Day 4 of the Anne Boleyn Files Advent Calendar

Posted By on December 4, 2021

Our fourth Tudor-themed treat is from Amanda Harvey Purse, author of the forthcoming The Boleyns: From the Tudors to the Windsors, and is about that famous Boleyn, Mary Boleyn.

Thank you, Amanda, for sharing this article with us.

Click here to access the Advent Calendar and do bookmark it so you can open a door each day.

You can get another Tudor-themed treat by heading over to the Tudor Society Advent Calendar – click here.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up to the Anne Boleyn Files mailing list as I’m going to be announcing an Anne Boleyn online event soon! Click here.

1 thought on “Day 4 of the Anne Boleyn Files Advent Calendar”

  1. Christine says:

    Mary Boleyn was more than just Anne Boleyns sister and the mistress of King Henry V111, she has also been linked to King Francois of France, it is true that when references are made about Mary it is always in her connection to Anne and Henry, and yet as the article explains she was also very much a woman in her own right, she was a person who lived married had children, and who survived the dreadful fall of her family in the spring of May 1536, she could well have been a very warm compassionate woman and spirited to, she married without her family’s permission and then had to break the ghastly news to them, not an easy feat and yet she did do it, she was like most women since time begun who made some unwise decisions in their lifetime, Mary is the only child of her parents who has descendants to this day, many of them famous as well, she is an enigma as we know nothing of her character yet she has inspired movies and books and we have several paintings of her, those paintings depict a sweet faced lady with large warm brown eyes, and a peaches and cream complexion, her colouring appears fair to auburn and she looks the typical English rose, her letters maybe prove she was not as fluent as her younger siblings in verse and she was no poet like George but we have to remember, these two siblings of hers were exceptionally gifted people, so that does not mean she was ignorant or dim witted, she wrote well enough, she could maybe write and speak a little French to she did after all, like Anne spend some years in France, she must have learnt how to embroider which was expected of all high born ladies and she could dance and was taught how to manage a large household, she was no doubt of average intelligence, she had been educated enough to earn her a place at Court like hundreds of other young ladies from noble households, like her mother before her, her aunts and cousins and here I feel Mary was possibly a bit like Catherine Howard her tragic cousin, who has a bit of a reputation herself for being a bit of an air head, she is also shown as being just interested in clothes and jewels and giggling incessantly, yet she had though unconventional her upbringing was, still was educated in how to manage a large household, to keep accounts how to distill herbs and she was taught how to read and write, to dance to embroider all the accomplishments needed to earn her a place at court, these two women have often been portrayed thus as not being very bright but that is an unfair assumption, Mary married as was the custom of the day to a favoured courtier and cousin of the king, we can safely say she was fond of him, he was handsome yet appears rather feckless, he gambled and lost plenty of money, so Mary must have had worries over that strain in her husbands character, she then lost him to the Sweat and had financial burden to deal with, her father did not step up right away and it was the king who forced him to do this, she also was the mother of two young children, and thankfully Anne made young Henry her second child a ward of hers which lightened the load a bit, and he was given an excellent education under Nicholas Bourbon, Mary did not really have an easy life but she was the sister to the then Queen of England and for some time served her at court, it was Chapyus who mentioned her attending the queen during a failed pregnancy which is shrouded in mystery, today debate reigns on wether Anne Boleyn was actually pregnant and suffered a miscarriage or wether it was a phantom pregnancy, the letter Mary wrote to Cromwell after she had been sent from court in disgrace after her secret marriage to William Stafford is pleading, and the part where she tells him love that overcame them both is quite sad, she was talking of love to this rather stern cold hearted man who later, mastermind the coup that brought down her sister and brother, we are fortunate we have this letter and the other from Mary that survived because they give us an insight into her character, brief and tenuous though it is, she also went onto say she would rather beg her bread with him and though she could have had a more richer man she would not have had one that loved her better, she was much more happy with her choice of man than her doomed sister ever was, she knew the minute the crown was placed on her head Anne was to suffer all the insecurities of her predecessor, she now had to produce a son whilst it did not matter what sex Mary’s children were, Mary suffered heartache and financial worry in her life, she had to suffer the pain of her family’s wrath and some years later, she was to suffer the anguish of her sister and brothers awful deaths, she saw her father change from an affluent dynamic man into a shadow of his former self, and her mother died a year after possibly of a broken heart, she was now alone except for her husband and children, there were however plenty of her aunts and uncles still at court and cousins to, Madge or Mary Shelton who lost her lover Henry Norris to the headsman caught up in the plot to obliterate the queen and the Boleyn faction, but records are silent on what happened to them, her sister in law Jane Lady Rochford went onto serve the new queen Jane Seymour, her uncle James Boleyn had been Anne’s controller of the privy purse, I’m not sure if I’m correct there? Sir Thomas Boleyn returned home to Hever but he was present at Prince Edwards christening so he was not completely out of favour, but his heart must have been broken and he followed his wife in death not long after her own demise, so poor Mary she had seen the rise and fall of her dazzling brilliant family only to witness their devastating end, there were reports she was pregnant at the time of her banishment but then we hear nothing, when children are heard of no more the only explanation is they were a still birth or died not long after, or a miscarriage occurred, but her two remaining children went onto marry had large families themselves and one of them sits on the throne of England today, not bad for a rather insignificant member of a once very famous powerful and controversial family.

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