The royal history of England is smeared with blood spread throughout generations of the family that ruled the country. There are multiple accounts of various events that took place centuries ago in the court of the Kings and Queens of a country that is now known for colonizing half the world up until the late 19th century. England has seen and known several monarchs who have been good, bad, or purely evil. The books, forts, and castles that stand tall even today are a testament to the laws, rules, wars, scheming, and plotting that took place both outside and inside those walls. “Blood Sex & Royalty” is a documentary drama retelling the life story of the most controversial Queen in English history, Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII. There are multiple accounts of what transpired behind the scenes at Hampton Court Palace regarding Anne Boleyn and her relationship with the promiscuous King Henry VIII, and this documentary drama is one of them.
The Story Of The Infamous Anne Boleyn
The documentary begins with Anne making a statement to the jailer at the Tower of London, where she has been kept as a prisoner. Anne starts talking about her life as a maiden in the court of King Francis of France. She describes herself as a well-read woman born in a privileged family to Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Boleyn. The family of Boleyn was always known for being social climbers, as per the historians who give their testimonies in the show, or in other words, socialites. Thomas Boleyn was a well-connected man in the English court, as per the sources and historians. Due to his connections, he was able to earn well, and with that, he was able to send his daughters to the court of King Francis of France. Anne Boleyn. Submerged herself in books during her stay at the court of France. Anne thought the literature would give her more worldly knowledge than courting any of the men of higher status. Anne was always encouraged by her father to read as much literature as she could so that, as she grew up, she could form her own opinion of her surroundings. Anne was a highly educated, opinionated, well-cultured, and beautiful woman, keeping in mind the times she was living in when women were only considered for procreation and taking care of households. Anne Boleyn went one step ahead and became a woman who was not scared of voicing her opinions, who resisted men who were charmed by her beauty and brains, and who never hesitated to make enemies who wanted to put her and her family down.
The historians in the documentary drama made sure Anne Boleyn was seen as someone with gray shades and not as someone who was completely naïve or conniving. Anne Boleyn had a sister, Mary Boleyn, who was well-known, unlike Anne. While she was in court with her in France, Mary Boleyn bedded King Francis and was his mistress for a long time. Meanwhile, Anne was busy becoming an intellectual by being in the company of the King’s sister, Marguerite de Navarre, who was considered a feminist in her brother’s court. She managed to influence Anne and make her understand the fact that women need to take charge of decision-making regarding what goes on in their life, who is to stay and who cannot. It was during “The Field of the Cloth of Gold,” a political summit between England and France, that Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII met for the first time. Henry took notice of her, but Anne considered him a drunken man fueled by ego and vanity, which was challenging the King of France. Did she know her life would change? Even if she knew, would it change for good or bad? Anne Boleyn knew what she was getting into when she came under Henry’s radar. Anne Boleyn was from a well-connected family, which would have been happy to have one of their daughters in the court of England. Courting Henry would mean their family receiving some sort of power in the court and influence over the monarchy.
‘Blood S*x & Royalty’ Ending Explained – Is Anne Boleyn Able To Get Henry On Her Side?
Anne Boleyn and her sister Mary Boleyn move to the court of England soon enough, and Mary is the one who catches Henry’s attention in the beginning. Mary becomes Henry’s mistress and spends most of her time with him. Anne, though, is still submerged in her values of being a virtuous woman until she gets married to a suitable man of her choice. Anne initially courts Henry Percy, the son of an Earl, but the engagement is called off due to Henry’s status and the interference of Cardinal Wolsey, who was King Henry VIII’s right-hand man too. Anne realizes she has made one enemy in the court and is not afraid of him. Henry loses interest in Mary Boleyn once she gets pregnant with a child. Mary, at that point, is not sure who the father is, but she is happy to stay away from Henry as she never loved him. It was just pure carnal lust that they shared.
Anne becomes a lady in waiting for Queen Katherine of Aragon, the wife of Henry. Though Katherine is aware of Henry’s infidelity, she isn’t afraid of any mistresses that Henry keeps for himself, for she knows he uses them and throws them out. During one of the gambling matches, Anne impresses Henry, and he starts pursuing her. Anne, knowing his nature, refuses to court him. The way Mary was treated by him made sure that she avoided him. Anne moves to her father’s home, away from the court of Henry, to avoid any untoward attention from the King that would lead to any scandal. Anne starts receiving letters from Henry, conveying how much he misses her and the love he carries in his heart for her. Anne confesses to the jailer that Henry loved her a lot, and that is the reason why he pursued her for the longest time. Henry made sure he visited her home to convince her to be his lover, but Anne was hell-bent on not becoming another Mary. The King writes many explicit letters to Anne describing his love for her, and one of them mentions that he would like her to be his mistress. Anne does not respond to that letter out of sheer anger. She makes it clear to Henry that she wants to be his wife, and the child she will bear will be the future King of England.
Anne comes back to the court of France. To Katherine and Wolsey’s delight, who believe Anne is just another mistress, Henry will keep her with him for a while and then move on to another one. But Anne’s resolution to not consummate their affair before their marriage takes a toll on Henry. Henry decides to annul his marriage to Katherine, but the upheaval caused by the church and Katherine herself makes it difficult for Henry to choose between his lawfully wedded wife and Anne. Anne’s voracious reading habit introduces her to a book written by a fugitive writer who talks about how the King should be above the Pope, an equivalent of God. Anne is initially skeptical of introducing this book to Henry, but with mighty courage, she plants the idea of Henry being the head of the church in England and that he should be breaking away from the Pope in the Vatican. Other than breaking away from the church, Anne was liberal and had plenty of liberal ideas for the betterment of the people of the country, who were held onto by the church and religion. Anne wanted to break the monopoly of the church as a Queen and serve the people rather than serving the Vatican. Henry decides to break away from the church, gains France’s support, divorces his wife Katherine, and marries Anne.
Anne soon becomes pregnant, and both are elated by the news. She is declared the Queen of England. Unfortunately for Henry, his first child with Anne is a baby girl whom she names Elizabeth. Not losing hope in the coming years, Anne gets pregnant twice but loses her child to miscarriages. As usual, Henry starts losing interest in her, and Anne starts wondering if she is losing any support at the court. Anne’s allies were her father and Thomas Cromwell, who replaced Wolsey. Anne’s inability to keep the promise she made to Henry of giving him a male heir to the throne makes Henry start doubting her capability as Queen. Henry starts an affair with Jane Seymour, Anne Boleyn’s lady-in-waiting.
Anne starts spiraling, for she starts realizing everyone around her is alienating her, including Henry. She has now been replaced. Anne is close to her brother George and confides in him about all the problems she is facing. George’s wife, Jane, is jealous of Anne’s closeness to her brother, which leads to her turning against Anne. Anne starts snapping at her friends and her sister. She comes to know of a plot to eliminate her. Thomas Cromwell, along with other privy councils, arrests Anne on the charges of infidelity and incest. Anne reveals to the jailer at the Tower of London that she never indulged in any nefarious or sexual encounters with any other men other than Henry. Anne’s testimony to the jailer does not favor her, for the jailer turns out to be a member of a biased council who, despite hearing Anne’s testimony, made the final decision in favor of the King. Anne is sentenced to death. Her alleged lovers, who include her brother George, are also sentenced to death. Anne is asked to choose between death and the annulment of her marriage to Henry. She chooses to annul her marriage to save her and her daughter, but Henry backs away from the promise. Anne is beheaded nevertheless for the charges, and Henry ends up marrying for the third time. Anne remained someone who always wanted to do the best for her husband, family, and country as Queen. She wanted to make her daughter Henry’s heir, but Henry refused to do that because of his patriarchal values. Anne knew she wasn’t guilty of any charges levied against her, for she stayed in the castle premises till her sentencing and never tried to run away with her daughter. Ambitious women such as Anne Boleyn were sidelined by King Henry because of his need to obtain a male heir. The irony remains that his daughter from Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth I, became one of the most revered monarchs of the country.
The three-episodic documentary drama about Anne Boleyn is not the only series that has documented the tale of the wronged Queen from her perspective. There have been many books, television shows, and movies that have been made which shed light on Anne Boleyn from other perspectives. Some showcased her as the villain who divided the country, and many revered her as the Queen who wanted to introduce much-needed religious reforms and end the monopoly of the Vatican. “Blood Sex & Royalty” does the job of telling the tale of Queen Anne from Anne’s perspective and what the historians thought she did right. Anne Boleyn will forever remain a looming figure, a fascinating woman in English history whose story could be explored multiple times through different lenses. “Blood Sex & Royalty” makes the story more campy, colorful, and witty, and the leading lady, Anne, breaks the fourth wall and talks to the camera directly. There is nothing new that this show covers; much of the information mentioned in the show is already out there. Give it a watch if you want to know about Anne Boleyn in the most colorful manner.
“Blood Sex & Royalty” is a Netflix Original, now streaming with subtitles.