Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the Marriage That Shook Europe (Hardcover)
“A fierce, scholarly tour-de-force. . . . Hunting the Falcon brilliantly shows how time, circumstance and politics combined to accelerate Anne’s triumph and tragedy." —Tina Brown, New York Times Book Review
A groundbreaking, freshly-researched examination of one of the most dramatic and consequential marriages in history: Henry VIII’s long courtship, short union, and brutal execution of Anne Boleyn.
Hunting the Falcon is the story of how Henry VIII’s obsessive desire for Anne Boleyn changed him and his country forever. John Guy and Julia Fox, two of the most acclaimed and distinguished historians of this period, have joined forces to present Anne and Henry in startlingly new ways. By closely examining the most recent archival discoveries, and peeling back layers of historical myth and misinterpretation and distortion, Guy and Fox are able to set Anne and Henry’s tragic relationship against the major international events of the time, and integrate and reinterpret sources hidden in plain sight or simply misunderstood. Among other things, they dispel lingering and latently misogynistic assumptions about Anne which anachronistically presumed that a sixteenth-century woman, even a queen, could exert little to no influence on the politics and beliefs of a patriarchal society. They reveal how, in fact, Anne was a shrewd, if ruthless, politician in her own right, a woman who steered Henry and his policies, often against the advice he received from his male advisers—and whom Henry seriously contemplated making joint sovereign.
Hunting the Falcon sets the facts–and some completely new finds–into a far wider frame, providing an appreciation of this misunderstood and underestimated woman. It explores how Anne organized her “side” of the royal court on novel and (in male eyes) subversive lines compared to her queenly predecessors, adopting instead French protocol by which the sexes mingled freely in her private chambers. Men could share in the women’s often sexually charged courtly “pastimes” and had liberal access to Anne, and she to them—encounters from which she gained much of her political intelligence and extended her authority, and which also sowed the seeds of her own downfall.
An exhilarating feat of historical research and analysis, Hunting the Falcon is also a thrilling and tragic story of a marriage that has proved of enduring fascination over the centuries. But in the hands of John Guy and Julia Fox, even the most knowledgeable reader will encounter this story as if for the first time.
About the Author
Formerly provost and history professor at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, Renaissance historian John Guy is now a fellow in history at Clare College, University of Cambridge. He has written several books, including a best-selling textbook, Tudor England, and consults for the BBC.
“A fierce, scholarly tour-de-force. The authors, a husband-and-wife historian team, are a dream pairing. There is an intensity to their research—the sleuthing through water-damaged documents hiding in musty collections; the reinterpreted ciphers and signatures in Tudor missives singed by fire; the telling marginalia in manuscripts and folios; the pithy asides from courtiers in disregarded journals . . . . Hunting the Falcon brilliantly shows how time, circumstance and politics combined to accelerate Anne’s triumph and tragedy.”
— Tina Brown, The New York Times Book Review
“Compelling, absorbing . . . . a wonderfully rich book, thoroughly researched, with a wealth of detail and a fair-minded approach to its story.” — Wall Street Journal
"Better than Wolf Hall because it’s all true. The authors’ extraordinary scholarship in every possible historical source, as well as the vibrancy of their writing, delivers the seemingly impossible: a genuinely fresh interpretation of the marriage that produced Protestant England and the greatest of all the British monarchs, Elizabeth I. With a paranoiac court where mild flirtation could lead to torture and disembowelment, the story still has the power to shock: Henry Tudor meets Joseph Stalin. Anne Boleyn was a strong independent woman, and paid an horrific price for it." — Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny
"A sumptuous drama of lust, intrigue, and betrayal, underpinned by the harsh reality of politics." — Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire
"The vivacious Anne Boleyn comes alive in this impressive study . . . . Combines meticulously researched history with contemporary voices and narrative flair. The approach is fresh." — The Times (UK)
"An intriguing, thought-provoking, extensively researched look at the marriage that impacted and changed history. Readers interested in the history of the Tudors will be especially drawn to this book." — Library Journal
“The authors offer more nuance than the traditional view of Anne . . . . A tragic historical tale delineated with admirable elucidation." — Kirkus Reviews
“The shelves are piled high with books about Anne Boleyn, so do Guy and Fox—appropriately, a husband and wife team—have anything to add? The answer is that they unquestionably do. Their book provides the most cogent narrative reading of the evidence to date. It leaves us in no doubt of the momentous consequences of Henry’s pursuit of Anne Boleyn.” — The Spectator
"The authors’ research is some of the finest out there." — Sunday Telegraph
"This book is at once an education and a joy to read." — Literary Review