By Beth von Staats
May 19th, the date that marks the anniversary of Queen Anne Boleyn’s tragic execution, is a national holiday. From Miami to California, from Boston to Anchorage, from Puerto Rico to Guam, Tudorphiles and Anglophiles all over the United States – and there are literally millions of us – stop everything we are doing and pay humble and prayerful homage.
When you think about American History, our love of Queen Anne Boleyn and all things British doesn’t seem all that logical. After all, long before we had the Tea Party Movement, we rioted against our British oppressors. Yes, we now look to those rascals in Boston as revolutionaries, but back in 1773, Samuel Adams and the “Sons of Liberty” were a bunch of hooligans, tossing an entire state’s supply of Indian Gold into the harbor. From there all hell broke loose, two wars with the British in less than 40 years. So why now do we love all things British? And of all things British, why is Anne Boleyn, who reigned a mere 1000 days – and as a queen consort at that – our beloved anointed Queen of Anglophilia?
1. Americans adore love triangles, the “juicier” the better.
Before the Lady Anne Boleyn became King Henry VIII’s wife and queen consort, she was the “other woman”. True or no, Queen Catalina de Aragon pegged her, “the scandal of Christendom”. Although most historians suggest Anne Boleyn was initially pursued by the king to become like her sister Mary a mere “friend with benefits”, there is no denying this simple fact. The woman had panache!
Let’s face it. Henry had a major problem. Married nearly 18 years by 1527, there was no male heir to the throne. Now what? Annul the marriage to the Spanish queen, of course! That was a given, Anne Boleyn or no. What happened next, however, is a true “American love story” and epic Anglophilia. Anne Boleyn, like Beyoncé, set one simple rule. “If you like it, you shoulda put a ring on it.” Then, she played “hard to get”. Through intelligence, charm and charisma, Anne Boleyn, in an age before reliable birth control, held her man — the Queen of England sitting in the opposing corner stitching the king’s shirts — for seven long years.
Although we Anglophiles will never admit it, we do love gossip. “Who is sleeping with who” is important business to us, especially the rich and famous. As much as we love to hate the usurpers, being Elizabeth Taylor, Angelina Jolie or Anne Boleyn is a secret fantasy. After all, they had chutzpah! Who wouldn’t want to be the consort and randy romance partner of Eddie Fisher, Brad Pitt — or better yet, the King of England?
2. Americans, especially Tudorphiles and Anglophiles, love royalty — especially young princesses and queens!
King George III may have gone mad in his final years, but he was a visionary in truth. When the king conceded American independence before Parliament in 1782, he observed quite astutely, “I pray that the United States will not suffer unduly from its want of a monarchy.” Oh heavens, do we!
Since we live in a republic, Anglophiles need to create our own royal family. We do this is several ingenious ways. If our Presidential family is attractive enough, we borrow them — along with British mythology to plant into their life stories. Thus, not only did Caroline Kennedy ride her pony Macaroni, but she also lived in Camelot — her father King Arthur, her mother, Guinevere.
Not all of our Presidential families meet the “attractive royal criteria”, however. This poses no problem for us Anglophiles! Like Anne Boleyn before them, we will send our most charismatic, charming, intelligent and engaging women to marry into a royal family. So far, this has been a remarkably successful endeavor. Not only did Grace Kelly catch a prince and Lisa Najeeb Halaby catch a king, but Wallace Simpson pulled off the golden ring at the carousel. The King of England renounced his throne for her. How deliciously naughty and Anglophilian is that?
When all else fails, we Anglophiles simply borrow “all things British”. In America the tragic Diana, Princess of Wales is a sainted Madonna — and with no 16th century history of our own, so is Queen Anne Boleyn. It’s really that simple.
3. Though freedom of religion is a hallmark of American values, the United States is still primarily a Protestant nation — and down right evangelical, too!
For Americans, including Anglophiles, religion is still serious business. After all, the Unites States is “one nation, under God”. As every Tudorphile knows, Queen Anne Boleyn was a devout reformist evangelical. In fact, she is credited for introducing King Henry VIII to the notion that he needed no pope to rule over his clergy. Just how did Anne Boleyn pull this off? She handed him the “banned” heretical notions of the priest in exile, William Tyndale.
Poof! Henry had an epiphany! With the help of Thomas Cranmer, his Boleyn cherry-picked Archbishop of Canterbury and Thomas Cromwell, his ambitious and politically driven privy councilor from Putney, the King of England not only was “defender of the faith”, but Emperor, his crown Imperial. Queen Anne Boleyn was in — and the papacy was out, done deal.
Interesting enough, like any good Anglophile, I recently ventured to New York with friends to enjoy Wolf Hall, Plays One & Two. While there, we were delighted to meet and speak with Lydia Leonard, currently Anne Boleyn, Queen of England — and Queen of Broadway. Lydia shared that she was not surprised by the intelligence of her American audiences, but instead how astutely Americans caught religious humor as opposed to their British counterparts.
Shakespearean actor Giles Taylor, Thomas Cranmer in the plays, echoed these sentiments in a recent QAB interview. He observed, “I knew the books were popular in the States, and that the Americans seem to have an insatiable appetite for English History and period drama generally. The pleasant surprise has been our American audiences’ religious knowledge. We are so secular now in the UK that the religious references and jokes went for very little, but here in NYC they go down like a storm!”
Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest. His Grace has spoken.
4. Americans are obsessed with the internet — and the internet is obsessed with Queen Anne Boleyn.
The hallmark historical resource for American Anglophilia is the world wide web. Yes, we Anglophiles are obsessed with Queen Anne Boleyn, but not as much as we are obsessed with our smartphones, iphones, tablets and laptops. Match Anne Boleyn with an ipad and a glass of wine, and any Anglophile is in nirvana. To illustrate the point, google “Anne Boleyn” and see what happens. Boom! She reigns — for pages, and pages, and pages — in every language save Wampanoag worldwide. Let’s just say this. The domain name for this website is not for sale for any price. It’s that precious.
Do you enjoy tweeting on your smart phone? Join the over 9000 court followers, mostly American Anglophiles, of Queen Anne Boleyn (@QueenAnneBoleyn). Do you prefer facebook on your tablet? Take a peek at the facebook page for The Anne Boleyn Files. As of this writing, over 138,000 people “liked” the page, and justifiable so. It not only highlights the blog posts of The Anne Boleyn Files website and The Tudor Society, also founded by the delightful Claire Ridgway, it shares content from a variety of outside sources, as well. Do you want to know what happened on any given day in Tudor history? Claire will tell you. How deliciously Anglophilian!
For Anglophiles and Anne Boleyn lovers, the internet holds infinite possibilities. I will post some of my favorite websites and blogs at the end of this article, I promise!
5. Americans love drama, especially tragic love stories or thrillers that end with good overcoming evil.
Although this article is intentionally light-spirited, today is a day in remembrance of a tragedy of historic proportions. Anglophiles all over the United States will take pause, nearly 500 years later, still in disbelief that an anointed queen could be literally cut down — her “little neck” split straight through, her head rolling to the scaffold. Punctuating the tragedy, five men fell along with her. With a horror such as this, why do Americans keep flocking to Anne Boleyn?
Quite simply, we Anglophiles like bittersweet tragedies — especially if a gross miscarriage of justice has a vindicating twist. Yes, Anne’s nemesis Thomas Cromwell rose to the ultimate heights of power, but he would fall to the axe in 1540. Yes, King Henry VIII finally was gifted with a male heir, but the child’s reign was short, his death premature. And yes, Anne Boleyn’s beloved daughter grew to womanhood without a mother, but in the end, she reigned Queen of England.
The ascension of Elizabeth, Regina, combined with her magnificent reign, is the “happy ending” American Anglophiles are always seeking. God saved the queen. Long did she reign.
Anne Boleyn, Queen of Anglophilia (and the internet)
The following are just a few additional delightful websites and blogs that highlight Queen Anne Boleyn and Tudor History in general: Anne Boleyn: From Queen to History (Sarah Bryson); Confessions of a Ci-Devant (Gareth Russell); Conor Byrne (Blog); English Historical Fiction Authors (Debbie Brown); La Temps Viendra (Sarah Morris); Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature; Nancy Bilyeau (Blog); Nerdalicious (Olga Hughes); On the Tudor Trail – Retracing the Steps of Anne Boleyn, an Immortal Queen (Natalie Grueninger); The Creation of Anne Boleyn (Susan Bordo); TudorHistory.org (Lara Eakins); The Tudor Tutor; and Wendy J. Dunn.
Beth von Staats a history writer of both fiction and non-fiction short works. A life-long history enthusiast, Beth is the owner and administrator of Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers website, QueenAnneBoleyn.com.
Beth’s interest in British History grew through the profound influence of her Welsh grandparents, both of whom desired she learn of her family cultural heritage. Her most pronounced interest lies with the men and women who drove the course of events and/or who were most poignantly impacted by the English Henrician and Protestant Reformations, as well as the Tudor Dynasty of English and Welsh History in general.
Beth’s short biography, Thomas Cranmer In a Nutshell, was recently released by MadeGlobal Publishing. A second biography, Thomas More In a Nutshell, and a full length book focusing on Henrican martyrdom are current works in process.
To Purchase Thomas Cranmer “In a Nutshell”.
Click the link below!