The Tudors Makes British History Sexy
I finally finished watching the second season of the Tudors last night. I’ve never been so emotionally involved in a TV show before… the story of Anne Boleyn (played so well by Natalie Dormer) is so incredible to me, I have always loved proud and headstrong women, despite their shortcomings, and learning about the details of her story is like having to hear the trials of what so many women have had to bear over the years while men have done what they pleased. I’ve got to admit, it made me pretty upset. Especially when it is well-documented that Anne died with such dignity and grace in the face of such ridiculously damning charges, and that for the most part her desire to improve England as a nation was only overshadowed by her desire to become and remain Queen of England. If only she could have had a son…
This Picture Doesn't Do Anne Boleyn Justice
What strikes me most about the retelling of Henry VIII’s life is that not all that much has changed in politics since the 1500’s. Men of power still cheat on their wives and do so with little discretion. Intelligent women with ambition are thought to be “witches”, and are often either put in check by their peers (I’m thinking Hillary Clinton), or yanked from the spotlight completely. In theory, a boor like Henry is not unlike the boors of many countries today (even the USA), who are still guilty of horrible injustices that they get away with completely. The excuses for justification are always skewed and manipulated by the devices of their own staff in corroboration with media outlets, so that they evade ever admitting any truths in the public eye. Meanwhile, public policies are created via the leveraging of mistakes and weaknesses of government officials against them by their enemies. In the blink of an eye we can see the mightiest of leaders fall, not based on their principals or actions, but by the deceit of those that serve them. The court of 1500’s England is no more corrupt and filled with injustices than our modern courts here in America, though we tend to deny this under the pretense that we live in a “democracy”. I would allow that the severity of those injustices are no longer as severe as 500 years ago, but the principals that dictate the outcome of political battles still remain in practice today.
We live in a world where humans fail one another and their nations for greed and lust for power. We are all the lesser for it, I say. As a humanist, it is has always been difficult to sit by and watch history unfold with the discomfortable feeling that good shall not prevail, and that justice is clearly not being served in our courts and commitees. Favoritism is given to those who protect themselves with money and power, which are used as leverage against anyone of lesser stature who wishes to betray them or bring them to justice. We are still not allowed to enact the will of the public over the decisions of the fellow elite, who are beholden to a power so much greater than that of the democracy: the power of corruption.
Thankfully there will always be the the tales of martyrs like Anne Boleyn, whose story remains vital and current in our culture today. Her life and death continue to remind and inspire us to push for equality within ourselves, even when our government is a mockery of the virtues and values that we are taught to possess. I question whether why we have not more headway in this cause, and acknowledge that there will always be this push and pull of good against evil. There is no doubt that Anne herself had to play political games to stay alive and was willing to destroy her opponents to do so, as in the case of Cardinal Wollsey, who it is said was jailed at her behest by King Henry for not being able to persuade the Pope to grant them permission to marry. She also used her political leverage to hasten the Reform movement of Catholocism, which was clearly helpful in acknowledging the corruption within that religion. Anne is an effective martyr because she knowingly became used her power to make both personal gains and improve the quality of her nation. In the end Anne became the victim of her own internal struggle of good vs. evil, and it was her courage to become involved in that struggle, despite the sacrifice of her own life, which remains so profound and memorable. While it was the betrayals of her tyrant of a husband and his servant Thomas Cromwell that were eventually her undoing, she acknowledged that it was the realization of her selfish desires which granted them the ability to cause an end to her life. And so in dying she actually revealed the inherent injustices of England’s politics, and perhaps helped in the reform of certain aspects of that kingdom with her actions. Just like in chess, the queen was sacrificed through strategy, so that perhaps overall the quality of the game might be improved.
While there may never be a time when war is no longer necessary, or when power is no longer obtained by stepping on the heads of the weak and innocent, we as humans improve the world we live in by holding those who commit injustices responsible for their actions and checking the corroptions. As an American, I am constantly ashamed of the actions of our country’s leaders, especially when this country was built on the principals learned from the allowing the corruption of governments like by the likes of King Henry VIII. I believe mine to be a great country, not because of those who lead us, but because of the civil and moral obedience of the few who realize that of all the governments of the world we live in, this is one allows the most personal freedoms. With personal freedoms come personal responsibilities. We can allow ourselves to become involved in the destruction of what we know to be right, or we can choose to uphold what we believe to be correct, whatever the sacrifice. It still takes a personal conviction to die for what we believe in, and the willingness to put our own souls in the fight of good vs. evil and not look the other way in order to better our nation through our government. Anne Boleyn reminds us that we don’t have to live perfectly in the right to survive this world, but that we must actively participate in our government’s moral dilemma head-on in order to accomplish the changes that are necessary to improve conditions of the world that we live in. I pay tribute to you, Miss Boleyn.