Friday, 30 April 2010

A short critique of G.W. Bernard’s views on Anne Boleyn and Mary’s relationship




Two days ago my copy of G.W. Bernard, Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions (New Haven and London, 2010) finally arrived. Taking advantage of the pleasant change in weather, I decided to read it in Greenwich Park situated near the former palace where Anne, according to Bernard, got up to a lot of extramarital fun. I could write at some length on the study, which I have mixed views about, but this is a blog on Mary and arguably not the place for such a review. But there is one chapter I do wish to discuss and I promise it specifically concerns Mary. The chapter in question, '6. She ‘wore yellow for the mourning’: Anne against Catherine’ (pp. 79-91) deals with Anne Boleyn’s relationship, or more precisely treatment of, Katherine of Aragon and her daughter. I’m going to be more specific here and try to overlook the discussion regarding Anne’s treatment with Katherine in order to observe Bernard’s views of Anne and Mary’s relationship. This is not difficult given that the chapter tends to favour this issue above Katherine’s treatment.


Firstly, I applaud Bernard for being one of the few current historians to actually make the trip to Vienna to consult the original dispatches of Eustace Chapuys and others kept at the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv. Bernard has evidently been diligent in his research.



What then of his comments regarding Anne and Mary’s relationship. According to Bernard, Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII probably encouraged one another in their poor treatment of his former wife and daughter. Mary was always a threat to Anne. Her insistence on her own legitimacy obviously challenged the legitimacy of Anne’s marriage and her daughter’s right as heir to the throne. If Anne berated the girl – if she threatened to have her physically admonished, even threatening her with death – this cannot be seen as a product of pure maliciousness. Behind all such threats was fear and a defensive position. If Anne, Bernard summarises, threatened the girl, ‘it is easy to understand why she did’ (p.90). For it is ‘quite plausible such angry measures sprang not from malevolence but from self-defence’: at the least, Anne’s behaviour was readily comprehensible’ (pp. 90-91). But if she did threaten to kill Mary then this, Bernard argues, was stepping over the mark, with the implication that Anne was capable of lacking pragmatism and was rather unable to understand political affairs. For threatening to remove Mary and Katherine would undoubtedly provoke the Emperor and worsen Henry’s position. This would have been disastrous.

One of the major problems I had with Bernard’s discussion was his reluctance to state boldly what he believed to have occurred. Does he truly credit Chapuys’s constant claims that Anne wished to remove Mary? Bernard will not say so, perhaps because he does not know whether to or whether not to see Chapuys as that credible. Perhaps his unwillingness to affirm such accounts outright is sensible, and shows a necessary cautious approach.


Bernard’s account of Anne’s attitude towards Mary is based largely on Chapuys’s writings. Chapuys, as we know, was hardly an impartial observer. And in fairness to Bernard, he mentions this. But he still chooses to frequently use Chapuys’s comments without referring to others. Possibly because other accounts are often rather silent on Anne’s alleged behaviour. But this silence is important, for it prompts us to ponder the validity of Chapuys’s claims. The fact that Chapuys was at times the only writer to mention such acts of maliciousness does not necessarily make these claims false. But just because he states them does not make them true either.

For Bernard, Henry VIII was the main instigator of his annulment from Katherine, and his involvement in the direction of this affair (and synonymously ecclesiastical affairs) is more noted than Anne’s. Anne obviously supported her husband’s actions, though Bernard’s Anne is often a woman with rarely acted independently and was the initial advocate of views that Henry would adopt. She did not advance herself to be queen – for Bernard believes Anne never refused Henry sexually in the beginning and demanded marriage or nothing. Bernard’s Anne adopted stances on issues that evidently favoured her cause – for instance becoming stridently anti-papal. Ultimately she was not the influential figure that others have advanced. Yet we are supposed to credit the probability that Anne may have been capable of ‘independently go[ing] beyond what Henry would have been prepared to accept’, with her hatred of Katherine and Mary (p. 91). Would Anne, who Bernard at times regulates to little importance, be bold enough to declare that if she became regent upon a proposed trip the king might make to France, that she would execute Mary or at the very least starve her to death? (p.83) Was Anne capable of constantly acting 'without the king’s knowledge’ as Chapuys reports, a line which Bernard includes in his account? (p.87) [1]

But, perhaps most importantly, did it really take Anne Boleyn to ‘egg on’ Henry concerning what to do with his daughter? My answer would be no. I think it is quite clear that Henry VIII was personally affronted with his daughter’s actions and enraged that not only would she defy him but she would side with her mother. It may be true that Henry had tears in his eyes when he spoke of his daughter’s defiance to the French ambassador who subsequently replied that Mary had nonetheless been granted an excellent upbringing (p. 81). But these were not tears for his daughter. For Henry, it was he who was the injured party here. It is quite clear that he was astonished by his daughter’s actions; angered and hurt. Though I do not suggest for one minute that we share his outlook, it was, nonetheless, his approach. Even Chapuys came to realise this. For after Anne’s execution, when many around the king were calling for Mary’s return to court, Chapuys noted that Henry had responded by stating:

"As to the legitimation of our daughter Mary...if she would submit to our Grace, without wrestling against the determination of our laws, we would acknowledge her and use her as our daughter; but we would not be directed or pressed herein". [2]

Henry’s message was clear. If Mary would not help herself by recanting her position then she should expect the treatment that she was already receiving. And this was Henry being polite. The other Henry was encouraging the lords visiting Mary to convince her to give into his demands, to be as ruthless as they could in their dealings with her. As Chapuys also commented, ‘the King got into a great anger against the obstinacy and disobedience of the said Princess, showing clearly that he bore her very little love or goodwill’. [3]


Bernard certainly does not suggest Henry was innocent in all this. He notes that the direction of blame on Anne was ‘another example of Henry’s political skill at directing policy while allowing others to shoulder public responsibility for it’ (p.90). But this statement is at odds with his then acceptance of Chapuys’s accounts – for he uses Chapuys enough to make it appear as if he should be listened to – which seeks at times to diminish Henry’s responsibility.



There is one concept absent in the chapter yet needs to be examined. To what extent was Chapuys embellishing aspects, not only to demote Anne’s reputation further but also to strengthen Katherine and Mary’s stances against her? Now we may argue that Anne was already regarded badly from Katherine and Mary’s perspectives, and this undoubtedly and understandably was true. But Chapuys’s constant allegations against Anne which he readily reported to Katherine and Mary had a further impact on their views. I turn here to the arguments of David Loades in his biography, Mary Tudor: A Life, one of the finest studies on Mary. For Loades, Chapuys has falsely been portrayed as an excellent supporting presence for Mary during these years. Instead we should perceive him as an individual who worsened an already bad situation by encouraging Mary to become more strident in her opposition. ‘He did not invent, or even encourage, her uniquely abrasive style, but he did offer her all the support and encouragement in his power’.[4] We may pause to question what was wrong with this; surely supporting her was better than berating a girl already tormented. Mary had already her father and Anne to contend with and she lacked the physical presence of her mother, yet Chapuys was able to see both and act as an intermediary. The problem though, as Loades indicates, is that the ambassador did not just offer her moral support. He was, instead, encouraging her to openly rebel. Coupled with his enthusiasm for Katherine and Mary to reclaim their positions by force, his actions were dangerous. If Mary was seen to wilfully support his plans her position would have worsened considerably. For Loades, Chapuys’s advice often proved more useless then it did useful and his constant contradictions and hopeful yet empty promises only sought to confuse Mary about the reality of the situation than assist her emotionally throughout all this.

If we accept this interpretation of Chapuys’s motives and character – as, in the words of Loades, a ‘deeper and more devious’ Chapuys than some have wished to present (p. 84) – then Bernard’s frequent use of Chapuys as a source here is misleading. Earlier on in the book, Bernard has already cast doubt on Chapuys’s claims in regards to the alleged constant instability of Henry and Anne’s marriage; this causes the reader to then question why we should so willing accept Chapuys’s remarks about Anne’s relationship with Mary. If he could exaggerate about one, then why not the other?




This post will probably appear as some attempt to rehabilitate Anne’s character. I do not, however, doubt that Anne truly feared Mary and perceived her as a threat. I do not doubt that she spoke out against her. Till her death Mary always perceived Anne as a wicked woman and we cannot blame Chapuys entirely for enforcing this view. Mary’s perception of Anne was understandable. Anne’s rise meant her own downfall and her mother’s. Mary, I believe, regarded her mother as almost saint-like figure and this view was primarily formed when Mary gave into her father’s demands, for Katherine never did relent, never did compromise on her position. Katherine once told her daughter that the path to paradise was not an easy one; one had to serve God faithfully in order to receive His acclamation.[5] Do not give in, she told Mary; remember what ‘you do owe unto God and unto me’. But Mary of course did ‘give in’ – very understandably so – and thus her mother, I believe, became a figure which Mary regarded with a mixture of filial love, admiration and awe for her own staunch stance on the matter of her marriage and Mary’s legitimacy. Consequently her mother’s perceived usurper could not be regarded with mercy. But, as even Bernard admits, Anne’s actions were equally understandable. We may sympathise with Katherine for upholding her daughter’s rights, though we often overlook Anne’s efforts in doing the same for Elizabeth. And given that Anne’s position was far more precarious than Katherine’s, for she did not have the powerful relations abroad to intervene on her behalf and as she had successful replaced one queen she unwittingly gave another the precedent to do the same, verbal threats were the tools she had. Not admirable but, to repeat Bernard again, ‘understandable’.

I stated at the beginning of this post that Bernard’s consultation of original source material was admirable, and this, I think, is one of the leading features of the work. But occasionally we lose the ‘ifs’ and ‘perhaps’ in context to Chapuys and he becomes once again the central figure. Retha Warnicke, who has also written extensively on Anne Boleyn, has questioned why we over rely on Chapuys. ‘These biased documents, which Freidmann considered “of the greatest value”, still shape how some modern historians approach her [Anne’s] life’, she complained.[6] Certainly. But then Warnicke is not guiltless of endorsing the accounts of certain of Anne’s critics in the formation of her own theories on this figure. Like Chapuys, we can all be guilty of being inconsistent.





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[1] There is also the subject of the royal households; did Anne exert a large say in how Mary was to be treated within Elizabeth’s household? Jeri McIntosh’s study, From Heads of Household to Heads of State: The Preaccession Households of Mary and Elizabeth Tudor, 1516-1558, implicates Henry as the main instigator. Though she believes Anne wished ‘to drive home the distinctions between her daughter, the real princess, and the now illegitimate Lady Mary’ (p. 40) by, for instance, ensuring Elizabeth was dressed sumptuously, McIntosh designates responsibility to Henry when discussing the actions committed against Mary.

[2] Cited from David Loades, Mary Tudor: A Life (Oxford, 1990), p. 99.

[3] James Gairdner (ed.), Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume X: January-June 1536 (London, 1887), 1069.

[4] Loades, Mary Tudor, p.83

[5] BL Arundel 151, fol. 195.

[6] Paul Friedmann was the author of a two volume biography on Anne Boleyn published in 1884. The work relied extensively on Chapuys’s dispatches. Retha M. Warnicke, ‘Reshaping Tudor Biography: Anne Boleyn and Anne of Cleves’, in Lloyd E. Ambrosius (ed.), Writing Biography: Historians & Their Craft (Lincoln and London, 2004), p. 60.

9 comments:

  1. Fantastic review and very close to my own thoughts on Mary and Anne's relationship. I think it's all too easy to assume that Anne took the role of the "wicked stepmother," purely because that version of events is repeated often enough. Chapuys is the only source we have for the infamous Anne/Mary feud, which undoubtedly occurred, but, as you say, we should be very wary of his reliability. It's also food for thought, which I hadn't considered before, that Chapuys may have been more devious and less helpful to Mary than I originally thought.

    What you say about the over-reliance on the original sources at the expense of their nuances for Professor Bernard is very apt, I think, for much of his entire overall assessment of Anne Boleyn's life and personality.

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  2. Thank you Gareth! I have long wondered why Loades’s perception of Chapuys and of this ambassador’s relationship with Mary has not been elaborated upon, or even mentioned, in many subsequent works. That Chapuys admired Katherine and Mary and wished to advance both is undeniable. Yet that did not mean his advice to either was always sufficient or that he was not trying to exaggerate the situation further. Perhaps Loades's argument for Chapuys encouraging Mary to become more radical in her defiance is slightly too much, though I do think it is telling that after her submission of June 1536, and particularly in the late 1530s till Chapuys’s departure, Mary comes to rely very little on him – in fact, so little that Chapuys evidently does not gain information from her anymore and is often observing her actions and behaviour from afar and not reporting as if he was still some close ally. Did she perhaps realise how unpredictable his advice could be?

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  3. Great post, LMS. It is always a pleasure to read your well-sourced and well-written opinions. If I could offer my contradictory opinion (but no offense intended) as someone with only a layman’s interest in the life of Mary I…

    Chapuys was the only ambassador at Court with any vested interest in the well-being of Mary and Katherine so is it really unusual if certain events and occurrences were only mentioned by him? Is it common practice for historians to discount facts or anecdotes if there is only one source?

    I think Mary’s opinion of Anne Boleyn was most likely well formed on her own. She didn’t need Eustace Chapuys and his exaggerations to make her dislike the usurper of her mother’s position any more than she already did!

    I read David Loades’ book on Mary (the first one) a long time ago and I must say I did not like it very much. Though that was a long time ago and I was much younger then, perhaps I need to read it again. I have found the newer works to be much more enjoyable. Besides, I’ve been a bit wary of Loades of late since I saw a clip online of him appearing on a TV show that proclaimed Mary to be among the most evil people in history, right up there with Elizabeth Bathory and Idi Amin!

    That Henry VIII was responsible for Mary’s and Katherine’s misery and poor treatment is not in doubt. But to absolve Anne Boleyn of any similar responsibility is wrong. And while she may have said and done what she did to protect the interests of her own child, doing so by threatening to kill or starve your stepdaughter to death does not make her seem very endearing to me :-)

    I think Bernard’s description of Anne Boleyn as someone who lacked pragmatism and was unable to understand political affairs fits well with the image I’ve always had of her – a woman in over her head and out of her league when the stakes got higher; someone who might have made a decent mistress/lover but couldn’t have been a good Queen.

    But of course, Anne Boleyn remains the most beloved and popular of all Tudor characters to this day, so I understand the attempts to whitewash her record, so to speak – in this case with regards to her relationship with Mary. But for me, there is no truer indication of her guilt than her final-hour plea to Mary for mercy via Lady Kingston. Had she not borne any responsibility for Mary’s misfortunes, she would not have asked for her forgiveness.

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  4. Thank Andrew! I always welcome differences in opinion because it prompts me to rethink my own.

    Chapuys certainly had an invested interest in what occurred to Mary and Katherine – it was his political and personal duty – though their fates were also of great interest to other ambassadors (particular as the French are prompting an alliance which they hoped to seal with a marriage between Mary and François I’s third son). What occurred to Mary was also of interest to everyone else in the realm, and indeed at court. That Chapuys was the only one to mention numerous supposed acts of grievance must make us question why no one else, namely diplomats, did not (for Chapuys frequently reports remarks Anne was alleged to have made at court). As I noted in my post just because others do not record certain stories does not make them necessarily false. Though, even Chapuys contradicts himself in his accounts and drops stories, so we have to question whether even he believed in certain things he wrote. He claimed, for instance, that Anne Boleyn was going to force Mary to attend upon her; to have the princess serve her would be the ultimate humiliation. He also recorded that Mary would be forced to serve the infant Elizabeth. Neither story was correct and Chapuys did not mention them again. Not only were they dropped but they were inconsistent with what else he wrote. For he argued that Anne was jealous of Henry’s love for Mary and thus did not want the girl around. With her away, Chapuys argued, Henry would not be so soft on the girl. Yet he did not discount the story that Anne wanted Mary to carry her train at court, and thus be in constant attendance to her.

    Certainly Mary held strong feelings towards Anne Boleyn and we cannot blame another – whether Chapuys or Katherine – for causing such views. But to be fed constant stories of Anne’s alleged cruelty, to have Chapuys make his remarks about Anne hoping to poison her and her mother (and then Chapuys, when Katherine dies, promotes this idea further), may have had some effect. Chapuys encouraged Mary in her stance; he may not have caused it, but he nonetheless supported it. He may have even, as Loades argues, worsened it, and made Mary more rebellious than she actually was. I believe this is one factor behind why Mary moves away from Chapuys.

    I know which programme you mention – it was indeed awful – and it was disappointing to see such David Loades on there. But then the programme also starred, if memory serves, Diarmaid MacCulloch, another leading historian of this period whose work is superb. Loades does not think Mary was the most evil woman in history and though his view of Mary’s reign conflicts with my own, he does not perpetuate the myth of Bloody Mary.

    When writing the post I was worried that it would appear I was absolving Anne Boleyn. That, however, was not my intention. Rather my own research has led me to question whether what is said of her is always true. I am not crediting such ideas – namely that she was indeed the ‘wicked stepmother’ and then finding some way to salvage her reputation. Instead I think that as historians we need to seriously consider what Anne was and was not capable of by seeking wider sources than often have been consulted. I certainly think Anne, who had a reputation for speaking her mind, was very capable of speaking viciously. Was she capable of acting further than that; of being incredibly explicit in her language? Did she hold that power Bernard both implies and denies?

    (continue...)

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  5. (continues)

    I don’t think Anne was particularly naive. Even if we are to credit Chapuys’s comments one thing remains clear – Anne was frightened of Mary and her popularity. And she was absolutely right to be so. Even Bernard, who claims Anne was rather ignorant in her actions by not thinking about the consequences politically, credits Anne’s fear of Mary as ‘understandable’ which in a way conflicts with the idea that Anne was not acting rashly. Anne did demonstrate her ability to understand political affairs; when Chapuys finally paid homage to her on Charles V’s orders she did not take the opportunity to rebuke him or make any other poor gesture. If Anglo-imperial relations were to commence, - if that is what her husband wanted – if there was the possibility that the Emperor would recognise her, then she would take it and not let grudges continue. She could be quite adept, something that again Chapuys’s view of her – as an almost hysterical woman – does not indicate.


    As for the message via Lady Kingston, if indeed Anne did make such a message, then I would not regard this as definite proof that what all of Chapuys had said about her in regards to Mary was true. Evidently Anne was fearful of Mary owing to the threat on her position and Elizabeth’s; and I believe that undoubtedly she spoke out against her, though debate remains about the degree of this. And if we credit that all she did was speak out against her and nothing more then this alone would account for pleas of forgiveness. After all, Anne allegedly told Lady Kingston this on the day she was die, at a time when she needed to settle all earthly accounts before seeking, as she hoped, salvation. Any ills committed, of whatever severity, must be accounted for. Does this episode indicate that Anne was as bad as traditionally believed, as what Chapuys claims? No. But it certainly does not indicate that she was entirely innocent either.


    Sorry for the absurdly long reply!

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  6. Excellent post. I've always wondered about Anne Boleyn and Mary. I'm not a fan of Anne as most Tudor enthusiasts seem to be. Henry was a monster but Anne was no innocent and I do think she had a role to play (after Henry) in causing Mary's psychological trauma that would last till the end. I do hear conflicting accounts of how much Anne tried to make peace with Mary. If she wanted her dead (which I can believe) I don't think she would have done anything to make peace with Mary, especially after the harsh way Mary was treated in Elizabeth's household (if not by Anne's order, Mary would certainly have felt Anne was at fault).

    And yet at the end, when she saw that unlike Catherine and Mary (and their Imperial relatives), there was nobody powerful enough to "save" her wouldn't it have made perfect sense - if Anne was truly desperate for Elizabeth - to reach out to Mary from the Tower? She knew Jane Seymour was on Mary's side. Once Elizabeth was declared a bastard, it would be Mary once again who would be on top among the two, if both sisters were illegitimate under the law, Mary was still the descendant of Emperors and Kings, cousin of Charles V, beloved by the people in a way Anne never was and thus protected in a way Anne's daughter was not. Elizabeth's "protection" came strictly from Henry's mood. Reaching out to Mary at the end for Elizabeth's sake would have made sense, yet a part of me thinks Anne too stubborn to have done so. In many ways, outside of Catherine Howard, Anne struck me as the least intelligent (politically) of Henry's wives. She saw what Henry had done to others to obtain HER and yet never thought it might come back to haunt her. Anne of Cleeves, Catherine Parr and Jane Seymour seemed to have played Henry better.

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  7. LMS, sorry for the belated reply. Thank you for all the information and for taking the time to post your response. It is always a pleasure to read your informative posts!

    I still maintain that it was only Chapuys who had any serious interest in the well-being of Katherine and Mary during those difficult years. You mentioned the French were also interested on account of the intended marriage between Mary and Charles, the Duke of Orleans. But didn't those negotiations only begin *after* Mary signed the Oath in 1536 and incidentally *after* the death of Anne Boleyn? Chapuys had his spies and sources everywhere - including among royal household. No other ambassador went to such lengths. And on top of that, Henry seemed to like Chapuys and enjoyed his company most of the time and was himself the source of many of Chapuys' reports.

    I understand the need to reevaluate our perception of Anne Boleyn. And as someone who has long sympathized with Mary's plight and her sad life, it is important that I see Anne Boleyn as more than a caricature or stereotype. However, in the specific case of her relationship/treatment of Mary, I really haven't seen any convincing arguments put forth which have made me change my mind. Unless one discounts everything sourced by Chapuys. And I'm not sure I'd go that far...

    Anne could have simply ignored Mary and left the threats and punishments to Henry. I suppose this is what could ordinarily be expected from a step-parent after all. But again, this is not what happened.

    In Alison Weir's latest book, she quotes a line a pregnant Anne wrote of Mary to Lady Shelton: "If I have a son, as soon I look to have, I know what then will come to her." Clearly, in the role of stepmother, she was a frightening failure!

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  8. Hi! Sorry for my late reply; had an exam all of last week and finally finished up today!

    The talks of a French marriage for Mary did also take place during Anne Boleyn’s marriage to Henry VIII. Henry was shocked when the French ambassador stated he had instructions from François I to orchestrate a marriage between Mary, who the king now considered not to be his lawful issue, and the youngest of François’s sons. Incidentally this is discussed in Bernard’s book.

    The fact that Mary signed the oath in 1536 after Anne’s death was due to overwhelming pressure on Mary from her father. Henry had entered into a new marriage and wanted a fresh start; he believed he would have issue from this match (namely the son he so desired), thus it was imperative that Mary agree to her new demoted position. The death of Katherine also helped matters as in many it had been Katherine who, though her own example and words to her daughter, strengthened Mary’s resolve (see the letter from Katherine to Mary in c.1534). Now the pillar of support was gone. Obviously that Anne was gone helped matters, but it was not a case that once Anne was gone Mary and Henry could now reunite easily. Henry’s actions towards Mary became far crueler after Anne had died. On this nearly all of Mary’s biographers are in agreement; Henry essential broke down Mary’s resolve.

    You note that Chapuys has confidants and spies; that is true. But so did other ambassadors, the French ambassador included. I would not agree that Henry liked Chapuys; the ambassador was frequently not in his company and Henry was certainly furious, worried, and I believe jealous, about any Spanish influence around Mary. Naturally Chapuys’s time with both Mary and Katherine was monitored. Chapuys was not always easy to get along with and we have testaments against his character from various courtiers. His inability to be trusted was a chief complaint voiced.
    I would not agree that sympathising with Mary means one has to accept this stereotype of Anne (and as you worded it, it is a ‘stereotype’ and ‘caricature’. I find Mary’s experience during this time to be terribly sad. But this does not mean I regard the cause of this to be Anne Boleyn. I adopt Loades’s view that the main culprit was indeed Henry VIII. I also think Retha Warnicke’s discussions regarding the often unreliability of Chapuys’s records needs to be considered. One recent historian endorsed Chapuys’s remarks almost without question in her biography on Mary. That is not good enough; we must ask ourselves why this individual should dominate historical accounts. If a historian justifies their use of Chapuys – provides a full analysis of why his accounts should be repeated– then we can accept this dependence of his works. But many historians of this period fail to do this; historians of Mary are amongst the worst culprits! (*I look away guiltily!*)

    The line you provide by Anne to Lady Shelton was I think remarkable insightful on Anne’s behalf. If Anne did bear a son Mary’s defiance would no longer be tolerated by the King. Anne knew this and she too would not have Mary threatening her child’s status. In fairness to Anne, she did not make such taunts and do nothing more; whilst pregnant expecting this supposed son, she tried to make a deal with Mary. She, Anne asked, would recognise her as queen, and in return the pair would make amends and Mary would be back in favour. Mary’s rejection of this deal is perfectly understandable; she believed herself to be heir and her mother to be her father’s lawful wife. But that Anne made such a gesture indicates that she was hardly the wicked stepmother of the piece. Far from revelling in the belief that she would have a son and Mary would be utterly destroyed, Anne sought to assist Mary and also assist herself. It was a pragmatic approach and one that a wholly spiteful individual would not have considered to make.

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