The Boleyn Women: The Tudor Femmes Fatales Who Changed English History

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Highly enjoyable, highly recommended. She has a unique ability to ferret out what's important and what 's not. It paints a wonderful, vivid picture of the life of a Renaissance princess. Licence comes to her conclusions about Katherine through sheer research of her character, her influences and her actions, and puts forward a compelling case of a pious and courageous woman who only sought to serve her god, and serve her husband, in the manner she thought best.

This is a compassionate and positive portrayal of Catherine.

The Sisters Boleyn with Christine Morgan

Licence delves deeply into Catherine's world, describing the proud heritage that build her royal self-worth. How did they take the leap from courtier to lover, to wife? What was Henry really like as a lover? Henry's women were uniquely placed to experience the tension between his chivalric ideals and the lusts of the handsome, tall, athletic king; his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, was on one level a fairy-tale romance, but his affairs with Anne Stafford, Elizabeth Carew and Jane Popincourt undermined it early on.

Later, his more established mistresses, Bessie Blount and Mary Boleyn, risked their good names by bearing him illegitimate children. Typical of his time, Henry did not see that casual liaisons might threaten his marriage, until he met the one woman who held him at arm's length. The arrival of Anne Boleyn changed everything. Her seductive eyes helped rewrite history. After their passionate marriage turned sour, the king rapidly remarried to Jane Seymour. Henry was a man of great appetites, ready to move heaven and earth for a woman he desired; Licence readdresses the experiences of his wives and mistresses in this frank, modern take on the affairs of his heart.

Her account is engaging and readable; treading the fine line between popular and academic history with expert precision. Even if you are well-read on the king's many relationships, there are plenty of gems in here that I haven't seen anywhere else! This is a wonderful new addition to the canon of Tudor histories. I highly recommend it. The story of Henry VIII's love life has been explored over the past century from every viewpoint in all of its ignoble details that one would think there is nothing left to explore.

Licence however approaches it from an invigorating and exciting perspective, pealing back layers not examined before. Here she gives voice to the women of Henry's life. Using primary sources, Amy Licence writes a captivating history of Henry's relationships, giving depth to shadowy figures who dabbled with Henry peripherally. With descriptive and colorful prose, Licence paints a rich picture of Henry's glittering court, showing its evolution as the King ages and changes.

Licence's insightful observations leave preconceived caricatures in the dust, giving Henry and his ladies three dimensional complexity. Except, of course, for Lady Jane Rochford, who gets her own chapter so Norton can give the needed space to examining what might have happened and what on earth Jane was thinking. Norton does an excellent job examining the remarkable lives of the many Boleyn women and the part they played in British history. Mar 15, Carolina Casas rated it it was amazing Shelves: biography , european-royaltymay-august , tudor-and-renaissance-history.

The story of the Boleyn women is a story of family loyalty and of ambition. Norton traces the hunble origins of the Boleyn family and their connections, by marriage or through blood, with the de Clares, Bouchiers, Howards, Welles, and so many others from which they shared a connection with Jane Seymour's family.

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It is a great and emotional read about the women in this family and she presents it in such a way that you empathize with them and feel saddened at the end by their struggles and The story of the Boleyn women is a story of family loyalty and of ambition. It is a great and emotional read about the women in this family and she presents it in such a way that you empathize with them and feel saddened at the end by their struggles and sacrifices.

Norton also offers new and interesting theories regarding some of the womeb, Mary Boleyn, Elizabeth Howard-Boleyn, Anne, Catherine Howard, Jane Parker-Boleyn, Catherine and Henry Carey where she says that it was probably Catherine, out of the two, who was Henry' daughter, not Henry who was born at a time when the affair had ended ,Mary Shekton who she says was likely to be the "Madge" Chapuys was referring in his dispatches and while I was skeptical of this at first, she gives good evidence to prove her point , and so many others.

Norton also dispels the negative propaganda that has centered on Anne's immediate family, herself, her mother and her brother by pointing out that a lot of this was written years after their deaths by Elizabeth's enemies or former rivals who had an agenda of their own. One thing I didn't agree was leaning to the idea that while she was not fully guilty, that Jane Parker was still participant in her sister in law and husband's fall.

She sets the record straight she is not the serpentine or lusty version of the six wives and Tudors respectively, but she doesn't do a lot to exhonorate her from her alleged involvement in their deaths. In reality there is no proof that she and George had a cold marriage or an unhappy one, Norton agrees but doesn't think she was all innocent. The real person who doomed them with her testimony as did many others was the Countess of Worcester. The last chapter "the last Boleyn" I felt like it was rushed over with some facts being omitted to make Bess look better but overall it was a magnificent conclusion to a great book.

I highly recommend this, even if you're not interested in histiry, you will find this a delightful and captivating read. Sep 04, Lina Joseph rated it liked it. If you want a book that explains the whole research and arguments on why they think someone is someone than this is the book.

The narrative it's not that good in my opinion and its really easy to get confused. Too many details. Jun 10, Shawn Thrasher rated it liked it. This title makes this book sound a helluva lot more salacious and naughty than it actually is. Most of the Boleyns that Elizabeth Norton describes here - and she goes back as far as research and genealogy is able to take her - are about as femme fatale-y as the current Queen of England.

Norton's book starts out like one of those genealogy books you may find online detailing the history of your family: dry with lots of names and places and dates plucked off tombstones and baptismal and death reco This title makes this book sound a helluva lot more salacious and naughty than it actually is. Norton's book starts out like one of those genealogy books you may find online detailing the history of your family: dry with lots of names and places and dates plucked off tombstones and baptismal and death records, with not much detail or story.

Of course, once Mary Boleyn and Anne Boleyn enter the picture, the genealogy gets left in the dust and the story really starts.


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Norton takes us all the way through Queen Elizabeth, the ultimate Boleyn girl but also, not a femme fatale. Of course, if you read Tudor history, much of this is retread, although Norton does take the time to puncture some myths - and puncture some scholarly research by other writers of Tudor history as well here i one The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn.

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Although Norton never actually names names in the body of the book she saves that for the notes , I loved this respectful-ish scholarly battling! That part always gets left out of the stories. Mar 21, Mercedes rated it it was ok Shelves: did-not-finish. I love the Tudors and Boleyns, and I thought this book would be perfect in understanding a little more about where Anne and her sister Mary came from, however this is written more as a reference book than a novel.

I skipped forward to read some of the other chapters such as the one about Anne's mother, Elizabeth , but it was much of the same. It also doesn't help that so many people back then shared the same name Some families even named two children the same name if one had passed away before the second was born. However if you're looking for any type of story, then move along, because this is NOT the book you are looking for.

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Sep 29, Cynthia rated it liked it. I really enjoyed this book. It got very confusing not the author's fault because it seemed everybody was named Anne, or Elizabeth, or Catherine, or Margaret. So I would get con I really enjoyed this book. So I would get confused especially since there were multiple Anne Boleyns, in the same family grouping at the same time. But it was very interesting and I love this period of history, so seeing this fresh perspective was very enjoyable.

Mar 08, Sarah Bryson rated it it was amazing. Throughout the centuries the Boleyn women were not just simple wives, sisters and daughters who were pale shadows compared to their husbands. It is fascinating to read about these women, the stories of their lives, their time at court, the tragedies they faced and how they overcame the difficulties that surrounded them.

Accompanying the book are wonderful pictures and portraits which provide the reader with, in some cases, faces of Boleyn women to stare upon. The photographs also show effigies, locations and people relevant to the life of various Boleyn women, all of which add an extra depth to the readers understanding of the women they are reading about. I especially loved the section about Mary Boleyn my personal favourite Boleyn woman! She did not simply focus upon Anne Boleyn, quite arguably one of the most famous women of the Boleyn family; instead Norton gave each woman their own section in which she brought their lives to the forefront and provided the reader with interesting and emotive information about them.

This was a wonderful, captivating and thoroughly enjoyable book and I would recommend it to anyone interested in Tudor history or the study of women. May 17, Julie Szuster rated it it was ok.

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This is a great book. One would ask therefore why I rated it 2 starts? Because, unfortunately it is also , in my opinion, a book for those of us who are writing maybe some kind of PhD, maybe some article. It's a little too boring for a "normal" person :. Sep 14, James rated it really liked it. In this book, Elizabeth Norton, looks at the Boleyn's from a new perspective, focusing on the women in the family, from those who were Boleyn's by birth, and including those who became Boleyn's through marriage. From humble beginnings in Norfolk in the thirteenth century, the family's prospects rose thanks to good marriages and keen ambition So much has been written about Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII of England, and mother of Queen Elizabeth I, in both fiction and non-fiction.

From humble beginnings in Norfolk in the thirteenth century, the family's prospects rose thanks to good marriages and keen ambition. Unfortunately due to lack of records, it is hard to get a full picture of the earliest Boleyn women, yet Norton does her best with the few records she has available. It does get confusing at times, with so many members of the family having the same name as well.

Whilst the sections on Queen Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I don't exactly shed any new light or evidence that hasn't already been written about, Norton does give us a more clearer view of Elizabeth Howard Boleyn, mother of Mary, George and Anne, and grandmother of Elizabeth I, showing her to have perhaps been a more affectionate mother than she is often given credit for, as well as been sort out for advice on court etiquette. Likewise, the section on Jane Parker Boleyn, the infamous Lady Rochford, is interesting as Norton looks at her role in the fall of her husband and sister-in-law.

Thanks to prosperous marriages into the Bracton, Hoo, Butler and Howard families, as well as the keen ambition of Geoffrey Boleyn, who rose from apprentice hatter, to freeman of the city, to wealthy mercer, to member of parliament, to alderman, to Lord Mayor of London, the Boleyn family soon rose from humble Norfolk origins to high ranking nobility, and eventually married into royalty, and finally, with a Boleyn Elizabeth I ruling as Monarch. It is ironic to think that in just six generations from the family would go from prosperous peasant in Salle Norfolk, to succeeding to the throne of England in their own right.

No other family in history have risen so high, fallen so greatly, only to rise again. So the humble Boleyn ancestors from Norfolk, still have a descendant on the throne today. Nov 08, Sylwia Zupanec rated it really liked it. The Boleyn family first emerged in the late fourteenth century at Salle in Norfolk. Norton points out that "the family's origins were deeply unpromising and an observer in the thirteenth, fourteenth and even fifteenth century would never dreamed that the family would produce two queens of Elizabeth Norton's "The Boleyn Women" is a study of eight generations of Boleyn women, from the first 'Anne Boleyn' who lived during the Middle Ages to the Queen Anne Boleyn's daughter, Elizabeth I.

Norton points out that "the family's origins were deeply unpromising and an observer in the thirteenth, fourteenth and even fifteenth century would never dreamed that the family would produce two queens of England" p. The first recorded Boleyn woman was Emma Boleyn, noted in a court roll in ; apart from her name, however, nothing is known of her life. Although so many Boleyn women entered the pages of history, they remain unknown to us. One of my favourite parts of this book was discussion about Anne Boleyn's aunts.