George Boleyn is quite the enigmatic character. Often misaligned with his sister, Anne Boleyn, as they suffered the same fate in 1536 when they were executed on trumped up charges, stemming from Henry VIII’s wish to have a son- which seemingly he could not with Anne. But were the siblings guilty of incest? Was the lesser known brother homosexual or a womanizer? Who was George Boleyn?!
Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway sought to try and answer these questions as best they could with the information available. There are no known portraits of George, but they’ve been able to compile an outline of his life, based on letters, diplomatic cables and state papers.The writers really strive to separate fact from fiction. As with many historical figures from that time, there are gaps in George’s life and details that we will never know, but with this resourc, we can begin to truly paint a picture of who George Boleyn was- and who he most certainly was not.
I found that the book gave me some real insights into court life under Henry VIII. “Bluff King Hal” was definitely a pleasure-seeking man, but he relegated state business to the men he trusted most. George was among the men he trusted deeply, as shown by the offices and duties assigned to the young Boleyn. George acted on behalf of Henry many times, negotiating with the King of France. From the numerous missions, assignments and offices George was given, it’s obvious to see that he was not just the partying playboy that some modern fiction plays him to be.
This book is a must have for anyone who is interested in learning about the inner workings of the court during Tudor rule. If your focus is mainly on the wives of Henry VIII, this probably isn’t the reading material for you. Of course, there are mentions of Anne, Jane Seymour and Catherine of Aragon, but they are not the focus of the book. You will learn more about the proud man who also bore the now infamous name and how he contributed to the court before the rise of his sister. Claire and Clare also spend a whole chapter addressing the relationship of George with his wife, Jane, Lady Rochford, who later shared her husband’s fate. They lay out the evidence we have to dispel the popular myths of Jane’s complicity in the investigation against her husband and sister-in-law. Also, there are some great resources towards the end of the book, with timelines, poetry and writings about George.
“George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier, and Diplomat” is available for purchase through Amazon US and UK, and I encourage anyone wanting to know more about the real Tudors to visit Claire Ridgway’s site The Anne Boleyn Files for true and factual information.