There can be few moments which have captured the imagination of historians, authors and the public like the fall of Anne Boleyn. The events which led to the arrest and execution of Henry VIII’s second wife, alongside her brother and a number of courtiers, in May 1536 have been seen very differently by historians. Perhaps the most enduring recent interpretation has presented Henry’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, as having orchestrated an elaborate plot to remove Anne and her supporters from court. After all, Cromwell himself admitted to the Imperial Ambassador of Charles V, Eustace Chapuys, that he had ‘discovered and followed up the affair’.
By the time he was ousted in the revolution of October 1989, comparisons between Romania’s dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu and the eponymous villain of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula (set in Romania) were commonplace. Ceaușescu was met with chants of ‘Dracula!’ on a visit to the US in 1978, perhaps explaining why his attitude towards Dracula tourism – previously tolerated as a lucrative industry – hardened soon afterwards. Though it is possible Ceaușescu was not aware of Stoker’s novel (first published in Romanian in 1990) and that he understood ‘Dracula’ to be Vlad the Impaler, it has been claimed that he banned the word. He may also have unwittingly authorised his country’s biggest concession to western interest in Dracula.
American and Chinese warships shadow one another around disputed islets, planes jostle in the skies overhead and seven different governments argue over who has the rights to the oil and fish in the waters beneath. At the heart of this is the question of who owns the rocks and reefs of the South China Sea. They may be tiny – their total area is just a few square miles – but they could trigger a global confrontation.