Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Family Feuds: Anne Boleyn and Mary Tudor
The above video comes from a beautifully-made series of online videos by Owen George Emmerson about the historiography of Anne Boleyn and this one in particular chronicles the notorious feud between Anne and her stepdaughter, the future Mary I. I tend to think that Anne's policy of hostility came after Mary's rejection of a peace between them, rather than being the sandwich before and after the rejection, as Owen argues here. I'm also fairly sceptical about the claims that Anne had instinctively disliked Mary from the get-go and think that it's only after 1533 that we can begin to see Anne even taking much notice of Mary, presumably because with the birth of Elizabeth, Mary now formed a potential threat which Anne was anxious to neutralise. That she failed to do so is hardly surprising and I think Anne consistently underestimated how strongly Mary felt about her. Certainly, she seemed utterly surprised by the virulence of Mary's reactions and, predictably, that surprise turned into anger. In any case, Owen's video focuses primarily on the feud from Mary's point-of-view, so it is obviously going to focus more on the hostilities, rather than the failed peace initiatives. My own gut instinct is that the role of Eustace Chapuys, the Spanish ambassador, in all this has been consistently downplayed and that, in fact, his influence over Mary was both malign and unhelpful and probably helped to trigger the worst results of her flamboyant moods and tragic psychosomatic illnesses, which Owen discusses here. All things considered, however, I'm a big fan of this video and couldn't agree more with Owen's conclusion that it was Henry who was the author of Mary's misfortunes, not Anne.
For Anne Boleyn's own reflections on her relationship with Mary at the end of her life, read here.