It’s our 9th birthday!


As I looked at my diary this morning, it suddenly dawned on me that it was on this day in 2009 that I wrote the very first post on this blog.

The post’s title was “In Search of Anne Boleyn” and it explained my purpose in starting The Anne Boleyn Files: “My purpose in starting this blog is to record and share my journey of discovery, my mission to expose the real Anne Boleyn.” It was a personal mission and I didn’t even consider the fact that other people might find my blog and interact with it!

It’s been quite a journey but my mission hasn’t changed. While I don’t believe that we can ever really “expose the real Anne Boleyn”, I try through my research and writing to challenge views that are based on suspect sources or fiction by pointing people at what the historical sources say. It is an ongoing journey and is quite a rollercoaster at times. I’ve made some wonderful friends on the way, I’ve interacted with Tudor history lovers from all over the world, I’ve visited places I never thought I would, I’ve spoken to historians and authors I’m quite frankly in awe of, I’ve written books and worked with other authors, and I’ve been able to immerse myself in historical sources for the last nine years! I am truly blessed.

Thank you for coming along on this journey with me. Thank you for contributing to this blog with your comments. Thank you for your patience with me when I get on my soapbox and have a bit of a rant. Thank you for bearing with me when I’m busy with a project. Thank you for the encouragement and support that have kept me going. Thank you for being there and caring about the woman who was Anne Boleyn.

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23 thoughts on “It’s our 9th birthday!”
  1. Congratulations Claire! My interest in the Tudor period started 31 years ago and I have had to enjoy it on my own as I have no friends or family members interested in history whatsoever. I ran across your site quite by accident (happily I might add). It is so fun and interesting to read what you post and to interact with others who enjoy this subject. Thank you so much for starting this website.

  2. Like Michael my love of Tudor history and especially Anne Boleyn began when I was a schoolgirl, and our history teacher taught us about Henry V111 and his wives, it was only the basics but then I discovered Jean Plaidys historical fiction novels and I believe began reading them when I was about fifteen, ‘Murder Most Royal’ was the first book by her I read and it really interested me because it centred on Anne and Catherine Howard, I felt I got to know these long dead people and their colourful world, the love fear and terror they felt and there was Henry ever present and glittering larger than life, saintly Sir Thomas More was there and the devious cold blooded Cromwell, now many years later and after reading many books on Anne and Henry and Catherine to, I realise that Miss.Plaidys book was hopelessly sentimental and she portrayed Anne and both Catherine in a very romantic light, especially Anne, I realised that was not the real Anne, I have visited Hever Castle and the Tower of London twice, living in the London suburbs I have easy access to Henry V111’s one time grim fortress, which I consider myself most fortunate, I would love to visit Blickling Hall and also the little church of Salle where Annes ancestors are buried, my father told me he was stationed there during the war aa the army requisitioned it and he saw the statue of Anne Boleyn on the staircase, in memory of its most famous resident, she wears a little hat with a feather as if she is going hunting and its this part of England where she is said to haunt every year on the execution of her death, she arrives so legend says in a carriage drawn by black horses and the coach driver is also headless, Anne carries her bloody head in her lap and the coach and all its occupants trundle over the drive through the imposing iron gates and vanish into the night air, Norfolk has always been known as witch country and many legends have abounded in this flat marshy land, the mists from the marshes no doubt add to its gloomy atmosphere and her lonely shade was also seen by a terrified visitor to Blickling once, he saw a lady in very old fashioned dress walking in the gardens, he decided to speak to her thinking she was one of the staff dressed up for the entertainment of the tourists, he asked her why she was here all alone, and she replied with a sorrowful face ‘that for which I seek has long since gone’, she then disappeared leaving companion trembling, I asked my dad if he had ever seen her ghost and he just scoffed, he never believed in ghosts and had he saw one he would have dismissed it as imagination, but I felt very envious that he had been lucky enough to have stayed in Annes old childhood home and I tell myself one day I will go there myself, although sadly the house she knew has long since gone, the house as we know it now is Jacobean having been renovated and rebuilt, still the gardens where she must have played are still there and it could well be that it was in Blickling as a child, without all the stress and drama that came later in life, where she was truly happy, the innocence of childhood is precious and maybe her ghost still visits her old childhood home, if ghosts do exist that is, by reading about Anne and Henry V111 we also come to meet a whole host of other colourful characters to, there is his first wife the stalwart Katherine from Aragon, the princess of Spain who proved to Henry she was more than a match for him, she like Anne was also brave stubborn and tenacious, in fact I think both women had a lot in common and maybe in another time and situation they could well have been friends, there is the meek submissive Jane Seymour who compared to Anne was like a dove next to a hawk, yet she successfully engineered the downfall of her mistress and sat on her throne whilst her ex mistresse’s body was still decomposing in her grave, Annes tragic story has kept us captivated for many years, time does not lessen the fascination and the rich drama of her life and bloody death, she signifies the heights to which a woman can achieve and her sad ending is a reminder that good fortune is transitory, in her time and ours, after her brutal death her husband tried to erase her out of his life, the stonemasons were soon at work chipping away at her initials on Henrys many buildings and palaces, her portraits were swiftly taken down from there places on the walls and destroyed, Henry never uttered her name in public though he may well have ranted about her in secret, no one was allowed to speak her name either and it was as if she had never been, yet she must have haunted her ex husband for many years and the Tudor court also, her large dark eyes were there in her daughter and Henry must have been somewhat uncomfortable every time Elizabeth fixed them on her father, he could not shut out the fact that Elizabeth was a living reminder of his second wife but he was very fond of her for she grew up to be a charming if somewhat spirited and highly intelligent young girl, Annes legacy touched England for ever, the Church of England would never have existed if it hadn’t been for Anne, she is said to be the most famous ghost in the Tower, the most fascinating of Henry V111’s wives because she is the least understood, her lost portraits are eagerly sought after because there are so few and we have only one allegedly contemporary sketch of her by Holbein, there is an illustration of her in a book of hours? she is dressed in yellow, but it does not show us her features as it is obviously tiny and she resembles the normal fashion of how kings and queens are portrayed, some say it does not matter how she looked, but for people like us who have an enduring interest in her it would be like the icing on the cake to find a true likeness of her, Eric Ives wrote ‘in the many portaits there are of her, in the NPG in Holbeins sketch, in the many others of her we have the true face of Anne Boleyn’, words to that effect anyway, I too discovered this site about four years ago by accident and found it hugely entertaining, the sheer hard work that goes into it is wonderful and is an example of Claire’s enthusiasm and drive, well done Claire for bringing Annes story to life and long may the Anne Boleyn Files continue.

    1. To add to what you said about erasing Anne from existence as hard as Henry tried, she is the wife most spoken about. Sweet irony.

      1. It is isn’t it, there are more books about Anne in biography and fiction, then there are about his other wives, there are Henry V111’s ardent love letters to her carefully preserved in the Vatican, he never wrote such passionate letters to any other woman, Hampton Court is more closely associated with her than her successors, even though from time to time they all resided there, and she even has a rose named after her, there has been many films and several television series made about her, she is the subject of an opera, her picture even hangs in Hogwarts, maybe in reference to the witchcraft she is said to have enslaved Henry by, she is the subject of a little ditty wrote many years ago, ‘she walks the bloody Tower with her head tucked under her arm’, it has a comical element to it, she is the stepmother from hell and the epitome of the nagging wife, and very very fascinating.

  3. Congrats Claire: I would love to know, in this your fascinating search of discovery, have you found anything along the way which really shocked you so that you had to re-think the way you perceived somebody – what would be your greatest discovery yet, can you say?

  4. Happy 9th Birthday Thank you for all the wonderful work you do on Anne here’s to many more years of the Anne Boleyn files

  5. Many Happy Returns and congratulations. I don’t think we can pin Anne Boleyn down to any one of that early list, as she was many of them, but none of the more negative things apply. We are all many things. Anne could be fun and flirty as well as a pious and devout Christian woman with an interest in reform. She could be haughty and determination to nake her mark often clashed with the needs of the court, King and his people, but she was also genuinely generous and helped a number of people in desperate situations. This was a talent and concern Anne shared with Thomas Cromwell, yet they would dangerously fall out. Anne certainly wasn’t a witch, wh*re or adulterous traitor and yet popular fiction and drama insist on some aspects of these being highlighted. Anne was intelligent, yet at times foolish in her handling of Henry after her marriage, thinking he should only have eyes for her and no other. Yet, Anne had served in three different Courts and knew how a King behaved when his wife was pregnant. A few less jealous outbursts may have gone a long way, but Anne was heartbroken to think she wasn’t the King’s only love interest. Anne had her own dangerous streak when crossed, but she also made genuine efforts to bring Princess Mary on board by offering to speak to King Henry if the Princess would only nod at her being Queen. As a mother Anne was attentive, taking her baby daughter with her to meet with Ambassadors or Councillors. Like Katherine Anne was very well educated and well read and she was also accomplished in music and dance.

    Over the years I have read hundreds of articles, texts, sources, books, so on, many of them on here which are well balanced and challenging and enjoyed doing all of this. I may not always agree with everything but that is the beauty of having a free mind and of having different experience and there has been much debate over the years. It is also possible to teach an old dog new tricks and I have learned much from this wonderful site. The wealth of original resources and shared knowledge has been a delight.

    Thanks Claire and again Congratulations on a job well done. Here’s to another nine years.

  6. Happy 9th Birthday and Congratulations. Like most people Anne Boleyn had many faucets, as with everyone. She was never a traitor, witch or adulterous wh*re, whatever her other faults. She was intelligent and well read, as was Queen Katherine and King Henry and so the perfect woman to challenge the old order with the King. She was both a Christian woman who favoured reform but also a woman who loved beautiful clothes, fun, entertainment, dance and music and the hunt. She could be both dangerous and generous, was genuinely so, as many letters confirm, she had a vicious temper which broke the bounds expected of a Queen when pushed or under extreme stress, but she also had a social conscience. She was unkind to Princess Mary, while at the same time advocating to intercede with the King if the teen would acknowledge her as Queen. Henry was ultimately responsible for this because he either allowed it to go on or authorized it. Mary was still his daughter and she could win him over when she wanted to, forcing Anne into a rage as her husband countermanded her orders and thus undermined her authority. Anne could be jealous and outraged by his own natural behaviour during her pregnancies, but she was upset that his desire was not just for her. She didn’t adapt to the Tudor expectations of a submissive wife and Henry and she were witnessed having almighty public rows. (Sounds like a modern couple on a Saturday night out in town). Henry always claimed Katherine never spoke to him like this. Of course she did; she chided him over the divorce and his behaviour a few times. Anne was interested in the plight of ordinary petitioners, as a good Queen would be, intervening in many cases. If you have read Eric Ives then he refers to a collection of letters from ordinary women thanking Anne for her help. She had a number of flaws, mentioned here but also as you can see Anne Boleyn was far from being the wicked witch of the north or mean girl often depicted in popular culture. The sources also show that Anne didn’t break up the marriage either, although Henry’s desire for her probably pushed him harder and made him more determined to get his will. She was in a strange way brave, brave because she took a big risk accepting her role as a potential Queen. Henry in the last years of the divorce and his years of marriage to Anne became more difficult to live with. Any woman had to be bold to take him on. Anne stood up for herself and her ideas and tried to influence the King to take the same path as a patroness of what was broadly called the new learning. She openly owned a copy of the New Testament in English, officially still outlawed, which she kept in her apartments for all to read. She has an undeserved reputation for loose living, yet kept a moral and chaste household. She hated fowl language, men going to brothels, immodest dress, yet she was a leader in fashion, her ladies reading dirty books and poems, immediately behaviour and she dismissed anyone who broke her rules. Anne is criticised because she made some ill chosen remarks about wishing Katherine and Mary would die but her brother calmed her as did her father, suggesting that she was not in her right mind at the time and was under extreme pressure. Anne is also criticised for dancing in yellow to celebrate the death of Queen Katherine, but the evidence for this is ambiguous. One source has Anne wearing yellow and one Henry, another both. Anne may have felt quite justified in expressing some open relief because now she was really Queen and there was no longer three people in her marriage. She was also in her fourth or fifth month of pregnancy at the end of a triumphant Summer progress and may well have been thinking of her unborn baby son. Ironically, at the end of that month Anne tragically lost her baby and it was noted as a son. This left her vulnerable and open to members of the court had never accepted her, no matter what she did. Her enemies hovered like vultures. Anne fell out with Thomas Cromwell even though she shared some ideas on welfare with him, fell out of favour with her husband and found herself tried on false charges. She was none of the monstrous things said about her and no matter what else, she certainly didn’t deserve to die for those false charges. Anne was a bundle of contradictory passions and actions and we need to look at all of the evidence before judging her.

    The beauty of this site is that the articles bring many of those often biased and contradictory sources together and analysis them in context, pointing out when they are hostile and when reliable. The site is very accessible, it allows debate which is open and from many of us with different knowledge and experience and without anyone feeling they can’t disagree. Even with years of knowledge, you can still teach an old dog new tricks and I have gained more knowledge from these articles and access to these numerous sources. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much sleep for the last eight years, but hey who needs sleep when you can have a good chat instead?

    Again, well done, Claire and thanks for the hard word which goes into your marvellous site.

  7. Thank you for this site, I discovered it quite recently, but it’s already a daily must checking for me! It’s easy to be swallowed by an author’s point of view without noticing while reading a book about Tudor history, but in here everything’s all laid out very clearly and most of all in a comparative way, which helps me greatly remaining as objective as possible. Not to mention all of the latest news and juicy tidbits I would never learn of elsewhere. And all the marvellous, extremely competent readers commenting!
    This site is a gem!

  8. This is to all Tudor buffs: I just finished ‘Young and Damned and Fair’ by Gareth Russell. I can’t stress enough how good this book is. Very thoroughly researched with pages and pages of citations. If you haven’t read it get it

  9. As a newly discovered cousin of Anne, I am even more anxious to find out about her. I have always been fascinated by Tudor England…perhaps it was because it’s in my blood?
    Anyway, congrats on your blogiversary!

  10. Definitely love the site and as I read piles of Tudor books some days I’d be totally lost without Claire’s amazing ability to find as much truth in the Tudor world as possible.Always enjoy:)Thanks and I hope the site has many,many more.

  11. I enjoy this site very much also. I do have history lovers in my family, but they are US History, not British. I can’t talk to anyone either, I have been interested in Tudor history, especially Anne Boleyn, ever since I was 13 or 14 years old. I love this site, I check it everyday also, thank you Claire and have at the LEAST 9 more wonderful years!!

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