Anne Boleyn is the most notorious of England’s queens, but more famous for her death as an adulterer than for her life. Henry’s second wife and mother of Elizabeth I, Anne was the first English queen to be publicly executed. Yet what do we know of the achievements and the legacy of her short reign?
In The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn Eric Ives provides the most detailed and convincing portrait we have of the queen. He reveals a person of intellect with a passion for the new culture of the Renaissance, a woman who made her way in a man’s world by force of education and personality. She played a powerful and independent role in the faction-ridden court of Henry VIII and the unceasing struggle for royal favour that was Tudor politics. The consequences can still be detected today. Indeed, Ives shows that it was precisely because Anne was a powerful figure in her own right that it needed a coup to bring her down. She had to be stopped – even by a lie.