Hayley Nolan and Anne Boleyn Home Truths

I’ve been in contact with Hayley Nolan via Twitter because I’ve been following some of the vlogs she’s been sharing there on Anne Boleyn, the Boleyns and Henry VIII – a shared interest!

Hayley created the History Review podcast series as a platform to discuss a new modern analysis of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. She recently shot an exclusive video for The Anne Boleyn Files inside Anne Boleyn’s childhood home of Hever Castle. Here, she touches on just some of the myths and misconceptions tackled in the podcast series.

Over to Hayley…


Hayley says: “I began researching Anne Boleyn after finding myself compelled to understand Henry VIII’s erratic behavior throughout their relationship. I was desperate to understand how the King could go from a 7 year fight in the name of all-consuming love and desire… to her falling so extremely from his affections to the point that he would have her head beheaded. No historian up until this point had given a sufficient enough answer more than the simplified story book version of “she didn’t give him the son he wanted, and so off with her head!” That just didn’t cut it (excuse the pun) with me; these were real people, there will have been more to it than that… of course I didn’t realise at that point just how much more to it there actually was! But more than the revelations that Henry VIII was most definitely suffering from the mental illness Sociopathy as a result of a traumatic childhood (exacerbated by several jousting head injuries) I was absolutely shocked to find that the real Anne Boleyn could not have been further removed from the heartless, scheming sex-bomb of a social climber that we’ve repeatedly been told she was! And so, my research got somewhat sidetracked by understanding – and then hell bent on revealing to the general public – just exactly who the real Anne Boleyn was!

As an outlet for my passionate Tudor rants I created the free podcast series “The History Review”, available on iTunes and Soundcloud.com where I go into full detail about every aspect of both Anne Boleyn’s and Henry VIII’s characters, psyche and story. For links to the full series you can visit http://www.thehistoryreview.com/. The Tudor videos continue over on Twitter https://twitter.com/thehayleynolan where I also host the video series #HayleyVlogsHistory so feel free to come follow the historical fun! It’d be great to chat with you all!”

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12 thoughts on “Hayley Nolan and Anne Boleyn Home Truths”
  1. Sorry, but you cannot just come along and overturn evidence that does suggest that Anne refused Henry as his mistress and would not agree to an affair unless she was his wife. Yes, Anne had better morals than Henry, claerly as she said no to sex before marriage, but that does not preclude her agreeing to be his wife or letting Henry know that she would give him sons if he married her. The main problem for Anne was wife no 1_and we know that Henry was looking into the validity of his marriage before going out with Anne. Henry fancied Anne and I believe only wanted a mistress, but her refusal set his passion alight. After some letters, giftd, persuasive pursuit, going home and probably an assessment of the situation….what if she could keep his interest…Anne accepted Henry’s ardent courtship. Anne and Henry were in a mutually beneficial relationship by mid 1527 and Anne had either led Henry to believe she would give him a son or agreed to be his wife (the sources are confusing and different interpretations of this exist). Henry was by now asking the Pope for a dispensation to marry Anne Boleyn as he had slept with a close relative ( usually interpreted as Mary Boleyn, although Elizabeth Howard Boleyn may also be meant as some courtiers had heard that Henry slept with both, something he denied to Throgmorton). I saw your visit to Hever when you were talking about Thomas Boleyn and the work of Lauren Mackey, whose book on Chapyus has really shred light on the life of Henry’s court. Yes, I agree that there is evidence to say that Thomas Boleyn was ultimately opposed to Anne becoming Queen as it was dangerous, especially if a King married a subject as this created faction and resentment. That doesn’t prevent him from being ambitious or from profiting from his daughters rise to power. His entire family benefited, save Mary who was disowned by her father when she disobeyed him and didn’t get royal permission to marry William Stafford. Thomas unlike other members of his family also remained more traditional in his religious views, but he was a smart courtier and he could see that there was a clear advantage to being father to a new Queen and her possible son. You argue here also that monarchs married for alliance and to further the dynasty, not for love, but Henry and Anne did marry for love. Henry had married for both dynastic reasons and love to Katherine of Aragon and he was looking to get out of his marriage, because he was genuinely desperate for a male heir. Who or whether or not Henry even had a candidate in mind for wife no 2 is something else which is unclear. One clue comes from Wolsey who asked for support for a French marriage from the Papal envoy to England and a French bride seems to have been his own remit, before he shockingly learnt that Henry actually wanted to marry Anne Boleyn. Anne probably wasn’t Henry’s first intended marriage solution but once they were in a committed relationship, he soon saw her as a potential bride and she offered him a handy solution. I believe that the evidence points to a love match by the end of 1527 and Henry was asking for leave to marry her by now. Henry and Anne fell in love and it was during the next six years that they became so committed that in order not to have an illegitimate child both of them refrained from a full sexual relationship together. This does not prove that they didn’t have an exclusive sexual relationship.

    I do believe that Anne had other lovers, at least before she was committed to Henry Viii. There may not be definative proof of a sexual relationship, but Wyatt said they were lovers, although this could be boasting, plus his passionate poems about her and his letting go of her through poetry. Anne knew Thomas well and, although married, he had other lovers. She may or may not have slept with him, but yes, there was something between them, something which endured and ended when Anne married Henry. Wyatt also continued to pine after Anne and deeply mourned her. I’m sorry but yes, a woman who was thinking of being Queen would have had a poet as her earlier lover. Wyatt was not just a poet. He was an interpreter or scripture. He was an ambassador. He had prized skills at court and a sound legal and intelligent mind. Wyatt translated several classic works and if you read his arguments which helped free him in 1541 from prison, you can see a legal mind at work. Anne knew the Wyatts well as their families were connected and lived close. It is entirely credible that she had some sort of relationship with Thomas Wyatt and a lot of circumstantial evidence backs it up. You can’t just dismiss everything about Anne’ early life, simply because to you it doesn’t make sense. The majority of historians accept Anne had a relationship with Wyatt, sexual or not.

    Thomas Boleyn has been wrongly depicted as pimping out his daughters and here I definitely agree he has been maligned. Yes, like other parents whose daughters attracted the King he probably thought it a good thing and was ambitious to profit from it, but no he didn’t force or push either of them into the King’s bed. Nor did he deliberately push Anne forward to marry Henry. He saw the advantage it brought, but he also worried that the path which led to the crown was dangerous. He must have been devastated when he lost two of his children in such a shameful and terrible manner. To be the parents of a son and daughter accused of incest (falsely) and treason (falsely) was the worst shame they could face, let alone the terrible trauma of seeing both of them publicly executed. Thomas was a courtier who also knew about survival. He had to regain some of the lost family fortunes when he lost everything, so this may have been why he came back to court as a guest at Edward vi baptism. Henry was an overwhelming person who you don’t say no to, so I can understand his return to court after his children’s execution. It’s also clear that Thomas and Elizabeth lost a big part of themselves when Anne and George were executed and their home confiscated. Their health failed and both were dead within less than three years of those terrible days of May 1536.

  2. While kings usually married for political reasons, there was a precedent for the idea that Henry VIII could marry for love … his grandfather, Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydville (or Woodville). Like Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth Wydville brought no foreign alliance … and the fact that she was a widow of a staunch Lancastrian (Edward’s enemies ) also didn’t help. The one advantage that Elizabeth Wydville had over Anne was her proven fertility (she was a widow with two sons when she married Edward; Anne only had potential).

    1. Hi Esther,
      Dan Jones has argued that Edward would have seen a political advantage in marrying Elizabeth Wydville, since he would have been bringing a Lancastrian family into the York fold. I’m not sure what to think about this; what are your thoughts?

      And thank you, Haley, for this; I LOVE history podcasts!:-)

  3. Henry and Elizabeth married as her Mother and his Aunt got them to marry to unight forces and the people against Rhichard III , who was involved in the murder of her father, the two young prince,s in the tower, and the murder of his brother. She was the only one not to have been murdered​.
    This marriage was not a love match at all , later ? Henry and Catherine was not a love but i think it did. I don’t think he divorced her willy nilly

    1. First of all Richard was not involved in the murder of Elizabeth of Yorks father, as Edward iv was not murdered but died after catching a chill in April 1483, while Richard was away in Yorkshire were he had been for the last eight months. Other sources add that he may have had food poisoning from bad fish. There was no evidence of foul play and there is no contemporary evidence to show anything other than a natural death.

      Henry’s mother and Elizabeth Woodville, his wife’s mother negotiated his marriage to Elizabeth of York, not his aunt. Which aunt are you talking about? Henry vowed to take Elizabeth but it was the only way he could legitimate his flimsy claim anyway.

      There is no contemporary evidence that Richard iii or anyone else murdered the so called Princes in the Tower. The only thing known for certain is that they vanished. No, the bones in the Urn in Westminster have not as yet been confirmed as the so called Princes. A number of theories exist on the Princes, but no evidence as such as to their ultimate fate. It’s even debated as to whether EW knew anything or not and sadly the drama of Shakespeare and More are complete fabrications.

      The murder of which brother? Are you talking about the Duke of Clarence?

      George, Duke of Clarence was tried and found guilty of treason by Edward iv in 1478. He was privately executed on Edward iv’s orders on 18th February 1478, probably in a wine butt, although some sources say by strangulation. Richard iii had nothing to do with it. He was tried and lawfully condemned by his brother, although some of the inditements hide a family secret around legitimacy and Edward’s marriage was called into question.

      “She was the only one not to have been murdered”. Who are you talking about? Again there is no proper evidence about the Princes being killed or not. None of the Princesses were killed or vanished. They all survived, if they had not already died of disease as with numerous other infants at this time. Their cousin, Edward, Earl of Warwick and his sister Margaret de la Pole also survived as Clarence’s children. The Poles, children of Princess Elizabeth, Richards sister also lived, as did the Courtneys. The daughter of his sister Anne also lived, plus a whole load of other relatives. So how could Elizabeth of York have been the only one not murdered? Are they still teaching this crap in schools and colleges?

      Whose marriage was not a love match? Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York did come to love each other and so did Katherine of Aragon and Henry Viii. What may have began as political alliances turned into love matches. Henry Viii didn’t get a divorce from Katherine of Aragon. He said he had come to believe that their marriage was not valid as she had been first married to his brother, Arthur. Although the Pope had given a special permission called a dispensation for Henry and Katherine to marry, Henry was very worried by their lack of male children. He learned from a book in the Bible called Leviticus that he should not have married his brothers widow, so he believed their marriage wasn’t valid. Katherine believed that the marriage was good and another Bible verse in Deuteronomy says that as a widow with no children, her husband’s brother was obligated to marry her. The Church accepted that Katherine was a virgin after her marriage to Arthur and after so long it was a good marriage. Henry needed a male heir and also fell in love with Anne Boleyn. That changed everything. He was in doubt about his marriage, but he could only get an annulment as he wanted to remarry. The Church took it’s time and Henry divorced the Church. He broke from Rome, created Thomas Cranmer as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Cranmer then had a hearing which declared the marriage to Katherine null and void and declared the new marriage to Anne Boleyn as a valid marriage. Henry had legislation enacted making it a crime punishable by death to say you don’t support his new marriage and only his kids by Anne were to succeed. Ironically the Church declared the marriage of Katherine and Henry good the next year.

      Henry and Anne were passionately in love, but he had also loved Katherine, although in a different way perhaps. Edward iv had indeed married Elizabeth Woodville, a commoner like Anne, who was a widow and whose parents had some royal and noble blood. Although this was a love match and politically ill advised it could be seen as a way of making peace as E W was from a Lancastrian family, who had fought against the new King Edward. It was certainly a fruitful match, but it has also been challenged as invalid on the basis of Edward being firstly married to another widow, a noblewoman, Eleanor Talbot, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury. This was controversial as it was kept secret and not forced into the open as the Woodville marriage was. It was also raised by Clarence and later used by Richard of Gloucester to show the children of Edward iv were illegitimate. This was the basis on which he was offered the crown by an assembly of 200 clergy, officials and nobles, an unopened Parliament known as the three estates of the realm. It was the basis of these controversial marriage complexes that Richard iii became King, not a load of unproven propaganda about him killing his entire family to come to the throne, which never happened anyway as most of them were still alive.

      1. Correction….Should be Margaret Pole not de la,Pole. The latter are the children of Richard iii’s sister, Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk and brothers to John de la Pole, killed at East Stoke after he turned against the new King Henry Tudor. His brothers Edward and Richard were also the White Rose heirs. So, as you can see there were plenty of nephews and cousins and children of Edward iv who were not ‘murdered ‘ or did not vanish as you claim.

        1. I’m awfully late to the party, Banditqueen, but I do hope that you see this because I want you to know how much I love your comments on The Anne Boleyn Files and particularly the ones on this thread and particularly ,PARTICULARLY the marvelous history lesson on Richard III. I’m a Richardian and this does my heart good. Many blessings, Banditqueen!

      2. Henry passionately loved Anne Boleyn, but nobody really knows whether she truly loved him. I doubt it.

  4. It is disputed whether Anne Boleyn and Thomas Wyatt were romantically involved. It is traditionally thought that Wyatt wrote about Anne in his poetry, but we cannot necessarily see this as evidence that the two were lovers or even that Wyatt’s love for Anne was unrequited.

    Until her downfall in 1536, there was actually no evidence linking Anne’s name with Wyatt. Wyatt was imprisoned on suspicion of adultery with the queen, but he was released alongside Richard Page. Catholic authors such as the Spanish chronicler depicted Wyatt enjoying a clandestine affair with Anne, but much of this is probably fiction based on rumours circulating in the city.

    The Tudors presents Wyatt as hopelessly in love with Anne, but she does not return his love and warns him never to speak of her again. In real life, there is no evidence that Anne and Wyatt were romantically involved, the evidence we have suggests that Anne was betrothed to Henry Percy before marrying the king. But certainly Wyatt wrote haunting and beautiful poetry about the downfall of Anne and the men accused with her, poetry that still has the ability to move us today.

    1. I agree it is disputed, but that doesn’t close down the possibility that they had a romantic experience which was not sexual. The problem is that in the 21st century we think you can’t have a relationship with the opposite sex without jumping into bed with them. You are not allowed to save yourself before marriage these days without being seen as odd or court in the old fashioned sense before getting married in the sight of God. It may surprise people to know but numerous people are pure on their wedding night and proud of it. However, our godless society cannot grasp that people have been virtuous out of choice and it was assumed at some time in history that ladies at Francis I court had to be hussies because he was a philanderer. There was also another court, the Court of Claude, his virtuous wife, so here Anne would learn virtue and beauty and a high moral standard. When she came home her father tried to marry Anne to her Butler cousins in 1521_and 1522, but then at some point she fell for Harry Percy instead. It’s possible that she found herself in a friendship with her neighbour Thomas Wyatt while at home and that he fell for her at court. We don’t know if Anne returned his feelings or if any relationship was long or short term as no concrete evidence backs up later claims of a relationship. However, nothing can be proved to back up claims that they didn’t have a romantic relationship. Circumstantial evidence shows that one was possible, which has nothing to do with the accusation against Wyatt in 1536. That accusation was an assumption of a renewal of a relationship which was adulterous. In fact we know very little about his arrest or any charges that were made. He was kept in prison but later released, plus there is a theory that Cromwell had a hand in his release. Five innocent men also went to their deaths and Francis Bryan was also too obviously connected to the Seymour party. I guess Page was released as the case against him was too weak. Wyatt wrote some of the most haunting poetry of his age but I don’t believe he was quite as forlorn as in the Tudors. Many of his poems are associated with Anne, but you are quite right, they could be about anyone, save they hold specific clues which relate to aspects of Anne’s life that rule anyone else out. Wyatt also stole a chain belonging to Anne which she admitted giving to him as a token. He may have been brash in wearing it and it was probably a goodbye token as Anne warned him away now that the King was on the scene.

      Wyatt was scandalous because Suffolk outed him to the King as being the ex lover of Anne Boleyn and Henry was furious, but Suffolk was banished at Anne’s insistence. Henry was not convinced either and we cannot take the claims made seriously either as there was some kind of bad blood between Anne and Suffolk and Wyatt also blamed Suffolk for his arrest in 1536. ( His statement in 1541). As I said his arrest in 1536 has nothing to do with any relationship he may or may not have had with Anne back in the early or mid 1520s. Anne was fun loving and very out going when she came home, she was flirtatious, she was happy around young men and sophisticated. She was also of an age to be married. Now if she was twarted with her marriage hopes with Harry Percy, perhaps she was a bit rebellious and had a short romantic fling with Tom afterwards. If Anne then called it off Tom may have felt heart sick for a time. We don’t know anything about Anne’s missing years, but Thomas Wyatt seems to have been attracted to her on and off and deeply mourned her after her execution. Now all of this is circumstantial, but a relationship can’t be written off for lack of absolute proof.

  5. The bad blood between Suffolk and Anne is most likely that his Duchess supported Katherine, and was furious about having to bend her royal knee to Anne.

  6. Anne was like one of my friends, she liked men and they liked her. But! Manyw and then hate women like that…Why? Because they are jealous. Women are catty, bitchy, vengeful etc. Once they saw the tides turning they added to the liars. Right?! You know what I am talking about because you have know women like that.
    And her daughter, Elizabeth was just like her mother. She loved attractive, handsome men. And she loved flirting and dance intelligent.spoke several languages. And she was Queen! “She is the only mistress and no master.” She could do anything she wanted to.Sadly her mother couldn’t but she did say thinks she should not have said. Specifically about her husband, the King. That is treasonous. Executed happens from that alone

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