Sunday, July 6, 2014
The Writings of Anne Boleyn
Much has been written about Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second queen, but almost none of these texts discuss in detail the writing and speech she left behind. From her unique position of condemned queen, Anne speaks out through her writing and speech in defense of her name; she implicitly criticizes her male judges and Henry VIII who treat her as they would any disobedient “talkative” woman. Because none of the surviving texts about Anne discuss her speech and writing, the modern student o sixteenth century England is left with a confused portrait of a woman who has been branded either whore or saint with almost no attempt to define the human being trapped in the middle of these labels. Yet, Anne left two poems, some letters, and other writings behind which give the modern reader some insight into her actions and personality. She was not content to play the role of objet d’art often assigned ot her. The obstacles she encountered in becoming Queen and in defending herself later served as barriers that influenced her to speak and to write. It is through her poems and letters that we see the woman emerge from the two dimensional image that history has assigned her. Also, many of her contemporaries chronicled her words in a more objective fashion than those sources most often cited as her biographers. Anne, to the Renaissance way of male thinking was a guilty of being a “whore of her tongue,” as of being a “whore of her body” because chaste Renaissance women of her status did not speak in public or chastise their husbands, but negotiated her discourse in various ways from different subject positions. In fact, she sometimes expressed herself through her appearance or through the use of her body. For example, Anne wore French fashions as well as dresses of her own design at Henry’s court. The French dresses emphasized her impressive and impeccable French education which made her desirable as a wife in aristocratic English circles and paid homage to her mentor, Queen Claude. From the earliest history of writing, women writers and speakers, to their horror, have been defined as male creations (Gubar 295). Among other things, women were viewed as art objects which inspired pottery and painting, but they were judged incapable of creating writing themselves, so Anne was portrayed by her cousin, the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt, as a “vessel” for royal sons. Henry spoke of her as his “mistress” in a possessive manner when he was aware she wanted to be a legitimate wife (Ives 57). Because she was mere object, a woman in the English Renaissance had no voice or identity of her own, so she made do with the materials at hand (293). Anne, a gifted woman, adorned herself in French fashions and jewels and designed original gowns, so that she decorated herself as if she were some Renaissance Galatea (Gubar 297). Through this “body language,” she was negotiating a means to express her opinions on individuality, her love of French culture, and her fine French education. Later, when she was accused of treason, she again used her body to speak for her, she opened her gown to Master Kingston, constable of the Tower, to show she had nothing to hide and to illustrate her vulnerable position by baring her breast. History does not tell us if she wore a shift under her gown. So successful was she at promoting this image of the Renaissance Galatea, that at lest one biographer has written of her that, after Katharine of Aragon’s death, Anne was “no more than a burnished picture” (Rival 107), framed by her gold jewelry and elaborate headdress. Shakespeare introduces her as a decorative woman at a banquet, one of many such decorative ladies, in his play, Henry VIII ( Micheli 456). Paul Rival, in The Six Wives of Henry VIII, comments that Henry made Anne into his own creation, and that in possessing her, he destroyed her (107). Yet, Anne was not content at playing the role of object d’ art. She was outspoken, intelligent, talented, and a fair poet and songwriter. The obstacles she encountered in becoming queen and in defending herself later served as barriers that influenced her to speak and to write It is through her poems and letters that we see the woman emerge from the two dimensional image scripted for her by historians. Works that will be discussed in this paper include a riddle she is reputed to have written, two poems attributed to her, several recorded instances of her speech, including words spoken at her trial and her last words, a childhood letter to her father, and her controversial last letter to Henry VIII. Where writings have been “attributed to her,” I will discuss why I believe they are hers. Anne’s alleged riddles appear in the Devonshire Manuscript, an anthology of poems written by members of Henry VIII’s court. Included in the manuscript are several identified examples of Sir Thomas Wyatt’s poetry. While other biographers have stated they do not believe Anne wrote in the manuscript, one of her modern biographers, Eric Ives, has indicated that he does believe the riddle to be hers (Ives 87-88). Ives points out that for the last seventy years, historians have believed that the manuscript points to a link between Wyatt and Anne. One reason for this belief is hat the manuscript was linked with Anne’s Howard relatives and with Madge Shelton, her waiting woman and cousin. It apparently belonged to Mary Howard, Anne’s cousin and wife to Henry’s illegitimate son, the Due of Richmond (87-88). The Devonshire Anthology consists of almost 200 poems (87-88). The manuscript has passed back and forth, and borrowers would inscribe a poem before they passed it on. Such a practice was common in Henry’s humanist court where all writers presented themselves as readers and editors of other peoples’ manuscripts. Group improvisation of poems was customary, as was circulating a manuscript before printing (Jones 3). Henry himself may have contributed some poems. Attributed to Anne specifically are folios signed “an” and with the motto “amer amni I” which means, “love, Anne.” The accompanying riddle goes as follows: An el men An em e As I have dese I ama yours an When the second and forth letters of each line are transposed, the riddle reads as follows: A lemmen Amene Oh I have dese I am yours an (87-88). The “an” has been held to be a signature, i.e., “Anne,” by some historians, but this theory has been largely disclaimed, the letters may really be only random fragments of lines. (Harrier 582). The next stanza, identified as Thomas Wyatt’s, completes the riddle: “That time that mirth did steer my ship Which now is fraught with heaviness. And fortune bit not then the lip Then in my book wrote my mistress: ‘I am yours, you may well be sure, And shall be while my life doth cleave.” (88-89). Ives acknowledges that the riddle may not be by Anne because it is unlikely that Wyatt would have written love poems to Queen Anne, such an act would be foolhardy and dangerous (88-89). It is even more unlikely, he claims, that she would answer with “I am yours,” Anne.” Yet, there is some evidence that Anne was for Wyatt an object of courtly love (Lofts 93). Anne, though not a classicist, favored the poetry of Petrarch, and her cousin Thomas Wyatt introduced the Petrarchan sonnet in to England (Warnicke, “Women of the English Renaissance, 33). Some of her other relatives at court were also classical humanists who wrote poetry in the style of Petrarch (33). Rather than being an actual lover, Anne would have been an object of Wyatt’s courtly affection, as with Petrarch and Laura de Sade (38) (ancestor of the infamous Marquis). Within the conventions of courtly love, such banter may well have been permissible, especially if written in the early 1530s, when Anne was in high favor with Henry. Also, Wyatt was imprisoned for being one of Anne’s supporters in 1536, a pair of riddles such as these would have been more than ample evidence to imprison him during the dark days when Henry had turned against Anne. One must also remember that Henry considered himself a patron of Christian humanism to the point that the education of women was important to him, at least for appearance’s sake. Mary I benefitted from his personal interest in her early life and could translate Erasmus’ Latin paraphrases on the New Testament as part of a project to publish them in English (33). Elizabeth I later receive a similar education. Henry’s daughters, like Margaret Roper, child of Sir Thomas More, were educated novelties of a new fad favored at Henry’s court. Another piece of evidence used to attack the theory that Anne wrote the riddle is that it is not in her handwriting ( Harrier 582). This is a strong piece of evidence, yet it must be remembered that a person’s handwriting changes over time. Proponents of the handwriting attack do not say which period they are using as a comparative sample of Anne’s handwriting. Harrier only says that the sample is not like any example of Anne’s handwriting that he has ever seen (582). For example, we know that the handwriting she used to write her father in 1514 is bad by Renaissance standards; it differs from the handwriting appearing in her love letters to Henry. As for Anne herself, it is difficult to justify her answer to the riddle. Perhaps as queen she felt she had the right to write anything she pleased. Or, perhaps, within the confines of the court, she was talking part in a mere game involving the rules of courtly love which were so important to her contemporaries. The two poems attributed to Anne are far different from the light-hearted riddle in tone. Originally, they may have been intended to be songs for the lute since Anne was a talented player and was very fond of her instrument (Lofts 164). Anne’s justification for writing them was she was awaiting imminent death. The tone of both poems is that of hopeless resignation and of the fear that infamy would besmirch her good name (164). In any case, they were more than likely written when Anne was imprisoned in the Tower, perhaps after sentence of death was passed upon her (164). It is reasonable to believe that the poems date from this time, and that they would have been preserved, because Cromwell had employed spies to repeat everything they wrote, even two songs for her lute. The shorter of the two poems reads as follows: Defiled is my name full sore Through cruel spite and false report, That I may say for evermore, Farewell my joy! Adieu comfort! For wrongfully ye judge of me Unto my fame a mortal wound, Say what you list, it will not be, Ye seek for that can not be found” (Stanford 18). Some biographers, including Norah Lofts, do not hesitate to say that this is Anne’s poem. Earlier anthologies that I have read clearly identify her as the author of these two poems. Yet, later anthologies and some biographers are more cautious and merely attribute the poem to her without giving reasons for their decisions. I believe for several reasons, however, that these are Anne’s words. For one thing, the first poem “Defiled is my Name” echoes words that Anne spoke when she was arrested and subsequently imprisoned in the Tower of London. Kingston, constable of the Tower, recorded her words carefully (Erickson 268). When first arrested, anne scorned her interrogators and said “For a queen to be so cruelly handled was never seen” (250). This sentence echoes the line in the poem “Defiled is my name full sore/Through cruel and false report.” Moreover, the use of “defiled” and the line “for wrongfully ye judge of me” protest the speaker’s innocence, implying she has been framed and maligned. From the moment she entered the Tower, Anne protested her innocence saying “God help me! I am not guilty of the accusation . . . I beg you to beseech the King’s grace to be good to me” (Bruce 305). At another time, she protested “I shall have Justice . . . If any man accuseth me, I can say but nay . . . And then shall I be in heaven, for I have done many good deeds in my day” (Erickson 254). These are the words of a person steadfastly arguing her innocence, just as the speaker of the poem is. In other words, the speaker of the poem acknowledges that the accusations against her and her subsequent imprisonment were barriers that influenced her to speak in defense of her innocence. The idea that mere mortal words condemn but that divine Providence pardons is implied in Anne’s statement that she shall be in heaven for her good deeds, for only men, mere humans, accuse her. Assuming the speaker is Anne, she is speaking from a particularly unstable subject position. She is accused, among other things, of treason through adultery, yet there is no contemporary legal precedent that even roved adultery of a queen consort was treason (Warnicke 53). Wyatt and others have praised her as the object of Petrarchan courtly love in Henry’s court, yet she is later branded a “whore” for inspiring it, and her admirers are condemned or imprisoned with her. It should be noted that the court was itself an unstable environment where corruption and courtly love mixed uneasily with the fickleness of Henry’s own likes and dislikes. By the time she was sentenced to die, Anne spoke from several seemingly conflicting subject positions. On the one hand, she had been branded a “whore” and could now speak with that uneasy freedom that belonged to women who had nothing to lose. On the other hand, she could justify her discourse because she faced impending death. She spoke to her judges beginning with “Oh God, Thou knowest if I have merited this death . . .” (Lofts 163), once again implying that God alone can judge her because only he knows the truth of her innocence. Her words are cryptic in this speech for she says to the judges “I think you know well the reason why you have condemned me to be other than that which led you to this judgment” (163). As intelligent as she was, she may have been aware that there was no precedent for a case of treasonous adultery. In the same way, the poet writes “For wrongfully ye judge of me,/Say what ye list, it will not be,/Ye seek for that can not be found”(Boleyn 18). The line “Say what ye list, it will not be” is almost a direct translation of the motto Anne used for a time during 1530, “Ainsi sera graigne que graigne” which translated is “Let them grumble, that is how it is going to be (Ives 90). Just as in Anne’s speech, the lines quoted from the poem imply she has been condemned for a reason other than that which the judges claim, and that no evidence exists that she is guilty of the charges. No matter what they say, she is innocent. Her last words express the same sentiment only in more cryptic fashion. The reason for the cryptic style will be addressed later in this paper. In her death speech, Anne says that she is judged to die according to the law (Lofts 178). She goes on to say that if any man meddle in her cause, she requires him to “judge the best” (178). Once again, the implication is that men, mortal authors of mortal law, have condemned her. Any one who takes up a defense of her will see this, and will judge her innocent in the eyes of God. It is interesting that even her nemesis agreed with her on this point. Cavendish, the most vicious of her biographers, has observed that she deserved better treatment than she received (Lofts 163). Magistrates of London stated that her defense of herself was eloquent and that they believed in her innocence, but that the king and his cronies had made up their minds to be rid of her, so that there was no way she could live (Schauer 69). The Lord Mayor himself said he “could not see anything in the proceeding against her, but that they were resolved to make an occasion to get rid of her” (Quoted in Lofts 163). Sir Thomas More, anticipating what Anne’s fate would be said of her “Alas it pitieth me to think into what misery she will shortly come (Quoted in Lofts 146). Anne’s controversial last letter to Henry, dated approximately May 7, 1536, expresses the same sentiments as ‘Defiled is my Name.” The letter is controversial because an early biographer writing in the 1880s, Paul Friedmann, declare this letter to be a forgery (xx). He gives, however, no evidence for this declaration (xx). Mary Hewitt, an American biographer writing in the 1850s, believes without a doubt that the letter is Anne’s and says that she agrees with an even earlier historian who said that the letter “contains so much nature and even elegance, that it deserves to be transmitted to posterity” ( Hewitt 195). Eric Ives, on the other hands, believes the existing letter to be a copy of the original (Ives 67). Ives claims that none of the copies of the letter are contemporary to Anne, but that tradition has it Thomas Cromwell possessed the original (67). Anne is not aware of her specific subject position in the letter, and she says that “as what to write or what excuse, I am altogether ignorant” (Hewitt 195). Yet, she negotiates her discourse by playing the dutiful wife to the end. In this way, she legitimates her right to speak to Henry in the angry way she does. She calls herself a “poor wife”, a “loyal and affectionate” wife who should not be forced to lie to her husband about something she has not done (196). In this letter, Anne warns her royal husband that he is in “imminent danger of the judgment seat of God” for his actions and false accusations against her (Ives 67). In another passage of the letter, Anne says “but if you have already determined of me, and that [not] only my death, but an infamous slander must bring to the enjoying of your desired happiness, than I desire of God, that he will pardon your great sin therein, and that he will not call you to a strict account for your unprincely and cruel usage of me, at this general judgment seat . . . and in whose judgment, I doubt not (whatsoever the world may think of me) mine innocence shall be openly known, and sufficiently cleared.” (Quoted in Fenton 159). As in both poems, the letter’s author bemoans the fact that her name will be slandered, and says that God alone will judge her innocent. “Slander” is a carefully chosen word for it involves the defamation of a person’s name or reputation through the use of words. Anne has been accused of being a scold, a whore of the tongue, and in Old Testament fashion, the weapon of her alleged wrongdoing, speech, is now used against her. The strong defense of her innocence is once again expressed in Anne’s last, scathing message to Henry which reds as follows: “Commend me to His Majesty and tell him that he hath ever been consistent in his career of advancing me; from a private gentlewoman he made me a marchioness, from a marchioness a queen and now that he hath left no other degree of honour he gives my innocence the crown of martyrdom” (Lofts 177). Finally, Anne’s own religious faith shares the same belief in God’s justice as the speaker of the poem. Despite her interests in religious reform and Lutheranism which will be discussed in some detail later, Anne was still Catholic. For example, she still believed that at the moment the priest placed the blessed wafer in her mouth, the wafer became the body and blood of Christ (Lofts 173). When she took communion before her execution, she once again protest her innocence, if it were not true, she would not have said for, as a good Catholic, she would have feared eternal damnation for lying (173). Moreover, throughout her trial and imprisonment, Anne swore over and over “on damnation of soul”: that she had not been unfaithful to Henry (Erickson 28). The second poem attributed to Anne, “O Death Rock me Asleep”, has the same sad, resigned tone as “Defiled is my Name.” In “O Death”, the speaker laments her miserable fate and believes only death can free her from her torment. She pleads for death to “let pass [her]weary , guiltless ghost/out of “her’ careful breast” because there is no one to “express” her pains or to plead her cause (Boleyn 18). The same evidence applicable to “Defiled is My Name; applies to this poem as well. Yet, I think that this poem, more than the first, illustrates Anne’s own realization that no one dares to speak for her because her enemies have decided to do away with her. The facts leading up to her trial, imprisonment, and execution, substantiate this statement. State trials like Anne’s were politically inspired and bore little or now resemblance to procedures used in routine civil and criminal trials (Schauer 49). It is also significant that in Henry’s time, a person could be destroyed by her own words, carefully saved and recorded to be used against her. Today, it is possible to construct a fierily accurate picture of her trial from existing records (51). Part of the emotional torture practiced on her was also used on other state prisoners; that is, Anne would have been denied knowledge of her own fate or that of her friends and family, of the coming trial, or of any opportunity to obtain counsel for herself (Bruce 307). The strategy behind this torture by silence was to force the distraught prisoner to talk ton dot incriminate herself (307). Once again, the instability of the society’s attitude towards women is apparent. Women who were “chaste” were not encouraged to speak, especially in public. Yet, if a king and his ministers wanted to destroy a woman, they would do all they could to induce her to speak so that she would incriminate herself. At this point, one must remember that there was no privilege against self-incrimination during Anne’s time. It was not established until the seventeenth century (Schauer 75). Furthermore, Anne repeatedly asked Kingston if she would have justice because she was familiar with the contemporary legal procedures and feared she would not (Erickson 251-52). Even at the height of her glory, Anne knew that she had no friends in England to portray her as chaste. Instinctively, though, she knew that she had many enemies. These included at the time of her trial, Henry, Cromwell, some of her own relatives, and Mary’s supporters. She knew, by the time of her last miscarriage in 1536, that Henry needed to end their marriage quickly, and only a legal solution, albeit with trumped-up charges, would suffice (Schauer 54-58). Despite her valid arguments, Anne has still been portrayed historically as a scold by some writers. Her own keen wit and the tolerant atmosphere of the Dutch and French households where was educated led Anne to burst out angrily at Henry, at one point, even reducing him to tears (Lofts 93) Supposedly, the cause of these arguments was that, as late as 1531, Katharine of Aragon was still regarded as queen. Again, Anne voices concern for the instability of her position, for as long as Katharine lived, many would believe her marriage to be invalid and any children she might bear, illegitimate. Roper goes so far as to say that it was by Anne’s “importunate clamor” that More was arrested, thereby illustrating the danger that woman’s speech could bring (Roper 238). Indeed, in a time when public female silence was equated with chastity, the speech of a noble woman was no less dangerous than the nakedness of her limbs (Ferguson 99). Since scolds were associated with witches and whores, it is fitting that the charges later brought against Anne included accusations that she laughed at Henry’s clothes, mocked him, made fun of his ballads, and called him impotent (Erickson 235). The incest charges and legends of her sixth finger and facial moles were also factors associated with witchcraft (Warnicke 3). Chapuys, the Spanish Ambassador, helped to perpetuate the witch rumors against Anne, as did Nicholas Sanders, a later scholar, who was born in 1530, and who never saw Anne 93). In fact, it was Sanders who first openly called her a witch (3). Because of his bias, Chapuys wrote countless letters about Anne, deliberately distorting stories about her and her appearance (Lofts 91). Other contemporaries of Anne, including Edward Lord Herbert and the Bishop of Salisbury disclaimed the rumors of her “monstrous appearance” (Warnicke 3). Unfortunately, according to Warnicke, too many modern historians have chosen to take Chapuys and Sanders seriously and have labeled Anne as too flirtatious for her own good, thus blaming the victim for her own death and destruction (3). Even Norah Lofts, one of her most sympathetic biographers, claims she had “some little show of a nail” on her left hand and that she had a mole on her neck “said to be the size of a strawberry” (16). One telling shred of evidence that may acknowledge the falsity of these stories is that Elizabeth I was very proud of her beautiful hands, hands she more than likely inherited from her mother (160. Yet, still other historians speak of Anne’s beautiful eyes and gorgeous hair (Ives 52). One has even compared her to Shakespeare’s Dark Lady (Chapman 49). Accusing Anne of being a scold and a witch would have been effective accusations because they would have turned the populace against her, and her detractors felt it was important to have the approval of the people when they turned on her. Anne’s tongue literally had to implicated in her disgrace, and at one point, she was alleged to have lured her own brother by placing her tongue in his mouth (Schauer 71). Good wives and women were admonished not to “give ear unto” stories of Anne’s licentiousness. Anne’s benefactors, too, wanted popular approval, so that Foxe used her last words to vindicate her and said that “. . . her last words spoken at her death declared no less her sincere faith and trust in Christ, than did her quiet modesty bring forth the goodness of the cause and matter, whatsoever it was” (Foxe 135). Foxe is careful to counteract the scold accusations by emphasizing Anne’s pious words and modesty. He also says that Anne had a “mild” nature”, not a quick temper, and that she took “admonishment well” (135-36). According to Foxe, rather than harangue clergymen, Anne asked her chaplains to tell her how she was amiss, and Foxe blames parliament, not the king, for lying in order to destroy her (1936). The king would have had to have been duped or bewitched by others; it would be treason to accuse Henry of lechery, or even bad judgment. Foxe’s defense is carefully chosen, because, in Anne’s time, how a person died defined who she was. Anne knew this, and her last words were carefully calculated to vindicate her life. Like Foxe, George Wyatt also attempts to vindicate Anne through her own words and deeds calling her “elect of God” and a woman of “invincible courage” and “heroical spirit” (Wyatt 24-25). He and Foxe both point to the long, glorious reign of “her happy issue”, Elizabeth, as an indication of God’s approval of Anne’s life and of her innocence (Wyatt 22). Later, Elizabeth sought a Papal Bull permitting her parents marriage, and this was found in 1572 (Warnicke 239). Also, the poem’s speaker in “O Death, Rock me Asleep”, welcomes death as a solution for her pain in the same way that anne apparently did. The last stanza of the poem begins “Farewell, my pleasures past/Welcome, my present pain!/I feel my torments so increase/That life cannot remain (Boleyn 18). This line echoes Anne’s words to Kingston when she heard that her execution would be delayed from early morning to noon: “Master Kingston, I hear say I shall not die afore noon, and I am very sorry . . . for I thought be dead by this time and past my pain” 9ives 407). She realized that since her name had been defiled and her reputation ruined, she would be better off dead than to be treated with the same disgrace that Katharine was. Anne’s last two public speeches were cryptic, in keeping with contemporary style (Lofts 63). Though she welcomes death as a release from her sorrows, she is careful to be brief and not to accuse anyone directly. Any direct attack on her accusers would have meant even more disaster for her family and for her daughter, whose future was already uncertain because she had been declared illegitimate (Schauer 72). After sentence of death was passed, Anne said: “Oh God, thou knowest if I have merited this death. I think you know well the reason why you have condemned me to be other than that which led you to this judgment. My only sin[s] against the king have been my jealousy and lack of humility. But I am prepared to die. What I regret most deeply is that men who were innocent and loyal to the king must lose their heads because of me (Lofts 163). She may have been thinking of Katharine of Aragon’s own speech before a tribunal. Katharine, too, said that a Queen of England should not be so mistreated (Hewitt 184). Also, she, like Anne, implied that innocent people were being punished and that the court was made up not of her judges, but of her enemies who had a hidden agenda in summoning her before them (184). In the sentence, “ I am prepared to die,” Anne echoes the death wish voiced by the poet of “O Death, Rock me Asleep.” Anne’s last words, recorded by Kingston, were as follows: “Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, according to the Law, for by the Law I am judged to die, and therefore, I will speak nothing against it . . . But I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never; and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign king. And if any person will meddle in my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of this world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me “(Lofts 178). The line, “a merciful prince was there never” could mean “there was never a merciful prince. She probably got away with as much as she said because she faced impending death and the judgment of God. In keeping with the idea that the speech of a noble woman was no less dangerous than the nakedness of her limbs, Anne’s execution was private, with primarily foreigners present. All who watched her die agreed she died well, and Wyatt said she had more perseverance than Atlas, “Much more a woman who yet dying, did seal it with her blood “(25). She spoke firmly, with a “good smiling countenance,” yet significantly confessed no sin on her part (Ives 410). [Later, her cousin Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Rochford, who sister in law did make confessions before their executions. Catherine alleged she died a queen, but would rather have died the simple wife of Tom Culpepper, and Lady Jane plead her innocence regarding the king but alleged her own guilt in brining about Anne and George Boleyn’s deaths George, of course, was her husband]. This missing confession is important because of the Renaissance belief in the afterlife. No one would like in the face of death for fear of eternal damnation. Her refusal to confess was silent, eloquent proof of her innocence to the witnesses who saw her die. With her death, Anne was somewhat vindicated; the German Protestants broke with Henry because of Anne’s execution, and Holinshed, Wyatt, and Foxe wrote openly in her defense. In fact, Foxe insulted the Pope and accused him of judging all women by the courtesans of Rome and further says the Pope”Impudently abuseth his pen in maligning Anne” (Foxe 137). What is ironic here is that the Pope is being treated as a woman writer accused of literary prostitution! Finally, another scaffold confession appears to vindicate Anne completely, but for the fact that its author was blieved at times to be mad. Anee’s sister-in-law, Ldy Jane Rochford, was excecuted with Anne’s cousin, Catherine Howard in 1542. Her last words were: “I am innocent of the crime of which I am accused, but I die justly because I lied long ago when I myself accused my husband George and Queen Anne of incest”(Rifal 168). Anne Boleyn had good cause to lament her good name in the above poems and speeches for it would have been valuable to both her and her family. To enhance her value to her family, she received an impeccable education in The Netherlands and in France to prepare her for life at court. She was also renowned for her ability to speak French and for her eloquent manners, her wit, and her French fashions. It is for these reasons, she and her family would have expected her to make and advantageous marriage. Therefore, she would have shunned being a someone’s mistress, even the king’s, and prized her own chastity. It appears that Anne’s father planned her education for the time she was born. Historians differ in fixing her birth date, but it is generally agreed to be either 1501 or 1507 (Lofts 9). It is somewhat ironic that the birth of this remarkable woman was so inconsequential that no one bothered to record it correctly. Contrary to historical rumor, Anne was not of humble origins, but was born a great lady; one ancestor was Lord Mayor of London from 1457-58 (Ives 3). Her father, Thomas, was an envoy for Henry VII to Margaret, Duchess of Austria and Regent of the Netherlands (Warnicke 7). Thomas Boleyn was a favorite of Margaret, who was also a sister-in-law of Katharine of Aragon. In fact, it was Margaret who taught Katharine to speak French so that she could converse at the English court (Ives 23). As a result, Margaret agreed to provide for the education of Thomas’s daughter, Anne (Warnicke 7). Such an education would provide Anne with a good chance to be a maid of honor at the English court, where French was considered the language o culture. A French education beginning at Margaret’ court would also facilitate Anne’s chances to make an advantageous marriage, which would also advance her father and relatives (Ives 11). Thomas Wyatt’s words on female relatives illustrate Anne’s position as pawn for the sake of the Boleyn and Howard families: “if a female relative be fair, if handsome by her middle, then sell her for a good price to ‘thy better’ and never let friendship get in the way of advantage-that is the only recipe” (11). Moreover, Thomas Boleyn was himself an educated man who spoke French and Latin and was known to study Erasmus (11). He would have appreciated the fine points of a good education in the same way that another Renaissance man, Sir Thomas More would, for his daughter. Learned women were even preferred over virtuous but unlearned women in the Renaissance, but the idea behind such reasoning was, in part, that the proper learning could increase a woman’s virtue (Wayne 22). “Proper learning” included proper ethical conduct, and the latter was intended to restrict women’s behavior and intellectual growth by training them to play specific roles ,e.g., wife, mother, maid of honor (22). For Anne, this Christian humanist education meant that she would learn, among other things, to be able to converse well in French so that she could act as an interpreter of the ideas of others, not so that she could communicate her own. Under Margaret’s tutelage, Anne learned to speak French so fluently that she allegedly spoke English with a slight French accent. Peoples’ memories of Anne in The Netherlands portray an intelligent, alert and self-possessed young woman. She was a quick study and learned French by listening to the ladies at court, then imitating them (Ives 31). Foxe later praised her for “the rare and singular gifts of her mind, so well instructed . . .” (135). Anne could read the scriptures in French and may have owned books by Fish and Tyndale. Later, when she married, her Privy Purse accounts showed money spent for books for Henry (Warnicke 111). She also came to love painting, especially illuminated manuscripts and books (Ives 30). Furthermore, Margaret was a meticulous chaperon for a young girl and insisted on correct department and conversation. She id not even allow gossip in her household (26). Clearly, the young girls in her care were not allowed to engage in “by play” with men at court, and chastity and courtly loved played out according to conventions were emphasized (Ives 26-27). Margaret was also a good poet who used her verse to teach her charges lessons in behavior. In the following example, she is teaching her girls not to confide in their servants: “Thrust in those who offer you service, You will find yourselves In the ranks of those who’ve been Deceived” (quoted in Ives 26-27). Self-protection lay in self confidence and quick wit: “Fine words are the . . .[way] . . . to pay back . . . Word for word, that is justice . . . “(26-27). Anne Boleyn learned this lesson well and was well known during her life for her quick wit and intelligence. Yet, these virtues and Margaret’s lessons betrayed her when she was faced and attached by men to whom the measured conventions of Margaret meant nothing (26-27). For Anne, the quick wit and repartee may have been a way to negotiate for discourse at court. For Henry and his cronies, witty replies labeled her as a scold. According to Bruce, when Anne was later living in the household of Marguerite D’Alencon in France, she was encourage to speak using her own judgment on a variety of topics usually reserved fro men at the English court (Ives 25). Besides learning French and department, Anne had to attend Margaret and share the society of her court, performing any tasks requested of her. She would be expected to join in court entertainment including dances, hunts, and tournaments (26). Because of this training, Anne was good at putting masques together for Henry. She learned to dance well, learning from books by Mechelen (26). In 1514, Anne wrote a letter to her father which is still extant (Ives 24). Ives determines the writing is hers because it has been compared to samples of notes written to her tutor. Anne was between seven and thirteen when she wrote the letter, and it is full of bad errors. The penmanship is bad, and she apologizes for her mistakes. Even though is she so young she knows her responsibility to her father and she expresses the hope that at court, the Queen may talk with her (quoted in Ives 15). The Queen is either Henry’s sister Mary, who married Louis XII of France, or Katharine of Aragon (Warnicke 15). Anne’s justification for writing is her role as dutiful daughter. The letter is formal and serious. According to Bruce, Thomas was pleased with the letter, and kept it carefully, so that we still can read it today (20). From the Regent’s court, Anne was sent to France as maid of honor or child of honor for Henry VII’s sister, Mary Tudor (Lofts 14). Anne continued to learn to dress well, behave well at social events, play and sing, and converse pleasantly (Warnicke 13). After Louis died, Anne stayed on at Francis I’s court as a member of Queen Claude’s Household, and she may have met Leonardo Da Vinci there (Bruce 25). Claude, though only fifteen when she became queen was “Intensely pious and ruled . … over a nunnery rather than a court:” (Quoted in Lofts 17). Claude was so morally upright, that after her death, it was suggested she be canonized (Bruce 21). Because she was bilingual in English and French, she was able to speak directly with Anne. As a person, Claude was shy, warm, and gentle and liked illuminated manuscripts, as did Anne’s mentor, Margaret (37). Perhaps it was from Claude and Margaret that Anne came to admire them, too. Though she bore seven children in rapid succession, she was still concerned for Anne’s welfare and provided her with a suitable governess, Francaise de Rohan, Countess of Tonverre (Warnicke 20). A poem written about Anne in 1536 by Lancelot du Carles, Bishop of Ruiz, confirms the close contact between Claude and Anne (Warnicke 21). Du Carles writes that Anne “zealously watched and imitated Claude’s maids of honor” (21). Another of Claude’s wards and a friend of Anne’s was Claude’s sister, Renee. Renee and Claude were daughters of Anne of Brittany. Rene, in1561, said that she was especially fond of Elizabeth I because she knew she knew Elizabeth’s mother as a child (21). Despite the Queen’s piety, Francis I’s court was a fairly rowdy place, though its licentiousness has been exaggerated (Ives 57). Yet, Anne’s sister, Mary, who was kin France with her, fell into disgrace and was dubbed “The English Mare” by Francis in because of her promiscuity (Bruce 21). Eventually, Mary was sent home. Her bad reputation may have made an impression on Anne. Later historians have argued that Anne refused Henry for so long because she realized that mistresses could soon be discarded as Henry discarded her sister (Chapman 47). Also, Anne’s education would have allowed her to make an advantageous marriage. For this reason, she may have resented the break up of her engagement to Harry Percy. At one point, she angrily writes, “I have been waiting long, and might have contracted some advantageous marriage, out of which I might have had issue, which is the greatest consolation in this world, but alas! Farewell to my time and youth bent to no purpose at all” (quoted in Lofts 40). Apparently, Anne was writing Wolsey, and she was angry because he was tampering with her prospects for a good marriage. She is kept from becoming a “scold” because she has a legitimate right to contract an attractive match, and because she has responsibilities to her family, too. It is evident that Anne is negotiating for far more than the right to be the royal mistress. In sum, Anne’s formative years were spent absorbing French culture. She was introduced to various religious reforms and was educated with the most famous children of the age (27). Such company would have certainly heightened her own sense of personal worth and strengthened her ambition to elevate her status. The women who were her mentors were also strong female role models and patrons of the arts ( Bruce 27). During this time she also became interested in religious other than Catholicism. As Queen, she was abler to indulge these interests to some extent. For example, she was allowed to intercede for Lutherans who were in trouble with the Crown. At one point, one Thomas Passmore was released from the Lollard’s Tower because of her (Warnicke 111). Once again, her role models in these good deeds were the women of Claude’s court (111). In a letter that she wrote to Wolsey, Anne asks pardon for the Archdeacon of Oxford, whose goods hade been seized by pleading “I beseech your Grace thereof; it is the conceit and mind of a woman” (Warnicke 64, n. 12). She admitted to Henry that she read William Tyndale’s forbidden book and encouraged Henry to read it, too (Warnicke 113). Anne also read French religious material (113). Anne was particularly interested in St. Paul’s letters, an unusual choice for a woman interested in religious reform given Paul’s admonition that a woman should keep silent in church (Ives 328). Whether her speech and writings involve religious, death, judgment, or courtly love, what emerges is an intelligent woman not content with the strictures of her time on women’s speech, though she had been trained to be a family asset and accomplished woman of the court. She is as full of contradictions as the English Court and its games. Yet, in her darkest hour, she reveals a grace under pressure and courage that moved even her enemies to admiration. The one person who could have vindicated her once and for all was silent, but that silence is not necessarily damning. Elizabeth I, too, spent time in prison fearing for her life. She knew the potential danger and instability of her position even when she became queen, and she could not risk it by insulting her father through praise of her mother. Throughout her reign, however, there are indications of what she really thought. For example, Anne is portrayed in a pageant celebrated to Honor Elizabeth’s reign. And, the most eloquent approbation of all is the fact that Elizabeth adopted her mother’s badge, the white falcon. The fact that more of Anne’s letters have not surfaced is suspect. As several biographers have noted, women are more likely to keep letters and keepsakes than men; yet even the few omen we know were close to Anne did not apparently preserve her letters. It is entirely possible that they did not keep them for a time, but that they were gathered and destroyed by Cromwell for fear that their discovery might elicit sympathy for the doomed queen at court, or worse, among the populace. Until a literary miracle occurs and some ancient strongbox surfaces with more documentation of Anne’s life, history has given the modern biographer only fragments with which to work. Yet, these fragments reveal a remarkable woman, who negotiated discourse to legitimate speech and writing under even the most trying conditions. Perhaps it is fitting to end with her own words: “And if any person will meddle of my cause I require them to judge the best” Works Cited Primary sources: Boleyn, Anne. “Defiled is my name Full Sore.” The Women Poets in English: An Anthology. Ed. Ann Stanford. St. Louis: McGraw Hill Book Company, 1972. ---. “O Death, Rock me Asleep.” ---. “To Henry VIII.” 6 May 1536. In Anne of the Thousand Days.. by Edward Fenton New York: The New American Library, 1970. ---. “To Thomas Boleyn.” 1514. In Anne Boleyn by Marie Louise Bruce, St. James Place London: Collins, 1972. Henry VIII. The Letters of Henry VIII. Ed. M. St. Clare Byrne. London: Cassell, 1968. Secondary sources: Anthony, Evelyn. Anne Boleyn. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1957. Beilen, Elaine V. Redeeming Eve: Women Writers of the English Renaissance. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987. Bruce, Marie Louise. Anne Boleyn. St. James Place, London: Collins, 1972. Chapman, Hester W. Anne Boleyn. London: Jonathan Cape, 1974, Erickson, Carolly. Mistress Anne. New York: Summit Books, 1984. Foxe, John. The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe. Vol. V. 1554. New York: Ames Press, 1965. Friedmann, Paul. Anne Boleyn: a Chapter of English History: 1527-36. 2 vols. London: Macmillan and Co., 1884. Gubar, Susan. “The Blank Page.” Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature & Theory, Ed. Elaine Showalter. New York: Pantheon Books, 1985. Hewitt, Mary Heroines of History. New York: Sheldon, Lamport, and Blakeman, 1855. Ives, E.W. Anne Boleyn. Basil Blackwell, Inc., 1986. Jones, Ann Rosalind. “Writing the Body: Toward an Understanding of l’Ecriture Feminine.” In Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature and Theory by Elaine Showalter, Ed.. New York Pantheon Books, 1985 Loades, D.M., Ed. The Papers of George Wyatt, Esquire. London: Offices of The Royal Historical Society, 1968. Lofts, Norah. Anne Boleyn. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, Inc., 1979. ---. Queens of England. Garden City, NJ: Doubleday & Co., 1977. Micheli, Linda McJ. “ ‘Sit by Us’: Visual Imagery and the Two Queens in Henry VIII. “ Shakespeare Quarterly. (38 )1987): 452-466. Mozley, J.F., John Foxe and his Book. New York: Octagon Books, 1970. Rival, Paul. The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Transl. Una, Lady Troubridge. 1936. New York: Berkley Medallion Books, 1971. Schauer, Margery Stone, and Frederick. “Law as the Engine of State: The Trial of Anne Boleyn.” 22 William and Mary Law Review 49 (1980). Sylvester, Richard S., and Davis P. Harding. Two Early Tudor Lives: The Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey by George Cavendish, The Life of Sir Thomas More, by William Roper. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962. Warnicke, Retha. The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989. ---. Women of the English Renaissance and Reformation. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983. * Note that there are now Internet sites and Social Media sites on Anne too numerous to list here, but they include Facebook’’s The Anne Boleyn Files, Nell Gavin’s book, Robin Maxell’s The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, Julia Fox’s Book on Lady Jane Rochford, The TV series, “The Tudors,” two new documentaries on PBS on The Six Wives of Henry VIII, the original early 70s BBC production on PBS The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Phillippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance and the film “The Other Boleyn Girl,” The opera Ana Bolena, numerous mentions in Lasher and other works by Anne Rice, Lacey Baldwin’s nonfiction book on her, the film The Private Life of Henry VIII, the book Great Harry, Alison Weir’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Antonia Fraser’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII, The Children of Henry VIII, Molly Hardwick’s Blood Royal, a host of novels published on Kindle, and Shakespeare’s play, Henry VIII. Many mentions of Anne occur in fictional and nonfiction works and films about Catherine of Aragon, Catherine Howard, Mary I and Elizabeth I as well, and of course, there is The Prince and the Pauper and the Barbie doll film, The Princess and the Pauper. Appendix Defiled is my name full sore Through cruel spite and false report, That I may say for evermore, Farewell my joy! Adieu comfort! For wrongfully ye judge of me Unto my fame a mortal wound, Say what you list, it will not be, Ye seek for that can not be found” (Anne Boleyn, Stanford 18). (Some of these lyrics for the lute are played during the film Anne of the 1000 Days). “But if you have already determined of me, and that not only my death, but an infamous slander must bring you the enjoying of your desired happiness: then I desire of God, that we hill pardon your great sin therein, and that he will not call you to a strict account for your unprincely and cruel usage of me, at this general judgment seat . . . and in whose judgment , I doubt not (whatsoever the world may think of me) mine innocence shall be openly known, and sufficiently cleared.” (Alleged last letter to Henry VIII quoted in Fenton, Anne of the Thousand Days 189). Anne’s Letter to her Father, (1514) Sir, I understand by your letter that you wish that I shall be of all virtuous repute when I come to the Court and you inform me that the Queen will take the trouble to converse with me, which rejoices me greatly to think of talking with a person so wise and virtuous. This will make me have greater desire to continue to speak French to do so, and with my own hand I inform you that I will observe it the best I can. Sir, I beg you to excuse me if my letter is badly written, for I assure you that the spelling is from my own understanding alone, whereas the others were only written by my hand, and Semmonet tells me the letter will wait unless I do it myself, for rear that it shall not be known unless I write to you, and I pray you that you are sure where you can, if you please, make me a neither [??] nor ingratitude which might check or efface my affection, which is determined to [?] as much unless it shall please you to order me, and I promise you that my love is based on great firmness that will never grow less, and I will make an end to my [?] after having commended myself right humbly to your good grace. Written at five o’clock by your very humble and obedient daughter, Anna de Boullan.