Romantic victim? Ruthless other woman? Innocent pawn? Religious reformer? Fool, flirt and adulteress? Politician? Witch? During her life, Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s ill-fated second queen, was internationally famous – or notorious; today, she still attracts passionate adherents and furious detractors. It was in London that most of the drama of Anne Boleyn’s life and death was played out – most famously, in the Tower of London, the scene of her coronation celebrations, of her trial and execution, and where her body lies buried. Londoners, like everyone else, clearly had strong feelings about her, and in her few years as a public figure Anne Boleyn was influential as a patron of the arts and of French taste, as the center of a religious and intellectual circle, and for her purchasing power, both directly and as a leader of fashion. It was primarily to London, beyond the immediate circle of the court, that her carefully ‘spun’ image as queen was directed during the public celebrations surrounding her coronation. In the centuries since Anne Boleyn’s death, her reputation has expanded to give her an almost mythical status in London, inspiring everything from pub names to music hall songs, and novels to merchandise including pin cushions with removable heads. And now there is a thriving online community surrounding her – there are over fifty Twitter accounts using some version of her name. This book looks at the evidence both for the effect London and its people had on the course of Anne Boleyn’s life and death, and the effects she had, and continues to have, on them.
Anne Boleyn in London. From the title, I had expected an in-depth look at all the places in London connected to Anne during her lifetime and tenure as Queen of England. However, this story is more about Anne Boleyn with a bit of the history of London thrown in. Do not get me wrong; I enjoyed learning about what London would’ve looked like at the time but would Anne really have known the London of the working class? She was quite well-born and was a courtier from a young age, first at the court of Margaret of Austria and then Claude of France and Catherine of Aragon. You can certainly tell that the story has been well researched and the flow of the story is really good.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I had expected more!