art history · english history · history

Will the real Anne Boleyn please stand up?

Why are we so fascinated to know what a woman who lived centuries ago truly looked like and why this particular woman? In the media, Anne Boleyn has been characterized in three different ways. She has been romanticized and sexualized, she has been portrayed as a cold-hearted witch, and she has been portrayed as a martyr/victim of a tyrannical king. This seems unfair to a real woman who actually lived and had many of the same stresses as we do.

She is so fascinating to us because we all want to know how she kept the rapt attention of Henry VIII for seven long years (without becoming his mistress) in order to achieve marriage and queenship. Henry was so enamored by this woman that the Imperial ambassador in England recorded that “The King cannot leave her for an hour.” Henry was risking excommunication and war for this one woman. Continue reading “Will the real Anne Boleyn please stand up?”