Wednesday, September 23, 2015

GLORIANA! The ABC's of the Reign of Our Most Gracious Sovereign Elizabeth A is for Anne Boleyn

Elizabeth I rose up out of the pile of absolute shit that was made of a combination of her mother's reputation and her half-sister's understandable but still nutso threats to execute her - and she still arguably went down as the most loved Tudor personality to sit a throne, ever. 
It was all in the genes.

The Boleyn family were assertive-bordering-on-aggressive about promoting themselves and/or their family members to anyone who'd listen.
That behavior was Anne Boleyn's model for 'How My Family Acts" and she was not shy about doing her part.
That famous "B" dripping pearls necklace was as deliberately planned a "family brand" move as when movie stars kids march through airports carrying enormous stuffed animals to tip off the paparazzi that it's time to start madly snapping pics.
And . . . in keeping with the family brand concept, here's Elizabeth, pictured with her older half-sister Mary.
Note the 'A' - for guess who? - around her neck. 
In your face, Dad.
Henry VIII's daughters - Mary I on the left and Elizabeth I on the right, as princesses. These portraits are enlarged from "The White Hall Family  Portrait" Anne Boleyn's "A" pendent can clearly be seen hanging around Elizabeth's neck.:
Elizabeth pictured wearing a vowel, just not the one at the start of her own name, "A is for ANNE." 
Anne Boleyn knew her child(ren) stood a decent chance of sitting on the throne of England.
Earliest known picture of Elizabeth, probably around age 4 or 5. She was only 2 when her mother was executed.:

Whether that child was Elizabeth or a future, imagined brother, likely it didn't make much difference to Anne Boleyn.
She set herself to raising (or, let's be real, overseeing the raising) of her daughter as a future ruler, or as the wife of a future ruler.

Anne Boleyn knew a thing or two about how to hang a hem and start a trend and she chose for the little princess's onesies and kirtles and gowns and sleeves fabrics in colors and textures that amped up the *WOW* factor of a child whose hair was the exact color of the hair of her father the king.

At the Tudor court you were what you wore.

Elizabeth's clothes were a statement just as much as her parent's clothes were a statement. Two years old was no deterrent to having pretty much the exact same clothes worn by adults of the time, except cut down to size 2T.

No joke.
All those fussy fastenings - imagine the nursery tantrums. This is not Elizabeth. It's Lord Arundal. -a boy, wearing a lace head frill and neck ruff. OMG WTF LMFAO. 
Elizabeth had a real love for fashion - and spent lavishly on her own wardrobe - just as Anne Boleyn spent lavishly on her own wardrobe.
Not a genetic trait, perhaps, but the basic comprehension of the importance of dressing memorably and most important, so that the attention of every pair of eyes in the room remained firmly on her, was inherent in mother and daughter.
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Anne Boleyn's quicksilver-fast wit was a trait found in Elizabeth as well.
When Anne learned that two of the men arrested with her were courtiers famous for their poetry, she said something along the lines of, "Well, they'd be better off making pallets (for sleeping vs. cold Tower of London) than ballads now." 
A courtier who'd stayed away from court for seven years out of mortification after he let one rip in front the queen was greeted on his return by Elizabeth, who didn't miss a beat. 
"Why, I'd forgotten your fart!" 


Anne Boleyn was prone to babbling and nervously laughing when under pressure,
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Her  verbal diarrhea and near-hysterical laughter when she was arrested and brought to the Tower of London were duly noted by her special guard 
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"Yeah, she's spilling like a bag of M&M''s on the floor at Safeway, I'm getting it all, your Majesty." 
who wrote it all down then promptly reported all her stress-babble to her enemies - giving them ammunition against her for her upcoming trial.


Elizabeth had more experience with the threat of arrest; by the time she'd reached twenty-five, she'd been hauled in and questioned rigorously by unfriendly authorities at least three times.
She grasped immediately, at age fourteen and facing her first interrogation, that nothing good would come of her doing other than replying directly to questions, but giving up no more than that.
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ask away, but nope nope nope.
Under pressure when it counted, Elizabeth fared better than her mother, but the propensity for losing control was still there - when angry with her favorites at court, her tantrums were famous and definitely overheard by many.

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"She did what? Did you say she MARRIED Robert DUDLEY!?!?! WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!" 
When things got very real, as when Anne Boleyn made her scaffold speech, and Elizabeth made the Tilbury speech, both women faced the reality with equal grace.
Anne Boleyn knew Henry VIII could have called off her execution but didn't, also knew he held their daughter's fate and that he could do whatever he felt like doing to her with nobody to stop him.
Yikes.
Without so much as a single note of irony, she praised him as a good husband, and gentle prince ever; as though she just happened to be discussing his good points with a friend. 
That took some serious marshaling of guts. 
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. . . and accept the inevitable with grace. 
When Elizabeth faced invasion by Spain in July, 1588, she greeted her men, in person, with the words, "My loving people," and then reassured them that while she might be 'just' a woman, she had the heart and stomach of a king - and a king of England, at that.
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. . . because how can you not love a picture of Cate Blanchett rallying the troops at Tilbury? The chick was BORN to play Elizabeth I. . . and that horse was awesome, too. From 1998 movie Elizabeth, written by Michael Hirst.
That took some marshaling of guts, as well - the English were in serious danger of their island being invaded by the Spanish; the fight could go either way and that uncertainty was foremost in the brains of everyone there.
Yeah, this is more like a painting commissioned by her P.R. firm. "Get ALL the elements in there, Charlie." 
Happily (and I say that in the sixteenth century definition of the word, meaning something more like 'luckily' or 'as fate would have it') England's naval force and a timely summer storm sank most of the Spanish ships and the rest of the ships limped back to Spain, thoroughly whipped. 

Afraid this painting probably gets it right; burning ships, cannon balls exploding, oil floating on the surface of the water drowning you . . .  just sad. But terrific and triumphant as well. 

The varied and diverse qualities of Elizabeth I originated from her family's genetics and by circumstance and events that forged her character and personality.
Elizabeth inherited the dark eyes of her mother, but again, happily, the very visible Tudor legacy of red-gold hair, established firmly who had fathered her.
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Sorta looks like Helen Mirren, doesn't she? Bless her brilliance and her little girl, playing an adult's deadly game, heart. Elizabeth I, aged fourteen.  

In 1575, a ring was commissioned for Elizabeth I; it opens and inside, a secret.
Two miniature paintings.
One is undeniably the queen herself.
The other, an unidentified woman pictured wearing clothing from mid-1530's, looks an awful lot like Anne Boleyn.

Is the unidentified woman inside this locket ring Anne Boleyn? The sentimental vote overwhelmingly shouts, 'yes!'