Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tackling Tudor Thomases One At a Time: Had Enough Yet? LOL! Today's Thomas: Boleyn

Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire and 1st Earl of Ormonde, climbed the social structure of Henry VIII's court system like a boss.
He navigated the rules, written and the even trickier unwritten ones, always promoting his family's name and his family's members, working the system of flattering Henry VIII as well as doing whatever was asked of him.

Image result for hever castle
Hever Castle. Now that's a piece of real estate!
Thomas Boleyn was born at Hever Castle in Kent, England in 1477.
The Boleyn family gets a bit of a bad rap about being "new money" compared to the other courtiers; "invented nobility" versus "noble by birth," but if Thomas Boleyn was born in a castle owned by his father? 
He sounds like he may have been newly arrived, but more than five minutes ago, which was the slur thrown around at court by courtiers jealous about the family's meteoric rise in the favor of Henry VIII.

There was noble blood in his family - but his grandfather was also a merchant of fine cloth goods.
A merchant! The horror! Trade! 
Most likely, that's where the snobbishness about the Boleyn's being "new money" originated, as though there was some moral superiority to being born with money, then sitting around the rest of one's life spending it, versus dirtying one's hands actually working.

Boleyn married Elizabeth Howard, sister of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk and pimp of his nieces, Thomas Howard, sometime before 1499.
Elizabeth Boleyn had five children in short order, although two of the children, both boys, appear to have died in childhood.
Her surviving children all distinguished themselves in vastly different ways to the king.
Mary Boleyn was famously mistress to Henry VIII from 1521/22-1524/25. 
Anne Boleyn - Queen of England. :-)
George Boleyn had a successful career at Henry VIII's court - until, of course, the fun ran out for the Boleyns. 

Thomas Boleyn was Sheriff of Kent in 1511 and 1517; in 1518 until 1521 he served as an ambassador to France. 
The fact that Boleyn was chosen to represent Henry VIII in France as an ambassador shows a hefty level of trust on the part of the King; English and French relations were all over the place and tensions often flared into skirmishes or sometimes, flat-out war. 
In 1523 Boleyn was elected Knight of the Garter; by 1525 he'd been elevated to the peerage and became Viscount Rochford. 
1530 was a banner year for Boleyn; he became Lord Privy Seal - a high honor, as the Lord of the Privy Seal protected and kept the monarch's private (versus that of the realm) seal.
Thomas Boleyn, collector of so much royal favor.
When Henry VIII cast off Mary Boleyn as his mistress, there are stories that she was berated by Boleyn for not asking the King to grant her (okay, her family) favors.
The same stories usually paint Mary as a fairly stupid, blonde slut.
Most of those stories are the invention of either historical fiction writers or court rumors; they may be true but there's no proof.

When Anne Boleyn came to the notice of Henry VIII, her family had no complaints about the favors and titles granted them; in fact, both favors and titles rained down on all of them.
As Anne's father, Boleyn was able to bask in the reflected glory of his family as they rose to the tippy-top of the social structure at court.
When Anne was anointed Queen of England at her coronation, everybody wanted to be friends with her entire family.
When she started believing herself above the accepted rules for queen consort behavior, that's when the trouble started brewing.

Thomas Boleyn's daughter may have been Queen of England, but she failed to give the King the son he needed, and by 'needed,' I mean the King obsessed day and night, worrying about his lack of a male heir to his throne.
When Henry's fears about never having a son got tangled up with being fed up with Anne's smart mouth and entitled ways, everything went south for her in a hurry.
Everything went south for her father and brother, too.

In 1536, Henry VIII yanked the Lord Privy Seal back from Thomas Boleyn and handed it over to Thomas Cromwell.
Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn went to the executioner's block; arrested, tried and executed in under twenty-one days. 
Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn were left with one surviving child - the stupid, blonde slut, Mary.
Mary seemed to have understood better than any of her family that the only way to win the game at court was to not play at all. She deserted the court lifestyle for a quiet family home in the country. Not so stupid after all. . . 

Thomas Boleyn's fall after the stunning execution of his two children just went on and on. Properties, honorary titles, all of it returned to the crown - and nobody was particularly sorry about it, or nice about it, or even sympathetic to Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn.
It was more like, "Stay the hell away from me; whatever your family's got, I don't want."

Elizabeth Boleyn appears to have died in 1538. 
Thomas Boleyn died in 1539.
Father of a queen who then had to watch the court proceedings as she and her brother were sentenced to death.
Such a sad, tragic story of the rise of a family's fortunes, followed the by loss of all fortune as well as the violent execution of two of their children - could anyone doubt that Elizabeth and Thomas Boleyn died of broken hearts? 

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