Despite what Phillipa Gregory would have us believe, their reputation was largely undeserved. The Boleyns were no better or worse than any of the other ruthless, ambitious families at the English court during the 16th, or any other, century.
The charges against Anne Boleyn (witchcraft, adultery, and incest) are widely recognized by historians as being fabricated by Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell to remove an inconvenient wife.
There have long been rumors that Henry fathered children with Mary Boleyn, but there is no surviving evidence that can actually prove this. Henry acknowledged other bastards during his reign, so it stands to reason that the rumors about Mary and her children were likely just rumors.
Its worth noting that during this time, sleeping with the sibling of someone you have also had sex with was considered a form of incest. It is precisely the reason why Henry was able to convince himself that his first marriage was not valid (his wife being his brother's widow), and would have been a much less humiliating reason for Henry to divorce Anne than the adultery, witchcraft and incest ( allegedly with her brother George) charges that were eventually produced. If it had been true, it would very likely have been exploited by Henry at the time.
The changes during Henry's reign were earth shaking. The Protestant Reformation was already under way when Henry met Anne, and neither had intended what eventually happened when the English Church broke from Rome. But the divorce from Katherine of Aragon and remarriage to Anne Boleyn was the catalyst that eventually allowed Protestantism to entirely supplant the Catholic Church in England. Anne, already hated for how she pushed aside a beloved queen, soon became associated with the cataclysmic changes she, as a quasi-Protestant and protagonist in the political drama, had helped to create in England.
history phd student and Tudor buff.
· 9 years ago