F word and I refuse to have swearing on this site or my FB page. I don’t like ‘policing’ comments as it makes the site very ‘closed’, I prefer to issue a warning or contact the person concerned.
    I don’t believe that Anne died because of Cromwell, I believe her death was down to Henry and Cromwell was simply the King’s servant who did the King’s bidding.
    It’s the same when I have people on here or my FB page saying that Anne was whore who deserved all she got. I can’t stop people having that opinion or sharing it but I can certainly argue against it.

    Emma Reply:

    Sorry about that Claire, I thought you meant it was removed for both saying Jane deserved death and the swearing. I couldn’t recall reading anyone say this before on any of the other threads but as there are so many I could have missed them.

    Claire Reply:

    No need to worry, Emma, I just wanted to make my policy clear, I quite often get comments about Anne Boleyn being a whore who deserved death etc. and I allow them because they are people’s points of view, however wrong they are.

    epiphany Reply:

    While I can’t say I’m angry about it, the opening paragraph is simply inaccurate. Anne and Mary Boleyn’s mother was a Howard, and the sister of the (then) Duke of Norfolk – hardly humble beginnings! The Boleyn sisters were of much nobler stock than the Seymours, although both families were almost pathological in their ambition.

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    Clare Reply:

    Yes, the opening sentence/paragraph is incorrect. That was the whole point of the article.

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  5. lynn says:

    I too am new to the site after downloading your book (on the advice of my sister who is also a tudor nut!) I love this post and i am gaining a whole new perception of Anne and her family. The next time i visit the tower of london (a favorite place) i will do so with clearer vision. Thank you. X

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Hi Lynn,
    I’m so glad that you downloaded my book and I hope you enjoyed it. Welcome to The Anne Boleyn Files, enjoy browsing! By the way, I’ve done a video on Anne Boleyn and the Tower of London, see http://youtu.be/sJy107seDYA. I love visiting the Tower.

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    lilangel Reply:

    I so love the Tower too, been there twice now. I love all the armour, the Ravens, the White Tower and so forth. Hope to check out more cool things the next time I come to town.

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  6. Nancy says:

    Another reason why Edward and Thomas Seymour became so much more powerful than George Boleyn was because, after Henry VIII died, they were uncles to the King, Edward VI. Even if George Boleyn has survived the coup of 1536 and had been alive at the time of Henry VIII’s death, Elizabeth was “only a girl”, not the monarch, and whoever had custody of her wouldn’t have been as powerful. Of course, Henry did not intend for Edward Seymour to become Lord Protector – he wanted a council of equal peers to to look over Edward’s minority, not a single courtier having the most power, even if it was Edward’s uncle.

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  7. Solace says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS SITE. GETTING YOUR BOOKS IN THEMAIL SOON. I THINK THIS SITE IS GOING TO GIVE US ALL TIDBITS OF INFORMATION THAT SOME OF US DID NOT KNOW AND THAT IS JUST FASCINATING.

    SO THANK YOU ALL. SOLACE

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Thank you, Solace, I love running the site and researching and writing about Anne.

    [Reply]

  8. Julie Conlan says:

    Thanks for a great article, I to am new to this website finding it by chance. I have been facinated by Tudor history for as far back as I can remember especially Queen Anne Boleyn, so its great to find a website like this. Well Anne had her faults just like the rest of us, but would she have been so eager to jump into Catherines shoes knowing her predicessor was going to be executed? I don’t think so. But Jane and her brothers were more than willing. To prepare for your wedding when your husband to be is preparing to kill his wife so the wedding can take place is beond me. Well they say you have to watch the quiet ones!

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  9. Clare says:

    Hello everyone,
    Can I just clarify that I wrote this article to show how similar the Boleyns and the Seymours were, and to say that the Boleyns do not deserve to be vilified as they were no better or worse than the Seymours (although for me the Boleyns were more interesting and charismatic, but that’s a different matter). It was never my intention to criticise the Seymours. It was only my intention to emphazise the double standards many authors exhibit when writing about the two families.

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    Deborah Braden Reply:

    Clare, I thought you did an excellent job in comparing the two families. The similarities were amazing. Yet as you pointed out, the way these families were perceived so differently was astonishing. There were so many variables that played into this. I’m thankful to have found a venue where ideas and impressions can be shared. It gives one a lot to ponder. Thank you for sharing your article.

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  10. henry says:

    Had to get on here to give my two cents, if it really means anything. The Boleyns are more interesting because they were executed. There is a fascination with people who are executed. Were they innocent or guilty? These charges are pretty horrendous and if they were innocent why would they monarch let them be murdered? Would we even have remembered if they existed or not if they hadn’t been executed? The Seymours well what can you say about them? They lived out their lives, perhaps were involved is some minor courtly intrigues largely forgotten, and died.

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    But both Seymour brothers were executed too and Thomas Seymour was said to have acted inappropriately with the young Elizabeth I, so they were exciting too.

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  11. Elizabeth says:

    Although I am a staunch fan of Anne’s, I admit to liking all the wives for various reasons. Jane has always fascinated me for the very question Julie raised in her post regarding Jane being willing to marry Henry even though he was busy of disposing of Anne in the most bloodthirsty, cruel and dishonest way – I cannot help but wonder what was going through her mind? Was she that much under her brother’s control? Was she that much in love with the King? Was it just personal fable, ie “that couldn’t possibly happen to me?”
    I do believe, and I have said this before elsewhere, that it was the mindset of the times- family and the advancement of family were of the utmost importance.

    [Reply]

    margaret Reply:

    absolutely agree ,it was the mindset of the time and to be accepted into court whether a lady in waiting ,courtier, ect ,its sort of like getting a good job in todays terms,with a good pension and prospects ,but then in tudor times a ladys aim would be to get a husband and it was rarely love either in these relationships,i think i would have preferred to have been poor,and most certainly do not envy any of them in henrys court anyway.

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  12. HollyDolly says:

    Like a lot of people,i enjoy reading biographies of Anne Boleyn. Let’s face it the Boleyns are more interestingAnne’s father Thomas went on missions for the king,and spent time in France as did his two daughters.They were accomplished in many ways and highly educated. They were also interested in religious reform,and many people didn’t go along with their views,plus the average person of the time blamed them,especially Anne for the upheavel in regards to Henry setting aside Katherine of Aragon,and him declaring himself
    head of the Catholic Church in England. Have never read any biographies of Jane Seymour,don’t even know if there are any.Her father John’s career may not have been as important or as interesting as Thomas Boleyn’s. And her brothers really seem to come on the stage in regards to their nephew Edward the 6th.
    let’s be frank, Anne is just more fascinating than Jane because so much has been written about her.Anne just seems more glamourous than Jane, so seems rather quiet ,mousy if you will.Maybe I can relate more to Anne given her family background. Some of my father’s relatives in Germany were as he put it petty court officals,military officers and landholders.One relative in garmisch in the 1690s was a steward to the Bavarian royal family,and some cousins in the Black Forest were hereditary foresters in Baden.Don’t know how they got that honor,or whether they spread some money around 200 or more years ago to get the post, but I feel much closer to Anne on a family basis than Jane.Through Anne and I part ways,religion wise, as I’m Catholic,though i do have Lutheran relatives on my grandmother’s side of the family.

    [Reply]

  13. I agree we all find the Boleyns more fascinating then the Seymours. I have just finished a piece of art about Anne, never thought about doing one about Jane. I guess that says something about who I think is the more important or fascinating. Thanks for the article.

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  14. Esther says:

    Great article Ms. Cherry … and thank you Ms. Ridgeway for posting it!. However,
    I don’t think their contemporaries saw the Boleyns and the Seymours as being in similar positions, because of the difference between Anne and Jane. This view, IMO, “trickles down to us” Anne was “going after a married man” — Martin Luther and the Pope agreed with the majority of the population that Henry’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon was valid. However, since the marriage to Anne was considered void (because Katherine of Aragon was alive when it was contracted), Jane was not seen the same way.

    [Reply]

    WilesWales Reply:

    I agree once again with Esther! There can be found a lot of Scripture on divorce and such, and Mark 10 (KJB), says it all where Martin Luther, and a lot of the upper class (as the peasnats were required to go to Mass, but never understood what was being said as the servcies were in Latin, and only the uppers were allowed the Eucharist (sp?) as well. So, yes, it did trickle down, and poor Queen Anne and Katharine of Aragon being alive durng all of this made it all that much more contraversial. Some say that Katharine’s death in early 1536 was the last security Anne really had.

    So, yes, without going into a very long bit about church history, doctrine, scripture, etc., Jane was not seen in the same way. So yes, Esther you explaine this very welll, and thank you! WilesWales

    I will defend Queen Anne Boleyn as long as I am around! She was innocent on all charges, but she did give England a very special gift, Queen Elizabeth I, the greatest absolute monarch that country ever had!

    “This is the Lord’s doing: it is marvelous in our eyes:…” ~ Pslams 118:23

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  15. Jose Ignacio Pena says:

    Hello: First, I want to congratulate Claire on your 2 books. I am finishing the first one and is great, looking forward toread the second also in a few days!
    About this good article of the Boleyns and the Seymours, I have also read somewhere that John Seymour (father of Jane, Edward and Thomas) was having a relationship with his son´s Edward first wife Catherine Filliol. And that this was the reason this marriage was annulled and the children of his marriage (2 boys) were entailed from inheriting his estates away in preference of the children he had with Anne Seymour, his second wife. Pease confirm if this is true. Not a very nice story to be told within the family!
    The Boleyns were as it is explained a much more fascinating family having diplomatic posts the 2 men, the 2 daughters being educated abroad. Being in touch with artists, reformers, being part of the3 renaissance and reformation movements in much bigger scale that ther Seymour family. I agree that one have to had a certain nerve in steppig into one woman´s place knowing all the nasty issue of the fall of her mistress, Anne Boleyn. So I can not see Jane Seymour as all sweet because she was being coached by people against the Boleyns and used by her brothers to advance to the throne in a not very nice way (by murdering a queen and 5 innocent courtiers). I do think that she knew there was something nasty in the end of Anne.
    Secondly, the Seymours stayed a bit longer in power, but at the end the Tudor-Boleyn queen was the victorious Elizabeth I.

    [Reply]

  16. WilesWales says:

    nAt the risk of repeating myself from another comment made this afternoon on Queen Anne and Jane Seymours: …as I was looking up the royal lineages of Queen Anne (through her mother, Elizabeth Howard, descedant of Edward I, Ives, Eric, “The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn” p. 221, and Jane Seymour, great-great granddaughter , through her mother, of Edward III, Fraser, Antonia, “The Kings and Queens of England, p. 183.. So the issue of who came from a better family really has not much of a place to which I am going to comment.

    Yes, Queen Anne and The Boleyns will always be more interesting as there is so much more popular reading and historical fiction (not Phillipa, but then again, may her as she might get people intested in Queen Anne more and insight a reader(s) to learn more about the TRUTH and come to this very good site on the matter, and that’s what I really hope is that the truth will come out from Gregory’s purple prose!).

    I have read all the comments and agree with so many, and, thank you Clare for being such a good story teller and boiling up the nerves, and then making the facts known! Thank you, Claire for letting Clare write again, as she is always so very interesting.

    Now, the Seymours were just more slimy than the Boleyn’s in their climb to power, and did it behind Queen Anne’s back, and did Elizabeth great harm after King Henry’s death than should have been made…Jane Seymour was used as a concubine and potential wind-up baby making machine. She was fair in looks, and quite the opposite of Queen Anne’s different almost looks with black hair and very dark eyes. Jane fit more into what ladies looked like and were considered as what they did in that time.

    We must also remember that Henry even warned her once when she said something to remember herself or go by the the ways of ones better than her. That is not a direct quote, but those who know it, know what I mean. She was perfect, and in about 18 months from having a Caesarean section, and “Bishop Latimer remarked, ‘We all hungered for a prince so long that there was there was much rejoicing as at the birth of John the Baptist.’ Fraser, Antonia, “The Kings and Queens of England,” p. 185.

    I have read in many books and places that Henry was asked whether to save the Jane or the prince, he basically said to save the prince and that he could always get another wife.

    The Boleyns will always remain, no matter what went on post Henry’s death, because of the Reformation, the first marriage since Edward IV and Woodville, that these were the only two royal marriages ever made our of love and not political alliances, and such. Also with the Augsburg confession of 1530 (and Esther is right about Luther not approving” as this would be the “Church of England, ” et cetra. Katharine’s death in 1536 in January, I believe, and Queen Anne’s mock trial and execution, and persons such as Chapuys involved and so on that The Boleyns will always be of very great interest to the public, and hopefully this site! Thank you! WilesWales

    I will defend Queen Anne Boleyn as long as I am around! She was innocent on all charges, but she did give England a very special gift, Queen Elizabeth I, the greatest absolute monarch that country ever had!

    “This is the Lord’s doing: it is marvelous in our eyes:…” ~ Pslams 118:23

    [Reply]

    Baroness Von Reis Reply:

    Wiley, Very great reply as always!!! Claire a good read.I really have to agree that Boleyns did what any other family at court would have done .This is not pimping your children.,Anne once again, Anne was orderd by the King to live the rest of her life with him.She had no way of telling the King no,so she had to do what she had to do,and she was’nt about to take the road of her sister, Mary just given her self to the KIng,and to makes it worse she fell in love with him,not a good thing.Yes Mary did have a child with the King, Why did Elizabeth1 make him next in line to the throne.As for the Seymours they to were out for the same thing,Jane was a lady in waiting to Queen Anne,and once the love was lost from Henry ,that sealed Anne’s fate. I truely think that had Queen Jane lived,and saw her son die, would have meet the same fate, divorce or die.I don’t hate Jane, but she did betray her Queen,and why they wanted to DEFACE THE BOLEYNS and all ,but wipe them out of history is behond me??Jane had nothing to fear Queen Anne was gone her brother gone all that could have brouht the real truth out were GONE. I donot think that anyone involved with this King’s history ,should have take heed and watch out, Henry love the chase once he was broad well,your were gone with no acceptions, even the Seymours.I would love to see the Great Queen Anne and her family get face how ever long it takes!!! The Seymours also paid when they lost the Kings favor. The whole thing from get to go is tragic.Just my thouhts. AB Friend Baroness Von Reis.x

    [Reply]

    WilesWales Reply:

    Thank you for the compliment, Baroness! First of all, the whole reason for a Queen to secure herself is to have a son, and better yet two or more, as the oldest males child is almost always the heir to the throne. This is why Prince Charles in today’s world is named the Prince of Wales, etc. Henry VIII”s oldest living son would ALWAYS be first in line for the throne, and in the “Act of Succesion,” even the Duke or Richmond is mentiioned, but as I agree with Esther on this one as well, that is one of the many reasons that Henry Carey, we don’t believe was Henry’s son. So this may a great reason why Henry was not included in the “Act of Sucession,” and that about says it all to me. Queen Elizabeth early in her reign did give Henry Carey a high postiton, but it certainly wasn’t the highest.

    They tried to wipe out the history, yes, but the Boleyn’s and their family, along with the innocent Queen Anne, George, and four other men were decapitated, and these men were innocent as well, will always be a most interesting story, and that is why we are here on this site, and hope to get others here as well. Thank you, WilesWales!

    I will defend Queen Anne Boleyn as long as I am around! She was innocent on all charges, but she did give England a very special gift, Queen Elizabeth I, the greatest absolute monarch that country ever had!

    “This is the Lord’s doing: it is marvelous in our eyes:…” ~ Pslams 118:23

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  17. Ann Russell says:

    I am in the process of reading Hilary Mantel’s new book. In it she mentions Sir John Seymour having an affair with his daughter in law. I have just reached the point where Henry has his jousting accident. It is very interesting to watch how she sets up the accused adulterers; they all seem to offend Cromwell in some way, except for Thomas Wyatt. I remember reading many years ago that Henry was usually attracted to women who reminded him of his mother, who died when he was about 12. She was blonde and didn’t argue with her husband. Anne Boleyn was an exception to this. Re: George Boleyn, I have always thought that Elizabeth was fortunate not have an able, ambitious uncle around when she was growing up.
    PS I hate it when Hilary Mantel makes me feel sympathy for Thomas Cromwell.

    [Reply]

    WilesWales Reply:

    I do agree, Ann Russell! Mantel will, however, NEVER make me feel sorry for Cromwell in any way! Thank you! WilesWales,

    I will defend Queen Anne Boleyn as long as I am around! She was innocent on all charges, but she did give England a very special gift, Queen Elizabeth I, the greatest absolute monarch that country ever had!

    “This is the Lord’s doing: it is marvelous in our eyes:…” ~ Pslams 118:23

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    I’m not sure that there is actually any evidence that John Seymour did have an affair with Catherine Fillol, Edward’s wife. There was certainly no sign of any trouble between John and Edward. See The Marital Misadventures of Edward Seymour for a discussion on this.

    I hate the way that Mantel makes readers sympathise with Cromwell at the expense of the other characters, it’s a shame.

    [Reply]

    WilesWales Reply:

    Claire, I really must agree, and although Mantel may not be as bad as Phillipa, trying to get sympathy for Cromwell, is really pushing it. Although, even though Gregory lives in the U.S., and didn’t recieve the Pulitzer Prize for any of her garbage, Mantel by some means won the Manner Book Prize. Looking at the critera and everything to win that prize is different.

    I understand that contests between coutries doesn’t really matter, and it is not my postiton on this. I just HAVE to reply that I agree with you that there is really no evidence of that affair, and so on, thank you for redirecting this to another article. Man, are you good? Or are you good?

    With regard to Mantel, sypathizing with Cromwell confirms my method of checking books out from the lbirary and reviewing them before buying, its the way to go! Thank you! WilesWales!

    I will defend Queen Anne Boleyn as long as I am around! She was innocent on all charges, but she did give England a very special gift, Queen Elizabeth I, the greatest absolute monarch that country ever had!

    “This is the Lord’s doing: it is marvelous in our eyes:…” ~ Pslams 118:23

    [Reply]

  18. Lisa says:

    Great post. I agree with quite alot of it as I have often questioned the same things myself. And thought of what the outcomes could have been instead. I always feel for Anne. She got a very bad deal out of it. It’s funny (sic) that she was not popular in her time yet it is exactly where the world is today yet she is so popular now. A forward thinking woman in a backward thinking time. I am catholic, and proud of it, but it does not matter what religion you are, religion does not make you who you are, you do.I believe that Anne was true to Henry, and She left her mark on the world with one of the most wonderful monarchs that ever lived, Elizabeth.

    [Reply]

  19. Lisa Davis says:

    I know this site is mostly concerned with Anne and her life but the more I find out about Anne, the more I want to find out about other Tudor families and the whole Tudor political scene. So many interesting people have been discussed in the various articles that have been published here. I am curious about Jane’s family as well as the families of all of the wives of Henry and other prominent figures, such as Wolsey and Cromwell. I was so interested in the people Anne knew and how some of them became a big influence on the life of her daughter. People that I never knew before reading some of the articles published here. For me, it is not a question as to who is more written about or who gets more attention. I am interested in the whole picture now. The more I learn, the more questions I seem to have.

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    They’re all fascinating, aren’t they? Another family I find interesting are the Dudleys, then there are the Greys, the Cecils… It’s never ending!

    [Reply]

  20. sharon says:

    The Seymores and the Boleyns where both decended from the younger family members at least on one side of the family…usually thru the females as they were married off to the highest bidder..some for power…some money…some for land…but the females were all used as pawns in the game of power and glory…to say that Queen Anne or Queen Jane were not used by the families…well…lets just say they were comodities to be bartered to the highest bidder and no one was higher than the king…and they could not say no to the king…or lose life…livelyhood or property…so they were between a hard place and a rock…yield or lose it all…rank..and property…so what do you do? The Boleyns facinate as they were intelligent and far ahead of the times…The Seymores seem to be just what they were …nothing that is outstanding about them

    [Reply]

  21. Conor Byrne says:

    I’m not sure I agree with you totally… Jane Seymour has never been a popular or well-known queen, and from the beginnings of her rise to power in 1536 she was criticised by the Spanish ambassador Chapuys for her suspected loss of virginity, while Victorian historians such as Strickland and Froude heavily criticised her conduct and blamed her for the murder of Anne Boleyn. She has been condemned by David Starkey – who refers to her as “nothing” in his work on the six queens of Henry VIII – and Anne Boleyn partisans such as Joanna Denny, who associate both her and Katherine of Aragon with evil, more or less, for their opposition to Anne.

    Anne, on the other hand, has seen her reputation go from strength to strength recently. She is clearly the favourite queen of Starkey, who at times gushingly excuses her vindictiveness and arrogance, while Denny, Ives, Warnicke and Lindsey are all very quick to extol her virtues and accomplishments.

    So I cannot agree. It is not the role of the historian to morally judge either character. This is not history. I just don’t agree that the two should be compared with one another. They were two young ladies manipulated by family politics to secure good marriages and raise their family’s power and influence at court, not to compete for a king as is often inaccurately portrayed. Both were victims of the king’s desire.

    Furthermore, both had their virtues – Anne was loyal, religious, ambitious and considerate, while Jane was gentle, fair and discreet – but both had their vices. Anne was arrogant, vindictive, spiteful and at times cruel, while Jane seems to have been sly, calculating and ruthless.

    Yet it’s not our position to judge women who, frankly, we never met. It’s the job of historians to present the past as accurately as possible.
    And in my opinion – I believe if any of the king’s wives should be pitied, it’s Katherine Howard. In contrast to the first three wives of Henry, she was not calculating, sly or vindictive; but a good-natured, kind young girl thoroughly overwhelmed by the situation she found herself in.

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    I don’t think it’s a competition with the wives as to who has had the most bad press! I think Clare’s article was more about the families, than the women themselves, and the Boleyns are made into manipulative, cunning social climbers far more than the Seymours, yet there is evidence that the Seymours did use Jane as a pawn but evidence that Thomas Boleyn was actually against Anne’s relationship with the King.

    No, it’s not the job of an historian to morally judge, but it is their job to give details about people, and, as you say, they can’t really help but judge when they do that. Also, Clare was not writing an academic thesis, she was writing an interesting comparison of two families and I don’t see what’s wrong with that. You say that we cannot judge these women, yet you pity Catherine Howard, and describe her as “a good-natured, kind young girl overwhelmed by the situation she found herself in” “in contrast to the first three wives” who you suggest were “calculating, sly or vindictive”. Aren’t you judging?

    I’m not trying to get at you, Conor, but I think it’s odd to criticise an article for something you believe it’s doing wrong and then to do that exact thing in your comment! ;)

    [Reply]

    Clare Reply:

    Conor, the whole point of the article was to say that the women, and their families, should not be morally judged. Yet the Boleyns are, in non-fiction but mainly in fiction, whereas the Seymours have nowhere near the vilification the Boleyns suffer. The article doesn’t seek to vindicate or criticise either family, it merely points out the double standards we adopt today. I’m not looking at the position as it was then, I am looking at it as it appears by the standards of twenty-first century authors. I am merely asking why they chose to continue the demonisation of one over the other after the expiry of nearly five-hundred years.

    [Reply]

  22. Conor Byrne says:

    I apologise Claire – you’re right, we shouldn’t judge.
    I just think values and beliefs were so different to our society now – it seems the Boleyns, particularly if you look at Retha Warnicke’s interesting thesis, were interested in obtaining the most ambitious marriage possible for Anne, whereas the Seymour family had almost given up hope of marrying the 28-year old Jane. Similar thing with the Howards too actually – I don’t at all agree that Katherine was brought to court to seduce a king, as some argue, but was afforded a splendid opportunity to make a successful marriage with a wealthy minor nobleman at court.
    Also Claire congratulations on how well you’re doing – it’s so nice to see.

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    No need to apologise, Conor, I was just playing Devil’s advocate really, but I think you misunderstood Clare’s purpose in writing the article.

    I agree with you about Katherine Howard but I also think that it was a family’s duty to marry their daughters off as ambitiously as possible, that was what daughters were for. The Boleyns certainly did not aim for the King, though. I think Jane had got to the point where she was ‘on the shelf’ as she’d had one potential marriage go rather pear-shaped, so her family must have been concerned.

    Thank you, Conor, I appreciate your support. Life is crazy, but good!

    [Reply]

  23. Julie Conlan says:

    In a way you can pity most of Henry’s wives, Catherine of Aragon, married to the king for twenty years only to be told her marriage was no marriage and sent to Kimbolton Castle never to see her beloved daughter Mary again. Anne Boleyn, so much in love with Henry Percy and hoping to marry him, to be told she was not good enough to be his wife, and so he married someone else. Henry I’m sure was behind all this, although Thomas Wolsey was blamed. Anne had no Emperor Charles behind her to fight her corner so ended up dying a traitors death. I can’t pity Jane as she died before Henry could fall out of love with her. Then poor old Anne of Cleeves { The Flanders Mare} had a very lucky escape!! But it still must have been humiliating for her. Then Catherine Howard, well I think the Duke of Norfolk pushed for this marriage, but she had a past and was much too young for an old man like Henry.Also Jane Rochford was a bad influence on her and the two died together. Catherine Parr I pity as Henry was the third elderly husband she had to marry, she outlived the old tyrant only to marry Tom Semour and die in child berth. Henry VIII has a lot to answer for!!!

    [Reply]

  24. Helen H says:

    I have read any and everything I can about the Tudors and the respective families for years,from wives to the sisters (Margaret and Mary) to aunts, who ever. Then of course try to separate fact from fiction, its hard to do! But I have empathy for all the wives ( not so much for some of the families such as the Seymours). The Boleyns as stated by both the Claires are easy to vilify, the loser always is. But I have found in my own research the Boleyns, as stated in this article, were not the upstarts history likes to portray them as.We have to remember Henry became a despot, once he realized his power and got rid of his Cardinal. While I have no sympathy for Cromwell (even having read Wolf Hall) he was a good tool for Henry to rid himself of Anne. Of course he too overstepped his “power” introducing Anne of Cleves causing his own downfall.We will never know the truth of any of the people of the time but we can try to add up all the truths, 1/2 truths and fiction and try to figure it all out. You Claire are a voice of reason and help clear the air. Thank you.

    [Reply]

  25. Cindy Bentley (USA) says:

    I just found your website while doing a Google search as to why Anne Boleyn’s death still affects us today.

    I have been long been interested in the Tudor era. I am currently watching The Tudors on BBC for the 5th time and still cannot get enough.

    Thank you so much for your research in finding the truth about this era and for sharing it with the rest of us.

    You have, indeed, answered my initial question about Queen Anne.

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Hi Cindy,
    Welcome to The Anne Boleyn Files! I’m so glad that you found us and I hope you enjoy browsing. The Google search box in the right hand side menu is very useful for finding specific topics.

    [Reply]

  26. Anne Barnhill says:

    Great post! Thanks! I think the Boleyns are more interested because of their dramatic deaths as well as all the changes their existance brought about–the break with Roman Catholicism, the destruction of the monasteries (a bit later but still part of the domino effect of change) and the wit and charm they brought to the Rennaisance court. Anne was extremely polished and well-educated with a multi-faceted character. She wrote and read forbidden books and seems much more an intellectual match for Henry than Jane. I do think Thomas Seymour was an interesting character, especially the way he behaved around Elizabeth I–but such behavior in our time is scandalous and it’s hard to see him as more than a lech! But I do think, of all the Seymours, he is the most intriguing. It would have been interesting to see how Jane would have fared with Henry if she had lived. Of course, her place was secure on the throne because of Edward but I wonder what would have happened. Just love reading all these differing views, etc. Thenk you, Claire and Clare!

    [Reply]

  27. Hannah Chiu says:

    You also have to note that Thomas Seymour was executed by his own brother, whether or not he was guilty of trying to attack Edward VI, his own brother executed him.

    [Reply]

  28. Christine says:

    Iv just found this post, Iv been guilty in the past of thinking Thomas Boleyn pimped out his daughters but as Claire says there’s very little evidence for this and I thought the portrayal of him in the ludicrous Tudors drama was unfair to say the least, in it you have Thomas telling Anne to attract the King and make herself available when the evidence points otherwise, she certainly didn’t go out to attract Henry she was happy in her engagement to Harry Percy and certainly didn’t expect the King to fall head over heels in love with her and offer marriage, whearas Jane tried to make him notice her encouraged by her brothers, it seems the Seymours were the pimps not the Boleyns, i don’t know why Jane ever wanted to be his wife she was either very ambitious like her family or a bit of a drip who just did what they said, either way she’s quite enigmatic because of that, I don’t think we will ever know the real Jane, and as Hannah says Thomas Seymour was be headed by his own brother, so much for family loyalty, the fact of the matter is, the Boylens weren’t as black as they were painted and the Seymours wernt as good as they were painted.

    [Reply]

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