Henry VIII and his succession of wives continue to capture the imaginations of historians and readers of history. Now, a new novel, Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel, follows the life, trial and death of Anne Boleyn and the involvement of Thomas Cromwell. Peter Green of The Book blog has a review.
Mantel's book follows Cromwell's train of thought about differences between the Protestant and Catholic Churches, and about the complicated midset of his monarch.
So Cromwell meditates. “You can be merry with the king, you can share a joke with him. But … it’s like sporting with a tamed lion. You tousle its mane and pull its ears, but all the time you’re thinking, those claws, those claws, those claws.” Yet this giant also needs constant reassurance that he is right, worries about his fading sexual prowess, exhibits a prissy distaste for coarseness, depends increasingly on Cromwell to find practical solutions to his political problems, and dreads damnation in the hereafter. As his passion for Anne Boleyn morphs into resentful hatred—her sharp, critical tongue, her inability to provide him with a male heir—he refashions his marital career: he is the victim always, his good intentions countered by womanly malice and blinded to reality until it is too late.