Anne Boleyn and the Common Knowledge Conundrum

imagesOkay, 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.

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2 comments on “Anne Boleyn and the Common Knowledge Conundrum

  1. Cindy Dwyer says:

    Yeah, scary. I bet half of those people could recite the last three winners of American Idol. And tell you all about what’s happening on the Jersey Shore. Scary.

  2. Tragic. I went to the London Dungeon and saw a holographic image of Anne Boleyn displayed in one of the vignettes and they cover her story when you visit the Tower of London.

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