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The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn Paperback – July 22, 2005
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"[Ives is] splendidly successful... Ives's Boleyn, a portrait at all points supported by the evidence he gives, is clever, independent-minded and politically astute. Ives has gone as far as anyone can... in solving the enigma of Boleyn in a narrative at once profoundly researched and lively." Antonia Fraser, The Sunday Times
"Eric Ives has made it unnecessary for anyone else to even make the attempt [to write a biography of Anne Boleyn]. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn is a stunning portrait of the most controversial woman ever to have been queen consort of England." The Independent on Sunday
"Eric Ives, a scholar utterly at home in early Tudor politics, has been writing about the Boleyns for more than two decades. His book represents a triumphant culmination of all that research, presented with clarity, wit and human sympathy." Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Telegraph
"Ives has written an excellent book on Anne Boleyn. Its great strength is its sophisticated understanding of aristocratic women's involvement in 16th-century politics, and precisely how this worked in practice. ...Ives rises effectively to the human drama of Anne Boleyn's life and in the process illuminates both the inner workings of the Tudor court and its relationship to the larger dramas of the Reformation and European politics." Jane Stevenson, Scotland on Sunday
"The best full-length life of Anne Boleyn and a monument to investigative scholarship." David Starkey
"Magnificently researched. Eric Ives has written the finest, most accurate study of Anne Boleyn we are ever likely to possess. He leaves no stone unturned in his quest to discover the truth. Never has the historical Anne been so satisfyingly portrayed." John Guy
"What is most exciting about The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn is not just that it has confirmed and solidified Ives's earlier work and presented it in a more accessible format. (Like John Guy, Ives has discovered that the Starkey model really does work and that popularisation -- 'to place among the people' -- should not be a term of opprobrium.) Rather, it is the development in methodology, the indication that cultural studies and the history of the book have provided us with new ways to evaluate evidence, to interpret the past." The Spectator
"Eric Ives achieves the notable feat of combining magisterial historical authority with a gripping style, and sets the reader's mind buzzing with debate about the complex reasons behind the astounding events of Anne's life." Times Literary Supplement
"[Ives] delicately pieces together a believable identity ... [and] gives, too, a lucid and coherent exposition of the circumstances that led to Anne's death." The Guardian
"What Ives doesn't know ... about the high politics and court life of Henry VIII's England will either never be known or is not worth knowing. If there is a truth about Anne Boleyn's rise and fall, he will tell it to us." London Review of Books
"There is no questioning the impact of Professor Eric Ives on the historiography of Tudor England. There is a keen sense of the evidence, of diplomatic affairs, of the minutiae of the record and its context. The writing is fluent and well-paced, drawing the reader along." The Tyndale Society Journal
"This is a moving and compelling account by an author who is the absolute master of his subject. I read it with great excitement and admiration." Susan Brigden, Lincoln College, Oxford
"Ives demonstrates triumphantly the potential of the biographical approach in a pre-modern setting. He evinces a deep empathy for his subject without ever becoming an apologist for her, and ... he provides a narrative which is genuinely moving. He has also given us a fully rounded and persuasive account of Anne’s life as a whole, and its significance for understanding the politics and political culture of the early Tudor decades." Reviews in History
"The best book on Anne Boleyn ever written. This is a must for all lovers of Tudor history, academics and general readers alike." Alison Weir, BBC History Magazine Books of the Year
"Eric Ives has cut through the myths and misconceptions. The result surpasses all previous work.When Ives describes Anne herself. he is utterly convincing." Renaissance Quarterly
Anne Boleyn is the most notorious of Englands queens, but more famous for her death as an adulterer than for her life. Henrys second wife and mother of Elizabeth I, Anne was the first English queen to be publicly executed. Yet what do we know of the achievements and legacy of her short reign?In The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn Eric Ives provides the most detailed and convincing portrait we have of the queen. He reveals a person of intellect with a passion for the new culture of the Renaissance, a woman who made her way in a mans world by force of education and personality. She played a powerful and independent role in the faction-ridden court of Henry VIII and the unceasing struggle for royal favour that was Tudor politics. The consequences can still be detected today. Indeed, Ives shows that it was precisely because Anne was a powerful figure in her own right that it needed a coup to bring her down. She had to be stopped even by a lie. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Where it failed for me is conveying an emotional connection to Anne Boleyn herself. It feels a bit cold, and detached, and parts are tedious - pages upon pages about each cup and prayer book, though if you're fascinated by such things, you'll be in antique heaven.
Still, there are many, many details here I've not found in other books about Anne or this period, so it's invaluable as a reference. It takes the point of view that Anne's downfall was due more to Cromwell seeing her as a threat and taking her and her "party" out of the way, than by the King seeking to dispose of her in order to marry Jane Seymour (not that he wasted any time doing so). Definitely belongs on the shelf of all Tudor-philes.
While many personages appear, the author keeps them relatively straight, though occasional recourse to Wikipedia is a good idea.
Sometimes the detail was sufficiently dense that I skipped a few pages. That really did not detract. One problem for many readers will be that the author does not like Henry VIII, whom he views as a monster without mitigation. He also does not like Anne very much - he finds her too cold and too calculating. He seems to compensate by providing extensive commentary on the gold and glitter of the court and of its major ceremonies.
I found one surprise in this book: that Anne encouraged Henry in his breach with Rome, not only emotionally, but by providing him with anti-Papal writings. Perhaps this is well known among historians but it was not known to me.
I have read a number of books about the Tudors and Anne Boleyn in particular and this is by far the best historical discussion yet. Although a long book, it reads comfortably and is well researched and documented. I highly recommend it for those interested in historical accuracy.