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The Tudors – Faction in the Tudor Court, 1509-1603

2. Was there a Boleyn faction?

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In this module, we consider whether there was a Boleyn faction in the court of Henry VIII, focusing in particular on: (i) the accusations made against Anne Boleyn, her arrest and execution, and Henry's marriage to Jane Seymour; (ii) the origins of the accusations against Anne – were they the result of a group of individuals who had plotted her removal and concocted the charged against her and her political associates?; (iii) the fact that Anne was found guilty by a court of her peers; (iv) the fact that certain individuals very close to Boleyn (e.g. Thomas Boleyn, Thomas Wyatt, etc.) were cleared of any wrongdoing and escaped punishment; (v) the fact that individuals who were not part of any political faction with Boleyn (e.g. Henry Norris, Mark Smeaton, etc.) were found guilty and executed; (vi) the question of whether William Brereton and Sir Francis Weston where members of the Boleyn 'faction'; and (vii) the ambiguous figure of Richard Page.


In this course, Dr Janet Dickinson (University of Oxford) explores the concept of faction in Tudor England, 1509-1603. In the first module, we introduce the concept of faction itself – what do we mean when we talk about 'a faction' or just 'faction'? In the second, third and fourth modules, we consider the extent to which faction is a useful tool for explaining the fall of Anne Boleyn. First, was there a faction around Anne Boleyn? Second, was Anne Boleyn brought down a faction? And third, did Thomas Cromwell destroy Anne Boleyn. In the fifth module, we fast-forward to the end of the Tudor period and ask whether there was a faction surrounding the Earl of Essex, before turning in the sixth module to consider to influence of faction more generally in the final decade of Elizabeth's reign. And in the seventh module, we offer some concluding thoughts as to the usefulness of faction as a means of understanding the workings of Tudor court politics.


Dr Janet Dickinson is Senior Associate Tutor in History at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education, where she teaches on a range of programmes. Her main research interests focus on the nobility and the court in early modern England and Europe, on which she has contributed a number of chapters to edited volumes. Her first book, Court Politics and the Earl of Essex was published in 2011.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Dickinson, J. (2021, March 17). The Tudors – Faction in the Tudor Court, 1509-1603 - Was there a Boleyn faction? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Dickinson, J. "The Tudors – Faction in the Tudor Court, 1509-1603 – Was there a Boleyn faction?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 17 Mar 2021,

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