Interview with Dr. Andre Gazal on Anne Boleyn

Published on November 10, 2017 by Joshua R Monroe

Greetings! I’m Fred Zaspel, executive editor here at Books At a Glance, and we’re talking again with Dr. Andre Gazal who is tracking out the English Reformation for us in broad strokes. Dr. Gazal has introduced us to the English Reformation, and he has talked to us about William Tyndale. Now today he will focus on the role of Anne Boleyn.
Andre, welcome back!

Gazal:
Thank you very much, Fred. As always, it’s great to be back with you

 

Zaspel:
Who was Anne Boleyn?

Gazal:
Anne Boleyn was the second wife of Henry VIII. Unlike Henry’s previous wife, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn held to an evangelical faith and encouraged evangelical thought and the evangelical agenda in Henry’s court.

 

Zaspel:
How instrumental was she in introducing Henry VIII to evangelical ideas?

Gazal:
There are a couple of stories that I think are most likely apocryphal. There is one story given to us by Foxe, that she had placed Tyndale’s Obedience of the Christian Man on Henry’s pillow; and when he read it, he was thoroughly impressed by it. We’re not really sure that that is necessarily true; however, she did encourage the evangelical agenda by her support of certain evangelical figures like Hugh Latimer. She also was a strong proponent of Miles Coverdale’s work; and she encouraged the publication and circulation of the vernacular Bible.

 

Zaspel:
Do you think Anne Boleyn was guilty of adultery? If so, how would you reconcile this with her alleged evangelical zeal?

Gazal:
That’s a very good question. The scholarly debate regarding her guilt is ongoing. Let me just give you the back story here, briefly. She was accused of adultery and treason; and because she was accused of adultery and treason, Henry VIII, her husband, eventually had her executed. Though there are certainly other views, I think probably this is the best way to reconcile it – I personally don’t think she was guilty of adultery. I think she was probably guilty, perhaps, of being overly flirtatious, especially with one of the musicians by the name of Mark Smeaton. I’m not justifying it, but looking at it from her standpoint, she is a young, vivacious, beautiful girl, a beautiful woman, who certainly had, from what we understand, evangelical convictions, evangelical faith, but, at the same time, she had her weaknesses. She is married to a man who is considerably older than she is, and, from what we understand, she had something of a vivacious personality. That vivaciousness would prompt her sometimes, maybe, to be somewhat flirtatious – more than she certainly should be, not only as a wife, but certainly as a queen. That certainly would have provided fodder for her opponents in court, who were angry over Henry’s divorce of Catherine of Aragon anyway, and may have used that to promote the charges of adultery and treason. But then Henry, we have to realize, too, was suspicious enough that he wouldn’t need people to encourage him with those kinds of accusations. Henry himself was a very suspicious sort and he could arrive at those conclusions on his own, without the help of Anne’s detractors at court.

 

Zaspel:
Is there a 30-second answer to this question? How would you characterize her role in the English Reformation as it was developing?

Gazal:
I would say that her role was substantial in that, behind the lines, she encouraged and supported major evangelical spokesmen like Hugh Latimer. And she certainly lent her support to projects such as Miles Coverdale’s work of Bible translation.

 

Zaspel:
We’re talking to Dr. Andre Gazal about the English Reformation. Next time we will talk with him about Thomas Cranmer his Book of Common Prayer.