Six Tudor Queens, Anne Boleyn, A King’s Obsession
Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived: the wives of Henry VIII. This is the second of Weir’s “six volumes, six years” about the first beheaded – Anne Boleyn – but what more is there to say? Plenty. Anne leaves dreary family seat Hever Castle with feminist fire in her belly. Her father has secured her a position as one of 18 ladies-in-waiting at the Netherlands court of thoroughly modern Margaret of Austria, her library filled with women’s works. Subsequent placing at the Paris court of the King of France’s liberated sister, Marguerite, spurs delighted Anne further. When elder sister and lady-in-waiting Mary is raped by Henry VIII, their father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, receives a promotion and observes “it did her no harm”. Anne pales and relents when obsessive Henry pursues her, caught as she is in malevolent crossfire. Yet courageous Anne still burns with ambition. Weir scatters a trail of naïve Anne’s early carelessness, which leads to accusations of adultery. It took six years for law to allow them to marry, three years for the “King’s Obsession” to mount the scaffold.