Sunday, November 19, 2017

Anne Boleyn ‘a Jezebel and harlot’

Image result




Damien F. Mackey





“In 1532 a priest named William Peto preached an Easter sermon in which he asserted that that Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, who were in the congregation listening, were just like the Old Testament tyrant Ahab and his painted queen Jezebel”.


Kyra Cornelius Kramer


We read about a new book, The Jezebel Effect, at:


To celebrate the release of her new book The Jezebel Effect: Why the Slut Shaming of Famous Queens Still Matters on Kindle, Kyra Cornelius Kramer has written this thought-provoking guest article on Anne Boleyn for us here at The Anne Boleyn Files. I do hope you enjoy it. Over to Kyra…


In 1532 a priest named William Peto preached an Easter sermon in which he asserted that that Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, who were in the congregation listening, were just like the Old Testament tyrant Ahab and his painted queen Jezebel.1 Ahab was considered to have been a king who had turned his face from the correct path of worshiping God, and it is was clearly an insult to Henry and a jab at his break from Catholicism. However, Jezebel was considered WORSE because she was seen as the harlot who had used sex to enslave Ahab and turn him from the Lord. Anne, like Jezebel, was therefore the scheming temptress who had dragged a formerly-good king down into the muck with her womanly wiles. In spite of the historical evidence to the contrary, Anne Boleyn’s reputation as a jezebel and harlot has clung to her name like the stench of skunk spray for five centuries.


Anne Boleyn is, in the opinion of many, “the most controversial woman in English history. She is shaped by preoccupations with the mystery of female power, described as a witch, bitch, temptress, cold opportunist… a woman whose power is feared, her gender mistrusted”.2 She has been castigated as “a whore, a home wrecker, [and] a soulless schemer”.3. In novels and plays, on television and in the movies, Anne Boleyn continues to slink about as the ultimate femme fatale. Even today history buffs online comment that Anne was “a piece of work” who “deserved to die” because she poisoned Henry’s first queen, calling Anne a “sociopath”, “cruel and crazy”, a “wack-job”, a “horrible person” who “stole someone’s husband”, and “sly” … all before declaring Anne did things she patently and provably did not do.


In her book The Creation of Anne Boleyn, Susan Bordo talks about how many media representations of Anne, “inevitably led to recycling the image of Anne Boleyn as the seductive, scheming Other Woman. That’s the classic soapy element of the story, after all: sexpot steals husband from mousy, menopausal first wife. [Michael Hirst, the creator of the Showtime series The Tudors] says he never intended this, and attributes it less to the script than to “deep cultural projections.” He had initially seen Anne … as a victim of her father’s ambitions, and believed he was writing the script to emphasize that. He was surprised when “critics started to trot this line out: ‘here she is, just a manipulative bitch.’ Well, actually I hadn’t written it like that. But they couldn’t get out of the stereotypes that had been handed down to them and that’s what they thought they were seeing on the screen. It didn’t matter what they were actually seeing. They had already decided that Anne Boleyn was this Other Woman, this manipulative bitch”.4


Even some academic historians have jumped on the slut shaming bandwagon. In 2010 historical biographer G. W. Bernard wrote a book about Anne Boleyn in which he said, “it remains my own hunch that Anne had indeed committed adultery with Norris, probably with Smeaton, possibly with Weston, and was then the victim of the most appalling bad luck” of having her actions come to light.5 This led to tabloids and newspapers trumpeting headlines such as, “Anne Boleyn DID have an affair with her brother: The poem that ‘proves’ the adultery of Henry VIII’s queen”.6


Even Henry’s actions were her fault. Inasmuch as Henry “frequently made a public fool of himself in his fervor for Anne and his love for her”,10 Anne has been blamed for “making” the king act like a buffoon. Much of the hatred of Anne Boleyn in her own time stems from the fact that a “love-struck middle-aged man was an unsettling sight. When that ageing man was a king… the uneasiness grew, for here was an all-powerful being in thrall to a woman… the obvious way to absolve that feeling of unseemliness in the spectator was to blame Anne”.11


Everyone blamed Anne. Katherina blamed Anne for Henry’s desire for a divorce. Wolsey blamed Anne for his political and economic losses, not the king and certainly not his own actions. Chapuys blamed Anne for the schism between Catholicism and England, not the actions of the Holy See that had inspired an entire reform movement throughout Europe. Princess Mary blamed Anne for the king’s emotional cruelty toward his once pampered eldest child. A large chunk of the population blamed her for Henry’s lusts. It must have been very hard for the English when Anne was dead, because she took the ultimate scapegoat with her to the grave.


Anne’s true crimes were not those of sexual impropriety, but those of gender inversion. She was too “masculine” to be a good girl. A man — a king no less — fell in love with her and acted “feminine” in his adoration, which had to have been her fault somehow. She was too smart to be discounted, and she was determined to bring about religious reform that would flout the existing conventions. Like other evangelical women she was outspoken about her religious opinions. She made a mockery of the status quo. Everything that was supposed to mark the attributes of a “good girl” – that she be passive, demur, humble, effacing, docile, and dominated – were reversed in the bold and determined Anne Boleyn.


Mackey’s comment: Mmmmm, sounds a lot like Queen Jezebel if one substitutes, for Anne’s Protestant evangelism, Baalism!


Image result


“If Henry didn’t listen to Friar Peto’s prophecy, or the holy mother church, he would suffer the same fate as King Ahab and have his blood licked by dogs”.


The Protestant Jezebel:

Friar Peto’s Vicious Attack against Anne Boleyn



Henry VIII and Anne BoleynHenry VIII and Anne Boleyn


On Easter Sunday 31st March 1532, Friar William Peto, Princess Mary’s confessor, preached a controversial sermon at the Franciscan Chapel of Greenwich Palace. The sermon was aimed at the King and his intended bride Anne Boleyn. The Friar, being the Princess’ confessor and head of the Franciscan Observants, was a staunch supporter of the Princess and her mother. In his sermon he compared the King of England to the biblical King Ahab whose refusal to listen to Elijah’s prophecies led to his divine punishment, dying in agony from the wounds inflicted to him during a battle. In addition, the King had sinned by marrying the pagan Jezebel who brought with her, her pagan priests and the adoration of her many gods.


“The King” Peto said, “was brought to Samaria” to be buried. When the chariot carrying his body broke down and “the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the Lord had declared.”

If Henry didn’t listen to Friar Peto’s prophecy, or the holy mother church, he would suffer the same fate as King Ahab and have his blood licked by dogs. This was enough for Henry. He ordered Friar Peto to be put under house arrest. The Venetian Ambassador hinted with irony that for every time Anne was insulted, “the more incensed the King” became in his pursuit of her.
Henry VIII wasn’t the only one under attack by the Friar’s vicious words.
The Tudor era was no different than the medieval world ….
Mackey’s comment: That is an interesting statement in the context of a revised AD history.
… where women were the scapegoats of all the country’s problems. In this case the scapegoat was Anne Boleyn. Perhaps in what Peto was unique was that his sermon included the King, instead of focusing solely on Anne. Kings were after all anointed figures, ordained by the Catholic heads of their countries; they were seen as infallible. If anyone had a complaint against the King, they would not point fingers at him; instead, they would blame his councilors, his mistress or in this case his intended bride. Peto’s attack to Henry, while brutal, [were] no more brutal than those to Anne whom he compared (ironically) [with] Jezebel, Ahab’s wife. I say this ironically because Jezebel was an idolater in her adoptive country’s eyes. Their priests worshipped great figures, statues, and had sumptuous rituals which were unlike those of the Jewish tradition who forbid images. Anne, while advocating for a different religion, was no pagan and records show that she was a strict mistress who kept her household in order. When she became Queen, she ordered an English translation of the bible and told her servants and guests, that everyone was welcome to borrow it or read from it. She was the one who introduced Henry to religious reform by giving him her copy of Tyndale’s Obedience of a Christian Man and Fish’s The Supplication of Beggars. While much has been said about Anne’s religion, it is likely that she and her father were not “more Lutheran than Luther himself” like Chapuys described. It is very likely that Anne agreed with some of Luther’s ideas, but was more influenced by the Swiss and French thinkers whom her previous mistress’ sister-in-law (Marguerite of Navarre) admired. Perhaps it was this that made her in the eyes of her many a purely ambitious, amoral, irreligious persona who like Jezebel would bring doom to her kingdom. ….
Jezebel meeting her tragic fate (pushed out from a window by her adoptive people).(Jezebel meeting her tragic fate (pushed out from a window by her adoptive people).

No comments:

Post a Comment