Anne Boleyn by Norah Lofts – There Be Witches Here…

The Norah Lofts Anne Boleyn book was not even of my to-read pile. I found it when I went hunting through some boxes for a small pile of Tudor books I knew I had somewhere.  I opened it to show Craig some of the colour plates, of which there are many. That is easily the best feature of the book, it contains several of Holbein’s portraits and a few Tudor artifacts thrown in here and there.

I decided to read the first page and this caught my eye

“She had two flaws; on that long slender neck a mole, said to be the size of a strawberry, and described by one of her detractors as ‘a great wen’, and on her right hand a rudimentary sixth finger of which, again, much is made by her detractors”

Ms. Lofts  seems to thoroughly believe in ‘witches’.

Which may have been acceptable in 1670, but in 1979 it is pushing it. She also reverts to passages of flowery rubbish, no doubt as a historical fiction author she is bound to lapse at times, which are downright nauseating. I thought I might share some more of my favourite quotes

Only 20 pages on, on the subject of the imaginary sixth finger and that witches actually exist

“Even in the Tower she made a typical witches threat, saying that if she died there, there would be a seven-year drought in England. Witches claimed to have some control over the weather, and seven has always been regarded as a magic number.

She bore on her body two marks then commonly associated with witchcraft; the mole, sometimes called the Devil’s Paw-mark’, and the slight deformity of the hand – these of course, for the ignorant, were evidence enough, but cannot be seriously considered

There was also speculation a few pages back on whether she had an extra vertebrae in her neck.

“Those who like to think of Anne as a witch point out that she possessed an extraordinarily devoted wolfhound to whom she gave the name Urian – one of Satan’s many names and virtually unknown to the uninitiated

I googled that. The name is either Welsh or Celtic, it is derived from Greek and means “from heaven/heavenly” I didn’t see any mentions of Satan, but please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

On Anne not possibly being able to commit incest, even though she accused her of “French kissing” her brother George some pages back

“It was not that incest was s rare and unnatural a thing to be unbelievable; everybody knew it happened, but in overcrowded hovels with brothers and sisters sharing beds, among people whose lives were so isolated, or their appearance so unattractive, as to make normal sexual contact difficult.

So, very ugly people must have resorted to incest.

On Anne taking her final communion and protesting her innocence…

There is, of course, just another possibility – that she was in fact the witch that Henry said she was; that she had gone over to the Devil…in this case taking the Sacrament and telling a lie at the same time, could have been one more tribute to her Dark Master, offered perhaps at the hope of some magical aid even at the eleventh hour…It is a matter of history that some witches did die with exceptional courage and defiance”

And there is more.  Pick up the book if you want to read the theory of the scary hare ghost. I’m keeping it for the pretty pictures.



2 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn by Norah Lofts – There Be Witches Here…”

  1. Perhaps Norah Loft’s light historical entertainment was influenced by the era in which she was writing it. The 1970s were extraordinarily superstitious, with an unprecedented level of belief in evil, satanic witches.

Comments are closed.