"She was not a guilty woman, neither was she a saint; she was an upright, charming woman, a little frivolous, somewhat impulsive, but always pure; she was a queen, at times ardent in her fancies for her favourites and thoughtless in her policy, but proud and full of energy; a thorough woman in her winsome ways and tenderness of heart, until she became a martyr."
"We have followed the history of Marie Antoinette with the greatest diligence and scrupulosity. We have lived in those times. We have talked with some of her friends and some of her enemies; we have read, certainly not all, but hundreds of the libels written against her; and we have, in short, examined her life with– if we may be allowed to say so of ourselves– something of the accuracy of contemporaries, the diligence of inquirers, and the impartiality of historians, all combined; and we feel it our duty to declare, in as a solemn a manner as literature admits of, our well-matured opinion that every reproach against the morals of the queen was a gross calumny– that she was, as we have said, one of the purest of human beings."
"It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France, then dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely there never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she had just begun to move in, glittering like a morning star full of life and splendor and joy. Oh, what a revolution....Little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fall upon her, in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look which threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded...."
~Edmund Burke, October 1790
A Note on Reviews
Unless otherwise noted, any books I review on this blog I have either purchased or borrowed from the library, and I do not receive any compensation (monetary or in-kind) for the reviews.
Every few years I come across the rumor that Henry VIII as a teenager had an affair with Elizabeth Howard Boleyn, eleven years his senior, and in doing so fathered Anne Boleyn. Anne, of course, would later become his second wife and the mother of Elizabeth I. Claire of the Anne Boleyn Files analyzes the rumor in her own expert way. I was surprised, however, when reading the article that there are so many sources which appear to support the story. While Claire dismisses the sources as being "Catholic and anti-Boleyn," I do question the implication that being a Catholic and an enemy of the Boleyns automatically makes one a liar. While I doubt Anne was Henry’s daughter, it is not beyond the
realm of possibility that Henry had an affair with her mother. If she
was a beautiful woman, her age would not have deterred the young Henry. After all, Catherine of Aragon, whom he adored when he first married her, was seven years older than Henry. The fact that we do not even know the exact year of Anne’s birth adds
fuel to the fire. She might indeed have been young enough to be his
daughter. I am not saying she was. Still, there is something bizarre
about Henry’s obsession with Anne and his determination to completely
destroy her after such a short period of marriage. Part of that hatred was her knowledge of his sexual inadequacy. And yes, Elizabeth was healthy and lived to a ripe old age, which appears to be evidence in itself against what is generally regarded as a "Catholic" myth. However, health and long life were also experienced by some of the pharaohs who were the products of inbreeding. I personally think Henry was a twisted and narcissistic man who could find a justification for anything he wanted to do. To quote from theAnne Boleyn Files:
I found another source for the myth: “The Life and Death of the
Renowned John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester” by Thomas Bailey (1655)24,
although the real author is said to be Dr Richard Hall, writing in the
reign of Elizabeth I. In this book, Bailey writes of Cardinal Wolsey
investigating a possible pre-contract between Henry Percy and Anne
Boleyn and calling for the Countess of Wiltshire, Elizabeth Boleyn, to
see what she had to say about it. Elizabeth Boleyn, according to Bailey,
“better liked of the marriage of her daughter with the said Lord Percy,
than if the King should marry her” and Wolsey, guessing the reason for
this, sent her to the King. Elizabeth Boleyn then, according to Bailey,
said to the King:-
“Sir, for the reverence of God, take heed what you do in
marrying my daughter; for if you record your conscience well, she is
your own daughter as well as mine.”
The King didn’t care and told Elizabeth that he would marry her regardless of who her father was. (Read more.)
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