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The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn Paperback – July 22, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"[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

Book Description

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (July 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405134631
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405134637
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Irene Rheinwald on November 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As a historian specializing in this period, I was delighted in this updated version of Dr. Ives' 1986 classic: from scholarship to presentation, it by far superior to any previous biography of this tragic queen (and I include Friedmann, Sargeant, Warnicke, etc.).

Here we see how Anne Boleyn moved within her milieu, the influences upon her and her consequent effect on the Henrician court: the power she wielded; her cultural accomplishments--and ultimately, why Henry, a refined man, chose her as consort. Unromantic in tenor, Ives presents the queen as relentlessly calculating her ascent, sure of her child bearing potential. A political animal, a forward thinking religious reformer, a woman convinced of the divine right of kings (anticipating her daughter's ostentatious presentation), an intellectual with a keen eye for aesthetics: no vulgar coquette, nagging shrew, homewrecker, or Sander's incestuous six fingered whore/witch here. Ives also avoids painting Anne Boleyn as tragic victim: the passive heroine, reluctantly raised from "lowly" station to queenship, sacrificed on love's altar.

Ives has the wisdom not to presuppose Anne Boleyn's character and motivations (as Joanna Denny's flighty and error ridden biography unfortunately does): we must draw our own conclusions. We shall never understand her inner life, her feelings towards the earl of Northumberland, the husband who hunted and slaughtered her, her opinions about power and queenship, or her attitude towards the new faith (genuine or pragmatic?). However, he points out, we can gain insights from observing how she acted and reacted to situations. Particularly welcome is Ives' attention to arts (she was undoubtedly gifted), culture and patronage, a throwback to her Margaret of Austria and French court days.
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Format: Hardcover
Eric Ives' book `The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn' is a must read for people interested in British history, the British Royal Family history, the history of the Tudor period, and particularly for those interested in one of the key figures around that most colourful of English kings, Henry VIII. Anne Boleyn's influence in court, which dominated state and church affairs at a critical moment in European affairs, is shown here, in addition to the personal strife that Anne Boleyn both caused for others (her rival for Henry's affections, Katherine, is but the least of these) as well as the strife she herself endured.

Ives contrasts Anne Boleyn with Katherine of Aragon in terms of overall worldviews that they represented - Anne being far more a child of the Renaissance, intellectually curious and passionate, independent and full of ideas; Katherine of Aragon was representative more of the `old order', which included a staunch piety and adherence to Roman Catholicism in principle and political loyalty. This contrast is in part why Ives can state with reasonable certainty that Anne Boleyn was the most controversial woman ever to have been a queen of England (which, given that she's up against the likes of Eleanor of Aquitaine, among others, is saying something). Part of this controversy stems from the sources historians have for details about her life; being a pivotal person in the Catholic/Protestant split during the Tudor and post-Tudor world, she was constantly reinterpreted, and rarely for the better. Even the glorious reign of her daughter, Elizabeth, did little resurrect her image in popular or short-term historical opinion.

Ives' writing is lively and full of passion, as befits his subject. Ives also introduces new interpretations and contexts to the events of the time.
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Format: Paperback
One reviewer here called this the best biography of Anne Boleyn ever. I'm not prepared to go that far, mainly because I haven't read them all yet. If you're a Tudorphile like me and you've been reading about Anne Boleyn since you were 10 years old, this book will be pure ambrosia. Ives has managed to combined genuine scholarship with an engaging narrative. While I can't say that Anne comes alive, she is rescued from myth and tales of depravity. In my opinion, he sets the record straight on several fronts from Anne's role in Wolsey's downfall to her own fall from grace.

Ives has his share of controversial theories, but he presents each with a persuasive amount of direct fact and circumstantial evidence. The disagreement between Ives and fellow Anne Boleyn biographer Retha Warnicke doesn't look like it's going to be resolved soon. That's good news for Tudorphiles.

All said, this may not be the best introduction to Anne Boleyn - Weir's and Fraser's bios of all six wives of Henry VIII may be better suited to the novice - but those with a deep interest in this fascinating woman will want to make this a permanent part of their library.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read nearly every non fiction book on Anne Boleyn. I have Eric Ives first book also. This one is far better and has more color. I highly recommend this book to history readers. I am always mining any new biography for new nuggets of information about this most elusive of women. David Starkey's books Six Wives is also wonderful as were Antonia Fraser's and Alison Weir's biography. The more I read about Anne Boleyn, the more I want to know. A great read.
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