Tag Archives: Anne Boleyn

Reign Update

I watched the series finale of Reign the other night.  Wow!  They moved fast!  No sooner had Lord Darnley been killed did John Knox and his cronies march in there and arrest Mary.  A minute later, we were in 1587 at Mary’s execution.  So much for Mary’s marriage to Bothwell, captivity and the Babington Plot!  The series got seventy-eight episodes total, and I wish they could have had a couple shows to adequately portray Mary’s demise.  So instead, Elizabeth becomes the super-villain!

Mary leaves her infant son, now King James to be raised by his uncle, the Earl of Moray.  On this show, the earl is a noble figure, Mary’s right-hand man.  In history, the Earl of Moray is the main source of Mary’s problem.  He is very much like the John Knox character on the show and forces Mary’s abdication and flight into England.  But the show had to go the simple route of a hot good guy and Elizabeth being evil!

The scene with grown up King James meeting with Elizabeth, pleading for his mother’s life, is the one that really got me.  Elizabeth gives King James the choice – his mother’s life or the English throne when Elizabeth dies.  Said meeting never took place.  Additionally, Elizabeth didn’t name her successor until her deathbed.  She was a smart lady and naming her successor would have compromised her.  The idea that she gave the King of Scotland a choice like this is preposterous.  James then chastises Elizabeth for being weak and afraid of Mary.  Who cares?  Elizabeth lives and fosters the Golden Age of England.

Unfortunately, the show didn’t address the Babington Plot.  Although Mary was set up, there was a letter in her own hand authorizing her supporters to assassinate Elizabeth.  Again, Elizabeth had no choice.  She had to execute her rival, but the show didn’t acknowledge it since it didn’t fit into the “heroine Mary” narrative.

Twitter was a dream on Friday night.  People were tweeting, “Elizabeth, you b****!”  Elizabeth probably was that for many ones, but don’t attack her for protecting her realm.

Historical shows/films, due to time constraints or whatever, often change history but not to the point where they change a person’s character.  The only other one I can think of is Anne Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl.  Don’t even get me started on that one.  Even The Tudors and Braveheart, riddled with historical inaccuracies, didn’t change the characterization of the subjects.  They may have changed some of the surrounding details but not the actual person.

We live in a world where people think Abraham Lincoln was the first president of the United States and chocolate milk comes from brown cows.  Unfortunately, people think what they see on a historical show is fairly accurate, and this show really missed the mark on one of history’s strongest women.  Like it or not, Mary, Queen of Scots had it coming to her and much of it was her fault.

P.S. Mary, Queen of Scot’s execution was a signal to Catholic Europe to attack England aka the Spanish Armada.  Therefore, Elizabeth’s England defeated the Armada in 1588, not before Mary’s death as portrayed on the show.  I had to let that out.

P.S.S. If you want a good movie on Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth, please see Mary, Queen of Scots starring Vanessa Redgrave as Mary and Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth.  Although there are some inaccuracies, such as scenes where the two queens meet, they don’t change the story.

 

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May 19th

If I could meet any person, living or dead, it would be Anne Boleyn.  I have been fascinated with her since I was about ten years old.  We all know how her tragedy ends.  Today is the anniversary of Anne’s execution, and I would like to write about one, specific trait I find so fascinating about her.

“What His Majesty is denied, he go half-mad to obtain.  What he gets freely, he despises.” – Thomas Boleyn (Anne’s father), Anne of the Thousand Days

ImageWhile the above quote if fiction, from my favorite movie of all time, its sentiment rings true in the way Anne conducted her courtship with the king.  Her sister, Mary, was definitely Henry VIII’s mistress, and her mother may have been, too.  In fact, Mary had a reputation for loose morals, established in the French court as a girl.  When Mary became pregnant, potentially with the king’s illegitimate child, she was discarded and of “no further use.” 

Anne saw the foolishness in her sister’s ways.  She was not going to let her family live off “prostituting” herself to the king.  Back in this time women didn’t have a lot of control over their lives; Anne was going to be forced to court the king.  If she was going to do so, she might as well get something out of it.  So, for seven years, she led Great Harry on a chase until she had her prize – Queen of England.  She refused his gifts.  She did not submit to his sexual advances.  She embarrassed and confused the King of England, who believe his power was absolute and his will divine.  While I believe Anne ultimately grew to love Henry, if she had not been made queen, she would have bailed before sacrificing her virtue.

It is ironic that Anne was called “the great whore” as she was hardly thus.  She clung to her honor when other women would have easily given it away.

For me, Anne was definitely a role model in the way I conducted myself with the opposite sex as a teenager and young woman.  You can be vivacious while still keeping an air of mystery.  While I don’t believe you should play love games, I also believe it is important to protect your honor.  As the saying goes, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?  Don’t sell yourself cheaply.  Don’t sell yourself at all.

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My Nerdy Hobby

I have always been a huge history buff.  In fact, history was my second major in undergrad.  If I had it to do all over again, I would have gotten a PhD in history and become a college professor.  I am particularly interested in British history.  This started back at the age of ten on my first visit to England where I feel in love with Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII, and the Princes in the Tower.  Over the last twenty years, I have always wondered who killed those two little boys (if both of them were even killed).

Traitor's Gate

Me standing in front of Traitor’s Gate at the Tower of London!

History, which is written by the victors, has indicated that it was their uncle, Richard III, in his greed quest to claim the English throne.  This is entirely possible; however, there are other parties who had equal or better interest in wanting the boys dead.  There are even some conspiracy theories that one or both of the boys got away and live civilian lives in exchange for their sister, Elizabeth, becoming Henry VII’s queen.

Bloody Tower

The Bloody Tower – The area where young King Edward V and his brother Richard, Duke of York, were held and possible murdered.

I was even more fascinated when the bones of Richard III were discovered in Leicester last year.  Thomas More, who worked for Henry VII, described Richard as an evil, lecherous, “crookback,” and this view was commonly accepted for hundreds of years.  The bones indicate that Richard was 5’8″ (above average height for the period) and suffered from scoliosis.  There are many historical accounts that show Richard to be a fairly pious and benevolent monarch.  Of course, there were executions he ordered that would make us squeamish in modern day; to hold the throne was a life and death struggle.  He was nowhere near his great nephew when it came to brutality.

Thirsty for more knowledge, I joined the Richard III Society last summer.  I get regular mailings/emails from them not only about Richard but about other historical figures and life in Yorkist England.  It is a great hobby for me, and I am trying to convince the family to move to York, although unsuccessfully, I am afraid.With that said, there have been a couple different sets of children’s bones found, two at the Tower of London and two at Windsor.  The set from the Tower of London, now buried at Westminster Abbey, seems to be the most promising.  It would be very interesting to test the DNA or Richard III’s bones vs. these sets.  Unfortunately, the Church of England will not allow this.  While a negative or positive test would neither condemn nor exonerate Richard, it would be fascinate to know if one or both of those sets of bones belonged to the princes.  I, for one, hope they got away.

Now, for some pictures of one of my favorite places in the world!

Tower Green

Me at Tower Green, where royal and noble executions took place.

Anne Boleyn

Me in Wakefield Tower where many famous prisoners were held.

Tower Entrance

Eric and me at the entrance to the Tower of London.

Raven

A Tower Raven – Legend has it that if the ravens leave the Tower, the kingdom will fall.

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