Upcoming Q&A with Leanda de Lisle – Your Chance to Ask a Question

TudorAuthor and historian Leanda de Lisle has kindly offered to do a Q&A session here at The Anne Boleyn Files, so this is your chance to ask her a question. Leanda has written three Tudor history books and her latest book, Tudor: The Family Story (US title: Tudor: Passion. Manipulation. Murder. The Story of England’s Most Notorious Royal Family) has chapters on the fall and execution of Anne Boleyn. In her book, Leanda shares her theory on why Anne Boleyn was executed by a French swordsman and not the usual axeman, and she also discusses this in an article she wrote for The Spectator:

“As Henry’s sexual inadequacies were paraded during the trials, he responded by advertising his virility, staying out all hours, banqueting with beautiful girls, seemingly full of ‘extravagant joy’. In private, however, he comforted himself in a different way, obsessing over the details of Anne’s coming death. In Thomas Mallory’s Death of Arthur, the King sentenced Guinevere to death by burning, (although it was never carried out). Henry decided Anne would be beheaded with a sword – the symbol of Camelot, of a rightful King, and of masculinity. Historians argue over whether Anne was really guilty of adultery, and if Henry or Cromwell was the more responsible for her destruction. But the choice of a sword to kill Anne reflects one certain fact: Henry’s overweening vanity and self-righteousness.”

It is an interesting theory and one that fits with Henry’s behaviour at the time, I like it, it makes sense. You can read the full article, “Anne Boleyn’s Last Secret”, on Leanda’s website – http://www.leandadelisle.com/articles/.

Now it’s time for you to ask Leanda a question. Feel free to ask questions about:

  • Leanda’s theory
  • Her book on the Tudors
  • Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII, the Tudors…
  • Leanda’s books on James I and the Grey sisters
  • Leanda’s work and research

Simply ask your question as a comment below before midnight Sunday (US Eastern time). I will then send the questions to Leanda and she will answer as many as she is able to in a blog post here on The Anne Boleyn Files on Wednesday 28th August.

Tudor: The Family Story will be released in hardback in the UK on 29th August – click here to pre-order – and on 8th October in the US – click here. I received a review copy and am reading it at the moment, it’s brilliant.

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31 thoughts on “Upcoming Q&A with Leanda de Lisle – Your Chance to Ask a Question”
  1. Question to Leanda:

    Is there any particular Tudor era figure what you would like to research deeper, because he/she fascinates you? (and you haven’t done research on them yet).

    Thank you!!

  2. Leanda,
    Do you think that Henry’s jousting accident in January 1536 played a greater role in his rejection of Anne than is usually noted? I think it must have given him a sense of mortality and although he wasn’t “seriously injured” I think he probably woke up with an enormous headache and it would have made him realize that if he had died the succession and the country would have been in chaos. Also, he was 45 which at the time was the start of old age as I understand it. Then when Anne miscarried, he might have felt that he didn’t have the time to wait to see if she would have a son (especially given his history with Katherine). I was wondering what your thoughts are about this. Thank you.

  3. Hypothetical I know, but do you think Anne would have survived if Elizabth had been the hoped for male heir. would Henry havevbecome frustated and angered by her failure to produce a spare?

  4. Hi, Leanda!

    In your book on the Grey sisters (p. 124) it says that Guildford Dudley wore a “black velvet suit slashed with white satin” for his trial. I find this detail intriguing and have been wondering where it did come from (interestingly, in the film “Lady Jane” he also wears something very similar). Is this from an inventory or perhaps some chronicle? Thank you.

  5. Ann Boleyn was intelligent, by all contemporary accounts. Why would she jeopardise not only her own position, but that of her daughter, by indulging in liaisons that would harm her reputation?

    I have never believed any of the calumnies against her. Given that she was sexually experienced, courtesy of her time in the French court, I do not believe that dalliance with the gentlemen of Henry’s bedchamber would have had any great attraction for her.

    She disgusted Henry because of her sexual expertise. He was a known prude, in spite of his many mistresses.

    She would never have been stupid enough to give Henry cause to doubt her. Her enemies manufactured the so-called evidence.

    Vivat regina !

  6. Hi Leanda,

    What do you consider to be the single most important factor contributing to Anne’s downfall/execution? In just 3 short years she went from beloved wife, to falsely accused and executed. Thank you for taking the time to answer questions!

  7. Really enjoyed thouht-provoking articles! Re: The Faking of Jane Grey……you describe Jane as a ‘usurper’ yet she inherited the throne from the will of the last reigning monarch, and we plainly see Mary I ‘conquering’ the throne as did her grandfather, Henry VII. Can you eplain why Edward VI’s will was passed over for that of his long dead father, Henry VIII

  8. Hi Leanda!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. This is a bit of a hard question to answer, see as you aren’t actually Henry VIII. But, I am interested to see what you think.

    Do you think Henry knew that he would be remembered for having so many wives? Of course, he is remembered for other things (breaking with Rome, battle of boulogne, etc) but did he not think this would have an effect on his legacy? Today, when kids learn about Henry in school they remember him for his many wives and the ones he killed. They think of him as tyrannical and vicious. They do not realize he was trying to get an heir and he was willing to risk a lot to carry on the Tudor dynasty.

    So, I guess my question is do you think Henry foresaw that he would be known for his many wives above other things he would have liked to be remembered for?


  9. Thank you for answering questions. I’m looking forward to you new book. My question:
    What sort of relationship to you think Henry had with his father, Henry VII. He certainly made huge differences marked between his rule and his father’s when he first came to the throne.
    What about his mother? What do you think that relationship may have been like?

  10. dear leanda, hi, henry carey aged 9 years was brought before the court and he stating he was the son of hviii. purely on his testimony was ann executed. the matter being incest. one can imagine how frightening it must have been for the poor lad.

    best regards

  11. Hello! Thank you for answering questions. I would like to know how much of an impact Anne had on Henry after her execution. I know it was forbidden to speak of her in court, however Henry did restore Elizabeth (and Mary) to their titles (perhaps due to Katherine Parr’s prompting?). I wondered if any of his future actions can be seen as caused by Anne. Perhaps Katherine Howard reminded Henry of (a less problematic and easier to control) Anne Boleyn? Thanks!

  12. Greetings from the old colony of Massachusetts. I wanted to know if there’s any treasure hidden in any of the Tudor castles or barried with the Tudors and has any body ever attempted to go search for it. Is it true that Anne was a witch.

  13. I have been reading your book about the Grey sisters I find it very interesting and telling for many years I have admired Queen Elizabeth 1 and now I find that I don’t really like her and I think it has to do with the way she handled the succession and the way she treated the Grey sisters I don’t understand why she preferred Mary Queen of Scots over the Grey sisters why was she allowed to change her fathers will when Edward vi wasn’t and he had his reasons and I find his reasons logical considering he was really just a boy and not a man

  14. Read your book on Lady Jane, I agree that she was not the victum many in history have protrayed her, was wondering, do you think, under differnt circustances, that Edward might have considered her for a bride, especailly if the French wedding fell through?

  15. I have always been curious about Elizabeth Boelyn and her involvement and reaction to what happened to all three of her children: Anne, Mary, and George. Have you found anything regarding her attitudes and feelings in your research?

  16. Hello Leandra:

    Read your book on the Grey sisters and thought is was excellent. I am curious, though, if you think that Mary had a realistic alternative to executing Lady Jane, and if so, what might have happened if she had not beheaded her cousin.

  17. Hello Leandra!

    I have a question on the relation between the Howards and the Boleyns. Anne’s mother was a Howard, but the relationship between the two families seemed not to be very good. What role did the Howards take during the Boleyn’s downfall?

    Thank you!

  18. Do you think that Henry’s recurring ulcer also contributed to his mood swings and increasing frustration with Anne at the end?

  19. Do you think Anne Boleyn actually committed the crimes? Or was it just a cruel act to get rid of her and make room for Jane Seymour to take her place?

  20. It’s an interesting theory, but if Henry were really using the sword to compensate for sexual humiliation, then why on earth wouldn’t he have used it on very likely guilty Katherine Howard?

  21. Hello!

    I hope this doesnt come too late because i live elsewhere. I was just wondering about this comment i read. It claimed that Henry stopped loving Anne way before Anne stopped loving Henry. I know this would be hard to determine but what do you think? Also how much influence would Anne Boleyn have got if Anne produced a prince of wales as well as a duke of york along with a couple more ‘spares’ as opposed to just a prince of wales?


  22. Hello Leandra,

    I was wondering, had Catherine of Aragon stepped aside when she was asked to, do you think it would have affected Anne Boleyn’s situation regarding her chances of bearing a healthy son and ultimately her fall?

  23. Apart from rumour, court gossip and guess work from historians what precise evidence is there for Henry having any sexual inadequecies? The ability to produce healthy children does not prove this; his wives were constantly pregnant, which proves that he had no problem in that department. There must have been some form of problem within the family as a whole that led to the high number of still births and the deaths in early infancy of his children with Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. That Anne in revenge for his getting tired off her claimed that Henry was useless in bed is no more evidence than authors who hated Anne claiming she was a wh*re or a witch. There must have been much speculation during the court hearings of the divorce about the cause of these miscarriages and still births; Henry and Katherine’s sexual ability being one of them. However, as the medical evidence at the time is scanty and very contradictorary, it i hard to determine if Henry had any impotency problems or not.

    It would not have been unusual for a man in his 40s to have some problems, but we know this from today. But Anne’s claims are not proof; they are nasty gossip from a nasty woman who was most likely getting him back for some argument or other. There are a couple of references to problems with later wives, but that could be compatability as with Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr he had no such sexual problems. His inability to get them pregnant may have beenfor other reasons that we do not have any evidence for. Parr,for example did not have any children by her first three husbands; she may not have had sexual relations often as they were all invalids at this time.

    So apart from the scanty implications that are guessed at; do we have any real evidence that Henry had long term and regular problems in the bedroon. I doubt very much that he did.

  24. What are your personal feelings and opinions in regards to each indiviual wife? Do you believe that they are more infamous than Henry himself and if so, do you believe history has been ‘feminised’ like Dr Starkey suggests?

  25. Hi Leandra,,Do you think that had Henry lived to see his son by Queen Jane die,,she would have, perhaps followed in Queen Annes shoes? As Q Jane could no longer have anymore children,surely, the King would have replaced her with another? His mission in life was too get a son no matter what the cost,so I really wonder if Queen Jane would have been put to death,had she lived as well?? Kind Regards Baroness Von Reis x

  26. Hi Leanda,
    What are your personal thoughts on the 3 Other Boleyn Girls (Elizabeth, her daughter Mary and her daughter-in-Law Jane)? Do you think any of Mary’s children to be Henry’s? Did Jane (conciously or by accident) have a role in Anne’s fall?
    Also I’d like to know your point of view of Anne Boleyn’s relationship with Mary I. Do you think Anne was the only one to blame or must the guilt be equally distributed?
    Was Mary Tudor aware of the fall of Anne Boleyn before the queen’s arrest? And is it true that she hated Kathryn Howard or is just fiction?
    I want to know if you have researched Anne Stanhope for this book… I find her very interesting!
    Thank you in advance and congratulations for your book!

  27. Hello Leanda,

    I have a few questions regarding Anne Boleyn’s execution:

    1. I have read discordant statements as to whether Anne Boleyn was blindfolded or not for her execution…which is the most probable?

    2. Do we have any details about the arrow chest she was buried in, how could the coffin of a personage as important as the Queen be overlooked – and who is to “blame” for this, would it be Kingston himself?

    3. Finally, I would like to know more about Anne’s exhumation…

    thanks so much!

  28. Hello Leanda,

    Do you know if there is any evidence that Henry and Anne had one or more illegitimate sons before their marriage. I have ready that many people, including the Pope, thought she was expecting in 1528 when Henry was trying for his divorce.


  29. Hi Leanda,

    I realize I was a bit vague with the question about her exhumation…I wanted to know more specifically if jewellery, pieces of cloth etc. were found when excavations took place in Queen Victoria’s reign and how they determined that it was actually her, as I heard there was some confusion over her body/Catherine Howard/Jane Rochford.

    If I could sneak in one more question – I read in Fraser’s book on AB that her birthday was probably in late May/early June but cannot see any historical documentation to support this – why is this time period presumed to be her birthday?

    Thanks so much, look forward to your response! 🙂

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