Fact? by Clare Cherry
Posted By Claire on August 3, 2016
Clare Cherry, co-author of George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat, discusses the problem of assumptions and theories becoming taken as fact.
There are many ‘known’ ‘facts’ which aren’t actually facts at all. A lot of what we think we know comes from urban myth, old wives tales, mistake, assumption, exaggeration, etc. etc. There are many myths, errors, assumptions and presumptions about Henry VIII and his wives that are believed to be fact.
- Anne Boleyn had an extra finger
- George Boleyn and the rest of the men where charged with ‘buggery’.
- Anne Boleyn was manipulated by her male relatives.
- Catherine Howard said she loved Thomas Culpeper and wanted to be his wife in her speech on the scaffold.
- Mary Boleyn’s two children were the offspring of the King.
- Catherine of Aragon had dark hair and skin.
- Anne Boleyn was charged with witchcraft.
- Thomas Boleyn ‘pimped’ his daughters to the King.
- Henry VIII had syphilis.
- The Boleyns were Protestant.
- George and Jane Boleyn had an unhappy and abusive marriage.
- Anne of Cleves was ugly.
- Edward Seymour’s father fathered a son with Edward’s first wife.
- Edward VI was a sickly child.
- Jane Boleyn admitted lying about Anne and George in her scaffold speech.
The list could go on and on, and I wonder how many people believe all or some of these examples to be true, irrespective of the fact that most are entirely false and some have little, if any, evidence to back them up?
So how did these myths/legends become thought of as fact?
There are many explanations as to how this could have come about:
- Some stem from innuendo, gossip or unreliable sources such as The Spanish Chronicle, which should be taken with a pinch of salt unless corroborated by other sources, but often isn’t.
- Some stem from inaccurate reporting, either due to error, Chinese whispers or downright lies, exaggeration or malice.
- Some stem from fiction, which if repeated in subsequent works of fiction becomes believed as fact.
- Some stem from simple error. What sometimes happens is that a historian makes a mistake, and that mistake is picked up and treated as being correct by other historians, and so on and so on. And because it’s been repeated by so many historians, even respected historians, it becomes fact even though it started out life as an error.
- Sometimes assumptions, presumptions and theories are presented as fact, causing confusion, and ultimately being considered as fact even though they can be based on little or no evidence whatsoever.
The biggest problem arises when the ‘facts’ become so ingrained that the truth is not accepted or even entertained.
For example, ‘I know Jane Boleyn admitted to lying on the scaffold about Anne and George because that’s what a respected historian said in a non-fiction book about Anne’s fall’. Or, ‘I know that George Boleyn and the other men were accused of buggery because that’s what another historian said in their biography of Anne.’ Or, more often, ‘I know George and Jane Boleyn had an unhappy marriage and that Thomas Boleyn pimped out his daughters because I’ve seen it repeated so many times in fiction and most non-fiction that it must be true.’
These ideas are so engrained that they are difficult to challenge and people find it hard to accept an alternative view. Before I started looking at primary sources, which was about six months before Julia Fox’s biography of Jane Boleyn was published, I ‘knew’ that Jane was responsible for accusing her husband and sister-in-law of incest. I also ‘knew’ that Thomas Boleyn was a manipulative father who would have moved heaven and earth to see his daughter married to the King. And I definitely ‘knew’ that George and Jane Boleyn had a wretched marriage. But going back to basics taught me not to take for granted what I thought I knew. The reality, from extant documents, paints a very different picture and what I thought I ‘knew’ was challenged and corrected.
Changing perceptions takes time and effort, and it’s often an uphill struggle. The late Eric Ives put to bed a number of myths surrounding Anne, although many seem to be repeated a lot recently. Perhaps recent fiction surrounding Anne is currently taking precedence over Ives’s extensive research. If so, I suspect Ives would be philosophical about it and trust that human intelligence and the desire to learn would eventually win out.
Assumptions are the most difficult to overcome. It is assumed that George and Jane Boleyn had an unhappy marriage because it is believed she provided evidence of the alleged incest. That is believed because her scaffold speech has been incorrectly reported. If we believe she gave evidence against her husband, then we question why and so assume George was cruel to her or that he had affairs with men. We consider this as a possibility because a historian put it forward as a theory in the 1980s, which started being taken as fact because it was repeated over and over again. Then, we have George being charged with buggery, which is not based on fact at all, but must have stemmed from the homosexuality theory, which in turn gives credence to the homosexuality theory, and round and round we go. So you see, it’s easy to see how rumours and myths begin, and how they start to be accepted as truth over time.
When we say that Anne was manipulated by her family, and that Thomas Boleyn used his daughters to gain power, what are we actually basing that assessment on? When we argue that Anne craved a crown, why do we believe that? When we state with certainty that Jane Boleyn gave evidence of Anne and George’s alleged incest, what evidence are we relying upon? When those comments are made, as they are over and over again, can we really answer any of these questions by pointing to sourced material, or are we merely regurgitating years of propaganda, assumptions, rumour, myth and bad history?
Julia Fox has written an excellent defence of the myths surrounding Jane Boleyn and Jane being the supposed source of the incest allegation against Anne and George. She eloquently points out, mostly for the first time, that there is no evidence to support that assertion. Fox was, however, attacked for her findings by one of her contemporaries. Add that unfounded attack to the centuries over which Jane has been demonised and it really isn’t surprising that it is taking a while to rehabilitate her. That rehabilitation has started, however, and is gaining momentum. Setting ‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bring Up The Bodies’ aside, Jane is now starting to be portrayed more sympathetically in fiction, which in turn seems to inform our understanding of fact.
Fox didn’t accept years of thinking we ‘know’ Jane Boleyn and her involvement in the deaths of Anne and George. She looked at primary sources and discovered years of misrepresentation, myth and assumptions as well as a later desire to find a scapegoat. She challenged pre-conceived notions. So when we read a historian’s theory that, for instance, George Boleyn probably subjected his wife to unnatural sexual practices, let’s question what that is based on rather than simply accepting it. Is it based on evidence? If so, what evidence and what is the reference for the source it comes from? Can we check that source for ourselves and come to our own conclusion?
Claire and I have written a biography on the life of George Boleyn. Again, changing perceptions of him is an uphill struggle as he continues to be demonised in virtually every single piece of fiction being published at the moment. Hopefully, we can do the same for George as Fox has done for Jane, although the process is slow and frustrating. But perhaps at some time in the future we will see a turn-around, and Claire and I will be able to sit down with a glass of wine and say, ‘we helped do that’! I hope so.
George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat
George Boleyn has gone down in history as being the brother of the ill-fated Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII, and for being executed for treason, after being found guilty of incest and of conspiring to kill the King.
This biography allows George to step out of the shadows and brings him to life as a court poet, royal favourite, keen sportsman, talented diplomat and loyal brother. Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway chart his life from his spectacular rise in the 1520s to his dramatic fall and tragic end in 1536.
George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat is divided into three sections – Beginnings, Career and Influence, and End of an Era – and topics include:
- George Boleyn’s poetry
- Personal attributes and social pursuits
- George’s marriage to Jane Parker
- The Reformation Parliament and the League of Schmalkalden
- George the Diplomat
- The fall of the Boleyns, arrests and trials
- The aftermath of their fall
- George Boleyn, Dean of Lichfield, and the Clonony Castle Boleyns
The biography is fully referenced and includes chapter notes, bibliography and useful appendices. Click here to find out more about the book and to purchase from Amazon.
Click here to read a guest post on Jane Boleyn by historian Julia Fox.
37 thoughts on “Fact? by Clare Cherry”
Thank you for a thought-provoking article, Clare, and I agree with you completely. I would also recommend Susan Bordo’s book on Anne Boleyn, particularly the first chapter, in which she demonstrates why we should not believe everything we’ve heard about Anne. So much of it is based on questionable or even shaky ‘evidence’. I’ve had a similar experience researching the life of Katherine Howard – much of what we ‘know’ about her comes from unreliable sources, such as the Spanish Chronicle, or embroidered fiction recounted by romantic authors.
Have you been on a Yeoman Warder’s tour at the Tower of London, Conor? One of them enjoys calling Catherine a tart and recites the Spanish Chronicle story about her execution speech. I think it would make your blood boil!
As Clare says, most people prefer to read fiction rather than fact. Clare specifically refers to Eric Ives’ biography of Anne, but how many people have been informed by his view rather than that of a popular novel, or TV series? Maybe the Yeoman Warders should be compelled to read works of history as a prerequisite to taking up employment!
Yes, fiction, TV and movies are very powerful, and Eric Ives knew that he was fighting a losing battle on many fronts with his biography of Anne BUT it has also done a whole lot of good. It was a ground-breaking biography, challenging many misconceptions and myths that had become taken as fact. Plus, it was rooted in evidence, a brilliant book.
I love the Yeoman Warders, I think they do a wonderful job at bringing the Tower to life and making history entertaining, but, yes, I do wish that they’d stick to facts!
I was simmering with annoyance during that tour, our Beefeater was so uninformed and so liberal with his cliches. Claire, do you know how one could effectively complain about this sloppy practice?
I, too, admired Bordo’s book. She’s not exactly a scholar in the Ives tradition, but writes a smart, lively apologia for Anne and her image.
Clare Cherry’s article reminded me of doing family genealogy: there’s usually, but not always, some truth to the stories and “facts” that are handed down, but you really must go to a primary source to get the hard data and even then, interpreting that data should be done with great care and humility. (The most frequent words in my extensive genealogy notes are “perhaps,” “possibly,” “might be,” and “I theorize.”)
I went on the tour many years ago with a school trip. The stories are meant to entertain, not to be taken as history. I found it much more satisfying to visit the Tower and not do the tour, although last time we could only get into St Peter ad Vincular on a tour, so I went on one. It was worth it though as he allowed a few moments to pay respects by the memorial to Anne Boleyn and Thomas More, as I asked for permission to be quiet there. But, while some of the stuff was good, it was clear he was being theatrical. I can see why people prefer to read fiction, though, history can be hard going. Ives did an excellent job, I love his book as a piece of scholarly research, but it is not the best book for an introduction to Anne Boleyn for some people. Many of the myths in drama though recently astound me. You would think that no evidence existed to consult. Actually most historical drama today is just a front for soft porn and foul language. Look at Versailles. Yes Louis Xiv had several mistresses but really, we have imaginations, we don’t need a sex scene every ten minutes. I turned off very quickly. The Tudors went up and down with promoting wild unfounded ideas, every drama that has a noble house getting married, the woman is raped on the wedding night, yes, that happens all the time, I don’t think. Jane Rochford was shown in Wolf Hall as being Cromwell s spy, he was chasing Jane Seymour and fantasizing about Anne Boleyn. You end up watching thinking, o.k it’s just drama, I am sure there is history in this somewhere, remember it is just drama, not history. The problem is many people think it is history. The same thing with fiction. I have been seriously amazed that some of the nonsense about Anne Boleyn, which I thought everyone knew was disproven years ago comes up. Now I can understand some confusion about what Anne was charged with as even the odd historical documentary gets it wrong, but I really cannot understand why anyone still believes that she was in any way to blame for the false charges against her. I thought the myth that she was anything but innocent was buried years ago, but some people still think otherwise. The incest myth of course was raised in Philippa Gregory, who promoted this as if it was history. I could go on, but you have covered these things before. I would just say, enjoy fiction, enjoy good drama, but remember it is written to entertain, it is not fact. Do some homework, read some good articles, ask questions, try and find some sources, there are a number on this site listed, and read more widely. Remember Anne Boleyn had enemies and friends, so it is not always easy to get a balanced view, but with a bit of research, the myths can be found to be unfounded.
P.S. I understand the difficulty in dealing with myth, as a member of the Richard iii Society, we have been battling the myths about him for years and still do so. People believe what is popular, not always what is true. Keep up the good work.
With you all the way Banditqueen. I was incensed by one historian at the “laying to rest” of Richard iii. He demonised the King in no uncertain terms that were really nasty and totally bigoted. He really hated the King and said so many times. I totally fail to understand where these so called historians come from. What is even worse is the fact that they seem to be incapable of accepting the world as it was then.
Henry Viii was a powerful man, and no-one would dare refuse him anything. Rubies, horses, women….if he wanted he got.
Yes, Dr Starkey doesn’t like much about Richard iii, but he is usually professional. Unfortunately, they got him at a conference, probably off guard and his views flew off his tongue and he really got very personal and his attack on the three ladies, who had said nothing offensive to him was very wrong. It was terrible because it was live and before millions. I admire him as a historian but his personal views definitely got my blood up as well. I half expected him to say that maybe he believed Richard killed the Princes, which he does, but to accept there is debate, not to have a direct dig at Philippa Langley and Philippa Gregory or Helen Castor who was present. Totally unacceptable and understand your blood boiling.
Robert Fulghum wrote: “I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history.” Wow!?
So, what did happen? What are the facts? We want to know what happened and what the facts really actually are? Don’t we?
Someone, who lived hundreds of years ago, in an age where language itself is foreign to us, manners & mores ditto, beliefs, values, aspirations debatable, lots of actions as reported by people who weren’t witnesses and who were enormously prejudiced, this someone claims something happened and happened, “Like this!”
Is the past up for grabs then? Well, some modern writer or film maker decides to take some work of fiction and put it on the big screen. How can that not be incredibly powerful, just as powerful and more than ever were the words of person who happened to live nearer the time of the event? Drama, the visual picture, the bringing to life for an hour or two of real and complex people who we can only hope to grasp at through the medium of our own modern day perspectives and preoccupations, is powerful and pervasive and affects us all. I’ve mentioned recently Paul Scofield and Mark Rylance and their affect on me. Others have talked about Genevieve Bojold as Anne Boleyn, The more sensational a writer can be, the more provocative a dramatist, the better (so it seems).
Is it a losing battle then? Not at all. Richard 3 and his society suggest that – truth will out. Eventually!!!
I am so tired of hearing Francis I quoted as though he is the last word when he is about as biased as The Spanish Chronicle. He would always have attempted to make Henry look bad. By extension, he would also have looked to make Anne out to be a harlot,just to humiliate Henry. Same goes for Mary. I have never believed Henry would have another king’s cast off mistress, nor a woman with a bad rep from his rival’s court. He was a proud man.
On tv some years ago there was a documentary about the Tower Of London, it showed the yeoman warders and the beefeaters being trained and part of their training was to learn as much as possible about it’s famous prisoners especially the executions which they love to tell in all there bloody gory, yet watching them relate the tragic story’s I realised a good deal was embellishment of the actual facts yet as the article points out the facts do get distorted, the actual execution site which supposedly marks where the scaffold stood is not accurate either having stood some distance away, it is true they are there to entertain but it is annoying when you know they are not telling the true story’s, television has a powerful effect on the media and when people do watch these programmes they do believe that is what really happened, the story I am not too sure of is the one about the awful execution of the Countess of Salisbury, did she refuse to lay her head on the block as Jean Plaidy writes in her historical fiction book ‘Murder Most Royal’ and than because of that she was chased around the green by the hapless executioner who just swung his axe at her until she sustained so many injuries she sank to the ground in agony and expired, or was she merely the victim of a bungling headsman? Many of the biography’s iv read about the Tudor court don’t mention what actually happened just that she was beheaded, maybe that was another tale the Yeoman warders told it’s awe struck crowd just for effect, the trouble with writers of historical fiction they do have the licence to embroil the facts and there again the reader is misled, yet it is up to the reader if they really want to know about the subject of their choice to choose to read a proper biography, a lot of the silly tales about Anne Boleyn was the work of Nicholas Sander and later Catholic writers seeking to discredit her daughter Elizabeth during her reign, no she never had a sixth finger, it was merely a tiny growth of a little nail peeping out on one of her fingers, yet over the years it apparently grew into an extra digit, she was also said to have had a protruding tooth and a large mole on her neck, yet none of her contemporaries ever mentioned these defects, the tale about George Boleyn and the other accused men being sexual deviants is also wide of the mark, Retha Warnicke puts forward this theory in her book yet is is just her theory and not proven fact, it reminds me of that other silly tale about another tragic queen, Marie Antoinette who allegedly said, ‘ let them eat cake’ when being informed that the citizens of France were starving because of a shortage of bread, this in fact she never actually said and the tale was attributed to another queen of France some generations earlier, somehow the two queens became confused yet it has stuck with Marie Antoinette for over a hundred and fifty years, it just goes to show as the article so clearly puts how stories become distorted and warped over time.
I’ve been watching that very series recently. It’s repeated on London Live channel in the UK!
I assume you mean David Starkey, yes his comments were out of order. I think he is a great Tudor historian but I also think he has watched too much Shakespeare without as you say realizing it is drama, not history, written to please a Tudor audience and forgotten how different things were 500 years ago. Kings had power, and I mean real power, could command the best of everything, more or less do as they pleased, with the wealth Henry inherited he could buy anything, with the image of magnificent childhood that he portrayed he was given gifts of anything he desired, that was all part of the reality of kingship. We can only really get a sense of the real man from the sources, drama only portrays the image and myth. Drama and fiction are wonderful things, they help, if they are well done to bring the past alive, but the history behind them is what puts us in touch with the person, not the legend we are sometimes more familiar with.
Sorry put my reply on wrong post, meant for Sandy…Oops.
Sadly, trash sells, and sells a LOT, so naturally, if something is repeated often enough and “authoritatively” enough, people are going to believe it.
My brother insists that when I watch historical, movies, TV shows or one shot documentaries, especially with regards to anything Tudor, that I do it with the sound off, because I am always screaming corrections at the screen, such as, “Anne Boleyn was NOT a sorceress, you idiot! Where did you do your research, the National Enquirer archives?”
I think there is also, to do a callback to an article you wrote a few years ago, Claire, some difference in opinion/perception of a historic person, that has nothing to do with established facts – such as the lady who wrote to you that she LOVED Anne Boleyn, who didn’t take s*** from anyone, and was a great role model as a result.
The lack of records also does not do any historical figure justice. There are too many “maybes,” “mights,” “probablys,” and “perhapses” so the blanks are filled in, most times, erroneously.
Too, there is propaganda from contemporary sources hostile to the figure in question, and that is far too often taken as fact. Nicholas Sander, I believe, is the one who reported Anne’s supposed deformities, such as the sixth finger, the goiter, the protruding tooth, and so on. Despite his never actually having met her, he set down his “facts” and too many people believe him, because he was a “contemporary” of Anne’s, despite writing down these “facts” years after Anne’s death, and from a hostile position as a Catholic living in exile during Elizabeth’s reign.
The truth is, we know very little about many of the people in Henry’s life. Their correspondence is lost, and many, like Anne, are really only seen through the eyes of their enemies. We lack such basic information as the year of her birth, which makes it even more difficult to really understand what happened in the years leading up to 1536.
Historians and novelists inevitably seek to fill in the blanks, and we get guesswork instead of facts where what facts do exist become inconvenient, especially when the victors write the story.
Is it not true that jane boleyn betrayed her husband i heard she did and thomas cromwell sent her a letter thanking her
Hi MIss Kitty,
No, there’s no evidence that Jane betrayed George and Anne and there’s no letter thanking her for this. The only piece of information that she gave to the Crown was the fact that Anne had confided in her about Henry VIII’s sexual problems and that she had then discussed it with George.
Thanks so much. I always told my students that Anne of Cleves was ugly. I am glad, but puzzled, that she was not. I, also, thought Henry was a slot by that time, too. Am I right about that?
I find it really interesting and fascinating when “we” are all discussing issues such as these. Open forums via this medium is educational and thought provoking. I thank you Claire for giving us this wonderful opportunity to discuss, valuate and assess information.
I sympathise entirely especially about some of the things the Yeoman Warders say. I went on a tour last month and we were informed that Anne Boleyn wrote many times to Henry from the Tower begging him not to execute her. In the end she supposedly got a doctor’s note stating she was allergic to axes which is why she was beheaded with a sword. He also said that Catherine Howard not only stated that she we would rather be the wife of Culpepper, but she also pointed to him as he was in the crowd at her execution! As far as I could gather most of his audience lapped it up as fact.
My god it’s laughable.
One here I think is true, Ann of Cleve being ugly. It is said Henry fif not brf her on their wedding night, but played cards, she took him for s lot of money as well. Henry said hr fif not have the heart to bed her, her breasts hung like saddle bags. There is a paper in the British museum on this I believe.
This was the opinion of a King who was trying to get out of marrying her. He had built up the idea that she was beautiful, because of the Holbein portrait. However, if you actually look closely at the portrait it is full face and the expression is blank. The pigment is pale, the idea was to convey a blank canvas. Few people saw Anne before the wedding. She was dressed to hide her face, but another portrait shows Anne more realistically. It is close to the Holbein but her face is a different shape. Anne was not ugly, the evidence is biased. We don’t know what Henry actually found distasteful about Anne but when he popped in to surprise her, she reacted with shock. Henry thought that Anne would pick him out from the other gentlemen and when she did not, he was annoyed. The rest of the visit was awkward and short. Henry then found that he could not consummate the marriage and the myth that she had loose breasts came out. He did not say that they were as loose as saddlebags. Another excuse is that she had evil smells or body odour. It’s possible that they played cards before the bedding ceremony, Henry was a huge gambler. The information came from Cromwell asking how he liked the Queen and Henry declaring that he lived her not, but this is very biased and no real evidence exists that Anne of Cleves was ugly. She did wear heavy German fashions but later changed to English and French fashions. These made her appear plump as they were cumbersome. However, she appears to have been well proportioned and was also fair and gracious. Other people gave good reports of her. Henry Viii was hardly a prime specimen at this time. The information is just the biased talk of a disgruntled bride groom who was passed it and unhappy with his choice of wife.
Henry did seem to prefer petite women and by an account I read of Anne of Cleve’s she was quite tall, it is possible she was rather big built to and appeared awkward to him, because she had no social graces like dancing or flirting or playing music, (her mother didn’t seem fit to have her educated on those attributes), but had her taught only basic skills such as sewing, she must have appeared quite backward to Henry whose court after all was very sophisticated, the fact that she couldn’t speak English either was another turn off to Henry, he wasn’t used to the German accent and possibly found it quite unattractive, none of this was poor Anne’s fault, Henry was used to pretty flirty English roses and that’s what he thought he’d get but with a Nordic twist, however history has only told us of Henrys reaction to her, not what his luckless bride thought of him, it would be very interesting had we an account of what Anne thought of Henry, but sadly we will never know but what we do know is that after Catherine Howard’s execution she hoped he would take her back, was she desperate to be Queen and not lose face in the eyes of Europe, did she rather fancy him as I mentioned in an earlier post, possibly it was a combination of these three, her actions show that she was not as averse to Henry as he was to her, I’m joking now but she could have had masochistic tendencies and found the idea of being married to England’s Nero quite thrilling.
He did call her his Sister,. I have read that when on his death bed he called out for Ann, which one?
I’ve never read of him calling out “Anne” on his death bed, but in her book “Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower: A New Assessment”, Sandra Vasoli talks about how she “uncovered a contemporary notation within the Stowe collection of manuscripts which refers to Henry’s great grief, on his deathbed, for his fatal decision concerning Anne”.
I don’t think that Anne of Cleves was unattractive. Perhaps her fashion was different to what English women wore, but Henry was happy with the miniature done by Holbein, which was said to be accurate, the diplomat sent to Cleves to report back on her wrote of her beauty and nobody who met Anne at Calais or on her journey to London appeared to worry at all about what the King would think of her. I think Henry’s dislike of her stemmed from humiliation. Not only did Anne rebuff him on their first meeting, when she didn’t know who he was, but he was also suffering from sexual problems at this time so was unable to consummate their relationship.
Regarding her taking him for a lot of money, Anne actually didn’t want the marriage to be annulled and she certainly didn’t ask for any money or properties, those were given to her as part of the settlement. It was said that Anne hoped that Henry would take her back after the failure of his marriage to Catherine Howard.
Which paper in the British Museum do you mean?
Hi Claire I think you meant to reply to some one else. I never mentioned anything about the British Museum?
Sorry, it’s just the way the comment threads work. My comment was in reply to John Boulter whose comment is at the top of this thread. I think you were replying to him as well. If you click reply on a comment, it sorts replies under that person’s comment by the time they were posted.
Sorry about the confusion.
I read Julia Fox’s book on Jane when it first came out and will have to take it from my shelf and read it again. It is such a shame–Jane has been slandered by history in addition to what she suffered in life.
I think I will do the same. I have read it before, it gives a good light on Jane, in context and from it emerged a Jane Rochford nothing like the person of the Tudors, but I would have liked more personal information about her marriage with George. Like so many domestic partnerships this remains something of a mystery. One clue I do find touching is the letter that Claire has covered a few times, which she writes to encourage her husband after his arrest and assure him of her support. No wife, unless they had a serious personality disorder, would betray their husband by giving testimony against him and then publicly and privately stand by him. No wife can be compelled to give testimony against her husband, it was most unlikely back then, so the stories that she did is just nonsense. The fact that no evidence of this nature citing Jane et al was used by Cromwell, who would sell his own mother to achieve his own ends if it profited him, backs the idea that Jane did not implicate George Boleyn in incest or any other charges. The book paints Jane as struggling unfairly to gain her legacy after her husband’s death and even casts doubt on the activities that she was accused of concerning Katherine Howard. In what amounts to a blame game, Rochford as the senior, older lady in waiting, Jane was probably more of a scapegoat.
It’s ok Claire, I too heard that he mentioned Anne on his death bed which is what John mentions but maybe that’s just fantasy, if he did it was possibly his second wife and his conscience was pricking him, maybe he was hallucinating and thought he saw her or could be it was her angry ghost that decided to torment him, it is recorded that he did mutter the word monks a lot he had after all slaughtered many, as he lay on his death bed he must have thought all the many souls he had sent to their deaths some needlessly, he was after all only human and must have felt some remorse especially for the death of Anne Boleyn and the five men, most of whom were his friends.
Bit off this, have seen a quiz on Henry , American one, two of the questions are, Did Anne have extra finger, and did he have a son by Mary , Ann’s sister. Answer to each Correct answer is yes .