Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

By Schmid, Susan Walters | History Review, March 2011 | Go to article overview

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn


Schmid, Susan Walters, History Review


Susan Waiters Schmid puts a new study into historiographica] context.

Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions G. W. Bernard

***

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Yale University Press, 2010 256 pages, 20 [pounds sterling] hardback ISBN 10:0300162456

Anne Boleyn remains an intriguing figure, even after nearly 500 years. Because interpretations of a historical person's life turn on the documents available to work with, the scanty evidence for Anne's life makes it difficult for historians to write the sort of rich and complex biography modern readers expect. There is much we simply do not know about Anne and, while novelists and filmmakers are free to fill in the gaps imaginatively, historians must control the urge to speculate. When they do speculate, they must employ sound arguments, clear and careful analysis of evidence, balanced discussion of other views and a rigorous avoidance of conclusions based on personal opinion or on present-day values.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Indictments from Anne's trial still exist but there are no transcripts of the court proceedings or information about witnesses and not many other official documents. We have few writings by Anne. If she kept a diary or corresponded extensively with anyone the evidence has been lost to time. Many people have written about Anne for one reason or another; but few were true contemporaries and many were clearly biased, misinformed, or both. While bias does not make a report untrue, it surely adds to the challenge facing a historian. In his new book, Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions, George Bernard is not always equal to that challenge. Some eclectic speculations and his apparent confusion regarding a poem written by the French ambassador's secretary, a document he relies on heavily, combine to weaken his reinterpretation of Anne.

Fatal Attractions joins books by Eric Ires (The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Blackwell, 2004) and Retha M. Warnicke (The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn, Cambridge University Press, 1989), and a long running-debate in the pages of the English Historical Review and the Historical Journal, as some of the crucial reading for a study of Anne Boleyn. These three historians do agree on several important points: that Anne did not raise herself from humble origins, but was the daughter of a reasonably well-to-do and successful 'courtier-administrator'; that Anne is an important figure in her own right, worthy of scholarly study and deserving of a more nuanced analysis than she has received in the past; that evidence for Anne's life is scanty and sometimes contradictory, or suspect; and, finally, each admits engaging in informed speculation when evidence is unclear or lacking.

Anne Boleyn was born between circa 1501 and circa 1507; historians do not agree on the specific date or on which of the Boleyn properties was her birthplace. She had a living brother and sister, but because their birth dates are also unknown, so, too, is their birth order. Informed speculation on all these questions has led to contradictory conclusions among the historians, and a reader must keep in mind that later conclusions about Anne's behaviour may be affected by historians' perception of her age and the expected behaviour for someone of that age in the sixteenth century.

In 1513, Anne's father secured a place for her at the court of the archduchess Margaret, regent of the Low Countries, where Anne was to learn courtly skills and French. She arrived there in summer 1513. Since historians disagree on her birth date, they also disagree to some extent on what she was doing while at Margaret's court. Knowing her birth date could tell us whether she was twelve years old and 'one of eighteen ladies and maids of honor ... [who] were both companions and servants, keeping their mistress company and running errands', as Bernard argues (p. 7); or, whether she was a seven-year-old 'who was incapable of performing the chores of a maid of honor properly . …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.