The Bank of Anne Boleyn

In this scene from The Tudors, Henry VIII confers on the Lady Anne Boleyn the noble title of Marquess of Pembroke and a little something to keep her self-esteem up:

Lucky girl, especially considering that up to this point, no one was getting f^&*ed except the Marquess’s new subjects.

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24 Responses

  1. Two thoughts — 100,000 ?? OMG! That was a lot of money back then. And Is it just my imagination or did we see an awful lot of her neck in that scene. Is that foreshadowing?

    • Considering that most people in England probably made less than £100 per year, yeah, that was a lot of money.
      And yeah, The Tudors were not overly subtle with the foreshadowing.

      • It must have sent a shudder of fear through the room at the time.

        Did it really happen like that? With such a ceremony?

        • Probably. The series got a lot of stuff right that they must have gotten from official documents. Like, Anne came to court too early at first. She was barely more than an adolescent and probably acted like one. So her father sent her away to France. When she came back, she was a sensation. The first time Henry got the hots for Anne was during a masquerade where the ladies of the court portrayed allegorical graces. Anne’s was called Perseverance. She really was made Marquess Suo Jure, which I think means “in her own right”. Very unusual for a woman. And she was able to pass down her title to her children without regard to legitmacy. By this act, Henry “ennobled” her, making her almost as suitable for a King to marry as to marry a Princess. Ann was no longer a commoner, although, given her background, it’s hard to understand how she was ever a commoner. Her mother was a Howard, which made her a descendent of one of the King Edwards. But, whatever, royalty are funny that way. And I guess it was really important to Henry that Anne have her own property and income. God knows, she was costing him a fortune in every other thing.
          The stuff that wasn’t documented in the Tudors was completely fabricated, including the way people looked (Jonathan Rhys-Myers was almost the complete opposite of the tall, big boned, fair and redheaded Henry), the clothes, what some of them said. Lots of artistic license. And there’s no evidence that Henry and Anne slept together for something like seven years.
          The latest novel I’m listening to, Bring up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel, suggests that it wasn’t Anne that brought about the fall of the Catholic church in England and the introduction of protestantism. It was Katherine of Aragon. This was a woman whose sense of entitlement and rage was the leading factor in bringing about all that followed. It was a fight she couldn’t win under any circumstances and she must have known it from the beginning. But she let her vindictiveness prolong the courtship of Anne and Henry and resulted in Anne being over thirty before she got pregnant with her first child. In the years after the disastrous War of the Roses, it was really important to guarantee the succession of the royalty and Katherine was determined to stand in the way. The whole country and religion had to be rearranged to get around her.
          Interesting perspective. Sure it was sexist. But that’s what people were working with.

          • I just put a hold on Bring up the Bodies — it sounds fascinating. I read a lot about the era when I was in high school and my early college years but many of the details have slipped out of my memory and some (I’m sure) have been replaced by fictional accounts.

          • If you haven’t read Wolf Hall, you need to read that one first. Bring up the Bodies is a sequel. Both books feature Thomas Cromwell as the main character. You will get a completely different picture of Cromwell after you read Wolf Hall and his story is relevant today. What Cromwell represented was the rise of the State in England. He brought the Renaissance to England as far as politics and state bureaucracy was concerned. The noble families hated him for that.
            So, get Wolf Hall first. I never thought I’d grow to like Cromwell but he’s a very compelling anti-hero.
            Highly recommended and I think it won a Booker a couple of years ago, with good reason. Hillary Mantel is an extraordinarily gifted writer. I was so caught up with the book that I was really pissed when it ended. Fortunately for new readers, you can move right along to the sequel.
            There has to be a third book coming too because the story isn’t over yet.

          • One other thing about Wolf Hall, it’s written in a style that’s a bit non-linear. The overall plot *is* linear because it is following specific historical events in chronological order. But the specifics of Cromwell’s life feel like snippets of reverie when he thinks about his life as a runaway, mercenary in continental Europe, banker, cook, wool merchant. You name it, Cromwell did it. There is also a lot of interesting information about his personal relationships with his family. So, Mantel has written two books in one and interleaved them. At times, Cromwell is in the present observing events as they happen and at others, he is reminiscing about his own life. Audible format *may* not be the best for Wolf Hall. It’s probably easier to follow on the written page. But in Bring up the Bodies, Mantel seems to have solved this problem and it’s easier to follow in audio format.
            Nevertheless, Wolf Hall is really that good and if you have the patience for audio, it’s a great book to listen to while you’re busy doing other things. 4.5 sponges.

          • Wait a minute, you’re blaming Katherine of Aragon for that bloody fiasco?
            She was the only blameless character in the whole drama.
            If Katherine, Henry’s one true wife in the eyes of the Catholic Church, had gone along with his plans to kick her to the curb and disown their daughter, she’d be damned eternally and so would Henry. That’s how she and Thomas Moore and a whole bunch of murdered priests and monks saw it. A question of acquiesence to a mortal king or obedience to a heavenly Father.
            Why Katherine should give two royal shits about Anne Boleyn and her waning fertility escapes me.
            What a cock blocker!
            Besides she had birthed a legitimate princess who, with one stroke of the royal pen-no pun intented-could have become queen as her half sister did.
            It always makes me laugh how the older, unwanted woman is supposed to go gently into that not so good night.
            Assuming my most lady like expression when I say, “Fuck that shit.”

          • Yeah, that’s the way I used to see it too. But I’ve had a change of mind about that. You have to think about the age they were all living in. England just slugged it out in the War of the Roses and it was a long, hard, bloody struggle over the rights of succession that left the whole country in tatters. By the time Henry Tudor claimed the throne, everyone was just sick of it. When Henry VIII took the throne, his father told him in no uncertain terms that he needed to sire a male heir as quickly as possible or they would all be plunged into another stupid war. There were enough avaricious relatives hanging around that this was a real possibility. So he married Katherine and they did the best they could but no male heir. One other historical note is that the only female ruler they had prior to this was Mathilda who was Henry II’s mother. And she and her cousin Stephen had slugged it out during the 12th century in a previous war of succession that was a fricking disaster so there was precedent. She handled her short term on the throne rather badly and no one wanted to take a chance that it was because the rest of the cocky males of the kingdom wouldn’t take her seriously.
            So there’s that.
            At some point, Katherine was no longer fertile. So, if she didn’t die, there would be no make heir. At that point, Henry was in a pickle. He probably could smell the usurpers at court. Wasn’t there a Buckingham that tried to reignite the war who was quickly dispatched? Anyway, he needed to find a solution. Anne Boleyn played her cards very strategically. She was from a very aristocratic line and being a mistress wasn’t going to work for her. In a way, she was just an excuse to get rid of Katherine.
            I’m sure he offered her inducements to go away quietly. His treatment of Anne of Cleves suggest that he would have been very generous with her and allowed her to retire from court. And she was a royal who understood the succession issue. As a Queen, she should have understood that her marriage was a strategic one and should have been at the mercy of the country she had adopted. It was nothing personal. In other words, she needed to move over for the good of England. But her pride got in her way. She made it about love and honor when it was really about national stability.
            Henry VIII was no prince charming but I can only imagine his growing panic at not being able to do what needed to be done. I don’t think he hated her when this whole thing started and it’s not like Katherine didn’t know that Henry had mistresses. But she refused to budge. If she had taken religious vows, he would have been free. If she had agreed to an annulment, he would have seen to it that she had enough money, property and dignity to live out her life on good terms with everyone. But she wasn’t thinking rationally so he had to go around her. The more she stayed fixed, the more around her he had to go including changing the religion to make sure he could finally divorce her. In the end, she had a personal vendetta on him. She dragged the whole thing out so long that seven fertile years of Anne’s life were wasted. It’s almost like she was working against England at that point.
            There’s a new theory that it might not have mattered much for Anne. There is speculation that Anne Boleyn was rH negative and that’s why only her first daughter survived. The other babies were compromised by rH disease. Probably they doctors knew the signs by the time the third baby miscarried. For that matter, Katherine might have had the same problem. There’s enough ancient blood in that part of the world to really screw things up for childbearing and there’s a good probabilty that both Queens got the short end of that genetic stick.
            But yeah, I don’t blame Anne and Henry exclusively anymore. He did what he had to do. Anne gave him some reasons to do it and Katherine tore the place apart before she would be ignored.
            In the end, it was Katherine who caused the dissolution of the monasteries and the break with Rome. She didn’t know that when it began but while it was happening, I’m sure she felt very, very powerful. Well, if you’re royalty, you’re probably used to that feeling and not overly fond of letting it go. It’s sort of like if you were a banker master of the universe and the world’s economy is on the brink of collapse and you still manage to bail yourself out at everyone else’s expense. You’re probably not thinking about the repercussions. Just the power of the moment is a heady feeling.

          • Thank you for that thoughtul and learned reply.
            To Queen Catherine’s way of thinking, it was God’s will that she bore no living son to the King, as it was God’s will that whomever God has joined together let no man (or woman) put assunder. They were married for life and her choice was between peace and material comfort or eternal salvation.
            She would not allow the king to bastardize their daughter because, besides removing Mary from the line of succession, such a move would label Catherine, daughter of Isabella, a whore.
            I imagine that the Queen thought that England would be safer and better off if her devoutly Catholic and blue to the point of purple blooded daughter was to assume the throne. Better Mary than any issue (illegitimate to Rome) of the likes of Anne Boleyn.
            I’m team Catherine if it wasn’t obvious.

            Anne of Cleves had no offspring to defame and she and Henry could claim that the marriage had not been consummated.

          • I have no doubt that that is part of what she was thinking but as a Queen, she was expected to put her personal feelings aside. In taking the veil, she might well have perserved all of what you describe and she ended up living a virtual prisoner anyway. By taking the annulment route, she might have actually done her daughter a favor. Because Henry had no sons, he had to keep Mary as a strategic asset and her marriage plans kept changing according to his needs. If she had been superceded by a brother, she would have moved back in the line of succession anyway and I believe her declaration of illegitimacy would have been shortlived anyway. There are always ways to legitimize offspring. I think Henry and Cromwell would have found a way to restore her title. John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford had their children legitimized even while there was no doubt that they were born on the wrong side of the blanket.
            By holding out, Katherine finished the Catholic Church in England and if it hadn’t been for Cromwell’s and Henry’s ferocious crowd management, he could have had a much bigger problem on his hands. As it was he did have uprisings that were brutally suppressed. And he was excommunicated. Not the best situation for a monarch in a highly religious and superstitious country. That this all occurred when the country might have been receptive to the Reformation does not mitigate the enormous risks that Katherine took on behalf of her pride. It’s ironic considering that her parents were the movers and shakers of the Reconquista in Spain. What we have here is one woman’s desire to put herself above all else.
            As we’ve said before, Henry was a dictator and had an eye for the ladies. On the other hand, he was willing to wait it out for 7 years for Anne which speaks well of his committment to her and his willingness to take her on her terms. So, I find it hard to believe that he didn’t give Katherine a deal she could not refuse when her fertility was spent and she refused it anyway.
            It all worked out well in the end, I guess. But let’s not praise Katherine too highly. She should have become the Dowager Princess of Wales on her own, made it look like it was her decision and lived a happy and well regarded life with her religion intact. She chose not to. She would rather rip a country apart. Maybe not as nice as everyone says.

          • Why do you think that Catherine had a duty to get out of the way?
            Her faith, her nephew( the holy Roman Emperor) and her country-Spain-were all telling her something very different.
            As I see it, Catherine was putting her honor above all else, an action we applaud in heroes, if not heroines. See More, Thomas aka, The Man For All Seasons.
            As shesaw it, Catherine was putting her honor and her immortal soul above all else.
            We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.
            What did one contemporary say about Catherine of Aragon? “She would not tell a lie.”

  2. Oh, my. When he threw his robes open, I was expecting something else…the looks between the two were so smouldering. (Clean it up, Marsha!)

  3. Does anyone know anything about this Breitbart guy? Who is he and why am I suddenly reading his name everywhere?

    • Breitbart was the right wing blowhard maniac who was swiftly eclipsing Matt Drudge. He’s the one who “exposed” anthony Weiner. He was also a screaming nutcase at one of the occupy events. There’s a video of him yelling his head off that the occupiers were dirty and rapists. Nice guy.
      Shortly after that video was shot, Breitbart died sudden,y of some cardio or cerebral accident. I think he popped a carotid but that’s only a guess.
      What are you hearing? That some Democrats done him in or something? Unlikely. He looked like he was headed for a stroke and as I understand it, he had health issues before.

      • I’ve been watching Twitter and someone (I’m still not real versed in how Twitter works so I haven’t any idea who) was either tweeting or retweeting stuff in his name. A LOT of stuff, it was swamping my twitter feed for a while. It sounded like gibberish. It stopped since then.

        I remember that guy now that you’ve reminded me. Not someone you’d think would spawn a rash of tweets months after his death.

        • The word in the World of Right Wing Paranoia is he was done in by Lefty operatives to quash some upcoming expose’ of the Obama administration. Look at how long the birthers held sway there.

      • He also ran and megaphoned the doctored videos that his little helper in the field made of their visit to an ACORN office. That video provided the excuse needed by Democrats desperate to defund federal funds reaching ACORN. Apparently ACORN was near terminal already so that was just the last little push needed to close it down.

        I had always hoped that the viable remnants of ACORN would re-assemble themselves and call the new group ACORN 2.0, as a highest-voltage taser jammed into the eyes of the Democrats and the Breitbarters. So far it hasn’t happened.

        • And now that I think about it, he also arranged and ran the doctorfaked videos of Shirley Sherrod’s speech to some group or other, thus giving Obama and especially Vilsack the excuse they had sought for months to drive her out of her job.

          • ((shudder)) I do remember those events!

          • What I read is that Sherrod had won a racial-discrimination lawsuit against USDA on behalf of some black farmers and USDA wanted revenge against Sherrod ever since that loss. Vilsack shared the USDA’s general quiet smoldering lust for vengeance against Sherrod,
            and when the Breitbart video gave him the chance he had been desperately waiting for, he took it as fast as he could. I doubt Obama knew about any of that. Obama was just looking for another one of his
            “Sister Soulja moments” and Sherrod was an easy slow-moving target.

            Obviously Shirley Sherrod never heard of me, and just as obviously
            my wishes would not be of the least concern to her. Still . . . I wish she would have dug herself deep into Vilsack’s and Obama’s foot like a multi-barbed fishhook and forced them to fire her with maximum political pain and hopefully political gangrene to themselves.

  4. This is totally off this thread, but germane to some other threads in the past . . .
    I have just read a rumor about a non-extinct plant still alive today which supposedly causes “temporary infertility in women”. I read it on
    the J L Hudson Seeds website , specifically the “new offerings” section.
    I will cutpaste the relevant entry:
    “STELECHOCARPUS (ste-le-ko-KAR-pus)
    ANNONACEAE. Tropical Asian fruit trees.
    —burahol. (5 seed) STELE-6. Packet: $10.00 Very limited supplies! Perishable – limited time only – seed shipped moist.
    ‘KEPEL FRUIT’, ‘BURAHOL’. Endangered Indonesian tree bearing abundant apple-sized round brown fruits on the trunk with an aromatic mango-coconut flavor. Once prohibited to everyone except the sultan of Jogja’s harem, as consumption of the fruit is said to cause all one’s secretions (breath, perspiration, urine, feces) to have a scent of violets, and additionally to cause temporary infertility in women. Very rare in the wild and cultivation. Tropical tree to 60 – 80 feet, with large ovate 10″ leaves and pinkish cream inch-wide flowers on the trunk. Fruits in 6 – 9 years from seed, and bears up to 1500 fruits a year. For humid warm tropics. Plant seed flat, 3/4″ deep. Root germinates quickly, top growth appears in 6 – 13 months, slow growing at first, keep over 40° F for the first few years, stands to 30° F when mature.
    http://www.anthropogen.com/2008/08/21/anonaceae-stelechocarpus-burahol-kepel-fruit/

    First off, where did J L Hudson read that? (He is a hermitish recluse and might or might not answer emails . . . I don’t know.) Is it generally consdered to be “folk-truth”? Any basis to it? Link to follow in a sub-comment.

  5. And here is the link:http://jlhudsonseeds.net/NewItems.htm

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