13 September 2010
Who's That Lady: Anne Boleyn
Though Anne Boleyn would refer to herself as having once been a "commoner," she could hardly have been called common. Anne was a woman who came from a very influential family, one of means. While it is well-nigh impossible to determine just how happy her upbringing may have been, she had certainly enjoyed substantial material comforts while growing up.
Anne's father, Thomas Boleyn, was a prominent figure in the court of Henry VIII. Intelligent, capable, and intensely ambitious, Thomas Boleyn was a man who was ever reaching for the stars, higher and higher, never satisfied with the status quo, he determined to shine brightly. Boleyn would use everything within his capacity to achieve those ends, not stopping at his own children. Still, Thomas Boleyn was not terribly different from other courtiers in his time, many who did attempt to thrust daughters and sons into the pathways of the nobility. Given the lowered status of women in the 16th century, a daughter was an undeniable liability for most men. If Mary Boleyn was as attractive as she was reported to be, undoubtedly Thomas Boleyn thought his family could capitalize on that factor. It certainly seems a very distasteful notion to our modern day sensibilities, but world of the Tudors was radically different from the world we now inhabit.
Anne, we have been told, while not as conventionally pretty as her sister, Mary, had attributes all her own. While she was never considered a great beauty, she certainly was considered attractive and desirable. There have always been women who create their own beauty, who are so knowledgeable and skillful at applying their feminine wits and charms, that men find them irresistible. Mary may have been blonde, and pretty. But Anne was a triple threat, vivacious, darling, wildly flirtatious. It is really not too difficult to understand how she eventually eclipsed her own sister, and eventually won the hand of a king in matrimony. Though the story would end badly, very badly, Anne did get Henry to marry her.