I love a bit of history and if there’s intrigue involved all the better! Today I’m delighted to share the opening of a book waiting for me on my TBR pile – Anne Boleyn: 500 Years of Lies by Hayley Nolan. My enormous thanks to Martina Ticic at Midas PR for sending me a copy of the book that I hope to review very soon and for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.
Anne Boleyn: 500 Years of Lies is available for purchase in all the usual places including here.
Anne Boleyn: 500 Years of Lies
A bold new analysis of one of history’s most misrepresented women.
History has lied.
Anne Boleyn has been sold to us as a dark figure, a scheming seductress who bewitched Henry VIII into divorcing his queen and his church in an unprecedented display of passion. Quite the tragic love story, right?
In this electrifying exposé, Hayley Nolan explores for the first time the full, uncensored evidence of Anne Boleyn’s life and relationship with Henry VIII, revealing the shocking suppression of a powerful woman.
So leave all notions of outdated and romanticised folklore at the door and forget what you think you know about one of the Tudors’ most notorious queens. She may have been silenced for centuries, but this urgent book ensures Anne Boleyn’s voice is being heard now.
An Extract from Anne Boleyn: 500 Years of Lies
The Part They Don’t Tell You
For most people, Anne Boleyn simply appeared at the Tudor court one day, an ice-hearted villain, ready to smarm and smirk her way into history. Yet there is an incredibly valid reason writers tend to brush over Anne’s early life, and that’s because it contradicts and spectacularly ruins the whole ‘scheming seductress’ image we’ve been repeatedly fed.
However, these aren’t just the revelations that have come to light in recent decades of a strict upbringing at the hands of several pious, powerhouse European monarchs – although this was indeed a long overdue, truthful counterargument to sixteenth-century propaganda that had Anne practically raised as a courtesan in the sex-driven boudoirs of the French courts. Not that even this admission of virtue would cause modern historians to stop and question how such an honourable upbringing could produce a depraved schemer who would soon stalk the halls of the Tudor court. In fact, it only served to add a delicious new element to their juicy story: that of the good girl gone bad.
But no, as it turns out, Anne’s childhood was more monumental than the mere fact that she was nurtured in the royal courts of the Low Countries and France; for she grew up in the pulsating heart of the religious Reformation. This meant that far from simply attending a finishing school that churned out well-bred young ladies brought up to honour and obey, Anne was taught instead to fight back against the questionable authority of Rome by the very activists who kick-started the Reformation.
This ‘fierce intelligence’ Anne was later said to possess was not used to outwit and bring down petty rivals at the royal court, but to join a war that was brewing across the whole of Europe. This was the rousing religious climate in which Anne thrived and became a passionate fighter for those who had not been afforded the same privileges in life as she; those who had not yet understood that they were being suppressed by what many saw as the all-dominating authority of the Church.
It’s only when we delve into Anne’s world during the vital years in which she entered adulthood – the people she grew up with, the court influences and hot topics debated daily – that we can truly grasp how laughable it is to say that she returned to England an unscrupulous temptress whose sole aim in life was to be flirty, frivolous and to frolic with kings.
Of course, even when taking her story back to the innocent years of her childhood, we have to wade through an onslaught of eye-roll-inducing lies. The obvious one we should get out of the way first is that Anne was banished abroad as punishment in adulthood. Contrary to what has been depicted in recent novels and movies, she was in fact sent on a prestigious placement as a child.
However, it would appear this lie wasn’t plucked entirely out of thin air and was inspired by sixteenth-century propagandist Nicholas Sander. One of his stories is that Anne was sent away to France after her father caught her in bed with both the family butler and chaplain at her childhood home of Hever Castle in Kent. Anne was only fifteen years old when this illicit debauchery was meant to have taken place, following which we’re supposed to believe that her father sent his disgraced daughter to one of the most distinguished courts in Europe, that of Archduchess Margaret of Austria, which Thomas Boleyn frequented as a special envoy representing the king of England.
It makes perfect sense to risk Anne continuing her alleged sexual exploits in the legendary imperial court, where she could bring shame on not just the Boleyn family and the English monarchy, but her new mistress, Archduchess Margaret, daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, governess of the Low Countries, who was charged with overseeing the education of her nephew, the future King Charles V of Spain.[i]
Need I really point out the improbability of this claim? Not likely. Particularly as we’d have to also overlook the fact that Anne had been living in France for two years by the time this scandal was meant to have taken place back in England. Ah.
[i] Elizabeth Norton, The Anne Boleyn Papers, Intro, p.9.
Now isn’t that intriguing? I’m very much looking forward to reading this book!
About Haley Nolan
Hayley Nolan is the historical researcher, writer and presenter of hit social media mini-series The History Review, which reached 3 million viewers in its first year. She also produces and fronts the spin-off iTunes podcast of the same name.
Hayley’s work has led her to partner with some of the country’s most respected historical organisations, including the Houses of Parliament for the 2017 General Election, the National Archives of the UK Government, Historic Royal Palaces including the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace, Royal Museums Greenwich, the English Heritage site of Henry VIII’s home, Eltham Palace, and Anne Boleyn’s childhood homes of Hever Castle and the Château Royal de Blois.
A graduate of London’s prestigious Royal Court Theatre Young Writers Programme, Hayley further trained in scriptwriting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
Hayley was born on the edge of England’s Peak District, and at the age of twelve moved to France, where she grew up in Bordeaux and Chamonix. She now lives in London.
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