Review of the “Je Anne Boleyn” series by Sandra Vasoli

October 23, 2016 in News, QAB Book Reviews, The Anne Boleyn Society by James Peacock

by James Peacock

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VasoliBooks

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The story of Anne Boleyn has admittedly been “done to death” when it comes historical fiction. There are a ton of books out of there featuring Anne in some way or another. I must admit that before I read Struck with the Dart of Love: Je Anne Boleyn, Book One, there was a part of me that was apprehensive. Not long after I started reading the novel, however, I learned my apprehensions were needless.

Both Je Anne Boleyn novels are told from the viewpoint of Anne Boleyn. For me, Sandra Vasoli truly “gets” Anne. She understands the different sides of Anne’s personality: her charm, her intelligence, her wit, her courage, her passion, her ambition — even her jealousy and insecurities. Sandy doesn’t fall into the trap that so many fictional authors do by presenting Anne Boleyn as a “perfect saint”, instead crafting Anne’s true humanity.

The plot begins when Henry VIII first notices Anne (Vol I) and ends with her journey to the scaffold (Vol II). Henry is portrayed a lot more sympathetically than I have read in many other accountings, his relationship with Anne one of equal partners. I personally like how Sandy uniquely portrayed Anne and Henry’s relationship, as most authors portray one or the other as ruling the roost. In many ways, the similarities between Henry and Anne can be viewed as both a strength of their relationship, as well as it’s undoing. All too often, the easy (and in my opinion “lazy”) story is that their relationship cooled after Elizabeth’s birth. This is not the case here! Of course, there are occasional rows throughout (as we know there were), but this is presented as them being a typical married couple.

The story touches upon Anne’s education at the court of Margaret of Austria, her service to Queen Claude of France, and her relationship and admiration for one of the finest figures of the French Renaissance and one of the large players in the Reformation, Marguerite of Navarre.

A wonderful side to Anne’s personality is shown, one that those who have studied her life (such as myself) know about, but all too often gets ignored — namely Anne’s compassion and her charity! This is something that gets a strong focus throughout the books. We see Anne’s devotion to religion, as well as her support of William Tyndale, a man considered a heretic for his challenging of the Roman Catholic Church. Anne  is always portrayed in a caring capacity, such as the kindness she displayed towards one of her servants dying of the sweating sickness epidemic (Vol I). We also gain a glimpse of “the family orientated” Anne. Upset at the rumored whispers that surround her sister Mary, Anne enjoyed a sweet relationship with her mother, as well as a close relationship with her brother — a rapport that was ultimately twisted against them.

That doesn’t mean that the difficult relationship between Anne and her stepdaughter Mary is washed over at all, nor her eventual banishment from court of her sister Mary for marrying a man below her rank. Anne’s pleasure in the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey is also highlighted. We also see many times where Anne tries to guard her tongue and control her temper.

Another special point of both novels is the descriptions throughout of the various locations, such as the palaces, castles, abbeys, and manor homes that Anne and Henry visited. This brings the story to life and will make you feel you are in the story visualising these places. The mention of the “Bayne Tower” at Hampton Court Palace and the bath and sophisticated water system Henry had placed there are a real treat for readers and very informative. Sadly these rooms no longer survive, but you can see the outer building which is now a cafe.

Other highlights include the 1532 trip to Calais and subsequent secret wedding, the coronation, the devotion that Anne has towards her daughter (which admittedly we already know), the personal tragedy of 1534, the 1535 Reformation progress, and of course the tragic end, which shows the great courage that Anne Boleyn possessed.

Sandy clearly understands perfectly the trials and tribulations Anne endured, envisioning her views of how Anne must have felt. As I said previously, Sandy Vasoli truly “gets” Anne Boleyn 100%, presenting her – in what is my own opinion – in the best way Anne has ever been presented in any historical drama, whether that be in movies, television, and other fictional books — even my all time favorite Anne of the Thousand Days. I cannot begin to describe how many times I felt myself going “YES” inside my head while I read it, as I believed parts were just so “spot on”.

These books present Anne as she was: intelligent, charismatic, witty, religious, charitable, passionate, while also occasionally temperamental, hot-headed and sharp-tongued. If you love historical fiction, you will love these as they are easy to read and digest, are beautifully written. You will learn many interesting things about Anne Boleyn, as it is incredibly factual as well.

I long for the day when the Je Anne Boleyn books get turned into a television series or movie.

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ABOUT JAMES PEACOCK

James Peacock

James Peacock

James Peacock is 29 years old and lives in a suburb in Greater London. Originally training and working in Youth and Community, in 2013 he decided to follow in his lifelong passion for history with a particular interest in Anne Boleyn. He currently works at a historical site heavily associated with Anne Boleyn. (See the picture… hint, hint.) In 2014, he set up ‘The Anne Boleyn Society’ which exists to promote and bring awareness to the role that Anne Boleyn contributed to England’s history and her role in the reformation. The Anne Boleyn Society can be found on Facebook, Twitter (@Society_Anne) and Instagram (@society_anne). James also writes articles for queenanneboleyn.com. Visit his blog here at QAB. CLICK HERE!

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Henry VIII’s Letters to Anne Boleyn, by Sandi Vasoli

June 20, 2016 in Guest Writers, Queens of World History by Beth von Staats

by Sandi Vasoli

'The Banquet of Henry VIII in York Place' , 1832 Artist: James Stephanoff

‘The Banquet of Henry VIII in York Place’ , 1832
Artist: James Stephanoff

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Video Credit: CBS News — 60 Minutes, posted by GreenGriot

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There came to me suddenly in the night the most afflicting news that could have arrived…

— Henry VIII —

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What a heart-wrenching statement!

One can almost picture a royal page, gripping a lantern which pierced the darkness of deepest night, knocking tentatively at the door of the King’s chambers. Tense with anxiety, the servant delivers the dreaded message to Henry VIII, who had just been roused from sleep by the chamberlain at the Palace of Tyttenhanger, where Henry and his Queen, Katherine of Aragon, were in temporary residence in a desperate attempt to evade the dreaded sweating sickness, then rampant in London.

It is the first line of the letter Henry hastily wrote – that very night – to his love, Anne Boleyn. The month was June in the year 1528 …

As is well known, there exists a cache of letters: 17 to be exact, which Henry penned to Anne over the course of several years. These letters, remarkably, are housed in the Biblioteca Apostolica, the Vatican Library, in Rome. It is a mystery in the story of Henry and Anne, and one subject to great speculation, as to how the letters made their way into the collection of papers, manuscripts, and documents owned by the Pope, and which, today, are kept under careful guard.

In September of 2012, as part of my research, while writing the fictional memoir Je Anne Boleyn, I was granted the great privilege of access to the Manuscripts Room in the Papal Library with a rare opportunity to study the love letters Henry composed. As I progressed through the various levels of security in the fascinating and intimidating realm of the Library, it became increasingly evident how greatly these letters are treasured and protected within the thick, ancient walls. I was the object of polite, but keen scrutiny by the gentlemen in the Office of the Secretariat, and by the Scriptores, the Assistants, and the Vice Assistants in Manuscritti – the Manuscript reading room. Once seated in the whitewashed room, the barrel-vaulted ceiling soaring overhead, statues peering down from alcoves carved into the walls, I waited while the decision was made by the Director as to whether I would be granted an audience with the documents which expressed the depths of the heart of Henry VIII.

At last, I was summoned to be seated in the first row of study tables, directly in front of the administrators, and a Scriptore approached me and handed me a smallish book, quite unremarkable in its appearance. It was about 7 by 5 inches, and covered in a pale green fabric. There was no decorative element to it at all; in fact, it appeared almost as would a homemade keepsake book, the pages within bulging a bit. No gloves were required to be worn, yet I knew that this was something I would touch minimally, and only with the greatest of care as I examined it.

I opened the cover, my heart literally pounding in my chest.  I was met by the sight of the first letter: on thin, yellowed, subtly lined parchment which had been affixed to a larger page at some point since its acquisition by the Church of Rome – there was his handwriting! and his opening words were “Ma Maestres et Amye…”  my Mistress and Friend…

I was overcome with the awareness that I was inches from something so personal, so intimate – a message written by the hand of Henry VIII intended only for the eyes of Anne Boleyn. And 485 years later, there sat I, scrutinizing the same scratches of the pen, the same words crossed out, the same smudges made by his very hand, as did Anne. It was an experience like no other I have ever had.

Very quickly, one could identify the unique markers of Henry’s handwriting. The strong, bold strokes, the decorative letter ‘q’, the broad slash  ‘/’ which indicated the end of a sentence. I smiled to myself as I observed that he had a very difficult time maintaining the straightness of his lines of writing. In almost every letter, by the 4th or 5th line, there was a decided slant upwards, and by the end of the page, the words crowded themselves toward the upper right corner.

Also fascinating was the difference he used in ink color and the thickness of the pen nibs.  Each variation created a quite distinct feeling for that particular letter. In my view, it became very apparent which letter was written first in this series (though it is evident by his own statement that Henry had written other letters to Anne, but perhaps none of such a personal nature).   The early letters were  formal in their composition, their execution, and their penmanship. This would make sense, based upon the fact that Anne had not yet determined her position with regard to Henry’s feelings for her. He courted her with beautiful writing!

Henry’s frustration with Anne’s absence and her reluctance to commit to him appeared clearly in the letter which was pasted fourth within the Vatican’s book (they are not placed in a particular sequence in time, nor are any of the letters dated). Written with unusually large, bold strokes, well-spaced and purposefully transcribed, Henry states that he is in great agony, not knowing how to interpret her recent letters (they are not known to be in existence – if only we had them today!). It is not difficult to imagine Henry, reading and re-reading Anne’s letters, analyzing very word, seeking to know if she would promise to be his. When he could not determine it, he wrote her what is well-nigh to a command, but only one of the most romantic nature, telling her that it is “absolutely necessary for me to obtain this answer, having been above a whole year stricken avec du dart d’amours” – with the dart of love.   My interpretation of the events documented early in their romance leads me to believe this letter was written in the late autumn of 1526.

In response to this ‘command of the heart’, Anne capitulates – its own element in their love story also very touching – and her reply causes Henry to compose a beautiful missive: the letter in which he first inscribes the famous heart. This reply represents the most careful, most beautiful penmanship in the collection. The first letter of the first word, ‘D’ is created almost as an illumination: dark and dramatic, with a flourish intended to set the tone. That first line is exactly inscribed thusly:  «  De l’estrene si bel que rien plus (notant le toute) je vous en marcy tres cordialement… » ; meaning ‘For a present so beautiful that nothing could be more so (considering the whole of it), I thank you most cordially…’  This letter finishes with a decoration he added to the close: his initials, thoroughly embellished, enclosing the very tiny words “aultre” and “ne cherse” (‘Henry seeks no other’ than AB), and in the middle of all, a long, carefully drawn heart with AB at its core. The whole was clearly intended to present a special visual message, and it is one that cannot be mistaken.

As I turned the leaves of this book, fingers barely making contact with the edges, I literally drew in my breath in shock at the sight of the letter on the tenth page.  Splattered with droplets of ink, smudged from his large hand smearing the extraneous drops, and its look in such great contrast to the other entries, I was stunned to see the pained letter Henry wrote in the middle of that night in June 1528 when he learned his love had fallen ill of the sweat.  Composed in French, it was plainly written in a state of panic. The quill had been jabbed into the inkwell with every few strokes of the pen. This was apparent because the application of the ink to the page was dark, with a fine surrounding spray as the nib caught at the parchment in haste. It was amazing to see, at close range through my magnifying glass, the marks of his hand as it tracked to the right along the page, smearing what had been spattered in his haste. His message, as the pen attacked the page, is emotional and almost pathetic in its poignancy. He states that he would willingly bear the illness in her place, and bemoans the fact that they are apart at such a terrible time. He is distraught because his primary physician was unavailable, saying that “to obtain one of my chief joys on earth – that is the care of my mistress“, he will instead immediately send William Butts, his second physician in command. He then beseeches her to do as the doctor advises. He closes by telling her that he hopes to see her again, which will be a greater comfort than all the precious jewels in the world.  He tells her that he is, and forever will be, her loyal and most assured servant. He then encloses his initials around hers, which he again encases in a heart, drawn with an unsteady hand.

As I sat looking at the whole of this letter, so plainly the work of a man completely and totally in love, I will admit it brought tears to my eyes.  The depth of his feeling for her was eminently visible.  Reviewing the pattern of the letters, with this particular one representing a decisive moment in their relationship, my view of their love story was reshaped forever. I have no doubt that Anne was the love of Henry’s life, and I felt very privileged to have been able to gain such an insight.

This, and the following letters in the collection, which grow ever more familiar in their tone and their appearance, as did the couple in their affiliation, record one of the most fascinating love stories of all time. One wonders how they were delivered, and by whom, to the Pope, then to be preserved in his library of documents.

When viewing the letters, placed together in a volume which was clearly created once they arrived in Rome, it is apparent with just a little deduction, that they were stolen in a group. Thinking about this just a bit further, it becomes plain that Anne must have kept them together…and to me this indicates that she treasured them.  If so, then how were they taken from her?  It’s doubtful that she left them lying about casually; instead they were likely put away with her most personal possessions.  One can imagine easily that she kep them in a locked cask or chest, along with her best jewelry – gifts from Henry. So… who might have been able to gain access to the entire group of letters?  We know that the hiring and use of spies was rampant in the courts of England and Europe in the 16th century. Those individuals who were against Anne, and her burgeoning relationship with Henry would have wanted to prove that his desire for a divorce was not sparked by remorse over an unlawful marriage, but instead by besotted love for Anne. Who even knew about the letters… and who had access to her privy bedchamber which is likely where she kept them? None of these answers have been recorded for posterity, but I believe firmly that Anne had a spy in her midst who was performing the service of a chambermaid. Likely she had hired a lady’s maid upon the recommendation of someone she previously trusted, who then planted a spy to observe Anne’s habits and snoop into her belongings. I believe it was that maid who took the letters, and, for a fee, passed them on to one of Katharine’s faction of supporters, who sent them post haste to Rome.

The confiscation and delivery of the cache of letters into the hands of Pope Clement VII has been a serendipitous gift to the following generations, since they have been preserved as documentation of this historic love story.

To imagine how we might interpret Anne’s view of the letters, her responses to them, and her reaction to their theft from her personal belongings, read the fictional memoir, Struck With the Dart of Love : Je Anne Boleyn, available on Amazon in paperback and e-reader,  and visit my website www.sandravasoli.com.

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And now Sandi discusses one of Anne Boleyn’s letters… or is it?

VIDEO CREDIT: MadeGlobal Publishing

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sandy Vasoli

Sandi Vasoli

Sandra Vasoli, author of Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower; Struck with the Dart of Love: Je Anne Boleyn, Book One; and Truth Endures, Je Anne Boleyn, Book Two earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and biology from Villanova University before embarking on a thirty-five-year career in human resources for a large international company.

Having written essays, stories, and articles all her life, Vasoli was prompted by her overwhelming fascination with the Tudor dynasty to try her hand at writing both historical fiction and non-fiction. While researching what would eventually become her Je Anne Boleyn series, Vasoli was granted unprecedented access to the Papal Library. There she was able to read the original love letters from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn—an event that contributed greatly to her research and writing.

Vasoli currently lives in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, with her husband and two greyhounds.

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VasoliBooks

TO PURCHASE ONE OF SANDY’S OUTSTANDING BOOKS

CLICK THE LINK BELOW!

BOOKS BY SANDRA VASOLI

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ANNE BOLEYN DAY 2016: “Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower” by Sandy Vasoli

May 19, 2016 in 2016: Anne Boleyn Day by Beth von Staats

ANNEBOLEYNDAY

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Queenanneboleyn.com is sharing with you today the events of ANNE BOLEYN DAY 2016 as they unfold. In this interesting video, Sandy Vasoli discusses her research and opinions about Anne’s “Letter from the Tower”. Today Sandy’s outstanding new novel Truth Endures: Je Anne Boleyn Book Two releases. If you haven’t read her guest post published today here at Queenanneboleyn.com, CLICK HERE.

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VIDEO CREDIT: MadeGlobal Publishing

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sandy Vasoli

Sandy Vasoli

Sandra Vasoli, author of Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower; Struck with the Dart of Love: Je Anne Boleyn, Book One; and Truth Endures, Je Anne Boleyn, Book Two earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and biology from Villanova University before embarking on a thirty-five-year career in human resources for a large international company.

Having written essays, stories, and articles all her life, Vasoli was prompted by her overwhelming fascination with the Tudor dynasty to try her hand at writing both historical fiction and non-fiction. While researching what would eventually become her Je Anne Boleyn series, Vasoli was granted unprecedented access to the Papal Library. There she was able to read the original love letters from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn—an event that contributed greatly to her research and writing.

Vasoli currently lives in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, with her husband and two greyhounds.

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VasoliBooks

TO PURCHASE ONE OF SANDY’S OUTSTANDING BOOKS

CLICK THE LINK BELOW!

BOOKS BY SANDRA VASOLI

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Anne Boleyn and the Cultural Arts by Sandra Vasoli

September 18, 2015 in Guest Writers, Queens of World History by Beth von Staats

By Sandi Vasoli

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This sketch by Hans Holbein the Younger is thought by some art historians to be Queen Anne Boelyn.

This sketch by Hans Holbein the Younger is thought by some art historians to be Queen Anne Boleyn.

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In 1513, a young girl of about 12 or 13 years of age boarded a ship in Dover, England, to make a crossing into France and the European continent. The journey, to join the court of Margaret of Austria, would provide the young woman with an education that very few English noblewomen were privileged to have. Anne Boleyn and her sister Mary were the daughters of a Sir Thomas Boleyn, a cultured and well-to-do courtier in the service of the magnificent King Henry VIII. Sir Thomas had carefully made arrangements for both Anne and Mary, and expected that the learning and the comportment they would be taught in the European capital of Brabant would equip them to make splendid marriages, and to bring honor to their families once they returned to England.

In Margaret’s court there were children of illustrious nobles from across Europe, and Anne was to become one of Margaret’s filles d’honneur, young ladies who would learn French and manners, and associate with the elite on the Continent.

Palace of Mechelen

Palace of Mechelen

Anne remained in the Palace at Mechelen for between one to several years. During this time, she endeared herself to the Regent, the Archduchess Margaret. Anne was an avid student of French, and quickly became fluent. She learned the subtle skills of conversation and conduct befitting a lady. She also began an unofficial study of such things as architecture, textiles, personal beauty and style, and humanism. She was so adept at French that when Mary Tudor, the sister of the English king became betrothed to King Louis XII of France, it is probable that Anne was sent, along with her sister Mary, from the Low Countries to the French Court to assist Mary Tudor with translation and adjusting to life as the new French Queen.

The Royal Château de Blois

The Royal Château de Blois

Thus began Anne’s stay in France – first serving Mary, then in the service of Queen Claude – for possibly seven years. This formative period in Anne’s life allowed her to become immersed in the highly refined culture of France and the French court. She met and associated with many people who were instrumental in the development of the Renaissance, including Marguerite d’Angoulême – a woman whose brilliance and presence appear to have been extremely influential to Anne – renowned Christian humanists, musicians and painters – even perhaps Leonardo da Vinci, who stayed at the court of François I and Claude for a time.

Anne returned to England some time between December of 1521 and March of 1522, because in March her appearance is notated as a participant in an elegant court masque in Henry’s Palace of Placentia. Whether or not Henry took note of Anne on that evening, we do not know. However, over the next several years, Anne traveled back and forth between her parents’ estate, the manor of Hever in Kent, and whichever palace was being occupied by the King’s court.

By late 1526 or early 1527, however, it is certain that the lovely, graceful, and cultured young Anne Boleyn had become the object of King Henry’s fascination. It’s likely that other men had been entranced by Anne before the King, among them young Lord Henry Percy and the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt; whether or not she returned their affections in kind we just do not know.

Why was she so incredibly attractive to men of taste and power? Clearly, Anne possessed that indefinable something which draws men in pursuit, and women in grudging admiration and then jealousy. Anne was sophisticated, elegant, and poised. She was intelligent and talented. And she understood the psychology of all things beautiful. As Anne established her place by the side of Henry VIII, she was able to exercise her skills in the many arenas of her talents. Truly, she was a prodigiously talented woman, as we look back on her from the vantage point of today. Not only was she an avid sportswoman, hunting, hawking, competing at bowls, archery and other outdoor pursuits (which she did well), but she excelled at the more typical female pastimes.

Anne, like other women, did needlework. Whether or not she enjoyed it we don’t know, but there is a piece of fabric from a suite of bedclothes which remains and is attributed to Anne and her ladies, and the craftsmanship is fine.

Lute, detailed from the portrait "The Ambassadors" by Hands Holbein the Younger

Lute, detailed from the portrait “The Ambassadors” by Hands Holbein the Younger

It is recorded that she played the lute beautifully, and also perhaps the virginals (an early type of keyboard instrument). She sang, and Anne and Henry enjoyed singing together. They also composed music together, which demonstrates a deeper knowledge of music than that required to merely sing prettily. Throughout her adult life, and especially as Queen, Anne acted as a patron to the talented musicians who served Court. Thomas Tallis, one of the most noteworthy of English composers, thrived during Anne’s time. Sadly, it is well known that Anne greatly enjoyed the music of the accomplished young musician Mark Smeaton, and her frequent requests for his music contributed to Smeaton’s being accused as one of her lovers in 1536.

The Ambassadors Hans Holbein the Younger

The Ambassadors
Hans Holbein the Younger

Anne was also a serious patron of fine art. She shared a consistent working relationship with the brilliant Hans Holbein the Younger, who was in residence in the King’s and Queen’s court from the late 1520’s. He served as a court painter, executing primarily portraits, and from Holbein we know what many of the significant members of Court at that time looked like. It is likely that Anne directly commissioned Holbein to create one of his most acknowledged paintings, The Ambassadors. Highly symbolic, it represented the insurgence of the Reformed faith which was sweeping England in 1533. It is so unfortunate that no verified portrait of Anne by Holbein exists today. Surely there was one, probably only to be destroyed after her death.

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Whitehall

Whitehall

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One of Anne’s most significant accomplishments as a woman well ahead of her time was the partnership she shared with Henry as they, together, redesigned and reconstructed the former York Place, a residence of Cardinal Wolsey’s, into the magnificent palace they both called home – Whitehall. Henry, proud of his exceptional, beloved Anne, invited her to assist in developing the architectural plans for the refurbishment of the Palace. She did so, reveling in the fact that her rival, Katharine of Aragon, would never set foot over its threshold. Whitehall became a most spectacular royal estate, as did Hampton Court Palace. Anne’s influence was felt there as well.

Not only a woman of style, beauty and a keen intelligence, Anne Boleyn was a cultural icon, and her influence in these areas is felt today.

Meet The Author

Sandi Vasoli

Sandi Vasoli

Sandra Vasoli, author of Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower, earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and biology from Villanova University before embarking on a thirty-five-year career in human resources for a large international company.

Having written essays, stories, and articles all her life, Vasoli was prompted by her overwhelming fascination with the Tudor dynasty to try her hand at writing both historical fiction and non-fiction. While researching what would eventually become her Je Anne Boleyn series, Vasoli was granted unprecedented access to the Papal Library. There she was able to read the original love letters from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn—an event that contributed greatly to her research and writing.

Sandra Vasoli currently lives in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, with her husband and two greyhounds.

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Anne Boleyns Letter From The Tower

To Pre-Order Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower, A New Assessment

CLICK THE LINK BELOW!

Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower

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WIN

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!

MadeGlobal Publishing is graciously offering a complimentary copy of Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower, A New Assessment to one lucky QAB member or browser. If you are interested in being included in a drawing for a chance of winning this wonderful book, send the administrator a message via the website’s contact form. To complete the contact form, click here –> CONTACT US! We will draw a random winner on September 25, 2015. Good Luck!!!

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The Coronation Jewels Worn by Elizabeth II, By Sandi Vasoli

September 9, 2015 in 2015 Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, Guest Writers, Queens of World History by Beth von Staats

by Sandi Vasoli

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Queen Elizabeth II on Her Coronation Day

Queen Elizabeth II on Her Coronation Day

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Early in the morning of 6 February, 1952, this urgent report was broadcast from London by BBC News:

“His Majesty, King George VI, has died peacefully in his sleep at Sandringham House. The official announcement from Sandringham, given at 1045 GMT, said the King retired in his usual health, but passed away in his sleep and was found dead in bed at 0730 GMT by a servant. He was 56, and was known to have been suffering from a worsening lung condition.

Princess Elizabeth, who is at the Royal hunting lodge in Kenya, immediately becomes Queen at the age of 25. She has been informed of her father’s death, and is preparing to return to London, but a thunderstorm has delayed the departure of her plane. She is expected back tomorrow afternoon, when she will take the Royal Oath which will seal her accession to the throne.” (1)

Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by Sir Winston Churchill

Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by Sir Winston Churchill upon her arrival from Kenya.

Flying back to London from Kenya with her husband, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Elizabeth was greeted by a committee of officials headed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The city and the country were in mourning, yet, following ancient tradition, Elizabeth was proclaimed queen on 8 February, 1952. She was 25 years of age.

Protocol required that an appropriate period of official mourning take place prior to the coronation ceremonies for the new queen. So, 16 months after the death of her father, having served that time as the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Union of South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon, the elaborately planned and spectacular event took place. Elizabeth Windsor was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June, 1953 in Westminster Abbey. Prior to her coronation, there had been thirty-eight Sovereigns who had acceded the throne in the ancient, stunning Abbey of Westminster.

There are very few, if any, ceremonies or occasions the world over which holds equal significance and pageantry as does the crowning of a new king or queen of the United Kingdom. The fact that most of the ritual is centuries old, and has remained in place as such for close to a thousand years offers a unique and quite spectacular view into the grandeur and durability of the British monarchy. And of course, an extraordinary element of the day, with its visual grandeur and historical significance, are the jewels worn by the new monarch.

The coronation of Elizabeth II was noteworthy in that it was the first such ceremony ever to have been captured on film, and broadcast to millions of viewers the world over. Those viewers were able to marvel at the solemnity of the proceedings, and they were also offered a glimpse of the breathtaking jewels worn by Elizabeth.

Diamond Diadem

Diamond Diadem

Attired in a silk gown designed specifically for the day by the couturier Norman Hartnell, Elizabeth entered Westminster Abbey wearing the Diamond Diadem, also known as the George IV State Diadem. (2) The Diadem was made in 1820. It consists of over 320 carats, and 1,333 diamonds. Its circular base features 169 pearls. The sculpted design represents roses, thistles and shamrocks which are traditional symbols of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Coronation Necklace

Coronation Necklace

Setting off her elegant gown were the Coronation Necklace and Earrings. These pieces were commissioned in 1858 by Queen Victoria. The necklace is set with 26 enormous, perfect diamonds, graduated in size around the actual circlet, with the largest of those weighing over 11 carats. The pendant diamond is the Lahore Diamond: 22.48 carats, which had been culled from the Timur Ruby necklace of India. The earrings are pendant diamonds suspended from double studs – the pendants also taken from the Timur Ruby necklace and remade by Victoria. (3) 

Coronation Ring

Coronation Ring

During the ceremony, a symbolic ring was placed on Elizabeth’s fourth finger by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Known as the Coronation Ring, it has, since the thirteenth century, contained a ruby. Elizabeth’s ring was made in 1831 for the coronation of William IV. Its center stone is a mixed-cut octagonal sapphire, set in gold. The sapphire is overlaid with four rectangular-cut and one square-cut ruby which form a cross. The entire ring is bordered with fourteen diamonds, with a diamond on each corner. The band is gold. (4) 

Coronation Armills

Coronation Armills

At a particular stage in the coronation service, Elizabeth had placed on her arms a pair of armills – cufflike bracelets. They represent sincerity and wisdom. The pair worn by Elizabeth had been specifically commissioned for her investiture. Made of 22 karat gold, they were fashioned by Garrard &Co. and encircle the arm by way of spring clasps, with the hinges designed as Tudor roses. (5)

St. Edward's Crown

St. Edward’s Crown

The moment of crowning is the most significant, most dramatic point in the commencement of the reign of all Sovereigns of England. To signify her accession as an annointed queen, St. Edward’s Crown was placed upon Elizabeth’s head. It is made of solid gold, and was created in 1661. The current St Edward’s Crown was designed after the Restoration of the Monarchy. Legend has it that the lower part may in fact contain part of the original crown of Edward the Confessor. (6)

In the course of the coronation rite, Elizabeth, like other monarchs before her, was presented with the Sovereign’s Orb and the Sceptre with the Cross. The Orb – a gold sphere encircled with diamonds, pearls and other gemstones, and topped with a golden cross, represents the Monarch’s role as Defender of the Faith. The Sceptre, which is intended to indicate that the Monarch has temporal authority under God, is a staff which is set with the second largest diamond in the world: the Great Star of Africa, hewn from the massive Cullinan diamond. (7)

Coronation Septre

Coronation Septre

Finally, and most astonishing of all of the magnificent jewels worn by Queen Elizabeth II on her coronation day, and on other state occasions since, is the Imperial Crown. It is stunning, and what’s more, it is rich in history. Many of the stones set in the crown have mysterious and captivating histories. If the gems in this tiara could speak, oh, how legends would come to life! There are pearls reportedly having belonged to Elizabeth I (might they be the pearls which adorned her mother, Anne Boleyn’s, famous necklace?), the Second Star of Africa, the Stuart Sapphire, the Black Prince’s ruby, and St Edward’s Sapphire, which may well be over one thousand years old. Such a piece defies imagination. It is, possibly the best representation of the majesty, the mystery, and the ravishing glamour of the coronation of a new king or queen.

To hear about, and see the Imperial State Crown, watch this charming video in which Elizabeth II describes the treasure. It will leave you breathless! (8)

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Video Credit: Royal Insight (You Tube)
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Source Notes:
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1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/february/6/newsid_2711000/2711265.stm

2.http://www.royal.gov.uk/LatestNewsandDiary/Pressreleases/2003/50factsaboutTheQueensCoronation.aspx

3.http://www.royal.gov.uk/the%20royal%20collection%20and%20other%20collections/thecrownjewels/overview.aspx

4.  https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/31720/the-sovereigns-ring

5. Ibid

6. http://www.royal.gov.uk/the%20royal%20collection%20and%20other%20collections/thecrownjewels/overview.aspx

7. https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/31712/the-sovereigns-sceptre-with-cross

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Meet The Author

Sandi Vasoli

Sandi Vasoli

Sandra Vasoli, author of Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower, earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and biology from Villanova University before embarking on a thirty-five-year career in human resources for a large international company.

Having written essays, stories, and articles all her life, Vasoli was prompted by her overwhelming fascination with the Tudor dynasty to try her hand at writing both historical fiction and non-fiction. While researching what would eventually become her Je Anne Boleyn series, Vasoli was granted unprecedented access to the Papal Library. There she was able to read the original love letters from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn—an event that contributed greatly to her research and writing.

Vasoli currently lives in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, with her husband and two greyhounds.

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Anne Boleyns Letter From The Tower

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Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower

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QAB Book Review: Je Anne Boleyn ~Struck With The Dart Of Love, by Sandra Vassoli

October 20, 2014 in QAB Book Reviews by Mary Rose Tudor UK Z

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” ‘ Henry, ‘ I said, stroking the sweat-soaked hair at his temple, ‘ we are each a part of the other, just as you have told me so many times, my darling.’ He murmured sleepily in my ear. ‘ I know Nan. You are my heart and my soul. There is no height we cannot reach together.’ “

A passage from Je Anne Boleyn~ STRUCK WITH THE DART OF LOVE

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I have had the privilege of representing our website as Queen Anne Boleyn on Twitter. I have learned from my portrayal of Anne that she fascinates more today then she did in the sixteenth century. From my experience, Anne is one of England’s most misunderstood but beloved queens. I come in contact with thousands of people that worship Anne and cannot get their hands on enough novels and biographies written about the first English queen who was executed.

Je Anne Boleyn~ STRUCK WiTH THE DIARY OF LOVE, by Sandra Vasoli, is the latest Anne Boleyn novel that was published this year. Sandra’s version of Anne and Henry’s courtship was derived by the love letters that Henry wrote to Anne. This is not a scheming Anne, but an Anne who falls deeply in love with the king of England. Henry was not the overweight sovereign with a putrid leg when Anne met him. He was in his prime and was considered to be a handsome Renaissance king. Why would a woman not be dazzled to catch the eye of this magnificent monarch?

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Ms. Vasoli did an excellent job of researching her subject, even adding little known facts such as the name of one of Henry’s favorite horses. She beautifully conveys one of the most fascinating love stories in history. She shows the reader the qualities that Henry and Anne shared, which made him turn England upside down, and start a new religion to marry Anne and make her his queen. You may think you know their love story, but Ms. Vasoli’s methodical research of Henry’s letters conveys the passion, love, wit and intelligence that they shared. Ms. Vasoli could tell by the difference in Henry’s handwriting when he was distraught with the fear of losing her or worried about her well being. This is a book that you want to find a cozy nook, put your feet up and lose yourself in their love story.

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Ms. Vasoli also shows us the side of Anne that was not so pretty, such as her verbal outrages over Wolsey not doing anything to help the King in his “Great Matter”; her impatience after so many years of waiting and not getting closer to their goal; and her youth being spent waiting for an annulment, which never seemed to make any progress. Anne lived in limbo, and the reader could understand Anne’s feelings of despair and jealousy of Katherine of Aragon and her daughter, Mary Tudor.

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The truth is that it is impossible to know the real Anne Boleyn. Most of our information comes from the Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, who many historians believe was too biased against Anne to give us any true insight into who she was. We also will never know what she looked like, but Sandra Vassoli gives us an Anne that is believable and captivating. This novel is perfect for a novice as well as an academic due to Ms. Vassoli’s excellent writing, attention to details and her meticulous research. The book starts with Henry and Anne’s courtship and finishes in 1533. I look forward to Volume 2. I would highly recommend Je Anne Boleyn to any Anne aficionado.

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Written by Marisa Levy

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Sandra Vasoli is an historical fiction writer from Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, USA. A graduate with a dual degree in English and Biology from Villanova University, Sandy enjoyed a long term career of leadership and organization development before turning her attention to her passions of writing and Tudor Era history. Sandy has written all her life: essays, stories, and articles, but Je Anne Boleyn: Struck with the Dart of Love is her first work of published fiction. Sandy’s career, working for several of the largest companies in the world, allowed her the study of people, especially those in leadership positions. Thus, she is keenly interested in the bold and insightful qualities possessed by Anne Boleyn. For more information about Sandra Vasoli, visit her website at http://sandravasoli.com/.

To purchase, click the link below!

Je Anne Boleyn, Struck with the Dart of Love (Volume I)

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Guest Post: Excerpt — JE ANNE BOLEYN, STRUCK WITH THE DART OF LOVE and Eric Ives Tribute by Sandra Vasoli

May 16, 2014 in 2014 May Tribute to Queen Anne Boleyn, Guest Writers by Beth von Staats

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Renowned Historian Eric Ives

Renowned Historian Eric Ives

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Excerpt from Je Anne Boleyn Struck with the Dart of Love

with a tribute to Professor Eric Ives

by Sandra Vasoli

The first part of a two volume series, Je Anne Boleyn: Struck with the Dart of Love, was published very recently. ‘Je Anne Boleyn’ is taken directly from an inscription made by Anne, which loosely translates as ‘I, Anne Boleyn’. It seemed to me a fitting title, since this series is a fictional memoir, as would have been recounted by Anne herself.

Of course, as a part of my research, I read Professor Eric Ives’ marvelous and transformational biography of Anne Boleyn from cover to cover. I share the profound admiration expressed by almost every reader of Professor Ives’ work for his thoroughness, his comprehensive interpretation of the available facts about Anne’s life and times, and his readability. There was something he presented, though, which I found so compelling, so different to anything else I had ever read about Anne, that it confirmed my beliefs about her, and encouraged me to try to speak with her own voice in a telling of her story. For the first time, at least in my experience, here was a historian intent on providing this woman her due right. His view of the history available to us today, 478 years after her death, is the observation of a woman clearly ahead of her time: one who paved the way for other female leaders and women of accomplishment to bravely step forward and assert themselves. This may appear to be a statement in the extreme, but I don’t believe it is. The loss of Professor Ives is sad and untimely. His thinking and his contributions, as well as his personal warmth, are much missed.

In the Preface to his book The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, he very logically and systematically presents the case that Anne was, indeed, an exceptional woman, by any standards, then or now. He suggests that a monarch as powerful and as charismatic as Henry VIII would not have pursued a woman of mediocre intelligence or appeal for over six years. He proceeds to point out that, in a day when most women were illiterate, Anne was fluently bilingual, and was extremely well read in theology and the classics; able to converse about such topics, not only easily, but convincingly. She was very evidently an early female patron of the Renaissance arts in England, encouraging and admiring works by Italian masters, and fundamental in the establishment of Hans Holbein the Younger as a prolific court painter; a documenter of the notable men and women of the time. Anne was a woman of great style and personal self awareness, setting trends – and, no doubt, invoking great jealousy among other women – as trendsetters do, even today. Ives describes her as ‘captivating, sharp, assertive, subtle, calculating, vindictive’. Moreover, Professor Ives states in no uncertain terms that Anne married for love. He also observes that through knowing Anne as best we can, we seek and try to understand her husband and the mate of her soul, Henry.

In my favorite passage, Professor Ives describes Anne in this very powerful way: “although we cannot recover Anne in sharp focus, she does come through as more than two-dimensional, more than a silhouette. She was the most influential and important queen consort this country has ever had. Indeed, Anne deserves to be a feminist icon, a woman in a society which was, above all else, male-dominated, who broke through the glass ceiling by sheer character and initiative.”

Hear hear, Professor Ives.

Thank you.

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Hever Castle, Kent

Hever Castle, Kent

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Excerpt from Je Anne Boleyn: Struck With the Dart of Love

Hever

March 1527

I did not know what to do.

The enigma caused me great agitation. I admired decisiveness, yet my mind continuously sought a way forward, and nothing came. I knew the King wanted me – but what was the true nature of his heart? Of that I could not be certain. I longed to be his – a desire greater than I had imagined possible for any man. My determination to avoid becoming his mistress, though, was at war with my yearning for him. While the role of mâitresse would fulfill my need to be with him, I feared that in the very briefest amount of time the lustre would fade, and the relationship cheapened in a way I could not tolerate. Hence, there seemed no possibility of anything more between me and Henry, since the Queen, although ageing, still appeared healthy and strong.

Around and around ran my thoughts ’til, in an effort to seek some peace, I decided to ask permission to go home to Hever for a while.

As always, my lady mother was there for me; a support and friend when one was needed most. I held my mother in great esteem, and hoped that I had inherited at least a few of her fine qualities. She was an elegant woman, now forty-two years of age, and in good health. This was somewhat surprising, considering she had withstood so many difficult pregnancies in succession, and endured the heartbreak of several children’s early deaths. She was nobly born, having been a daughter of the Duke of Norfolk – my grandfather, Thomas Howard – and was descended from 13th century English royalty. As a girl she had served in the court of Henry’s mother, Elizabeth of York, and then had spent considerable time as a lady in waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon. It was through these experiences that she’d adopted the grace and poise she was known for. She carried herself with an aristocratic air and great dignity, no matter the circumstances, and I admired this attribute greatly. Her features had a delicate beauty, with enviably smooth skin. It was a face I loved very much, and nothing in the world could replace the comfort and reassurance I felt when I looked upon it.

While the cold rains of March fell, I busied myself with the daily tasks of helping to run the large household at my parents’ estate. My father was not present, being one of a diplomatic envoy recently departed for France. The King was in pursuit of a treaty which might pave the way for the marriage of the Princess Mary to the Duke of Orléans, and there was much to do to achieve that objective. So my mother and I had time to ourselves, and I leaned on her to listen and to give me her advice.

Mother, I am in a predicament from which I see no apparent way out,” I lamented, letting out a groan as we sorted and organized linens for the bedchambers. The weather was utterly dreary, raw and chill, and I felt exactly the same way. “I may as well remain here for the long term, and not return to court at all because it is simply too trying when I am in the company of the King. And, oh, it is even worse when I am near Katherine! She has turned very sharp with me, and there is such tension between us. It is clear she suspects an affair is taking place behind her back … yet the irony of it is that her suspicions are completely unfounded. Here I am at Hever, while the King is at Greenwich, and there is nothing – nothing at all – taking place between us.”

My mother allowed me to twaddle on, patiently tolerating my inclination to unload all my imagined troubles. I grant this tendency sometimes got the best of me. It seemed especially rife at certain times of the month, between my monthly course. I do not know why, but when the headaches came upon me and I felt generally awful, it was almost impossible for me to keep my mouth closed and my peevish reflections to myself. I tried to contain those impulses, but was all too often unsuccessful.

Anne,” she hurried to interject during a brief pause in my grumblings, “all I can tell you is that you need to be honest with yourself. You must do, as concerns the King, what your true heart and your conscience tells you. You know I would not say such a thing in earshot of your father, but I firmly believe that women must do whatever they can to assert their rights. Discreetly, yes – but do their best to live a life which will be meaningful and gratifying to them.”

Mother! I know you have a mind of your own, but had not realized you were quite so progressive in your thinking!”

For me, that opinion has become stronger with age, my daughter,” she said ruefully. “Women have so much to offer, yet very little of it is ever allowed to be expressed. My talents might have served to accomplish more than just the management of this house, but there was no opportunity for me to exercise them. Perhaps it will be different with you, Anne. Your intelligence and accomplishments are prodigious.”

What high praise indeed, Mother.” I was touched by her generous compliment. It served to quickly banish my grumpiness. “You know that your advice means a great deal to me. I will take it to heart, I promise. And I could not agree with you more – in my reasoning, there is no validity to the perception that a woman cannot govern a city, a country … even an empire if she possesses the wit, courage, and desire to do so. I am keenly interested in what goes on at court. I do not mean the idle gossip and uninformed speculation. No, I find myself more intrigued by the political complexities, and the debates and decisions which result. The important decisions! The ones which affect not only England, but the entire world. I find it fascinating. Oh how I would welcome the chance to express my opinions on matters of such consequence.”

Deliberating further, I glumly concluded, “Sometimes I think I should have been a man! Life would have been so much easier.”

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Sandra Vasoli

Sandra Vasoli

Sandra Vasoli is an historical fiction writer from Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, USA. A graduate with a dual degree in English and Biology from Villanova University, Sandy enjoyed a long term career of leadership and organization development before turning her attention to her passions of writing and Tudor Era history.  Sandy has written all her life: essays, stories, and articles, but Je Anne Boleyn: Struck with the Dart of Love is her first work of published fiction. Sandy’s  career, working for several of the largest companies in the world, allowed her the study of people, especially those in leadership positions.  Thus, she is keenly interested in the bold and insightful qualities possessed by Anne Boleyn. For more information about Sandra Vasoli, visit her website at http://sandravasoli.com/.

Je Anne Boleyn: Struck with the Dart of Love releases today in Kindle format and is also available in paperback. Get your copy today!

Je Anne Boleyn

 TO PURCHASE, CLICK THE LINK BELOW!! 

Je Anne Boleyn: Struck With the Dart of Love

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