The wives of King Henry VIII have been discussed for centuries in length through novels and nonfiction books. Katherine of Aragon, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr are all very popular queens, but there is one that you have all been waiting for, the most famous Tudor queen, Anne Boleyn. Her story has been told so many different ways by historians and historical fiction authors for centuries, and now it is time for another historian to write their spin on her story. In his latest book, “Anne Boleyn, An Illustrated Life of Henry VIII’s Queen,” Roland Hui paints a picture of the tumultuous life, love life, and death of Anne Boleyn.
Thank you, Pen and Sword Books and Net Galley, for sending me a copy of this book. I am always looking for a new approach to the lives of the Tudors in books, and when I heard about this title, it caught my eye.
Like so many books about Anne Boleyn, this biography covers Anne’s childhood, her reign and rocky relationship with Henry VIII, her tragic downfall, and her gruesome execution. Hui begins with the origins of the Boleyn family and Anne Boleyn’s childhood. I am glad Hui decided to focus on Anne’s upbringing in the court of Margaret of Austria because this is the aspect that I was always curious about when it came to Anne. We often talk about how the French court shaped Anne’s upbringing, but Hui shows his readers that the Burgundian court was just as transformative and impacted her life.
This book focuses on the relationship between Anne and Henry VIII and how she helped influence his reign, especially regarding religious matters. With the Great Matter and the creation of the Church of England alongside the rise of the English Reformation, we see Anne Boleyn’s opinions on religious matters. Anne had books written by humanists and reformers like Jacques Lefevre d’Etaples, Johannes Brenz, Simon Fish, and William Tyndale. She also surrounded herself with men like Nicholas Bourbon, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Shaxton, William Betts, William Latymer, and John Skip. Finally, Hui discusses how Anne Boleyn fell from her husband’s good favor and was executed.
This is an excellent book to introduce people to the story of Anne Boleyn, as you can easily read it in one sitting. I found some of the material in this book repetitive compared to other books about Anne Boleyn, but Hui does lift it with new facts and the images he includes in this book. Overall, I did enjoy the new information Hui had in his nonfiction book. If you are a fan of Anne Boleyn and want to learn new facts about her life, I suggest you check “Anne Boleyn, An Illustrated Life of Henry VIII’s Queen” by Roland Hui.