Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn – A video

Posted By on May 19, 2017

The ambitious and manipulative Thomas Boleyn of The Tudors series – was the real Thomas different?

As part of Anne Boleyn Day 2017, a commemoration of the anniversary of the execution of Queen Anne Boleyn on 19th May 1536, I thought I’d take a few minutes to talk about Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn, Earl and Countess of Wiltshire, who lost a son and a daughter in the blood events of May 1536.

I hope you find this video interesting.

Please leave a comment below sharing your thoughts on Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn. One comment will be picked at random to win an Anne Boleyn B necklace (real pearls), a brooch featuring Anne Boleyn’s falcon badge, and a copy of my book The Anne Boleyn Collection II.

The closing date for comments is midnight on Wednesday 24th May 2017. The winner will be contacted by email.

Do watch out for our other Anne Boleyn events here and on The Anne Boleyn Files Facebook page.

77 thoughts on “Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn – A video”

  1. Agnes Szabo says:

    I would be so happy to talk with this two people… Or just read their private diary… What did they think when their daughter became queen after so many years of planing, and what did they think and feel when only a few years later their heir, George and their daughter, Anne were killed…

  2. Victoria says:

    Great video, Claire! It’s so true that movies, television and books have portrayed Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn as power-hungry and ambitious throughout the ages, but I take a more sympathetic approach. I think Thomas wanted to be at court and serve the King, and he also saw opportunity with Anne, Mary and George (but I don’t think this makes him a malicious person). I would imagine that during this time, there were many families like the Boleyns who saw opportunities for themselves and their families at court and with King Henry VIII. I think the executions of their two children had a huge impact on themselves and their family name, as you mentioned, which certainly could have contributed to their own deaths shortly after those of Anne and George. Very sad story and disturbing how real people from history can be distorted throughout the ages!

  3. Tina says:

    Enjoyed your thoughts, particularly about Mary Boleyn & her relationship with Henry, then marriage. Thomas Boleyn his career advances and his hard work! Loved hearing the facts verses Hollywood movie image. Thanks Claire for adding perspective and depth.

  4. I do not know much about Elizabeth Howard/Boleyn so I don’t have an opinion of her.

    But I have read a lot on Thomas Boleyn, the argument as to whether he felt guilty or not for the fall’s of his children is interesting.

    TV and movies have portrayed Thomas Boleyn as a man who manipulated his daughters so that he could rise to power. Did he really ‘prostitute’ Mary and Anne? Was it really his fault that they caught the kings eye? We know that Henry pursued Anne, constantly, and she declined his offer to be his official mistress.Nowadays, that is sexual harrassment!

    I think we also need to think about the times they lived in, as women them days were used as pawns, they were seen as second class, and the only use they had was to be married off by their fathers, and that was the norm back then! So was he really to blame? Who knows 🙂

  5. Johanna Bell says:

    No one can truly understand the pain of the unfortunate parents. Family ambitions led them into such a pitiful state. It cost them the lives of their children. Even after 481 years, people still mourn over the death of Anne Boleyn. It is unimaginable to think about the agony of the poor parents who had to see their children fall into the pit of death.

  6. Judith coote says:

    What a great video Claire. Thomas was not has power hungry as portrayed in TV and films, he just wanted to do what was best for himself and his family , he saw opertunities for his family and took them like many families would at the court of Henry.
    The executions of Anne and George most definitely had a huge impact on both Thomas and Elizabeth .

  7. Louis Lazarus says:

    It is hard to imagine how Thomas Boleyn, managed to continue his role at court both during his Anne’s trial and after her execution.
    Did he become emotionally dislocated in order to protect the rest of his family or was he perhaps convinced that Anne would be spared the executioner’s axe?
    There are no written records that have survived to contribute to a clearer understanding. But the fact that Thomas Boleyn’s much loved and only son George was accused of incest could only have served to increase the degree of shame and trauma visited upon the Boleyn family.
    It is baffling to think that Anne’s father could continue working in such close proximity to his children’s slayer. Certainly the fear of what Henry may do to remaining members of the Boleyn family perhaps influenced Sir Thomas to continue working by Henry’s side.

  8. Hana says:

    I’d have to agree. In most movies and tv shows nowaday Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn are often portrayed as very ambitious and manipulating their daughters especially Thomas. I think as anyone in those days – he had the ambition to secure his and his family’s position. He secured Anne’s education (at the court of Margaret of Austria and later Queen Claude). He was already a successful courtier and diplomat even before Mary and later Anne caught Henry’s eye. I think he just tried to do his best to keep himself at a high position and so his family – not so unnatural for the time. I also don’t think he had a say Anne’s and George’s execution. I think it was not easy for him to lose 2 of his children and then go back to court to serve the man who murdered his children. I don’t think he was as cruel as he is often portrayed. He just tried his best to survive. In my opinion.

  9. Jacki Milbank says:

    Wouldn’t it be incredible to find written proof of how they felt. it feels as if people in general of this age were indifferent to their children but I can’t believe it was true. We’ll never really know

  10. I feel that anne was very close to her mother and I feel that Thomas her father did care for both of his daughter. I really enjoyed your thoughts.

  11. Roselynn says:

    I think too many fictional portrayals overlook the role of Elizabeth Boleyn and incorrectly portray Thomas Boleyn. Yes, he was ambitious, and he is horrible for turning against his children when they most needed him. But it was a dog eat dog world, and Thomas really wasn’t any different than anyone else.

  12. I feel that anne was very close to her mother and I feel that Thomas her father did care for both of his daughter. I really enjoyed your thoughts. I do not believe that Thomas and Elizabeth boleyn where manipulating their children for the Crown I believe that Thomas had mourned anne and George he has to go back to court after it, as he had a duty to serve the king as his subject.

    1. I feel that anne was very close to her mother and I feel that Thomas her father did care for both of his daughter. I really enjoyed your thoughts. I do not believe that Thomas and Elizabeth boleyn where not manipulating their children for the Crown I believe that Thomas had mourned anne and George he has to go back to court after it, as he had a duty to serve the king as his subject.y

  13. Lauren Graham says:

    I think when people look at the rise of the Boleyn family, it’s such an interesting story and so fraught with intrigue, that people feel the need to take it a step further and turn it into some cautionary fairytale, complete with a good old-fashioned villain. When historians made the move to vindicate Anne, George, and Mary, the blame must be shifted elsewhere, and what could be more interesting than pinning their own father and mother (or uncle) as the villains? With all of the myths surrounding the Boleyn family, it’s difficult to see them as actual human beings with good traits and bad. We’re desperate to either make them saints or devils, when really the truth lies somewhere in between. I hope at some point we’ll forego the drama, make an effort to strip away these half-truths and consider who these people were as humans. We sadly forget that behind every legend, behind every fantastic historical drama, were real lives and real people much like us.

  14. Stephanie Francis says:

    I am so happy you have made this video, I have always felt that Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn has been put in a negative light by TV Series and movies as the power hungry parents only using they children to gain more power and influence in court. I have never seen them like that, in my opinion Thomas and Elizabeth cared deeply for they children and would never had pursuit they daughters to sleep with the king to gain more power. As you also says in your video Thomas Boleyn already had big influence in court since 1501, it´s just such a ashamed that people believe everything they see on movies and TV Series to be the truth and just simple judge them in a negative light. I really like Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn, I am a Boleyn supporter and always will be

  15. Michelle says:

    Thanks so much Claire, most informative video! It answers so many questions I have had about Queen Anne’s parents. Thanks for your dedication.

  16. Diane Wilshere says:

    Thank you for your usual brilliant use of facts and primary sources to breakdown the many myths about the Boleyn Family. It is easy for those myths to survive because salacious narratives make for good dramatic stories, especially in fictional accounts. P.S. I also agree with you that Mary Boleyn most likely slept with the King prior to her marriage. It is very insulting to these hardworking, loyal courtiers to assume their successes were due to the pimping of the women in their lives.

  17. AElfgyva La Fae says:

    What a tragedy to loose two children is such a horrible way. Thanks so much for your video

  18. Mary Rutherford-Birkey says:

    Thank you Claire! Your chats are always so informative and interesting!

    I appreciate that you put a more realistic spin on Anne’s parents – I have often found it sad that they’ve been portrayed as brutally power hungry; with their own ambitions eclipsing the well-being of their children. In the end, the whole family suffered dearly for their association with Henry.

  19. Karen says:

    Claire, I found this section both fascinating and intriguing. Thank you

  20. Ania says:

    I was always interested in Elizabeth because we know so little about her

  21. Anne Boleyn’s parents were important figures of their own. As the daughter and sister of a Duke of Norfolk Elizabeth would have probably been proud of her family and her status, while her husband was a successful and gifted diplomat so, as you point out in the video, he wouldn’t have needed to pimp out his daughters. I believe they were fairly normal courtiers, and naturally they were also ambitious, so when opportunity arose they would have been pleased to see their dauthers succeed, especially in Anne’s case.

    They certainly could not foresee how it would all end, and Elizabeth and Thomas Boleyn suffered an uncommonly tragic fate even for the court of Henry VIII. I do believe they became resigned to what happened as good Christians, and to a degree they must have been relieved that they survived unscathed themselves.

  22. Dawn 1st says:

    It is obvious that Thomas had his career and favouritism well established before the King or court had even set eyes on Anne and Mary. The evidence is plain to see.
    For the perennial gossip of Chapys NOT to have penned a letter about the ‘Pimping’ of the Boleyn girls underlines this was not the case too, he would never have passed such an opportunity to further blacken the name of the Boleyn family and faction.

    Peoples behaviour are relative to the time in which they live which outrages the more modern times following, this leads to being blinded to the facts, breeding of contempt hence malicious speculation.
    Both Elizabeth and Thomas were also victims, stuck between a rock and a hard place, the bearing of such grief and devastation as this must have accelerated their own demise too.

  23. Shannon says:

    As always very interesting

  24. Tina says:

    Thank You for covering a topic that we do not get to hear much about. Very informative. I feel that Anne was likely close to both her parents. I cannot imagine the pain they went through losing two children on the scaffold.

  25. Maddie says:

    I always wondered if he was as conniving as pop culture made him seem. In one way, I could definitely see how someone in his position would want to protect his daughters, but feel ultimately powerless to do so.

  26. Amanda says:

    Well done! So many of the things I have thought and was thinking about when watching your video you said. Although Queen Anne is usually the primary focus, her WHOLE family suffered in so many ways we can not even fathom. It was a whole different world back then compared today. We just have no idea what was going on behind the scenes and how everyone was feeling. History is just a big mystery we try to piece together which is one reason I love it but also a huge frustration!

  27. Lisa Misak says:

    As grandparents it must have been a toll to not be able to be in their granddaughter Elizabeth’s life. To have lost 2 of their children who I am sure they loved must have broken them. They may be have been nobles and known to history but in the end they are parents and grandparents who lost their family.

  28. Shannon says:

    The loss of both of there children is heartbreaking

  29. Katie says:

    This was really interesring! I feel that Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth have been treated very unfairly in their time and throughout history. I feel that in the 16th century sense they were very loving parents to their children. The way that Anne wrote about her mother and the loving way she wrote to her father when she was in France gives me the sense that she loved them very much! Thomas Boleyn had such an amazing career before his daughers and son were even at court. Like you said he clearly did not need to throw his daughters off on the King to improve his status. Its so sad how rumors and people that hated this family has blackened their name for so long! I couldn’t imagine how helpess Thomas and Elizabeth must gave felt knowing Anne and George’s fate was sealed and there was nothing they could do to stop it. I would love to see a real portrayal of their characters in a film, tv show or book one day.

  30. I love this! I’m wondering when someone will come out with a book/movie/tv series of what’s left of the Boleyn family in their lives after the executions. I think it would be an interesting study in human nature and how people cope with traumatic events, how they go on…. Thanks for this!

  31. Rachel says:

    I’m keen on seeing a more balanced, factual portrayal of the Boleyns in the future. I can scarcely imagine the pain they must have felt at seeing their children disgraced and murdered to please the King. I wonder if Thomas hated him…

  32. Veronica Lynn says:

    Of all the despicable people in the Tudor saga I dislike Thomas Boleyn the most.
    I feel like he advised his children to promote himself and gave zero thought to protecting them.
    Miserable man!

    1. Claire says:

      But there’s actually no evidence of that.

      1. Veronica Lynn says:

        I can’t stomach that he wanted to get back into the good graces of the man who murdered his children.
        My Father would have lost his own head working to save mine.

        I accept from your video that I am judging Thomas by the standards of today and not his time so I will try to exercise compassion based on that.

        You are so nice that I want to believe Thomas was a good person because you do.

  33. Helen Davis says:

    I have never liked Thomas but this made me,see things in a more,nuanced light.

  34. Cat Versailles says:

    I find the Boleyns almost as fascinating as their children: I wish we could know more about them. Thomas was an accomplished man in his own right, he rose in favor early in his career due to his talents… So why gamble a daughter when he seemed to be doing fine on his own merit? What about his wife, who saw all three of her children suffer at the hands of Henry (Mary lived but her reputation took a hit and living in the shadow of Anne’s downfall can’t have been easy)? While it is easy to dismiss the Boleyns as monsters, I always have felt that just like their daughter, they were far more complex than we may ever understand.

  35. Christy Baker says:

    Very interesting videos, Claire! I am fascinated with the whole Tudor era.. especially Anne:-). My thoughts on Thomas and Elizabeth are that they both wanted to see themselves raised through the ranks of the royal court. First, they tried Mary..then when the king tired of her, it was Anne’s turn. The Boleyn’s became very powerful when Henry Chose Anne to be the next Queen. Then, when the chips began to fall, Thomas and Elizabeth saved themselves, and let Anne and her brother die. Maybe they felt remorse for doing this, but they did so privately, or they would have felt Henry’s wrath as well. I just think that thatvwas such a sad thing to do to your children.

  36. Agi says:

    Thanks for this video.
    I was never able ti believe they were so power-hungry and ambitious…

  37. Veronica Lynn says:

    If I win such an awesome prize based on watching a video on Thomas Boleyn that will be the first time Thomas Boleyn has ever caused me to smile.
    I love all his kids though and his granddaughter Queen Elizabeth is one of my heroes!

  38. Jemma Robertson says:

    Very interesting Thankyou

  39. Lisa Prince says:

    It seems that the family dynamic was very much different back then. And also different for a family of wealth and connected to, or wanting to be connected to the court. I could not imagine sending my daughter to another country in service of royalty to prepare for court life. However​we do send our daughters to college! This video helped me think differently on how relationships worked back then.

  40. Teddi wallick says:

    I can not imagine loosing two children in those circumstances and not worrying about your own neck .I always wondered what Anne’s and George’s mother was thinking about it all, was she also a victim. I think k so!

  41. Banditqueen says:

    Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn were both from good well connected families and of course they were ambitious. If you want to work in royal service, it went with the job. Thomas Boleyn must also have been very talented as he represented Henry at the court of France and in the Netherlands. He had been in the service of Henry Vii and had been one of the gentlemen who escorted his daughter Princess Margaret to her husband in Scotland. He had several official posts of trust at court and it is natural that he had ambitions and hopes for his three adult children to follow in his footsteps.

    Elizabeth Boleyn was in attendance on Queen Katherine and at court in the early reign of Henry Viii. She had a good marriage and a fruitful one. In addition to George, Mary and Anne, two other sons, Thomas and Henry were born but died young. All of their children appear to have been born in the first seven or eight years of their marriage and there id no evidence of any breach between husband and wife later on. Anne was sent to France to be educated as her parents saw special ability in her. George went to University and was registered there. Mary made a good match in William Carey.

    Although it was not bad for a woman to sleep with the King, there is no evidence that Thomas or Norfolk placed either Mary or Anne into the King’s bed. Henry noticed Mary and desired her. Afterwards he made her a good match and it is possible that he was the father of both of her children. Forget the pimp in the Other Boleyn Girl and the plotting ambitious father, paying someone to poison Bishop Fisher on the Tudors. That guy is fantasy. He may have helped or encouraged Anne, but he also stood by her when she ran back home to Hever to escape the King’s advances. Thomas may also have hesitated over Anne’s marriage to the King as it brought the entire family into a dangerous position. Thomas and Elizabeth stood behind her once she was Queen. It was lovely to hear on the video that Elizabeth had a close relationship with Anne, living with her at court and Anne was concerned about her mother’s health while in the Tower.

    I believe that Anne’s death affected both the health of her mother, who had been ill, plus her father had to overcome whatever feelings he had about the King and losing George and Anne in this way, in order to regain royal favour because his remaining family were in financial difficulties. He lost his titles and lands as part of the punishment for his children being traitors. He needed to get an income, hence his return to court. When his wife died it has been said he didn’t attend her funeral because he didn’t care. This is a lack of understanding about how such things were in the sixteenth century. It was traditional for a husband to witness but not take part in his wife’s funeral. It was not unusual for him not to attend but to send a representative. He would also not always be buried with her. Just because Elizabeth was buried in her Howard family vault doesn’t mean she had fallen out with her husband. Sadly her coffin can’t be located due to the Church being deconsecrated, but is there somewhere under the floor. Recently the vaults were scanned and the Archbishop of Canterbury tombs identified so who knows, they may find Elizabeth Boleyn soon as well.

  42. Jayne says:

    I feel like Thomas and Elizabeth have been maligned by history. In the end they lost so much; their son and daughter and the ability to be a part of their grandchild’s life. Then to add insult to injury, Thomas had to continue to support and maintain a gracious relationship with the man responsible for these circumstances. We cannot judge Thomas and Elizabeth based on modern standards. They did what they had to do nearly 500 years ago

  43. Jessica says:

    While I have always found Anne fascinating, I admit that I never really bothered to delve much into her parents. I admit I tended to buy into Thomas as a villain and never knew much about Elizabeth to form an opinion on her. This video has made me more interested in them than I was before.

  44. CA says:

    I can’t wait for this to be posted on YouTube. I was only able to view ten fascinating minutes of it. I had to give up after several hours of trying to view it. Apparently my phone doesn’t like random embedded videos today.Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn are of great interest to me and I was really looking forward to seeing the video. I think that this is a neglected topic within Tudor studies. Writers are always taking the easy way and making some people villains for no solid reason. I would be interested in knowing more about a man who survived the end of the court of the Winter king and was able to befriend Margaret of Austria. There is also not enough information on the early Howards. The kindred connection web of the Tudor era is fascinating and not well explored.

  45. Simone says:

    Stories change after many years and especially after 500 years. The only thing we have is some evidence. The rest is just an opinion of people. Many people look at it from our standard of living in the 21th century. You can’t compare your views with the views of the 16th century. The biggest goal in life back then, was to be as close to the king as you could be. You can’t blame the parents, it was quite normal back then. I wonder what would have happened if they had refused and stood up for their children.

  46. Tawnia says:

    This was fascinating! Keep in mind, during that time the level of deceit that could take place while at court. So many had their own agendas and all of them wanted the King’s favor – in fact to not dance to his tune could mean financial ruin or death. I feel like any parent’ they made the best decision they could have with what they had.. the fact that Anne was able to keep Henry so interested for so many years before he married her, you know that she had to have had the support and love of her parents. Truly a time of tumultuous happenings.

  47. Kelsey says:

    I’m so grateful these sites and videos exist to help expand on not just Anne but the important people in her life. It was refreshing to get something different than the usual negative Hollywood portrayal of her parents because it really opened my eyes about her family and it makes me want to continue to learn even more about all of them!

    I love Anne so deeply, she means the world to me, so it’s amazing to be able to keep learning more and more about her world. I can never get enough!

    Thank you for your hard work and for sharing this with other fans of Anne, I’m so grateful!

  48. Ana Consuelo Gomez says:

    Interesting point of view : yes Claire is very probably right in her opinion about Anne Boleyn’s and George Boleyn’s parents , when she says that the y are being judged by XXI century standards – but how can we know really what was in the hearts of people duro golpe those tragic events- it surely must have been absolutely awful for all of them including the King himself.

  49. Charlotte black says:

    This was an interesting watch and made me rethink my opinions of Thomas Boleyn in particular. Fiction has a way of moulding the opinions of people in your mind and it is interesting to hear how your viewpoint is different. Thankyou for allowing me to consider a different scenario.

  50. Christine says:

    I enjoyed the video very much and for anyone who didn’t know much about Annes parents it’s a very good piece of information, it’s true we have to judge people by their own age and the standards that were set then, it’s easy for us to think of Thomas as a person who just sat back and watched his children die but he daren’t do anything else, first and foremost he was a survivor, a most successful courtier and servant of the King and he could not allow anything to ruin that, he could not plead for his children and endanger his own position, now he had to think of Elizabeth and make sure he was there to show the King he was a loyal servant, even though his children were convicted traitors, he had been at court most of his life and was a highly respected and intelligent diplomat, he had had a long and interesting career, he had to keep that position as that way he could win back the favour his family had lost, people today think it’s odd and mistakenly think he had no feelings for his son and daughter, that in a sense he had left them to the wolves, this belief is unfair as shown, within two years of their deaths he lost his wife and it must have seemed to him his world had finished, he must have been very proud of both Anne and George and somehow he had to endure the family’s cataclysmic fall from grace, the rumours about him wedding the Kings niece shows what high esteem he was in, yet shortly after he too succumbed to the grim reaper and that was the end of one of the most brilliant families of the Tudor age, now his eldest and only surviving daughter was his heir and she did not live long to enjoy her wealth, she too died comparatively young and unlike the rest of her family, the whearabouts of her grave are a mystery, I feel for Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn, children were doubly precious in Tudor times and they had already lost several, pestilence disease wars and childbirth were very real dangers and was responsible for many a young persons demise, the fact that their two children survived into adulthood was a cause for celebration but ironically, their lives were savagely cut short and I think misery overwhelmed their parents, RIP Sir Thomas and Lady Elizabeth.

  51. Tom says:

    The way history weaves narratives is very interesting . We tend to see it in black and white
    Heroes and villains not normal fleshed out human beings.

  52. Sandra says:

    Troilus, I vow, that if he had you seen,
    In you he would have set his whole delight:
    Of all your beauty I suffice not to write,
    But as I said, your flourishing tender age
    Is lusty to look on, pleasant, demure and sage.

  53. Katie says:

    Why do you think Elizabeth, the mother, put power and influence before her children? Was she obeying her husband or did she actively manoeuvre on behalf of the family.

    1. Claire says:

      I don’t think she did. Do watch the video to see my thoughts on Thomas and Elizabeth and what history tells us about them.

  54. Violet says:

    Rumours started circulating around the court that the beautiful Elizabeth had caught the new young king’s eye and started an affair with him, but they were dismissed by Henry VIII himself.

  55. Helen says:

    Henry had had sex with three Boleyn women the mother and her two daughters.

    1. Claire says:

      He denied sleeping with Elizabeth Boleyn and there’s no evidence that he did.

    2. Christine says:

      Helen, Elizabeth was much older than Henry and she was married to Thomas at the time, Henry when young had let a quite a stifled existence, he was closely guarded and would have had no time for love affairs, his name has been linked with several woman throughout his tenure as King but there was never any evidence that he fancied Annes mother and slept with her, a lot of rumours were started after the fall of the Boleyns by their enemies.

  56. C.A. says:

    Finally was able to see the whole thing! You make some excellent points about the Boleyns and I’m very glad for the review. I would like to raise something that I feel is neglected. Thomas Boleyn survived not one but TWO reigns of terror. He was a courtier in Henry VII’s court and would have watched the terror at the beginning of Henry VIII’s reign. Most people count Henry’s behavior after his jousting injury as the cause of his drive to execute so many of his subjects. However, as he came to the throne he destroyed most of his father’s true servants. Many of them were killed simply to gain popularity with the people. Thomas knew what the shadow of the throne was like and likely was embarrassed by his children’s actions. As for trying to get back in with the man who killed your children, what other choices did he have? All power flows from the throne at this time. He couldn’t have gone to independent work as there wasn’t any. He had debts to pay, remember he retained his title as Wiltshire and would have had to pay many requirements and debts, including jointure for Jane Parker Boleyn. Especially since all that George had owned was forfeited. He had to keep himself and Elizabeth alive. Both of them could have and I believe would have been destroyed if Henry had thought that they were manipulating him. I think it’s very likely that Thomas’ displeasure with Mary and Anne’s choices probably saved his life. As for Lady Margaret Douglas… he would have needed an heiress with Elizabeth dead and no more Howard dowry. The fact that it’s the disinherited Scottish line that he previously had connections with is rather telling as well. Just some thoughts. Thanks Claire

  57. Tony says:

    It is baffling to think that Anne’s father could continue working in such close proximity to his children’s slayer. Certainly the fear of what Henry may do to remaining members of the Boleyn family perhaps influenced Sir Thomas to continue working by Henry’s side.

  58. Poppy says:

    These were the years when Anne would have spent the most time with her mother, and it seems they had a close attachment. Years later, Anne would write in a letter to Lady Wingfield: “And assuredly, next mine own mother, I know no one alive that I love better.”

  59. Megan says:

    I’d like to do some research about Anne’s mother, Elizabeth. Fascinating really, that she was Elizabeth I’s grandmother. If it was me, I’d have died of a broken heart having seen 2 of my children executed. Who knows what they felt, both parents, we can only guess. But both of them dying soon after their children might suggest how they felt.

  60. Sally says:

    I love your articles on the Tudor and Elizabethan histories because they really do separate fact from fiction. I believe that Thomas Boleyn did love his children, but as with all parents he wanted the best for them them. That’s the problem with playing politics and especially in this time and age: Many times you can misstep. However too many times depending upon who’s telling the story it can make it look like they are monsters. I’m thinking of the film version of “The Other Boleyn Girl”.

  61. Sam says:

    It really is a tragedy! It seems that in the end Elizabeth and Thomas’ relationship suffered greatly as a result of Anne and George’s terrible end. The fact that they’re buried in separate places is a testament to this. How could their relationship not have suffered when Thomas Boleyn returned to court after his children were brutally murdered and served those who orchestrated their downfall. By January 1538 he was back at court! And even earlier had been rubbing shoulders with Cromwell and helping suppress rebels. I imagine that Elizabeth was appalled!

  62. Shannon says:

    Mary’s father, Sir Thomas cut off her allowance when she chose to marry below her station, Sir William Stafford, but she did not lose the affection of her mother, that we have any evidence for. Mary may have had a strained relationship with her parents, which to be honest is their own fault. Their ambition first of all promoted their eldest daughter as the mistress of King Henry VIII and then when she became pregnant and Henry cooled towards her, they were disappointed. They coldly followed this by promoting Anne, who wanted to go all of the way and become a Queen instead. I feel rather sorry for Elizabeth Howard, as she is only going along with the decisions of her husband in all of this, and it is very sad that she should have lost some children very young, and then out of the three that make it to adulthood, two were executed wrongly by that same King, that had raised them. The only one left in 1536 after May is Mary. There is no evidence of any reconciliation with her family, but I cannot imagine that Elizabeth did not at least try to assist Mary to raise her children. They would have been her only consolation at this time. Elizabeth died in 1538, and Thomas in 1539 or so. Mary died a couple of years later. What a sad family, but one that inevitably set its own end in motion by aiming too high.

    1. Christine says:

      There is no evidence that Henry cooled towards Mary when she became pregnant, however when Elizabeth Blount was pregnant Henry had her sent to the country to have his child and arranged a good marriage for her, it could be he was tiring of her anyway they had been involved with each other for some years, it could be he broke of the affair as he had begun to be attracted to Mary Boleyn, there is no evidence either that Marys child was the Kings and he had cooled towards her when she found herself pregnant, Thomas and his wife did not promote either of their daughters, they were in service at court and they both happened to catch the eye of the King, there was little they could do about it as they coodnt really tell the King to leave first Mary alone and later Anne, all families at court were ambitious they all sought to advance their fortunes and in this the Boleyns were no different to any other family at the time, they could only offer advice to Anne when she accepted Henrys proposal and there is evidence Thomas was not particularly pleased about that, he had worked at court for many years and knew something of the fickle nature of this King of theirs, maybe he had a premonition but he was wary of his youngest rather headstrong daughter becoming involved with him, maybe he related his fears to his wife but as we know Anne was not the sort to listen, she had all the naive hope of the young, she thought there would be no obstacle to their marriage. Katherine would go quietly to a convent, she would give Henry many princes and she would be a well loved and respected queen for many years, the mother of a new dynasty, she thought Henry would love her forever and one day she would play with her grandchildren on her knee, how wrong she was, Anne was the member of her family who aimed too high, but we have to remember in the beginning she merely told Henry she did want to be his mistress, that was her right, and she had no idea he would become so obsessed with her he would actually offer her marriage, however she saw he was serious and began to have the first stirrings of ambition, she could actually be queen, it was a heady offer to make to a young woman whose father was a mere knight and she was lady in waiting to his wife, her parents had no choice in the matter, in the end the only reason the Boleyns fell was just Annes rather naive prediction that she could give Henry a son and heir, she could do many things but that was upto Mother Nature and it was something no king or emperor could do either, however her overbearing behaviour certainly did not help either,

  63. Shan says:

    It’s was good that she had a relationship with Anne, maybe George. But what a shame that she had to continue to live with Thomas, her husband; after he voted to condem them to death. It does speak volumes, that the parents of a Queen of England chose to be buried in separate places. Too bad Elizabeth didn’t live long enough to see her granddaughter – Elizabeth become Queen of England.

  64. Violet says:

    What is sad is that after three years it all went wrong and after the disgrace of both of his children: Anne and George, Sir Thomas was forced to retire to the country. Henry had enough respect for him and due to his past service he was allowed to retain much of his property. He was never arrested or put in the Tower, although I imagine that he had to condemn the alleged behaviour of his son and daughter: incest and treason. Of course he probably believed them to be innocent but could not say so. It is also interesting that Henry merely asked Sir Thomas to identify his son and daughter at their trial and then retire as their relatives. It may have been also out of respect for his past service that Anne’s father kept his earldom and that he did not hand over Hever Castle until after his death in 1538/9. He was present at the baptism of Prince Edward in 1537 and he died a quiet, but sad death, having lost two of his three surviving children. He may have been ambitious at one time, but I believe that Sir Thomas Boleyn died a broken man, possibly of a broken hear

  65. Beverley says:

    This is true but from what I have read Thomas was not demanded to return to court instead he took it upon himself to try and regain the favour he held before Anne and George’s downfall. Of course it is difficult to judge the events from our time as it was very different to the way of life at court in Tudor times. Thomas lived his entire life in service to the king and knew no other way of living. I just cannot imagine losing my own children so violently and then trying my best to gain favour from those who took them from me. Yes, this is a ‘modern’ woman talking but wouldn’t raw human emotions play some part in your decisions regardless of the historical context? Tricky subject

  66. Kat says:

    It does make me wonder what Elizabeth thought of all of this – her daughter’s execution, her son’s execution and then watching as her husband worked his way back into the court of the men that ultimately brought about the deaths of her children. Must have been very difficult for her, such a conflict of interest. And in a time when she could not speak out against how she felt.

  67. Anne says:

    I always found the different portrayals of Elizabeth in the two adaptations of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’. In the BBC’s, she is stern, cold and quite domineering while Hollywood’s is so loving and kind.
    I think there’s a nice balance in ‘Anne of the Thousand Days’ where she is a good wife, loyal and helpful to her husband’s ambition. She’s happy to push her daughters forward for the king’s attention but she’s also emotionally attached to them, whereas it seems the norm for these two attributes are mutually exclusive.

  68. Nick says:

    Elizabeth Boleyn is fascinating. She was a very strong woman. She always wanted the best for her children. To be a mother, watch your children grow up, and have your daughter to take a position of such power, yet such danger, must be a tough struggle for any parent

  69. Laura says:

    I think Sir Thomas Boleyn was a loyal and hardworking subject. He was clearly favoured and the fact that he fell out with Mary was disappointing. It clearly showed that he distanced himself from disgrace but not to intervene or assist with Anne is upsetting. He clearly felt it was his duty to serve the king to the best of his ability. I find Elizabeth Boleyn interesting too and the fact that women were second to their husband. It must have been hard to watch both daughters fall in their own way. That her grand-daughter became a long serving monarch must be something to be pleased about.

  70. Laura says:

    However reaching out for her mother when arrested shows how much Anne valued her mother. Thank you very much Claire for Anne Boleyn Day.

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