Anne Boleyn is one of the most polarizing of England’s queens consort. In her own time, she had ardent supporters and committed enemies. Ever since her life and death in the 16th century, historians and cultural representations have portrayed Anne as a devout religious reformer, a blindly ambitious social climber, a heartless homewrecker, and everything in between. The story of the real woman is often lost.
This year marks the 500th anniversary of Anne’s debut in the court of Henry VIII. Tudor scholar and historian Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger takes this opportunity to explore Anne’s life and death and the ways she has been depicted over the years. She traces her story from the younger daughter of an increasingly powerful family, to a lady-in-waiting to three queens, to the wife of Henry VIII and the mother of the future Elizabeth I, and finally to the first queen of England to be beheaded in the Tower of London.
Lloyd-Stanger considers Anne’s lengthy and complicated relationship with Henry VIII as well as those with the power brokers of the English and French courts. She analyzes her role in the religious and social upheavals of Tudor England and examines her impact on the reign of Elizabeth I, which went far beyond the short time she spent with Elizabeth before her execution. Lloyd-Stanger also highlights some of the ways Anne Boleyn has been portrayed, and even caricatured, in the years since her death.
Lloyd-Stanger is former manager of visitor education at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
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