The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir

I can’t say I was overly impressed with this book.  In 434 pages, Weir didn’t say anything that hasn’t already been said.  I was, however,  intrigued by the passages about Froude’s theories about the crimes supposedly too abominable to be included in the  indictment.  It’s certainly something to think about, which is more than I can say for the rest of the book.

Conclusion:  Anne Boleyn and the men charged with her were framed as part of a political plot hatched by Cromwell with the help of the Catholic/Marian faction at Court.  Its purpose was to bring down Anne and her faction before she could bring down Cromwell.

Like I said, nothing that hasn’t already been said. 

She did, however, retract her theory that Anne was pregnant when she was executed expressed in a previous book.  I forget which one.

There are a few things that irked me about this book, the most superficial being Weir’s repeated use of the phrase “suggests that.”  Perhaps someone should buy her a thesaurus.

A couple of other passages annoyed me:

  1. After telling us how unreliable and biased Cavendish is as a source, she uses him as pretty much the only reference for the character of George Boleyn.  He is also used as a source for the others charged with Anne, but with them, at least, she uses other documents besides this.
  2. When discussing whether Anne slept with Thomas Wyatt she says:

    The obvious flaws and discrepancies in these stories, and the fact that they only appear in partisan Catholic sources and are at variance with the evidence in Wyatt’s poems, render them highly suspect (170).

    And yet, just a few pages before, she points out that:

    … today we can find very few overt references to her in his surviving poems, probably because, when the King’s jealously became manifest, the poet destroyed any that were compromising (165).

Despite my disappointment with The Lady in the Tower, I’ll be interested to see how Weir’s conclusions and deductions may change in her next book:  Mary Boleyn:  The Great and Infamous Whore

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars


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