Anne Boleyn, Margaret of Austria and Queen Claude

Posted By on November 13, 2012

Since a new book by Sylwia Zupanec1 is claiming that there is new evidence to prove that “Anne Boleyn simply could not have had served Margaret of Austria [or] the Queen Claude”, and I’ve been asked my thoughts on it, I wanted to share why I believe that Anne did serve them and what evidence there is to back up my views.

Evidence for Anne Boleyn being sent to Margaret of Austria’s Court

The first piece of evidence is an extract from Margaret of Austria’s letter to Thomas Boleyn in which she thanks him for entrusting her with his daughter:

“J’ai reçeu vostre lettre par l’escuyer Bouton qui m’a présenté vostre fille que m’a esté la très bien-venue, et espère la traicter de sorte que aurez cause vous en contenter; du moings tiens que à vostre retour ne fauldra aultre truchement entre vous et moi que elle; et la treuvc si bien adressée et si plaisante suivant son josne eaige, que je suis plus tenu à vous de la m’avoir envoyée que vous à moi.”2

Translation from Eric Ives’ “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”:

“I have received your letter by the Esquire [Claude] Bouton who has presented your daughter to me, who is very welcome, and I am confident of being able to deal with her in a way which will give you satisfaction, so that on your return the two of us will need no intermediary other than she. I find her so bright and pleasant for her young age that I am more beholden to you for sending her to me than you are to me.”3

This extract appears in the note section of “Correspondance de l’empereur Maximilien Ier et de Marguerite d’Autriche, sa fille, Gouvernante de Pays-Bas, de 1507 à 1519, Tome Second”. Although Sylwia Zupanec argues that “this letter is undated and does not even mention Anne Boleyn or her father by name”, it is an extract from a letter written by Margaret of Austria to Thomas Boleyn and quite clearly mentions “votre fille”, “your daughter”. Although, as Hugh Paget4 points out, the full letter is now not traceable in the Lille Archives, the editor of the 1839 edition of “”Correspondance de l’empereur Maximilien Ier et de Marguerite d’Autriche, sa fille, Gouvernante de Pays-Bas, de 1507 à 1519” quite clearly refers to the extract being part of a letter from Margaret to Thomas Boleyn. He does not cast any doubt on who the letter was written to, so the original letter must have been clearly marked and obvious from the rest of the content that it was from Margaret to Thomas.

The editor of “Correspondance de l’empereur Maximilien Ier…” refers to Anne Boleyn’s name being mentioned on a list of eighteen “filles d’honneur” who served Margaret. The reference given is “Chronique métrique de Chastellain et de Molinet: avec des notices sur ces auteurs et des remarques sur le texte corrigé” and the name “Bullan” does appear on this list, although there is no first name given:

“Aultre plat pour les filles d’honneur et aultres femmes ordonnés par Madame de manger avec elles que sont XVIII, assavoir:-
Mesdames de Verneul, Waldich, Reynenebourg, Bréderode, d’Aultroy, Hallewyn, Rosimbos, Longueval, Bullan, les II filles Neufville, Saillant, Middelbourg, Cerf, Barbe Lallemand et la mère.”5

Another piece of evidence to support the theory that Anne Boleyn was sent to Margaret’s court is Anne’s letter to her father. The original French can be read in the appendix of Philip W. Sergeant’s “The Life of Anne Boleyn”6 and also viewed at, but here is Sergeant’s translation:

“Sir, – I understand by your letter that you desire that I shall be a worthy woman when I come to the Court and you inform me that the Queen will take the trouble to converse with me, which rejoices me much to think of talking with a person so wise and worthy. This will make me have greater desire to continue to speak French well and also spell, especially because you have so enjoined it on me, and with my own hand I inform you that I will observe it the best I can. Sir, I beg you to excuse me if my letter is badly written, for I assure you that the orthography is from my own understanding alone, while the others were only written by my hand, and Semmonet tells me the letter but waits so that I may do it myself, for fear that it shall not be known unless I acquaint you, and I pray you that the light of [?] may not be allowed to drive away the will which you say you have to help me, for it seems to me that you are sure [??] you can, if you please, make me a declaration of your word, and concerning me be certain that there shall be neither [??] nor ingratitude which might check or efface my affection, which is determined to [?] as much unless it shall please you to order me, and I promise you that my love is based on such great strength that it will never grow less, and I will make an end to my [?] after having commended myself right humbly to your good grace.

Written at [?Veure] by

Your very humble and very obedient daughter,

Anna de Boullan.”

There have been various theories as to where Anne was writing the letter from, with some arguing that the word “Veure” was actually Hever, or that it meant the fifth hour (5 o’clock), but Hugh Paget argued that it was “the French version of the name of the royal park at Brussels”, the place where Margaret of Austria visited during the summer months. Sylwia Zupanec dismisses this idea but Margaret’s father, Maximilian I, signed various letters from “au Château de la Veuren” and referred to “nostre chasteaul de La Veuren”, “our castle of La Veuren”, in a letter written to Margaret in June 1512. In a time with no standardized spelling, Anne could well have been referring to “Veuren” when she wrote “Veure” or may well have missed the “n” off the end.

In her letter, Anne also referred to “Semmonet”, who was quite clearly helping her with her French” and, as Eric Ives points out, Symmonet was a member of “the ducal household”. We know this because there are various mentions of “Symmonet” in the correspondence of Emperor Maximilian and Margaret of Austria.7 I can’t believe that this is a coincidence.

The final piece of evidence for Anne Boleyn being at the court of Margaret of Austria is Thomas Boleyn’s letter to Margaret of Austria recalling his daughter, written from Greenwich on 14th August 1514:

“Ma treschiere et tres redoubtee dame dans sy humble cuer quil mest possible a votre bonne grace me recommande. II vous playra a savoir comment la seur du Roy mon maistre madame marie Reyne fyancee de France ma requyse davoir avecques elle ma fille la petitte Boulain laquelle ma tresredoubtee dame est a present avecques vous en votre court a laquelle requeste je nay peult ne sceut refuzer nullement sy est ma tresredoubtee dame que je vous supplie treshumblement quil vous plaise de donner et octroyer congiet a ma fille de povoir retourner pardevers moy avecques mes gens lesquelz jay envoyet devers vous a ceste cause ma tresredoubte dame je me tiens fort obligiet envers votre bonne grace a cause de la grant honneur que fait aves a ma fille et que ne mest possible a desservir devers votre bonne grace non obstant que je ne dezire aultre chose synon queje vous puisse faire auleun service agreable ce que jespere de faire encores cy en apros au plaisir de dieu auquel je prie ma tresredoubtee dame quil vous doinst lentier accomplissement de vos nobles et bon dcsirs escript desoubz mon signe manuel a la court royalle de Grynewiths en engleterre, le xiiii jour daoust anno xv et xiiii.
Votre treshumble serviteur, Sr Thomas Boleyn.”8

You may not understand the French, but Thomas Boleyn is asking Margaret to release his daughter, “la petitte Boulain”, into the care of the escort he had sent so that she could return to England to accompany Mary Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII, who was due to leave for France to marry Louis XII. Sylwia Zupanec dismisses this letter as evidence of Anne serving Margaret, saying “there is neither reference to Anne nor there is the date of this letter. We do not even know if this letter is authentic.” I cannot see who else Thomas Boleyn could have been referring to when he writes of “ma fille la petitte Boulain”, “my daughter the little Boleyn”, and the letter is dated (14th August 1514 from Greenwich”. Furthermore, there has never been any doubt cast on the authenticity of the letter.

Another thing that suggests that Anne Boleyn knew Margaret of Austria was Anne’s use of the motto “Ainsi sera, groigne qui groigne” (Let them grumble, that is how it is going to be) which, as Eric Ives and Joanna Denny point out, was a play on Margaret of Austria’s motto “Groigne qui groigne, Vive Bourgogne!” (Grudge who Grudges, Long Live Burgundy). Why would Anne make use of a motto of a woman she’d never met and whose court she never attended? (Thanks to Olivia Peyton for reminding me of that).

Evidence for Anne Boleyn serving Queen Claude of France

Sylwia Zupanec dismisses the traditional view that Anne Boleyn served Queen Claude of France by arguing that the household lists of Queen Claude make no mention of either Boleyn girl, Anne or Mary, and that “the Boleyn sisters were probably confused with “Anne de Boulogne” and “Magdaleine de Boulogne” who were in the Queen Claude’s household from 1509″. She even doubts that Anne served Mary Tudor. Zupanec believes that Anne was sent by Thomas Boleyn to relatives in Briis-sous-Forges because “she may have indeed been guilty of some kind of a scandal”, as Nicholas Sander believed.

Regardless of whether or not Anne’s name appears in Queen Claude’s household lists and whether or not she has been confused with other women, there is plenty of other evidence to back up the view that Anne served Mary Tudor then Queen Claude:

  • A “Madamoyselle Boleyne” is in the list of “gentlemen and ladies retained by the King (Louis XII.) to do service to the Queen”:
    “Le conte de Nonshere,” Dr. Denton, almoner, Mr. Richard Blounte, “escuyer descuyerie,” the sons of Lord Roos, Lord Cobham, and Mr. Seymour, “enfans d’honneur”; Evrard, brother of the Marquis, Arthur Polle, brother of Lord Montague, Le Poulayn, “pannetiers échansons et valetz trenchans”; Francis Buddis, usher of the chamber, Maistre Guillaume, physician, Henry Calays, “varlet des robes,” Rob. Wast. Mesdemoiselles Grey (sister of the Marquis), Mary Finis (daughter of Lord Dacres), Elizabeth (sister of Lord Grey), Madamoyselle Boleyne, Maistres Anne Jenyngham, “femme de chambre,” and Jeanne Barnesse, “chamberiere.” Signed by Louis XII.”9
    This obviously could have been Mary Boleyn, Anne’s sister, so is not complete evidence.
  • Francis I reported on 22nd January 1522 that “Mr. Boullan”‘s daughter had been recalled from the French court:
    “I think it very strange that this treaty of Bruges was concealed from me, and also the powder and balls which are going to Antwerp;—that his subjects go and take the Emperor’s pay;—that the English scholars at Paris have returned home, and also the daughter of Mr. Boullan, while ships were being made at Dover, and musters taken in England, the rumor being that it was to make war on France.”10
    This must have been Anne because Mary was already in England at this time.
  • The Imperial ambassadors reported to Charles V in January 1522 “that Boleyn’s daughter, who was in the service of the French queen, had been called home” and that “The cardinal said that he himself was responsible for her recall, because he intended, by her marriage, to pacify certain quarrels and litigation between Boleyn and other English nobles.”11 In other words, Anne had been recalled from France to marry James Butler.
  • Renée of France, Duchess of Ferrara and sister of Queen Claude, told Nicholas Throckmorton in Elizabeth I’s reign “There was another cause which worked in her a goodwill towards the Queen; there was an old acquaintance between the Queen’s mother and her, when the former was one of the maids-of-honour of the Duchess’s sister, Queen Claude.”12
  • Lancelot de Carles, in his poem about Anne Boleyn’s execution, “De la Royne d’Angleterre”, wrote:
    “Or, Monseigneur, je croy que bien savez
    Et des longtemps la congnoissance avez
    Que Anne Boullant premierement sortit
    De ce pays, quant Marye en partit
    Pour s’en aller trouver le Roy en France,
    Pour accomplir des deux Roys l’alliance.”
    or “My lord, I am well aware that you know and have known for a long time that Anne Boullant first came from this country when Mary [Tudor] left to go to join the king [Louis XII] in France to bring about the alliance of the two sovereigns.” He went on to say:
    “Apres que fut Marye revenue
    En ce pays, elle fut retenue
    Par Claude, qui Royne apres succedda”13
    or “After Mary returned to her country, she was retained by Claude, the Queen who succeeded her”.

Renée of France, sister of Queen Claude, and Lancelot de Carles, secretary to the French ambassador, were in positions to know whether or not Anne served Queen Claude and there was no reason for them to lie.

I really cannot see there being any reason to doubt that Anne was sent to Margaret of Austria’s court and that she went on to serve Queen Claude of France. There is certainly more evidence for that idea than there is for the view that Anne was sent to relatives in France after being involved in some kind of sexual scandal in England. Zupanec’s book does not contain any new evidence, as far as I can see. Zupanec is reinterpreting evidence used by the likes of Eric Ives, David Starkey, Retha Warnicke and myself and that is not quite the same in my opinion. I also do not agree with her conclusion that “Anne from her contemporary sources is seductive, vindictive, and manipulative woman who uses her influence on the king, and pays the ultimate price for marrying him” and that she was “a scandalous social climber” but everyone is entitled to their opinion and I do enjoy debating these types of things.

Thank you to Clare Cherry for helping me research this article, you’re a star!

Note on New Evidence

Gareth Russell has written an article on Is there anything new to say about Anne Boleyn?, which is an interesting read. New evidence can be found, as in the case of Steven Gunn discovering the coroner’s report into Amy Robsart’s death, and I would love for there to be new discoveries concerning Anne but I can’t say I’m at all hopeful. Parts of her life will always be a mystery, I feel.

Notes and Sources

  1. The Daring Truth About Anne Boleyn, Sylwia Zupanec, various pages from Kindle version
  2. Correspondance de l’empereur Maximilien Ier et de Marguerite d’Autriche, sa fille, Gouvernante de Pays-Bas, de 1507 à 1519, Tome Second, p461 Note 2
  3. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives, p19
  4. The Youth of Anne Boleyn, Hugh Paget, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research
  5. Chronique métrique de Chastellain et de Molinet: avec des notices sur ces auteurs et des remarques sur le texte corrigé, p154
  6. The Life of Anne Boleyn, Philip W. Sergeant, Appendix D, p308
  7. For example 25th May 1510
  8. The Manuscripts of J. Eliot Hodgkin, Fifteenth Report, Appendix, Part II, page 30
  9. LP i. 3357
  10. LP iii. 1994 Francis I to La Batie and Poillot, end Jan 1522
  11. Calendar of State Papers, Spain: Further Supplement to Volumes 1 and 2: Documents from Archives in Vienna, page 30, 17 January 1522, The Ambassadors in England to Charles V
  12. Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 3: 1560-1561, 870 (p489-90)
  13. De la Royne d’Angleterre, Lancelot de Carles, lines 37-42 and 49-51 on pages 233 and 234 of “La Grande Bretagne devant L’Opinion Français Depuis La Guerre de Cent Ans Jusqu’a la Fin du XVI Siècle”, Georges Ascoli

55 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn, Margaret of Austria and Queen Claude”

  1. miladyblue says:

    New information on Anne Boleyn would indeed be welcome.

    Reinterpretation of existing evidence to fit someone’s agenda, is NOT welcome.

    Please, leave any vindictive, hostile agenda fiction to Eustace Chapuys.

    1. Claire says:

      Have you read the book, miladyblue? I really don’t want to turn this into an attack on anyone because all I want to do is present my case and why I believe it.

      1. miladyblue says:

        First, my apologies is my post does come across as aggressive, attack-like, or rude – posting comments when one is dog tired because of insomnia is NOT a good idea, as you see. I certainly have no intention of leading an attack, either written, verbally, or via other media, such as the unfortunate recent incident on Facebook with regards to Hannah Stewart.

        But to say that one DOES have new information, rather than stating that this is a different interpretation of existing sources – as Professor Bernard did with Fatal Attractions – is very misleading and disappointing. Also, the statement of Anne’s personality, “Seductive, vindictive, manipulative,” as established FACT, rather than, again, as a personal reinterpretation, does not set well, especially since said descriptions are mostly vehement personal statements of Anne’s enemies, such as Eustace Chapuys, or Lancelot de Carles (sp??).

        Where is the balance?

        To rely upon ONLY negative statements from those who felt they had good reason to fear or despise the subject being discussed is unfair. Plus, there are a good many people who already believe the worst of Anne – the scandals, the unpleasant personality, and so forth – so the description of the contents of this book sounds like a retreading of old, tired tales that have already been placed seriously in doubt or refuted entirely by reputable historians, such as Professor Ives, Professor Warnike, and Professor Starkey. I suppose we could include you in that ranking of reputable historians, since you are a staunch champion of Anne, just as Clare Cherry is George Boleyn’s “Dame in Shining Armor.”

        Of course, I could also be speaking as an election-weary American who is glad the dratted vote is finally over, and we no longer have alleged adults calling each other names or making baseless accusations like a pack of bratty toddlers.

        1. Claire says:

          No need to apologise, miladyblue, I just wanted to nip things in the bud after the recent trouble. I know you weren’t trying to start anything so don’t worry.

          Like you, I do think it is misleading to market a book saying that it contains new evidence when it doesn’t. In her reply to me, Sylwia Zupanec says “The information from the French documents was not published in other books on Anne Boleyn, so yes, it is NEW. Furthermore, I have reached the original sources written in Latin and Italian, while Mrs Ridgway bases her research on English interpretations and those are flawed in most cases.” I’m not sure which documents she is on about but if it’s Queen Claude’s household accounts then they have been used by other historians and they are in the BNF archives, they have not just been discovered, and to say that she is the only person using contemporary sources in their original language is dishonest. I based my research on all types of sources and not just those that have been translated into English. I’ve read sources in their original French, Latin, Spanish and Italian, it’s something you do when you want to question other people’s interpretation of them. It’s hard and even though I can speak and write in French 16th century French is a challenge!

          Ives consulted Queen Claude’s records and noted that there was no direct evidence regarding the seven years Anne spent with her so there’s nothing new there. I don’t understand her claims and I also don’t understand her reply to me which is full of accusations and personal attacks when she could simply have argued her points, answered my challenges and produced her new evidence.

        2. BanditQueen says:

          Your post is very aggressive actually and I am glad you toned it down. Everyone has a right to publish what they wish and even if you do not agree then they have a right to publish it. I do not agree with much on this site but it a great site and it looks at books in as much of a balanced way as possible. Every new author has a right to use whatever publication tool to sell their book that they choose and I think it is probably the publisher who have made the claim to new evidence and not the author. I have read the book and am glad it stirs things up and the pro Anne people may not like it but so what! Every author has a take on Anne Boleyn: she is one of the most controversial woman in history and she stirs different reactions depending on how people see her. That is a good thing: not a negative thing. If the author of a new book believes they have new evidence and are not just interpreting old evidence then so what? That is their right to claim it. I ENJOYED THE DARING TRUTH ABOUT ANNE BOLEYN AND RECENTLY SAID SO IN A BOOK REVIEW SITE; I ADMIRE CLAIR’S WORK AS WELL AND RECENTLY FINISHED HER TWO BOOKS.

          You do not have to agree with an author to comment on them or to see that they are trying to say something in a different way. The book does not reveal new evidence but does uncover and show older evidence in a new and fresh light. Silvia shows that we can misinterpret things and see evidence in sources that are very vague and with poor spelling that simply are not there. Sources are written in foreign languages and in older spellings and in Tudor style. Our own language English has changed much since then as has French and German. Even Latin has changed. There are parts of these sources missing and they have to be carefully reconstructed. It is easy to see what an author wants to see to make a point: it is harder to say that the evidence is not clear or does not exist. I have read the book and it is clear that there is no evidence that Anne was educated in France. But there is good educational and circumstantial evidence that supports the tradition that she was: see my post below.

        3. Claire says:

          miladyblue’s comment is not as aggressive as the post Zupanec wrote in response to this article where she didn’t respond to the points I’d made but, instead, launched an offensive attack on me. She also allowed comments on that post calling me names, so very mature. All I did was disagree with her, as people do with me and as I do with other authors and scholars, and I did it politely. She has since removed that post after it caused quite a backlash but I had “friends” of hers accuse me of launching an online campaign against her even though I never reviewed her book and actually linked to her book from my Facebook page to advertise it. I’ve said all along that I encourage people interested in Anne Boleyn to read all the information there is out there and then make there own minds up when they’ve reviewed the sources for themselves.

          “I think it is probably the publisher who have made the claim to new evidence and not the author” – Zupanec self-published and made the claims herself.

          “Every author has a take on Anne Boleyn: she is one of the most controversial woman in history and she stirs different reactions depending on how people see her. That is a good thing: not a negative thing. If the author of a new book believes they have new evidence and are not just interpreting old evidence then so what?” – Definitely, I wholeheartedly agree, but the book didn’t contain any new evidence so I thought it was a bit misleading.

          “Sources are written in foreign languages and in older spellings and in Tudor style. Our own language English has changed much since then as has French and German. Even Latin has changed. There are parts of these sources missing and they have to be carefully reconstructed. It is easy to see what an author wants to see to make a point: it is harder to say that the evidence is not clear or does not exist.” Yes and that’s why scholars use experts in those languages and historical changes when transcribing documents from archives. Zupanec criticises a translation of Sander’s book but then misquotes and mistranslates it herself to back up her theory. That, to me, is not right. It’s a wonderful feeling when you think you’ve found something new but you have to be so careful that you haven’t misinterpreted it and you have to check, double check, triple check etc. and, I would say, seek advice from reputable historians and scholars, before you produce it as new and daring evidence.

          Anyway, all that is, of course, my opinion.

    2. BanditQueen says:

      Chapyrs was reporting things from inside the Tudor court and his evidence is rated by some authors as reliable. It may be hostile in places but it gives us an on the ground view of Anne and the court. In fact a new book looks very closely at Chapyrs and the sources and how reliable they are. Chapyrs is not writing fiction, he is writing letters and reports based on what he has seen and heard at the Tudor Court. As none of us were there, we do not know if he is telling fiction or not; but most of what he writes is fairly reliable. He is regarded as being in the best place to know what went on and to be giving an honest report of events. Yes, as I state, he may at times be hostile and when assessing his information you need to bare this in mind, but stating that use of his reports and information in a book is unwelcome is inmature.

      While it may not be accurate to state that Zupanac is producing new evidence, she is attempting to re-assess the sources in a new light and not just cite from previuous authors and historians who love to follow each other. Many scholars over the years have produced several biographies of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, not all have been flattering and I am sure we all have our favourites. Eric Ives for example is often quoted as the best scholar as his book is the most extensive one produced on her life and the use of sources is also extensive and authoriative. But there are many others, Starkey, Loades, Denny, Fraser, Errikson, Bruce and so on. 19th century authors were not as friendly, although Paul Friendman attempted to present a more balanced and lengthy assessment of Anne, her character and the political conspiracies within the court that influenced the events around her.

      Zupanac does use some of the more controversial sources such as Nicholas Sanders, who is far more hostile than Chaprys and writing several decades later from exile. He must only be taken with care, but he is also backed up with other sources, such as George Wyatt who wrote the first main biograthy of Anne Boleyn and there are many others cited in the book, not just Chapyrs and Sanders. The Polish and Italian ambassadors and many letters from within the household of Anne, including Latiymer and Skipp are also cited. Controversial as the use of this material is and controversial as the book is because it challenges the norms that are taken for granted about Anne including her time in France; her work is to be welcomed as contributing to the debate about areas of Anne’s life that in some cases are shrouded in mystery. The evidence for her stay in France is scant and does raise questions. It may be more substantial than this author claims but it is not extensive and there are areas that need to be clarified and freshly assessed.

      There are many historians who may not like this book as it questions their work, but that does not make it unwelcome, any more than the sources that historians do not like being unwelcome. All material is welcome and all material is relevant. When assessing someone’s life you have to look at it from every angle. You also have to accept criticism that is constructive and be able to make a critique in doing this sort of work. You cannot merely dismiss something as a fiction. It is not professional and it is not scholarly or mature. If you have evidence that Chapyrs or anyone else writing about Anne is presenting fiction or merely believe it to be so you need to explain why and reason an argument. All opinion is welcome, and controversial books just add colour to the on-going debate.

      1. Claire says:

        I was really looking forward to Sylwia’s book because of the fact that she said that it would be offering new theories and evidence, and I knew how hard she’d been working on it. It is clear from her references and bibliography just how much work she put into it but some of her new theories were based on misreadings/mistranslations of the sources. For example, she wrote that Sander used the word “mola” in the Latin version of his book, when writing about Anne Boleyn’s miscarriage, and she criticises the 19th century translator for mistranslating it and historians/scholars for only using the mistranslated English version. However, I have the Latin version of his book and he uses the word “molem”, which is completely different to “mola”. I also looked into the references she gave to back up her idea of Anne having a “false conception” and one reference (Marcus Verrius Flaccus and Sextus Pompeius Festus the famous Roman grammarians) gave a definition of the word “mola” as “a millstone”, used for milling grain, and there was nothing about conception or pregnancy in the definition. It just didn’t make sense.

        It’s fine to be controversial and it’s important to look at the original sources, rather than taking what other historians and scholars have said about them at face value, but it is easy to get an idea in one’s head and run with it without double checking. We’re all guilty of that and then someone puts us right, hopefully before publication! I don’t know of any researcher, writer, historian, scholar or blogger that was upset by this book because it “questioned their work”, but I do know some who felt that it misled readers and I feel like that. The references just did not back up Sylwia’s theories but only people who then went and looked at those references would know that. I asked Sylwia if she was up for debate on her ideas before I challenged them and she said yes, but was then very aggressive when I did challenge them. I’ve left her to her own devices since then and just concentrated on my own research. I was hoping for some debate!

        Re her use of references deeper than Chapuys and Sander, all the historians and researchers I know go deeper than that. You only have to look at the references in Ives, Loades, Starkey, Norton, Friedmann, Bruce, Sergeant, Strickland, Benger, Weir, Fraser… and even my own books, to see that people have been using a wide range of sources for decades, and even centuries. Agnes Strickland may not be the most accurate, but she certainly used a wide range of sources and I’m in awe of how much she researched each queen.

        Regarding the theory that Anne was never in France, there is actually more evidence that she WAS in France. You can see my list above, but her it is in brief:

        • Francis I reported on 22nd January 1522 that “Mr. Boullan”’s daughter had been recalled from the French court:
          “I think it very strange that this treaty of Bruges was concealed from me, and also the powder and balls which are going to Antwerp;—that his subjects go and take the Emperor’s pay;—that the English scholars at Paris have returned home, and also the daughter of Mr. Boullan, while ships were being made at Dover, and musters taken in England, the rumor being that it was to make war on France.”
        • The Imperial ambassadors reported to Charles V in January 1522 “that Boleyn’s daughter, who was in the service of the French queen, had been called home” and that “The cardinal said that he himself was responsible for her recall, because he intended, by her marriage, to pacify certain quarrels and litigation between Boleyn and other English nobles.” In other words, Anne had been recalled from France to marry James Butler.
        • Renée of France, Duchess of Ferrara and sister of Queen Claude, told Nicholas Throckmorton in Elizabeth I’s reign “There was another cause which worked in her a goodwill towards the Queen; there was an old acquaintance between the Queen’s mother and her, when the former was one of the maids-of-honour of the Duchess’s sister, Queen Claude.”
        • Lancelot de Carles wrote “My lord, I am well aware that you know and have known for a long time that Anne Boullant first came from this country when Mary [Tudor] left to go to join the king [Louis XII] in France to bring about the alliance of the two sovereigns” and ““After Mary returned to her country, she was retained by Claude, the Queen who succeeded her”.

        All of these people were in positions to know whether Anne was in France or not, and I cannot see any reason to doubt any of them.

        Re Chapuys, he is invaluable as a source and should not be dismissed but neither should he be taken as giving the truth. His information was from a variety of sources – people who had agreed to act as his “spies”, people at court, gossip etc., so he was often hearing things third/fourth/fifth hand and we all know how things get distorted, just play Chinese Whispers! We have to look for corroboration between sources. I must admit to being a huge Chapuys fan, I just love the way he writes, and the fact that he was so shocked by the events of May 1536 and was convinced that the Boleyns were innocent says a lot. He respected George Boleyn too.

        Anyway, I still think that Sylwia’s book is well worth a read, but it’s definitely a book where readers should check the sources for themselves rather than just go with the theories outlined.

  2. Once again, a very well-written article and a convincing one. The overwhelming weight of evidence favours her having served in France, including the testimony of several French diplomats stationed in England, who knew her and were writing back to the French royal household.

    Thank you for the link to my article on “Is there anything new to say…”

    1. Claire says:

      Thanks, Gareth, and I’m glad you agree because I know how much research you’ve done into Anne’s early life.

  3. I should also say that I do take personal and moral issue with phrases like “and pays the ultimate price for marrying him.” It seems to imply that women in the sixteenth century were in some way responsible for their brutalising treatment at the hands of the men in their lives. Which I find objectionable. I discussed this view a bit in my article on Mary Boleyn ( and where are attitudes are going towards strong women in the past, like Anne.

    1. Sherri says:

      Well said Gareth. I also take personal and moral issue with those kind of phrases.

      Strong women are ridiculed no matter what century or time period they lived in.

      I think that Henry 8th married all strong women in their own way. None of them deserved the treatment that they received from Henry.

    2. Claire says:

      I agree, that phrase does suggest that Anne deserved what happened to her because she married Henry.

  4. Mallory says:

    Another very informative article Claire and very well supported. I do find Zupanec’s quote mean spirited and wonder why she vilifies Anne. Part of marriage at this time for the upper classes was about social climbing, making strong socio-political family connections, so accusing Anne of social climbing is silly.

    Keep up the good work:-))

    1. Anyanka says:

      It was a parent’s duty to provide thier children a suitable marriage.Marrying up the ranks was an accepted motive for marriage at the time. And it was nit unusual at all.

      In fact, there’s a case for the Tudors themselves being the ulitimate social climbers, from servant to king in 2 generations.

      1. margaret says:

        true enough,it was the way back then to get ahead by any means possible and there was a lot of social climbers ,it was normal and anne was a social climber like all nobles ,they were out to get as much social standing as they could .and their parents encouraged it.

  5. Lauren says:

    Once again, I’m floored by your ability to clearly state your position and actually support your claims with evidence. I absolutely love this site and am always thrilled when I check my inbox and find out you’ve published a new post. You are absolutely wonderful, Claire. 🙂

    Thanks, also, for sharing Russell’s article. Does you know if he has published anything on Catherine Howard while working on his dissertation?

    1. Claire says:

      Thanks, Lauren, I do love going through the sources and I’m so glad that you enjoy my articles.

      I believe that Gareth will be publishing a book on Catherine Howard in the future.

  6. Sandi says:

    Claire, thank you very much for your comprehensive deductions leading to the conclusion that Anne must have been in France as well as the Low Countires serving in the respective Courts. Of course, there is so much qualitative data that points to her having spent time being educated abroad in the accomplished courts of both. Her style, which is noted often in contemporary sources; her quality of education, especially with regard to the growing reformist movement; her willingness to stand up and be counted, which I feel came from emulating Marguerite d”Alencon, and her broad knowledge of art, architecture, and music. All had to be acquired somewhere? Not by being banished!
    About the closing on the letter she wrote to her father from Belgium… I think the word ‘veure’ might actually be ‘serviteure’. This was a common way to sign letters – meaning ‘your devoted servant’… in this case ‘devoted daughter’, loosely translated. In several of the letters Henry wrote to Anne much later, he used the word ‘serviteure’ to sign off.
    Sorry for the long message ! So much to say about Anne!!!

    1. Claire says:

      I agree, Sandi, and I believe with all my heart (and brain!) that Anne was at both courts and that her experiences there made her the woman she was. I don’t believe for one minute Sander’s story about Anne being sent to France because she slept with her father’s chaplain and butler, it is simply a story to blacken her name told by someone who was only a child when Anne died. Sylwia believes that Anne’s words to her father regarding becoming a worthy (or respectable woman) suggest that there was some scandal surrounding her going to France. But then Sylwia translates Anne’s letter differently to other scholar anyway.

      You make an interesting point but the “Veure” follows “Written at” and is before “Your very humble and very obedient daughter” so I don’t know.

  7. Anne Barnhill says:

    Good article! As always 🙂

  8. Daniela says:

    Thank you again for a very informative and intelligent article.

  9. Conor Byrne says:

    I find these claims incredible to be quite honest.

  10. Dawn 1st says:

    Can’t comment on the content of the book as I haven’t read it.

    But… can I ask, who are these relatives in France that Anne has been supposedly banished too because of her bad behaviour. Are there any record of these people, or that she ever went to them. Of their status, which side of the family they were on, or where abouts in France they lived. Did they move in high social circles or have the wealth, and ability to have been able to school Anne to such a high standard for her to become the intelligent, refined and accomplished woman that she became? Sorry, loads of questions…

    I have heard the Chaplain/butler rumour before, was it not mentioned on here once? but are there any source for this ‘bad behaviour’, or was this based on the wafflings of silly Sander’s again? I wonder where he sourced his info from, considering he was but a child when she died, was a catholic, wasn’t a fan of Elizabeth, and wasn’t keen on Henry either, doesn’t take much working that he could be a ‘tad’ bias to his own cause which is to assasinate, entirely, the character of Anne, therefore not the most reliable source to base any serious writing on. Was he one of the first fictional writers on Anne Boleyn do you think? 🙂

    1. Anyanka says:

      The only family I’ve heard about in France was Kathryn Howard’s father who was made Controller of Calais in 1530 or 1531.

      So not really able to look after a young Anne.

      1. Dawn 1st says:


  11. Lara says:

    I see that she’s launched a rather nasty attack on your for disagreeing with her and it’s ended up with her visitors branding your books as garbage and you as hoity toity. Nice and mature. I don’t see your article as an attack on her and I think it would be strange if you ignored a book that was questioning theories that you’ve published on your site.

    1. Claire says:

      I’ve answered her points on a comment over on her blog and now I’m just going to forget it all and go to bed. I agree, Lara, and I actually wrote this article because I’d been asked about Sylwia’s theory re France and Margaret of Austria’s court. I read every non-fiction Anne book that comes out and I can’t ignore theories that go against everything I believe the evidence points to, just as I didn’t agree with G W Bernard’s views on Anne.

  12. Clare Cherry says:

    I read this article earlier today and think it is brilliantly researched and written. I have also read the response to it by the author of the book which raises the issues that are being questioned here.
    Thank you for defending me against the personal and uncalled for attack, Claire. I didn’t have anything to do with writing this article. My involvement was minimal. I saw the mention of my name and was embarrassed, but not because I wanted to be disassociated with the contents. It was because I didn’t want to take any credit for a wonderful article when I felt I didn’t deserve it. I am honoured that you referred to me and that by association I can be linked to an article I completely agree with.
    If the author seeks to respond to criticism in the way she has done then so be it. It does little, if anything, to give credibility to her work.

    1. Claire says:

      I’m so sorry that you got dragged into this when all I wanted to do was credit you for your help. I’m really sorry, Clare.

      1. Clare Cherry says:

        Absolutely no apology necessary!

      2. Baroness Von Reis says:

        Claire,Clare,Sorry once again that you Claire 1, have been virblley attack,your a brillant women , Clare 2 as well.Better things to come in the future ,I am sure.I myself just shrug those childish games off and move on.Kind Regards Baroness

  13. Judith says:

    I haven’t read the whole of this book but I’ve read the online preview, and in Chapter Two there’s a mistake (under ‘Anne in France’ and just before ‘Queen Claude’s lists’):

    ‘We might assume that she owed her sojourn in France to her maternal uncle Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, who went to France with Mary Tudor’s entourage. It looks like it was Howard family’s triumph, because on the lists figured not only the Duke of Norfolk, but also his wife, his brother Lord Edmund Howard, and the Duke’s son Earl of Surrey.’

    Anne Boleyn’s maternal uncle Thomas Howard wasn’t yet Duke of Norfolk, as his father was still alive in 1514 and didn’t die until 1524. The Duke of Norfolk referred to must be Anne’s maternal grandfather, his wife must be his second wife, Anne’s step-grandmother Agnes Tilney, and the Earl of Surrey must be Anne Boleyn’s uncle the future third Duke of Norfolk. Zupanec also states:

    ‘In the letter to Cardinal Wolsey in March 1515, the Duke of Suffolk confessed that not only he had married Mary Tudor, but also that she was already expecting his child – merely two months after the King Louis XII’s death!’

    Suffolk’s letter doesn’t state that Mary was already expecting his child. It states, ‘The Queen would never let me rest until I had granted her to be married, and so to be plain with you, I have married her, heartily, and have lain with her insomuch I fear me she may be with child.’ (quoted from Maria Perry’s ‘Sisters to the King’).

    Suffice to say I won’t be buying the book.

    1. Lisa says:

      Judith, I noted the same an agree with your remarks on the errors.

  14. Sonetka says:

    A convincing counter-argument — but it’s worth pointing out that there’s nothing inherently wrong with going back to the sources. In this case it looks like what little evidence there is points to Anne having been in France and the Low Countries, but in many cases re-examination can show how frail the foundation is for some generally accepted ideas. Lady Rochford, for example — before Julia Fox’s book five years ago, authorities took the words of other authorities quoting still older authorities and didn’t examine the originals for themselves, and a good deal of confusion resulted. You can agree or not with Fox’s argument, but it’s hard to dispute that a close re-reading of the originals was very important. Similarly I don’t like the idea of being down on a historian because she “dislikes Anne” (I don’t mean Claire in this instance, but I’ve noticed that comments sometimes get like this). Anne was accomplished and impressive woman, but that doesn’t preclude her being unpleasant or unlikeable. And while sources have to be carefully weighed, it’s still true that people like Chapuys and Cavendish knew more basic facts about her than any of us ever will, and it’s unwise to dismiss them completely because they disliked her.

  15. Shoshana says:

    While I have not read the book (and now probably will not) but having read both articles, I agree with you, Claire, that Anne was attendant in both courts. I read the reply to your article before reading what you wrote and had already formed several opinons about statements made that, to me, just did not make a lot sense. Zupanec stated that you probably only used English translations and you should really read the sources in their original language. I find it doubtful that most people could read all the original languages without help of an English translation unless they were a language genius! Latin, French, Spanish, Italian – while it is completely possible that one person could be fluet in all, I find it doubtful they could be completely fluet in 16th century languages and not have to seek help by using English translations. She does not state that she is fluet in these languages nor who she may have asked to assist her in translations; that information would have gone a long way in convincing one of her position.

    To question the way you approached reviewing her book is rather unprofessional in my opinon. You were not arguementative, rude and you certainly were not unprofessional in your approach; I thought you did a wonderful job of pointing out the differences in opinons – not only yours, but others as well. That is the way of history; each has their own opinons and each is worthy of thoughtful and respectful analysis by all who have an interest. That your opinons differ and that you interpret various sources differently and write about the differences shows a respect for her work, in my opinon, otherwise her book would have been entirely ignored or offered as complete fiction. You wrote very respectfully about the difference in opinons without being insulted in any way; I believe her reply to your review to be rather immature and in some ways even rude.

    I have always found your reviews to be honest and respectful of others, even those you disagree with and I know you will continue in the same vein. Discussing the differences is one way we have of sometimes digging through history to find the truth; without respectful debate history would become stagnant.

    Keep up the good work, Claire. We all know where your heart is and your passion and we also know you would never do anything to lower your usual standard of excellence in all you do.

    1. Claire says:

      Thanks, Sho. Regarding the languages, even if you are fluent in modern day French, Spanish or Italian it is really difficult to understand 16th century sources. I’m good at French and my father is fluent but it still took ages for her is translate one particular source because you have to decipher the handwriting and then also the 16th century spelling – tricky!

      Thank you for your kind words. I cannot ignore the book, I have to speak out because I feel strongly about the theories put forward by Zupanec. She talks about wanting to provoke debate and discussion and how people shouldn’t accept things as fact without investigation so it seems odd that she can’t accept me challenging her ideas. I’m not going to let it worry me though.

  16. Lisa says:

    Let me establish 3 things before anything else: 1) I am neither a Zupanec groupie nor a Ridgway groupie and come to this as an impartial observer. I am person interested in the history of Europe and very interested in Tudor history; 2) I work as a genealogist; 3) I have worked as a writer and proofreader. I apologize for the length, but it is in the interest of clarity.

    The reason I even know about the existence of “The Daring Truth About Anne Boleyn” is because of the Anne Boleyn Files. Claire Ridgway was as interested as anyone to see what new evidence may have come to light. That is how I found the Kindle edition and downloaded the sample – something I do before I buy any book, even for 99 cents. Having read the sample, there is nothing contained in the sample text that to me is new evidence; I mean that literally, I have seen nothing that is not documentation I have not seen before. Opinion, interpretation, translation, but not new documentation, i.e., new evidence. Perhaps that will change further into the book, but that is what a sample is supposed to be for: to see what you’re getting before you invest your time and money.

    Translation and interpretation is very important to a genealogist. I have spent years correcting my own and others’ original family history research after finding new documentation or finding the originals of old documentation and seeing errors in transcription or interpretation. Why do I bother saying this in a talk about Tudor history? To say that no source is absolute and beyond question, no translation or interpretation is beyond debate or could not change upon re-translation and re-interpretation. Yet we also have to apply what we know of the period, the language, and logic to what we find and come to our own conclusions. Thus my interest in this book.

    But what I find more disturbing is this internet war that has sprung up. When Claire Ridgway wrote her article that Sylwia Zupanec is so offended by, she did not write “Hey, let me show you everything Sylwia Zupanec screwed up!” She never said “Don’t read it.” She said people were asking her opinion of Zupanec’s theories. Ridgway then gave her opinion on those theories she disagrees with (should she have spent a lot of space repeating “We agree on this, this, this, and this”?) and gave her evidence backing her own theories. Her article was professional, provided sources, and quoted Zupanec’s book. I saw nothing there I would consider a personal attack.

    When Zupanec’s reply came online, I honestly was confused. I thought “Whoa, what did I miss?” And I went back to re-read both Ridgway’s article and Zupanec’s response. For good measure, I re-read Zupanec’s sample. Again, I find nothing in Ridgway’s article that looked like a personalized attack.

    On the other hand, Zupanec’s response is full of “not fair”s, harshly worded remarks, and way too much bolding which is distracting to any reader when overused. There is much accusation of Ridgway going out of her way to raise group opinion in opposition to Zupanec’s book, as if Ridgway demanded her supposed disciples back her up when in reality she did not even ask for comment – seriously, the article does not even end in “What do you think?” There is accusation against Claire Cherry being a co-author of the article, while Ridgway states clearly “Thank you to Clare Cherry for helping me research this article…” and thus vitriol begins to pour onto a researcher who expressed no opinion whatsoever; I wonder how Zupanec would feel if people suddenly started attacking Caroline zum Kolk similarly.

    Zupanec also seems to think that Ridgway is responsible personally for each and every comment that others put on her site and if she does not remove them it must mean that she wholeheartedly endorses their opinion and their way of expressing it. When 1 comment did sound as if it could be attacking on a personal level, Ridgway immediately and politely shot it down, saying “Have you read the book? I really don’t want to turn this into an attack on anyone…” Ridgway posted this within 6 minutes of the commenter, and to the commenter’s credit, they apologized for the apparent tone of the remark. No other personalized-attack sounding posts have been submitted to the Anne Boleyn Files as of noon today.

    But if one assumes that the site-owner is responsible for every comment on their site, then one wonders if Zupanec agrees or disagrees with remarks here that Ridgway is “hoity-toity,” publishes “garbage books,” and is “the loser” in an internet war which she is not waging. None of this sounds like “debate” and it’s certainly not professional. As of noon today, I have not seen Zupanec ask her commenters not to make it personal.

    Speaking of professional, I understand from Zupanec’s posts that this book is published only in English. I am disappointed to learn this, not because I need it translated (English is my first language) but because I had been giving the author some leeway by assuming that this book must have been published in another language and then translated and that some computer’s translation program was later responsible for making the numerous errors I see both here and in her book. The book is full of distressingly distracting grammar errors. Since this book is published only in English, if I were the author I would have at least had someone proofread it, or for that matter have at least let her word processor grammar-checker have a go at it.

    I am a disinterested party who is relating what I’ve read in this book and what I’ve seen happen this week. I would suggest that Zupanec needs to grow the thicker skin that is required when one puts one’s work out into the world. All writer’s must learn this, that there are those criticisms which are just that – criticisms and not personal attacks – and that there is a difference in expressing an opinion about one’s work and an opinion about the author as a person.

    As historical research, I will read the rest of “The Daring Truth About Anne Boleyn” because I have already started it and I am interested in new interpretations and I do not take anyone’s word as fact on something that I have not read myself. But I have to say that seeing Zupanec’s rather juvenile response to a critique makes me reluctant to finish the read for fear that Zupanec may not have been able to be objective in her research of Anne Boleyn any more than she could be objective about another Boleyn writer’s view of her work.

    This is only my opinion on what I have observed and read, but it is the opinion of an outsider who would very likely NOT buy this book were it not for the self-challenge of seeing if there really is new evidence here – a challenge I do take personally after my adventures in genealogy – and to see the author’s sources point-by-point, since I own copies of many of them. I believe the average reader, running into this mess first, will very likely be turned off by it and less likely to offer their money and time.

    [posted at both websites in the interest of openess and clarity]

    1. Lisa says:

      My apologies, in the remark about the possibility of a computer’s translation program being responsible for errors made “here” and in Zupanec’s book, “here” refers to the website “The Daring Truth About Anne Boleyn,” where I first published these remarks.

    2. Claire says:

      Hi Lisa,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I have read and re-read my post so many times over the past twenty-four hours trying to understand what could have been taken as attacking and I just can’t see anything, I challenge theories and do not attack a person. I messaged Sylwia via Facebook to tell her I’d written the article as I was hoping that she’d then either comment her or write an article going into more depth on her views on Anne, France and the Habsburg Court.

      As I said, I was asked about my thoughts on Zupanec’s theories and as someone who writes about Anne Boleyn on a regular basis I felt that I could not ignore the theories presented in this book. I have discussed many theories on the site in exactly the same way. History research and scholarship is about presenting theories based on evidence for others to debate. That is why we have the ping-pong of articles between Eric Ives and G W Bernard in the 1990s when they were debating Anne’s fall and her religious faith. We’re not all going to agree and that’s what makes history such a wonderful subject.

      I stand behind everything that I posted. I’ve read Zupanec’s book a few times now and still can’t find anything new, more a reinterpretation of sources, which is great but it is not new. The records mentioned in her book were not discovered by Zupanec.

      Regarding the language issue, Sylwia’s Anne Boleyn blog is in Polish and English so I assume that her first language is Polish. I haven’t seen it on Amazon in any other language than English.

      Thank you again for taking the time to leave such a detailed comment, I very much appreciate it.

      1. Lisa says:

        LOL@myself – miladyblue is not the only one who should not post when tired. I’m cringing at my typos in a post discussing someone else’s grammar. Then again, nobody is paying to read my work!

        I really would have been interested in a debate between you and Sylwia Zupanec on such different views about Anne’s early life. (Is this the same Sylwia you had posted about during your virtual tour this spring?) Unfortunately debate was not the option she chose. I am glad to be one of many who confirmed for you that there was nothing wrong with your article here. And glad the matter seems to have ended there, online at least.

        1. Lisa says:

          Also regarding the language issue, on her FaceBook page many people asked whether the book would be published in other languages. Sylwia’ answer was that thus far it has only been published in English.

        2. Claire says:

          I notice that she has removed her “reply” to me from her site now so let’s hope that this is over now.

          I would have loved to debate various points with Sylwia as there are many things we don’t agree with regarding Anne and I think it would have been interesting to Tudor history lovers. I’ve been put off, though!

          Yes, I visited Sylwia’s blog on my virtual tour.

          Thank you again for your comment, it really did help and don’t worry about typos!

  17. Dawn 1st says:

    I read Gareth Russell’s artical ‘is there anything new to say…’, and it was spot on.
    New info on Anne would have hit the media long before it would give anyone a chance to write it into a new ‘revealing all’ biography.

    What I find disturbing, upsetting, even scary, is that people seem to be losing the ability to debate, discuss, or agree to differ in a rational way, without the differences becoming the focus of name calling, ridiculing, and the ganging up of ‘play-ground’ bullies. If this is to become the ‘norm’ it will be very difficult to post comments, write reviews etc, on ANY site without the fear of upsetting one or more people, and bringing down a tirade of abuse upon yourself.

    This comment is aimed at no one who has posted here on this article, least of all Claire, it is a generalisation
    But those that do resort to this kind of behaviour know who they are, and need to rein it in, before it spoils the enjoyment for many and deters them from joining in on a topic. Nothing wrong with a good passionate, even heated debate, but PLEASE, leave out the personal attacks, it adds nothing, but shows a great deal about those that do it.

    1. Judith says:

      Hi Dawn,

      I couldn’t agree more about the bullying, ganging-up, ridiculing and irrational playground behaviour on the internet. It’s disappointing and disturbing, particularly if it’s done by grown adults who are engaged in an academic or semi-academic pursuit. For a discussion of why it’s happening you might want to try a book called The Everything Guide to Narcissistic Personality Disorder by Cynthia Lechan Goodman and Barbara Leff. Chapter 15 is about online narcissists. I thought this passage about them was apt:

      ‘Just as they would in real life, digital narcissists use all of their online accounts, blogs, social media, whatever, to build up themselves and the people they want to manipulate, and to slam the people they have no use for. But unlike when they do these things in real life, they are even less shy about it online. Attacks are more scathing and vicious in cyberspace, where the digital narcissist can say whatever he wants to about whomever he chooses. Look for particularly cruel or critical posts on his pages.’ (p. 171)

      I’m not directing this at any particular poster – I don’t even use facebook so I haven’t read anything on this subject that’s been posted there. It’s just a widespread problem that appears to be growing worse.

      1. Dawn 1st says:

        That is so true Judith. Have read a few books in the past on personality disorders, usually related to the serious criminal, (and noooo…I am not saying or accusing anyone of being criminal, got to cover my back here 🙂 ). And your quote has made me relise that there are versions of these disorders that are showing themselves on the web…scary, very scary. And no I don’t use facebook, twitter etc either, it’s not my ‘cup-of-tea’, and this type of behavior underlines why it’s not for me.
        Thanks for that Judith.

  18. Marilyn R says:

    The Internet is a wonderful tool – but has its alarming aspects as well.

    I can’t find Sylwia’s reply to you, but I really don’t see anything offensive in your article.

    1. Claire says:

      Hi Marilyn,
      She removed her reply to me from her website late last night after Lisa’s comment.

      1. Baroness Von Reis says:

        Claire,I have always admired your work,and if I thought for one nano second you did not resaerch and get your facts spot on,no matter who we may be in reading abou,I would not be on this site.I for one do not like personal attacks on anyone,it is not fair and it is childish ,on so many levels.If Claire had not given here time and life to finding out as much truth and facts as she has,we would not have this site,to learn what perhapes we don’t know,is truely a gift from Claire and Clare.We are her to learn at least I am,I know much about Tudor times,and Claire has thought me so much more,I welcome that. Kind Regards Baroness.

  19. BanditQueen says:

    I find your evidence to be interesting and there is a debate about whether or not Anne was in the court of France and it has been always a tradition that she was there. Her education certainly points to the school of Queen Claude at the French court. But the Daring Truth About Anne Boleyn looks behind the traditions and the myths and asks us to look at the evidence on its own merit. While it is true that there is nothing that indicates fresh evidence that Anne Boleyn was not at the courts of either Margaret of Austria or Claude of France; the author is correct to say that no extant and obvious evidence exists to prove that she was there. The lady in these letters is not mentioned as Anne Boleyn and the receiver is not mentioned as Thomas Boleyn. The archives could be incomplete and it is not clear which letters of Margaret these quotes came from. The letter from Anne to her father suggests that she is writing from abroad and it was not without precedent for the daughter of a gentleman or noble to go abroad for finishing education. But would they have gone to such a sophisticated court as the mere daughter of a knight? I doubt it!

    It is possible that Anne and Mary as their father was known at the English court and in service abroad for the English court could have been nominated to go to France as part of the household of Princess Mary but they would not have been her most important maids as they are not high enough in rank. Anne Brandon on the other hand, once her father was made a Duke would rise in rank and in presiding over the other ladies. She would be more important than either of the Boleyn girls at this time. It is also possible that when Louis died and Mary Tudor was left a widow that some of her English ladies were transferred to Claude as the new Queen of France. A Mary Boleyn is mentioned but Anne is not. She is more likely to have come to join her sister later on. The letter is clearly referring to Anne being called home in 1521/2 and is clearly from an older woman than a child of seven or ten.

    I have to agree with the author of Daring Truth; there is no evidence for Anne being in France and no evidence that she was in the household of Queen Claude. She is more likely to have been educated in France but not part of the royal household. The tradition is a strong one and her being in France is acceptable as her education points to some form of court education, but there is no real actual evidence.

    Having said this; Anne clearly knew King Francis and was very pro French. She seems to have been known by the Ambassador and Francis seems to be familiar with both Boleyn ladies in an easy manner. It is said that King Francis made Mary his mistress but apart from his boasting as men do, and her reputation, what evidence is there for this either?

    Anne knew French dress and style and had a manner that indicated the flamboyancy of the French court rather than the restraint of women in England. Her manners are more sophisticated and forward than those of an average English lady who has led a sheltered life in her parents home. Anne has the air and confidence of a person who has traveled and been away from her parents control for some time. This and the ease with which she fitted into English court life and had a pro French opinion and policy indicates that she had spent some time in France. The English are not naturally pro French: Anne was. That indicates that she had been in France, was familiar with French manners and customs and that she knew French ways, language, dress and their place in European politics. This indicates a long stay in France and a French education at a French school or more precisely the French court.

    So, to conclude. for me, the book is correct, nothing is clear on paper to point to concrete evidence of her having a sophisticated education and being many years at the Courts of France and Holland, but absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, so the circumstantial evidence has to be considered. The traditions around Anne are very strong and many historians accept them as fact, without even looking too closely at them, which is not good historian practice, but they are traditions that point to very good circumstantial evidence that cannot be ignored. The letters above and the connection to her sister and father in France, along with her own education and ways, and testimony of her own letter, point to Anne very strongly, if only by circumstantial evidence being as is accepted educated and raised at the Court of Queen Claude in France, or at least at a school in Paris.

    I would very much like to see more evidence: but the circumstances that Anne presents in herself are too strong to ignore. Either Anne was educated at court or she did the best work or invention of oneself in history. Had I met Anne, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have believed her had she told me that she went to France with Mary Tudor and stayed there for a few years. It certainly is not an impossible thing to believe since she spoke French like a native and had a forceful and dignified personality; a sense of style and grace, knew the latest music and dance from France and was able to impress man and women at the highest level, something impossible for someone who had not had the educational background that Anne claimed for herself.

    1. Claire says:

      On the contrary, there is plenty of evidence for Anne being at the French court, far more than there is for her not being there. As I said in my post above Francis I writes about “the daughter of Mr. Boullan” being recalled from France – and it couldn’t be Mary because she was in England, having married William Carey. The imperial ambassadors also recorded Anne being recalled in a letter written in 1522. Then we have Nicholas Throckmorton recording that Queen Claude’s sister told him that Anne served Queen Claude as a maid-of-honour, and Renee was in a position to know. We also have Lancelot de Carles, secretary to the French ambassador writing of Anne being retained by Queen Claude when Mary Tudor returned to England. Francis I, the imperial ambassadors, Renee of France and Lancelot de Carles were all in positions to know whether Anne was in France serving Queen Claude, I don’t see any reason why they would lie about it. Why do you discount this evidence? I don’t understand.

      As for Anne being in Mechelen, the letter from Margaret of Austria to Thomas Boleyn regarding his daughter coming to her court is now lost BUT the 19th century editor of Maximilian and Margaret’s correspondence did not see any reason to doubt its authenticity, or who wrote it and who it was addressed to, and neither has any other scholar. How can anyone today therefore say that the letter is undated and doesn’t mention Anne or Thomas by name – we don’t have the full letter.

      We also have Anne’s letter to her father. Regardless of her age when writing it, it says that she wrote it at “Veure” and if you read the many letters Maximilan and Margaret wrote to each other you will see that there are various mentions of “au Château de la Veuren”. I don’t see how Zupanec can dismiss the letter as she does, particularly when Anne mentions “Semmonet” and “Symmonet” was a member of the ducal household. How could Anne be receiving help with her French from Symmonet if she’s not part of the household?

      As I say above, the final piece of evidence is Thomas Boleyn’s letter to Margaret recalling Anne. Why would he write recalling “la pettite Boulain” if Anne wasn’t there? No other scholar has doubted the letter’s authenticity and it is from Sir Thomas Boleyn to Margaret of Austria and signed Thomas Boleyn, it is also dated 14 August 1514. It was donated to Lincoln Cathedral in 2009 and they did not doubt its authenticity when it became part of a Medieval library exhibition. Unless Zupanec has carried out testing on the letter which shows that it is a fake then she cannot dismiss it.

      It is wonderful when books challenge accepted ideas and find evidence to the contrary, but this was not the case with Zupanec’s book. It was self-published, so the blurb and the marketing about it containing new research all came from Zupanec. When I asked her what was new in her book, she said her research into the lists of Queen Claude’s household, which isn’t new because both Eric Ives and Retha Warnicke writes about Anne’s name not appearing on the lists, and her use of original documents as opposed to translations. Well, I know that I have used original documents and I know that Eric Ives did too, so how is that new. On the face of it, if you don’t know the primary sources, Zupanec’s book looks like it contains new information, but if you check her sources they don’t say what she says they do – see for an example. I don’t believe it is right to misquote sources to back up an idea.

      1. BanditQueen says:

        Thank you Claire, your reply is very helpful and has a lot of good information. I have been looking at this via Ives and found that although he concedes some evidence and sources are not clear, the vast majority of the evidence points to Anne being in France, also being at the court with Queen Claude and that her education here was sophisticated. Mind you, common sense points to Anne having a French or court education, everything about her when she comes to the English court screams of a French finishing education. Again, thank you for the information: I am re-reading as much about Anne as possible at the moment, just as the lady is fascinating, and just when you think you know about her; you don’t and another book or article appears. One thing I will say about Zupanec’s book however, is that she has started a debate; even if sadly most of those who are quick to condemn her book (present company excepted) have not even read it. It looks behind the myth and it may actually end up backing up the myth as her sources that she admires are not positive ones on Anne, but at least she is asking questions.

        To balance this book there is another book which is more positive in that it counters the way Anne has been portrayed or mis-portrayed in popular culture: The Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo. I am also reading at the same time: Anne Boleyn The Queen of Controversy by Lacy Baldwin Smith as he takes a look at the stages of her life through the eyes of four main authors and tries to reconcile the sources with the theories developed about her life, reign and fall. I may end up with a wired brain, but at least I will be enjoying some quality Anne time.

        1. Claire says:

          Yes, I would agree with Ives. Although Anne’s name is missing from Queen Claude’s list, there is certainly enough proof from those who were present at the French court at the time to say that Anne was there. Retha Warnicke uses the fact that Anne’s name is missing to argue that Anne was actually at the court as a child, rather than as a maid-of-honour.

          I’ve just finished Susan Bordo’s book and Lacey Baldwin-Smith’s book and enjoyed both of them. I read anything and everything there is on Anne, whatever the point of view. I’m looking forward to “The Last Days of Anne Boleyn” too which I’ve just found out is on BBC2 on 23rd May and also the Cromwell programme. Can’t get enough of it all!

  20. BanditQueen says:

    Hi Claire

    Just to say have enjoyed all these articles but am now going on holiday for 10 days so have to get some early night. But have spent tonight re-reading your articles on the Early Life of Anne Boleyn which are very detailed and very informative and raise a lot of questions. Now bookmarked a number of sources to take on holiday with me to read and study. I will be back just in time for the new documentaries on 23rd and 24th. Saw the add on the BBC last night. Looking forward to seeing what is new, if anything that they have to say.

    Cheers and thanks again for the debate. Sorry that Sylvia or anyone has made personal attacks. Even if you do not agree, disagree with grace is what I believe and let live. Will be back to read your articles on my return. Cheers for now.

    1. Claire says:

      I hope you have a wonderful holiday and that you enjoy your reading.

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