Mary Boleyn (right) was mistress to Henry VIII before her sister Anne (left) ascended the throne.
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

When Anne Boleyn, the social and charismatic daughter of a great English courtier, attracted attention of King Tudor Henry VIII in the mid-1520s, few could have predicted how far it would rise and ultimately fall.

Crowned queen in 1533, Anne succeeded in ousting her predecessor, Catherine of Aragon, from the throne, rising to the highest echelons of England against all odds. But just three years later, she was dead, beheaded by the very man who had challenged the Catholic Church and centuries before to make her his wife. Her beloved brother, the mischievous poet George, died on the scaffold two days before her, accused of incest with his sister and of conspiracy to kill the king. So the Boleyn’s meteoric rise to power ended abruptly and ignominiously.

“The Tudor public [was] used to the falls of kings and princes, but even they might not have imagined a fall as graphic as that of the Boleyn family, ”he said. Nandini Das tell the Sunis Josh Saunders.

A new three-part documentary from BBC Two revisits the Queen’s polarizing story from her family’s perspective, offering a more balanced portrayal of the Boleyns through a mix of dramatic reenactments and interviews with prominent historians. Entitled “The Boleyns: a scandalous familyThe series is available to watch on BBC iPlayer. Viewers in the US can also find the first episode on Youtube.

“There is a fine line between great ambition and madness” Gareth russell, one of the historians featured in the documentary, tells Daily mailby Nicole Lampert. “To understand Anne’s rise and fall, you need to know her power-hungry family. They are an extraordinary example of pride and pain.

The documentary’s rich character cast includes Anne and her two siblings, George and Mary; his parents, Thomas and Elisabeth; and his maternal uncle, Thomas howard, the mighty Duke of Norfolk. The exact date of the birth of the Boleyn children is unknown, But the most historians agree that Mary, who served as Henri’s mistress before her sister, was the eldest of the three.

Although contemporary observers tend to portray Thomas Boleyn as a “callous and understanding courtier who would stop at nothing to advance his own interests,” recent research has provided a more nuanced understanding of his actions, wrote Lauren Mackay, author of Among the wolves of the court: the untold story of Thomas and George Boleyn, for Additional story in 2018.

Thomas came from a family of self-taught men and rose through the ranks by continually demonstrating his political prowess. At the same time, he has ensured that his children, including, exceptionally, his daughters, receive a world-class education that sets them apart at court.

The rise and fall of the Scandalous Boleyn Family of Tudor England

Rafaëlle Cohen as Anne Boleyn in “The Boleyns: a scandalous family”

BBC Studios / Mackenzie Quicke

“Anne was someone who, on her worst day, was Henry’s intellectual equal,” Russell said. Radio schedules‘Kelly-Anne Taylor. “On her average day, she was smarter than him. She studied in France; she had some experience at the Habsburg court. … She had chic European glamor and great confidence.

An accusation often leveled against Thomas is that he forced his daughters into the king’s bed to secure his own advancement. But as Owen Emmerson, historian at the Boleyn family headquarters in Hever Castle, pleads for Additional story, this point of view reduces Anne to “the unfortunate victim of her father’s ruthless ambition [rather than] a woman prepared and able to forge her own destiny. Mackay further points out that Thomas “wanted his daughter to grow into an imposing woman in her own right, ready to take a prominent place in the English court.” He did not raise her to share the king’s bed, she deserved better than the life of a royal mistress.

Despite their possible reservations about the sisters’ entanglements with the King, the Boleyns worked tirelessly to capitalize on Henry’s interest in the family. Thomas and his brother-in-law, the Duke of Norfolk, advised Anne on how best to keep the king’s attention, reaping the benefits of their closeness to power. In 1529, while Henry was attempting to divorce Catherine of Aragon, he elevated Thomas to the peerage, granting him the title of Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond. Other favors followed as the family’s stature at court increased.

of Anne 1533 marriage and the coronation marked the culmination of the Boleyn’s ascent. But the Queen’s position became precarious after she, as the King’s first wife, failed to give birth to a long-awaited male heir. Tired of Anne’s lively personality, which he had found so alluring during their court, Henry ordered his wife’s arrest on artificial charges of adultery, incest, witchcraft and conspire to kill him. George, who had always enjoyed a close relationship with her sister, was charged with incest with her.

The rise and fall of the Scandalous Boleyn Family of Tudor England

Max Dowler stars as Anne’s father Thomas Boleyn in a new BBC documentary.

BBC Studios

Meanwhile, the father and uncle of the siblings escaped the king’s wrath. Although Thomas briefly fell out of favor, he was soon back at court, where he continued to serve Henry until his death in 1539. Norfolk remained in the king’s good graces by preside his niece and nephew May 1536 trials. Both were found guilty and sentenced to death.

“The Boleyns” skillfully traces the tragic history of the family, offering a more sympathetic take on often-criticized historical figures like Thomas and bringing new perspectives to a well-trodden story.

” So many [Boleyns’] history is unknown to us, ”writes Emmerson for Additional story. “… This knowledge gap about their lives has allowed us to create wildly divergent versions of their history, and the stories about their lives are as popular today as they’ve ever been.” “

The historian adds: “Before Anne’s dazzling eyes blindfolded her to spare her the horror of seeing the sword that was to kill her, she asked the crowd that had gathered to attend. her demise from “judging the best” if they sought to understand her story.The BBC’s latest version of the always fascinating Boleyns not only does Anne’s story justice, but it also restores her amazing family’s reputation.