Author Interview: John Guy and Julia Fox (Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and the Marriage That Shook Europe)

Historians and authors Julia Fox and John Guy join us this week to talk about their new co-written biography, Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the Marriage that Shook Europe.

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Vulgar History Podcast

Author Interview: John Guy and Julia Fox (Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and the Marriage that Shook Europe)

October 25, 2023

Hello and welcome to Vulgar History, a feminist women’s history comedy podcast. My name is Ann Foster and today I have such a treat for you. I got to speak with two historians, John Guy and Julia Fox, who happen to also be husband and wife and just wrote a new book together which is called Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and the Marriage that Shook Europe. “This book is a ground-breaking examination of how the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn sent shockwaves across a continent and changed England forever.” Anne Boleyn was one of the first historical people who I was really fascinated by and there hasn’t been a new biography out about her for a really long time, so I was really intrigued to see why Julia and John decided to work on this, why they decided to work on it together.

As you’re going to hear in this conversation, they have lots to say about how they did this and how the book came together. What really comes across in the book and also in the conversation you’re going to hear with them, is how they really didn’t want to take anything for granted. When they were going to state a fact in this book, they were looking at letters and documents, books of lists, household accounts, just everything that’s in the book, they went to the sources to find evidence and proof and in so doing, they found some new information. They have some really strong theories about things like who is the person, the woman who testified against Anne Boleyn in her trial, and things like that. They really also focus on Anne’s time in France as well.

And actually… Okay, a couple of things. First, I want to say that Julia Fox, the co-author of this book, she’s also the author, on her own, of Sister Queens: The Noble Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile, which was the main book that I used for my episode about Juana of Castile so I was already familiar with her work and I really like the way that she writes; the way that she presents her research is very readable. John Guy, his name might be familiar to you because his book, Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart was the main biography I used throughout the whole Mary, Queen of Scots series. So, as well, his writing, I really vibe with the way that he writes in a very readable, understandable way with a real reliance on facts and evidence. So, to see that they wrote this book together, I was excited! I was intrigued to see what this book was going to be like.

Again, the Anne Boleyn story is one that I felt like I knew pretty well. Going into this book, I learned so much. When I was reading it, it reminded me of both of their books but especially, because it’s more recent in my memory, the Mary, Queen of Scots biography by John Guy. Honestly, in any Mary, Queen of Scots biography I read, I’m like, “Maybe it’ll work out this time, maybe Darnley won’t be a piece of shit.” It’s the same thing with this Anne Boleyn/Henry VIII book where you’re reading it and you’re like, “Oh, are they going to get the divorce? Maybe things are going to turn out, maybe she’s going to give birth to a son.” And you’re right there with them. The way they write it, it’s so vivid.

I think this book is great, well, I mean, I can speak for myself as somebody who knows this story pretty well, this book was even more fascinating knowing what was going to happen to see the new evidence they had and the way they shared this story. So, if you’re familiar with the story of Anne Boleyn, I recommend it. But if you’re not, I think this book is a great introduction to the whole thing, it’s a great place to start.

And this is where I wanted to say… I do know that there are people who listen to this podcast who came to it because of their fondness for Tudor history and stuff. With SIX, the musical being popular, there are a lot of fans out there who know the Anne Boleyn/Henry VIII situation. But there are also people who come to this podcast for other reasons, they really vibed with Fredegund or with some of the stuff we’ve done about Ancient Rome or Ancient Egypt. So, I don’t want to take for granted that everybody knows this story. So, I’m going to just really briefly off the top of my head explain the context of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII such that you’ll understand, if you didn’t know this story before, the interview I’m about to share a bit better.

So, basically, and this is just off the top of my head. If you want me to do a full Anne Boleyn episode, first of all, I would use this book as my main source. And second of all, let me know, send me a message. Do you think Anne Boleyn would be a good topic for a full 20-hour Vulgar History deep dive? I think I know your answer. Anyway, Anne Boleyn was one of three siblings who were born to a pretty wealthy, up-and-coming, rich family in England. They were not royals at all. She had an older sister called Mary and a younger brother called George and their family was very ambitious. The whole Boleyn thing was to just keep climbing the ladder, which we’ve seen Bess of Hardwick and other people do. It’s like, marry your daughters to somebody who is a bit higher up, and that elevates the whole family.

So, Anne Boleyn was sent to France during a very formative seven-year period where she worked as a lady-in-waiting to a couple of people over there and while she was there, this is while she was in her teens – so I don’t know, ages 12 to 18 or something like that – she really saw how things operated there. John and Julia talk about this in the book and also in the interview, but she was working for really strong women who were able, in the political situations they were in in France to have political power and to be really well educated. So, that’s what she was like. And her French style was notable when she returned from France; she came back to England after she had done all this training in France, so she dressed in a French way, maybe she had a Lumière-type accent. But she was just, she had become a French person, somebody who goes and grows up in a different country, that culture, she vibed with it. And of course, she did because she was really well-educated, she saw all the chances for women and she was very, herself, smart and capable. So, she came back to England.

First Henry VIII took her sister Mary as his mistress. This is what the book The Other Boleyn Girl is about and if you want to know what I think about that, listen to the crossover episode I did with The Worst Bestsellers podcast. Anyway, so she was the mistress and whatever, Henry VIII had various mistresses. At the time he was married to Katherine of Aragon who is the sister of Juana of Castile. Anyway, so then Anne caught his attention at around the same time he really wanted to improve… He was really into France himself; Henry VIII was in sort of a France era, he wanted to make things with England and France maybe work out better. So, the fact that Anne Boleyn was there and she kind of had this French style he was like, “Oh, who is that? Maybe I’ll take her as my mistress.” And she was just like, “Hell no.” She wanted more than that, she didn’t want to just be a mistress. And this really surprised him, this playing hard-to-get situation where she was like, “I will not be your mistress, I will only be your wife,” which is sort of a call back to what Elizabeth Woodville did with, what’s-his-face, Hot Edward back in the day in that Halloween special from a couple of years ago.

Anyway, this got Henry even more intrigued. He was just like, “Oh my gosh, who is this woman?  She won’t be my mistress; she’ll only be my wife, but I have a wife.” And he came to learn more about Anne, and he just fell for her. She was so well-educated, she was so smart, she was so witty. She had, famously, black eyes and dark hair at a time when light hair and lighter complexion was more trendy. She wore this French style which was kind of not the thing at the time, but Henry was just like, “She’s so smart, she’s so great.” She has all these ideas about, like, this was earlier, but her vibe was a bit of Renaissance Reformation Girl Squad, she was into the reformed religion.

Make a long story shorter, Henry VIII was like, “I’m going to get an annulment from my wife Katherine of Aragon,” because Katherine of Aragon had been married to his, Henry VIII’s, brother before so he’s like, “The Bible says you can’t have sex with two different brothers, so I’ll get an annulment from the Pope.” But the Pope was friends with Katherine of Aragon because she’s the daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand, the Catholic monarchs, so the Pope is like, “I’m not going to give you an annulment.” So, Henry VIII is like, and I’m just really making this short, [laughs] Henry VIII is like “Great, I’ll just break off from Rome and invent a new religion which is the Anglican religion. I’m the head of it and one of the rules is my divorce from Katherine of Aragon is annulled. Hooray!”

So, then he got married to Anne Boleyn, and for a time, and Julia and John talk about this in our interview coming up, she was really influential. She brought in this French-style courtly thing – similar to Mary, Queen of Scots, and we talk about this in the podcast, because she was also influenced by France and what she saw there – where men and women could hang out and play music and have a nice time. Before that it had been like, men are on this side and women are on this side, there’s no hanging out. So, she brought in this new French thing, and it really coincided with Henry VIII being interested in England and France maybe getting on better together.

And the whole thing, one of the big reasons why he wanted to end the marriage to Katherine of Aragon is because she had given birth to one child, which was a daughter, Mary, who would later become Mary I. All of Katherine of Aragon’s other pregnancies ended in stillbirth or the baby died in infancy. There was no son and Henry VIII was like, “I need a goddamn son,” so he married Anne Boleyn. At the time they got married, she was 33 and they had been trying to get married since she was, like, 25 or something like that. Anyway, she had a child, famously, a daughter. This was Elizabeth who was later to become Elizabeth I and that was kind of it for her because Henry was over the France thing, he was over having a strong, independent woman as his partner/equal.

So, then he got his goons to basically frame her for having affairs, which is easy to do because she had this kind of co-ed court where men and women hung out with each other. And then she was put on trial for having treasonous affairs with, like, her brother, which, The Other Boleyn Girl talks about that as well, listen to my podcast about that on The Worst Bestsellers. Like, of course, she was found guilty because he made up all the charges and he wanted this to happen. And then she was executed and that’s super quickly the story of Anne Boleyn.

I just wanted to get that all out there for people who may not know or might need a refresher on what her whole situation is because John and Julia just jump right into talking about it, which I love. Anyway, here’s them talking about their new book Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the Marriage that Shook Europe. John Guy, Julia Fox, I mean, take it away.


Ann: John Guy and Julia Fox are both here talking about the new book that you’ve written together, Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the Marriage that Shook Europe. Welcome to you both.

John: Thank you.

Julia: Thank you very much.

Ann: So, my first question is, can you describe– You’ve both written so much before about the Tudor era and different people. How did you first get the idea to do a book on this topic?

Julia: I think it emerged from everything that we’d done, really, before. It’s a story that has gripped both of us for years and it was a bit of a research challenge I think, particularly for John, to see what new light we could shed on something that people think they know or even think they own as people sometimes do with stories in the past. So, I think it was that. Would you agree?

John: Yeah, I think you knew much more about the Boleyns when we started because Julia had worked on Jane Boleyn before around 2009 and done a very well-received book. And of course, that meant the whole of the background on the Boleyn family firm was sort of in the bag. And I probably when we started out knew more about Henry than you did.

Julia: Okay, I’ll concede.

John: So, we put it together. But then we thought, look, if we’re actually going to tell this story, it needs to be in proportion. That is, it doesn’t need to just sort of start when Henry first seeks a divorce from Katherine of Aragon, or his midlife crisis begins, or when he first starts writing the love letters to Anne, which, some 17 of them are in the Vatican Library. Years ago, when I wrote the life of Thomas Becket, I had the same idea because everyone begins from the moment when he moved from being Chancellor to Archbishop, so the first whole part of his life is just sort of dealt with in 30 pages and then there are 400 on the quarrel with Henry’s archbishop.

I thought everything that I know – and we’ve both been in this game for quite a long time – tells us that character is formed in childhood and adolescence. So, what was it about Anne, particularly Anne, who of course spent the seven most formative years of her teenage life in France, what happened? And if you look at even, the best-received previous Life of Anne, by Eric Ives, who we both knew really very well.

Julia: And sadly miss.

John: Sadly, he’s no longer with us. But even in an encyclopedic work on Anne, there were just 10 pages on Anne in France and that’s what Julia says that for me it was a research challenge. And then of course, there was the whole business of just finding out– The idea was to go back to source, to take everything back to source, not to take anything from secondary sources or other peoples’ opinions, or their sort of transcriptions of documents, but to take everything back to source. Accepting nothing even that was done in the Victorian 19th, and early 20th century transcripts or abstracts of documents. Take everything back to the original source.

And of course, I’ll tell your listeners absolutely for free, don’t sign up for a major book involving six months of work in France at the start of a global pandemic. [Julia laughs] We didn’t know the pandemic was coming of course quite like that. In fact, we got around that, and lots of people asked us this question, how did we get around this problem? In fact, essentially, if you write incredibly courteously, nicely and respectfully to the French…

Julia: In French.

John: … in your very best French, they responded. And actually, by the 31st of July 2020 that was well into the pandemic although their lockdowns were different in timings to our lockdowns. So, we would be in lockdown, and we would write these letters and they would be working so they would get on with it. They were wonderful, we had just about everything from all over France. And then six months later the things that we’d forgotten we asked for and they sent those. So, we were able in fact to work rather well with everything actually on the desk. And the British research, I had already done that in August and the fall, September and October, the fall of 2019. So, we had that in the bag in the form of digital photos. Now, people just take photos in archives, very few people now take notes. Just photograph the whole thing and come back and you’ve got it on your screen; it’s often easier to read actually in a high-resolution photo than it is in the archive in poor lighting. You can make the writing bigger, and you can …

Julia: I was going to say, [laughs] the only thing about that is that actually, they were wonderful the French, we have to say that. But because of the pandemic, it did mean that we couldn’t go to Paris and actually do the research in person. And, you know, [sarcastic tone] that would have been a dreadful thing to have had to do, of course, to sit in restaurants et cetera et cetera but we’d have forced ourselves. But very seriously, they were great. Really helpful.

John: And much of the stuff, I mean the stuff in the local libraries, it’s not just in the archives, it’s not just in Paris but particularly the Bibliothèque nationale, which of course, still in Richelieu in the middle of Paris, it didn’t move out with the printed books into the suburbs. And the documents that were, many of the diplomatic documents, treaties, or if you like, documents associated with the making of the treaties, was still, until recently, in the basement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you know, just sort of basically near the Quay d’Orsay and by the Seine. But those moved out quite recently to the suburbs. But again, they just made digital copies for us, so we were very well sorted.

Julia: All the little local historians, you know, and the local libraries which you’ve mentioned, I think do deserve an extra plug really because these were people who must have spent part of their lives really researching a lot of this. I think they deserve credit for that.

John: Some of the local, very local stuff, had actually, in a way, been done for us but it was hidden in plain sight because nobody ever looked for it and you didn’t realize until you set out on this that there must have been 100, 150 local historical and archaeological societies beavering away in the 19th century. And if Queen Claude, with Anne with her, came around into, say, Nantes or going around Brittany or Normandy or in the Loire Valley, and when they went down to Marseille, it was all recorded locally, and you can retrieve this stuff.

I keep banging on about France and so on because this is one of the great takes of the book, this is one of the new platforms, the whole sort of take of the book is based on the fact that Anne was almost, I mean, people said at the time she was almost like a native-born French woman because she spent all this time in France and with Queen Claude and she was totally acclimatized, she had the dress she had the mannerisms, she had the etiquette, she understood the court protocol. There were so many things, she’d seen so many powerful– I mean, she’d had a masterclass from powerful women, Louise of Savoy, Marguerite of Angoulême– Louise of Savoy was King Francis I of France’s mother; Marguerite of Angoulême was the King’s sister; Queen Claude was Francis’ first wife, she was pregnant quite a lot but she was still doing all sorts of things and they were in and out of each other’s apartments. But also, unlike in England, French women played a very important part in politics and Anne, you see, when Anne was in France, people think she was sort of a servant, and they think of upstairs-downstairs or something.

Julia: Downton Abbey or something.

John: Downton Abbey or something like that but it wasn’t like that at all. Anne was the Queen’s demoiselle, so she was with Queen Claude all the time, in her apartments, sitting on her cushion near the Queen. And when people came in, she heard it all.

Julia: Eyes and ears.

John: And when they were doing all these things she was an eye witness of it all and there’s no question, I mean, time and time again, we found that things that she had seen in France or learned in France, or protocols, or if you like, habits, customs, dress, all of those things that she’d learned in France, understanding of architecture, the Renaissance way of doing interior decoration, all of these things she brought back and actually put into practice. I could never have thought of it if I hadn’t done Mary, Queen of Scots in about… I was writing that between 2000 and 2004 and, of course, that’s when I got to use the French archives and realized how relatively unexploited they are by British scholars. You would think that if a husband-and-wife team was doing this, Julia would have written and researched more about Anne and I would have researched more about Henry but actually, it was probably the other way around in the end.

Julia: It was rather. Although, I have to say that with Anne, which of course, naturally I was very interested in, one of the things that emerged from her time in France was the way in which she saw how French courts were organized and she organized hers in the same way. In England, it was customary, as in France, for the Queen to have her court and the King to have his. But the way in which they were organized in France and in England were very, very different. In England, the Queen’s side was very largely female, it doesn’t mean that there weren’t male attendants, there wouldn’t be ambassadors coming sometimes, there wouldn’t be musical entertainment or whatever, but in France, the gentlemen of the court would come into the Queen’s apartments, there would be courtly love, poetry, dancing, music.

Anne introduced that into England. Her apartments had the sort of vitality, buzz, the life that Katherine’s, I suspect more staid, more sedate, lacked. And that of course, was part of the reason for her downfall because courtly love, you know, nice little poetry et cetera, et cetera and ballads and some songs were slightly risqué, could be taken a bit too far, or could be interpreted as taken that bit too far. And there is, of course, one enormous sex scandal that did actually break out, but it wasn’t discovered until six weeks after Anne died but it had been going on for a year.

John: The confessions and the interrogations afterwards show that it had been going on for a year.

Julia: On Anne’s watch, in other words.

John: On Anne’s watch, and what had happened was that the parties involved, who were actually very important, one of them was Margaret Douglas, the King’s actual niece, and her suitor was Lord Thomas Howard, and they would wait until Lady Elizabeth Boleyn, who was Anne’s aunt…

Julia: Whom she never liked.

John: Who she didn’t like.

Julia: And we don’t know why, it’s infuriating. [Ann laughs] I wish someone would find a letter or something in the attic that would tell us why.

John: And Lady Boleyn didn’t like Anne, but she was the sort of policewoman of Anne’s privy chamber. But when she was out of the way, Margaret Douglas and Thomas Howard would keep watch and they’d nip in for a bit of hanky-panky. I mean, there’s no question that, past time is a bit, doesn’t quite do justice, it was flirting basically.

Julia: It was often harmless flirting.

John: But sometimes it got out of hand. There’s no question that on Anne’s watch, sometimes it got out of hand and that was easily turned into a sex scandal and that’s exactly what happened sometimes in France as well. There were quite a few sex scandals in the Queen’s privy chamber and sometimes as well in the King’s in France because of this mixing of the sexes. And the exact parallel in the British Isles apart from Anne is Mary, Queen of Scots where she had been of course, married to Francois II and come back as Queen of Scots after he died but her privy chamber was also run on these lines. People like David Rizzio, who got murdered in the course of some of this sort of scandal, he was very much involved and there was possibly cross-dressing there, which there wasn’t in Anne’s household. But that also happened in the French court, sometimes there was cross-dressing. I mean, Henry III had sort of cross-dressing parties every Sunday for a while. So, it was very easy for this sort of easy interaction to be interpreted as a scandal.

Julia: I was just going to say that Anne’s own manner was a little bit overfamiliar at times. I don’t think for a moment that she actually indulged in anything sexual but sometimes the gentlemen of that court – and they came to pay court to her, almost like she was Henry’s trophy wife, and it was flattering Henry – but sometimes they spoke to her in ways that they would never have spoken to Katherine. And again, if you’re looking for it, that’s what you can start to home in on to show that this is a woman of, you know, debauched morals whereas, in fact, I don’t think either of us, well, I know neither of us believe for one moment that she was actually guilty of the ”crimes” of which she was accused.

John: Well, she would come down from her apartments to the wharf or into the courtyard at Whitehall Palace to greet her favourite French ambassador with a kiss on the cheek and this was quite scandalous of course to the English.

Julia: But it was the French way.

John: This was the French way, everything about her was French. Of course, the flip side of this is that the more that we looked into this, we discovered that, if you like, that the ups and downs of the relationship, its beginning, its end, and the blips in between, pretty much exactly map onto the ups and downs of Anglo-French diplomacy.

Julia: Yeah, and that’s very, very important.

John: So, this is one of the core– I suppose there are probably three or four things that we think are pretty original about the way that we’ve tackled this. One is Anne’s time in France, one is the women in Anne’s privy chamber and what they were doing. And for the first time, we name names and say who was who and who was on her side, who was against her, who were career courtiers.

Julia: Can I just come in here because I think that’s quite important. I think people seem to think that if you’re the Queen you choose the ladies around you. Well, you don’t. Anne wasn’t even allowed to choose the wet nurse and the nursemaid for Elizabeth, her own daughter. It was Henry’s choice, not hers. And with the ladies around her, you can group them, and some are family, her mother, her sister, Mary Boleyn, was there for a while until she committed the cardinal Boleyn sin. Boleyn women were taught to marry up, I don’t think they’d actually thought that one of them would actually marry the King, but you married up. Mary Boleyn ended up marrying down…

John: The second time.

Julia: … and that was dreadful for her second husband. She married William Stafford, so she was out. But there were family members, her sister-in-law Jane Parker. There were her friends as well, Bridget Wiltshire, Lady Wingfield, she was there for a while. There was Elizabeth Brown who became Countess of Worcester, to whom she lent £100, which was an awful lot of money in those days, and she promised not to tell Elizabeth Brown’s husband, it was sort of “between us ladies.” So, they had those.

But there were also career courtiers, there were some who were just there because they were the wives or the relatives of some of Henry’s privy chamber, or his officials. Lady Mary Kingston, for example, was one of those, she was the wife of the Constable of the Tower and was one of the ladies who actually looked after Anne when she was in the Tower at the end. There were a few gentlewomen like Mary Shelton, there was Mary Howard, of course, who was a relative of Anne’s but was also there.

John: And a very important woman too.

Julia: And a very important woman in her own right.

John: Well, married to Henry’s illegitimate son Henry FitzRoy.

Julia: And there were some who were sort of hovering like Marjorie Horsman who was not exactly a great friend but very close to Anne to a point at the beginning.

John: For a while, yeah.

Julia: But then more or less veers toward Cromwell. But these women would see everything, they’d nurse her after childbirth, they’d nurse her through the miscarriages. But they’d see everything that went on between her and Henry. They’d see Anne when she was at her best and at her worst. They’d see her, I suppose, every month, praying that she would be pregnant and that she would not menstruate. They would see all of that. So, eyes and ears are around her and they’re not all friendly. I think when we looked at some of these women and we could see the relationships that they had with people in Henry’s court who were anti-Anne, you could see that, in a way, she was treading on glass the whole time and she knew it. She knew it.

John: So, we’ve got Anne’s time in France, we’ve got the wider French connection, we’ve got the women of the privy chamber, and I think the fourth thing we did for which I think we sort of claim a little bit of originality, was to unpick all the various sources around the trials and in particular, of course, to unpick Lancelot de Carle’s history poem on the life and death of Anne Boleyn. It’s a source that has been considered to be quite problematic in the past, but actually, we think we have nailed down exactly where it sits here, how authentic it is, and in particular, we think we have found copies of some of de Carle’s notes, which were sort of collected in prose and were if you like, nonfiction historical notes which we then used as one of his sources for writing up the verse history.

De Carle was the secretary to the French ambassador who was there toward the end of Anne’s life while she was Queen, he arrived in 1535, he left in 1537. But de Carle was there and he saw the trial of Thomas More, we think, and actually, I have to say, I think also there’s the very important account, a continental European French account, of Thomas More’s trial called “The Paris Newsletter” and actually, I think – and I’m sort of floating it as a future research topic for somebody else, not for me because I’ve worked on Thomas More for donkey’s years and I sort of want to sign off on him – but I think that de Carle is the author of that. He clearly went to trials and knew the procedure and saw things, there are things that he saw. If you like, adding all that together, his notes and what we used as the basis of a newsletter but itself went all around Europe in multiple languages. Many things that are often thought to be separate sources corroborating each other are actually the same source just simply in different languages. So, the differences are not entirely but mainly, if you like, bits that got lost in translation. [chuckles]

But I think the thing was that we give de Carle more credit than, say, Ives did because I think we know he was, I mean, it’s pretty clear that the circumstantial evidence shows that he was actually able to go to these trials. And I also think anyway, I don’t know what you think Julia, but I also think that he was at the execution because everybody says that foreigners were excluded from, they were allowed to go to the trial of both her and George Boleyn; those were held in the Tower, the others were held in Westminster, the commoners were tried in Westminster Hall. Everybody says that foreigners were excluded from the execution itself because Thomas Cromwell didn’t want them to be there to report it, and his sort of hitman Thomas Gresham, who knew everything about the city of London.

Julia: John Gresham.

John: Richard Gresham, sorry.

Julia: Richard Gresham.

John: Richard was the father, not the son. Richard Gresham was given the task of keeping out all the foreigners. But actually, we know from notes from Anthony Anthony who was in fact, the Surveyor of the Ordnance in the Tower and he gives an account of Anne’s execution, which can only be read in a sort of abstracted form, in the form of notes taken from his original chronicle report. These notes are now in the Bodleian Library in London, but Anthony Anthony expressly says that he was there, he was part of the Tower machinery, and he says that actually, some foreigners slipped in. And that makes perfect sense that de Carle just sort of slipped in, stuck his cloak over and slipped in.

Julia: Bodleian is in Oxford, by the way, not London, that was a slip of the tongue.

I was only going to say I think we’ve missed something out here and that’s Anne’s role in politics which I think is very, very important. She was hands-on. At the beginning, Henry would actually involve her; she was almost like a minister. People assume that when Wolsey fell, Thomas Cromwell stepped straight in afterwards and it was a seamless transition. No, it wasn’t. It didn’t happen like that. And certainly, in those early stages of getting the divorce, when Henry and she were working as one, which again is very important, you know, you’re on a shared mission, you will be working as one; once you’ve achieved that mission it might be slightly different. But at the beginning she was there; he would allow her to actually send her own envoys abroad. When people came back, he sent them to report to her.

John: Often first.

Julia: Often first, yes. One of them, Francis Bryan for example, came back with some bad news, it wasn’t going all swimmingly, and he actually wrote to Henry, “Would you tell Anne? I daren’t, I know her temper.” So, she was working with Henry, alongside. He sent state papers down to Hever.

John: Down to Hever. That’s an incidental reference which we gathered from…

Julia: Well, it was in the love letters.

John: From the love letters. Well, it’s one of the reports of Henry’s secretary to Wolsey.

Julia: Sorry, that’s right. Yes, yes.

John: To report one of the secretaries to Henry.

Julia: Yes, that’s right. And you have to also remember that when Anne is crowned, she is crowned differently from other wives, consorts of kings.

John: Any other English, British consort.

Julia: She is crowned as a Queen Regnant, although she is the Queen. She sits on St. Edward’s chair, King Edward’s chair, whatever you want to call it. The very self, same chair that our current King sat on for his coronation quite recently, that’s the chair only for monarchs. She was crowned by Cranmer with St. Edward’s crown and that’s the crown for monarchs. It’s not the same as the one Charles had this time of course, because although it has some of the same jewels in it, the original crown was melted down after we had a revolution in the 17th century. So, it is a different crown. But Henry perhaps, at one point, actually envisaged sharing his throne with her. Do you want to explain about the Coronation Oath?

John: A tease, a sort of tease. It’s a shame because only page one has survived but Henry, shortly before Anne’s coronation, revised the royal Coronation Oath, the King’s Coronation Oath but only the first page survives so it’s hard to know. It’s essentially reconciling the Coronation Oath with Henry’s claim to be the Supreme Head of the Church which by then was established. And although I know it’s a year before the actual supremacy, Henry was already claiming and had been claiming for almost two years to be the Supreme Head of the Church in practice, he just hadn’t enacted it in parliament yet. So, that’s what the first page is about.

But there is some independent circumstantial evidence that Henry was planning a joint coronation for himself and Anne; in other words, he would be crowned again. But that wasn’t unusual, English kings had been crowned a second time before, so that he would now be crowned with his new Queen and they would be crowned, if you like, on the basis of equality. That was difficult to arrange, it would take longer, and Anne was at quite an advanced stage of pregnancy by then. When she was crowned on Whitsunday in June…

Julia: Elizabeth was born in September.

John: Elizabeth was born at the beginning of September so it’s already, if you like, almost embarrassingly…

Julia: Obvious.

John: … apparent that she’s pregnant. So, they need to sort of get on with it. But I mean, that’s all terribly interesting. And we call this the joint enterprise.

Julia: Yes, we do.

John: It was a different way, I suppose you could add that to our list as number five. That instead of, I mean, when we brought Anne back from France, I remember saying to Julia, “Now, we mustn’t get bogged down in Henry’s first divorce campaign.”

Julia: Oh don’t! Famous last words.

John: And of course, for a while, we did. Everybody does. But then of course, it suddenly dawned on us that that there was a new way of looking at this and it was indeed as a joined enterprise and of course, it was what Anne had seen in France with Louise of Savoy and Marguerite of Angoulême…

Julia: Particularly Louise.

John: Particularly Louise, conducting an independent diplomacy. And here is Anne conducting an independent diplomacy, sending in some cases Stephen Gardiner, who was at this point, acting for her with Edward Foxe, off to Rome and, you know, people like Bryan were reporting back to her as well as to Henry and people would be told to come and see Anne first, as Julia has said.

Julia: A joint letter from her and Henry to Wolsey.

John: And so, with all of this, you can see that in many ways, Anne had an agenda. There’s no question that particularly in religion, welfare, poor reform, poor relief, education, this is what the French royal women were doing, and it was something that she had picked up very much in France.

Julia: And it was in her family.

John: And it was in her family. Her great-grandfather, Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, had been an incredible philanthropist. He’d left a lot of money – in modern value, millions – to charitable causes to education and interestingly, the preaching of the gospel, which is quite interesting because you know, that was very early to have a reform take.

But Anne had certainly picked up– And because of the French royal women, Louise, Claude… One of Claude’s things was reforming nunneries and houses, which was one of Anne’s things. They had this take, this take came from the fact that when they’d gone down to meet Francis once, near Aix-en-Provence, when he came back from fighting in Italy in 1515, they went down to greet him and welcome him back to France and go with him back to Paris and all the Loire Valley, first. They went to the shrines of three women who were related to the Mary Magdalene legend, and they went to the purported shrine of Mary Magdalene, to a place called Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume in France, you can still go and see it and you can still see the basilica and the crypt and you can still climb up to the grotte just in the hill up above, up a sort of path, a rough path, up to the grotte. Claude did this and Anne was with her. But while they were there, they were very taken with this legend, but of course, Mary Magdalene was this amazing saint who…

Julia: Ahh, she’s a good one.

John: She was a good one because she could sort of get you off anything and for almost…

Julia: Bit of repentance and hey-ho!

John: Not much repentance needed. Come here and you’re all sorted, you can go straight to heaven. Live a life of debauchery? Okay, absolutely fine go up, off you go to heaven. And they obviously questioned this. Louise called in her chaplain, for whom this was too potentially iconoclastic a question, too big for him.

So, he called in his mentor and advisor, Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples who was the leader of the French Reform Party, a very important figure. And Lefèvre came and did sort of impromptu seminars for these women and the sort of religion that he advocated, which was, if you like, moderate Catholic reform, no break with Rome, no rejection of the mass, nothing like that, no attacks on the papacy so much, but to try and basically reform religion and ritual so that it was more in the spirit of the gospels, that religion was about, basically, simple faith in Christ the redeemer and the saviour. That was the most important thing. And charity was terribly important, but it wasn’t just philanthropy. You could be, sort of, Bill Gates and give a large amount of money away but it wouldn’t necessarily be in the right mindset. You might just do it because you wanted, you thought you could buy your way into heaven. What mattered was the frame of mind in which you approach charity and in which you approach poor relief and welfare and education.

But of course, they were doing all these things and Anne saw all this and her take on all of this is very much– I suppose also, there’s a sixth thing that we came up with because we revisited the book collection that her brother George had built.

Julia: Yes. Because after Anne was executed, Henry wanted so many things destroyed. He wanted no memory of Anne left. He really had come to really hate her; he believed her guilty and he really did believe her guilty. She had betrayed him. So, anything connected to her should go. But a lot of the books survived.

John: Well, there are about 40 books and they’re not– The thing about it is that Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples believed in putting simple faith, simple understanding of scripture and true religion into the hands of ordinary people through simple little books, little, sort of, handbooks, pocketbooks you could carry around. They were cheap and readily available and for these he had, if you like, a tame printer called Simon Dubois who was operating first in Paris but then when the heresy hunters came after him, he moved to Alençon, which was of course, part of the sort of, territory of Marguerite of Angoulême and she could protect him. There are a couple of other printers also that published some of the stuff, Martin de Keyser, sometimes known as Martin l’Empereur, and a guy called Johann Prüss. They were publishing this stuff.

Now, I have to say that here we’re also, if you like, using and very much indebted to the work of James Carley who is a fabulous book historian, of the reign of Henry VIII and has reconstructed Henry VIII’s library, without whose work we could never have begun to attempt this. But of course, here we are during the pandemic searching for these books and in fact, we came up with, there are some 40 books that were once, that moved into Henry’s library after the executions of Anne and George. The thing about these books is that if they’re printed by Simon Dubois or Martin de Keyser or Johann Prüss, nobody else was collecting these books in England at the time. It’s like, it’s a particular, if you like, sort of genre, they’re not Lutheran. Nobody else was collecting these books and some of them can be attributed, just under half of these 40, can be attributed directly to Anne or to George.

We know that Anne was never to be seen without a French book in her hands because people remark on it. We know that her salt merchant collected books for her, and we know that one of Thomas Boleyn’s chaplains, John Barlow, collected things for her in France. George Boleyn was sent on six separate missions to France, he was very important in the diplomatic story of Anglo-French diplomacy, very, very important, and he undoubtedly had this interest which he shared with his sister.

Julia: And he would bring back books for her.

John: And he could bring back books, though we don’t have any actual evidence of any particular book that he brought back. But he was also engineering, once Anne was wealthy as Henry’s wife and she had a large income, they were able to get some of these books by Simon Dubois reissued by fine Flemish scribes with fabulous illustrations and illuminations. Some of these were done by one of the Horenbout, Gerard Horenbout, who was the finest miniaturist used by Henry himself at that time, he’d been used for royal portraits and producing this stuff.

So, you know, this is material which directly relates to them and positions their reforming credentials. We worked our way through that and we also showed how Anne was willing to stand up, I mean, we traced the people she was supporting at universities, we traced her interest in poor relief, we traced her interest in the monasteries, and we basically traced her connection to the William Marshall Poor Law in the reformed plan, which was sort of thrown out of parliament…

Julia: I mean, she was quite a serious woman in many respects.

John: … for which Anne stood up and was fighting right, right, right to the end. So, this was a woman who had seen in France that women could play an active role in politics. She’d been present in Argenton in 1517 when Francis made Marguerite of Angoulême the Duke of Berry in her own right, which meant that she was effectively turned into a male peer, it made her politically a male, able to sit on the privy council, like Louise of Savoy who sat on the privy council from the beginning and also sat on the King’s secret council as well and played a part, as equal or, I mean, above ahead of any of the men. And Marguerite of Angoulême could do that too.

And actually, absolutely astonishing, like a sort of eureka moment was to discover that when Henry created Anne the Marquess of Pembroke on the 1st of September, 1532 at Windsor Castle in a special ceremony, the grant was modelled on the grant of the dukedom of Berry to Marguerite of Angoulême and had it in her own right, it was as if she was male, could descend to have children. It couldn’t be claimed by– Well, obviously the husband was going to be Henry, so it was slightly different to Marguerite, but the same thing applied. Here she was, it was entirely hers. The guest of honour was the French ambassador.

And on the very same day, in a separate ceremony but on the very same day at Windsor, the Treaty of Mutual Aid between Francis and Henry was ratified and that was the most important Anglo-French treaty that there had ever been in the whole of history so far. It wasn’t just, “We’ll have peace. We’ll ally to attack somebody else,” like Charles V, the emperor, the King of Spain, or whoever it might be. This was mutual aid, defensive and offensive so that if somebody invades Henry, Francis will help with ships, money, and men. If Francis is attacked then Henry will help him with ships, money, and men and it was a result of that treaty, agreed in September 1532 that Anne and Henry then go to Calais to meet Francis, which they do in October of 1532, and that was the occasion when Henry received Anne as if she were already Queen, although she wasn’t quite yet, presented her and Henry with luxurious gifts.

Julia: Including a bed.

John: Including a gigantic bed created by the sort of Louis Vuitton of 16th century France, a guy named Odinet Turquet who had fine luxury shops in both Paris and Lyon, one loves these little details, Francis danced with Anne. That endorsement was taken as, if you like, the okay, at which point finally, Anne agreed to sleep with Henry, which she does on the way back to London. And of course, they’re secretly married, probably illegally, at Dover when they get off the boat, having come back from Calais, then still secretly but legally married apart from the fact that it’s bigamous for Henry at the end of January of 1533. But of course, from their point of view, from Anne and Henry’s point of view, and indeed, from the point of view of the Catholic Church at the time, church law was that if you conducted a bigamous marriage, the first marriage, Henry’s marriage to Katherine was then judged to be annulled, null and void, the second marriage was valid, you didn’t then have to remarry. So, you can see why they thought they might get away with this. All they needed was the annulment.

Although later, one has to look at the book to get this later–Henry and Francis sort of begin to fall out so it all starts to unwind. But at the time, of course, Cranmar becomes Archbishop and gets the balls from Rome, but he only gets them because Francis gets them for him in Rome. People didn’t seem to notice this, that actually when Henry later complained “Francis signed this treaty that really didn’t help me and went off and married his second son to the Pope’s niece and sort of forgot about my annulment,” people actually forget that, but they forget also that it was the French who got Cranmar’s annulment. Francis was genuinely disappointed when Henry accused him of not really helping him enough. There’s a whole sort of Anglo-French diplomatic backcloth to this story. At Calais, Henry and Francis, certainly Henry thought they’d agreed to this, Francis was going to convene a summit between himself and the Pope in Nice, it later was held at Marseille, and he wanted Henry to come although Henry, in the end, didn’t come. He didn’t actually want, Henry, basically when it came to confronting the Pope face-to-face, he was chicken, he didn’t want to do that. Francis was going to do this for him.

Julia: Well, this was what the Boleyns wanted.

John: This is what the Boleyns wanted, Francis would get the annulment for the marriage to Katherine and then the whole thing would be legal. When it came to it and the Pope didn’t do it, then they wanted, and this was particularly a George Boleyn thing, and Anne, they wanted Francis to break with Rome.

Julia: Which was going to be a non-starter.

John: And that was too big an ask, that wasn’t going to happen, and we explain the ins and outs of this and who sat where and how that was…

Julia: Yeah, I was just going to say, you can see that we can talk forever. [she and Ann laugh] Was there something you actually wanted to ask?

Ann: You’ve answered everything I could have possibly asked, I think. [laughs]

Julia: [laughs] Oh goodness. Yes, we do go on about it rather a lot. People say to us, “What’s it like? Do you talk history all the time?” And you know, there’s a sheepish look about some of them and we know exactly what they mean, “Do you talk about history in the middle of the night?” And the answer is “Sometimes, yes.” Over tea and always Digestive biscuits. Quite what it says about our marriage, I don’t know but we do. [Ann laughs]

John: You live with these people.

Julia: They do, they move in.

John: We lived with Mary, Queen of Scots. When Julia was doing Jane Boleyn, we lived with the Boleyns in 2000. And then we lived with Katherine of Aragon and Juana of Castile, didn’t we?

Julia: Yes.

John: Then we lived with Thomas Becket, then we lived with the last years of Elizabeth then we lived with Thomas Gresham.

Julia: They sit on the sofa.

John: They just move in.

Julia: They sit in the back seat of the car. And some of them you’re really pleased to wave bye-bye to. But Anne, I don’t know, there is something very fascinating about Anne, isn’t there?

Ann: If I could just say, that’s part of what I found so fresh and interesting about your book is that it is a story that I know very well, I’m sure a lot of people listening know very well, but you present it in such a new, interesting way. A combination of the new research that you were able to have, everything you just outlined, the new information and the new angles on different things. But you really presented a way, I think, if someone doesn’t know the story, this would be a great introduction but if someone like me knows the story, all these things you’re saying, you’re colouring in these little areas that I hadn’t thought about, or no one’s written about before.

John: I think it goes back to what I think we were saying at the beginning, that we wanted their lives to be in proportion, but we also wanted to tell it as a linear narrative, basically tell it as the story; their backstories and their encounter and then their relationship and all the way through and then where it all went wrong. Because actually, it would be… That sort of approach is trickier to do than you might think and what particularly academic authors do, and of course, it’s the academic authors that tend to go and dig away in archives so academic authors, the academic training is important to the sort of progression that you have when you turn your attention to trying to write biography. You need that sort of research experience and that research depth. But the trick is to make it in a sort of linear narrative account in which it’s all sort of tucked in, the public and the private as well, because it’s so easy, particularly for academics, to salami slice everything. So, you can have a chapter, say, on Anne as a religious reformer, Anne as a patron of the arts.

Julia: Henry’s foreign policy.

John: Have a chapter on Henry’s foreign policy.

Julia: Diplomatic affairs.

John: Diplomatic affairs. And the artistry. And it doesn’t connect. And when you keep it all in your head and bring it all together and it is totally absorbing. I mean, toward the end… We wrote this, I’ll be quite honest about it, we wrote this book, we were researching it until about 18 months before we delivered it and then I would say we actually wrote it in about 15 to 18 months. But by then you have to have it all in your head.

Julia: People say, “How long does it take you to write this book?” And in a sense.

John: Well, 40 years.

Julia: Yeah, it is 40 years because you’re bringing together so many facets of your own knowledge.

John: That you’ve learned over the years. We’ve both been in this game quite a long time.

Julia: We have. Rather a lot of years actually. Yes, it is bringing all of that together. It’s not just sitting down one day in front of a computer or nipping off to an archive, there is more to it than that, but we came to it, I suppose, with some of the pegs already there, we knew. But we were absolutely astonished by the things that we found that we didn’t know.

John: And things that we didn’t know at a very late stage, and things that you found by accident or stumble into in archives or hidden in plain sight in a sort of 17th, “18th, or 19th-century editions. This whole business with Marguerite of Angoulême being made Duke of Berry in her own right in 1517 at Argenton, I mean, I discovered that in a very, very late stage. Nobody seemed to have ever encountered it, not even the French historians. There was just one allusion to it when I got the first reference to it which was in a US PhD thesis which I just stumbled into and I thought, “Well, that sounds quite interesting,” and looked into that and then I was led into the edition of the ordnance of Francis I and it all stemmed out from that. But there were loads of things that really just suddenly came out of the woodwork.

Julia: There were things that you knew, but you knew them in isolation, you hadn’t necessarily tried to fit them into a more coherent whole and that, I think, is very much what we found. Things were sometimes, we knew them, or they were hidden in plain sight, if you like, and suddenly because we’re looking at it from a slightly different perspective, things start to gel together, the ingredients come together, the parts of the jigsaw start to actually make the complete whole and the complete picture.

John: You can even then start looking for things, you can think well, maybe there was something that you might think of, maybe they did this, maybe there was something here, maybe there was a bit of patronage here, maybe a jewel was commissioned there, and you look and sometimes you find it.

Julia: You don’t always.

John: You sort of almost then know where to look.

Julia: Say, for example, Henry got a little fed up with Anne at the beginning because he didn’t seem to know quite where he was, where he stood. And she sent him, after she thought about it for an awfully long time and kept him on a very long string, this is way before they slept together, she sent him a jewel, a ship with a girl being tossed about and the idea of course is that she’ll be safe in his arms, I suppose, and he’s this ship of state, she’ll be safe with her king. But what is interesting is that if you look in Thomas Boleyn’s accounts, you see that he made a payment to Cornelis Hayes at about this time, I think it was for £4 pounds and it could conceivably, and probably was, toward this ship jewel.

John: And £4 was quite a lot of money then.

Julia: Yeah, it’s a lot of money then. I mean, it’s not a fabulous amount but it was enough, and it showed sort of where–

John: It could have been a pendant jewel; it probably wasn’t a table jewel. It was a pendant jewel. And Anne had seen exactly such a jewel presented in Nantes, hadn’t she, in France, presented to Francis.

Julia: She had. The ship motif is quite an unusual one. Yes, but seeing that little detail in the accounts and you suddenly think, aha! Because otherwise, where did Anne get the money for this? She’s an unmarried woman at that time, she doesn’t have her lands, she doesn’t have money of her own and if Thomas Boleyn has that way of paying this for her, it also shows, of course, that he’s very much invested in what might happen with this daughter with Henry, which indeed he was. It’s a family firm.

John: And we know that the Boleyns were operating as a family firm, it’s a family business.

Ann: I’m going to have to leave it there even though I could talk to you all day. I love this. I loved reading your book, and I love the obvious enthusiasm you both have, and I think that comes across in the book. You can tell when you’re reading it how much you sat with this and how much you’ve thought about this, and I think that’s part of what makes it so readable but thank you so much for joining me today on this podcast.

John: It’s been a pleasure.

Julia: Thank you for inviting us, absolute pleasure.


So again, the book we were just talking about is called Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the Marriage that Shook Europe by Julia Fox and John Guy. And that is available all over the place, North America, the United Kingdom, and hopefully other places where you are. Honestly, I truly could have spoken to them for hours and hours. I love talking to people who really sat with a story and with a historical person to the extent that they clearly both have, and the book really shows that. All the research but to the point that they can really explain who Anne Boleyn was and what her deal was, there’s been so much weird misinformation about her for so long, for instance, The Other Boleyn Girl, the book and then movie. Anyway, this is truly looking at– They don’t have anything in this book where they can’t explain, “Here’s exactly the letter and the source where we found it out.” But I don’t want to be like, “Oh, the book is really just, here’s a list of research.” It’s so fun and so interesting. Anyway, a new classic. I think it’s such a great book and you should be able to get that wherever you get your books from.

I also, just speaking of Anne Boleyn, so this book, again was really interesting for me to read because Anne Boleyn is one of my girls. I know her story, I felt like I knew her story in my bones but there’s so much new information in this book that they uncovered or just the way that they tell the story is really fascinating and made it feel so fresh and new to me. So, if you’re already an Anne Boleyn stan, I think you’ll enjoy this book, I think you’ll find new interesting details that you didn’t know, especially about her time in France and things like that. And if you don’t know Anne Boleyn and you’re still listening to this episode, I think this book is the perfect introduction to her story.

And speaking of people who are stans of Anne Boleyn, I’ve recently started working with a woman named Torie who owns a jewellery company called Common Era. And honestly, this came to my attention because several people, members of the tits-out brigade saw what she was posting on Instagram and were like, “Oh my god Ann, did you know about this Anne Boleyn necklace?” No, I did not. But then I did. I contacted Torie to be like, “I love what you’re doing, do you want to work together?” And she’s like, “Hell yeah,” and so here we are. So, if you want to get anything from her jewellery company, Common Era, you go to and you get 15% off everything, or just use code VULGAR when you’re checking out.

Here’s the thing, here’s what she’s doing, here’s what Torie’s up to. She has this company, Common Era and what they’re doing, it’s 100% woman-owned and operated brand, inspired by the founder’s, Torie, lifelong love of history and mythology. What they’re using is 100% recycled gold and silver, all their collections are crafted in New York City. It’s, like, fine jewellery and I love the ethically sourced angle of it as well. I love the vibe. The Anne Boleyn necklace that they have right now, it’s part of a new collection of theirs called the Difficult Women which is like, basically the tits-out women collection, effectively. We’ve got Cleopatra, Boudica is there, Agrippina is there, and then Anne Boleyn. She put her in there even though her other collections and everyone else from here is from that ancient world like Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, those sorts of vibes. But Anne Boleyn, she couldn’t not include her in terms of difficult women and I’m glad she did because that’s how I found out about her and her company.

So anyway, there’s an Anne Boleyn gold pendant that you can get from and then for a more affordable option, there’s also going to be a gold vermeil version of this pendant coming out later in November. And so, if you go to the website, you can go on her waitlist to find out when that’s going to be available as well. Anyway, check out what she’s doing, or use VULGAR at checkout for 15% off. I love supporting this company and I love her products and, like, just the concept of an Anne Boleyn pendant just brings me great joy.

Because that’s the thing too, we didn’t touch on it super a lot in this interview because we’re talking about their book and their research, but Anne Boleyn is so special to so many people I know. I won’t name names but somebody, a member of the tits out brigade who is in our Patreon, has got Anne Boleyn, a beautiful tattoo. She’s so special to so many people and I think they both knew, John and Julia, going into this book what a responsibility they had, that so many people feel for her. For me, who knows this story backwards and forwards, I thought, reading through their book I was like, “Maybe it is all going to work out this time,” and then when she was, you know, Henry VIII had her arrested and she was going to be executed I was just like, “We ride at dawn.” My Anne Boleyn fury is at an all-time high at the moment. She’s my girl and should I do a podcast about her? Let me know.

Anyway, you can keep up with me and the podcast in all the places I usually mention. We’re on Instagram @VulgarHistoryPod. I keep saying let me know what you think but that’s where you can let me know what you think in the comments or send me a DM there. Also, you can email me at and I also have the website, there’s a form there to contact me. But also, if you look there, the more recent episodes, we’re working from the recent ones backwards to get transcriptions done so people can read these episodes as well, for whatever reasons people like transcripts. But do you want to cite one of my episodes in my university class? We are in our academic era. Feel free!

But also, if you go to the website, there’s a link there for the book club or just go to Until the middle of November, we’re doing the first-ever Vulgar History Book Club experience where we’re talking about Let the Dead Bury the Dead by podcast favourite, Allison Epstein. So, check out what we’re doing there, I’m really excited. I think a book club is a natural progression of this show, considering you all now know how much I’m into books. Yeah, and the book club, I’m excited about how it’s going and it’s free to take part. So, you just need to register when you go there; it’s hosted on Patreon but it’s free, so you just need to register to be able to leave comments and stuff and I’m really excited about it. I’m already thinking about what other books can we do for the Vulgar History Book Club experience. Yet another thing you can let me know what you think about.

We also have merch available at as well as The reason that there are two is that, the shipping is best for the US where a lot of you are, the Redbubble link, the shipping is better for international countries, even Canada as I’ve learned. So, the book club is on Patreon, if you want to elevate your Patreon experience… If you pledge at least $1 a month you get early ad-free access to all episodes of Vulgar History as well as access to a weekly chat where we talk about that week’s episode with the other tits-out brigade members and me. If you pledge at least $5 or more a month on Patreon, you get the early ad-free access, access to the weekly chat, and you also get access to a super-secret sexy chat just for people at those levels but also you get the bonus episodes of Vulgarpiece Theatre, which is where I talk about costume dramas and you also get other bonus episodes like the after show that I started doing as well as So This Asshole and various other things.

Honestly, I’ve been talking for a really long time, and I need to take a drink of water so I’m going to leave it at that. But Anne Boleyn, we ride at dawn. The only thing missing from her story is I don’t think there was a pants moment but philosophically, she had big pants on, tits out energy. And so just, we’ll all channel Anne Boleyn, put on our B necklaces, or our Common Era gold necklaces and keep our pants on and our tits out. Talk to you all next time.

Vulgar History is hosted, written, and researched by Ann Foster and edited by Cristina Lumague.

Transcribed by Aveline Malek at


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