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The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn Paperback – July 22, 2005
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"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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am literally shocked seeing those comments of whom found this book 'impossible to read and interpret'. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Amazon Customer
This is an amazing biography especially considering how scarce source material is. Eric Ives creates a portrait of the age and the queen that is the standard for all others.Published 1 month ago by David R Keith
Some of the pages in the middle where the photos are, were damaged as it wasn't cut right and weren't even properly glued to the spine of the book. Very disappointing.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
The go to book about Anne Boleyn. A must read for Tudor history lovers.Published 10 months ago by Ginny Marie
Well written. I enjoy reading and researching this era. This is one of the books I wouldn't mind recommending to someone.Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
The author goes into great detail and covers all the known evidence available about the life and death of Anne Boleyn. 458 pages of detail. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Meryl Osse