Anne Boleyn’s Family Tree
Here is Anne Boleyn’s Family Tree.
The young woman who changed the course of history.
Fresh from the palaces of Burgundy and France, Anne Boleyn draws attention at the English court, embracing the play of courtly love. But when the King commands, nothing is ever a game.
Yet Anne has a spirit worthy of a crown – and the crown is what she seeks, at any price. And as she embarks on her perilous course, a kingdom risks being torn apart.
The second of Henry’s queens. Her story.
History tells us why she died.
This powerful novel shows her as she lived.
Her skin was rather sallow, Anne thought as she studied herself in the
silver mirror, and she had too many moles, but at least her face was a
fashionable oval. At eleven she had no womanly figure to speak of, but
that hopefully would change in the next year or so. Mary, after all, was
already buxom at thirteen.
She drew back, considering herself. People had often said, within her
hearing, that Mary was the more beautiful of the two Boleyn sisters.
Yet they were both brunettes, with long glossy hair, high cheekbones
and pointed chins, and both slender and graceful, for the deportment
fit for royal courts had been drummed into them. So what was it that
made a girl beautiful? What made the arrangement of Mary’s features
better than hers? It had begun to bother Anne, now that she was
growing up and was constantly being enjoined to prepare herself for
a glorious future in which royal favour and a wealthy husband of rank
Maybe it was the moles and the sallow skin. The sallowness could be
rectified by a lotion of powdered egg whites and alum. At least she had
a pretty mouth, and the black eyes that her Grandmother Butler always
said were her best feature.
‘And you know already how to use them for effect, child.’ Anne had
not quite understood what that meant, but then Grandmother was
Irish and a little fey and often said some startling things. Everyone
tolerated it because she had been a great heiress and one of the chief
sources of the family fortunes.
Anne propped up the mirror on a chest and twirled in front of it.
She did look good in the green gown, which made her waist seem so
slender. The dark colour became her too. The only thing that was wrong
was the cut of the sleeves, which were tight to the wrist and did not
cover the deformity of which she was always so painfully aware. She was
forever curling it into her palm, the little finger of her right hand, so
that none should see the tiny extra nail. If only she could have a gown
with hanging sleeves that would cover it! But Mother said it was foolish
to worry about such a little thing. It was not a little thing to Anne, and
it had loomed larger than ever since the day when Mary, bested in one
of their interminable arguments, had called it a witch’s mark.
Anne pushed the hateful memory aside. She would not dwell on it
on this beautiful late-summer day. She had a free hour before her lesson
with the chaplain, and was determined to waste not a minute of it. In a
trice she had summoned her maid, changed into her everyday worsted,
descended the stairs and crossed the stone drawbridge across the castle
moat; then she picked up her skirts and ran through the gardens into
the meadows by the River Eden, where she loved to wander.
From here she had a grand view of moated Hever Castle, her family’s
seat, and the lush wooded Kentish countryside that cradled it. But
of greater interest was the sight of her beloved brother George lying
sprawled in the grass, twanging his lute, his dark brown hair tousled,
his clothes crumpled.
‘They are looking for you indoors,’ she told him, kneeling down.
‘You should be at your books. You’ll be beaten if you don’t go back.’
George grinned up at her. ‘I had an idea for a song. Listen!’
He played well for a boy of nine, and his composition had the
sophistication one would have expected from someone far older. He
was gifted, this brother of hers. He could make his mark as a musician
if he did not carve out a career at court, as their father expected.
They had always been close, Anne and George. They looked alike
and thought alike.
‘I know, I know – I can’t spend my days making music and writing
poetry,’ he sighed, mimicking Father’s voice.
‘Much good it would do you! And in the end you would not be
satisfied. It would never be enough for you. So stop playing truant.
Father Davy is livid.’
For all her mock reproof, she felt sorry for George. She knew how
deeply it gnawed at him, being the youngest of three sons. It was
sixteen-year-old Thomas who would inherit Hever and all their father’s
lands and wealth – and it was Thomas who, to George’s envy, had been
sent to the household of the mighty Duke of Buckingham at nearby
Penshurst to learn courtly manners and the martial arts, which would
befit him for the glorious future that awaited him. And then there was
clever Henry, twelve years old and destined for the university at Oxford,
since Father had decided to dedicate him to the Church – and save
himself the burden of having to provide for him. There had been other
sons too, but they slept in St Peter’s Church, to their mother’s great
grief. Anne had never got used to the appalling sight of her tiny dead
siblings lying in their cradles, all decked out in macabre finery, to
receive the final prayers and farewells of their family.
Lady Boleyn doted on George, her youngest, more than she did on
Thomas and Henry. But in George’s breast there burned a fierce
resentment against his older brothers. Unlike them, he must make his
own way in the world. Father reminded him of it often.
Given her rivalry with Mary, and George’s envy of their older
brothers, Anne often felt that it was a case of her and George, the two
youngest Boleyns, against the world. Because she did not have looks
and he was not the heir, they had pulled together since they were very
little. Some took them for twins.
‘Come on!’ she commanded, pulling him up, and together they
raced back to the castle.
Father Davy was waiting for them as they sped across the courtyard
and tumbled into Father’s new entrance hall. Their tutor was a rotund
little man with a merry face and cheeks rosy as apples.
‘Ah, you’ve deigned to grace us with your presence,’ he said to
George. ‘And mightily timely too, for we’ve just had word that your
father is expected home this evening, and we wouldn’t want to greet
him with the news that you’re in disgrace, would we?’
‘No, Father Davy.’ George was trying to look contrite.
‘Mistress Anne, you may join us,’ Father Davy said. ‘You can set an
example to this young knave.’
‘Where’s Mary?’ George asked, rolling his eyes.
‘Reading,’ said Father Davy. ‘I have given her a book on kings and
queens. It will improve her mind.’ It was no secret that he had almost
given up on Mary.
Anne followed them into the private parlour used by the family in
the evenings, and sat down at the oak table. She knew she was fortunate,
being a girl, to receive a good education. Father had very advanced
ideas, but then he was always concerned that his children should do
well in life – which, of course, would reflect favourably on him.
Accomplished in foreign tongues himself – which was why he had been
away these last weeks at the court of the Regent of the Netherlands at
Mechlin in the Duchy of Burgundy – he was particularly anxious that
his sons and daughters become proficient too.
Anne struggled with French, despite excelling at everything else.
Mary was good at French, but dismal in all other respects. Anne could
compose passable poetry and songs, thanks to Father Davy being a
famous composer of church music and a gifted teacher. Mary battled,
murdering her lute; it did not help that she was tone deaf. Anne danced
gracefully; Mary galumphed about the floor. Anne sang like a lark;
Mary’s voice was flat. But Mary had the looks, everyone said, so it
didn’t matter that she was an idiot. Most men would not see beyond
her beauty and the dowry Father could give her. Thus it did not matter
that, when the time for lessons arrived, she was rarely to be found.
Most of the daughters of the local gentry in the Boleyns’ circle could
barely wield a pen, Anne reflected, as her quill traced her graceful
Italianate hand across the paper. Today’s exercise was composing a
letter in French, which was a challenge, but she was determined to
persevere. She enjoyed learning for its own sake, and revelled in the
praise Father Davy lavished on her.
From the kitchens nearby they could hear a great clatter and
commotion. The household was preparing for the return of its master,
and Mother would be giving orders and inspecting the cooking pots,
much to the cook’s ill-concealed annoyance. There would be a feast
tonight, Anne thought happily.
Dressed in the new green gown, Anne stole a peep at the great hall,
where the tables had been beautifully laid with snowy-white linen. The
best silver was set out on the high table above the great gilt salt, with
polished pewter on the lower trestles set at right angles to it. Banks of
greenery trailed along the centre of the boards, interspersed with candles
and ewers of wine. Hever was a small castle, and the hall not large
compared to some she had seen, but it was sufficiently grand for an upand-
coming diplomat and favourite of the King, with its great stone
fireplace and imposing carved screen. The early evening sunshine cast a
golden glow through the tall windows set high in the thick walls,
reflecting its jewel-like glints on the impressive display of family plate
on the buffet and the expensive wall hangings. Father liked to impress
his neighbours with his wealth. They were all coming tonight: the
Wyatts from Allington, the Sackvilles from Buckhurst Park and
the Hautes from Ightham Mote.
Normally the family dined in the parlour, seated at the long polished
table. It was a cosy room, its walls adorned with wainscots of oak and
painted friezes, and hung with another of the costly tapestries of which
Father was inordinately proud. But that was all familiar and commonplace;
feasting in the great hall was an occasion, and Anne was impatient
for it to begin.
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SIX TUDOR QUEENS. SIX NOVELS. SIX YEARS.
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In all the romancing, has anyone regarded the evidence that Anne Boleyn did not love Henry VIII? Or that Prince Arthur, Katherine of Aragon’s first husband, who is said to have loved her in fact cared so little for her that he willed his personal effects to his sister? Or that Henry VIII, an over-protected child and teenager, was prudish when it came to sex? That Jane Seymour, usually portrayed as Henry’s one true love, had the makings of a matriarch? There is much to reveal …Read extract
The idea of writing a series of six novels about the wives of Henry VIII came suddenly to me as I was discussing another proposal with my agent. It was an obvious choice, for I have studied Henry’s queens over several decades, and published books on them, notably a collective biography in 1991, which I am now re-researching and rewriting.
The lives of the six wives make for dramatic stories. The extensive research I have done has afforded new insights into their lives. In all the romancing, for example, has anyone noticed the evidence that tells us what Anne Boleyn felt about being pursued by Henry VIII? Or that Henry VIII, an overprotected teenager, was prudish when it came to sex? I could go on…
I want to seek out the truths that lie behind the historical evidence and, for this, fiction is a versatile medium because it offers scope to develop ideas that have no place in a history book, but which can help to illuminate the lives of these queens. A historian uses such inventiveness at her peril – but a novelist has the power to get inside her heroine’s head, which can afford insights that would not be permissible to a historian, yet can have a legitimate value of their own – although I believe that the fictionalised version must be compatible with what is known about the subject.
Arthur: Prince of the Roses by bestselling historian Alison Weir is an e-short and companion piece to her stunning novel, Katherine of Aragon, the first in a spellbinding six-novel series about Henry VIII’s Queens. Fans of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick will love this insight into the story of this illfated Tudor prince.
‘You are the first prince of my line, the Tudor line.’
Arthur, the first Tudor prince, is raised to believe that he will inherit a kingdom destined to be his through an ancient royal bloodline. He is the second Arthur, named for the legendary hero-king of Camelot.
To be a worthy ruler, he must excel at everything – and show no weakness. But Arthur is not strong, and the hopes of England weigh heavy on his slight shoulders. And, all the while, his little brother Harry, the favoured, golden son, is waiting in the wings.
Alison Weir is the top-selling female historian (and the fifth best-selling historian overall) in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 2.7 million books worldwide. She has published seventeen history books, including The Six Wives of Henry VIII, The Princes in the Tower, Elizabeth the Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry VIII: King and Court, Katherine Swynford, The Lady in the Tower and Elizabeth of York. Alison has also published five historical novels, including Innocent Traitor and The Lady Elizabeth. Her latest biography is The Lost Tudor Princess, about Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox. She is soon to publish Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen, the first in a series of novels about the wives of Henry VIII. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Life Patron of Historic Royal Palaces, and is married with two adult children.
Alison Weir is the top-selling female historian in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 2.7 million books worldwide. She has published seventeen history books, including Elizabeth the Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Lady in the Tower and Elizabeth of York, and five historical novels. Her latest biography is The Lost Tudor Princess. She is soon to publish Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen, the first in a series of novels about the wives of Henry VIII.