#2 | Mary Tudor

I was told before that Mary was charming, intelligent, well-read, gracious. The true heir of Catherine of Aragon. A true princess. But nothing prepared me for her beauty - a beauty that comes from the inside. To me, she is the most beautiful creature on God’s earth.

anonymous asked:

I have a question about the Boleyns as well, I hope you don't mind. The Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard, was Anne's uncle, and as I understood, he played a role in the machinations behind her marriage to Henry. But the Howards were Catholic and the Boleyns Reformers, and he was involved in Anne's downfall and even helped Mary I secure her throne. I really don't understand the relationship between these two families.

First of all, I have to say that there is no proof in history that the Howards and the Boleyns, namely Thomas Boleyn, the Earl of Wilshire, and Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, schemed to make Mary Boleyn the mistress of King Henry VIII and then to push Anne Boleyn to the king, at first to Henry’s bed and then into matrimony. 

Fiction and popular culture would make us believe that Boleyn and Norfolk, two cold-hearted and calculating wolves, used Mary and Anne to elevate themselves at the court, but it is just sheer fiction without credible historical proof.

Mary Boleyn had a love affair with Henry after her return from France, but we have no idea when it exactly happened and how she caught the king’s eye. There were rumors that Mary’s two children, born in her marriage to William Carey, were in fact the king’s bastards, but it is a product of rumor mill. 

We know that Thomas Boleyn and Mary were not close in 1528 because she did have financial problems after her husband’s death and her father seems to have done nothing to help her, so Henry had to interfere and solve Mary’s problems. We have no information about Norfolk’s role in Mary’s life at this point, let alone his fictional machinations to make his niece the king’s lover.

As for Anne Boleyn, the roles of her father and her uncle in her love affair with Henry VIII are shrouded in the mists of mystery. The king expressed serious interest in Anne in about 1525, maybe 1526, and it seems that Mary’s affair with the king had already been over. 

We don’t know for sure whether Thomas Boleyn and Thomas Howard pushed her into the king’s waiting and loving arms. The Showtime’s “The Tudors” and many other movies depict the beginning of Anne’s relationship with Henry as her father wants her to charm the king and then reap a harvest for the family – the benefits from her liaison with the king. The above is a product of fiction.

There is one thing suggesting that Thomas Boleyn was probably against Anne’s marriage to the king. At least Thomas didn’t plan for Anne to marry the king from the very beginning. 

There was a calculation and an intention to use what he could have and achieve what he could, but it wasn’t a cold-blooded, pure calculation of a father who didn’t care for his daughter but only wanted to selfishly use the king’s love for Anne for the advancement of himself and the family.

The infamous Imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys wrote to the emperor in February 1533, before he had heard news of the King’s marriage to Anne:

“I must add that the said earl of Wiltshire [Thomas Boleyn] has never declared himself up to this moment; on the contrary, he has hitherto, as the duke of Norfolk has frequently told me, tried to dissuade the King rather than otherwise from the marriage.”

Chapuys also wrote to his master:

“Shortly after the Duke [Norfolk] began to excuse himself and say that he had not been either the originator or promoter of this second marriage, but, on the contrary, had always been opposed to it, and tried to dissuade the King therefrom. Had it not been for him and for the father of the Lady, who feigned to be attacked by frenzy to have the better means of opposing it, the marriage would have been secretly contracted a year ago; and for this opposition (the Duke observed) the Lady had been exceedingly indignant with the one and the other.”

Even Chapuys, who hated Anne Boleyn with murderous hatred and despised the Boleyns, suggested in his letters to the emperor that Thomas Boleyn and Thomas Howard were not very fond of Anne’s marriage to the king. It is very likely that Norfolk actually was against the marriage at least because he was a devout Catholic and surely wasn’t fond of the break with the Roman Catholic Church, although he didn’t voice his opinion in public.

The Boleyns and the Howards used the benefits from Mary and Anne’s relationships with the king, but I reiterate that there is no proof that they schemed beforehand to set Mary and Anne into the king’s path – it just happened, and they understood the value and took full advantage of the opportunities presented.

There are no records that Thomas Boleyn tried to help his children after Anne and George were arrested. 

But we don’t know for certain that he did nothing because even if he did try to do something, it could have been either ignored by the king and his counselors or these records could have been lost over time. Maybe he chose to stay aside knowing that he could do nothing and just preferred to save his own skin, for it was clear that Anne and George were doomed.

Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, presided over Anne Boleyn’s trial and proclaimed her guilty while he himself is said to have been weeping. We don’t know whether Norfolk did really weep or not, but it looks like he was kind of relieved that Anne’s case was over – the sooner Anne was executed, the less the danger to lose the king’s favor was. Norfolk was a rich, powerful nobleman and a clever, calculating politician, and he didn’t want to lose royal favor

After the executions of Anne and her alleged lovers, he conveniently retired to his estates, perhaps to wait out a storm there and avoid being in the king’s sight for some time, until the events of the bloody May became bleaker in Henry’s memory and scandalous passions cooled off, being replaced by the king’s happy sentiments about his new wife.

In fact, the Duke of Norfolk didn’t lose royal favor and his power at the court: he became Edward VI’s godfather in October 1537 and was a commissioner at Queen Jane’s funeral in November 1537. Later, after Catherine Howard was executed, he was lucky to escape punishment as well.

However, fortune wheel turned against Norfolk in 1546 when he and his son Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, fell out of favor with Henry VIII. The two men were arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London after Surrey had used the royal arms in his own heraldry. Surrey was executed on a charge of high treason, but Norfolk narrowly escaped punishment just because Henry died and wasn’t able to sign his death warrant.

After Henry VIII’s death, the Duke of Norfolk was out of favor with King Edward VI. He spent years of Edward’s reign imprisoned in the Tower of London as a traitor. When the young king unexpectedly died, he was released from the Tower after the accession of Queen Mary to the English throne in 1553. He got back not only his freedom, but also his titles and lands. He was sent to deal with the rebels led by Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger. Norfolk died very soon after Mary’s accession but before her coronation.

Despite being a Catholic, the Duke of Norfolk was one of the king’s key men who successfully suppressed the rebellion of Roman Catholics in the north of England – the Pilgrimage of Grace. Later, when he assisted Mary in securing her throne, he set the first roots for coolness and alienation between his Catholic family and the Protestant royal line represented by Queen Elizabeth I. Definitely, Norfolk was unimpressed by the new ideas of the reformers and always remained a Catholic, even though he didn’t voice a public protest against launching the Reformation in England.

Mary, George, and Anne Boleyn were raised in the Catholic faith, learning Catholic traditions and practices. 

Yet, Anne and George were very passionate about the religious reforms in England. George Boleyn translated from French into English two magnificent religious texts as gifts for Anne, and he played an important role in the Reformation Parliament between its conception in late 1529 and his execution in May 1536. 

We know nothing about Mary’s role in the religious reforms, and perhaps she even had no desire to reform the church.

While it is true that Anne Boleyn was a reformer, whether she was a Lutheran, a Catholic, or a reformed humanist, and this has long become the matter of hot debates for historians.

Retha Warnicke says that Anne Boleyn was a Catholic because she supposedly said before her death “she would go to heaven for having done many good deeds, a works salvation to which Catholics hold. John Foxe calls Queen Anne a devout Protestant in his Acts and Monuments, defending her morals and her religious commitment to the Reformation in England. 

In some contemporary sources, mainly of Catholics origins, we can read that the only reason why Anne supported the Protestant Reformation in England was because she wanted Henry to get divorce from Catherine and become the king’s wife and Queen of England.

In his book “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”, Eric Ives wrote about Anne’s religious position:

“We have seen how Anne played a major part in pushing Henry into asserting his headship of the Church. That headship was not just a constitutional rejection of the primacy of Rome. It was, as Thomas More and others at the time were well aware, a change with profound implications, revolutionizing the ethos of Christianity in England. Yet over and beyond this, Anne was a strong supporter of religious reform – defined as we shall see later – and she was the first to demonstrate the potential there was in the royal supremacy for that distinctive element in the English Reformation, the monarch’s freedom to take the initiative in religious change. Whatever the chances were of any grass-roots movement for reform on this side of the Channel, it made all the difference when the impetus towards change came from the highest level in the land. Brief though Anne’s influence was, it was a thousand days of support for reform from the throne itself. And hindsight can say more. The breach in the dyke of tradition which she encouraged and protected made the flood first of reformed, and later of more specifically Protestant Christianity, unstoppable. Catholic hatred of Anne damned her for the break with Rome and for the entrance of heresy into England. It was right on both counts.”

Thomas Boleyn was keenly interested in the reform doctrines. He played his own role in the Reformation in England too, and he helped to advance the reforms in England through his diplomatic missions. For example, some historians think that he used his connections abroad to smuggle heretical literature in England. He could also be in constant contact with French reformers of his days.

In her book “Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England’s Tragic Queen”, Joanna Denny write:

Thomas Boleyn was a firm advocate of the “New Religion”. He imported dangerous tracts that could have led to his condemnation as a heretic, one of which he translated and dedicated to his daughter Anne. He commissioned works from Erasmus, who wrote a commentary for him on Psalm 23 and called him “egregie eruditus“, outstandingly learned.”

It is true that the Boleyns – both the young and old generation of the Boleyns – displayed interest in the Reformation in England. We just know nothing about Mary Boleyn’s religious beliefs. 

As for Elizabeth Boleyn, the mother of Anne, Mary, and George, I think that she was a Catholic because she was a Howard by blood. Yet, it is also possible that Elizabeth could have been influenced by the new religious ideas as her husband Thomas, her son George, and her daughter Anne were reformers.

The Howards were indeed Catholics. The Dukes of Norfolk remained loyal to the Roman Catholic Church and did not attend Church of England – they are known as recusants.

As for the relations between the Boleyns and the Howards, I think that all their connections and deals were mainly of political nature. They cooperated as members of Private Council and courtiers who were high in Henry VIII’s favor and had power. Their true religious interests – what they had in hearts and what they really believed in – were different, though in public everyone, including Catholics, supported the religious reforms and the break with Rome just because Henry VIII favored the Reformation and his subjects had to support their king or lose their titles and estates, or probably even lives.

Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, remained a staunch Catholic, but he did nothing to stop the religious reforms in England as it wasn’t beneficial for him and as it was just stupid to go against the king’s  desires, dangerous for his life. Thomas Boleyn was influenced by the new religious ideas, and it seems that his true religious believes could have been quite pro-Protestant, in contrast to Norfolk’s real beliefs.

Yet, these two men worked together as the king’s counselors and his courtiers just because their political interests coincided at one point in time and because they craved to remain in the king’s favor and accumulate power. 

Adherents of various religious groups can work together and set aside their religious differences on political arena, and it doesn’t mean that they should become friends. It was exactly the case of the Howards and the Boleyns.


www.theanneboleynfiles.com, Claire Ridgway’s blog

The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives

Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England’s Tragic Queen, Joanna Denny

Eustace Chapuys’ correspondence with the emperor


♔ After a lifelong struggle to give England an heir, Henry’s glorious successor was not a son, but a daughter. Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, came to the throne in 1558, and ruled England for 45 years. She was the last of the great Tudor dynasty, a bright star who dazzled both the nation, and the world. And the achievement of Gloriana, the great Queen of England, still lives on to this day.

  • “I do assure you, there is no Prince that loves his subjects better. There is no jewel, be it of so rich a price, which I place before this jewel; I mean your love. And though you may have many mightier and wiser Princes sitting in this seat, yet you never had, nor shall have, any that will love you better.”

natalie dormer appreciation week

day one: natalie + role(s) → anne boleyn (the tudors)
“Anne was that rare phenomenon, a self-made woman. But then, this became her demise. The machinations of court were an absolute minefield for women. And she was a challenging personality, who wouldn’t be quiet and shut up when she had something to say. This was a woman who wasn’t raised in the English court, but in the Hapsburg and French courts. And she was quite a fiery woman and incredibly intelligent. So she stood out – fire and intelligence and boldness – in comparison to the English roses that were flopping around court. And Henry noticed that. So all the reasons that attracted [Henry] to her, and made her queen and a mother, were all the things that then undermined her position. What she had that was so unique for a woman at that time was also her undoing.


Katherine of Aragon / Mother of Mary I of England
Anne Boleyn / Mother of Elizabeth I of England
Jane Seymour / Mother of Edward VI of England