Sunday, 17 August 2014

An extract from "The Emperors"

Below is an extract from my new book The Emperors, which is released in the US on the 19th and already out in the UK. This excerpt covers the moment when the Tsarina Alexandra heard about the outbreak of the war. Copyright: The Emperors by Gareth Russell (Stroud: Amberley Press, 2014)

When Anna Vyrubova, a dumpy thirty year-old unhappily married to an officer in the Russian navy, left her apartment on 5 August 1914 she was surprised to find the streets of Saint Petersburg alive with unusual activity. Men were cheering, women were weeping and children were running around whooping with excitement and singing patriotic songs for Tsar and Fatherland. Everywhere, she could see posters proclaiming the mobilisation of the Russian armies. War with Germany and Austria-Hungary seemed inevitable. 
Boarding the train for Tsarskoe Selo, the imperial village fifteen miles outside the capital containing two palaces, a park and a host of courtiers’ residences, Anna wondered what she would encounter when she reached the Alexander Palace, a small neoclassical residence commissioned during the reign of Catherine the Great that became Nicholas and Alexandra’s main family home shortly after their marriage. Vyrubova, rather meanly described by Prince Felix Yussopov as ‘tall and stout with a puffy, shiny face, and no charm whatsoever’, was one of the Tsarina’s ladies-in-waiting and her appointment had raised aristocratic angst in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. She was not a noblewoman, she was not clever, she was not charming, she was not fashionable and she was not particularly interesting. However, she was spiritual, malleable and obsequious. Her marriage was abusive and she needed rescuing from it. All of this made her a very attractive companion to Alexandra, who liked to help people but also to dominate them. With her devotion and inability to form a thought independent of the Empress’s, let alone to criticise her, she was exactly what Alexandra was looking for, although from time to time even she seemed to find her adoration a touch suffocating. Nicholas was fond of Anna, but he found her habit of bringing all gossip great and small to the Empress’s attention in the hope of winning her approval extremely irritating. ‘You, for your part, must not allow Anna to bother you with stupid tale bearing that will do no good,’ he told her, ‘either to yourself or to others.’ 
When she arrived at the Alexander Palace that evening, Anna was taken through to the Empress’s rooms, all of which were kitted out in furniture ordered from English catalogues, to the general revulsion of the nobility who thought the Tsarina’s interior decorating at Tsarskoe Selo a never-ending crime against good taste. Shown into Alexandra’s all-mauve boudoir, Anna excitedly told her what she had seen in the city. Alexandra stared at her blankly and then said she must be wrong; the only units that were on the move were near the Austrian frontier. When Anna insisted that she had seen the posters confirming mobilisation, the Empress rushed from the room and went to her husband’s study. For half an hour, Anna could hear them quarrelling on the other side of the door, as Alexandra discovered that Nicholas had deliberately kept the news from her because he was worried about her health. Storming back in to Anna, Alexandra collapsed on her couch. ‘War!’ she said, breathlessly. ‘And I knew nothing of it. This is the end of everything.’ When the Tsar called over to take his usual evening tea with his wife and her ladies-in-waiting, the tea hour, normally a time for friendly conversation, passed in torturous silence. Anna wrote later that for the next few days, ‘The depression of the Empress continued unrelieved. Up to the last moment she hoped against hope, and when the German formal declaration of war was given she gave way to a perfect passion of weeping’.  
Alexandra’s horror was shared by some of those who had once been close to her husband. Sergei Witte, the financial wizard who had been shunted off into the political wilderness for mishandling the crises of 1905, tried to use every connection left to him to stop a war. He thought it was fundamentally wrong to go to war on Serbia’s behalf, because after what had happened to Franz Ferdinand they were only going to ‘suffer the chastisement they deserved.’ When someone suggested that a victory might bring an increase in Russia’s size, Witte snapped, ‘Good Heavens! Isn’t His Majesty’s empire big enough already? ... And even if we assume a complete victory, the Hohenzollerns and Habsburgs reduced to begging for peace... it means not only the end of German domination but the proclamation of republics throughout central Europe. That means the simultaneous end of Tsarism... we must liquidate this stupid adventure as soon as possible.’ His words showed that he had lost none of his powers of perception. The fact that he said them in the company of the French ambassador, representative of Russia’s main ally, showed that he had lost none of his powers to annoy.

"The Emperors" - Out Now in the UK

My first non-fiction book, The Emperors, is out now in the UK and available to order. It's been such a wonderful experience writing it and I hope readers of the blog who order enjoy it. Later this week, I'll be posting a short article on one of the figures, Empress Zita of Austria, and her life in Canada during the Second World War.

The book will be released in the United States on Tuesday.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Review: "George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat"

Diana Mitford once reflected that when reviewing a friend's book, the reviewer is inevitably predisposed towards a favourable conclusion and that only the disingenuous would pretend otherwise. In a similar spirit, I should begin this article by pointing out that I am a friend and, via my novels Popular and The Immaculate Deception, a colleague of one of the authors of George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat - Claire Ridgway. Both our books are published by the same press and I helped lead two of her beautiful Tudor tours in 2012. So I approached this, the first full-length modern biography of the third Boleyn sibling, with a sympathetic eye and hopefulness that it would prove an enlightening read. 

Passion and scholarly probing saturate this book; the authors' excitement and fascination with their subject is underpinned by years of research into the compelling story of his life and the awful trajectory of his demise. Having made a career by inviting people to experience her ongoing research and education into the Tudor court with her, Claire Ridgway uses the same tactic in this book. There's a touch of Antal Szerb here, the great Hungarian-Jewish historian, who began his 1942 study on the court of Marie-Antoinette by informing the reader that "if he absolutely insists that a writer should address him in the scholarly manner, from on high, in ex cathedra tones, then he should simply toss this book on the floor. My way is to speak as one human being to another, looking to fine kindred spirits and good company." Ridgway and Cherry adopt this tactic in George Boleyn and it's very successful. If a reader finds a conversational tone grating or jarring, then this book mightn't be for them, but for many it's likely to prove, as the English say, a tonic - a refreshing and enjoyable change.

The lack of any surviving portraits of Boleyn or much in the way of letters and, crucially given the book's subtitle, his poetry, makes it difficult to flesh him out in too much detail, but both writers work with what has remained to paint a relatively convincing portrait of a headstrong but pious courtier with a passion for living and a solid mind. If George doesn't quite pop out as being as much fun as some might imagine him, it's a relief to see why he was nothing like the horror imagined in later fictional adaptations like Bring Up the Bodies or The Other Boleyn Girl. By shifting through all the available information and crucially being able to admit where Boleyn was guilty of hard-heartedness and even outright cruelty, Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway are able to present a biography that is sympathetic without being hagiographic. Rather like the latter's website which has, wholly unjustly and in a spirit of sweeping reduction, been described as a Boleyn "fan site." Empathy is not a whitewash and sympathy or identification is not always a bad thing - as shown by beautiful biographies like Antonia Fraser's on Marie-Antoinette, Lauren Mackey's on Eustace Chapuys, William Shawcross's on Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon or David Starkey's on Elizabeth I.

There are a few flies in the ointment - I would have liked to see a bit more of how George has been reimagined in culture after his death. We have seen a pious George, George the buffoon, gay George, bisexual George, kind George, saintly George, George the rapist and an incestuous George. His afterlife is fascinating and it would have been nice to see a little bit more of that, but that's a personal preference and in a biography that seeks to liberate George Boleyn from the shackles of cultural history, perhaps a facetious and contradictory one.

All things considered, George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier & Diplomat is a gem of a book. Thoughtful, erudite, charming, passionate and clever, it helps set George Boleyn centre-stage and to paint a fascinating portrait of an aristocratic career that ultimately sailed too close to the Sun and paid a tragically unfair price for it.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A lovely endorsement by Leanda de Lisle

I am so pleased that the wonderful Leanda de Lisle has provided a lovely quote for the front covers of The Emperors, which is due to be released on 28th August. Leanda described the book as, "A family story of the royal rivalries that tore Europe apart, full of fire and tragedy." Leanda is not just the author of one of my favourite historical biographies (The Sisters Who Would Be Queen), but she is also the god-daughter of Tsar Nicholas II's younger sister, the Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, who fled to Britain after the Revolution.

The book is available from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Deutschland and Amazon Canada.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Bert, Ernie and Belfast's big "gay cake row"

Bert and Ernie - the unlikely poster children of controversy

Recently, a Northern Irish customer wanted a cake for the centrepiece at a forthcoming party. (My friends Lauren and Claire handmade one from an Old South recipe for an engagement party, but that's by the by.) This cake was to feature the fairly innocuous co-dependent duo of Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie, with a slogan beneath them that encouraged the full legalisation of same-sex marriage. When this request was handed over to a local bakery, they eventually refused to make it on the grounds that to do so was "against what the Bible teaches". (So is bacon and multi-fabric dresses, but I digress.) The bakery was founded by Christians; even its name is a reference to one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel - the tribe of Asher, which, according to ancient tradition, usually produced the finest bakers. The customer in question was piqued, the bakery has since been accused of discrimination and the hashtag "gaycakerow" is doing the round on the Province's Twitterspace.

Not since the sublime Marie-Antoinette allegedly told everyone to up their carb in-take with some brioche have pastries proved so controversial. (Marie-Antoinette, shown rocking a linen gown and casual day-time ostrich plumes to the left, never said "Let them eat cake," by the way. Whatever else her faults might have been, crass insensitivity to suffering was not one of them. But that's the historian in me talking, not the cake enthusiast.) That Gay-Cake-Row somehow managed to make the front page of tonight's Belfast Telegraph is depressing enough; so important were North Belfast's butter-cream quandaries that they bumped the story of an 18 year-old girl, raised in a devoutly Christian family, who had been caught on camera bouncing through a night-club in the holiday resort of Magaluf (imagine Sodom and Gomorrah with perma-tan and too much gel and you're half-way there) pulling the penises of approximately thirty random guys into her mouth in return for a free holiday. ("Holiday" turned out to be the club's name for a cocktail. One of the more sordid elements in a story that offers tough competition in the sordid stakes.) Horror at the girl's antics and rather more touching concern for the level of shame both she and her family must now be suffering thanks to Twitter and the media's explosion of the issue, all acting with pearl-clutching disingenuous disbelief that this kind of thing goes on in Magaluf, has all swiftly been replaced by the debate over whether or not the bakery was right to refuse to make "gay cake" and if their offended customer was right to report them to the Equality Commission.

I have been a citizen of the World Web Wide long enough to know that there are few groups in the world who are quicker to scream "discrimination" than ultra-conservative Christians the minute 1000-years of habit is turned on its head and they are no longer allowed to do anything they like based on their religious philosophy. "Discrimination," in this context, all-too-often means "limits." And "gay-cake-row" (oh, what a ludicrous world we live in) has kicked that hornet's nest. Out in full force once again are the bible-thumping zealots who claim to speak for their entire religion and twisted, bitter armchair commentators, who mutter darkly about the "gay agenda", the "lavender brigades", the "gay mafia", the "same-sex totalitarianism". (A similar dispute about a bakery in America produced deadly-series opinion pieces on the blogosphere which compared the gay rights movement to Lenin's League of the Militant Godless, which was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Russian Christians and the dynamiting of Russian churches, Nazism and the martyrdom of Thomas More in 1535.) Equally, the liberal and pro-gay-marriage media were broadly, though not universally, sympathetic to rumours that the bakery would or could be prosecuted for discriminating against minorities, under current British law.

Little-known fact: there are some subtle differences between the Soviet Union's League of the Militant Godless (shown above, practicing for the execution of priests, nuns and ordinary Christians) and the insidious modern gay agenda (shown below, with actor Neil Patrick Harris, his husband, chef and actor David Burtka, and their two children. Notice how they're forcing their lifestyle choices on the camera - gross, right? Deliberate? Preach it.) Can you spot the differences? I imagine the people Lenin's censors cut out of  photos like the one on the left could.

In the interests of transparency, I should nail my colours to the mast on the gay marriage issue: I am strongly in favour of it. I think the fact that Northern Ireland is the only area of Her Majesty's United Kingdom that does not have marriage equality is absurd - it offends both my unionism (of the slightly to the Right of NI21 variety before things took an embarrassing turn for the shambolic) and my humanitarianism. In a nation in which secular marriage has been a fact courtesy of registry offices for over a century, it makes no more sense for religious institutions to claim they have the right to define what marriage is simply because they have their own version of it than it does for them to claim they have the right to define what architecture is based on the fact that they happen to own and run quite a lot of buildings. However, I also believe in common sense and limits to the current climate of go-to litigiousness.

If a hotel chain refused to serve a gay couple on religious grounds, I would be outraged and I would support legal action. A corporation cannot take that stand unless it was prepared to refuse service to single mothers, unwed couples, people who have lost their virginity outside of marriage or, if we're really going to go to town with Leviticus or Saint Paul, those who oppose the abolition of slavery. (No deluxe room with a riverside view for you, Mr Wilberforce.) Similarly, if a teacher casually and passively observed homophobia in their classroom, I would want answers as to their dereliction of duty, regardless of their religious faith. (Teachers still do this and they get away it. I carried out interviews with teachers for the bullying storyline in The Immaculate Deception and I came away frankly horrified by what some of their colleagues can get away with.) But when the issue comes to smaller, family-run businesses like Asher's Bakery of Belfast, it's not the same thing as a public sector employee or a national or multi-national business.

The customer in question had no reason to know the bakery was named after a Biblical figure when he placed his order. Even if he had, he may have assumed they would take his order because there are millions of practicing Christians all over the world who are strongly supportive of gay rights and, indeed, there are millions of gay Christians. The customer may even have been upset, hurt or mortified by the bakery's refusal of his order - who wouldn't be? But does that automatically justify a letter to the Equality Commission? In my heart of hearts, I'm just not sure that it did. Asher's did not refuse to serve him because he was gay, they refused to make a cake that contained the phrase "Support Same Sex Marriage" because they felt it contradicted Holy Scripture. Were they right? That's for theologians to decide, and they agree with their colleagues even less frequently than economists or historians do. The point is that Asher's were more than within their rights to refuse to make a cake that they felt morally or politically uncomfortable about. To shrink things down to their most reductive, would we expect a bakery situated in a strongly republican area in Belfast to make a red, white and blue cake to celebrate the Twelfth of July showing William of Orange, our most popular 17th-century Dutch invader, astride his marzipan-sculpted horse? Or a bakery at the opposite end of the town to gladly make a cake for this year's Ard Fheis?

Tobias and the Archangels
From Moses to Corinthians, bread, leavened or otherwise, plays a big supporting role. For those interested, left to right, it's Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, Tobias and Saint Raphael.

People in small businesses like Asher's have a right to hold onto their opinions. Equally, the jilted customer can let his or her friends know that this bakery is opposed to gay rights etc., and those people can, in turn, choose to take their custom elsewhere for all future orders, regardless of their nature, if they feel strongly enough about the issue. That's freedom of choice; it's what makes capitalism, big and small, tick. And, for what it's worth, it's a big running theme in Genesis and its 65 critically-acclaimed sequels. (78 if we're counting the Apocrypha, which we should be, but that's a different debate for a different time. Maybe a dinner party over a glass of wine? Who knows?) One could justifiably query if someone should go into business with these kind of views, but I tend to think people should be able to and then pay the price for having principles, whatever that might be. There is so much nonsense written about gay people and Christians online and in the press, and this story does neither group any favours. Is the conscience of a privately-run bakery and their choice of what to ice or otherwise really worthy of front page news? Asher's Bakery aren't martyrs, even though there are those who will be quick to wreath them in the garland of John 15:18. (Only an era as soft as this one could see the crown of martyrdom in something like this...) They are a bakery who made a decision based on how they interpret a few verses in a much-debated religious text. For somebody else, the dividing line on where to bake might be politics, syntax or the imagery itself. Would a baker who was gay or who supported gay rights be wrong to turn away a cake that asked them to craft in icing, "Keep marriage between a man and woman" or "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve"? (If they did, I can take a guess at who would be the first people to claim discrimination.)

There are bigger fish to fry/cakes to ice (what a truly awful pun, I detest myself) than this. Let's bring solicitors and the press into the fray only when the situation really warrants it. If you feel strongly about something this specific, this localised, then, for me, the answer is in our wallets, not a solicitor's office. And to the customer in question, I hope whoever made the cake in the end did a fantastic job and that you had a wonderful party. To the Equality Commission, this seems a bit like over-egging the proverbial cake. (Once you've hit one stinker of a metaphor, it's best to keep going, I find. No regrets.) To the bakery, to paraphrase an apocryphal quote so often attributed to that old rogue of the Enlightenment Voltaire, I don't agree with what you said, but I have to reluctantly defend your right to act upon it. And any previous cakes I've nibbled from your shop have been delicious. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

"George Boleyn" competition winner!

Congratulations to Eliza Nastou, who was the winner of our George Boleyn competition. She has won a signed copy of Claire Ridgway and Clare Cherry's new book George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat by correctly answering the question that actress Natalie Dormer, who played George Boleyn's sister Anne in The Tudors, is currently playing Margaery Tyrell in HBO's Game of Thrones.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

The death of George Boleyn: A guest post and blog tour

It's been quite the start to summer for fans of Tudor biographies, with studies on the lives of those usually defined by their relationship to the royal family's star players appearing to flesh out our knowledge of Henry VIII's dazzling but terrifying court. First, Lauren Mackey's biography of Eustace Chapuys, the prolific diplomat whose correspondence all historians owe a debt to, and secondly Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway's biography George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat, which seeks to give a fairer understanding of Anne Boleyn's notorious brother, who perished in May 1536 on a fabricated charge of commiting incest with his sister the queen. Described by David Starkey as having all of Anne's confidence but only half her talents, George has recently been resurrected in popular culture in many different guises, featuring the novels, plays, television dramas and movies about the Henrician court.

With so much fascination and even more speculation about George Boleyn, Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway (above) have teamed up to produce a biography of him, which I'm reading at the moment and which I can certainly recommend. To win your own signed copy of the book, read on to the end of this extract from George Boleyn, an account of his execution and interest in the Reformation. Thank you to the two Cla(i)res for this excerpt; it's a pleasure to host them as part of their blog tour to promote their new book.


George Boleyn was executed on Tower Hill on 17th May 1536. He had gone from palace to prison to execution within 15 days, and it is a testament to his courage and strength of character that he was able to defend himself so well at his trial and give such an impassioned speech on the scaffold, when lesser men would still have been in shock. He made a long penitent speech, which found admiration with the vast crowd gathered to witness the executions. There are a number of different versions of George’s speech, but they all agree on the basic content. Only Chapuys has George confessing that he deserved death for “having so contaminated and so contaminating others with the new sects”, and praying everyone to abandon such heresies. That is clearly not what he said, and is more a matter of wishful thinking by Chapuys.

The site of George Boleyn's execution
 After stepping on to the scaffold, George addressed the crowd:

“I was born under the law, and I die under the law, for as much as it is the law which has condemned me.”

According to two eyewitnesses, he said this three times, almost as if he were collecting his thoughts before continuing. But there was another reason. To say he died “under the law”, rather than admitting his guilt, was the closest he dared go to declaring his innocence. Therefore, he ensured the point was reiterated to the vast crowd of spectators, many of whom knew him personally. He went on to say that he was not there to preach a sermon but to die. He told the vast crowd that he deserved death because he was a wretched sinner who had grievously and often offended. He did not relate his sins, telling the crowd that they would derive no pleasure from hearing them, and that he would derive no pleasure from stating them. He merely said that God knew them all. He warned everyone present to use him as an example, especially his fellow courtiers. He warned them “not to trust in the vanity of the world, and especially in the flatterings of the Court, and the favour and treacheries of Fortune”, which he said raised men up only to “dash them again upon the ground”. He blamed fortune for his current pitiful condition - or rather, he blamed himself, saying he had leaned too heavily on fortune, “who hath proved herself fickle and false unto me”. He said he prayed for the mercy of God, and that he forgave all men. He begged forgiveness of God and of anyone he might have offended. He begged those present to ask anyone not there to forgive him if he had offended them, and he told them that “having lived the life of a sinner, I would fain die a Christian man.”

There has been much speculation in the latter part of the twentieth and the early years of the twenty-first century about what it was to which George Boleyn was referring to when he said he was a wretched sinner who deserved death, but refused to name his sins. The condemned had their families to protect, and no protestations of innocence would have been acceptable to the Crown. Besides, it was the honourable thing to accept that death was deserved. The Christian doctrine was that we are all sinners deserving of death because of original sin. The shame and dishonour George says he dies for is clearly the incest conviction (“with worse shame and dishonour than hath ever been heard of before”), but at no point in the speech does he make an admission of the offence of which he had been found guilty.

Though one of the sins he refers to, but does not mention, is suggested to be sodomy, there is no evidence for this. George Cavendish suggests that George was referring to promiscuity. This may have been partly true, but the behaviour for which he apologises could refer to an amalgamation of supposed sins. Although George did not ask for the King’s forgiveness, he did ask forgiveness of anyone whom he might have offended. Indeed, he went further than this and virtually begged for forgiveness. As a Christian man about to face death, he would have been acutely aware of his flaws and faults. He was proud, and totally lacked humility. He was typically ruthless and self-seeking for a man of the age. He sat at the trial of Thomas More and was present at the appalling executions of the Carthusian monks, despite his protestations of being a “Christian man”. He showed no sympathy or compassion towards Catherine of Aragon or her daughter Mary. We do not know how he treated his wife, but his reputation as a high-living womaniser would support the notion that he was not ideal husband material. He had even turned his back on his sister Mary in her hour of need. When facing death, George Boleyn, a highly intelligent and religious man, would have been painfully aware of these failings. Hence his speech went above and beyond that which was expected of him.

He admitted he had relied too heavily on fortune and trusted too much in the vanity of the world and the flattery of the court. His positions of favour and power had resulted in sycophantic flattery by friends and enemies alike, and he had swallowed it whole. He had waltzed around the court with an air of arrogance in the certainty of his position, and because of his confidence in himself and the respect in which he was held. Yet those same people who had fawned over him were here now, watching him die. It was all false, and only at the very end did he realise this.

In his speech he went on to highlight his religious convictions, as previously quoted in the chapter on religion, before finishing by praying “God save the King”. Knowing the sort of irreverence to which George Boleyn was prone, this last sentence could be read with a great deal of irony; but whatever was happening to him, his upbringing would never have allowed him to think ill of the King. As far as George was concerned, this was his own fault.

Following his speech, he calmly and courageously knelt down, placed his head on the block, and submitted his neck to the axe. His head was removed with a single stroke, and his severed head was held up to the crowd as the executioner intoned the words, “So ends the lives of all the King’s enemies.” George Boleyn had many faults, but treason had never been one of them, and Henry must have known that. None of the men’s heads were put on display on spikes, as was usual with convicted traitors; this would surely have been the case if Henry seriously thought they were guilty, just as Thomas Culpeper’s would be five years later. It was the only small consideration that Henry showed his innocent friends. George’s body and head were taken to the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower, where his sister would join him two days later. The other men were buried in two graves, two men in each, in the chapel graveyard.

It is unlikely, as Chapuys alleges, that Anne was forced to watch the executions of her brother and friends, but she may have seen the men congregated together before they were marched out of the Tower - perhaps allowing her one last look at her beloved brother. One man who did witness the executions was Thomas Wyatt, who was imprisoned in the Tower still and who wrote about them in verse, illustrating the danger of being too close to the throne:

“These bloody days have broken my heart.
My lust, my youth did them depart,
And blind desire of estate.
Who hastes to climb seeks to revert.
Of truth, circa Regna tonat.

The Bell Tower showed me such a sight
That in my head sticks day and night.
There did I learn out of a grate,
For all favour, glory, or might,
That yet, circa Regna tonat.”

In a way this verse reiterates the words of George Boleyn on the scaffold, when he warned his listeners not to trust the vanities of the world and the flattery of the court. His “blind desire of estate” and his “haste to climb” had led him to this end. This was certainly the passage of his speech that was specifically remembered by most of those present, particularly courtiers. On 18 September 1536, John Husee had cause to write to Lady Lisle, “but now I remember my Lord of Rochford’s words, who exhorted every man to beware of the flattering of the court.” There was many a young courtier who heard those words with trepidation.

George’s body and head were taken to the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower, where his sister would join him two days later.

Notes and Sources

* Bentley, Samuel, ed. Excerpta Historica Or, Illustrations of English History. London, 1831, pp. 261–5.
LP x. 908
* Constantine, George. Archaeologia, Or, Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity. Vol. 23. ed. T Amyot, The Society, 1831, pp. 64-6.
Gruffudd, Elis. “Gruffudd’s Chronicle”. The National Library of Wales.
St Clare Byrne, Muriel, ed. The Lisle Letters. Vol. 3. University of Chicago Press, 1981, p491.
* The Chronicle of Calais In the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII to the Year 1540 (ed. Gough Nichols, John).
* Thomas, William, The Pilgrim, London, 1861, pp.116-17
* Wriothesley, Charles. A Chronicle of England During the Reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559. ed. Camden Society 1875., pp. 39-40.


Win a signed copy of George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat by Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway by answering this question. Please submit your answers like a comment, complete with your e-mail address; neither will be published. But when we use a generator to randomly select a winner from the entrants, it'll be helpful to have your e-mail address for me to let you know you've won! The e-mail addresses, perhaps needless to say, will not be passed on to any third parties. (Also please leave comments about the article, with any of your own thoughts or queries about George Boleyn, Lord Rochford. It's always a pleasure for authors to hear from people interested in their work!)
QUESTION: George Boleyn's sister Anne was played by English actress Natalie Dormer in the Showtime series "The Tudors". What is the name of the queen she is currently playing in HBO's medieval fantasy "Game of Thrones"? 

The competition closes on Thursday 12th June 2014. Thank you.

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