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The Boleyn Siblings: Now With Pie Charts!

August 19, 2015

An unexpectedly frenetic summer had me resigned to leaving the blog quiet until next month or so, but Susan Higginbotham and Kathryn Warner have both made some pie charts so excellent it was impossible to resist trying the game myself. Note that the Anne and George charts are good for the last century only; charts from previous eras would be much longer on piety and shorter on sex, though about the same in their treatment of poor Jane Boleyn.

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From → Miscellaneous

17 Comments
  1. Haha, these are great! 🙂 Love them!

  2. Esther permalink

    Very funny!

  3. Annalucia permalink

    Welcome back!

    • sonetka permalink

      I promise it will be less than four months before the next post :).

  4. Clare permalink

    Great, but very very scary! By the way, you forgot the ‘Mary Boleyn lusting after Cromwell’. That must take up a bit of a chunk after the ludicrous Wolf Hall.

    • sonetka permalink

      “Women want him and men want to be him!” I did find it somewhat improbable, but to the best of my recollection that’s the only time I’ve seen it happen. (There was a book, I can’t remember which one, which had Cromwell lusting unrequitedly after Anne).

      • Clare permalink

        I think there was also one where Jane Boleyn had Cromwell’s baby. Very bizarre.
        Wolf Hall/Bring up the B****cks is the only fiction so far that has George crying at his trail and managing to ‘pull himself together’ at his execution, Mary Boleyn lusting after Cromwell, Princess Mary being a weak weirdo, Thomas More being a complete nutcase, Thomas Howard being a thuggish Moran, Thomas Cromwell killing out of pure spite….I could go on and on. Yet people genuinely believe Mantel has more historical integrity than Gregory or The Tudors. It’s beyond comprehension. Is it hypocrisy, literary snobbery or ignorance? I think maybe a mixture of all three.

  5. Esther permalink

    Actually, if you did the pie charts for Cromwell and More, you could get two that are remarkably similar. (I am using percentages because I can’t do the pie charts):

    44% — being a wonderful family man (More’s treatment of his daughters is well known; Cromwell was kind enough to one of his nephews that Richard Williams changed his name … so I think it likely that he also was good to his children)

    44% — sending people who disagree with me on religion to hideously painful, barbaric deaths. (While Cromwell killed a lot more people, he also had Henry insisting on death for those that wouldn’t agree with him; More’s burning of heretics killed fewer people, but he didn’t have the pressure from Henry, instead he initiated it.)

    8% — downfall and death

    4% — other stuff (More — his writings and judging cases; Cromwell — English bible, attempts to have public works projects to help unemployed.)

    • sonetka permalink

      Very astute! I think that’s a fair summary for both of them, though with recent books there will inevitably be a slice of the pie chart dedicated to unrecorded sexual misdeeds. Recent versions of More tend to be pretty heavily into nonconsensual sex, presumably on the theory that flagellation = kink = propensity for rape. Cromwell isn’t quite as bad, but he’s had his moments; at least one older version has had an unholy lust for Anne and of course there’s the infamous modern Cromwell fathers Jane Boleyn’s baby development. I have a feeling Cromwell is only just getting started on those particular adventures.

      Cromwell does seem to have been very kind to his household and children/relatives (though I was a little cranky at Mantel insisting on his being a proponent of women’s education — “Look! He’s just like More! Only BETTER!”), and his nephew’s name change certainly doesn’t detract from that impression. Of course, it certainly couldn’t hurt to have the surname of one of the most powerful men in the land instead of being one of a million Williamses (a bit like how some modern celebrity children will use their more famous parent’s surname instead of the one on their birth certificate) but if it had been purely for advancement surely he would have jettisoned it after 1540.

      • Esther permalink

        It is possible for Cromwell and More to have become acquainted when both were practicing law in London (long before they began to disagree over religion). I like to think of Cromwell, when his daughters first seemed to be interested in education, asking the more experienced More for advice (his Margaret was about 8 to 10 years older than Cromwell’s girls) — and More encouraging him in the (then) revolutionary idea of teaching them!

  6. sonetka permalink

    I’d like to see that scene in a novel! Totally plausible, too, the London lawyering scene had to be pretty tight. I thought how Mantel handled it made sense as well — Cromwell’s wife basically saying that More educates his daughters and she refuses to believe that her own daughters couldn’t do just as well; the spirit of competitiveness has done more for social change than people usually think :). And of course the idea of educating women — or at least, noblewomen — was in the air already, so to speak, even before it became clear that Princess Mary might well be Catherine of Aragon’s only surviving child. Catherine and her sisters had good educations and she patronized scholars, and Margaret Beaufort of course had a deep interest in learning — I can see how educating one’s daughters would be seen as not only good in itself but as a sign that you had made it socially, since giving your daughters a wide-ranging education was something the nobility did.

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