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.