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Thomas Boleyn
June 28, 2009
4:32 am
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Claire
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Thomas Boleyn confuses me. \”The Tudors\”, \”The Other Boleyn Girl\” and various factual books make him out to be someone who didn't seem to care at all about his son and daughters and who was just out for his own gain, yet Joanna Denny paints him as a very religious man who tried to protect Anne from Henry. I've already posted about this on the wiki but thought it would be good to get people's views here. As Anne Boleyn's father and the man who had a lot to do with shaping her destiny, I'd really like to understand him and find out what he was like:-

Was Thomas Boleyn a manipulator or protector?

Also, are there any good books/resources about him?

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

July 3, 2009
1:15 pm
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missisGG
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hum dont know. I have always wondered about him as well

July 4, 2009
8:57 am
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gwenne
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I fail to see where he was a protector.  He miserably failed at 'protecting' his children, and rode their coattails towards title and money.  I believe him and his brother conspired constantly to insert themselves and Thomas Boleyn's children into Henry's court for the only purposes of personal gain.  He seems to me to be a miserable failure as a father, he acted more like a pimp.  He had no compunction about damning his own children when the tide turned against them, to save his own neck.  Perhaps he was a brilliant diplomat, but as a father and the supposed head of his own household he was less than noble.

http://www.luminarium.org/ency…..boleyn.htm

Diem et animus scire cupio: I desire knowledge of the soul.

July 4, 2009
1:44 pm
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Claire
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I think it's only Joanna Denny that makes him out to be a protector. She sees him as a man who took his daughter away from court and back to Hever when he noticed the King's interest in her. However, I can't see this myself.

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

September 26, 2009
3:08 pm
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Lady
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He did not want to see Anne married to Henry. Once, when Anne was pregnant with Elizabeth, she said one of her ironical remarks to her father, saying she was in a better condition he had wished!

September 26, 2009
10:00 pm
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Claire
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That's an interesting remark, very telling, where did you find that Lady?

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

January 16, 2010
10:56 am
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Justice4Boleyn
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Hmmm. Very tricky indeed. I can image he would have loved his children very much but I don't think he was an absolute angel. I believe he wanted Anne to succeed in life, just like any other parent. He did send her to grow up in the French court afterall (I'm fairly sure, gah correct me if I'm wrong!) so I guess it's more to do with how he embraced the luck of having a daughter that was eyed by the king of England. I suppose, being in the position he was, he was under a lot of pressure to keep her in the limelight after she married Henry.

It's difficult to judge without reports of his personality, the way he held himself. We know that Anne was smart and full of wit because of the many descriptions of her. I wonder if there are any at all of her father?

January 16, 2010
1:05 pm
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Hannah
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Agree with Justice4Boleyn. Thomas Boleyn seems to have been ambitious for his children, and that is no crime. As for Anne being protected from Henry, wasn`t she chaperoned by her mother everywere she went?

Be daly prove you shalle me fynde,nTo be to you bothe lovyng and kynde,

January 18, 2010
7:00 pm
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Gina
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The thing I wonder about is, he had a thriving career in Henry's court before his daughters were Henry's \”toys\”. 

It seems like he was doing fine in his own right. So when Henry's eye turned to Mary, how could Thomas say NO? (without ruining his career & aspirations?) Don't get me wrong I do NOT condone this behavior in any shape, way or form. All I am saying is, what would have happend if he told Henry to look elsewhere? Would he have lost his position, been banished from court or worse?) Even if he was dead against it, he may have felt powerless to stop it. Then when Henry turned his attentions to Anne, he had been reaping the rewards for so long (& may have felt that no harm had truly come to Mary) that  he made peace with it in a sense. 

In the end it wasn't like he sold HIS soul to the devil but rather his children's.

XO-Gina

January 19, 2010
12:16 am
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Sabrina
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I think he was between a rock and a hard place. He may not have wanted his daughters in bed with Henry, but he could not refuse him either. But once he got there, he was rewarded, and he may have been addicted to it.

It's sad that someone could make you have no control over your children, just for the sake of their selfishness.

He retired from court life after Anne's death, probably by recommendation, and one can only hope out of guilt of not being able to do anything to help his children.  

Let not my enemies sit as my jury

January 19, 2010
5:48 pm
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Hannah
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Is there any recorded evidence of Thomas Boleyn's reactions to the fall of the Boleyn faction at court? One thing that perplexes me, is that Thomas Boleyn was a semi-frequent dinner guest of Thomas Cromwell up until his death. Maybe he was looking for a way back in to the King's good graces?

Be daly prove you shalle me fynde,nTo be to you bothe lovyng and kynde,

January 20, 2010
12:20 am
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Justice4Boleyn
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Hannah said:

One thing that perplexes me, is that Thomas Boleyn was a semi-frequent dinner guest of Thomas Cromwell up until his death. Maybe he was looking for a way back in to the King's good graces?


Wow, really?? That's really interesting! I wouldn't mind knowing more!!

January 20, 2010
6:38 am
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Impish_Impulse
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Lady said:

He did not want to see Anne married to Henry. Once, when Anne was pregnant with Elizabeth, she said one of her ironical remarks to her father, saying she was in a better condition he had wished!


Claire said:

That's an interesting remark, very telling, where did you find that, Lady?


 

OK, this was driving me nuts, because that comment really sounded familiar, but I couldn't remember where I'd seen it. And… found it! It's in Antonia Fraser's The Wives of Henry VIII, and allegedly happened during preparations for Anne's coronation.

\”A scurrilous story, related by the egregious Chapuys… had the two Boleyns, father and daughter quarrelling over the Queen's dress. …Anne was supposed to have added a panel of cloth to her dress to accomodate her growing figure (maternity clothes as such did not exist). When her father remarked that she should take away the cloth and thank God for the state in which she found herself, Anne, with her usual spirit, retorted that she was in a better plight than he would have wished her to be.\”

The sources she cites for this are:

Henry Ellis, Original Letters illustrative of English History, 1st series, II, P.39

Edward Hall, Henry VIII, introduction by Charles Whibley, 2 Vols, 1904

CSP (Calendar of State Papers), Spanish, IV, pt. 2, p. 699

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               "Don't knock at death's door. 

          Ring the bell and run. He hates that."    

January 20, 2010
7:32 am
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Hannah
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Justice4Boleyn said:

Hannah said:

One thing that perplexes me, is that Thomas Boleyn was a semi-frequent dinner guest of Thomas Cromwell up until his death. Maybe he was looking for a way back in to the King's good graces?


Wow, really?? That's really interesting! I wouldn't mind knowing more!!


The book I read it in, John Schofield's biography of Thomas Cromwell, says frustratingly little about it. Just that Boleyn was often a guest of Cromwell's. Its one of the many reason why a number of people now question Cromwell's exact role in Boleyn's fall.

Why would Boleyn dine with the man who caused his utter destruction, and death of two of his children. Its' definately odd. I wonder whether Boleyn saw Cromwell as a way back to court?

Be daly prove you shalle me fynde,nTo be to you bothe lovyng and kynde,

January 20, 2010
9:41 pm
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Bella44
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It does seem strange but if Boleyn wanted to get back into Henry's good books (and as a courtier his whole livlelihood would totally depend on the whims of the king) then he would've had to suck up to Cromwell despite what he'd done to his family.  Any grief Boleyn felt for his children would have to be buried very deep indeed.  Boleyn still had family and others who depended on him for their own maintenance (wife, daughter, mother etc) so maybe he just did what he had to so he could do right by them. 

Over the years a lot of courtiers were in the exact same position so its hardly surprising Cromwell was pretty much universally disliked.  There must've been a lot of secret rejoicing when it was his turn to pay a visit to the executioner!

January 21, 2010
11:12 am
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Hannah
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Cromwell had a wide circle of friends and supporters, so he certainly wasn't \”universally\” disliked. Melanclthon (or whatever his name was), preached a sermon calling down the wrath of God on Henry, for the \”slaying\” of Thomas Cromwell!

Be daly prove you shalle me fynde,nTo be to you bothe lovyng and kynde,

March 2, 2010
1:03 pm
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Sharon
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Thomas Boleyn sat in judgment of the 4 men accused along with his daughter and son of abominable crimes and he found them guilty as charged.  He was probably on the jury who sat against George and Anne.  I really don't need to hear anything else.  This is certainly not the act of a loving Father.

Boleyn died 3years after his son and daughter were murdered.  Even after that terrible event, he still ate supper with the man who had gathered all of that ugly evidence against his children?  His wife died 2 years after Anne was killed.  He did lose property and titles but he remained at court and he served on the King's council.  Mary was living with her husband Will Stafford. He never once tried to help her. The only person Thomas was taking care of was himself. 

Not the kind of Father any child would wish for.

July 3, 2018
6:01 pm
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seymour
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Sharon…I agree with you completely!

I always wondered how he could have possibly sat on the jury and voted guilty to the crimes of his two children. He may have climbed far on his on merits but he certainly reaped the benefits of his daughter being the Queen. I always wondered if Anne’s biting comments to her father were a reflection of her lack of respect of him. He was happy Mary was Henry’s mistress and would have been equally content with Anne being his mistress as well. It is my thought that his pushing Anne into the King’s bed so he could advance made her decide to hold out for being the Queen. Which would have certainly been more lucrative for him but she would have been an honestly married woman with power over her father instead of him having power over her.

I hope Thomas had some guilt and grief but his continued presence at court seems to say otherwise. I also wondered what his wife thought? Mary to me has always been the lucky one…in some ways “The Other Boleyn Girl.”

" ...and, as you can raise me no higher in the world, you are now sending me to be a saint in heaven."

July 3, 2018
6:49 pm
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Sharon
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Those remarks were made in 2010. I have changed my mind after reading more about Thomas. He was on the jury that convicted the four men, but he was excused from the juries that convicted his daughter and son. Thomas and Norfolk were not thrilled about Anne becoming Henry’s queen. Not at all. Norfolk told Chapuys this.

I don’t believe he threw his daughters at Henry. Thomas was a well-established diplomat for years before Anne was ever at court. He did want the best for his children. He sent Anne to Margaret of Austria to be educated. George traveled with him on diplomatic missions to France. Mary and Anne served Mary Tudor in France when she was married to King Louis.

Of course, he wanted them to marry well. There is no proof that I could find where Thomas insisted that Anne or Mary should be the king’s mistresses.
Nobody could have foreseen Henry wanting to divorce Katherine and marry a woman who was not of royal blood. Not at this time anyway.

I don’t think he did anything different than any other courtier. Yes, he was ambitious and he wanted the best for his children. As to his actions after his children’s executions, I think Thomas was at loose ends and didn’t know what else to do. He went back to the only life he had ever known, that of being a courtier. We don’t know how his wife reacted. Broken would be my guess. She did not return to court and she died two years after her children were killed.

I still don’t know how he could have sat at dinner with Cromwell or even have looked Henry in the face after the executions, but he did. He was at Edward’s baptism and he fought for Henry in the north during the pilgrimage of Grace. He did what he felt he had to do. I accept that. I no longer think he was a horrible husband and father. He was at the center of a firestorm and he was trying to survive it.

July 3, 2018
7:02 pm
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seymour
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I appreciate your information. That analysis seems very reasonable based on your readings. I must confess I don’t know much about him and apparently what I do seems misguided. I know this thread is about Thomas but I would value you opinion on Anne. I have often thought she may have felt caught at being at the King’s mercy and did what she felt was best for her in the circumstances (baring her wanting to be his mistress).

Based on your readings it makes me wonder how different life for Anne would have been had her father married her to Butler when she was brought home from France?

" ...and, as you can raise me no higher in the world, you are now sending me to be a saint in heaven."

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