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Anne Boleyn
(Eric W. Ives)

A career politician who changed the course of history: this is the portrait Ives paints of Henry VIII?s second wife, Anne Boleyn. A serious scholarly work, and the only academically respectable biography written of Anne in the 20th century, the book is more engaging than any of the numerous fictional accounts of the queen?s life. Drawing on such diverse sources as historical writings, eye-witness accounts, and even Anne?s personal household records, the author chronicles Anne?s early education in continental Europe, her rise to prominence at the English court, her controversial marriage to Henry, and her eventual tragic downfall.Popularly believed to have lasted about three years, the relationship between Anne and Henry was actually of much longer duration, spanning approximately 10 years. Beginning as a courtly flirtation, a common social custom of the day, the relationship gradually blossomed over time and was based not only on Anne?s physical attractions, which were not exceptional, but also on her quick intellect?yes, Henry did love Anne for her mind. Anne was also somewhat older than most people realize, being about 27 when she first began seriously vying to be Henry?s queen and about 35 when she died.To understand Anne the politician, one must understand the politics of the English court. Not unlike a modern business corporation, political success depended on being able to either grant the king?s wish or get him to change his wish?and women played this game just as much as men did. In this case, Henry wanted an heir, which he was not going to get from his wife Katherine, and he wanted Anne Boleyn. Anne entered politics by using her influence with the king to garner favours for herself, her family, and her supporters. It was Anne who bolstered Henry?s courage through his dispute with the Pope, Anne who researched the justification in scripture for the break with Rome, and Anne who strategized the move. While Anne was not the only reason Henry wanted the Reformation, she was the force that enabled him to do it.It is also popularly believed that Anne?s failure to produce a male heir was the cause of her downfall. Although this circumstance made her vulnerable (as the mother of the future king, she would have been untouchable), it was a political coup by her opponents that led to her undoing. Taking advantage of one of the lows in the tempestuous relationship between Anne and Henry, Anne?s enemies used the opportunity to drive the wedge.If she were alive today, Anne would undoubtedly be a politician or an independent businesswoman. Centuries ahead of her time, her wit and her intellect were both her making and her undoing. Forget the romanticized fictional accounts of her life. Read the real thing?it?s far more fascinating.

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