Anne Boleyn is one of history’s villains. So why do we love her so much?

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Maybe it was ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’’.  ‘The Tudors’ probably packed a punch.  It could just be the natural fascination we all have with tales of triumph that turn to disaster.  But whatever the reason, Anne Boleyn is loved by 21st century history geeks.

I guess her courtship with Henry had all the great ingredients of a classic love story – and her downfall the perfect tragedy.  She captures the imagination of the romantic, and as Alison Weir notes, in our 21st century mindset, she has reached the status of ‘celebrity’.

She deserves our interests – maybe even our fascination.  But should she really command our love?

Let’s recap for a minute.  This is a woman who ruthlessly forced a devout and caring woman off the throne and did her level best to ensure that she was treated as badly as possible for the remainder of her life.  As Queen she did all she could to see the Lady Mary, Catherine of Aragon’s daughter humbled and harmed.  If anyone got in her way, she destroyed them.

I’m not sure I’d want a girl like that for a friend.

Perhaps we’re reacting to centuries of Anne being treated unfairly.  The ruthless ‘qualities’ that allowed her to prosper were much admired in men.  Indeed, the equally savage Henry VIII has gone down in history as one of England’s greatest Kings.  And of course, the (almost certainly) false charges levied against her have meant that previous generations regarded her as a sexually perverse harlot.

Her intelligence, her cunning and her determination now receive much greater recognition from historians.  This is positive.  But am I the only one that thinks there’s something freakishly ironic about how the blogsphere fawns over Anne as if she’s some kind of tragic heroine.  If the character of Anne Boleyn was cast on Eastenders she would be seen as far worse than a soap bitch.  She would be hounded as an undisputable villain.

Okay Boleyn fans…are you going to let me get away this this?  Show me where I’m going wrong.

7 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn is one of history’s villains. So why do we love her so much?

    1. I think you are right. I wondered how the fact was overlooked about the Queen and her daughter that were reportedly treated so badly at her command. Then I read somewhere that she even asked God’s forgiveness for her sins against them right before her death. That Karma is a real thing.

  1. I do not believe Anne was a villain at all. Henry was. Anne could of never been able to be queen and force Katherine out of her place if Henry hadnt given her the power to do so. If it wasn’t Anne it would of been some other woman bcuz Henry wanted a son. He got rid of Katherine bcuz she couldn’t give him one and he hoped a younger woman could. I’ll never believe she deserved to die just because Henry was angry, embarrassed and the laughing stock of Christendom over his actions. I put it all on him. She’s loved because she was courageous, outspoken, a trendsetter all the things that a woman was not supposed to be during that time frame and she died unjustly based on fabricated lies.

    1. I certainly agree that Henry is the biggest villain. But I don’t think Anne can be absolved of all responsibility for her treatment of Katherine and Mary…

  2. Show me the historical facts that state it was Anne who ordered Katharine’s poor treatment? Show me the orders with her signature on it that kept Mary away from her mother; show me how Mary’s treatment got better immediately following Anne’s execution. Oh wait, that’s because it was Henry’s orders. Henry who kept his first wife and daughter apart, Henry who continued to harass and even threaten Mary with death until she submitted to him. I’ll admit that Anne had her flaws and wasn’t always the kindest person but she made attempts to reach out to Mary and it was Mary who rebuffed her and Henry who was responsible for her treatment. He was the king and knew his own mind; he wasn’t some easily manipulated child. The whole let’s blame the other woman thing is old and tired.

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