Editor’s Note: Among the Wolves of Court: The Untold Story of Thomas and George Boleyn, researched and composed by historian Lauren Mackay,releases today in the United Kingdom. Amazing as it may seem, this biography is the first highlighting the life of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire. Queenanneboleyn.com’s review of Lauren’s fascinating look at one of Tudor History’s most misunderstood historical figures and his son, Lord Rochford, follows…
Thomas Boleyn — 1st Earl of Wiltshire, Earl of Ormond, and Lord Privy Seal at the height of his power of influence — is one of English History’s most maligned and misunderstood English historical figures. Ignored of comprehensive research by historians through the centuries, our impressions of this man are shaped by surface looks of historians influenced by hostile sources, historical fiction, television, and motion pictures. To many Thomas Boleyn is a Tudor Era pimp, a man who prostituted his daughters to the King of England to gain wealth, power and prestige for himself — George Boleyn, his son and Lord Rochford, a convenient go-between.
Lauren Mackay in researching her Ph. D dissertation began peeling back the onion of Thomas Boleyn’s life story, and in so doing, discovered the truth of the man — her life’s work coming together in her brilliant biography Among the Wolves of Court: The Untold Story of Thomas and George Boleyn. The title of Lauren’s biography is a tad misleading. This wonderful accounting is a truly delightful and comprehensive look at Thomas Boleyn, his son George coming in as their lives intersect.
Among the Wolves of Court begins with a fascinating look at the Boleyn family history, rich in detail of those who came before Anne Boleyn, Queen of England and her immediate family. This interesting look at how the family grew in prestige through the generations sets the stage for Thomas Boleyn to build upon family success further still. Richly educated, intellectually brilliant, and linguistically gifted, Boleyn was talent scouted by Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, who, along with Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and Thomas Butler, 7th Earl or Ormond guided and mentored Boleyn’s early career.
Thomas Boleyn was a highly gifted “quick study” possessing an enormous work ethic. Lauren Mackay makes a compelling case that Thomas Boleyn’s success as Knight of the Bath, Sheriff of Kent, envoy to the Netherlands, ambassador to France, Comptroller of the Household, Treasurer of the Household, envoy to the Holy Roman Emporer — all rewarded with investment as Knight of the Garter in 1523, predate his daughter Anne’s relationship with King Henry VIII. In short, this man — a friend of Erasmus — was an accomplished intellectual, courtier, and diplomat who was on the rise in King Henry VIII’s court through his own industriousness, loyalty, and talents long before Anne Boleyn caught the King’s attention.
Lauren Mackay’s research illustrates her belief that the accomplishments of George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, paled in comparison to his magnificent father. Why? In an odd twist of fate, his coming of age when his sister Anne Boleyn’s relationship with King Henry VIII was in earnest held George Boleyn back — him becoming “messenger of the King”, whether between Henry and Anne during their separations or as “diplomatic messenger to France”. Still, we learn of Lord Rochford’s giftedness as a poet, his commitment to family, his evangelical religious fervor, and his marriage to Jane Parker — several misconceptions righted, especially to Parker’s legacy. Eventually named Lord Warden of the Clique Ports and Constable to Dover Castle (a position Lauren describes as “above his level of competency”), George Boleyn tangled with Thomas Cromwell, perhaps a fatal mistake.
Among the Wolves of Court: The Untold Story of Thomas and George Boleyn is a delightful biography — particularly of Thomas Boleyn. Laying aside all preconceived notions, Lauren Mackay introduces us to a man of talent and brilliance. Who knew?
Lauren Mackay is a historian from Sydney, Australia.
Lauren is a historian whose focus of study goes beyond familiar historical figures and events to lesser-known individuals, as well as beliefs, customs, and diplomacy of the 16th Century.
Her debut book, Inside the Tudor Court: Henry VIII and his Six Wives through the eyes of the Spanish Ambassador, is the first and only biography of the so-called Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, the most integral chronicler of the Tudor Court. Her second book, Among The Wolves of Court: The Untold Story of Thomas and George Boleyn, released 30 September 2018 by IB Tauris Publishers, is based on her extensive Ph.D. research, and introduces Anne Boleyn’s father and brother, often underplayed figures at Henry’s court, lifting the lid on their rise as highly skilled ambassadors and courtiers who negotiated their way through the complex and ruthless game of politics.
is the owner and administrator of QueenAnneBoleyn.com. The author of "Thomas Cranmer in a Nutshell", Beth specializes in writing magazine articles, online historical articles, short stories, and flash fiction.
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