The Best History Documentaries Of 2023
"The Last Days Of Anne Boleyn"
The Last Days Of Anne Boleyn
In my opinion, I have to say that this is a superb documentary. It's a BBC documentary that was made in 2013.
It features commentary by several well-known experts on the subject of Anne Boleyn. This documentary is loaded with historians such as Suzannah Lipscombe, who is the author of five history books, including three about Henry VIII. She is currently writing a book about the Six Queens of Henry VIII.
David Starkey is another historian that comments in this documentary. He has written several books about Henry VIII.
Other historians include George Bernard and Alison Weir, who has also written several books about Henry VIII's queens.
Although this documentary focuses on the last days of Anne Boleyn, it also describes her life in general.
January 7th, 1536
Catherine Of Aragon Dies
January 7th, 1536
Anne Boleyn Has A Miscarriage
April 18th, 1536
Eustice Chapuis is forced to bow to Anne Boleyn
April 19th, 1536
Thomas Cromwell Leaves Court, Citing Illness
Late April 1536
Rumors that Anne Boleyn is an adulteress Begin To Circulate
Thomas Cromwell puts Anne Boleyn and Several Men On Trial
May 19th, 1536
Anne Boleyn is Beheaded
Here is a synopsis of the documentary:
Anne Boleyn was executed on the 19th of May of 1536. She was the first Queen ever to be executed in England.
On May 2nd, 1536, the King's Guard and some members of Henry VIII's Privy Council arrived at Greenwich Palace with a warrant for the arrest of Anne Boleyn. She was charged with committing incest with her brother George. She was also charged with Adultery. In addition to that, she was charged with conspiring to kill Henry VIII.
Several men, including her brother George, were tried with her. All them, including Anne Boleyn, were imprisoned at the Tower of London. They were all executed there as well. The English people had never seen a Queen arrested, let alone executed.
The reasons behind her execution have been a subject of many debates over the centuries.
Many historians think that Anne Boleyn was framed. They take into account the speed with which her downfall happened. They also consider the nature of the charges against her. They argue over why she was framed and who framed her.
1536 Started Well
The year 1536 started off well for Anne. Catherine of Aragon, who had been Henry's first wife, died on January 7th of that year. With Catherine's death, Anne felt she would be recognized by everyone as the Queen.
By that time, Henry had cut England off from the Catholic Church and formed the Anglican Church. The reason he did that was because he wanted his first marriage to be annulled by the Pope on the grounds of a Biblical passage in Leviticus. The Pope refused.
Henry was so desirous to marry Anne that he split from the Catholic Church and formed the Anglican Church when the Pope refused to grant the annulment. With Henry as the leader, the new Church agreed that the marriage to Catherine was invalid.
Anne Boleyn had been a Lady In Waiting for Catherine of Aragon. She was stylish. She was intelligent. She spent time in France. She impressed Henry's Court. She impressed Henry as well. Some considered her to be ambitious. It was said that she wouldn't settle for anything less than being Queen.
From Mistress To Queen
When Henry married Anne, she went from being his mistress to being the Queen. This was shocking and extraordinary, especially in Tudor times.
When Catherine Of Aragon died in early 1536, Anne saw this as a good thing. She would now be the undisputed Queen of England. Prior to Catherine's death, it was feared that Catherine's nephew, Charles V of Spain, would invade England to save his aunt. With her death, that threat was removed.
Anne's joy would be short-lived. On the same day that Catherine of Aragon was buried, Anne suffered a miscarriage. The unborn child was a deformed boy. Henry VIII was furious. He had desperately wanted a son. After several years of being married to two wives, he had two daughters who had survived. There was no male heir. Eustace Chapuys, who will be mentioned later, had this to say about the miscarriage: "On the day of the Interment, the Concubine had an abortion which seemed to be a male child...at which the King showed great distress."
Henry began to think that he had been the victim of witchcraft and was tricked by either that or magic spells into marrying Anne. Adding to this was the belief that was held back then that a malformed baby was a clear sign of sin or witchcraft. Henry was convinced that God did not approve of his marriage to Anne.
Some historians think that the downfall of Anne Boleyn was the result of a power struggle involving Anne, Henry VIII, and Thomas Cromwell. It has been said by some historians that there was animosity between Anne and Cromwell. Some disagree.
An Ambassador Is Forced Tow Bow
What is known was that Eustace Chapuys, who was an ambassador to Catherine of Aragon's nephew, Charles V at Henry VIII's court, was forced to bow to Anne on April 18th of 1536.
Chapuys had disapproved of Anne. The fact that he bowed to Anne was taken as a sign that he had recognized Anne as the Queen. This was seen as a diplomatic victory for Anne. Paul Friedman, in an 1884 book entitled "Anne Boleyn", wrote that a "good many people who had hoped that Chapuis would be rude to his former enemy were grievously vexed, and Mary herself was astonished when she heard that the ambassador has bowed to 'that woman'."
A few weeks later, Anne would be dead. Some historians argue that Thomas Cromwell may have engineered Anne's demise. Shortly after Chapuys had bowed to Anne, Henry VIII gave Cromwell a severe reprimand during a meeting between Chapuys, Henry, and Cromwell wherein they discussed a reconciliation with Charles V.
The day after that, Cromwell claimed he was ill and left Court. Right after that, rumors began to circulate about Anne. Her Ladies In Waiting began to talk. Mark Smeaton was mentioned and interrogated by the now suddenly healthy Cromwell. Smeaton confessed to having relations with the Queen. It was not known whether or not Smeaton was forced to confess this, but Cromwell reported this confession to Henry.
Henry VIII felt that he was betrayed by Anne. He had her arrested. He ordered Cromwell to begin a full investigation. Within a few days, people were arrested.
"Dead Man's Shoes"
The most monstrous thing she was accused of allegedly happened during a conversation she was said to have had with a Henry Norris. She asked Henry Norris why he hadn't gotten married. He told her he wanted to wait a while. Her response was that she thought he looked for a "dead man's shoes" because she thought he wanted to marry Anne Boleyn and would eagerly do so if Henry died.
Envisioning Henry's death was Treason. Many thought this meant that Anne was telling Henry Norris she wanted Henry VIII to die.
Cromwell Organizes A Trial
As a result of these accusations, Cromwell was ordered by Henry VIII to organize a trial. Some think Cromwell masterminded the whole thing. Some don't agree. It simply isn't known whether Cromwell was masterminding the whole thing or merely following orders.
The Tudor Court played a game that was known as "Courtly Love." This involved flirtations. Some historians argue that the "dead man's shoes" accusation was nothing more than a game of Courtly Love gone horribly wrong.
The end-result was that Anne Boleyn was executed on the 19th of May of 1536.
Anne's Ladies In Waiting made statements about Anne. It is the opinion of many historians that these statements were a sign that Anne was guilty.
There is also the matter of Mark Smeaton's confession. It isn't known with certainty if he was tortured into that confession or not. The other men denied any guilt regarding affairs with Anne Boleyn. Mark Smeaton never denied it.
It is known that Henry VIII married Jane Seymour 11 days after Anne's execution.
Thomas Cromwell became a Baron in 1536, but he was executed in 1540 after being charged with Treason.
I think this documentary misses on one very important point. In 1536, just before Anne's miscarriage, Henry was badly injured in a jousting accident. His horse fell on him. He was unconscious for two hours.
There was a great concern that he might not survive. He suffered severe injuries to his leg and head.
Many people said that Henry VIII was not the same after that injury. His behavior certainly changed, and many people attribute that to his head injury. Whether or not this had any effect on what happened to Anne Boleyn is a matter of conjecture.
This documentary, in my opinion, should have at least mentioned that incident.
This is, however, an excellent historical documentary that is fast-moving and will be informative and interesting to many people. I highly recommend it.
"Bob-Lo Memories" is another historic video that I love. This wonderful video is look at the history of an island in the Detroit River that is well-known to Detroiters who are old enough to remember when it was an amusement park. I think you will enjoy it as well.
The History Of Bob-Lo
Catholics build and Indian Mission on Bois-Blanc Island
British build an Outpost on the island
Bois-Blanc Island is declared to Be Canadian Territory
The island is part of the Underground Railroad
Bois Blanc Island opens as a recreational spot
The Steamer Columbia starts taking passengers to the island
The island gets a new carousel
The name of the island is officially changed to Bob-Lo
A Big Dance Pavilion is opened
Prohibition starts. Gangsters use the Bob-Lo Boats as shields
1929 and 1930
The Ambassador Bridge and the Tunnel to Canada open
The Bob-Lo Boats Are Converted to Oil from Coal
The Browning Company Buys Bob-Lo
Bob-Lo Is Sold
AAA Buys Bob-Lo
Bob-Lo Is Sold To IBC
Bob-Lo is an island in the Detroit River. It's across from Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada.
Catholic Missionaries established and Indian Mission on that island in the early 1700s.
In the early 1800s, a British Outpost was built there. One of the blockhouses that was built at that time is still there.
A famous Indian Chief named Tecumseh held Counsel Meetings on Bob-Lo Island.
In 1815, the island was officially declared to be in Canadian Territory.
In 1839, the British Government built a lighthouse on the island.
Between 1834 and 1865, Bob-Lo Island was a part of the Underground Railroad. A woman who was a slave named Eliza came across the Detroit River and went through Bob-Lo Island with her baby. This was during the winter time. She was being chased and ran across the frozen river, carrying her baby.
The island is best known as having been an amusement park. The amusement park started in 1898. It was then known as Bois-Blanc Island. That was its French name. On June 20th of 1898, it opened as a recreational spot. Passengers boarded a ship in Detroit called "The Promise" and cruised the 19 miles to the island, which featured several attractions.
Many church groups and other conservative organizations loved to go there because alcohol was not allowed. Companies also held company picnics on the island. They all loved the idea the alcohol was not permitted.
In 1902, a new pavilion was opened in Detroit that the ferries docked at. A new steamer, the Columbia, started making its runs to Bob-Lo in 1902 as well. This boat would be known for almost a century to Detroiters as one of the two Bob-Lo Boats. The other, slightly younger boat was the "St. Claire."
In 1906, an amusement building that was designed to house the new carousel was constructed. It housed the carousel and provided shelter for patrons when it rained. The hand-carved carousel had horses, goats, deer, and even chariots to ride on.
In 1909, the ferry company officially changed the name of the island to "Bob-Lo." Patrons had found it too difficult to pronounce its French name.
The "St. Claire" was built in 1910. Both the "Columbia" and the "St. Claire" had 3 decks and featured hardwood dance floors on the second deck.
In 1913, a Dance Pavilion was built on the island. It was the largest such pavilion on Canada. In the United States, there was only one dance pavilion that was larger. The pavilion on Bob-Lo was a 39,000 square foot building. When the bands weren't playing, a German-made organ kept people dancing.
When the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect in January of 1920, the Prohibition Era started. By 1924, laws in Canada changed and made it legal to produce liquor in some areas. Gangsters used the Detroit river to smuggle alcoholic beverages into.
Michigan. In the winter, they drove across the frozen Detroit River. In the summer, they sailed their boats close to the Bob-Lo Boats to avoid the Federal officers that were pursuing them.
The "Detroit and Windsor Ferry Company" suffered a major set-back when the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel were opened in 1929 and 1930, respectively. The company owned the Bob-Lo Boats and Bob-Lo Island. It also ran a ferry service between Detroit and Canada. The Ferry service was devastated by the bridge and tunnel.
The Bob-Lo boats kept sailing because they were not affected by the bridge or tunnel.
The Browning Company Took Over In 1949
In 1949, the Bob-Lo Boats and the island were sold to the Browning Company. The made it into the famous amusement park that everyone in Detroit has heard about. The owned it for over 30 years.
One of the most popular rides that they added was the Wild Mouse. Two of the owner's sons rode the Wild Mouse 72 times the day it was installed. Their "reason" was that they were testing it.
Bob-Lo was a popular destination throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The Browning Family sold Bob-Lo to "Cambridge Properties" in April of 1979. They added a theater with a Broadway-style review. They added a giant 180-degree movie screen.
The Decline Starts
Attendance started to fall off in 1980. That was partly due to the fact that the Republican National Convention was held at Detroit's Cobo Hall, which was right where the Bob-Lo Boats docked at the time. The boats were not allowed to run during the convention for reasons of national security.
In 1983, Cambridge Properties filed for bankruptcy. AAA bought Bob-Lo in 1983. They started a 5-year plan to improve the amusement park by adding roller-coasters and other attractions.
The island was again sold in 1988 to the International Broadcasting Corporation. They added new shows and updated the attractions. That company filed for bankruptcy in 1991.
The island was sold in 1993 to two brothers. Unfortunately, one of them suffered severe injuries in an auto accident in December of that year. The company that was backing the brothers took over ownership of the island and sold it. The rides were sold off individually. The two Bob-Lo boats were sold.
The island was sold to a developer in 1994, who has since been building homes on the island for residents.
Bob-Lo was a special place for those who remember it when it was an amusement park. To me, this video was a wonderful, nostalgic look back at a bygone era.