Jane Parker The Downfall of Two Tudor Queens by Charlie Fenton. Chronos Crime Chronicles

Jane Parker, better known as Lady Rochford, the sister-in-law of Anne Boleyn has always interested me. She has been blamed for betraying two queens for centuries, and she is generally portrayed in TV series and novels as a rather scheming, nasty woman. Charlie Fenton, who runs the Through the Eyes of Anne Boleyn blog, makes a good case for her defence in this short, but fascinating and well-researched book.

Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford. undetermined, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Jane's marriage to George was arranged, and is generally supposed to have been unhappy, but there is no evidence for this. They were much the same age, and just because they had no children, the marriage can't be assumed to have been unhappy. Some historians argue that George was gay or a womaniser, but this doesn't add up, either. Nothing shows that Jane's alleged jealousy of Anne affected her actions. She may have been a bit careless in discussing the King with Anne, which was a big mistake in those days, but that seems to have been the extent of her alleged guilt, according to Fenton.

Katherine Howard is another matter, because Jane definitely helped her indulge in an affair with Culpepper, a huge risk, which she surely knew. Fenton discusses her possible motives for assisting the Queen. Refusing a request from the Queen was  dangerous, so Jane was probably caught between the devil and the deep blue sea here, but perhaps a wiser woman would have been able to handle the young and flirtatious Queen in a better way. It still seems strange that Jane actually helped her have an affair, after Anne Boleyn was executed. Fenton makes a convincing case on her behalf, though, a difficult challenge!

I also enjoyed the details of life at court, and the lives of the ladies-in-waiting. Her friendship with Henry VII's daughter Mary is also interesting.

This is well-worth reading if you like historical biographies, especially the Tudors.

I received this free book from Chronos Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing, in return for an honest review.


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