Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and the Marriage that Shook Europe

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 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, Guy and Fox can re-evaluate the backstories of Henry and Anne, especially Anne during her seven years in France about which, until now, very little has been known. They then set Anne and Henry’s tragic relationship against the major international events of the time. Among other things, they dispel lingering and latently misogynistic assumptions about Anne which anachronistically presume 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, identifying the women around Anne as queen (friends and foes), exploring how she organized her ‘side’ of the royal court on novel and (in male eyes) subversive lines compared to her queenly predecessors, adopting instead French protocol. 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 a thrilling and tragic story of a marriage that has proved of enduring fascination over the centuries. In the hands of John Guy and Julia Fox, even the most knowledgeable reader will encounter it as if for the first time.

A ground-breaking, 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

A sumptuous drama of lust, intrigue and betrayal, underpinned by the harsh realities of politics

Amanda Foreman

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.

Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny
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