Follow TV Tropes

Following

History UsefulNotes / AnneBoleyn

Go To



Given her popularity with writers who fancy themselves historians, there are probably more myths and urban legends surrounding Anne Boleyn and her downfall than about any other figure in English history. No, she did not have six fingers on one hand or a mole on her chest or, as the Book of Lists invented, a third breast. No, she was not accused or convicted of witchcraft. No, her sister-in-law Lady Rochford did not testify against her husband (it was Lady Worcester). No, she did not commit adultery. No, there is no evidence Mary Boleyn was the mother of Henry VIII's children, and quite a bit of evidence against it. And on, and on, and on. Suffice to say that the reader who believes pop "historians" like Alison Weir might be better off reading something by a real, trained historian.

to:

Given her popularity with writers who fancy themselves historians, there are probably more myths and urban legends surrounding Anne Boleyn and her downfall than about any other figure in English history. No, she did not have six fingers on one hand or a mole on her chest or, as the Book of Lists invented, a third breast.breast - since we don't have contemporary images, it's not easy to reconstruct what she looked like, but contemporary accounts seem to attest that she was of average appearance. No, she was not accused or convicted of witchcraft. No, her sister-in-law Lady Rochford did not testify against her husband (it was Lady Worcester). No, she did not commit adultery. No, there is no evidence Mary Boleyn was the mother of Henry VIII's children, and quite a bit of evidence against it. And on, and on, and on. Suffice to say that the reader who believes pop "historians" like Alison Weir might be better off reading something by a real, trained historian.



* HistoricalBeautyUpdate: Anne is often depicted as an alluring beauty, despite the fact that she reportedly wasn't anything special in real life. She was reportedly very much the opposite of the standards of beauty at the time - when it was fashionable to be fair, she was sallow. Likewise she had small breasts when voluptuous figures were in. In fact Henry was largely attracted to her for her personality.
** It should however be noted that only one contemporary image of Anne has survived; a defaced prototype medallion that only shows the rough outlines of her face. The portrait at the top of this page was painted sixty years after her death by an artist who'd never seen her. We don't really know what she looked like. There are even those who think she had red hair.

to:

* HistoricalBeautyUpdate: Anne is often depicted as an alluring beauty, despite the fact that she reportedly wasn't anything special in real life. She was reportedly very much the opposite of the standards of beauty at the time - when it was fashionable to be fair, she was sallow. Likewise she had small breasts when voluptuous figures were in. In fact Henry was largely attracted to her for her personality.
personality and intellect.
** It should however be noted that only one contemporary image of Anne has survived; a defaced prototype medallion that only shows the rough outlines of her face. The portrait at the top of this page was painted sixty years after her death by an artist who'd never seen her. We don't really know what she looked like. There are even those who think she had red hair. Contemporary accounts seem to agree on one thing; in looks, she was about average. \


Anne Boleyn (c. 1501/07 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King UsefulNotes/HenryVIII, and was mother of UsefulNotes/ElizabethI. There are few people in history who were and are as polarizing as Anne Boleyn. During her lifetime she was both much maligned and much admired. To Protestants she was the equivalent of a Saint, while Catholics detested her. Nowadays lines are drawn again, although now her supporters and detractors look more at her personality and deeds as Queen - or as a fictionalized character.

Anne grew up as the (probably younger) daughter of the ambitious diplomat and courtier Thomas Boleyn, who when she was around 6 or 12 secured for her a post as maid of honour to Archduchess Margaret of Austria, regent of the Low Countries. From there, she traveled to France to attend Princess Mary of England as she married the French King. After his death and Mary's departure Anne became a member of the court of Queen Claude of France. Heavily influenced by French culture and fashion, she made a splash at the English court when she returned in 1521. Five years later she came to the notice of the very married (and very Catholic) King Henry VIII - and what happened after that has been hotly debated for centuries.

to:

Anne Boleyn (c. 1501/07 1501/07[[note]]most likely the former[[/note]] 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King UsefulNotes/HenryVIII, and was mother of UsefulNotes/ElizabethI. There are few people in history who were and are as polarizing as Anne Boleyn. During her lifetime she was both much maligned and much admired. To Protestants she was the equivalent of a Saint, while Catholics detested her. Nowadays lines are drawn again, although now her supporters and detractors look more at her personality and deeds as Queen - or as a fictionalized character.

Anne grew up as the (probably younger) daughter of the ambitious diplomat and courtier Thomas Boleyn, who when she was around 6 or 12 12[[note]]almost certainly the latter; a six-year-old would've been far too young, and a letter from Anne to her father dated c. 1514 was almost certainly written when she was around thirteen[[/note]] secured for her a post as maid of honour to Archduchess Margaret of Austria, regent of the Low Countries. From there, she traveled to France to attend Princess Mary of England as she married the French King. After his death and Mary's departure Anne became a member of the court of Queen Claude of France. Heavily influenced by French culture and fashion, she made a splash at the English court when she returned in 1521. Five years later she came to the notice of the very married (and very Catholic) King Henry VIII - and what happened after that has been hotly debated for centuries.


* Appears as a character in the ''Literature/WolfHall'' trilogy by Hilary Mantel. In the [[Series/WolfHall 2015 television adaptation]], she was portrayed by Claire Foy, who portrays her as both very irritating but then very sympathetic when Henry turns on her.

to:

* Appears as a character in the ''Literature/WolfHall'' trilogy by Hilary Mantel. In the [[Series/WolfHall 2015 television adaptation]], she was portrayed by Claire Foy, Creator/ClaireFoy, who portrays her as both very irritating but then very sympathetic when Henry turns on her.


* WickedStepmother: Whatever she was like as a person, Princess Mary was not treated well by Anne at all, and was forced to act as a nursemaid to the newborn Elizabeth. To be fair, while she did threaten Mary with violence, [[ValuesDissonance women did that with relactrint children all the time in 16th century England]].

to:

* WickedStepmother: Whatever she was like as a person, Princess Mary was not treated well by Anne at all, and was forced to act as a nursemaid to the newborn Elizabeth. To be fair, while she did threaten Mary with violence, [[ValuesDissonance women parents (fathers ''and'' mothers) did that with relactrint recalcitrant children all the time in 16th century England]].


Henry's expectations that the world would go his way at long last were dashed when instead of the hoped-for son Anne gave birth to a 'worthless' daughter (the future [[UsefulNotes/ElizabethI Elizabeth I]]). This must naturally have been a blow to the King, but what eventually led to him falling out of love with Anne is debatable; certainly the numerous miscarriages Anne suffered after Elizabeth's birth had something to do with it, but a factor not taken into consideration by Whig historians is that Anne basically organized the early Church in England on her own, taking much of the work off Henry's shoulders and gaining a great deal of political power in the process. Henry, a lazy man who loathed governing, was prone to lifting men up to do the work and then banishing or killing them when that work led them to become too powerful. This trait of his may have influenced Anne Boleyn's fate as much as it did Wolsey's, More's, Cromwell's, and even Gardiner's.

to:

Henry's expectations that the world would go his way at long last were dashed when instead of the hoped-for son Anne gave birth to a 'worthless' daughter (the future [[UsefulNotes/ElizabethI Elizabeth I]]).UsefulNotes/ElizabethI). This must naturally have been a blow to the King, but what eventually led to him falling out of love with Anne is debatable; certainly the numerous miscarriages Anne suffered after Elizabeth's birth had something to do with it, but a factor not taken into consideration by Whig historians is that Anne basically organized the early Church in England on her own, taking much of the work off Henry's shoulders and gaining a great deal of political power in the process. Henry, a lazy man who loathed governing, was prone to lifting men up to do the work and then banishing or killing them when that work led them to become too powerful. This trait of his may have influenced Anne Boleyn's fate as much as it did Wolsey's, More's, Cromwell's, and even Gardiner's.



* AloofDarkHairedGirl: Anne was known for being rather abrasive and short-tempered and during her first pregnancy, was prone to throwing things at her servants. If the narrative isn't sympathetic, these traits get played up. That said, there's a reason that most well-known portrayals have at last some of these traits: Even sympathetic historical accounts admit that she was a [[MeanBrit prototype for the Mean Brit.]]

to:

* AloofDarkHairedGirl: Anne was known for being rather abrasive and short-tempered and during her first pregnancy, was prone to throwing things at her servants. If the narrative isn't sympathetic, these traits get played up. That said, there's a reason that most well-known portrayals have at last some of these traits: Even sympathetic historical accounts admit that she was a [[MeanBrit prototype for the Mean Brit.]]TheMeanBrit.



* WickedStepmother: Whatever she was like as a person, Princess Mary was not treated well by Anne at all, and was forced to act as a nursemaid to the newborn Elizabeth. To be fair, while she did threaten Mary with violence, [[ValuesDissonance women did that with relactrint children all the time in 16th century England.]]

to:

* WickedStepmother: Whatever she was like as a person, Princess Mary was not treated well by Anne at all, and was forced to act as a nursemaid to the newborn Elizabeth. To be fair, while she did threaten Mary with violence, [[ValuesDissonance women did that with relactrint children all the time in 16th century England.]]
England]].


* WickedStepmother: Whatever she was like as a person, Princess Mary was not treated well by Anne at all, and was forced to act as a nursemaid to the newborn Elizabeth.

to:

* ValuesDissonance: She ordered ''thumbscrews'' for the toddler Elizabeth in order to straighten her fingers.
* WickedStepmother: Whatever she was like as a person, Princess Mary was not treated well by Anne at all, and was forced to act as a nursemaid to the newborn Elizabeth.
Elizabeth. To be fair, while she did threaten Mary with violence, [[ValuesDissonance women did that with relactrint children all the time in 16th century England.]]


* AloofDarkHairedGirl: Anne was known for being rather abrasive and short-tempered and during her first pregnancy, was prone to throwing things at her servants. If the narrative isn't sympathetic, these traits get played up.

to:

* AloofDarkHairedGirl: Anne was known for being rather abrasive and short-tempered and during her first pregnancy, was prone to throwing things at her servants. If the narrative isn't sympathetic, these traits get played up. That said, there's a reason that most well-known portrayals have at last some of these traits: Even sympathetic historical accounts admit that she was a [[MeanBrit prototype for the Mean Brit.]]


Given her popularity with writers who fancy themselves historians, there are probably more myths and urban legends surrounding Anne Boleyn and her downfall than about any other historical figure in English history. No, she did not have six fingers on one hand or a mole on her chest or, as the Book of Lists invented, a third breast. No, she was not accused or convicted of witchcraft. No, her sister-in-law Lady Rochford did not testify against her husband (it was Lady Worcester). No, she did not commit adultery. No, there is no evidence Mary Boleyn was the mother of Henry VIII's children, and quite a bit of evidence against it. And on, and on, and on. Suffice to say that the reader who believes pop "historians" like Alison Weir might be better off reading something by a real, trained historian.

to:

Given her popularity with writers who fancy themselves historians, there are probably more myths and urban legends surrounding Anne Boleyn and her downfall than about any other historical figure in English history. No, she did not have six fingers on one hand or a mole on her chest or, as the Book of Lists invented, a third breast. No, she was not accused or convicted of witchcraft. No, her sister-in-law Lady Rochford did not testify against her husband (it was Lady Worcester). No, she did not commit adultery. No, there is no evidence Mary Boleyn was the mother of Henry VIII's children, and quite a bit of evidence against it. And on, and on, and on. Suffice to say that the reader who believes pop "historians" like Alison Weir might be better off reading something by a real, trained historian.

Added DiffLines:

Given her popularity with writers who fancy themselves historians, there are probably more myths and urban legends surrounding Anne Boleyn and her downfall than about any other historical figure in English history. No, she did not have six fingers on one hand or a mole on her chest or, as the Book of Lists invented, a third breast. No, she was not accused or convicted of witchcraft. No, her sister-in-law Lady Rochford did not testify against her husband (it was Lady Worcester). No, she did not commit adultery. No, there is no evidence Mary Boleyn was the mother of Henry VIII's children, and quite a bit of evidence against it. And on, and on, and on. Suffice to say that the reader who believes pop "historians" like Alison Weir might be better off reading something by a real, trained historian.


* Appears in Philippa Gregory's novel ''Literature/TheOtherBoleynGirl'' and TheFilmOfTheBook [[Film/TheOtherBoleynGirl of the same name]]. Here Anne is portrayed as a cruel, irreligious hypocrite and a coward. She is played in the film by Creator/NataliePortman. Notably in this version, the charges of adultery are based off a misunderstanding rather than being completely trumped up.[[note]]Anne is about to force her brother to sleep with her to conceive a baby but breaks it off at the last minute. His jealous wife witnesses the first part and tells the king. There is ''some'' historical basis for this - as George's wife testified against him at the trial.[[/note]]

to:

* Appears in Philippa Gregory's novel ''Literature/TheOtherBoleynGirl'' and TheFilmOfTheBook [[Film/TheOtherBoleynGirl of the same name]]. Here Anne is portrayed as a cruel, irreligious hypocrite and a coward. She is played in the film by Creator/NataliePortman. Notably in this version, the charges of adultery are based off a misunderstanding rather than being completely trumped up.[[note]]Anne is about to force her brother to sleep with her to conceive a baby but breaks it off at the last minute. His jealous wife witnesses the first part and tells the king. There is ''some'' no historical basis for this - as this; despite the popular belief, there is actually no evidence that George's wife testified against him her husband at the trial.[[/note]]


** It should however be noted that only one contemporary image of Anne has survived; a defaced prototype medallion that only shows the rough outlines of her face. The portrait at the top of this page was painted sixty years after her death by an artist who'd never seen her. We don't really know what she looked like. There are even those who think she had red hair.



* NiceHat: Anne often favoured the French hood, as seen in the portrait above. So any depiction of her is bound to show her wearing it in several scenes.

to:

* NiceHat: Over the centuries Anne often favoured became associated with the French hood, as seen hood (as shown in the portrait above. So any depiction above), while Katherine of her is bound to show Aragon became associated with the gable hood. In truth both women wore both hoods; the most famous portrait of Katherine as a young widow has her wearing it in several scenes.an early French hood, and Anne wore a gable hood to her execution.



* RavenHairIvorySkin: As the portrait shows, Anne was known for black hair and pale skin. She was actually rather sallow in real life, but that goes with the beauty update.

to:

* RavenHairIvorySkin: As the portrait shows, Anne was known for black hair and pale skin. She was actually rather sallow in real life, Contemporary writers called her sallow, but that goes none of them mentioned her hair colour. The 1576 ring locket portrait worn by Queen Elizabeth I has her with the beauty update.red hair.

Added DiffLines:

* BlueBlood: She may have been a step down from an Infanta of Spain in the marriage sweepstakes, but she was descended from prominent members of the English (and Irish) aristocracy on both sides of her family; her maternal grandfather was the 2nd Duke of Norfolk. His son, the 3rd Duke, was therefore her maternal uncle, a relationship he took full advantage of to advance his own political career.


* Appears as a character in the ''Literature/WolfHall'' trilogy by Hilary Mantel. In the [[Series/WolfHall 2015 television adaptation]], she was portrayed by Claure Foy, who portrays her as both very irritating but then very sympathetic when Henry turns on her.
* Appears in Philippa Gregory's novel ''Literature/TheOtherBoleynGirl'' and TheFilmOfTheBook [[Film/TheOtherBoleynGirl of the same name]]. Here Anne is portrayed as a cruel, irreligious hypocrite and a coward. She is played in the film by Creator/NataliePortman.

to:

* Appears as a character in the ''Literature/WolfHall'' trilogy by Hilary Mantel. In the [[Series/WolfHall 2015 television adaptation]], she was portrayed by Claure Claire Foy, who portrays her as both very irritating but then very sympathetic when Henry turns on her.
* Appears in Philippa Gregory's novel ''Literature/TheOtherBoleynGirl'' and TheFilmOfTheBook [[Film/TheOtherBoleynGirl of the same name]]. Here Anne is portrayed as a cruel, irreligious hypocrite and a coward. She is played in the film by Creator/NataliePortman. Notably in this version, the charges of adultery are based off a misunderstanding rather than being completely trumped up.[[note]]Anne is about to force her brother to sleep with her to conceive a baby but breaks it off at the last minute. His jealous wife witnesses the first part and tells the king. There is ''some'' historical basis for this - as George's wife testified against him at the trial.[[/note]]


Added DiffLines:

* A book concerning Anne appears in the ''My Story'' series - fictional diaries of people who lived alongside historical events. ''Anne Boleyn & Me'' concerns a young girl called Elinor Valjean whose mother is a lady in waiting to Catherine of Aragon, and she becomes a servant to Anne as she rises through the ranks. Anne's character is left vague though Elinor sometimes notes in her diary that Anne seems to be nicer than the gossip about her lets on. There's one very sobering moment shortly before the charges are announced where Anne tells Elinor privately how lucky she is to have a loving family - implying she genuinely loved Henry too.


%%!!Tropes associated with Anne Boleyn as portrayed in fiction:

to:

%%!!Tropes
!!Tropes
associated with Anne Boleyn as portrayed in fiction:
fiction:

* AloofDarkHairedGirl: Anne was known for being rather abrasive and short-tempered and during her first pregnancy, was prone to throwing things at her servants. If the narrative isn't sympathetic, these traits get played up.
* AmbitionIsEvil: If Anne is shown wanting to be Queen, she's usually some kind of villain, since becoming Queen breaks up a marriage and results in a princess being disinherited.
* BrainyBrunette: If she's portrayed as a manipulator, then it's TheChessmaster sort of brains. If it's a more sympathetic narrative, she's instead a match for Henry's bluster and temper.
* HistoricalBeautyUpdate: Anne is often depicted as an alluring beauty, despite the fact that she reportedly wasn't anything special in real life. She was reportedly very much the opposite of the standards of beauty at the time - when it was fashionable to be fair, she was sallow. Likewise she had small breasts when voluptuous figures were in. In fact Henry was largely attracted to her for her personality.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: The first interpretation of Anne as a scheming manipulator.
* NiceHat: Anne often favoured the French hood, as seen in the portrait above. So any depiction of her is bound to show her wearing it in several scenes.
* PetitePride: At a time when having a voluptuous figure was in fashion, Anne was quite small breasted. Sometimes this is played up.
* RavenHairIvorySkin: As the portrait shows, Anne was known for black hair and pale skin. She was actually rather sallow in real life, but that goes with the beauty update.
* TheVamp: The first interpretation paints her as such.
* WickedStepmother: Whatever she was like as a person, Princess Mary was not treated well by Anne at all, and was forced to act as a nursemaid to the newborn Elizabeth.



* The Hollywood classic ''Film/YoungBess'' features a flashback to after Elizabeth's birth, where Anne is played by Elaine Stuart.



* A young Creator/VanessaRedgrave cameos as Anne in ''A Man For All Seasons'' for a scene after her and Henry's marriage.



* Howard Brenton's historical play ''Anne Boleyn'' depicts her as a committed Protestant reformer whose downfall comes when the hardline Protestants also decide that her marriage to Henry is illegitimate, and Thomas Cromwell decides to destroy her when she threatens to expose his embezzlement of the proceeds of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

to:

* Howard Brenton's historical play ''Anne Boleyn'' depicts her as a committed Protestant reformer whose downfall comes when the hardline Protestants also decide that her marriage to Henry is illegitimate, and Thomas Cromwell decides to destroy her when she threatens to expose his embezzlement of the proceeds of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.Monasteries.
* Anne is mostly an offscreen character in Carolyn Meyer's ''Mary, Bloody Mary'' - a HistoricalFiction on Mary Tudor's childhood. Anne is only seen from a distance whenever Mary is at court, but Mary's narrative naturally [[WickedStepmother doesn't describe her favourably]]. Most information about her comes from Mary's spies at court, and she only properly appears for the scene of Elizabeth's birth.
* A ''Series/SabrinaTheTeenageWitch'' novelisation featured a brief sequence of Sabrina going back in time to Elizabeth I's coronation, where the young queen gives her a locket that belonged to Anne. Elizabeth also whispers the rumour that Anne was a witch - implying it to be true in this universe.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' has Marge briefly narrating the story of Henry VIII and his wives. Anne Boleyn appears, portrayed by Lindsay Nagle. She gives Henry (played by Homer) a business card that reads "A Son'll Come Out Tomorrow".


* Appears as a character in the ''Literature/WolfHall'' trilogy by Hilary Mantel. In the 2015 television adaptation, she was portrayed by Claure Foy.

to:

* Appears as a character in the ''Literature/WolfHall'' trilogy by Hilary Mantel. In the [[Series/WolfHall 2015 television adaptation, adaptation]], she was portrayed by Claure Foy.Foy, who portrays her as both very irritating but then very sympathetic when Henry turns on her.



* Claire Foy plays her in ''Series/WolfHall'', who portrays her as both very irritating but then very sympathetic when Henry turns on her.

Showing 15 edit(s) of 38

Top

Example of:

/
/

Feedback