In your opinion how have perceptions and images of Anne Boleyn( and significant moments in her life) changed throughout history?

I keep being asked this so is it an essay question?!

in my opinion, perceptions of Anne Boleyn have gone through various stages:-
Being maligned by the likes of Nicholas Sander, a Catholic recusant in the reign of Elizabeth I - 6 fingers, protruding tooth, wen, witchlike
Being seen as a Protestant martyr by John Foxe in the late sixteenth century
Being seen as a tragic heroine and victim by the Victorians
Being maligned by the likes of Philippa Gregory in fiction
Being seen as a kick-ass female role model or as single-handedly starting the English Reformation!
Anne is also appearing as a vampire in some fictional novels, wreaking revenge on those who betrayed her!

Opinions seem to swing back and forth and there is a lot of Team Anne vs Team Catherine vs Team Jane thinking around at the moment. It's all very immature and nonsensical, people have watched "The Tudors" and now think that you have to pick your queen and fight for her. These wives have become like modern day celebrities in a way and their lives like a soap opera. I run a website about Anne because I am fascinated by her and admire her, but I often receive very offensive emails from people who feel that I should not be defending a woman who was nothing but a "homewrecker" and witch. Interesting how times have not changed! People feel the need to label these women and stereotype them, which is very odd.

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3 thoughts on “In your opinion how have perceptions and images of Anne Boleyn( and significant moments in her life) changed throughout history?”

  1. Chelsea says:

    I love how women in the 21st century are still putting all of the responsibility on Anne or “the other woman” as the home wrecker…..cuz she must have just forced Henry to be intimate with her! Henry was helpless against her feminine wiles….please. Let’s put some of the blame on the man shall we ladies? Considering they are the married ones….maybe they should have the responsiblity not to flirt or initiate something in the first place. Don’t worry about those emails, Claire. If the people writing them had any true respect for women and had any real knowledge about that time period they would know where to point the finger!

  2. Maria says:

    I think the view of Anne Boleyn must be taken in context of the times in which she lived. By those standards, she was deemed well-educated and intelligent for a woman. In reality, she paved her own way to her execution, so one must question how bright she really was and whether some of her clever interpretations of law/Church teachings were fed to her by Reformers and/or others desiring power. Towards the end of her reign, she was abandoned by those people, and without those advisors she showed a surprising lack of intelligence and common sense — she made many fatal mistakes.

    Many historians think Anne was reasonably intelligent, but predominantly an instrument through which Henry was manipulated in exchange for a shifting of wealth and power. She was cast aside and killed when she was no longer useful. Instead of recognizing her role and building her own base of power while she had opportunity, she seemed ingorant of her disposability. (Compare that to Katherine, who used her wits and political strategies to delay Henry’s plans of annulment for years, despite being up against Henry’s most intelligent and powerful advisors. I am not taking sides, just pointing out key differences.) Anne also could not see the obvious — that the new concepts she (or others) encouraged to make her Queen could also be used against her (e.g., the King should have his desire no matter what the cost / required deaths, Queens are replacable, words/laws can be manipulated to get what you want /kill people, etc). Not a sign of great intelligence or strategical thinking.

    I have not read the “blame Anne not Henry” comments referred to by the prior poster, Chelsea. Perhaps the comments focus on Anne because the topic is Anne? Most people think poorly of a cheater, whether the one who is married or not. I think Henry was in love with the idea of having a male heir, and wanted Anne because she promised that to him. When that did not happen, he quickly lost his “love” for her and moved on. Similarly, when Jane Seymour gave him a son, he declared her his only true wife. I doubt he would have felt the same if Jane had not had a son. I also question whether Anne really loved Henry, or loved the power / role as Queen.

  3. Phillippa Gregory have done a lot to malign Anne in this century and because she is such a damn good writer most of her books are made into mini series, and people who don’t follow the wives as closely we do, will believe that is the way things are. Catherine sort to keep the throne as her right and due. Were we to judge her actions based on todays standards, we would see she her, as an idiot who enables her husband, in his bad behavior. Anne did not seek the crown, not at first, she was in love with Harry Percy, Henry and Wolsey tore them apart. Catherine caused as much bloodshed as her daughter, and many great good men died because of her stubbornness, by refusing to accept what was inevitable, her supporters were dealt the consequences. More and Fisher to name a few.
    Anne didn’t believe in pre marital sex , yet she was maligned as whore. Is it any wonder she held some bitterness for the Queen. Some applaud Catherine stubbornness, Yet condemns Anne stubbornness as disdainful and grasping. But both women were cruelly treated by Henry a tyrant, Neither one comes out smelling like a rose. But Catherine did commit treason, by going behind her husband back and writing to her nephew Charles of Spain, to intervene for her ,by declaring nothing less the war against Henry, she was loyal to Henry, only when she had to, I don’t doubt she truly loved Henry. Anne didn’t, and her temper and bad behavior contributed to her downfall. I do not believe the lies, that she committed adultery, why would she fight so hard for her position, and after finally gaining it, only to lose it by sleeping with other men. She was fully aware of consequence that would result from it.

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