The Other Boleyn depicts the story of the Boleyn sisters, who were mistresses for Henry the VIII – Anne Boleyn even became the queen of England and Henry’s wife. The story about the Renaissance and how difficult it was for Anne Boleyn to advance in the society of the 16th century, which was immersed in patriarchy.
The Renaissance period represents a huge inspiration for contemporary people because it is thought to be one of the most amazing historical periods.
I’m going to give you 2 reasons why you should definitely read The Other Boleyn.
The story of The Other Boleyn Girl
The thing about history is that often tells the stories from the perspective of those who won any type of conflict – therefore, we know very little things about the women in the past, because most of the times they were supposed to obey the men and serve their families’ social and political purposes.
The same thing happens with the Boleyn sisters – the book, belonging to the fictional history genre, depicts in a very accurate manner the way in which both Mary and Anne Boleyn were pushed by their greedy, selfish relatives to flirt with the king, become his mistresses and, in Anne’s case, even marry him. The Boleyn family was not a very noble one, thus it was to their advantage to have beautiful, charismatic, and intelligent daughters to enchant the king and receive innumerable favors.
Mary tells the story of her effervescent, rather wild-tempered sister in the book – aspect that, in fact, stunned me: it is very natural for a woman to tell her story, but the history did not accustom us with that practice very much.
Mary and Anne have the most different personalities – nonetheless, they complete and often protect each other in the very cruel and shallow society of the 16th century. The English court back then underwent a permanent change to Henry reforming the church and thus fundamentally changing every aspect in the English society.
Power meant everything
Nowadays there are other ways to fulfill one’s existence – well, back then, the only way to marry happily and have enough money to live a comfortable life was to gain power. And power could be gained by means of different alliances – namely, by marrying one’s daughters or sisters with powerful, influential men, who could grant his relatives’ in-law social status, money, or influence. I know that doesn’t sound very nice – and it wasn’t!
Women ended up being married at 12 years old – like Mary Boleyn was – and often their husbands were much older than them. Mary’s husband was only 18 – but that was not relevant, because her family pushed her in the king’s arms, thus encouraged her to cheat on her husband in order to grant all of her relatives’ the king’s sympathy and favors. After bedding her, the king noticed Mary’s sister, Anne Boleyn.
But Anne was smarter – she wanted to remain pure and accompany the king, thus she encouraged him to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, and marry her! How cool, right?
Anne Boleyn was one of the smartest people inhabiting Henry the 8th’s court – therefore, she knew her only ”weapon” to protect herself and her family was to be very clever when Henry courted her. And she became queen and had Elizabeth – who would become Elizabeth I, one of the greatest queens in history.
The book is heart-breaking because it proves that it was very difficult to be a woman in the Renaissance – they had no rights, they were to obey their fathers, uncles, husbands, and, above all, the king and God. But in the society created by Henry the 8th, power and religion were something relative – he manipulated every concept to serve his purpose of completely controlling the country and marrying any woman he wanted at any time!
But enough with this – I don’t wanna spoil the book for you, guys!