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The slut shamed Anne Boleyn by Kyra Cornelius Kramer

Posted By on March 6, 2015

jezebel effectTo celebrate the release of her new book The Jezebel Effect: Why the Slut Shaming of Famous Queens Still Matters on Kindle, Kyra Cornelius Kramer has written this thought-provoking guest article on Anne Boleyn for us here at The Anne Boleyn Files. I do hope you enjoy it. Over to Kyra…

In 1532 a priest named William Peto preached an Easter sermon in which he asserted that that Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, who were in the congregation listening, were just like the Old Testament tyrant Ahab and his painted queen Jezebel.1 Ahab was considered to have been a king who had turned his face from the correct path of worshiping God, and it is was clearly an insult to Henry and a jab at his break from Catholicism. However, Jezebel was considered WORSE because she was seen as the harlot who had used sex to enslave Ahab and turn him from the Lord. Anne, like Jezebel, was therefore the scheming temptress who had dragged a formerly-good king down into the muck with her womanly wiles. In spite of the historical evidence to the contrary, Anne Boleyn’s reputation as a jezebel and harlot has clung to her name like the stench of skunk spray for five centuries.

Anne Boleyn is, in the opinion of many, “the most controversial woman in English history. She is shaped by preoccupations with the mystery of female power, described as a witch, bitch, temptress, cold opportunist… a woman whose power is feared, her gender mistrusted”.2 She has been castigated as “a whore, a home wrecker, [and] a soulless schemer”.3. In novels and plays, on television and in the movies, Anne Boleyn continues to slink about as the ultimate femme fatale. Even today history buffs online comment that Anne was “a piece of work” who “deserved to die” because she poisoned Henry’s first queen, calling Anne a “sociopath”, “cruel and crazy”, a “wack-job”, a “horrible person” who “stole someone’s husband”, and “sly” … all before declaring Anne did things she patently and provably did not do.

In her book The Creation of Anne Boleyn, Susan Bordo talks about how many media representations of Anne, “inevitably led to recycling the image of Anne Boleyn as the seductive, scheming Other Woman. That’s the classic soapy element of the story, after all: sexpot steals husband from mousy, menopausal first wife. [Michael Hirst, the creator of the Showtime series The Tudors] says he never intended this, and attributes it less to the script than to “deep cultural projections.” He had initially seen Anne … as a victim of her father’s ambitions, and believed he was writing the script to emphasize that. He was surprised when “critics started to trot this line out: ‘here she is, just a manipulative bitch.’ Well, actually I hadn’t written it like that. But they couldn’t get out of the stereotypes that had been handed down to them and that’s what they thought they were seeing on the screen. It didn’t matter what they were actually seeing. They had already decided that Anne Boleyn was this Other Woman, this manipulative bitch”.4

A promo shot for The Tudors

A promo shot for The Tudors

Even some academic historians have jumped on the slut shaming bandwagon. In 2010 historical biographer G. W. Bernard wrote a book about Anne Boleyn in which he said, “it remains my own hunch that Anne had indeed committed adultery with Norris, probably with Smeaton, possibly with Weston, and was then the victim of the most appalling bad luck” of having her actions come to light.5 This led to tabloids and newspapers trumpeting headlines such as, “Anne Boleyn DID have an affair with her brother: The poem that ‘proves’ the adultery of Henry VIII’s queen”.6

The biggest flaw in Bernard’s theory is that most of the dates during which Anne had been accused of having affairs can still be concretely disproved almost five centuries after the fact. On this very blog, Claire Ridgway has even compiled all the evidence against Anne to give an outline of the dates in which Anne supposedly had affairs in one handy post and shown them to be malarkey, yet these facts apparently don’t count when contrasted to Bernard’s “hunch”.7

Considering the facts of the matter, what exactly did Anne Boleyn do to be called a trollop for five centuries? She refused to date a married man until she knew he was getting a divorce. She refused to have sex with her fiancé until he put a ring on her finger. She gave birth to a daughter and had two miscarriages (perhaps three). All the evidence shows she was innocent of the adultery and incest of which she was accused. What on earth did she do that made her the ever-ready villainess of Tudor myth?

Like any good slut shaming narrative, what she did is not as important as the cultural motif she can be shoehorned into. Any of her actions that flat-out contradict her supposed harlotry are ignored or dismissed. She refused to date a married king? Well, since Henry VIII didn’t reward his mistresses as handsomely as did other royals, “it cannot be considered an act of great virtue that Anne showed no eagerness to become the king’s mistress”.8 Remained chaste? She was just keeping Henry entangled in her guileful web. Got her head chopped off? It’s implicitly her fault for “miscarrying of her savior”;9 if she had given Henry a son then he wouldn’t have had to look for a reason to kill her. The constant cultural message underlying every negative interpretation of Anne Boleyn’s life is that power-hungry strumpets get what’s coming to them.

Even Henry’s actions were her fault. Inasmuch as Henry “frequently made a public fool of himself in his fervor for Anne and his love for her”,10 Anne has been blamed for “making” the king act like a buffoon. Much of the hatred of Anne Boleyn in her own time stems from the fact that a “love-struck middle-aged man was an unsettling sight. When that ageing man was a king… the uneasiness grew, for here was an all-powerful being in thrall to a woman… the obvious way to absolve that feeling of unseemliness in the spectator was to blame Anne”.11

Everyone blamed Anne. Katherina blamed Anne for Henry’s desire for a divorce. Wolsey blamed Anne for his political and economic losses, not the king and certainly not his own actions. Chapuys blamed Anne for the schism between Catholicism and England, not the actions of the Holy See that had inspired an entire reform movement throughout Europe. Princess Mary blamed Anne for the king’s emotional cruelty toward his once pampered eldest child. A large chunk of the population blamed her for Henry’s lusts. It must have been very hard for the English when Anne was dead, because she took the ultimate scapegoat with her to the grave.

Anne’s true crimes were not those of sexual impropriety, but those of gender inversion. She was too “masculine” to be a good girl. A man — a king no less — fell in love with her and acted “feminine” in his adoration, which had to have been her fault somehow. She was too smart to be discounted, and she was determined to bring about religious reform that would flout the existing conventions. Like other evangelical women she was outspoken about her religious opinions. She made a mockery of the status quo. Everything that was supposed to mark the attributes of a “good girl” – that she be passive, demur, humble, effacing, docile, and dominated – were reversed in the bold and determined Anne Boleyn.

If she wasn’t a “good girl”, then Anne was by default a bad one. Bad girls are almost axiomatically called sluts because slut is the ultimate label of feminine badness. Since Anne was a bad girl, she was QED a slut. Once a woman has been labeled a slut, any sexual deviance – including incest and bestiality – can be attributed to her, creating a vicious circle wherein rumor of harlotry becomes “proof” that she is a harlot.

Anne Boleyn continues to be condemned as a trollop even today for fictitious sex with multiple lovers (one of whom was her own brother), but the real reason she is still slut shamed is because she defied gender norms and the ideology of ‘natural’ behavior in women.

Book Details

Blurb:

Have you heard that Catherine the Great died having sex with her horse? Or perhaps you prefer the story that Anne Boleyn had six fingers and slept with her brother? Or that Katheryn Howard slept with so many members of the Tudor court that they couldn’t keep track of them all? As juicy and titillating as the tales might be, they are all, patently untrue.

Modern PR firms may claim that no publicity is bad publicity, but that, too, is untrue. The fact that Cleopatra is better known for her seductions than her statecraft, and that Jezebel is remembered as a painted trollop rather than a faithful wife and religiously devout queen, isn’t a way for historians to keep these interesting women in the public eye, rather it’s a subversion of their power, a re-writing of history to belittle and shame these powerful figures, preventing them from becoming icons of feminine strength and capability.

Slut shaming has its roots in our earliest history, but it continues to flourish in our supposedly post-feminist, equal-rights world. It is used to punish women for transgressions against gender norms, threatening the security of their place in society and warning that they’d better be “good girls” and not rock the patriarchal boat, or they, too could end up with people believing they’ve slept with everything from farm animals to relatives.

This is The Jezebel Effect.

File Size: 2873 KB
Print Length: 316 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Ashwood Press (February 26, 2015)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00U2NXG6K
Available from Amazon.com, Amazon UK and Amazon’s other Kindle stores.

Kyra Cornelius KramerKyra Cornelius Kramer is a freelance academic with BS degrees in both biology and anthropology from the University of Kentucky, as well as a MA in medical anthropology from Southern Methodist University. She has written essays on the agency of the Female Gothic heroine and women’s bodies as feminist texts in the works of Jennifer Crusie. She has also co-authored two works; one with Dr. Laura Vivanco on the way in which the bodies of romance heroes and heroines act as the sites of reinforcement of, and resistance to, enculturated sexualities and gender ideologies, and another with Dr. Catrina Banks Whitley on Henry VIII – Blood Will Tell: A Medical Explanation of the Tyranny of Henry VIII.

Kyra is also a regular contributor for the Tudor Society’s Tudor Life magazine.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy the following articles:

Notes and Sources

  1. Bernard, G.W. 2010. Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions. Yale University Press.
  2. Delahunty, Mary. 2013. “Liars, Witches and Trolls: On the Political Battlefield.” In Griffith REVIEW 40: Women & Power, edited by Julianne Schultz. Text Publishing.
  3. Lindsey, Karen. 1996. Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII. Da Capo Press.
  4. Bordo, Susan. 2013. The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  5. Bernard, 2010
  6. Hull, Liz. 2010. “Anne Boleyn DID have an affair with her brother: The poem that ‘proves’ the adultery of Henry VIII’s queen”. Mail Online, February 23.
  7. The Middlesex and Kent Indictments – Do the Dates of the Alleged Crimes Make Sense?, The Anne Boleyn Files
  8. Friedmann, Paul. 1884. Anne Boleyn: A Chapter of English History, 1527-1536.
  9. Lipscomb, Suzannah. 2009. 1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII. Lion Books.
  10. Norton, Elizabeth. 2011. Anne Boleyn: Henry VIII’s Obsession. Amberley Publishing Limited.
  11. Dunn, Jane. 2007. Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

38 thoughts on “The slut shamed Anne Boleyn by Kyra Cornelius Kramer”

  1. Clare says:

    I thought this was a fascinating article, Kyra. Brilliantly written and spot on. Thank you.

  2. Esther says:

    Very interesting. I always thought that one problem unique to Anne Boleyn being slut-shamed is a medieval convention against blaming the monarch (Henry) for anything — so his ministers or his women were traduced (plus, Katherine and Mary would have had strong emotional reasons for blaming her not him). If people had called Henry an abusive murderer (and his treatment of Mary is emotional/psychological abuse IMO), they would have been killed.

  3. Kit Perriman says:

    An excellent investigation. I look forward to reading your book. I have always believed that the Malleus Maleficarum was responsible for a lot of slut-shaming. It was an incredibly important medieval text – widely read – on every official desk – and it blamed women for all the evils in the world, since Eve first “seduced” Adam. If a man lusted after a woman it was her fault. If he left his wife for another woman she had bewitched him. I think Anne Boleyn was a very public victim to this mindset. Please check out my blogs on this for more information than I can offer here.

  4. JudithRex says:

    The title of this book places it right at the forefront of the literature for the snapchat age.
    Slut shaming terminology has no place in any serious review of the charges against Anne Boleyn in HER TIME. Anne Boleyn is not a 21st century social media creation, she is an historical figure at a pivotal time.

    I honestly think so much of the pretend arguments is just to drive book sales for people making money off the Tudors, which I don’t mind if done well like Mantel and Kominsky. But really, this sounds like rubbish for teenagers and certainly not for a mature, educated audience.

    1. Claire says:

      They do say “don’t judge a book by its cover” and I would add “Don’t judge a book without reading it”. This book is written by an academic who is a medical anthropologist and who knows what she’s talking about. All of the women discussed in this book have been “slut-shamed” and it’s something that should be taken seriously. I see comments every day about Anne Boleyn being a witch and whore, and it’s the same with women like Cleopatra. What do most people know about her? Is it close to the historical Cleopatra? I doubt it.

    2. Claire says:

      I appreciate the time that authors, historians and experts take to write articles for The Anne Boleyn Files, particularly as I know how much hard work it is, so I would really like for these visiting writers to be treated with respect and courtesy. To write that someone’s book sounds rubbish and to accuse them of making pretend arguments to make money just is not respectful.

    3. M.E. Lawrence says:

      Judith, I agree with you to some extent, but I’d like to point out that authors don’t always have much say over cover art, blurbs, publicity, or even their own book titles. Publishers want to sell the”product” and if the author isn’t well-known, that can mean bringing it to the potential audience’s attention by (almost!) any means necessary. (Think of the tacky, anachronistic cover art that’s used to promote both intelligent and sleazy historical fiction.) Yes, I’d rather read Ives and Mantel, because I know what I’m getting there, but I think their publishers also treat them, as proven and distinguished writers, with greater respect.

    4. M.E. Lawrence says:

      P.S. I was speaking in general terms; I didn’t mean to imply that Ms. Kramer’s publisher doesn’t treat her well, since I’m not familiar with her situation.

  5. Kyra Kramer says:

    It’s true that they had no term for ‘slut-shaming’ in the Tudor era, but nonetheless calling Anne a “naughty piakie” and a “goggle-eyed whore” to punish her for Henry’s desires IS textbook slut shaming. Slut shaming women in the past facilitates slut shaming in the present, and I wanted to be sure the terminology was clear. Personally, I would rather communicate in the vernacular than obfuscate in the verbiage.

    1. Peri says:

      I enjoyed the article immensely. While the terminology is current, the concept is as old as the texts in the Bible, including the maligned Jezebel herself. I don’t know enough about Biblical history to state that the story as it comes down to us in Biblical text has any basis in historical fact (when discussing the Biblical texts a whole other level of existential meaning and ways of looking at the world come into play, and I’m not going to address them here), but even ancient myths bear it out; i.e. Pandora, Helen of Troy. It’s always a woman who “causes” the man to behave in ways that are considered unacceptable, thus denying men their own agency.

  6. Sharon says:

    This an excellent article, Kyra, and very much on target. Thank you.

  7. Rowan says:

    Re the dates of the alleged crimes and disproving those charges, Hilary Mantel has said something rather strange that I’ve been wondering about. In a 2012 article in the Guardian newspaper, “Anne Boleyn: witch, bitch, temptress, feminist”, Mantel said “It is said that the details of the indictments do not stand up to scrutiny, that Anne could not have been where she was alleged to be on this date or that. But this misses the point. If Anne was not where everybody thought she was, that did not count in her favour.”

    What’s with the “not where everybody thought she was”? Did “everybody” think she was where the accusations said she was?

    The whole paragraph that contains those lines is rather strange and in a way sly. Mantel says “it is possible that she (Anne) did have affairs”, but her arguments are instead about whether the accusations seemed wildly implausible at the time (she thinks they clearly didn’t, not even the one alleging incest), and there’s nothing that would let readers know it’s respected historians, rather than “Anne’s supporters”, who have the views she dismisses as “missing the point”. But it’s the “where everybody thought she was” that puzzled me.

    Link to the article: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/may/11/hilary-mantel-on-anne-boleyn

    The full paragraph:

    “Anne’s supporters hate anyone who says so, but it is possible that she did have affairs. The allegations seem wildly implausible to us, but clearly did not seem so at the time. It is said that the details of the indictments do not stand up to scrutiny, that Anne could not have been where she was alleged to be on this date or that. But this misses the point. If Anne was not where everybody thought she was, that did not count in her favour. If she had risen from childbed to meet a lover, that showed her a monster of lust. It is the incest allegation that seems lurid overkill. But the 16th century did not invest incest with especial loathing. It was one of a range of sinful sexual choices. In the days when brothers and sisters seldom grew up together, genetic attraction no doubt occurred more frequently than it does in the nuclear family. If the allegations were true Anne’s conduct was, contemporaries agreed, abominable. But they did not assume her innocence. Led by love or lust, people will do anything. Look what Henry had done.”

    1. Claire says:

      I’ve never understood what Mantel was getting at with her comment “If Anne was not where everybody thought she was, that did not count in her favour” as it is she who actually completely missed the point. Anne was exactly where she was meant to be – recovering from childbirth, with Henry VIII etc. – it was just that the indictments made out that she was somewhere else and therefore cannot be taken seriously.

      1. Percysowner says:

        I just read the article and I don’t get her comment either. Mantel seems to be addressing the idea that Anne gave birth then hopped out of bed and cheated on Henry, which seems unlikely to me. After I gave birth I, the last thing I wanted was sex. The historical record seems to be this. (from a response to G.W. Bernard, who wrote a book stating he believes Anne committed adultery)

        Though documents of Anne’s trial no longer exist, the indictments against Anne do remain. Analysis has shown that the majority of the dates and places mentioned as to where Anne’s improprieties were said to have occurred, are impossible. Bernard agrees, stating those are “quite impossible” (either something is possible, or it’s impossible – there is no middle ground), adding that “other sources show that Anne and her supposed lover simply could not have been together on that day in that place.” He concludes: “Only six of the twenty dates and places in the indictment studies were even theoretically possible, it has been suggested; for the rest it can readily be shown that Anne or her alleged lover could not have been at that place or on that day.”

        So I don’t know what Mantel is basing her idea that Anne being absolutely no where in the area of the men she was accused of sleeping with somehow proves that she did commit adultery. I know that the discrepancies in the dates have led some biographers to conclude that they were trying to accuse Anne of being a witch, without actually accusing her of being a witch, but unless Mantel believes in witchcraft and that Anne practiced it, I don’t know what she is going on about.

        1. Hannele says:

          Maybe Mantel thinks that although everybody believed that Anne was somewhere else, she was in reality quite elsewhere. But she misses the point that the Queen was practically never alone, without at least some of her ladies-in-waiting, unless in bed with King.

          It would demand much cunning to have a lover in her bed for an hour, but that she would have traveled for hours to meet him elsewhere and then travel back, needing horses and servants.

          However, in her novels Mantel lets Cromwell realize what the joke of one of Anne’s “lovers” that he can be in two places at the same time means that as a messenger between Henry and Anne, he could come and go without rising any suspicions.

          That at least has some sense, but would the Queen receive the messenger alone? And if she had done so, some of her ladies-in-waiting could have given the right dates.

          It is of course true that people can seldom remember the exact dates and places of the happening three years ago – but many do when something unusual happens. And Queen’s adultery is certainly such.

    2. Hannele says:

      Mantel stresses also that the accusations were believed at the time. But that shows nothing else that people who were Catholics and/or supported Katherine and/or hated Boleyns as upstarts, thought that because Anne was a whore who had lured Henry from his wife and slept with him outside the marriage, she could do anything bad, like seduce five men, including her brother.

      Plus, the common tendency to believe that there is no smoke without fire, and that no husband and still less a king would make such a shame public unless it were true.

      The last sentence “Led by love or lust, people can do anything. Look what Henry had done” is an odd circular reasoning. There are really people who do anything for love or lust but there are also people who do not. That Henry had done, is no proof that Anne would do also.

      If Anne had indeed slept with five men, she clearly was not in love with none of them but acted of simple lust. But then her character would have changed totally.

      In her novels Mantel lets Cromwell muse that is what happened. Henry would come to Anne’s bed, try to get her pregnant and leave Anne without satisfaction. And then something snapped in her head.

      But there were many wives who had to live without sexual satisfaction, without being unfaithful to their husbands.

      Anne was an ambitious woman whose position depended on her ability to bear a son. Would she really dared to endanger all even if she had been tempted? And even if she had not loved Henry, would she had been stupid enough not to realize that he was her only protector and if he died, she and Elizabeth would have been in danger.

  8. Airiel says:

    Kyra,

    A beautifully written article, and fascinating subject. I have always felt bad for Anne, for the terrible hand she was dealt.

    AM

  9. Hannele says:

    Very interesting article. I am going to read your book

  10. Percysowner says:

    Henry is the King of (pun intended) denying responsibility for any and all of his unpopular actions. Wolsey dies,, it was Anne’s fault. Divorcing Katherine, never would have thought about it if Anne hadn’t bewitched him. Execute Anne, Cromwell talked him into it. Henry liked to view himself as a victim of all these horrible, horrible people who made him do bad things. He conveniently ignored the fact that the bad things ended with Henry getting pretty much exactly what he wanted and the bad, bad people pretty much ended up executed by Henry, who was forced to do it by the next bad, bad person.

    Slut shaming Anne played into this tactic of Henry’s and worked to his advantage. It was also a good way to keep future Queens in line, knowing that false accusations of adultery could be made if the queen in question let him down.

    1. Tidus says:

      Excellent post Percysowner !

  11. SharonH says:

    Poor Anne is still being slandered to this day. This subject is just so very interesting. Sounds like the book is going to be fantastic!

  12. TudorGirl says:

    On a related note, I’ve often reflected on how influential this aspect of the controversy surrounding Anne may have been in cultivating her daughter’s image as the Virgin Queen. Elizabeth had to carefully navigate gender perceptions while taking the “masculine” responsibility of ruling a nation, and presenting herself as the icon of feminine sexual virtue was probably the most effective way to walk that thin line.

  13. Banditqueen says:

    Excellent article. I have to admit the sub title is unfortunate and a little off putting but that should not stop anyone from reading the book. I have read the other scientists book on the possibility of a blood disorder being responsible for Henry’s latter deads, which is well researched and well argued, academic and probably too educated for JudithRex. I did not agree with everything in the book, but many of the arguments are compelling. I enjoyed the article and agree that too many novels and dramas emphasis the alleged sexually predatory nature of Anne Boleyn, taking the image to extremes. I don’t know if I would agree with the view that she was entirely virtuous in the run up to the throne, but she was not guilty of the terrible sins and crimes against the person of the King that she was accused of. I can’t know how I will receive the book, I have not read it, but it sounds like a realistic debate on the issues of female sexuality and how it was defined and controlled by the constraints of Tudor to Edwardian double standards. I consider myself a well read and well educated adult and I for one intend to read and analyse the book, which I am certain will be successful and well received.

    1. Hannele says:

      Of course we cannot know whether Anne had sexual relationships. But if she had, she kept them secret. For if she had had a reputation of sexual license, Henry would have hardly considered her fit to become a Queen.

      On the other, Anne was ambitious and for a woman it meant good marriage and legitimate children. Therefore, it is likely that she did not have light relationships. With Henry Percy, it could have been another matter as intercourse would have sealed pre-contract.

      I think that Hilary Mantel’s view is quite old-fashioned. Anne refuses sex with Henry who does not succeed with others. Anne sells her body inch for inch.

  14. Hannele says:

    I have now read part of the book and found it well find reading.

    Kranmer sees Henry as a stalker who did not understand that when Anne returned to Hever and did not answer his letters, she was saying politely “I am not interested”. What is puzzling is why most historians cannot admit that Anne was in earnest? (Or perhaps not, maybe they had read romances where a woman says no to sex only make the man to marry her?)

    Kranmer points out that nobody accused Anne of having a temper before her affair with Henry that lasted years put her nerves to the extreme tension.

    It is also interesting to see Kramer has a different view of Katherine Howard and lady Rochford than Conor Byrne and Julia Fox.

    However, there is one detail which I strongly disagree with. Kranmer says that Mary Tudor took the crown from the rightful queen, Jane Grey.

    How could Edward VI, a minor who did not rule himself, order who could be his successor and put at side an Act of Parliament that made his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, heirs to the throne if he had no son? As Linda Porter says in her biography, Mary’s courage to maintain her claim, besides saving her and Elizabeth’s life, guaranteed the legitimate principle in succession.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      Hi Hannele, this is an argument that is used by Professor Ives, based on the document of Edward that we know as My Device for the Succession. Drafted in the young King’s own hand it is an excellent and extraordinary document. Edward was now fifteen and he had begun to take some of the reins of power. For example, after the death of Edward Seymour, Lord Protector, Edward had driven forward his own ideas on the reformation. Again we have a document in his own hand showing these ideas and Edward kept a diary which gives us many details of the relationship between him and his council. The popular myth was that he was bullied by John Dudley, who controlled the council into signing this document for the good of the realm as he lays dying. However, assessment of the document and other sources show that it is fairly lucid, there have been several changes made by Edward, and four drafts were made prior to the final document being approved by the council. This document effectively sets aside both Mary and Elizabeth in favour of the Brandon Grey line that comes down via Henry Viii s younger sister, Mary. Her eldest daughter, Frances should be next in line via this route, but given her age and the need for an immediate Protestant legitimate succession, Frances is skipped, the throne going to Jane and her heirs.

      Ives argued that the document, the will of the King, the acceptance of the council and Jane’s public proclamation as the next Queen, plus the fact that she issued orders and royal proclamations in her own right as Jane Regina, that this gives legitimacy to her rulership and sovereignty. Mary, both as disinherited and lawfully illegitimate, is in his view being a disobedient sister and subject to the late King, her brother and a rebel to Queen Jane. However, most historians, including, Helen Castor and Leande Lisle as well as Dr Stephen Edwards, would argue that the one thing missing from Jane’s claim and queenship is legitimacy. Mary Tudor lawfully and by direct descent of blood had the rightful claim, she was Henry’s daughter, not his great niece, she was the next heir both via his will and an Act of Succession 1544. If Edward died, without issue, the succession went to Mary, then Elizabeth, then to the line mentioned above, Frances and Eleanor Brandon and their children. It could be argued that Edward could change this, but I assume that an act of Parliament and his will would be needed. Strict protocol would be needed to ensure that it was not challenged. It could also be argued, rightly as you say, that Edward was too young to make such a decision. However, this was an emergency and the King would still be expected to nominate a successor, with the advice of his council, and since this normally followed the natural choice, it was not a problem.

      Mary Tudor was not a rebel, she was the lawful successor, Jane should never have been made queen to begin with, contrary to Ives statements. Mary Tudor was popular, she was able to raise an army, people and nobles rallied to her side, the rebels changed sides and to the relief of the majority, the rightful queen was proclaimed and crowned.

      1. Hannele says:

        To BanditQueen

        I find Ives’s arguments quite odd.

        Parliament had given Henry in 1536 the right to name his successor but never had given Edward that right.

        Generally, that is very a dangerous course. There should be clear rules beforehand such as primogeniture, or the Act of Parliament.

        Of course, what matters is whether one have power to back one’s claim. if Mary had not acted rashly and swiftly, Jane Grey would have remained the Queen, but the real ruler would have his father-in-law.

        So sad as the fate of Jane Grey was, I find it odd that Kramer resents that Mary had her executed. That is what usually happened to the pretenders. If anybody had the blame, it were her ambitious father-in-law. Do anybody believe that he would have spared Mary and Elizabeth’s life?

        Mary was sure of her right and it was God’s will. But she also had no choice if she wanted to stay in life.

        1. Banditqueen says:

          I completely agree with you, Hannele, those were definitely times not to be sentimental about relatives with former or rival claims, dangerous for anyone caught up in plots or had royal blood. Edward was clearly influenced to overlook the documents that Henry Viii set out who followed whom, and his acts of Parliament, but his own will was not backed by Parliament. I agree also, had Mary not acted quickly, not been the daughter of Katherine as she was, a true grandchild of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, things could certainly have gone differently, especially once Jane was crowned. The previous 160 years had seen five rivals displaced, one twice, one had succeeded and a total of six changes of none direct seizure of the throne. The four had all been killed. Richard ii was starved to death by his replacement, Henry Vi was was dethroned twice and murdered by his replacement, the young twelve years old Edward v, together with his brother, eleven years old, Richard were declared illegitimate and set aside, vanished without trace and their replacement, Richard iii was rumoured to have killed them. In turn Richard lll was declared a usurper and defeated and shamefully killed and mistreated even in death by the followers of his replacement Henry Tudor. Before I am bombarded by Ricardians, we don’t know what happened to the boys, it is not a certainty that they were killed, but a strong possibility, and there are plenty of other candidates that mean Richard iii could be innocent of their deaths, but at the time many accepted the rumours that he was guilty. As I said, Richard in turn was displaced, killed, and the Tudors saw pretenders coming out of the woodwork. I agree with you, pretenders did not end well, which had unfortunate consequences for anyone alive that they impersonated. The Tudors had to learn from their predecessors, the peace and security of the realm came before mercy and sentiment. As her grandfather had been forced to take the field to hold onto the throne he had won, as he was forced to treat supposed pretenders and rivals harshly as his reign went on, despite his personal wish and attempts to be fair and merciful, so Mary would be forced to take up arms to win the crown she was born to be. Mary was fortunate, she had popular support and she was a Tudor, redheaded, strong willed, she had suffered her parent’s divorce, been bastarized twice, forced to accept everything she hated in order to survive and return to court, and had endured six years of waiting and bullying by her brother’s council, now that the throne was hers by right of law and natural order, she was not going to sit there and allow a sixteen years old daughter of a nobleman to steel in from her. Mary Tudor may have become aware that Jane was not entirely to blame for her situation, that her ambitious father and father in law, Northumberland, were behind the exclusion crisis that saw Jane on the throne, but once there she needed to balance right, mercy and action to hold it. Here I recommend the book by Helen Castor She Wolves, about the female rulers of the Medieval and Tudor era who tried to reign before Elizabeth I. She does a great analysis of the complex difficulties and the sources, really excellent chapters on the personal issues facing both Mary and Jane during this time. Like her grandfather, Mary made every effort to show mercy to all of the rebels and her rivals, showed mercy to the leaders, including Jane, her husband and her family. Mary even freed her father, mother and commanders. Jane was even granted an audience. However she and Guildford were kept in custody. Jane was well treated, allowed to walk in the Tower palace gardens and may have received a pardon, but for one thing, the dangerous fact that she could be used by rebels as a focus to replace Mary Tudor on the throne. The unfortunate rebellion followed, led by Jane’s father and Northumberland, it was defeated, but Mary was forced to face the same terrible decisions of her Plantagenet and Tudor ancestors, rival claimants who have been used as a threat to their lives, crown and the peace of the realm are too dangerous to be allowed to live. We rightly should be horrified, especially when those rivals were young, under educated, or clever, intelligent, and faced terrible death for their, often innocent part in the power policies of monarchies. Jane and Guildford were tried, executed, refused the offer that could be saved them, because had they converted to the Catholic Church, this would have made them useless to those who wanted to see them as the champions of a new Protestant dynasty; because due to the foolishness of their fathers they were now seen as too dangerous to have as prisoners and rivals. The tragic loss of this well educated young woman should shock us, but we must also see these things in the context of the dangerous and brutal times in which they lived, as they were seen by the monarchs they threatened and in the light of political reality historians have to analyse. Unpalatable to the modern age murdering or judicial executions of rivals, pretenders, usurped kings may be, especially if they were teens or children, we have to remember their replacements saw this as the only way to preserve the security of the realm and preservation of their own persons. The authority that they claimed to do so came in the three arms of their legitimacy, victory, crowning, and legislative process, that is the election of the people and the support of Parliament. Ives arguments fall down as Mary Tudor had all of these, in addition to the natural order of succession by blood and right, Jane did not.

  15. sheila Lambie says:

    This book is only on kindle. Will it be out in paperback on amazon UK.

    Sheila

  16. Susan says:

    thank you for this interesting article kyra ! My books are on Kindle so I will be adding this one to my collection .Poor Ann such an incredible women born of higher birth than three of Henry’s wives and still being persecuted in death !. She was just a girl in a situation !!

  17. Globerose says:

    Oh Susan, you are an early bird! I don’t know about Slut Shaming but Blame It On The Woman begins with Eve. The subjection of women is Biblically justified, the fact that the poor dear will stray because that is her fallen nature, that she is to be under her husband’s control and is not fit to lecture him on morality, and a good woman is submissive and obedient. A woman like Anne Boleyn, a woman of intelligence, spirit and courage, was always going to be up against it. Starkey says that Anne had broken all the rules so anything was believed of her… but isn’t it perhaps rather more that she acted, she even dared to contradict……

  18. Leandra says:

    First off I am a huge fan of Anne Boleyn.Just FTR. Second of all I am a Game of Thrones fan. And if you want proof that this Jezebel effect still thrives,all you need to do is go on You Tube and check out the hate comments aimed towards Danaerys Targaryn {Goerge R R Martin’s[author of Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones] key player and all around good and rightful queen of his realm } It’s infuriating and down right baffling. There are plenty of horrible things done by many men in this series; and yet they seldom get called out. While Dany and many other key female characters get loads and loads of bull crap,for practically nothing at all. People are entitled to their opinions,but what I see is just ridiculous.Same old story:strong female leaders: and many bring on the slut shaming and the undeserved hatred. I realize GOT and it’s characters are fictional and Anne and Cleopatra etc.. are not, but I think this is a very good example of the Jezebel Effect and the fact that is not a thing of the past.

  19. Liz says:

    First of all: English is not my first language, I apologize in advance for any mistakes.

    I’m halfway through the book now, so I’ve read the chapters about Anne Boleyn. Now, I firmly believe that Anne did not commit adultery, and I do think that the mere idea of Anne submitting Henry to her power for 7 years using her virginity is simply ridicolous. The biography by Eric Ives also gave me good reason to admire her intelligence and education. BUT I did not like Kranmer’s take on Anne. I think she was so eager to *redeem* Anne that she ended up making statements with little logic behind them. I did not like the idea of Anne being the victim o Henrys’ stalking – presented by the author not as a suggestion but as a FACT – especially since we don’t have any of the letters written by Anne. What if she did refuse Henry’s courting to protect her honor, but without feeling persecuted?
    Why does she assume that Henry Percy and Anne were oh so very much in love?
    Does she really think that any issue born from Anne and Henry’s premarital relations could have been *simply* legitimised and no one would have had any problem with that?
    And the idea that Anne’s fall happened because of one single conversation with Norton is ridicolous, like, she didn’t even mention Jane Seymour.

    1. Hannele says:

      To Liz

      I do not think Kramer presented Henry stalking Anne as a fact but as an interpretation.

      Now, we cannot know what really happened as we do not have Anne’s letters, nor know the dates and orders of Henry’s letters, nor what happened when they met. But on the basis what we know, it seems likely that Anne did all she could to say Henry “no”: she left for Hever and did not answer his letters or answered in such a way that Henry was after a year unsure of her feelings.

      What we cannot know whether Anne acted in such a way because she, although being love with Henry, did not want to become his mistress, or because she was not interested in him at all but could not say “no” in plain words because her family was dependent on his favor. However, the latter has more proof in the letters (and is also more favorable to Anne) than that she in cold-blood lured Henry from his wife – the interpretation that is born by such cultural patterns as Kramer presents but is quite common also among the historians.

      I think Kramer is quite clever to notice that Henry’s romantic words were not matched by his actions. During the sweat he sent Anne away fearing contamination. Of course one cannot demand that Henry would have endangered his life as he had no heir but a minor girl, so it was his duty to stay alive. But then he should not have used empty words that he would have liked to give half of his health. And by staying with Katherine Henry showed that he regarded her still as his wife.

  20. Hannele says:

    To Banditqueen

    Thank you for your long reply.

    I have read She Wolves and I think that Helen Castor does a really good job in understanding how difficult it was to a woman to rule, as the concepts of an ideal king and an ideal woman were quite opposite, and therefore a female ruler has been judged according to the different and harsher standard. Yet, Castor is never sentimental and says also if the queens were acting foolishly.

    Her point that Empress Mathilda regarded as most important that her descendants should get the crown and therefore gave over her claim to her son, whereas Queen Elizabeth put herself first and neglected entirely the succession issue, is interesting.

  21. Hannele says:

    To BanditQueen

    As for killing the rivals, I think the Tudors were in some cases over-eager, killing just to make sure, maybe because their claim to the throne was not strong. And the rebellion can only succeed, if the king is weak, makes grave mistakes and alienates especially his nobles.

    In Mary’ case, the situation was quite clear. If one failed, one was a traitor and was executed, if one succeeded, one was a ruler and let one’s rival executed.

    As for comparing the medieval and Tudor age with the modern time, I am not all sure which is more more cruel. Before, usually many followers were pardoned and only the leaders executed and then they were allowed to prepare their soul which must have comforted them. Compare the atrocities en masse of the 20th century.

  22. Hannele says:

    Kramer writes that Katherine Howard acted in an ignoble way by accusing her partners.

    Can one really expect that a frightened girl would not try anything to save her life, particularly if Kramer is right and she was not in love with any of the men and only had sex with for fun.

    And, did any of them deserve noble acting from Kathrine as it was their (and lady Rochford’s testimony that was damning, and Dereham had even before boasted with his affair with Katherine.

    In addition, there is also a possibility advocated by Conor Byrne that Katherine was speaking the truth and she had not wanted sex.

  23. Lynn Lanning says:

    Dear Kyra, I am reading The Jezebel Effect, and finding it tells a major truth about our world. However, it badly needs proofreading and editing. Some sentences have extra words, others have words left out, and there’s at least one I haven’t figured out at all. If you have someone who can edit for you, please use them. It’s one of the things I do, so I can take on the job if you need someone.
    The material you are presenting needs to be read. But the errors make it more challenging than it should be.

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