Elizabeth I heavily influenced by loss of mother Anne Boleyn at young age
Elizabeth I was heavily influenced by her mother Anne Boleyn, despite the fact that the latter died when the Tudor queen was less than three years old, according to the historian and author Tracy Borman.
As well as being influenced by feminist ideas that were ahead of their time, Borman said there was evidence they both experienced stress and anxiety.
The stress Boleyn was under to produce an heir “is a possible reason” for the three miscarriages she suffered, Borman said. “The other theory … is that she was rhesus negative”, a condition that can cause miscarriages, but “surely the pressure and the stress has to have toll on Anne’s physical health”.
Elizabeth was also psychologically affected by the trauma of losing her mother at a young age, said Borman, who wrote Elizabeth’s Women, about the women who influenced Elizabeth I.
“She was given to nervous fits, as they were described, and often stomach complaints. She had migraines. It was very obvious that she been literally traumatised by her early history and, when she was pressed on the issue of marriage, she would become almost hysterical.”
Her refusal to marry “went beyond her politics”, Borman believes. “Anne had left an indelible mark on Elizabeth, physically as well as emotionally.”
Speaking at the Hay festival in Wales, Borman, said despite the “popular myth” that Elizabeth I did not think much of her mother, the opposite was in fact true.
“Elizabeth’s actions speak louder than words,” Borman said, explaining how Elizabeth secretly wore Anne’s famous “A” pendant when she sat for a painting with her father and siblings, and filled her household with members of the Boleyn family.
Both women were also influenced by the Princess of France, Marguerite of Navarre, Boleyn directly through her time living in France, who was a great intellectual and introduced Boleyn to the feminist ideas of Christine de Pizan.
Later, Elizabeth I discovered the work of Marguerite of Navarre via her stepmother Catherine Parr, and embarked on a translation of one of Marguerite’s most famous works, the poem Miroir de l’âme pécheresse.
“I think that was a real tribute to her late mother,” Borman said. “Like Anne, Elizabeth was a great flirt.” She believes the so-called Virgin Queen actually was a virgin. “She had come to equate sex with death from a very early age.”
As well as a historian and author, Borman is also the chief curator of the historic royal palaces. Last month she was photographed with the celebrity couple Zendaya and Tom Holland as the actors took a guided tour of Hampton Court palace.