Monday, January 13, 2014

Question from Kelly - Ideas for graduate-level research on Anne Boleyn and/or Henry VIII

I am planning to begin graduate studies in the Fall of this year and I want to write about Anne Boleyn and/or Henry VIII. I am most interested in the circumstances surrounding her downfall and what really happened, but I am also trying to brainstorm more original areas that have not yet been explored. I was thinking about doing something regarding the psychology and psychological downfall of Henry VIII, but I don't know if I will be considered as qualified to do this. Any ideas would be helpful. I am also looking around to see what has already been published. Any direction in researching this and current topics that are of interest would be great. Thank you for your help.


Kate said...

Hi there, sounds like you've got quite a lot of reading to do. You might wish to explore Anne's relationship with Thomas Cromwell since they were both protestent reformers and had a great deal in common, one wonders about the aminus between them, he went after her pretty aggressively and seemed rather pleased with his efforts, just a thought. Also I believe Henry's decline in later years was due to a medical problem. The theory of Kel positive blood antigen has been forwarded as a pretty viable explanation, you may wish to research this area as well. Good luck

kb said...

Is this a masters in history? If so, the psychological aspects may be frowned upon within the department. If another discipline then it might work.

You might consider her role and responsibilities as Marquess of Pembroke. General consensus holds that the elevation was Henry's way of conferring on her enough prestige to qualify her for the role of queen consort. But I haven't read much on what it meant in terms of 'lordship' - revenues, land grants, judicial responsibility, etc. There might be some interest in comparing Anne as independent titled female to Henry's grandmother Margaret Beaufort.

Another approach might be her role as leader of her kinship network during the period. This could include the courtship period, the queen consort period and even the effects of her fall on the kinship network's ambitions. You will have to think of the extended network not just her father and brother.

Good luck!

Shaestel said...

All I can really offer in addition is the theory that Henry's jousting accident in 1536 severely affected his mental health, alongside his struggles with his leg ulcer.

I know that, psychologically, he was seriously affected by those and his age and weight, during the 1540s - which I study - which meant that when Katherine Howard was declared guilty of infidelities and and unclean past, she dealt Henry a severe blow to his ego/esteem/psyche.

However I believe this downwards spiral was initiated in 1536 from that jousting accident. I've only got one year of studying psychology to back that up, however. That's really all I can contribute. I wish you the best of luck (and I think this might be a very interesting study!!)

Anonymous said...

Shaestel, be careful with the theory that Henry VIII changed mentally after his jousting accident in 1536. Suzannah Lipscomb proposed this theory but I think that Alison Weir has a point when she says that this theory is basically groundless since the remark about Henry's accident ("The French king said that the king of England had fallen from his horse, and been for two hours without speaking.") comes from a person who was not in England at the time, was notoriously passing the rumours and, what's the most important, this statement is uncorroborated by the English contemporary sources.

It's a very compelling theory but I wouldn't give it much weight.

shtove said...

The most original approach is to focus on original sources. Many are available online.

I'd stay away from psychology or bodily health because you're immediately into speculation.

Consider something like this - you can legitimately reconstruct the conduct of the actors during the last pregnancy, but with fresh information:

PhD Historian said...

I am going to echo KB and Shtove in advising that you not use a psycholoanalytic methodology. Most scholarly historians frown on psych studies of long-dead individuals, for good reason.

Anonymous said...

THE Kell Positive disease is one explanation for Henry's madness...interesting to explore in a research paper?