Okay, by show of hands, who knows who Anne Boleyn is?
This came up in discussion after I mentioned I’d had some weird dreams, and that one was about Anne Boleyn. I wasn’t prepared for the blank stares I received from multiple people. When the first person had no idea who I was talking about, I thought it was a fluke. It wasn’t. Out of everyone I talked to, only 4 people knew who she was, and 3 of those 4 are over 35 years old. One of my friends responded that she doesn’t know history well.
The TV Guy, the husband, and I all thought Anne Boleyn’s story was common knowledge. None of us really thought of Anne Boleyn as consigned to “history.” I know about her in the same way I know about Christopher Columbus. It’s just something you sort of know, right?
When the blank stares started, I prompted, “You know, Henry the 8th’s second wife? Henry the 8th?” Then I started singing “I am Henry the 8th I am…” No one wants to me sing. But… they didn’t even know the song! Never heard it!
I’m often reminded that things I think are “common knowledge” really aren’t. I always thought everyone knew how to bake a cake from scratch, sew a button back on, what temperature water to use to wash blood/ grass/ chocolate out of clothes. I found out that those things aren’t common knowledge, and neither is how good old Anne Boleyn lost her head.
PS. I did read the book The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory. It’s a very entertaining read, based on the story of Anne Boleyn and her sister, Mary. I’m not normally a fan of historical fiction, and I still liked this book.