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Anne Boleyn’s Influence on Elizabeth I

Posted By on September 16, 2009

Elizabeth's WomenI’ve just been listening to BBC Radio 4’s “Woman’s Hour” from Monday 14th September in which historian and writer of “Elizabeth’s Women”, Tracy Borman, discusses Elizabeth I and the influence that women, such as her mother, stepmothers and half-sister, had on the course of her life.

It is a wonderful interview and a “must-listen” for Anne Boleyn fans and Elizabeth fans alike. You can download it from iTunes – search for “Woman’s Hour” in podcasts – or you can listen to it at the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour website – click here to go directly to the programme.

The best part of the interview for me is when Borman is discussing Anne Boleyn and what her feelings must have been while she was in labour, hoping for a boy. Part of Borman’s book is read out:

“Just as Anne had hoped, this child would one day bring England to such glory and power that its name would echo down the centuries as one of the greatest monarchs that ever lived. But in the stifling confines of the birthing chamber, on that hot September day, none of this could have been predicted, for the child that Anne had borne was not the hoped for prince – it was a girl.”

Borman talks of how Elizabeth’s birth was Anne’s downfall. After Henry had pursued her for over 6 years, spent time and energy securing a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and even overturned the religious establishment, Anne fails him by providing him with “yet another useless girl”. The irony and tragedy is that Elizabeth was anything but useless and, as Borman says, was “arguably the most successful of the Tudors”. How sad that Anne never lived to see Elizabeth rule and that Henry discounted her as useless.

Tracy Borman also dispels the myth that Anne Boleyn meant nothing to Elizabeth or that she was ashamed of her mother. Starkey talks of how Elizabeth never mentioned Anne at all and Weir mentions that Elizabeth only talked of Anne twice, but Borman talks about how we have to consider Elizabeth’s actions to really see the high regard and affection she held for her mother:-

  1. A high proportion of the servants in Elizabeth’s household were Boleyn relatives.
  2. The locket ring she wore up to her death contained two miniatures – one of herself and one of her mother.

Although it may have been dangerous for Elizabeth to speak out about her mother, who was still considered by many to be “The Great Whore” or a traitor, her actions speak louder than words.

For Elizabeth fans, the radio interview goes on to discuss the influence that other women had on Elizabeth and it is well worth listening to.

Tracy Borman’s book, “Elizabeth’s Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen”, is due for release in the UK on 24th September – click here to pre-order it from Amazon UK. Amazon UK will post overseas too if you don’t want to wait until it is released where you are.

Here’s what Amazon says about Borman’s book:-

“Elizabeth I was born into a world of women. As a child, she was served by a predominantly female household of servants and governesses, with occasional visits from her mother, Anne Bolyen, and the wives who later took her place.

As Queen, Elizabeth was constantly attended by ladies of the bedchamber and maids of honor who clothed her, bathed her and watched her while she ate. Among her family, it was her female relations who had the greatest influence: from her sister Mary, who distrusted and later imprisoned her, to her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, who posed a constant and dangerous threat to her crown for almost thirty years. Despite the importance of women in Elizabeth’s life, most historians and biographers have focused on her relationships with men. She has been portrayed as a ‘man’s woman’ who loved to flirt with the many ambitious young men who frequented her court. Yet it is the women in her life who provide the most fascinating insight into the character of this remarkable monarch. With them she was jealous, spiteful and cruel, as well as loyal, kind and protective. She showed her frailties and her insecurities, but also her considerable shrewdness and strength. In short, she was more human than the public persona she presented to the rest of the court. It is her relationships with women that hold the key to the private Elizabeth.

In this original chronicling of the life of one of England’s greatest monarchs, historian Tracy Borman explores Elizabeth’s relationships with the key women in her life. Beginning with her mother and the governesses and stepmothers who cared for the young princess, including her beloved Kat Astley and the inspirational Katherine Parr, “Elizabeth’s Women” sheds new light on her formative years. Elizabeth’s turbulent relationships with her rivals are examined: from her sister, ‘Bloody’ Mary, to the sisters of Lady Jane Grey, and finally the most deadly of all her rivals, Mary, Queen of Scots who would give birth to the man Elizabeth would finally, inevitably have to recognize as heir to her throne. It is a chronicle of the servants, friends and ‘flouting wenches’ who brought out the best – and the worst – of Elizabeth’s carefully cultivated image as Gloriana, the Virgin Queen, in the glittering world of her court.”

Tell me what you think of the interview after you’ve listened to it. I can’t wait to read the book!

19 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn’s Influence on Elizabeth I”

  1. Jessica R says:

    Is this book out in the USA? Thanks for the link, it was an interesting interview.

  2. Claire says:

    Hi Jessica,
    There doesn’t seem to be a release date for the US but Amazon UK will ship to the US so you could pre-order it through them. it’s out in the UK on 24th September.

  3. Jessica says:

    Great!
    Bess learn so much from the women of her time.
    They all,in my opinion were very strong,and bess knew that she would have to be one too,and she did!

    about the “rival” thing, Mary wasn’t her rival,at least i don’t see like that.They spend much time being friends,visiting,sending letters and gifts to each other .When Edward neglected both,they were together.They had problems after the “power” as i like to say.The same happened with Edward and Mary and Elizabeth,as long as they had power and intrigues,they were no longer friends.
    Mary stuart was her rival indeed,and i often ask myself,if Elizabeth kept Mary S. for so long time arrested because she didn’t know if Mary was innocent or guilty,a victim or villan.

    Anne give birth to Elizabeth and her courage, quick-temper and headstrong came from her,then Anne of Cleves gave a fraternal love to her and Katherine Parr “shaped” her.

  4. Lexy says:

    What do you think would have happened if King Harry had fallen on his tyran’s head on the famous tournament day and broke it for good? In that case Anne would have been queen regent and queen mother, and she would have raised her beloved daughter the way she wanted… Do you think Elizabeth would have been a different person and woman? I think that it would have changed her views on wedding and motherhood, i’m sure, having the model of such a maternal woman. As far as I’m concerned, I think that Elizabeth was Anne’s greatest love, and she would have fight against all odds for her. Too bad she couldn’t see the axtraordinary queen her baby became!

    1. Lynn says:

      Possibly Anne would have ruled if Henry had died that day,but would she have been able to hold it. Mary would have probably challenged her and her daughter for power and probably would have overthrown Anne with the power of Spain and the Vatican. So for Elizabeth unfortunately the way things ultimately played out was to her advantage.

  5. Claire says:

    Ooh I love “what ifs”! I wonder what kind of Queen Regent Anne would have been. I think she would have had to deal with revolts and rebellions trying to put Mary on the throne but she was a strong lady so she may have squashed them. Yes, Elizabeth would have grown up to be a very different woman – she would not have missed out on having a mother and she would not have had to cope with being relegated to “Lady Elizabeth”, being ignored, having a succession of stepmothers and also seeing Henry execute another Queen. Interesting!

  6. Lexy says:

    I think that as a regent Anne would have used her familial connections, mostly Howard, to create a strong power. And she and her allies would have play on the fact that Mary was half a stranger and under influences, and using Henry’s anti-catholic propanganda. I truly think she would have done the best for England and her daughter. And she would have kept Thomas Seymour far from her baby girl ( what would have been a very, very good thing since I’m sure he acted like a predator abusing a young girl traumatised by the loss of her father and not sure of her new feminity, and changed Elizabeth’s views on men forever). In fact, had Anne been a regent, maybe the Tudor dynasty would have last more through her daughter’s offspring!

  7. rochie says:

    Lexi, I think your comments are very interesting. What difficulties Anne would have encountered we can only speculate on, but they would have been great ones and probably almost insurmountable. The rival factions for a Queen Mary would have been very strong, and given the support this would have received from the Emperor Charles overseas, there would almost certainly have been great discontent and possible even civil war in England in order to make it happen.
    Elizabeth was fortunate in that at the time of her accession, England was already a seasoned protestant country, with the past reforms of Edward and the Seymours behind her and a Mary that the people were frightened of and weary of. It was a good start – but Anne would have been thrown into a storm of controversy from which she would, sadly, probably not have survived.

  8. Lexy says:

    Yes, Elizabeth’s accession to power wouldn’t have been as easy as it had been after the deaths of her siblings, I agree. But in the case I uggested, she could have managed to become queen. Don’t forget that Anne had lived many years serving Margareth of Austria, ruler of Low Countries and the woman who taught Charles Quint to rule a kingdown, she might have learn a lot. She was clever enough to reach the trone, so she might have used her skills in the diplomatic area. Don’t forget that Francis I was ready for everything to win against Charles Quint, even making a treaty with Turks that shoked the whole Christendom. If Charles had took too big a role in English succession, opposition could have used the same English nationalism that played against Mary when she married Philip of Spain. Anne and her daughters had their chance, really.

  9. Oraya says:

    The irony and tragedy is that Elizabeth was anything but useless and, as Borman says, was “arguably the most successful of the Tudors”. How sad that Anne never lived to see Elizabeth rule and that Henry discounted her as useless.

    It was so much as girls were thought of as useless, because they weren’t. They were still valued for uniting countries, and gaining wealth and power through marriage. It’s just that up until Elizabeth I there hadn’t been any recorded cases of a successful female monarch, and let us NOT forget that it is the male that would have carried on the line of Tudor succession!

  10. Oraya says:

    lol that should have been ” it wasn’t so much ” not ” It was so much ” ;0 to early in the morning.

  11. Claire says:

    Don’t worry, Oraya, I’m forever doing typos before I’ve had my morning caffeine or when I’m working too late! You’re right about girls having their uses – the amount of men that poor Mary was linked to as her father used her as a pawn!

  12. Amy B. says:

    I love the speculations concerning what type of monarch Elizabeth would have been had Henry died whilst jousting. After much thought I believe she would have been quite similar to the queen we know. Elizabeth would have come into her own much sooner. My reasoning is thus: Bess inherited her parents intelligence charm and wit. I am in the camp of those who believe the reasons Bess did not marry are these in order of importance… 1 she realized what an asset her virginity was both in what it represented to her people who were still adjusting to Protestantism and needed a tangible affirmation of their faith and its purity and by giving her an advantage in playing the very dangerous complex game of 16th century politics. Bess could almost always rely on dangling the hope of her hand in marriage to secure allegiences or keeping threats at bay. 2 Like both her parents Bess refused to be ruled by anyone. This trait helped bring about Annes fall. Who can say how much stronger her natural inclinations may have been had Bess grown up under the loving guidance of Anne a formidable woman. I wonder what Anne would have been like with all the power of majesty yet no Henry to apppease. Sure her family would have tried to assert control but like a momma bear Anne would have protected Bess and her birthright with every bit of her being. Finally 3 I believe Annes mistreatment and murder did play a role in Elizabeths decision not to wed. Though talk of her mother was forbidden until she was queen Bess wouldve had a general overview of the marriage and she witnessed the doomed relationship of Henry & Catherine Howard &ultimately her execution. Add to that the tragedy that was all the kings marriages. From a young age the concept that marriage brought unhappiness had to dawn on her brilliant mind. Also had Anne been able to raise Elizabeth I doubt the health issues the future queen suffered wouldnt have manifested. I believe the constant uncertainty of her position the real threat of

  13. Amy B. says:

    Continuation of last post.I believe the constant uncertainty of her status the threat of execution her exile from the court & lack of Henrys love & presence the knowledge that her birth was a disappointment the knowledge that daddy ordered mummys death with all the normal feelings of insecurity every child/adolescent feels wrecked havoc on her mentally eventually causing physical health problems. I think Elizabeths health issues were the now commonly known Chrons Disease. Various historians site that during her youth up to when she came into her own as a monarch Bess was plagued 1st by bouts of abdominal and then as it progressed full body pain and swelling. These episodes were after/during periods of great stress. These effects are classic symptoms of Chrons. I know this from research and personal experience. I have Chrons and experienced the horribly painful swelling and incapacitation a flare up creates.The majority of my flares follow periods of high stress/anxiety. Diet also effects the disease. Gout was common in that era. Its not hard to believe Bess overindulged on foods that would trigger a flare up. Another fact that supports my theory is the disease is also genetic. Queen Mary I Mary of Guise Mary Queen of Scots and depending on the author Anne Boleyn all suffered similar symptoms but not as often as our Elizabeth. Royal and noble families of Europe married within a finite group meaning that a high rate of affinity or common blood lines between spouses existed. So it is plausible to believe Elizabeth inherited the disease. Whether Elizabeth had a genetic condition or if her physical ailments were the result of an overburdened young lady had her dear mother Anne Boleyn been with her I believe Elizabeths health would have been better. NOTE from Amy B. please pardon the long post I love this relatively unexplored area.Its the basis of my Doctorate dissertation. Also aside from sentence ending punctuation I cant use commas colons etc. Thanks 4 ur time&humor

  14. Lexy says:

    As I am the one who started the speculation of ” what if Henry died instead of Anne”, I just agree with you Amy B. Had she been carde by a loving mother, Elizabeth’s life would have been different. Look the way Anne cared for her when she was a baby, then a toddler: she didn’t even want ti part from her, keeping her on a cushio under the royal canopy. I think that Elizabeth would have experienced stress, being obliged to fight for her throne. But her mum would have been her, reassuring her when needed and fighting for her too. Concerning the wedding matter, I think that the situation would have been different: Mary was a young woman at the time of the tournament, and her supporters would have pressured her until she took a husband and gave birth to an heir ( the presence of an heir was an important “plus” during the Lancaster/York civil war). So Elizabeth would have to marry, a cadte from French kingdown or an Englishman of inferior rank, like Edward Courtenay for example. And one thing that I’m wondering about is Elizabeth’s opinion toward maternity. OK she had the bad experiences of Jane Seymour and Kaherine Parr, but in the same time she described herself once as a dryed source or something like that. That’s the remark of a bitter childless woman, no? With such a maternal mother, she has instincts…

  15. Anne Barnhill says:

    What a great interview–I’ll have to get the book ASAP! I do think Elizabeth was bitter and lonely at the end. Her Dudley was gone, Cecil and her best women friends. The novel I’m working on is about the woman whose finger Elizabeth broke–my ancestor, Lady Mary Scudamore. Wow!

  16. Emma Lee says:

    If Elizabeth was triumphant in life (she was!), then Queen Mary of Scots was triumphant in death. Like her motto, “In my end is my beginning.”, her legacy prevailed. Her son united Scotland and England and the reign of the Tudors was over.

  17. Mica says:

    If Elizabeth loved his mother Anne, why she didn’t give to Anne a dignity sepulture? That´s my doub. (i apologize for my english)

    1. Claire says:

      Anne Boleyn was buried in the royal chapel of St Peter ad Vincula so although it can’t be compared to somewhere like Westminster Abbey it was a royal chapel and a house of God. I think Elizabeth thought it was best not to draw attention to the fact that her mother had been executed as a traitor and that her parents’ marriage had been annulled, making Elizabeth illegitimate and bringing her claim to the throne into question.

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