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Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn…
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Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and the Marriage That Shook Europe (edition 2023)

by John Guy (Author)

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Based on new research, this history of Henry VIII's courtship, short union, and brutal execution of Anne Boleyn provides dispels previously held myths about Boleyn's role in the marriage.
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Title:Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and the Marriage That Shook Europe
Authors:John Guy (Author)
Info:Bloomsbury Publishing (2023), 624 pages
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Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the Marriage That Shook Europe by John Guy

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The life of Anne Boleyn life was utterly remarkable, but it was not destined to be so. Initially the future queen seemed set for a conventional life as an upper class lady-about-court who might expect to marry into the nobility. What made the difference in Anne’s case was the time she spent in France at the court of Queen Claude. Arriving in 1515, Anne stayed at the French court for seven years. Whether or not Anne’s experiences in France made her particularly attractive to the men at the Henrician court on her return, we can only speculate. We have no evidence of what she did in France. Acknowledging that French court culture was richer than its English equivalent is about as far as we can go. What we do know is that Anne returned to England in 1521 and that sometime around 1525-26 – scholars have offered ingenious, but uncompelling, arguments for the precise dates – Henry fell passionately in love with her, as his letters show. Not only did she become his only mistress, Henry was prepared to break with Rome to secure her as his legitimate wife and queen.

That all makes for a substantial – and very well known – tale, but there was of course more. Three years after the break with Rome, Anne Boleyn and her alleged lovers (one of whom was her own brother, George, Lord Rochford) were accused and convicted of treason, adulteries and incest. It was a truly astonishing turn of events. One might say you could not make it up, but for the fact that many have suggested that either Henry, or his chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, did just that.

With a story this well known, and argued about for centuries, how should the modern historian approach Anne’s extraordinary life? In his 1986 biography, Eric Ives presented Anne as a leading player among factional rivalries. In my own Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions (2012), I adopted a forensic approach, comparable to that of a judge probing and then giving his verdict. The method chosen by John Guy and Julia Fox in this fine new study is to focus on narrative, adopting a biographical approach in which Anne’s story hurtles relentlessly forward towards her tragic end. The book is executed with consummate skill. As an exercise in storytelling, it is a formidable achievement.

Read the rest of the review at HistoryToday.com.

George W. Bernard is Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Southampton. His latest book is Who Ruled Tudor England: Paradoxes of Power (Bloomsbury, 2021).
  HistoryToday | Oct 24, 2023 |
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Based on new research, this history of Henry VIII's courtship, short union, and brutal execution of Anne Boleyn provides dispels previously held myths about Boleyn's role in the marriage.

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