Anne Boleyn breakthrough as NEW EVIDENCE looks ‘inside’ inner circle

Anne Boleyn conspiracy theory discussed by expert

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Anne Boleyn was Queen of England for just three years and three months until her execution in 1536. The second wife of King Henry VIII was beheaded by a French swordsman at the Tower of London after being found guilty of treason. During her life, up to the moment she died, Anne was served by more than 30 different women. These ladies in waiting and maids of honour had greater access to Anne than almost anyone else.

But their identities, personal lives and relationships with the former Queen have long remained a mystery.

However, a Tudor expert has now compiled a list of the women during pioneering new research.

Sylvia Barbara Soberton spoke to about this new “inside” look at Anne’s inner circle.

She said: “This list really gives us a good glimpse into Anne’s female household. It is new because it is almost never quoted.”

Ms Soberton is a Europe-based writer and researcher, specialising in the history of the Tudors.

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While researching her new book, ‘Ladies-in-Waiting: Women Who Served Anne Boleyn’, she came across overlooked documents, which helped her compile a list of the Queen’s close female confidantes.

Explaining her research, she said: “There is this manuscript in the British Library. It is well known to scholars, because it is a description of christenings, coronations and ennoblements.

“But there is a part of the manuscript that is almost never cited when it comes to Anne Boleyn.

“It contains the full list of the ladies in waiting and maids of honour who served during her coronation in May and June of 1533.

“I thought that was really interesting because first of all, it is never quoted.

“But another thing is that these women who are mentioned on this list are also mentioned in other sources from the period – household accounts, letters, chronicles.”

Besides Ms Soberton only two scholars are believed to have referenced the list of women who served Anne.

Dr Nicola Clark and Julia Fox have each referred to the list of women in their own research on the period.

However, Ms Soberton has used the overlooked list of women as the “centrepiece” of her book.

Where possible, she has profiled these women, whose lives were key to Anne’s own journey.

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In her book, the author acknowledges that the records are incomplete, but provides insights into women like Margery Horseman, believed to be one of Anne’s closest friends, and Baroness Cobham, who is believed to have been one of the Queen’s first accusers ahead of her execution.

Ms Soberton also busted some popular myths during her research, including about one of Anne’s maids of honour, Anne Gainsford, who is falsely recorded as being an informant who was spying on the Queen.

Speaking about this myth, the historian explained: “Many myths are still perpetuated about the women who served her.

“Because for example, we have this myth that is part of the narrative of Anne’s rise and fall.

“That one of her maids of honour, Anne Gainsford was an informant of George Wyatt (an English Sixteenth Century writer and politician).

“Wyatt wrote the first ever biography of Anne in 1606 and his Nineteenth Century editor identified one of the two women who were his informants as Anne Gainsford.

“She could not have been his informant because she died some five years before Wyatt was even born.”

‘Ladies-in-Waiting: Women Who Served Anne Boleyn’ was written by Sylvia Barbara Soberton and published in 2022. It is available here.

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