Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Historical Inaccuracies - 'The Other Boleyn Girl' DVD

The Other Boleyn Girl (DVD)
  • When Mary Boleyn is getting ready for her wedding, Anne describes her as 'younger than me'. Recent new research into the birth dates of the Boleyns now confirms that Mary was actually the eldest of the three surviving children, with Anne next, and George the youngest. 
  • Mary was married off to William Carey *after* her affair with the King.
  • Queen Katherine is shown giving birth to a stillborn baby, then talking to her daughter Mary. Katherine's last pregnancy was in 1518, when she gave birth to a short-lived daughter, not a boy as the film states. Mary was born in 1516, so would only have been 2 at the time and not the older child she is shown as in the film.
  • It is doubtful that Henry Percy would have attended the wedding of Mary Boleyn. His father, whilst being *one of* the richest landowners in the country, may not have been the richest. 
  • Thomas Boleyn asks the Duke of Norfolk about the King. However, Boleyn was actually a prominent courtier before either of his daughters gained royal favour, and would have often been at court and known much about the King.
  • Henry did not visit the Boleyn home as portrayed in the film. The part about Anne trying to capture his affections during this visit is, therefore, complete fiction. He also never had a fall whilst hunting with her. 
  • In the film, Lady Boleyn is depicted as being greatly concerned about her daughters being used as tools for family advancement. In real life, howver, she seemed to have few qualms about this and was happy to share in the spoils when Anne won the King's heart, even going with them to inspect Wolsey's palace of York Place when Henry took it from his fallen minister.
  • The image of Mary Boleyn as a chaste, homely woman wanting a life in the country is entirely wrong. She was as ambitious as the rest of her family, and rather free with her favours, first at the French court (Francis I described her as a 'great whore') and then at the English.
  • When Mary is told she must go to court, her husband says he has been given a position in the privy council. The Duke of Norfolk then describes this role as 'attending on the King'. This is a confusion between privy council, which was a body of advisors, and privy chamber, which is where Carey would have attended on the King as one of his servants. 
  • When she firsts sleeps with the King, Mary asks for some water. Nobody in that age drank water, as it was unclean and dangerous. People drank weak beer instead. 
  • Anne never married Henry Percy, although they were both very taken with each other. They may have contracted themselves to each other before witnessess, which in that time was legally binding, but their relationship was curtailed by Cardinal Wolsey, not the Duke of Norfolk. 
  • Anne was not sent to France in exile. She had already spent time at the French court, and before that the court of the Regent of the Netherlands. This was a common practice in noble families for the education of their daughters. 
  • Mary Boleyn did not give Henry a son. Had she done, the child would have been acknowledged by the King, as was the case with his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, who was borne by his mistress Bessie Blount. 
  • When Anne returns to France, she talks to Henry about the 'new' French king. However, Francis I had ascended the throne earlier than the film is set. 
  • George Boleyn visits Mary during her confinment, but in reality he wouldn't have done, as no men were allowed in the confinment room.
  • Katherine of Aragon did not go on 'trial', as suggested in the film. Both her and Henry were required to appear before an ecclesiastical court, headed by Wolsey and Cardinal Campeggio, to try the validity of thier marriage. Only the two Cardinals could deliver a verdict, not 'bishops' as the film states. Bishops were certainly not all in favour of the King's case - John Fisher being the most notable example.
  • The trial is depicted as taking place at the Tower of London. In fact, it was held at Blackfriars, near Bridewell Palace. Anne removed to her family's house at Hever and was not present. 
  • The King's anulment was far more complicated than the film suggests, and the ecclesiastical implications are only barely hinted at.
  • In the film, Katherine is sent away under armed guard. In real life, Henry went on progress with Anne and ordered Katherine to leave Windsor and remove to Wolsey's old house at the More, and then ordered her several more times to move further away. 
  • Henry never raped Anne. They probably first slept together during a visit to Calais in November 1532. This was a couple of years after Henry seperated from Katherine, and not on the same day, as depicted in the film.
  • Henry and Anne married in secret, not publicly like in the film, although Anne was later crowned.
  • Mary did indeed marry Stafford, although he was not one of her father's servants. They married before, not after, Anne's death, and were both banished from court.
  • Anne never planned to sleep with her brother, and the accusations against them were completely made up. The film makes no mention of the other men accused of sleeping with the Queen. 
  • Mary Boleyn made no attempt to save her sister and was not present at Anne's execution.

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