Synopses & Reviews
The events which led to the execution of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second queen, in 1536 have traditionally been explained by historians in terms of a factional conspiracy masterminded by Henry's minister Thomas Cromwell. Retha Warnicke's fascinating and controversial reinterpretation focuses instead on the sexual intrigues and family politics pervading the court, offering a new explanation of Anne's fall. The picture which emerges - placing Anne's life in the context of social and religious values, and superstitions about witches and the birth of deformed children - changes our perception of her role within the court, and suggests that her execution (occurring only four months after a miscarriage) was the tragic consequence of Henry's profound concern about the continuation of the Tudor dynasty.
"The value of Warnicke's study lies in her description of the English Reformation from the point of view of Anne Boleyn's life. Warnicke also debunks the myths of Anne Boleyn's deformities—such as her alleged sixth finger—which have surrounded accounts of her life since 'the great Tudor poet, Sander, chose to give her the features of a witch ...' Her chapter, 'Sexual Heresy,' is illuminating in a similar way, inasmuch as it explains for the modern reader the logic which Henry would have followed in determining that it was Anne's fault that she had not conceived a male heir. Unfortunately, much of the worthwhile material is too often sandwiched between tedious descriptions of Anne's clothing and her surroundings." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
"...this book is more than original--it challenges close to every other work written about Anne since her execution...This book is a wonderful piece of feminist scholarship...it offers great insights into Anne Boleyn and into the way history has treated all women who dared to wield power and influence." Herizons"Thanks to the events surrounding her courtship with and ultimate marriage to Henry VIII, the tempestuous nature of that union, and the sordid yet mysterious circumstances of her execution, Anne Boleyn has always been a fascinating figure. Both popular and scholarly biographers of her have come along with some regularity. Quite simply though, this one transcends all previous efforts." Library Journal"Inspired, thought-provoking history, sure to pique fans and scholars of the executed queen." The Kirkus Reviews"...reinterprets Anne Boleyn's story from a feminist perspective and provides the most plausible explanation to date for her abrupt fall from royal glory to the block...illuminates its subject as well as the difficulties inherent in writing about sexual ideologies--and acts--shrouded by centuries of rumor." Margaret W. Ferguson, New York Times Book Review
The events which led to the execution of Anne Boleyn in 1536 are reinterpreted, focusing on the sexual intrigues and family politics pervading the court. A new explanation of Anne's fall is offered, placing her life in the context of social and religious values and superstitions.
The execution of Henry VIII's second queen in 1536 has traditionally been attributed to a conspiracy masterminded by Thomas Cromwell. This radical reinterpretation focuses instead on the many intrigues that pervaded Henry's court.
Retha Warnicke's fascinating and controversial reinterpretation focuses on the sexual intrigues and family politics pervading the court, offering a new explanation of Anne's fall.
Table of Contents
List of illustrations; Preface; Introduction: Queen Anne; 1. Boleyn origins; 2. Family alliances; 3. Henry's challenge; 4. Papal response; 5. Anne's turn; 6. Queen's patronage 7. Harem politics; 8. Sexual heresy; 9. Royal legacy; Appendix A. The legacy of Nicholas Sander; Appendix B. The choirbook of Anne Boleyn; Appendix C. Two poems of Sir Thomas Wyatt; Notes; Index.