Pochodzenie

Tomasz Boleyn : zdjęcie promocyjne z serialu 'Dynastia Tudorów'

Tomasz Boleyn urodził się w Hever Castle około 1477 roku, jako najstarszy z dziesięciorga rodzeństwa.

Tomasz Boleyn był synem Sir Williama Boleyna i Lady Margaret Butler. Sir William Boleyn z kolei był synem Sir Georfey’a Boleyn’a który był zamożnym handlarzem oraz Lordem Mayorem Londynu w 1457 roku. W 1462 roku kupił on Hever Castle który wymagał odnowienia. Sir William Boleyn poślubił Lady Małgorzatę Butler, córkę Tomasza Butlera, 7 Earla Ormonde.
Rodzina i kariera

Około 1499 roku, Tomasz Boleyn poślubił Lady Elżbietę Howard, córkę Tomasza Howarda, Drugiego Ksiecia Norfolk. Tomasz i Elżbieta mieli w sumie pięcioro dzieci – Marię urodzoną około 1499 roku, Annę której data narodzin pozostaje nieznana (1501 lub 1507), Jerzego urodzonego około 1504 r. oraz dwóch synów którzy zmarli w dzieciństwie.
Tomasz Boleyn był świetnie wykształconym a do tego ambitnym człowiekiem. Król Henryk VIII darzył Tomasza sympatią oraz zaufaniem w wielu sprawach. Boleyn cieszył się uznaniem Króla od początku jego panowania w 1509 roku, aż do tragicznego roku 1536. Henryk VIII wielokrotnie powierzał Tomaszowi Boleyn’owi odpowiedzialne stanowiska .m.in. w 1517 r. Boleyn został wybrany aby sprawować opiekę nad Małgorzatą Tudor, siostrą Henryka VIII, podczas jej wizyty w Anglii w 1511 i 1517 mianowany Szeryfem Kentu, w 1523 – został kawalerem Orderu Podwiązki (Knight of The Garter), w 1525 – otrzymał tytuł Lorda Rochford , w 1527 – wyjechał z misją dyplomatyczną do Francji , w 1529 – otrzymał tytuł Earla (Hrabiego) Ormonde oraz Earla Wiltshire, w 1530 – po upadku Tomasza Wolsey’a, Boleyn otrzymał tytul Lorda Tajnej Pieczęci. Jak widać, Tomasz Boleyn cieszył się ogromnym uznaniem Henryka VIII na długo przed pojawieniem się Marii, a później Anny Boleyn.

Opisując życie Tomasza Boleyna, nie można nie wspomnieć o tym jak jest on przedstawiany w literaturze czy filmie. W serialu ‘Dynastia Tudorów’ został on przedstawiony jako chorobliwie ambitny, dobrze wykształcony karierowicz który wykorzystywał swoje córki do własnych celów. Warto zauważyć, iż w czasach zdominowanych przez mężczyzn, kobiety były traktowane niczym ‘karta przetargowa’. Córki, kuzynki czy siostry były traktowane jako inwestycja i możliwosć awansu społecznego – jeżeli zostały żonami wpływowych dworzan, cała rodzina odnosiła pożytek. Była to bardzo częsta praktyka w tamtym świecie.

Upadek

W maju 1536 roku dzieci Tomasza – Anna i Jerzy, zostali aresztowani i skazani naśmierć za cudzołóstwo i kazirodztwo, oraz zdradę stanu. Tomasz nie brał udziału w procesie przeciwko własnym dzieciom. Podczas przesłuchań wyznał jednak, że jeżeli jego córka dopuśiła się jakichkolwiek czynów przeciwko królowi, to powinna ponieść karę.

Nie wiadomo czy Tomasz widział egzekucje Anny i Jerzego. Wiadomo jednak, że po krawym maju 1536, w małżeństwie Boleynów doszło do kryzysu – mozemy się jedynie domyslać, że powodem była nadmierna ambicja Tomasza, pragnącego wysokich stanowisk dla swych pociech. Po kilku miesiącach Tomasz pojawił się na dworze i to on brał udział w stłamszeniu Pielgrzymki Łaski (1536). W 1538 r., po śmierci Elżbiety Howard, Tomasz był wdowcem i rozglądał się za nową żoną. Chodzily pogłoski, że poślubi kuzynkę Króla, słynącą z urody Margaret Douglas.

Tomasz zawsze najbardziej kochał Annę i Jerzego, natomiast najstarsza córka, Maria, pozostawała w cieniu. Jednak po śmierci ulubionych dzieci, Tomasz zwrócił się do Marii – wtedy wygnanej z dworu za potajemne małżeństwo z mężczyzną niższego statusu. Prawdopodobnie pozwolił jej i jej mężowi zamieszkać w Rochford Hall w Essex, a także przekazał Marii ziemie które, które przeszły na własność Marii po śmierci ojca w 1539 roku.

Thomas Boleyn in TV series 'The Tudors'

 Thomas Boleyn was born in 1477 as an eldest child of William Boleyn and Lady Margaret Butler. Sir William’s father, Thomas’s grandfather was Geoffrey Boleyn who was a merchant and Lord Mayor of London in 1457. Sir Geoffrey bought Hever Catsle in 1462. Thomas Boleyn’s mother, Lady Margaret Butler was daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormonde.

About  1499 Thomas Boleyn married lady Elizabeth Howard, who was a daughter of Thomas Howard, Second Duke of Norfolk. Thomas and Elizabeth had 5 children together ; Mary (born c.1499), Anne (born 1500 or 1507) , George (born c.1504) and at least two sons who died in childhood.

Thomas Boleyn was well educated and ambitious courtier. His carrier at royal court started in 1501 – he was present at the wedding of Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur Tudor. In 1503 he helped to escort King’s sister, north to her marriage with James IV of Scotland.

Thomas Boleyn was created Knight of the Bath at Henry VIII’s coronation in 1509.  In 1512 Thomas went as an Ambassador to Low Countries where he met Archduchess Margaret of Austria. There he saw that Archduchess has her fille d’honneur, girls from Europe who came to Low Countries to get a proper education. Thomas saw a chance for one of his daughters.

Josephine Wilkinson in ‘Anne Boleyn: the young Queen to be’[1] writes;

‘It was now for sir Thomas Boleyn to decide which daughter, Mary or Anne, will benefit the most from the opportunity, after careful consideration , his choice fell upon Anne. It has been often said that Anne was chosen to become fille d’honneur to the Archduchess Margaret because she was already more accomplished than Mary, on whom such instruction as would be received in the low countries would be wasted.’ /p.22/

Thomas Boleyn took care of his children’s education – George was probably educated at Oxford, Anne at Low Countries and in France together with Mary. He wanted a great future for them at the English Court.

Relationship with his daughters

Anne Boleyn respected and loved her father very much. We can notice that in letter written by her own hand in 1514, while she was in Low Countries. Anne was writing from La Veure, a hunting lodge set within 7000 acres parklands about ten kilometers east of Brussels.  She was writing in French :

‘Sir,

I understand by your letter that you wish that I shall be of all virtuous repute when I come to Court and you inform me that the Queen will take the trouble to converse with me, which rejoices me greatly to think of talking with a person so wise and virtuous. This will make me have greater desire to continue to speak French well and also spell, especially because you have so recommended me to do so, and with my own hand I inform you that I will observe it the best I can. Sir, I beg you to excuse me if my letter is badly written, for I assure you that the spelling is from my own understanding alone, whereas the others were only written by my hand, and Semmonet tells me the letter will wait unless I do it myself, for fear that it shall not be known unless I write to you, and I pray you that in the light of what you see you will not feel free to part from the will which you say you have to help me. For it seems that you are sure where you can, if you please, make me a declaration of your word and on my part be certain that there shall be neither [??] nor ingratitude which might check or efface my affection, which is determined to [?] as much unless it shall please you to order me, and I promise you that my love is based on such great firmness that it will grow less, and I will make an end to my [?] after having commended myself right and humbly to your good grace.

Written at five o’clock by Your very humble and obedient daughter,

Anna de Boullan’

Anne wanted to make her father proud, and she certainly did. Thomas was very fond of his younger daughter, and he wanted a great future for her. What about Mary?

Mary was sent to France in 1514 to accompany Henry VIII’s sister, Mary Tudor. Eighteen-year-old Mary Tudor was going to France to marry King Louis XII, who was 52 at the time. Louis XII died on 1 January 1515, after only three months of marriage. Due to the tradition of Salic Law, which did not allow women to inherit the throne of France, he was succeeded by his first cousin’s son, Francis I (who was also his son-in-law), who founded his own line of French kings.[2] Francis was married to Louis’s daughter Claude, but the marriage was loveless. Josephine Wilkinson wrote that :

‘Claude was treated as the royal baby-maker, while king Francis entertained himself with a series of powerful and enchanting mistresses[3]

Mary Boleyn caught French king’s eye and she became his mistress. He called her his ‘English mare’ and ‘prostitute infamous above all’. This certainly did not make Sir Thomas Boleyn proud.

Mary came back to England in 1519 , where she was appointed maid-of-honor to Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s wife.  On 4th of February 1520 she married Sir William Carey. About 1521 Mary became Henry VIII’s mistress, although she was married to Sir William Carey. During the affair with the King, Mary gave birth to two children, but Henry  acknowledge none of them as his.

Career at the court

Sir Thomas Boleyn was a rising star at the English court.  Before his daughters became ‘famous’ he was already an accomplished diplomat and politician;

1511 :  High Sheriff of Kent

1512 : Sent as ambassador to the Low Countries

1512: One of a party of three envoys to the Netherlands.

1518–1521 : ambassador to France, where he was involved in arrangements for the “Field of Cloth of Gold” meeting between Henry and the new French King Francis I in 1520.

1521 and 1523 :  Envoy to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

1525 : elevated to the peerage as Viscount Rochford

1527: One of a large envoy to France

1529: Envoy to a meeting of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Pope Clement VII, to seek support for the annulment of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. This was followed by another envoy to France. He was also made and Earl of Wiltshire.

1530 : made Lord Privy Seal

Downfall of Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII married on 25th of January 1533. In June the same year Anne was anointed and coronated as Queen, and on September she gave birth to a daughter – Elizabeth. However the marriage ended in tragedy when Anne was falsely accused of treason, adultery, witchcraft and incest with her own brother, George.

On 17th of May George Boleyn and four other men were executed for incest and treason. Two days after George’s death Anne Boleyn was executed.

After executions

We know that few months after executions Thomas Boleyn appeared on court again. He helped to end the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, and he was even present at christening of Henry’s longed for son by Jane Seymour. In 1538, when Elizabeth Howard died, Thomas was speculated to marry Mary Douglas who was Henry VIII’s niece.

Thomas Boleyn died in 1539 and was buried in a tomb at St. Peter’s Church in Hever.

Depiction in culture

Was Sir Thomas Boleyn an evil man who was responsible for his children’s downfall by pushing them into career at court? Well he is depicted as such man in TV series ‘The Tudors’. I think that Sir Thomas Boleyn wanted a bright future for his children and we cannot blame him for what happened to them. It is true that he did nothing to help Anne and George, but could he really save them? I think that Anne Boleyn was a victim of a cup, and she could not escape death, no matter  what Thomas would do.

 


[1] The books is also known as ‘Early loves of Anne Boleyn’

[3] IBID, p. 41


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    ISBN:  9781848945371