Thomas Boleyn – The Father of Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn
Anne and George Boleyn had an ambitious father. His linguistic skills proved particularly useful during diplomatic negotiations.
He arranged for his elder daughter Mary Tudor Brandon to serve Henry VIII in France, hoping that it would catch his eye and garner favor with him.
He then betrayed Buckingham’s plans to seize the throne for Cardinal Wolsey, leading many historians to regard him as an indecent and selfish opportunist.
Early Life and Education
Thomas Boleyn has become increasingly disreputable since Anne Boleyn’s death has made headlines. Many portray him as an arrogant courtier who sacrificed his daughter in pursuit of power.
Early Modern historian and Boleyn specialist Lauren Mackay will dispel myths and stereotypes surrounding Thomas Boleyn’s family while providing a more accurate depiction of him as an effective diplomat and courtier.
Since his early childhood, James Tudor took an interest in languages – especially French – and was well educated. Due to his intelligence and flair for languages, he made himself highly desirable as a courtier; indeed he was chosen to accompany Margaret Tudor on her journey to Scotland and marry King James IV; additionally, he served as joint governor of Norwich castle and sheriff of Kent several times over his lifetime.
Thomas Boleyn was a respected businessman and politician during the reign of King Henry VIII. Born in Norfolk, England he owned numerous manors and tenements there and participated in illegal book trading operations with Anne (though the show omits this fact for dramatic purposes). Additionally he engaged in illegal book dealing with Henry which he shared with Anne; these activities may have also had an influence on their romance between Henry and Elizabeth.
His intelligence, charm, and linguistic abilities propelled him into becoming one of Europe’s premier ambassadors during his career. He earned Margaret of Austria’s friendship when sent in 1512 to secure an alliance between England and Austria through her father. Furthermore, Desiderius Erasmus considered him one of his close confidantes despite popular perception depicting him as manipulative man willing to use his daughters for personal gain.
Achievement and Honors
Thomas Boleyn was an accomplished politician and individual. A Knight of the Garter, Viscount Rochford became Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde by 1528.
He was highly esteemed among his peers; Desiderius Erasmus dedicated two of his works to him while Henry VIII spoke highly of him as an excellent negotiator.
Charles Brandon visited Boleyn in prison during episode 2.09 to tell him of his permanent disgrace and warn against returning to court under penalty of death, also disclosing that his daughter and son were being used as scapegoats by Cromwell in false accusations against them by Cromwell – this momentous event marked yet another sad chapter for this family patriarch.
Thomas Boleyn has long been a subject of scrutiny due to his role in Anne Boleyn’s decline. Pop culture (such as shows such as “The Tudors” and The Other Boleyn Girl) portrays him as an unscrupulous individual who will stop at nothing to curry favor and gain status at court.
He was actually an intelligent and ambitious man who used his connections and skills to his own benefit. For instance, he served on the escort that took Princess Margaret Tudor from England to Scotland in order to marry James IV; later arranging for his daughter Mary to serve as maid of honour at Henry’s sister’s court in France; engaging in illegal book trade to spread reformist ideas into England; as well as advocating religious reformation.
Popular culture (The Tudors, The Other Boleyn Girl) may portray Thomas as an inept manipulator who used Anne or George as tools to climb the ranks of English court society and beyond, but in fact he was quite successful for someone of his era. Thomas had already become a well-established courtier before either Anne or George ever entered into relationships with Henry VIII; his remarkable career had already taken root long before they did and boasted hard work and talents that far outshone those of any of his contemporaries today.
He excelled at both diplomatic and artistic duties, while being an accomplished musician and composer as well. Additionally, he served in the royal escort that took Princess Margaret north for her marriage to James IV of Scotland, while his knowledge of foreign languages enabled him to gain important diplomatic appointments such as becoming Francois I’s Envoy for 1518-1521.