The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Politics at the Court of Henry VIII (Canto) Paperback – 26 Jul 1991
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'… succeeds triumphantly … this is an intriguing thesis, and Warnicke develops it with erudition.' The Observer
'The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn … an excellent book, clears away various misapprehensions.' The Times Higher Education Supplement
The events which led to the execution of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second queen, in 1536 have traditionally been explained by historians in terms of a factional conspiracy masterminded by Henry's minister Thomas Cromwell. Retha Warnicke's fascinating and controversial reinterpretation focuses instead on the sexual intrigues and family politics pervading the court, offering a new explanation of Anne's fall.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It has to be said that for the first part of the book, Warnicke is remarkably successful. She convincingly demonstrates that the current historical belief that Anne Boleyn was born sometime around 1501 is incorrect, and that the more likely date is 1507. Similarly, few can dispute her arguments that refute the age-old rumours of certain deformities (namely the infamous sixth finger/extra nail and warts.) However, it is in her assessment of Anne Boleyn's demise that Professor Warnicke disappoints.
Her entire thesis is based on the assumption that Anne Boleyn gave birth to a deformed foetus in early 1536, something that led to her arrest on charges of witchcraft, incest and adultery in May of that year. She also alleges that the men arrested with her were known homosexuals, something that allowed their 16th-century contemporaries to accuse them of gross sexual indecency. However, there is almost no evidence at all that Anne Boleyn's "lovers" were homosexuals, indeed some of them were active womanisers. The evidence for the deformed foetus idea is also disappointingly scarce, and Warnicke bases much of her idea on 'ifs' and a kind of 'if A happened, then B,C,D and E must also have happened' mentality, often disregarding evidence that she finds inconvienient. She latches onto a comment made in the virulently anti-Boleyn work of Nicolas Sander, who Warnicke spent the rest of her book discrediting (and very convincingly, it has to be said.Read more ›
She also asks us to believe that Anne became the accomplished courtier she was whilst still in the nursery.
Retha Warnicke also asks us to believe that a deformed foetus was the reason Anne was disposed of and that Anne and Cromwell were never in alliance. Other biographies I have read completely contradict this fact.
I could recommend better books about the life of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives "The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn: The Most Happy" is one of the best I have read. Don't buy this if you are new to the period-it will mislead you.
Whilst it is true that Warnicke's famous "deformed foetus" theory is largely unconvincing, it does not necessarily follow that all of her work is subsequently invalid. Certainly, some of her findings can be queried, but "The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn" remains an interesting and thought-provoking academic account of Boleyn's life and career. Refreshingly, Warnicke places far more emphasis on gender and aristocratic culture than other academics and anyone interested in studying Henry VIII's second wife should not rush to discount this book too quickly. With its dense, academic tone this is certainly not a book for beginners, but by focusing on the entirety of Anne's life from her early-century birth to her execution in 1536, Warnicke does enough to unsettle the firmly-entrenched narrative of Anne's life that was seemingly established by academics writing in the early 1980s. She suggests that, at the very least, there is still room for debate and that further research is required on some key areas of the period. It is not necessary to accept some of the more controversial elements of Professor Warnicke's theories in order to appreciate this book. Fascinating and thorough, even when unconvincing, it is an essential part of the modern debate over the sixteenth-century monarchy and upper-classes.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well, you simply have to read this book which has come to represent the most hotly contested and ridiculed thesis in Tudor history writings. Read morePublished on 15 July 2014 by globerose
This book on Anne Boleyn is has little to recommend it. The book is littered with historical inaccuracies (for example: it has now been proven that Anne WAS born in 1501 NOT 1507)... Read morePublished on 6 Jun. 2006 by Chris Warne
I enjoyed this book and it was interesting. The only downside to it, is that the author I felt was very bias towards Anne. Read morePublished on 14 July 2003 by Ms. Gayle Mcmartin
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