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The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  5,446 ratings  ·  94 reviews
This definitive full biography of Anne Boleyn, based on the latest scholarly research, focusses on Anne’s life and legacy and establishes Anne as a figure of considerable importance and influence in her own right.
Paperback, 458 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Blackwell Publishers (first published June 30th 2004)
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The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn by Eric IvesThe Lady in the Tower by Alison WeirThe Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia FraserThe Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison WeirSix Wives by David Starkey
Best Books about Anne Boleyn
1st out of 42 books — 84 voters
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa GregoryThe Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison WeirThe Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa GregoryThe Constant Princess by Philippa GregoryThe Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory
Best Books About Tudor England
40th out of 394 books — 1,131 voters


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Community Reviews

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Sarah
This is the bible of Anne Boleyn. It is the first book I ever read completely dedicated to Anne and even today it is the first book that I refer back to when I am researching or learning about Anne. My poor copy is dog eared and tattered but to me that only gives it more character and life. If you want to know about Anne Boleyn, want to learn who the woman was who rose to be the jewel in Henry VIII’s eye and then fell shattering into history then this is the book to read. I would recommend this...more
Crystal Lee
Beware this book is phone book sized--simply mammoth. Though I appreciate his thoroughness on the subject, there are times I disagreed completely with his ideas on Henry VIII's or Anne Boleyn's motives.

The author tends to get bogged down on too many details in certain areas and not enough in others. His language is confusing at times and it almost feels the author is trying to impress his readers with his extensive vocabulary. In terms of using this book for research as an author, I found other...more
Justine
Ives feels like the best of both worlds: his credentials as a legal historian make him detailed an analytical enough that he's a authoritative source on Anne Boleyn, while his well-supported admiration for her makes the sometimes dry, dense writing style worth it for anyone more accustomed to "popular" historians like Alison Weir and Joanna Denny. Considering the lack of solid historical documents or artifacts from Anne herself (even trying to establish her birth year causes controversy), Ives d...more
Sue
As far as I am concerned this book is THE last word on Anne Boleyn's story. I read Ives' first edition 20 years ago and even though I have read other author's takes on Anne, I always return to this one. Ives revised this edition after Henry's Inventory was published so there is more detail and if you are not into detail you may find its a bit dry in places but honestly I love the details. Anne was very aware of her Image but this was an essential part of a person's power in court. Back in those...more
Conor Byrne
This is an excellent biography of Anne Boleyn and her life and times. Professor Ives' work should rightly be regarded as a comprehensive take on this tragic Queen's career.

Although strongly challenged by other historians such as Warnicke and Bernard, I strongly agree with Ives' theories, namely his belief that Anne was born in 1500-1. The 1507 birth date makes little sense. Similarly, I agree that Anne was the middle child, and her sister Mary was older.

The strengths of this biography are in par...more
Mei-Lu
Oct 21, 2014 Mei-Lu rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any one interested in a deeper understanding of Anne Boleyn
Of the recent biographies of Anne Boleyn, I'd say this is the best and for that reason, I've held on to as a reference. I particularly like the fact that Ives is careful to note his attributions, or at the very least the texts on which he is basing his ideas. There are assertions made by the author that I don't entirely agree with -the available evidence on Anne Boleyn's early life is quite slim and as a result almost all biographies on her are largely extrapolated. Overall a well-researched bio...more
Jen
I think it's fair to say that I've read a lot of books about Tudor history and Anne Boleyn specifically. This is one of the best, most well-researched, and most well-written that I have come across.

Eric Ives goes far deeper than the trite "Henry fell in/out of love with Anne and thus had her killed"--and instead looks at the life of one of the most intriguing (and briefest) lives to affect the crown. Instead of dismissing old arguments, he looks at the facts and goes through each source, pointin...more
Lori
This is the most in depth book on Anne Boleyn that I've read so far. Ives often presents several interpretations of events. He then gives his own interpretations and backs up his interpretations with a lot of facts. When Ives is speculating about ideas, he tells the reader that he is speculating, which is also admirable. The book is very scholarly in that aspect, but I did not feel that it was hard to follow in light of this fact. The attention to detail is fantastic; at the end Ives breaks down...more
Brigid
Feb 26, 2010 Brigid rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in British history, feminists, fans of "The Tudors"
Overall, this is a thoroughly researched, well-reasoned approach to the life of Anne Boleyn. Ives presents the reader with a cornucopia of information from a variety of sources, while simultaneously making judgments on who is more reliable than others. He quotes extensively from original source material and isn't afraid of analyzing the implications. He also gives excellent background on the period, the convention of courtly love, and the status of England with regard to the rest of Europe at th...more
Meghan
This is one of my favourite all time non-fiction books. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn is like the Holy Grail for any Anne Boleyn/Henry VIII/Tudor Court fans. It is the most thorough and though provoking biography I've ever read. I had read other books on Anne Boleyn before, most of them were focused on all of Henry's wives. This one only glances over the other wives in relation to Anne.

I would give this book 5 Stars if it wasn't for the actual writing. The grammar was amazing, don't think th...more
Helene Harrison
ISBN? - 9781405134637

General Subject/s? - Anne Boleyn / History / Tudors / Biography

Title? - Exactly what it says on the cover, life and death of Anne Boleyn.

General Analysis? - Eric Ives is a historian of Anne Boleyn who I can endorse. His arguments are clear and he looks at all aspects of Anne's life in a lot of detail. This book has almost been the cornerstone of my dissertation and will be incredibly useful in my Masters degree next year. He also puts a lot of words into talking about aspect...more
Sarah
Claimed to be the best bio on Anne Boleyn to date, and I agree!

I think I like Anne best portrayed as she really was, not based upon all the myths and, let's face it, downright lies that surrounded her rise and ultimate destruction.

Everything is well researched and the supporting evidence is facinating, ranging from letters, artwork and the royal accounts, to songs and poetry.

Ives gives an amazing insight into life as it was in the Tudor Court and the major personalities within it (Henry VIII, t...more
Katherine
If you read only one book about Henry VIII or his infamous marriage in serial, make it this book. It's a rare thing to find a book written by a historian who A) knows his subject backwards and forwards, B) can write a compelling narrative but without being too dry or lacking in substance, C) challenge the historical reputation of even somebody written about to the extent that Anne Boleyn has and offer a new and nuianced perception of the person and the culture they came from. While most modern p...more
Susan
Eric Ives' biography of Anne Boleyn's life is a very thorough and accurate fact-filled account of her life. While it reads more like a text book, it really provides the reader with an intimate look at the person she was, and follows her from childhood through her rise, then fall from greatness in Henry the VIII's court. After reading many historical novels surrounding Anne Boleyn and Henry the VIII's court, I was curious about how much I read in the novels' was actually fact vs fiction ~ this bo...more
Meaghan
This is an excellently written and very thorough account of Anne Boleyn's life. The focus is only on her, not like in other biographies which also tell the story of the decline and fall of Catherine of Aragon. The author reaches some surprising conclusions, but backs them up with sensible and persuasive arguments. I would give it five stars but for the fact that it's a little TOO detailed. The middle section, which goes on and on and on and on about the details of Anne's coronation, and her arts...more
Lyndsey
A very thoroughly researched book on Anne Boleyn. The author references letters and notes that were written in her time by those who knew her. He also takes into account the opinions of those who loved and hated her, while keeping in mind that their writings were most likely biased and forms an logical opinion based on these notes. Very well researched, though a bit dry to read at times. But if you're looking for a true biography of Anne Boleyn, this would definitely be a book to read.
Kimberli
Excellent. This historian carefully examines the life of Anne, placing her firmly within the context of Tudor politics and religion. He's the first I can recall illustrates how Anne's fervent devotion to the cause of religious reforms made her a target. Along with her sharp tongue, opinionated nature. But she was a force to be reckoned with at court. Ives carefully examines what is known about Anne so that we get a more accurate picture of the woman behind the tragedy.
Lynne-marie
Not all scholastic volumes are as hard to take as this one was -- I know, I read a lot of biography & history -- but Ives makes it hard to remember why you are reading the book in the first place. In fact he deliberately makes things abstruse when they could be otherwise. I know there are both fashions and coteries in academic writing and must presume this is an extreme of a kind I cannot find, as the French say, convenable.
Rashmi
Exceptionally well-researched, but written in dry style with an overwhelming amount of detail. Excellent political analysis of her rise and fall, but very little about her personality/motives/essence come through. I could have done with a little less of Thomas Wyatt's tedious verse too. It's quite a feat to make Anne Boleyn boring, yet Ives manages to do so here. I had to push myself to finish it.
Beverly Diehl
An exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) look at the Queen who changed the course of English and world history. What this book does very well is examine all the minutiae we have of the Anne Boleyn period, from inventories of plate and bed hangings, to portraits and jewelry. And it dissects and analyzes all the accounts we have of this happening and that, judging why this account based on rumor is likely to be true, and why the other may not.

Where it failed for me is conveying an emotional connec...more
Lauren
Dr Ives gives a Anne Boleyn's life sympathetic treatment, whilst refusing to sanctify her for his own purposes. The Anne portrayed here is a thoroughly modern woman with as many flaws as strengths.

Dr Ives considers a wide range of evidence and does a fairly good job of valuing it. My only complaint is that earlier in the book Chapuys' dispatches are at times discounted because he was partisan, but then come to be relied on heavily later without the same consideration given.

Unlike other tellings...more
Sarah
I am certainly no admirer of Anne Boleyn, in fact I hold more than a bit of disdain for her. She is a least favorite of mine among Henry's wives. However, I continue to read about her because she is a somewhat unfortunate piece of the Tudor puzzle that I have begun putting together. She was no victim, she played the game, gambled, and lost. She could hardly have been surprised that scheming brought her to Henry's side and it would just as easily remove her.

I think it's quite obvious even without...more
Katie Herring
Damn. The problem with history is that you can never change it.

I said poor Anne at the start of every chapter in the last section. I knew what was to come.

A friend recommended this to me, almost a year ago, and I am so glad I finally finished it. He told me this was the Anne 'Bible' and if I want to learn, this was the biography to read. I do agree. It was a hard read, not for the usual reasons, though. It was not boring, and the language wasn't hard. It's the fact that it's dense. While it's...more
Sara
Here Anne Boleyn is, in all her magnificence and tragedy. I had read a lot about the Tudors before starting this, so I had clear in my mind who was who, and what part did they took in the course of History, so I was able to enjoy all the speculations and all the links Ives made. A lot has been told and written concerning Anne Boleyn, and she doesn't always come out well portrayed, partly because of her complexity, partly because of the discordant sources concerning her life, her character and he...more
Kylie Cheung
This is the most comprehensive biography of Anne Boleyn currently available, and an absolute must to anyone even considering further reading about the Tudor period. Cleverly organized, engaging and witty, the most convincing facet of this book is its pages and pages and PAGES of annotated bibliography/source notes, with speculation of all primary sources. Ives presents much more than a timeline of facts -- he also shares his opinions and speculation.

A couple of points of his that I agreed and d...more
Wendy Dunn
Anne Boleyn – now more than four hundred years since her death – is it really possible to gain a sense of the woman who woke the lion within Henry VIII, the lion that More so rightly feared – the same lion that one day ripped Anne Boleyn’s own life to shreds? Can we get behind the mask Anne Boleyn represented to the world? Seen in her own times in so many guises: a goggled eyed whore, a witch, the “scandal of Christendom,” a woman of ‘stout heart, ’ a sainted martyr, like all of us, Anne Boleyn...more
Kayla
I think I made a great choice in choosing this biography to read about Anne. Ives seems to write about Anne in both in a factual-based, non-biased way, although he does paint her in good light. I especially liked the section "Anne the Queen." I felt like in this section, I was closest to actually knowing the person Anne was. I learned loads, especially that many of the scenes in the television series The Tudors actually took place.
I think I would have enjoying this book had the information been...more
James
Anne Boleyn is a subject that continues to fascinate four hundred years after her death, so much has been written of her, so many myths strangely believed- yet this amazing biography will challenge all you thought you knew about Anne, Henry and the fascinating world of the Tudor court...

What's so good about this book is Ives takes into account his previous work on Anne and the challenges to some of his theories and addresses those- he doesn't change his views so much but presents more evidence f...more
Destiny
Since I first read The Six Wives of Henry VIII I have long held a fascination and admiration of Anne Boleyn. She represented everything I aspired to be and she still does.

I've had this book for awhile, but I've just gotten around to reading it now after several other readings of the Tudor era. Some of the things I had read before, but this volume managed to make the facts we know about Anne Boleyn jump off the page. I liked how Ives divided the book up by education, marriage, religion, and so on...more
Bonnie
It's been quite a while since I dove into a truly scholarly work on the Tudors. Eric Ives presents an amazing portrait of an amazing woman. His use of source material provides fantastic insights into the importance of Anne's brief reign. I did get lost in some of the information, not having a firm enough grasp of Latin nor the intricacies of the language of the Tudor period. He presents interesting takes on the events of Henry and Anne's long courtship, as well as their brief marriage.
I am still...more
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How to reaD? 3 11 May 25, 2014 11:05PM  
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  • The Mistresses of Henry VIII
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  • Edward VI: The Lost King of England
  • The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary"
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  • Mistress Anne
  • Henry: Virtuous Prince
  • The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn
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  • Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation Of The Wives Of Henry VIII
  • The Anne Boleyn Collection: The Real Truth about the Tudors
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17449
Historian of Tudor England. Studied under S. T. Bindoff. He taught at the universities of Liverpool and Birmingham and wrote on faction at the Tudor court, Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey.
More about Eric Ives...
Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery Henry VIII The Reformation Experience: Life in a Time of Change The First Civic University: Birmingham 1880 1980: An Introductory History

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“Captivating to men, Anne was also sharp, assertive, subtle, calculating, vindictive, a power dresser and a power player, perhaps a figure to be more admired than liked.” 14 likes
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