Thomas Boleyn: "Here's to the Boleyns."
George Boleyn: (stands up) "To the Boleyns- and to England's new Queen!"
The Boleyn Family is a prominent noble House in the court of King Henry VIII during Seasons One and Two of The Tudors. Formerly a common-born family who had gained wealth as merchants, by the start of the series the Boleyns had established themselves as respected but lower-ranking aristocracy, through arranged marriages with English and Irish nobles. During The Tudors, the Boleyns rise in court through their marital connection to the Howard family (the most powerful House at the Royal Court) and later through their support of the Protestant Reformation and King Henry's interest in Anne Boleyn over his previous wife, Catherine of Aragon. The Boleyns initially simply seek to destroy the King's Catholic first minister, Cardinal Wolsey (mainly to curry favor with their Howard relatives) but as their influence at court grows, they instead ally more strongly with the Royal Secretary Thomas Cromwell, a fervent advocate of Lutheranism.
Anne's relationship with the king enables the Boleyns (mainly led by Anne's father Thomas Boleyn and her brother, George) to rise ever higher in power during Season Two, dominating the Privy Council and ruthlessly attacking their opponents; this leads to a general hatred of the Boleyns by most of the court, especially from the King's best friend the Duke of Suffolk, and from Catholic subjects. In episode 2.03 the Boleyn's power reaches its' peak when Anne is made Queen and gives birth to Henry's daughter Elizabeth. However, over the course of later episodes as the Reformation spreads dischord through England, Henry's relationship with the Boleyns and with his wife deteriorates (partly because he wanted a son by Anne and not a daughter). As the Seymour family rises in prominence through Henry's new interest in Jane Seymour, the Boleyns' position becomes unstable, especially after Anne miscarries a son and increasingly quarrels with Thomas Cromwell. As their enemies circle, Cromwell- formerly the strongest ally of the Boleyns- turns against them and, prompted by the King, frames Anne and her brother with accusations of adultery, incest and treason, resulting in their execution and the banishment of the rest of the Boleyns from court. As Thomas Boleyn had disinherited his only surviving daughter, Mary Boleyn, in episode 2.05, he was left with no heirs; he died unseen at the start of Season Four, a broken man, and House Boleyn died with him.
Despite their Catholicism, the Howards apparently still had some regard for their Protestant Boleyn cousins in the series (though in real life they joined Cromwell in bringing them down). In Season Four, the Earl of Surrey accuses the Seymours of bringing about "the murder of the innocent" referring to the unjust execution of his cousins George and Anne. Ultimately, the Boleyns gained a positive legacy, twenty years after their fall from power: Anne Boleyn's daughter by Henry, Elizabeth, became Queen of Protestant England for fourty-four years, a reign known as "England's Golden Age".
This is a list of members/ descendants of House Boleyn that appear in The Tudors, and their status at the series' conclusion:
- Sir Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire (formerly Viscount Rochford, Ambassador to France, Controller of the Royal Household and Lord Privy Seal). Brother-in-law of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk; father of George, Mary and Anne Boleyn and maternal grandfather of Queen Elizabeth I (formerly Princess Elizabeth Tudor). Expelled permanently from Court in episode 2.10. Deceased.
- George Boleyn, Viscount of Rochford and Lord Warden of the Cinq-Ports. Son of Thomas, nephew of Thomas Howard, cousin of Henry Howard and Katherine Howard; younger brother of Mary, elder brother of Anne. Husband of Jane Parker, uncle of Queen Elizabeth I. Beheaded in episode 2.09.
- Mary Boleyn. Daughter of Thomas, niece of Thomas Howard, cousin of Henry Howard and Katherine Howard; elder sister of George and Anne. Aunt of Queen Elizabeth I. Former mistress of King Henry VIII. Disowned by her family and banished from Court in episode 2.05.
- Queen Anne Boleyn. Daughter of Thomas, niece of Thomas Howard, cousin of Henry Howard and Katherine Howard; younger sister of George and Mary. Second wife of King Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I. Beheaded in episode 2.10.
- Queen Elizabeth I (formerly Princess Elizabeth Tudor)- daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Alive
- Jane Boleyn, Viscountess of Rochford- wife of George Boleyn. Beheaded in episode 4.05.
- Margaret 'Madge' Shelton. Cousin of Anne, Mary and George Boleyn, former mistress of King Henry VIII. Unknown, presumably alive.