środa, 13 lipca 2011

Appearance and personality

Anne Boleyn was not conventionally beautiful for her time because she was too thin and her colouring was considered by some to be too dark. However, many observers were impressed by her expressive dark brown/black eyes and long dark hair, so long she could "sit" in it during her coronation. One can conclude she had a long oval face, high and prominent cheekbones, a rather long nose, and strong chin. Certainly Elizabeth resembled her mother in terms of body and facial structure, although she inherited Henry VIII's colouring and Henry VII's deep set eyes.

One Italian who met Anne in 1532 wrote that she was "not one of the handsomest women in the world", but others thought she was "competement belle" ("quite beautiful") and "young and good-looking. " One historian has compiled all the descriptions and concludes thus: “She was never described as a great beauty, but even those who loathed her admitted that she had a dramatic allure. Her dark complexion and black hair gave her an exotic aura in a culture that saw milk-white paleness as essential to beauty. Her eyes were especially striking: “black and beautiful” wrote one contemporary, while another averred they were “always most attractive,” and that she “well knew how to use them with effect.” 

People seemed primarily attracted by Anne's charisma. She made a good impression with her fashion sense, inspiring many new trends amongst the court ladies. As queen, she understood the importance of ostentatious display, as befitting a Renaissance monarch; a notion emphasized even more by her daughter Elizabeth I. William Forrest, author of a contemporary poem about Katherine of Aragon, complimented Anne's "passing excellent" skill as a dancer. "Here," he wrote, "was [a] fresh young damsel, that could trip and go." “Anne’s charm lay not so much in her physical appearance as in her vivacious personality, her gracefulness, her quick wit and other accomplishments. She was petite in stature, and had an appealing fragility about her… she shone at singing, making music, dancing and conversation… Not surprisingly, the young men of the court swarmed around her.” 

She was a devout Christian in the new tradition of Renaissance Humanism, determined to reform the Catholic Church and purge it of superstition and abuse. She also gave generously to charity and sewed shirts for the poor. In her youth she was "sweet and cheerful" and enjoyed gambling, drinking wine, and gossiping. She was also fearless, determined, charming, ambitious, politically astute, highly intelligent and intellectually driven. However, under stressful circumstances, Anne could be sharp tempered, verbally aggressive and sharp tongued. Her daughter certainly exhibited a distinctly similar temperament.

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