The fall of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, is one of the most dramatic and debated episodes in English history. Until I published The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, in 2009, no one had devoted a whole history book to the subject. It was wonderful to have that broad scope in which to research Anne’s fall in unprecedented detail, and it was exciting to find new evidence emerging. More recently, it has been fascinating to revisit her again in my new novel, Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession, and to explore fresh theories based on new research.
Do you think Anne was guilty of the charges for which she was executed?
I think there was a grievous miscarriage of justice. The circumstances of Anne’s fall strongly suggest that she was framed; even her enemy Chapuys thought so. In assessing the evidence for and against her guilt, the truth becomes staggeringly clear. There are a multitude of compelling factors, notably the incongruity of the charges (particularly that of plotting the King’s death), the alteration of dates and the discrepancies in the indictments.
Why does her story continue to fascinate to this day?
Her life is one of the most debated in English history, and she has always been controversial. I think the fascination lies in the fact that Anne’s story is so dramatic. It’s an irresistible blend of romance, intrigue, horror and mystery – from the romance of Henry’s courtship of Anne to those 17 dreadful days she spent in the Tower, with their awful climax.
Read Alison Weir’s feature on the fall of Anne Boleyn in issue 46 of History Revealed, or subscribe – just £19.99 for 6 issues.