Monday, June 22, 2009

Question from Beryl - Anne's influence on Henry's religious beliefs

I am wondering what evidence there is for the ammount of influence Anne Bolyen may or may not have had on Henry's religious beleifs?
I have to do a university assignment about it
Thank you
Beryl Martyn


Gareth Russell said...

It's a controversial and complicated question - probably too much so to answer here. G.W. Bernard's paper for the English Historical Review 'Anne Boleyn's Religion' is generally considered quite outdated in its assessments, although it's possibly worth checking it out for the contra- argument. Bernard's mammoth book 'The King's Reformation' clings to this position with a tenacity worthy of a more convincing hypothesis. I would avoid populist and wildly inaccurate works like Joanna Denny's 'Anne Boleyn: A new life of England's tragic queen' (2004) which, at times, reads like nothing more than evangelical anti-Catholic propaganda. For the wider faction surrounding Henry and his religious views, Diarmaid MacCulloch's lengthly biography 'Thomas Cranmer' is worth a look, as is James Carley's 'The Books of Henry VIII and his Wives.' But perhaps the most condensed, readable and yet academic analyses of Anne Boleyn's religion and her influence over Henry VIII can be found in Eric W. Ives's 2004 biography of her 'The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn,' chapters 14, 18 and 19. I hope this helps.

PhD Historian said...

Gareth has offered some excellent suggestions for background reading on the subject, as well as some very appropriate cautions for what works to be wary of. I will add one suggestion: Derek Wilson's newly published brief biography of Henry VIII. It offers a slightly different perspective, though a controversial one. I "live-blogged" the book in a thread here a few weeks ago.

Gareth Russell said...

PhD, I have not had a chance to read Wilson's book yet, although I am titillated to an almost geekish level about his controversial theory on Boleyn's religious infuence - what exactly was his theory? Bernard is apparently bringing out a biography of Anne in the next year or so, so I hear, the entire precis of which could quite neatly be summarised into the words "Ives is wrong."