Reframing the Role of Renaissance Women: Anne Boleyn as a Humanist
Recent work by historians like Sarah Ross (The Birth of Feminism: Women as Intellectuals in Renaissance Italy and England, 2008) reframes the role of gender in the Renaissance. Humanism, as well as reformist ideas about the church, spread widely across Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries among learned women. In England, these changes are still usually associated with men like Sir Thomas More or Henry VIII himself. Research into Anne Boleyn’s correspondence and library suggests that she directly participated in women’s intellectual circles, playing an important and ignored role at the English court in that regard. This research poster emphasizes her networks among educated and politically powerful women in Europe including Marguerite de Navarre, Louise of Savoy, and Claude of France, who influenced Anne Boleyn during her time in French court under Francis I. Beyond networks, Anne Boleyn’s library also suggests the kinds of reading and interests women pursued. Catalogues of the libraries of Henry VIII and Anne recently completed by the historian James Carley enable a deeper study of authors who influenced Anne--Bible translators like Lefèvre d’Etaples (French) and William Tyndale (English), evangelical writers associated with Anne’s networks (Clémont Marot), as well as other kinds of books and manuscripts (the anonymous psalter Epistres et Evangiles). By comparing these books with those in the library of Henry VIII as well as using Anne’s correspondence and other manuscripts, a much clearer vision of how a Renaissance for women on the continent influenced England in this period emerges.
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Guthrie, Kara E., "Reframing the Role of Renaissance Women: Anne Boleyn as a Humanist" (2020). Curio Research Symposium. 8.