Sunday, September 8, 2013

Anne Boleyn: The French Connection

Anne Boleyn, Margaret of Austria, Claude of France, Marguerite of Navarre

Where would you start if you wanted to blog a bit about the Renaissance?  Would it be easier if you limited your scope to the French Renaissance?  How long would it take and how far would you get before tying yourself up in so many knots that the only sane move would be to cut and run?
I recently found myself pondering these questions (and so many more) but before I could be overwhelmed into inaction I decided to just pick a point and begin.  After all it's the journey that counts and since this is purely a pleasure cruise I thought it best to begin with one of my favourite historical personages, Anne Boleyn.
Now we know that Anne's daughter, Elizabeth I, prided herself on being "mere English" and it's true that Anne's roots were decidedly upper-crust Anglo-Saxon but her early life experiences connected her to the core of the French Renaissance.  Born a courtier and educated with royalty, Anne Boleyn was a Renaissance woman through & through and therefore the perfect travelling companion for these Renaissance ramblings.

In fact, Renaissance relationships being what they were, it's tempting to revamp Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon by using Anne as the centre of the social network.  I'm guessing that most link numbers would be low indeed, but I digress ...
Anne started her own life's journey at either Blickling Hall, Norfolk or Hever Castle, Kent.  Historians are still trying to thrash out the exact date and place of her birth but Eric Ives makes a convincing case dating her birth to circa 1501 much earlier than the circa 1507 date championed by others.

Hever Castle

What is certain is that in 1513 she departed from Hever Castle and headed for the continent in search of a European education.
It was a journey that would shape her life.  Ever afterwards she would stand out from the women of the English court whom she was leaving, and would always leave, far behind.

Her first stop was the court of Margaret of Austria, described by Ives as "Europe's premier finishing school".  For the next nine years she remained abroad, mixing with the elite of Europe, its future rulers, and (most interesting to me) the women that helped shape the Renaissance including Claude of France and Marguerite of Navarre.

We'll catch up with Anne and Margaret in the next post and hopefully start unravelling some of the French Renaissance connections.


Anne Boleyn: The French Connection by on 2013-09-08
Born a courtier and educated with royalty, Anne Boleyn was a Renaissance woman through & through and therefore the perfect travelling companion for these Renaissance ramblings.

Images: Anne Boleyn Connections 01 composed by Tatiana Dokuchic; Hever Castle Wikipedia;

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