Boleyns? What’s new?

The Boleyns are the subject of a BBC2 docu-drama on Friday nights. I have watched it so far and learnt a few new things but most of it we have seen before many times in dramas and in other ducumentaries. Although I wish they cast someone in the lead role who looked more like Anne Boleyn (as she was painted) I admit that I find it interesting and entertaining.

Who wants to get rid of the Boleyns?

In the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII many people were jealous of their success. They came from a middle class family but rose rapidly in wealth and status at court until Anne became the second wife of Henry VIII. Later, Henry wanted to be rid of her as she failed to produce a male heir among other shortcomings. His final solution was drastic!

Why do I want to get rid of the Boleyns?

I think the Tudors get far too much attention on TV and in print, as I have written before. I wish we could learn more about other families, royal and not-so-royal, who made up our national story. There are lots of them! I have written novels and/or short stories about most periods except the 16th and 19th centuries as I explain in the introduction to my collection Geoffrey’s Historical Shorts. Try them if you want to get away from the Tudors!

The cover of Geoffrey's historical shorts. The collection covers almost every period except that of the Tudors and the Boleyns.

The collection covers almost every period except that of the Tudors and the Boleyns.

Do the Boleyns count as Tudors?

When Anne married Henry, she became a Tudor and their daughter Elizabeth certainly was one. The story of the Boleyns is now part of the story of the Tudors.  People often call the 16th century the Tudor period as that family ruled England from 1485 to 1603. Anyone who was famous in that period is part of the story of the Tudors.

Why do the Tudors and the Boleyns get so much attention?

Despite what I wrote above, I agree that there are good reasons to take an interest in the Tudors and the Boleyns. Those two families comprised some great characters and their relationships created some real drama. They were a gift – or series of gifts – to writers for screen or print. They also lived in interesting times. The period saw the transition from the Middle Ages to Modern Times. England in the 17th and 18th centuries was beginning to look a lot more like the present than what went before.

What changes did the Tudors and Boleyns see?

  • Feudalism gave way to capitalism.
  • England developed sea-power and began to explore and trade with overseas nations.
  • Protestantism began to replace Roman Catholicism.
  • England became increasingly different from Europe.
  • English replaced Latin and French for most purposes.

Almost all these things had begun before the Tudors came to power and most had a long way to go. but the 16th century was an important time of transition. Let’s not ignore that period, but let’s not get stuck in it!