Our views and opinions of George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, are often coloured by depictions of him in series like “The Tudors”, and movies and books like “The Other Boleyn Girl”, but was Anne Boleyn’s brother really a bisexual, or even homosexual man, who raped his wife and had affairs with young men? Was he the depraved libertine of Retha Warnicke’s “The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn” who was linked to sodomy, bestiality and other such “abominable” acts? Did he commit incest with his sister Anne Boleyn to help her provide Henry VIII with an heir to the throne or was he actually something else entirely?

Today, I’m going to look at George Boleyn’s background and how he rose to be one of the most powerful and influential men at Henry VIII’s court, before, in part 2, I look at how his world came crashing down and he was executed as a traitor on 17th May 1536.

"Thys boke ys myne, George Boleyn 1526" - George's signature inside a book
“Thys boke ys myne, George Boleyn 1526” – George’s signature inside a book

The Boleyn Family

Josephine Wilkinson, author of “The Early Loves of Anne Boleyn”, writes of how Anne Boleyn was born in early summer 1500 or 1501, a second daughter to Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Howard who already had a daughter, Mary. Thomas and Elizabeth went on to have at least three sons, Henry, Thomas and George, but it was only George who survived childhood. It is generally thought that he was born around 1504, making him around three years younger than Anne.

According to Wilkinson, while his sisters were probably educated together at home, at Hever Castle in Kent, George went to Oxford to be educated before joining the court of Henry VIII to follow in his father’s footsteps as a diplomat and courtier. Eric Ives also writes of how George was probably a product of Oxford University and that as well as carrying out diplomatic duties he was also a recognised court poet. Ives writes of how we know that George played in a mummery in the Christmas revels of Christmas 1514-1515, so must have been a child at that time,  and then went on to become a royal page. Ives states that by 1525 George was married and that by the end of1529, he had risen to become a member of the King’s privy chamber. There is a remark made by Jean du Bellay in 1529 implying that he thought George was too young to be sent to France as ambassador and, if we take 1504 as his birthdate, 25 may have been seen as rather too young for this type of position, but then George’s family was in high favour with the King at this time, the King being besotted with Anne Boleyn.

Career and Life at Court

George Boleyn enjoyed a high profile career at court. Here are some of the positions and grants he was given during his time at court:-

  • 1522 – In April 1522 George and his father, Thomas, were given  “various offices, in survivorship, in the manor, honor and town of Tunbridge, the manors of Brasted and Pensherst, and the parks of Pensherst, Northlegh and Northlaundes, Kent; with various fees and power to lease” (LP 3. 2214). It has been suggested that this may have been an 18th birthday present for George
  • 1524 – In July 1524, according to the Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, “Geo. Boleyn. Grant of the manor of Grymston, Norfolk, lately held by Sir Thos. Lovell. Westm., 2 July” (LP 3. 2214).
  • 1525 – Appointed as a gentleman of the King’s privy chamber but lost this position just 6 months later when Wolsey reorganised the King’s court and weeded out those he didn’t like and trust.
  • 1526 – In January 1526, George was appointed as Royal Cupbearer.
  • 1528 – A letter from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn tells us that George contracted sweating sickness while at Waltham Abbey with the King and Catherine of Aragon. In the letters, Henry assures Anne of her brother’s recovery, he was one of the lucky ones. Henry writes: “For when we were at Walton, two ushers, two valets de chambres and your brother, master-treasurer, fell ill, but are now quite well. (Love Letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn page xxv, Fredonia Books).
  • 1528 – The Letters and Papers record “George Bulleyn, squire of the body” and in the same year he was also made Master of the King’s Buckhounds.
  • November 1528 – The Letters and Papers record another grant for George Boleyn: “Geo. Bulleyn, squire of the Body. To be keeper of the palace of Beaulieu, alias the manor and mansion of Newhall, Essex; gardener or keeper of the garden and orchard of Newhall; warrener or keeper of the warren in the said manor or lordship; keeper of the wardrobe in the said palace or manor in Newhall, Dorhame, Walkefare Hall and Powers, Essex; with certain daily fees in each office, and the power of leasing the said manor, lands, &c. for his lifetime. Del. Westm., 15 Nov. 20 Hen. VIII” (LP 4. 4993 Grants in November 1528).
  • 1st February 1529 – The Letters and Papers record “For GEORGE BULLEYN –  To be chief steward of the honor of Beaulieu, Essex, and of all possessions which are annexed by authority of Parliament or otherwise, and keeper of the New Park there, in the manor of Newehall; with 10l. a year for the former, and 3d. a day for the latter; vice William Cary.Del. Westm., 1 Feb. 20 Hen. VIII.” (LP 4. 5248). He was later granted a life interest in Beaulieu.
  • 27th July 1529 – Another grant is recorded in the Letters and Papers: “27. Geo. Bulleyn, squire of the body. To be governor of the hospital of St. Mary of Bethlem, near Bishopesgate, London. Del. Westm., 27 July 21 Hen. VIII.” (LP 4. 5815).
  • October 1529 – A letter written by Chapuys to Charles V states how Chapuys was escorted to the King by a gentleman named Poller/Bollen (thought to be Boleyn). (LP 4. 6026)
  • December 1529 – In Letters and Papers there is record of  “Instructions to George Boleyn, gentleman of the Privy Chamber, and John Stokesley, D.D., sent to the French king” telling them to consult with Sir Francis Bryan on their arrival at the French Court.(LP iv 6073). The mission of George and Stokesley’s diplomatic visits to France were to encourage support for the King’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon.
  • December 1529 – In the list of peers (LP 4. 6083), it says “Sir Th. Boleyn as visc. Rochford” and then later (LP 4. 6085) “For THOS. VISCOUNT ROCHEFORD, K.G. –  Charter, granting, in tail male, the title of earl of Wiltshire in England, with an annuity of 20l. out of the issues of Wilts and Devon; and the title of earl of Ormond in Ireland, with an annuity of 10l. out of the farm of the city of Waterford. (fn. 4) Witnesses: W. archbishop of Canterbury, Thos. duke of Norfolk, treasurer of England, and Chas. duke of Suffolk, marshal of England; Thos. marquis of Dorset, and Hen. marquis of Exeter; John earl of Oxford, chamberlain of England, and Geo. earl of Shrewsbury, steward of the Household; Arthur viscount Lysle, William lord Sands, the King’s chamberlain, George lord Bergavenny, Sir William Fitzwilliam, treasurer of the Household, and Sir Henry Guldeford, comptroller of the Household, and others. York Place, 8 Dec. 21 Hen. VIII. Del. Westm., 8 Dec.” This made George Boleyn Lord Rochford.
  • 5th February 1533 – Letters and Papers record that George Boleyn was summoned to Parliament:”Fiat for writs of summons as follows :—i. Geo. Boleyn, lord Rocheford, to be present in Parliament this Wednesday. Westm., 5 Feb. 24 Hen. VIII.” (LP 4. 123) and it is noted that his attendance rate was higher than many others and shows how committed he was to Henry’s new Reformation Parliament. He was very influential in parliament and it is also noted that his views on religious reforms and curbing the Pope’s powers in England earned him many enemies and that one such man, Lord LaWarr was on the jury which found him guilty at his trial in May 1536.
  • March 1533 – George, Viscount Rochford, was sent to France to present King Francis I with letters from Henry VIII, “written in the King’s own hand” informing the French king of his marriage to Anne Boleyn and encouraging his support for this marriage (LP 5. 230). Henry VIII enclosed a letter that he proposed that Francis should write to the Pope, urging him to support the divorce. George was successful in this mission.
  • May-August 1533 – George travelled to France again on an embassy with the Duke of Norfolk, his uncle, to be present at a meeting that was supposed to take place between the Pope and Francis I. It was while he was in France that he learned that the Pope had excommunicated Henry so he returned to England to give this news to the King. (LP 6. 556, 692, 918, 954)
  • April 1534 – George sent to France again with instructions to encourage Francis I’s support for Henry’s cause. (LP 7. 470)
  • June 1534 – Letters and Papers state: “George lord Rocheford. To be constable of Dover Castle and warden of the Cinque Ports. Del. Westm., 23 June 26 Hen. VIII.” (LP 7. 922) These were the highest honours that could be bestowed on a man by the King and George took these appointments very seriously.A letter from George to Cromwell on 26th November 1534 shows George’s anger at Cromwell undermining orders that he made as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. (LP, 7. 1478)
  • July 1534 – George sent to France yet again with instructions to rearrange the meeting between Anne, Henry and Francis I due to Anne’s pregnancy and her not wishing to travel in that state. (LP 7. 958)
  • May 1535 – George’s final diplomatic mission to France. The purpose of this visit was to negotiate a marriage contract between Princess Elizabeth and the third son of the King  of France. (LP 8. 663, 666, 726, 909)
  • May 1535 – A letter from Eustace Chapuys in the Calendar of State Papers (Spanish) shows that George, his father and the dukes of Norfolk and Richmond were present at the executions of 3 Carthusian monks who, like Sir Thomas More, had refused to swear allegiance to the Acts of Supremacy and Succession.
  • 1st July 1535 – In Letters and Papers, George, Lord Rochford, is named as one of the commissioners at the special sessions of oyer and terminer set up to try Sir Thomas More (LP 8.974).

The numerous mentions of George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, in The Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VIII, show what favour and high regard the King held him in. We know that from these records that George accompanied the King shooting and played bowls, dice, cards and other such games with him.

George, Poetry and Religion

As well as being an influential man at Parliament and having an impressive diplomatic career, George was also a well known and talented court poet, although I have been unable to find copies of his poems. Like his sister, Anne Boleyn, he loved poetry and the arts was committed to religious reform and was highly intelligent and educated. He translated two Lutheran religious texts from French to English for his sister, dedicating them “To the right honourable lady, the Lady Marchiness of Pembroke, her most loving and friendly brother sendeth greetings” and it was George who encouraged Anne to share reformist writings with the King.

Jane Boleyn by Julia FoxPersonal Life

George Boleyn married Jane Parker, daughter of Henry Parker, the 10th Baron Morley, and his wife Alice St John, in around 1525. In January 1526, a note in Cardinal Wolsey’s hand confirms that “the young Boleyn and his wife” were given the sum of £20 and Alison Weir writes in “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” of how the couple were given Grimston Manor in Norfolk by the King as a wedding present.

There is much speculation about the Rochford marriage with the traditional view being that the marriage was unhappy. In “The Tudors”, we see George’s disdain for his wife and Jane’s resentment and jealousy of George’s relationship with Anne, and this would explain why she allegedly gave evidence against them at their trials, accusing them of incest.

But, is this true? Was it a loveless marriage?

It is hard to say and I don’t think we will ever know the truth.

I haven’t read Julia Fox’s book on Jane Parker, but allegedly she challenges the notion that it was a loveless marriage and instead argues that it was happy and romantic, and that there is no reason to believe otherwise. Alison Weeir believes that Fox is “overstating her case” and that it was unhappy and that “sadly for romantics, the surviving evidence convincingly shows that Jane did testify to her husband having committed incest with his sister, and that she also confided to her interrogators some highly sensitive – and probably false – information.”

Weir believes that the marriage may well have “foundered early on” and that the fact that George possessed Lefevre’s satire on women and marriage, “Les Lamentations de Matheolous”, perhaps speaks of his own views on women and marriage. Weir also wonders if Rochford subjected his wife to “sexual practices that outraged her”, e.g. buggery, and even though the rumours of George having a homosexual affair with Mark Smeaton are likely to be untrue, George may well have practised acts that were not seen as normal. Weir also writes that it may be significant that George and Jane’s marriage was childless and that George Boleyn, Dean of Lichfield during the reign of Elizabeth I, was likely to have been an illegitimate son of George’s, rather than a son of Jane. The fact that George had an affair with a woman seems to go against Retha Warnicke’s view that George was homosexual. The Dean could, of course, have just been a Boleyn relative.

In George Cavendish’s “Metrical Visions”, Cavendish writes of George:-

“I forced widows, maidens I did deflower.
All was one to me, I spared none at all,
My appetite was all women to devour
My study was both day and hour.”

which suggests that George was a womaniser, rather than someone known for buggery and illegal acts.

So, who was George?

Well, no real evidence points to him being a “libertine”, and I would sum him up as:-

  • A fervent religious reformer
  • A poet and lover of the Arts
  • An accomplished diplomat and politician
  • A man who, like many other courtiers, took advantage of his position at court and enjoyed affairs with women at court
  • A man who enjoyed his high position at court and who threw himself into his work
  • A man who was close to his sister and enjoyed spending time with her and with others who shared their beliefs and passions

What do you think?



Just to let you know that I’ve added 8 new pairs of earrings to  our luxury jewellery site – Opulence – and we also have French hoods and brass rubbings of Tudor characters for sale in our Anne Boleyn Files shop.

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39 thoughts on “George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, Part 1”
  1. Thank you Claire, I think you have captured George perfectly.
    I have spent the last three years researching the life of George Boleyn, and felt so passionately that he was being wrongfully slandered in fiction that I began revising his Wikipedia page in May. It had contained almost no information about this remarkable young man so I pretty much revised it completely by using all the primary sources which I had read about him.
    With respect to his poetry, unfortunately none survives which can definitely be assigned to him. However, a sixteenth century collection of poetry entitled ‘Tottel’s Miscellany’ has a section entitled ‘unknown authors’ and it is believed that some of these poems may be George’s. There is a biography of George’s life written in the late nineteenth century by a man named Edmond Bapst who suggested that George and other poets in Henry’s court kick started the English Renaissance with the beauty of their work. I would like to think that were true.
    I agree with you that there is no evidence to suggest George was bisexual or indulged in any kind of sexual deviancy. Both Warnicke and Weir are very selective in their use of Metrical Visions when it comes to their theories regarding George. For anyone interested, Metrical Visions is available on the internet as a scanned document on Google book search. Cavendish’s terminology such as ‘bestial’ and ‘unlawful lechery’ are used frequently in his work to suggest any behaviour he considers inappropriate, such as adultery. These cannot be taken to mean buggery, because that was not Cavendish’s sixteenth century intention for these words. He even talks of Henry’s unlawful lechery on page 94, and presumably he wasn’t suggesting Henry indulged in same sex relationships!
    Thank you so much Claire for putting the record straight with respect to a young man who deseves so much more from us than abuse and demonising.

  2. Did the English language change a little since the 1500’s? There seems to be slight spelling differences from what we know now, but it still makes sense and is easily read. I am speaking of George’s signature inside one of his books. It reminds me of one of those paragraphs that has the vowels take out but you can still read it without any difficutly. (familiar???)
    I really didn’t see any evidence of George being bisexual or homosexual from reading your comment. He was most likely unfaithful to his wife, but I don’t think with men. Also, I don’t feel he had any kind of sexual relations with Anne. They seem to me to have been close as brother and sister and nothing more. He was just another person that was too powerful and a threat, so Cromwell needed him to be gone. My opinion!

  3. Thanks, Louise, I was a bit worried about what you’d think of it when I know that you know so much about George Boleyn. It is indeed terrible how he has been portrayed in fiction, in movies and on TV, when I can’t see there being any evidence of him being anything but a normal man of his time. It seems that Anne was not the only one whose name has been blackened by history and it’s time to put the records straight about Anne and the five men convicted along with her.
    Next week, I will be writing about his fall, trial and execution.

    Thanks so much for pointing out all of these online historical documents, I’ve been boring my husband silly with reading bits out! I get completely lost in them!

  4. Hi Julie,

    16th century English is not too bad to read but it is sometimes hard to decipher the handwriting. Have you read Henry’s love letters to Anne, I love the way he says things in them. I know what you mean about when you can read words even though the vowels have been removed, it’s amazing what the brain can do.

    Poor George! It’s so sad that history has done him a real injustice by painting him as someone who was deserving of his end. He had a close relationship with Anne, as they had so much in common, but I see no evidence of them having an unnatural relationship. It is interesting to read George’s letter to Cromwell about Cromwell interfering in George’s position as Warden of the Cinque Ports, Cromwell obviously saw George as a threat and someone who had risen above his “station”. Interesting.

  5. Hello Claire,
    It is interesting that you say Cromwell saw George as someone who had risen above his station. It was Cromwell who was from a working class background whereas George was from an aristocratic background. Cromwell mainly got to where he was through the Boleyns’ patronage. It is probable that both Anne and George Boleyn viewed Cromwell as nothing more than a glorified servant, hence George’s acute indignation when he undermined his order.
    There is another letter contained in the Lisle Letters which bodes ill for George. It is a letter written by Lord Lyle to Cromwell. Cromwell had remonstrated with Lyle regarding the forfeiture of wool without consulting him. Lyle’s defence was that if he had not done so then George Boleyn would have. Cromwell sought to be the main mediator between the King and the masses, and with people like George Boleyn and Henry Norris on the scene this was impossible. Not only did they have the King’s trust, they also had his love. Clearly, by the end of 1534 George had become a major thorn in Cromwell’s side.

  6. Yes, a big thorn in his side! What I meant about being above his station was more that Cromwell regarded George as having risen because of who he was related to, rather than through his own hard work. Through his coup against Anne Cromwell could get rid of Brereton, Norris and George who were all in his way and wrecking his plans, and replace them with his own men. He must have been so pleased with his plot!

  7. Sorry Claire, I understand what you mean now. You’re probably right. In 1534 George was 30 whereas Cromwell was 50. He must have been very irritated at playing second fiddle to such a young man!
    On a completely diffferent subject, what do you make of George’s relationship with Jane? I have read Julia Fox’s book and I have to say that I agree with Weir when she says Fox overstated her case. Jane was able to resume her position as lady-in-waiting to Jane Seymour shortly after George’s death, which suggests that by 1536 they weren’t close. I think they may have been drawn together as teenagers by sexual attraction but that as they got older their different views meant they grew apart, as happens in a lot of marriages. Having said that there was no scandal surrounding their marriage, and George’s reputation as a womaniser comes solely from Cavendish, so who knows?

  8. I also believe that George didn’t commit incest with his sister. Anne was such a religious person, there is no way she would condemn her soul by commiting a sin like that. I agree with you that George is portrayed in a certain way in fiction, which I of course don’t like.

    Thanks for the article and I look forward to the second part!

  9. Loving all of your recent posts in regards to Anne and her accused ‘lovers’..
    I have just finished Alison Weir’s The Lady in The Tower, and my review is up! Stop by when you get a chance, I’d love to know what you think of it.

  10. Hi Claire! I really like your posting on George Boleyn. What stands out for me is the lack of much actual knowledge of him and from this small amount of information, so many things have been said about him. Sounds like he went down with his sister and the rest of the Boleyn faction that Cromwell wanted out of the way. By the way, if I remember correctly, vowels were not introduced into written language until much later and even spaces between words was not used until much later.

  11. Once again thanks Claire for an interesting summary . I am sure the Boleyns in general gained the jealousy and hatred of Thomas Cromwell who seemed always out for himself. But it is the marriage to Jane Parker which baffles me. I would “presume” it was an arranged marriage as most were in those days and possibly Jane’s dowry was worth it. As you say, we will never know whether the marriage was initially happy or not. But it is obvious, that somewhere down the line Jane developed a jealousy of the relationship with brother and sister – And that can be quite common even in these days where the partner of one or both, is jealous a a clse sibling relationship. The fact that there is quite good proof that Jane did give evidence against George and Anne and that she survived the ordeal to become lady-inwaiting to Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard poses the question why was she allowed to continue? Although she fell at the same post with Catherine Howard.

  12. Hello Jenny,
    Yes the marriage of Jane and George was arranged, but there is no evidence to support the notion that it was enforced. George had been at court since he was a little boy of about ten, and Cavendish states that Jane was also brought up at court since she had been a girl. In other words the two of them had known one another for many years prior to their marriage in late 1524 / early 1525. Both, according to Cavendish, were good looking, hence my suggestion that they may well have been sexually attracted to one another.
    George had enormous strength of character and there were many equally suitable women to whom he could have been married if he had have had a strong objection to Jane Parker. Besides which, there is no evidence to suggest Thomas Boleyn would have forced his only, and much loved son into a marriage which would have made him unhappy. Fiction has a lot to answer for!
    Whatever the case, the couple may well have grown apart by 1536 because Jane obviously found it easy to transfer her loyalty to Jane Seymour with seemingly little regret. There was also a closeness between Jane Rochford and the Princess Mary, who was one of George and Anne’s bitterest enemies. For her to have gained the trust of these women, Jane would have had to have exhibited her loyalty to them rather than her husband.
    Many marriages break down but it doesn’t make either party a bad person; just unlucky. What Jane did was possibly for self preservation rather than a deliberate attack on George or Anne. As for the evidence she gave at the Boleyns’ trials, that is probably more of a discussion point for next week. But as for the evidence put forward by Weir, I would strongly advise you to read John Guy’s review.

  13. Hi Louise,

    Thanks for this – Yes what you say makes some sense but can you let me know where you got John Guy’s review because on Google I can only get the Rope story – Normally I can find most things I want on Google but this evades me

  14. Thanks Claire,

    I “fell out” with Alison Weir after reading her “Princes in the Tower” and then went back to all the books I have of hers to reread and look for “loop-holes” which in the past I accepted. I have not read “The Lady in the Tower” so cannot peronally comment on it but, sorry (and I have started to write something about Henry VIII) if she was pro-that man and her conclusions on the “princes in the Tower” which, in my opinion, was pure conjecture, then………

    I have since read the source you have given me and I am open now to any suggestions.

    What Louise says is correct but I still think that “cash” had something to do with that marriage. I can accept that the couple (i.e. george and Jane) were happy for a while but I certainly can understand hatred for siblings whilst at the same time wanting to keep one’s head – However, this doesn’t count for Jane’s loss of it with Katherine Howard who of all the wives, seems to have been the “weakest link”

  15. George Boleyn (1504-1536) George was the younger brother of Anne and Mary Boleyn and was born at Blicking Hall in NorfolkBut in 1505 the Boleyn familly moved to Hever castle in Kent a property that his father Thomas had inherited from his father..He had been a main figure at the court of King Henry VIII in the 1530’s.George was the only surviving son of Elizabeth Howard and Thomas Boleyn.There had been another two sons born to both Thomas and Elizabeth called Thomas namely because of his father and Henry but neither survived to adulthoodAt the age of 20 George had been granted a mansion in Grimstone by the king.In 1522 George and his father received a joint grant enableing them with land and keep and is thought that this had been an eighteenth birthday present for George boleyn..George had gained a place in the kings privy chamber in 1529 when he was 27 years old.George had originally came to court at the age of ten.He attented the christmas festivities of 1514/15.It was down to his famillys influence and the impression he had on the king that was his claim to fame in the royal household.Goerge on the basis of this soon became a page.Goerge Boleyn received an excellent education just like his sister.He was fluent in several languages.Theese languages included french some italian and latin.His two sisters were educated abroad whilst George was tutoured in England.But I feel that Goerge had been educated in France aswell along with his sister Anne and this is how he new how to speak french.Georges father had been on a embassy in 1519 so this is the most plausable date for this to have taken place.It was from then on that Anne and Goerge became very close.I have noticed how much George and Anne had in common and were alike.They both had more in common with eachother than they did with their sister Mary.Whilst at court Lord rochford met Jane Parker it is known they had married some time in 1525.They were deffinately married in 1526 because there had been a note sent to wolsey saying that an extra £20 had been given to George and his wife to live on.She became Lady Rochford upon her marriage to George. There is no evidence to say whether the marriage was a happy or unhappy one.I suspect it was a mixture.Goerge and Jane were opposites in religion and this was cause for conflict plust his close relationship that he had with his sister AnneAlso I feel that Jane had a tendency to go with which ever side was the most srtongest at the time just to save her own skin..This I feel is what drove them apart.Goerge was true to the new and found lutheran faith whilst Jane had remained true to the catholic faith in my eyes.This would explain why Jane upon her marriage to George after a while started to turn against George and take opposite sides.Basically in my eyes Jane had betrayed him and the reason for my saying so is that at her husbands trial she made no attempts to stand up for him or to stand by him.I know she hated Anne but a man she had married for love.This did throw me a little upon discovering this when I first read the whole story about the Boleyn faction.The question that needs to asked is “Did Jane actually love George”? In my eyes I feel as though she had just used him to further herself in the Kings court and the court of rightiousness.Afterall the Boleyn familly had been stronger and more popular that that of the Parkers,especially after the kings interest in his older Anne had become apparent and indeed upon and after the kings marriage to her.I feel that when and after the Boleyn faction fell from favour this is when Jane dropped George like a hot potato and started turning towards the seymours and princess Mary as they were the stronger side and faction at that moment in time and it was all thanks to Cromwell and his words of untruth.The only one I blame in this is the kings most trusted and loyal subject Thomas Cromwell. Jane did go on to serve Jane Seymour,Anne of Cleeves and Catherine Howard.It just goes to prove my point when I say she had always remained true to the catholic faith aswell as turning and leaning upon the faction that was the strongest at the time it does go to show that by her actions when Catherine Howard was queen what that had lead to.She had been more loyal to her faith and to Catherine Howard than to her husband George and to Queen Anne.

  16. I don’t believe that politics have changed that much in 500 years. I too do not believe that George was homosexual or had relations with his sisters. This was just another way of demonizing them and circumventing civil war or insurrection by the people. These were simply done as a justification for accusing and executing the Boleyns for treason, to distract one another of their own culpability, and a warning that if this perceived behavior continued that the same fate would befall them. The Duke of Norfolk nor Thomas Cromwell ever believed that they too would suffer the same fate as the Boleyns. Henry allowed him to believe what he wanted to believe in order to work the system the way they did. It amazes me that it took so long for changes to be made. Remember that royalty and the aristocracy had more rights but I sure wouldn’t want to have their retirement fund especially if it could result in the loss of their fortunes as well as their heads.

  17. Sadly no picture of George Boleyn exists the only thing we have is some written words of his writing and his signiture.I do not beleive that George Boleyn committed incest with his sister either I think it was just a fabrication.A fabricated story made up by Cromwell and his catholic enemies of course.I find it probable that he may have been bi-sexual.In the series The Tudors second season there is a scene where George Lord Rochford has a dalliance with Mark Smeaton,now we all know that films and serieses are not entirely accurate plus the production companies add things to the storyline to give it oomph and make it more interesting.As for whether there is any actual truth in this is any one guess but if true then I would not be entirely surprised.Do not forget that during George Boleyns eleven year marriage to Jane Parker (Boleyn upon marriage) his wife bore no children.Now does that not strike you being the reader of note as something odd and peculiar? Whearas his father before him was producing a child every year in his marriage to Georges mother.I do not beleive that George commited rape against his wife either as the series would have you beleive.but as for being gay/bi-sexual it is probable in my eyes.The majority of courtships and marriages of the time would have at least produced one child especially in a marriage/courtship of eleven years.Well for an eleven year courtship and marriage I would say even more than one child,I am not saying that a child would be produced and should have been produced every year but what I am saying is I thought that there would have at least been one son/daughter during the whole time they were wedded to one another.This is my backup theory to my speculation as to why I think it probable that George may have been Homosexual or Bi-sexual.Even if bi-sexual he may have lent toward the male side more than he did the female.Looking at the times too nearly every lady and lord of the kings court,in every castle,fort,house and even porper would have produced children in an eleven year marriage or at least one.Maybe you had the odd few that may have died without issue but I am thinking theese people probably were not aquainted or married to anyone at the time.I am well aware that Elizabeth I did not produce an heir and nor did one of her most trusted friends and allies who copied her way of being but they never had a courtship and certainly were not wed.George Boleyn in my eyes was an intelligent man sister of one of the most scandellous women in history who was like his sister Anne in every way and certainly did not deserve what he got,which was execution.George was very popular with the king along with the men that had fallen with him.So I think Cromwell was making a big move here which could have been dangerous and ended up with him being executed but I would say that Cromwell new what he doing and was quite confident he would win the kings side even over others that werte close to him.It is true that Cromwell probably did not think he would ever suffer the same fate as Anne or her brother George and the others but little did he know.Four years later it would be his head on the block.

  18. HI Jeannine,
    I’m struggling with how to define “buggery” politely! Buggery these days refers to anal intercourse but in the past has referred to anal intercourse with either a man or a woman and has even referred to sexual intercourse with animals. In the UK today “bugg**” (that’s an “er” that’s missing) is a swear word. There were various Buggery Acts in Tudor times making it illegal as it was seen as an unnatural act. The Buggery Act of 1533 made buggery punishable by hanging.
    Hope that helps!

  19. Hello Tudorrose,
    It is interesting that you believe George may have been homo or bisexual because he and Jane had no children. Unfortunately childlessness is something that many couples suffer from, even nowadays with all our medical advances, including IVF. We all know someone who cannot have children and I think the husbands would be rather upset at being labelled homosexual because of this!

    Hello Claire,
    Well done on the buggery explanation.!
    The Buggery Act of 1533 also outlawed bestiality, which defined sexual acts with animals. This was mainly because it was believed this would create inter species procreation.
    By the way, I don’t believe Cavendish was suggesting George got it on with his pet Labrador either!

  20. I actually read the Jane Boleyn book. The writing is a little romantic at times but I found the author’s explanations of how she drew her conclusions clear, sensible and based on the available historical evidence.

    Anyone reading the book should read the epilogue first, you get a sense from it of the research that went into the book and that the author is a serious historian. Otherwise, you might not take the book as seriously as it should be taken as it even says on the jacket IIRC – an attempt to re-create the inner life of one of history’s most notorious women or something like that. I’d still recommend it though.

    oh and I think (could be wrong here) that John Guy and the Julia Fox are married.

    Anyway, love this site – wish I had some money because if I did I’d be joining you for the Anne Boleyn Experience. 🙂

  21. Notice on the front cover of Julia Fox’s book about Jane Boleyn has a picture of Jane Seymour without her face showing?
    I understand why this is it is because no picture of the real Jane Parker (Boleyn) exists.So the publisher thought he would use Jane Seymour on the fron cover of this book with her face cut out of the equation.

  22. I am so happy to finally read an educated rendering of Anne’s brother. His portrayal in movies and tv have been varied but never very respectful of what kind of man he most likely was. I am so glad I found this site!

  23. How wonderful to read about George Boleyn, so unfairly maligned by history and tons of historical fiction. He was Anne’s beloved brother – and no more than that – and a well-educated, accomplished man of court in his own right.

    As with most instances in which opinion is mixed, I think the truth about his marriage lies somewhere between the extremes. I believe it was a marriage typical of the time. I don’t believe “The Tudor’s version nor do I believe it was a case of romantic love. Both probably went into the marriage knowing what to expect, but where there is no love there can grow a kind of intimate friendship. I like to think of George as a gentleman who was just and decent to his wife.

  24. I feel compelled to write to you about this strange story – although your readers may find it anywhere from eccentric to the ridiculous. I am writing about what I believe was a remote viewing of George Bulleyn (Boleyn).

    I must first explain a couple of things.

    1) I am an Explorer Level Remote Viewer, trained by David Morehouse. (You can find his webwite by google). Dave was trained by the US Military. I was originally trained by a Dr. Gertrude Schmeidler (now deceased), who, in the 1970’s, helped set up the US military remove viewing program. I have participated in “remote viewing” the potential of a bird flu plague for the US CDC (Center for Disease Control); an MIA for the US Military; missing children for the Nevada police (with some gratifying successes) etc. etc. Remote Viewing is the ability to travel with the mind and “see” things that are in the past, present, future – here on planet Earth, as well as off planet.

    2) I am related to a number of people who are part of British history, – apparently including the Princes in the Tower. My brother was on a BBC special a few years ago, tracing our family history. We are descendants of a bunch of Scottish nobility – as well as a Scots Royal Princess from around the time of William the Conqueror – and have cousins that were involved in the Battle of Bosworth. I state this only as it might perhaps be the reason that what happened to me, happened.

    When we remote view, we “see” other times and places. We can also sometimes talk to the dead as though they were alive. (A famous example is written about in Morehouse’s book Psychic Warrior – when the US remote viewing team, looking for the cause of the plane blowing up over Lockerbie, discovered that they were communicating with the passengers who were dead and dieing.)

    One time when I was out on an rv mission, I found myself in a room with a man who was dressed in Tudor clothing. He was locked in what I knew was the Tower of London (having visited it). A beautifull, vibrant, passionate, frightened woman came rushing in – paced around the room and then flung herself at the young man’s feet. She was asking him to sacrifice himself so that her daughter would not be labeled a bastard. She said that if they were willing to sign a paper stating that they had had an affair, they could “go free”, but the child would be forever labeled a bastard. However, if they refused to sign, the child could not be labeled as such. It was to her no question that she should give up her life that the child remain legitimate. However, she could not answer for the young man – it had to be his decision. She could not consign him to death.”
    I could see that she was full of anger, frustration and resolution – and that the only thing that mattered to her was her child.

    the young man replied “that he had to think about it”. The woman, whom he called “Nan”, was shocked. “How could he not just answer her now?” “No”, he said. “this is my life and I need to think about it.”. She left in a state of confusion, frustration, overwhelming grief, and incredulity.

    I could see the thoughts of the young man. He was picturing a boy about the age of 5 or 6 whom he visited upon occasion – northwest of the city of London. His heart hurt at the idea of never seeing him again. He sat for many minutes, in a state of suspended animation. then, a vision popped into his head – that of a woman who was quite dark in coloring… frowning… angry… what we would call a Harpy in character. It was his wife.

    I heard more distinctly than any of the prior thoughts the words “Well, that’s one way to leave a wife.,,, I’ll do it.” and with that he drafted a letter to his sister and called for the guard. He definitely wanted to choose death over continuing his marriage.

    The remote viewing then shifted to another time and place. He was now in a room that was fully paneled with wood – a library/office. He was younger than the prior scene. He was now standing and seemed tall, with long legs. He was chewing on a tooth pick (which I ‘knew’ that he did as a regular habit.). He was in a huge argument with his father who was behind a large desk. The father was insisting the he (the young man) sleep with his wife and beget a child. The young man was saying, very cooly and dryly “I WILL not sleep with her. She never bathes. She reeks.” the arguments ensued. It ended with the young man saying to this father “If you want her to sleep with a Bulleyn so badly, YOU sleep with her.”… and he walked out.

    I then came back to my body with a jerk. The remote viewing that we had been assigned to do was to help someone from the beyond who wanted to get a message through to us.

    At the time I knew nothing about Ann or George Boleyn except that Ann was Henry the
    VIII’s 2nd wife. The topic was a subject about which I had only distaste and a sense of righteous indignation. I did NOT want to hear anything on the subject.

    However, I have 2 friends that know the history inside and out – and when I mentioned this to them, they explained to me that I may well have been hearing from George, brother of Ann Boleyn.

    Maybe, maybe not. None of us will know until we pass through to the dimension beyond this one at our time of death. There and then, we can see all. Here, we are behind the veil.

    I have seen many strange things when remote viewing – including seeing a Host of Angels (wings and all) lined up behind Hitler and Goebels at a Nazi rally back during !WW II. the Angels were lining the BACK of the stage in order to block the negative energy from traveling in a full 360 degree pattern. They were doing what I call damage control. The Gospel of Thomas, which was left out of our modern Bible, mentions that Christ was talking about the fact that there is a heavenly host (or heaven on earth) here, amongst us. – But that we lost the ability to “see” this host. Ancient Sumerian texts also indicate that some kind of plague wiped out our ability to use or extra sensory perceptions. As Christianity goes, I was born Church of England, but believe that all the churches have denied us much esoteric knowledge. Perhaps I Was seeing George Bulleyn – and perhaps it’s because I am on the frontline of religious reform in this day and age in that I believe the church is denying us important knowedge – that I was, perhaps, allowed to see scenes of his life… or again, perhaps it is because I may have a blood connection to him as I am related to people who were players around him. ( I have never had a thorough family tree done up – I only know a few of my relations, including the man who was the head of the Left Wing against Richard III at Bosworth. As I am pro Richard III and believe that he loved the Princes in the Tower, I an not in charity with my relations.

    Truth is like a pure tone of music. It carries far and reaches inside of us – to touch our hearts, minds and gut. Lies are cacophonous. They feel wrong and can only travel a short distance. Did I remote view George Boleyn? I leave it to you, the reader, to check your heart and your gut and feel if it feels like a pure tone – or cacophony. For me, it was very real.

    God Bless and may the Angels watch over all of you.

    1. Hi Lesley,
      I’ve heard of remote viewing but I’ve never heard from someone who has actually had an experience with it, it sounds like you had a very interesting and exciting experience. I’m sure that Anne was offered some kind of deal to try and get her to confess to an impediment to her marriage so that it could be annulled, but we just don’t know what that deal was. I’m sure that she put Elizabeth and her family first and did not stir up any trouble so that they would be protected. We just don’t know whether she had chance to see George in the Tower, I would say not as there is no record of it but who knows. Very interesting!

      1. Sorry for jumping into this conversation, but I was intrigued by what you said, Claire. I have two questions: Firstly, what are your theories on that deal?
        And secondly: though it’s unlikely Anne and George met in the Tower before their executions, what do you think they would have talked about? Given that they were accused of incest, do you think they would have been physically affectionate with each other as I imagine they had always been, or would they refrain from it in order not to make things worse for them?

  25. Hi Claire, so to the question of Lord Rochford’s sexuality-was he Homosexual/bi-sexual? And was he intimate with Mark Smeaton? What I would first like to point out is the fact that Mark Smeaton was wearing the finest clothes that money could buy, and he also had the best horses. Now I don’t know how much a lute player at King Henry’s court earned, but I am guessing it would not have been enough to enable Smeaton to spend what would be today’s equivalent of tens of thousands of pounds. If these ‘gifts’ were from George Boleyn (or possibly Anne), this begs the question;why? Were they incredibly generous to ALL of their servants? Or was it just Mark? was his music that good? The English aristocracy have never been known for their generosity, either now or back in the Tudor period; this tells me that Smeaton MUST have been doing something more than simply handling his lute with expertise! What we must also remember is that the English aristocracy have ALWAYS lived by their own rules; Homosexuality/bisexuality have always been so common to that particular class that anyone who hasn’t ‘taken a walk on the wild side’ is almost seen as abnormal! Whilst it is true that George Boleyn liked to study his bible, he also admitted on the scaffold that he had not lived by the bible. I think that the mistake we often make when discussing characters from history is that we tend to forget that they were real flesh and blood Human beings; they were neither black nor white, but shades of grey; they had their fair share of faults and imperfections as we all do. Of course we will never know the EXACT relationship between George, Anne and Mark, but I suspect it was perhaps darker than many people believe. I adore Anne Boleyn, regardless of whether she was guilty or not, but as with her brother, I think they shared secrets(with Mark Smeaton)that we will never know.

    1. I answered your other comment about this but perhaps you didn’t see it:
      “Mark was actually a favourite of the King. I talk about this in my book:

      “The Privy Purse Expenses of November 1529 to December 1532 show frequent mentions of “marke”. In the introduction, the editor explains that it is clear that Smeaton was “wholly supported and clothed” by Henry VIII. There are many mentions of payments for “shert”s and “hosen”. His rise in favour is evident from the increase in his rewards during the period, from “xx s”i (20 shillings) in December 1530 to “iii li. vi s. viii d.”ii(£3 6 shillings and 8 pence) in October 1532. The increase in payments for clothing would also indicate this rise in favour.”

      So perhaps Henry VIII was keen on Mark

      As for homosexuality being rampant, it was actually seen as a mortal sin in those times and if the men had been homosexual then it could have been another way of bringing them down. They were not charged with “buggery”, as it was termed then and they surely would have if there were rumours of inappropriate relationships. Wouldn’t Smeaton have confessed to that? I just don’t see there being any evidence for any of the men being homosexual, sorry.”

      Re the aristocracy living by their own rules, well, not in Tudor times. The Buggery Act, which defined buggery as an unnatural sexual act against the will of God and man, made it a hanging offence and people were executed for homosexuality. Walter Hungeford was executed, Nicholas Udall was lucky to escape death and be imprisoned. It would have been terribly dangerous for George, Mark or any of the men to be lovers and for it to be known.

      Re George’s execution speech and him not living by the Bible, that’s what everyone said in their execution speech. They believe that because of original sin they were all sinners who were deserving of death.

  26. Hi Claire, you are absolutely right about Smeaton being a favourite of Henry, and of Henry lavishing gifts upon him; perhaps being generous to musicians was the done thing back then, or perhaps Mark’s music really was exceptional; the John Lennon of Tudor England perhaps? who knows? you do make an interesting observation about maybe Henry being keen on Mark…This is something I have pondered on myself. Of course you are right about homosexuality being considered an un-godly sin back then and being punishable by death; but I am certain that many young men(and not so young) still indulged! Perhaps the thrill of dicing with death added to the excitement. Of course, this is still all just opinion and assumption, but I am still not 100% convinced(despite the lack of any real evidence) that there was not something dark between George, Anne and Mark.
    Incidentally, being one of Henry’s ‘favourites’ meant that you could quite literally get away with murder. One of Henry’s body servants, Thomas Culpepper(who later betrayed Henry’s trust with Katherine Howard) once raped a young Woman and killed the Man who came to her rescue(not sure if it was her husband). Henry excused Culpepper’s terrible crime as ‘youthful high jinks’ and and declared that he would not have to answer to the law for what he had done because Henry himself valued Culpepper’s ministerings to his ulcerated leg; apparently no-one had healing hands quite like Culpepper, who history tells us was a handsome young Man.

  27. Hi Claire,
    I never knew that there were TWO thomas Culpeper’s! And BROTHERS? This is what is so fascinating about Tudor and Boleyn history…even when you have been reading about it since you were seven or eight yrs old(as I have) there are still plenty of things to discover for the first time. The Culpeper siblings were wild weren’t they? rape, murder and DARING to mess with wife of H8! Wild…or perhaps stupid?

    1. It’s so weird, isn’t it, to have two brothers both called Thomas?! Yes, they obviously never looked ahead and thought about the possible consequences of their actions.

  28. I think maybe George could have been infertile or maybe Jane used birth control I am not sure why Jane did what she did but she did get her comeuppance in the end. I think if she had just stuck by George then Anne and the others. might not have died but Jane didn’t know that things were going to go so badly for George and Anne.

    1. Henry VIII visited Fitzroy after Anne’s arrest and told him that he and his half-sister Mary were now safe from “that venomous wh*re” who had planned to poison them, but then Henry VIII also said that Anne had had 100+ lovers too.

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