Review: Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings

mary_boleyn_bookIn most books concerning Tudor history, Mary Boleyn gets very little mention. A lot more is known about her enigmatic and doomed younger sister but thanks to author Alison Weir (one of my very favorite history writers), we finally have a biography about a woman history knows best as a “great and infamous whore,” probably a title she doesn’t deserve.

This book details the historical evidence we have about Mary Boleyn’s childhood, her relationships with Francis I of France and Henry VIII of England, her two marriages and her children.

I quickly felt sorry for Mary. She was the more impulsive sister and paid for it. The loss of her family’s love and respect after her reputation was tarnished filled me with empathy for her. And yet, of the four Boleyn children (yes, there was a second brother I didn’t know about), she is the only one who survived to middle age. She even got to marry for love and appears to have had a happy marriage, despite some financial instability.

This book also includes some theories about the parentage of one of Mary’s children. Weir presents a strong argument for her theory concerning Henry VIII. I won’t say which of Mary’s children, but it might not be the one you’re assuming.

A great book for Tudor history fans, but probably not ideal for anyone new to the story of Henry VIII and his wives.


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jillianne hamilton headshotJillianne Hamilton is an author, history enthusiast, book lover and graphic designer. Her debut novel, Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire, was shortlisted for the 2016 Prince Edward Island Book Award. She is currently working on her first non-fiction book. She lives in Charlottetown on Canada's beautiful east coast.
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