Review: Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings
September 25, 2016

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In 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.

Jillianne Hamilton is a history enthusiast and the author of The Spirited Mrs. Pringle (historical fiction), The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street (historical romance), and The Lazy Historian’s Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII (non-fiction). Jill launched The Lazy Historian in 2015. She lives in Charlottetown on Canada’s beautiful east coast. Learn more.

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Hi, I'm Jillianne.

I'm a historical fiction writer, a lover of history, and a hoarder of books. I'm the author of The Spirited Mrs. Pringle, The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII.

The Lazy Historian is a history blog featuring stories from the past with sass. With a focus on Western European and women's history, I delve into anything fascinating. Learn more.