Author Topic: Anne Boleyn  (Read 255163 times)

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #300 on: October 20, 2010, 04:52:39 PM »
We would not think the real Cleopatra  is an Elizabeth Taylor beauty, but she had men falling all over her.
Sex appeal is always unquantifiable, and irreducible to perfectly symmetrical facial features.
Yes, I guess it can also be "conquering" a moderately sexy queen who is venerated as a godess to boot! In short, one hot "taboo"!

Yes, taboos, at least when they deal with gods and goddesses, can be very sexy indeed... Think of making the Daughter of the God Ra fall in love with you, and you start to understand something of what was at stake in the ancient world, where these taboos and their violations counted to a degree I'm sure we in our modern times can only very remotely, very vaguely understand!
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Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #301 on: October 20, 2010, 05:40:30 PM »
Only then is it indubitably the real thing - no matter what modern pop culture mags and rags want us to believe with their airbrushed images (Bradgelina? give me a break, fatty Liz and pock-marked Dick would have reduced them to tears and irrelevancy, both onstage and off, in a heartbeat!).

All the leading actors and actresses of the Bradgelina type are indeed unfit to play in any movie, historical or contemporary, that claims to be realistic and not just a fairytale or solely about themselves. My hope is that Celebritydom will fall just like Tsardom because it has become an unrealistic cocoon with only the most vague idealistic link to reality.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2010, 05:50:18 PM by Фёдор Петрович »

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #302 on: November 05, 2010, 08:25:58 AM »
Has anyone else here read this new biography Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions by some professor in the UK named G.W. Bernard? It's quite scandalous, he argues that Anne might actually have been guilty of some of the crimes she was accused of. Indeed, according to him, it was not a frame-up, not a coup against Anne and her faction carried out by Cromwell, but something much simpler, more basic, and humiliating for the king -- his wife had been caught cheating on him with at least two, quite probably more male courtiers.

Frankly I find this entire argument absurd. Especially since the author spends the first half of the book arguing that Anne was always a very passive player when it came to the Great Divorce, that it was Henry who was the real mover and shaker. (Uh, excuse me, I always thought that this was obvious?) But suddenly, from being a very passive player, in the second half or so of this book Anne becomes this Nightmare Queen, the Scarlet Woman, bent on wreaking her sexual revenge on Henry (because he was cheating on her, perhaps even before the birth of Elizabeth) and/or trying desperately to get pregnant with a male heir (even though she was either pregnant with Elizabeth or had just given birth to her, a healthy baby girl, when the first so-called adulteries occurred). I think this guy has been reading Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl, I honestly do!!!

What especially irritates me about this book is that every other line our esteemed professor is pleading "human psychology." I'm sorry, I have never met even one woman (and I have numerous girlfriends) who has ever cheated on a mate with more than one man. Multiple cheating with multiple partners is male psychology, not female. The only woman I can even remotely imagine doing such a thing is the Samantha character in Sex and the City and as all you gals out there know, even Samantha doesn't cheat multiply once she's in a long-term relationship (RE: Sex and the City the movie). In fact, she's reluctant (although extremely tempted) to cheat even once with even one man. Why did the writers of this (admittedly awful) first movie write it this way? 'Cause women aren't men and they don't cheat with multiple partners in a short span of time, much less when they're Queen of bleeding all Britain (pardon my French).

Now that's basic female psychology!
« Last Edit: November 05, 2010, 08:29:48 AM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Kimberly

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #303 on: November 05, 2010, 11:43:30 AM »
Hi Elisabeth. Never heard of the book until you flagged it.
Here is quite an interesting review of it
http://www.literaryreview.co.uk/marshall_04_10.html

Interesting that it says he "trawled through the diplomatic correspondence of Charles V ambassador.....hardly pro Anne then !!
I haven't read the book but I might pick it up and give it a go if it turns up in the local library.
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Offline mcdnab

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #304 on: November 10, 2010, 06:10:16 AM »
I'd read another review of it - personally i'll stick with the views of Ives and Starkey who at least give a fair interpretation based on historical fact than assume - but i am sure it will be welcomed by some

Offline LadyAstraea

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #305 on: November 21, 2010, 11:53:45 PM »
Bernard has never been a fan of Anne. Still, I think that this new "spin" is merely a ploy to sell more books by causing a controversy. I have not yet read it, but I cannot believe he would actually have come upon some definitive piece of damning evidence against her. I still think Ives did a most brilliant job of explaining her fall in his biography of her and various articles.  I can't see Bernard coming up with something to trump Ives' accepted version of events, other than to reinterpret some of Chapuy's reports. Anyway, like someone already mentioned, Chapuys wasn't the most reliable of sources. Yet, for many events, he is the only source we have.
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #306 on: November 22, 2010, 10:41:17 AM »
Bernard has never been a fan of Anne. Still, I think that this new "spin" is merely a ploy to sell more books by causing a controversy. I have not yet read it, but I cannot believe he would actually have come upon some definitive piece of damning evidence against her. I still think Ives did a most brilliant job of explaining her fall in his biography of her and various articles.  I can't see Bernard coming up with something to trump Ives' accepted version of events, other than to reinterpret some of Chapuy's reports. Anyway, like someone already mentioned, Chapuys wasn't the most reliable of sources. Yet, for many events, he is the only source we have.

I actually think that Bernard is pretty sincere in his beliefs and that his theory of her downfall is not a mere ploy to sell a lot of books. In other words, IMO he's a serious scholar. But frankly, I don't believe his book will sell much, because the people who buy books about Anne Boleyn tend to admire her rather than denigrate her (whether or not that's the correct approach is beside the point, it's the reality). It's true that Bernard's book is very heavy on Chapuys's reports to the emperor, and yes, most of these are taken at face value. I think Bernard's main argument is that up until April 1536 Anne was still relatively safe, given the fact that Chapuys himself admits in one of these documents that she turned to him and he bowed to her during Easter church services, thus publicly acknowledging her as Queen of England for the first time, which was a great political coup for Anne, since Chapuys as the ambassador from Spain and the major supporter of Catherine of Aragon and Princess Mary was thus an arch-enemy of Anne. Moreover, the incident might very well have been deliberately staged in the interests of the Anglo-Imperial alliance. However one interprets it, it does tend to undermine Eric Ives's theory that Anne, as a long-time supporter of the French alliance, was an obstacle in the path of Cromwell, who wanted a new alliance with the Spanish emperor.

It is also hard to explain Chapuys's public acknowledgment of Anne as queen in the light of her very shocking downfall shortly thereafter, in early May. So I do think Bernard is more or less on solid ground in arguing that there might be some other explanation for what took place in Henry's brain between April and the beginning of May that ultimately led to Anne's sentence of death, and the death of her so-called paramours. I mean, for all we know Bernard could be right, and AB might have been guilty of some of the charges she was accused of. I just personally find the very idea absurd, because the dates are all wrong. Bernard pleads "human nature" and "human psychology" but AB would have had to be some kind of Messalina to start cheating on Henry one month after the birth of their healthy baby girl Elizabeth. The fact that Bernard doesn't (frankly, can't) claim that AB ever cheated on Henry during the six years of the Great Divorce is significant. If she really was so highly sexed that as queen she lost control of her appetites and committed major sexual indiscretions, then why is there no evidence of any sexual activity on her part with more than one partner (the king) before late 1533? At which time, for all intents and purposes, as Bernard argues, she was already 31 years old in 1532 (he takes 1501 as her probable date of birth) and one can reasonably assume that, if she was as highly sexed and transgressive as Bernard claims, she would have found it impossible to refrain from, well, basically cheating on the king, her lover, Henry VIII, at some point during this period. Especially since it's clear that Henry and Anne's intimate relationship never involved actual sexual intercourse until around the time of the conception of their daughter in the late autumn or early winter of 1532. And yet there's absolutely no evidence of Anne engaging in any sexual relationships outside of her commitment to Henry during this time, and indeed, in the official charges she wasn't accused of being promiscuous during this time. (Henry never seems to have doubted his paternity of Elizabeth.) Had she truly had been sexually insatiable, it would have been a different story all together, and indeed, I doubt AB could ever have become queen in these circumstances. She would have been just another one of the king's mistresses, easily used and just as easily discarded.

 
« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 10:48:03 AM by Elisabeth »
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Offline LadyAstraea

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #307 on: November 22, 2010, 09:40:12 PM »
I am very well aware of the fact that Bernard is a serious scholar. Yet scholars do need to publish books, as everyone else does. Therefore, many who read it, will do so in order to disagree with his points. e.g. This is the same issue with Eric Ives and Retha Warnicke - they published continuous back and forth papers arguing the opposite reasons for Anne's fall, with Warnicke remaining steadfast to her deformed foetus theory, and Ives denouncing it as ridiculous.

The fact that Chapuys acknowledged Anne as queen by bowing to her does not actually invalidate Ives' theory that Anne stood in the way of an Anglo-Spanish alliance. Here, it is important to remember that Anne had stood for everything the Spanish opposed for too long. While the Katherine of Aragon may have been dead, the old wounds would not be healed so quickly. At Easter Anne indeed proclaimed she was supportive of a Spanish alliance, but this does not automatically mean that such an alliance could suddenly be brought about now by her change of heart. The point is that Charles agreed to acknowledge the validity of Henry and Anne's marriage, but only if Mary were to be reinstated into the line of succession. Yet, both were not possible at the same time. That Anne would have agreed to Mary taking precedence over Elizabeth is highly doubtful. While outwardly Anne was agreeable to this new alliance, she would have assuredly caused all manner of difficulties. This, combined with the fact that she had not produced the heir and had lost her allure to Henry, all made her destruction a politically advantageous move, especially with the meek and supposedly fertile Jane Seymour waiting in the wings. Also part of Ives' argument was the idea that Anne was causing difficulties over the closing of the monasteries, and it was over this point that she and Cromwell fundamentally disagreed. Therefore, with all the aforementioned reasons in combined, the easiest solution to all of them (or so mostly everyone at the time thought) would be to remove Anne.

The reason for Chapuy's acknowledgement of Anne as queen is perhaps that the conspiracy against Anne by Cromwell was not known to Chapuys, and so he merely was trying to make the best of Anne's new-found support of the Spanish alliance. His motives cannot be judged as overly sincere though, for at dinner afterwards, when Anne requested to speak to Chapuys, she found that he was elsewhere. Therefore, while he may have made an initial overture, he was not actually prepared to go through with any real plans with Anne.  
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #308 on: November 23, 2010, 03:39:25 PM »
Of all the scholars you list -- Bernard, Warnicke, and Ives -- I have always regarded the latter as the most reliable source of information about the life and "queenship" of Anne Boleyn. That said, however, I do think there is something still very mysterious about the rapidity of her downfall in May 1536. Although it is, at least on the surface, dramatically compelling, Ives's explanation is not completely convincing... Because, let's face it, who really cared what AB thought about foreign alliances? She was a wife, not a reigning queen. Katherine of Aragon had to roll with the punches when Henry made an alliance with France against Spain back in the day... Therefore the Boleyn faction's traditional opposition to the imperial alliance cannot necessarily be regarded as a major explanation for its political downfall.

Of course, I don't believe Warnicke's theory of the deformed stillborn fetus suddenly causing Henry to decide that Anne was a witch. This seems to me a very fanciful, even naive, even, yes, outright condescending and anachronistic theory. In fact there must have been hundreds, even thousands of such "deformed" fetuses that passed through the hands of experienced English midwives and doctors throughout the 16th century. Because given the level of health care in the England of the time, there must have been hundreds, even thousands of stillborn fetuses every year, male and female alike... I'm sure that in reality nobody involved in the birthing of AB's last child shared any of the hideous details of it with her husband, the king. I'm sure that all those hideous details was swept under the rug, as was probably habitual, because even in this day and age men have been known to faint dead away at the sight of a healthy, natural childbirth, much less a miscarriage or stillbirth.

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Offline LadyAstraea

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #309 on: November 23, 2010, 10:57:32 PM »
I believe of all of the theories put forward, Ives' is the most convincing. I don't see any others that even come close to his. As for the effects of the traditional alliances - I do think these were always a factor. Certainly, Anne manoeuvred her family into a position of power, and certainly a fatal political mistake on her part (that of openly declaring her opposition to Cromwell's plans) would have caused them to lose that same power. Of course, this doesn't mean that one political mistake was the sole factor that decided her doom - merely one in a combination of factors, including the failure to produce the heir.

In any event, I think Anne's influence on policy should not be underestimated. Neither should Katherine of Aragon's, nor any other queen consort's for that matter. For that is just it, since a king was the ultimate authority, we will never know how much he is influenced by different people close him, especially his wife. Henry VIII was particularly vulnerable to be swept away by different factions. Indeed, that was why his court was as dangerous as it was - for he would turn on anyone, even his own wives and closest ministers the instant another faction slandered their enemies. For example - he acted very differently about his Reformation when Anne was alive, than he did even by 1539, when with his Six Articles he took a completely opposing stance.

I also think Warnicke's deformed foetus theory to be ridiculous, for how could the midwives have possibly decided that a premature foetus was actually deformed?
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Offline Silja

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #310 on: November 24, 2010, 03:23:17 PM »


The fact that Chapuys acknowledged Anne as queen by bowing to her does not actually invalidate Ives' theory that Anne stood in the way of an Anglo-Spanish alliance. Here, it is important to remember that Anne had stood for everything the Spanish opposed for too long. While the Katherine of Aragon may have been dead, the old wounds would not be healed so quickly. At Easter Anne indeed proclaimed she was supportive of a Spanish alliance, but this does not automatically mean that such an alliance could suddenly be brought about now by her change of heart. The point is that Charles agreed to acknowledge the validity of Henry and Anne's marriage, but only if Mary were to be reinstated into the line of succession. Yet, both were not possible at the same time. That Anne would have agreed to Mary taking precedence over Elizabeth is highly doubtful.


But it would not have mattered a bit whether Anne had or had not agreed to Mary taking precedence because the only one to decide in this matter was Henry. Henry never intended to legitimise Mary. Nor did he restore her to the succession until very much later. Even after Anne was dead Mary took precedence over Elizabeth only because she was the elder sister, but not because she had the superior rank.


But I'm one of those who do not believe in Anne's fall having been so sudden anyway. I actually do believe Chapuys's earlier reports about Henry having shown signs of being tired of his wife.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #311 on: November 24, 2010, 06:08:20 PM »
But I'm one of those who do not believe in Anne's fall having been so sudden anyway. I actually do believe Chapuys's earlier reports about Henry having shown signs of being tired of his wife.

Hi, Silja, it's so good to see you here again!

I think it's possible to believe Chapuys's reports about Henry's fatigue with his second wife and still regard the events of May 1536 -- the arrest, trial, and execution of Queen Anne and five of her so-called paramours -- as rather extraordinary. Arguably these events -- which, recall, sent shockwaves throughout Europe -- are only fully explicable if we take the following suppositions as facts:

1) that Anne Boleyn was born in or around 1501 and thus by 1536 was middle aged by 16th-century standards, therefore, especially given her history of recent stillbirth and miscarriage, considered by Henry unable to produce a healthy heir (I consider this quite likely);

2) that Henry VIII had become nothing short of megalomaniacal after the break from Rome and his own assumption of the role and title of Supreme Head of the Church of England; therefore, he would brook no obstacles, personal or political, in his quest to put his dynasty on a firm footing with a male heir (I consider this quite likely);

3) Cromwell's interests just happened to square very "happily" with Henry's, from Henry's point of view (I consider this highly likely).

I actually don't believe Henry was at all a weak king, the preponderance of the historical evidence shows that he was perfectly serious, and for that matter was taken very seriously by his subjects, when he said that if he thought his cap knew his counsel, he would throw it into the fire. Popular perception is everything in these situations -- either a ruler projects power and engenders fear in his subjects, or he doesn't. Henry, like Ivan IV the Terrible of Russia, could always be counted upon to do both. And it's interesting to see where such supposedly domineering advisors ("caps" who thought they knew the king's counsel) like Wolsey and Cromwell and Bishop Gardiner ended up. In the fire, basically. Cromwell lost his head and both Wolsey and Gardiner probably would have lost theirs as well if circumstances hadn't intervened: in Wolsey's case, his own premature death, and in Gardiner's, Henry's death in January 1547.

  
« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 06:20:19 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline LadyAstraea

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #312 on: November 25, 2010, 12:22:03 PM »
Quote
But it would not have mattered a bit whether Anne had or had not agreed to Mary taking precedence because the only one to decide in this matter was Henry. Henry never intended to legitimise Mary. Nor did he restore her to the succession until very much later. Even after Anne was dead Mary took precedence over Elizabeth only because she was the elder sister, but not because she had the superior rank.


But I'm one of those who do not believe in Anne's fall having been so sudden anyway. I actually do believe Chapuys's earlier reports about Henry having shown signs of being tired of his wife

Chapuys's reports are likely to have been true about Henry tiring of Anne, but at the time, as even Chapuys himself acknowledged, it was not necessarily significant. Particularly since Katherine of Aragon was still alive, and since Anne actually had produced one healthy child, there was no reason for Henry to contemplate getting rid of her early on. For if he got rid of Anne, there would be the expectation by many for him to take back Katherine, which he would not do. Of course, once Katherine had died and Anne had suffered several miscarriages, the situation changed. This supposed incapability of her to produce the heir was what really mattered in the end.

Concerning whether Anne's opinions mattered much - I think they very much did. In small matters: that Anne made increasing demands on Henry to obtain property of the queens of England that were in Katherine's possession, such as the royal jewels. Henry duly got them for Anne. In larger matters: Anne and her faction worked on destroying Wolsey for years, and eventually succeeded. One cannot say that Henry would have come to distrust Wolsey on his own.

But what is very important to remember, is that in the event of the King's death, Elizabeth would have succeeded him, with Anne becoming regent. Entrusting her with his kingdom was a huge matter - in fact, it says something about how Henry viewed her capabilities. Had she been entirely apolitical, then she would not have been entrusted with such responsibility. Of course, I entirely agree that Henry was the ultimate authority at all times, but he was at times susceptible to the influences of others, in particular, that of Anne. While Anne's death did not alleviate Mary's situation, as she and her supporters hoped, that doesn't prove Anne didn't influence Henry in his treatment of Mary while she was alive. It just means that Henry's desire to break Mary into accepting his role as Supreme Head of the Church of England and denouncing the Pope, outlasted Anne.

Of course, in the end, Anne's influence obviously disappeared, but that's not to say that before her fall she had not wielded considerable influence with the King. Under her influence, he even read books that were previously banned. Here, Anne would mark particular passages for him to read with her fingernail. For example, the King even read William Tyndale's Obedience of the Christian Man and declared it "a book for me and all kings to read."
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #313 on: November 27, 2010, 10:18:20 AM »
I agree with you, LadyAstraea, that Henry was an individual who was influenced by others, but my own belief is that he was selectively influenced, that is, he was only ever influenced in so far as it advanced his own personal interests (which of course he would have termed the interests of state). Thus I'm sure he convinced himself that Cromwell was right, and AB was guilty of adultery and treason against his royal person, therefore unquestionably deserving of the death penalty. And I'm sure as well that he worked himself into a complete state of righteous anger and emotional distress over the entire matter, not only for the sake of winning popular opinion but also and most importantly because Henry was the ultimate self-deluding hypocrite, he always believed what he himself wanted to believe. Not only the downfall of AB but also the Great Divorce are cases in point.

But all this is not the same thing as saying that Henry VIII was easily influenced; on the contrary, the servants of state who worked best with him were those who anticipated and fulfilled his desires; once these men (or women!) fell short of this all-important goal - or worse yet, tried to overreach it - they were, again, just so many caps to be cast into the fire as far as Henry was concerned.



« Last Edit: November 27, 2010, 10:33:25 AM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Silja

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Re: Anne Boleyn
« Reply #314 on: November 28, 2010, 01:59:46 PM »

Chapuys's reports are likely to have been true about Henry tiring of Anne, but at the time, as even Chapuys himself acknowledged, it was not necessarily significant. Particularly since Katherine of Aragon was still alive,


Of course Anne was perfectly safe in her position as long as Katherine was alive. But after the latter's death and her own miscarriage she was doomed, and not because of Cromwell's machinations,  or because of some disputes over politics, but because Henry was convinced he wanted another wife who would give him a son.