The Allure of Anne

Alison Weir, best-selling historian of the medieval and sixteenth-century royal families, explains how she first encountered the power of history in a strange feeling of identification with Anne Boleyn.

When I was about seven, my father took me on a tour of the Palace of Westminster. I have only the vaguest memories of most of it, but one thing remains clearly in my mind. In the Painted Chamber, I was told to look up at Richard Burchett’s Victorian full-length portraits of members of the Tudor dynasty, and I remember distinctly being directed to the one of Anne Boleyn (which actually doesn’t portray her at all, but Anne of Hungary). I was not only fascinated to be told that she had had her head cut off, but there was also what amounted to a strange moment of recognition, of familiarity.

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