Guest post: The Anne Boleyn Papers by Elizabeth Norton

Today we have a special treat: a Guest Post from acclaimed historian and author, Elizabeth Norton. Elizabeth’s books are always delightful and well researched, and today you have a chance to win one in my give-away.  The paperback version of Elizabeth Norton’s “The Anne Boleyn Papers” (previously published in hardback as “Anne Boleyn: In Her Own Words & the Words of Those Who Knew Her”) is up for grabs. Leave a comment under this article, or any other article on my blog; winner will be chosen from among everyone who will leave their comments here. The Anne Boleyn Papers by Elizabeth Norton Anne Boleyn has been the subject of countless biographies, novels, films and plays. It seems like we know her – the French educated...

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Bessie Blount by Elizabeth Norton

Elizabeth Blount, known as Bessie, was Henry VIII’s mistress and mother of his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy. She is a subject of Elizabeth Norton’s meticulously researched biography Bessie Blount: The King’s Mistress kindly sent to me by Amberley Publishing. What do we know about Bessie Blount? There is no surviving portrait of Bessie; the long-haired beauty that decorates the book’s cover is Anna Meyer, a young daughter of the former mayor of Basel. No one seems to have noted what Bessie looked like, or if they did no description survives. As Elizabeth Norton points out on the first page, her book is a reconstruction of a life rather than a full biography because Bessie left so little behind her. There is, however a surprising amount of information...

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The Boleyn girls: Sisters and rivals?

In September 1534, Mary Carey – Anne Boleyn’s sister – was banished from court. Imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, wrote: “The Lady’s sister was also banished from Court three months ago, but it was necessary to do so, for besides that she had been found guilty of misconduct (malefice), it would not have been becoming to see her at Court enceinte [pregnant].” [1] The word which caught my attention is ‘malefice’. In original, French version (Chapus was writing in French, not in Spanish), this excerpt reads as: “La soeur de la dite dame a aussi este puis trois mois bannye de la court, mais il convenoit ainsi fere, car oultre quelle avoit este trouve[e] en malefice, il neust este honnorable ne duisaut la veoir ensaincte (enceinte) par...

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Anne Boleyn’s wen, projecting tooth and witchcraft charges

Recently I’ve been reading a lot about “witch-craze” that swept through Europe during the Early Modern period (from about 1480 to 1750) so expect to see more witchcraft-related posts here. How about a “witchcraft week”? Sounds good to me! As you recall, Anne Boleyn’s name is often linked to witchcraft. Some historians, like Retha M. Warnicke, believe that accusations of witchcraft were attached to Anne Boleyn’s name; some, like Eric Ives believe that there is no link between Anne’s fall and accusations of witchcraft whatsoever. Many books, Nora Lofts’s for instance, state that Anne’s witchcraft is an undisputed fact. Where does it all stem from? In my previous article from this series I have written that although some contemporaries mentioned...

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Anne Boleyn, witchcraft charges and missing trial papers

Was Anne Boleyn charged with witchcraft? Was she ever accused of dabbling into “dark arts”? Well, that’s a rather tricky question! First, lets’ see what primary sources have to say about Anne Boleyn in relation to witchcraft: 1. When Anne was still pregnant in January 1536, Henry VIII said he was “seduced by witchcraft/sortileges & charms”. (LP, X, note 199) 2. In 1532 Charles V’s envoy “suggested that the King must have been charmed by potions, or otherwise” while discussing Anne Boleyn’s role in Henry VIII’s nullity suit. (LP, V, note 114.) 3. Anne herself believed in Merlin’s ancient prophecies (“the Queen shall be burnt”), which were closely connected to witchcraft. She was also a very superstitious lady. (Spanish Calendar,...

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