The Boleyn Festival, Blickling, May 2012 — In those few days I met some true Tudor giants, but Eric Ives was the historian I was most anxious to meet. I think I envisioned a degree of formality; a polite hello, a quick summary of how influential his research had been for my Masters and the PhD I was embarking on at the time, but he surpassed my expectations. We met casually, seated at the long wooden tables outside the Buckingham Arms, the only pub in Blickling, it seems. It was a sunny afternoon, and he and David Loades were enjoying a quiet chat as they surveyed the grounds of Blickling Hall.
I originally had an appointment with David, but, spying the two, I immediately made my way, excited to finally meet the man who had influenced Tudor thought. In 30 minutes we covered Thomas and George Boleyn, the men of my PhD thesis, and Eustace Chapuys. At the time, I was still wading through Chapuys’ letters, and Eric offered invaluable advice. His every word was measured, and they are re-lived every time I write about these Tudor men in my life. Listening to him speak that night, I watched as the room followed his every word, right there with him as he spoke of his passion for Anne.
We met again for a chat, in the same pub, and exchanged emails. We agreed, and then agreed to disagree, but he listened. On the 19th, I watched through the evening mist, as Molly Housego, dressed as Anne Boleyn, glided across the lawn of Blickling, in that uncompromising night air. And I thought of Eric, and all that he had imparted. Later, he referred to me as the ‘Chapuys girl’ , which I took pride in. In a sense, that is what I am. Chapuys ignited that same passion in me, that he had for Anne, and through this, we understood one another.
Flurries of emails followed as I untangled Chapuys’ life, and wrote about Thomas and George. I had one last email in my inbox from him, the morning I heard of his passing. It was a light email, asking me how the research progressed, and suggesting a few points for the PhD. We had hoped to meet again on the Thames, at a launch I was attending, but instead I had that last email. That launch was dedicated to Eric Ives, as I said on the night. I called him the irreplaceable Eric Ives, and for all Tudor fans, and especially those who have come to Anne Boleyn through Ives’ eyes, he is. And he will always be treasured.
Lauren Mackay is an historian from Sydney, Australia who holds a Masters degree in History from the University of New England and is currently researching her Ph.D on Thomas and George Boleyn in the English Reformation at the University of Newcastle in Australia. Lauren has an intense interest focuses on lesser known historical figures, as well as the beliefs, customs and diplomacy of the 16th century. Lauren has given several oral presentations focusing on her expertise and interests in both England and Australia. For more information about Lauren Mackay, visit her website at http://lauren-mackay.com/.
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