"I'm a builder of fortunes, I am."- George Boleyn
George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford is the older brother of Anne and Mary Boleyn, and the son of Thomas Boleyn. He is a recurring character in Seasons 1 and 2 until he is beheaded on false charges. Although domineered by their ambitious, ruthless and unloving father, the Boleyn siblings have strong affection for one another. George Boleyn is played by Irish actor Padraic Delaney.
Season 1 Edit
George is first shown at Hever Castle (his family estate) in episode 1.04 with his sister Anne, reading her letters from the King by order of their father (and teasing her endlessly), who is using Anne as a pawn to increase the family's power. He and Anne have a close relationship, though she clearly doesn't rely on him as much as she used to. When mentioning that she used to tell him all her secrets, Anne rebuffs his suggestion that she can still confide in him by saying "you'd share them."George is shown to live a rather bohemian, indulgent life in subsequent appearances, frequently getting drunk and having sex with a number of ladies at court in return for providing them with gossip, claiming he is a 'builder of fortunes'. However, he has at least some of his father's ruthless edge. Although he shares his family's ambition and is reasonably intelligent, George is clearly much more careless than his father and youngest sister. In episode 1.06 he sketches a falcon (Anne's personal crest) crushing a pomegranette (Queen Catherine's personal crest) as a joke and shows it to Anne in court; Anne crumples the drawing immediately, telling him "It's not a game, George- it's dangerous.". When Anne contracts the sweating sickness and almost dies in episode 1.07, George is genuinely devastated, but she recovers. By the end of the season, with Thomas Boleyn elevated to an Earl, George inherits his previous title as Lord of Rochford and begins to play a part in the family's role at court, having been appointed to the Privy Council alongside his father.
Season 2 Edit
At the start of Season 2, George revels in his family's newfound power, proudly observing as his sister is appointed Marquess of Pembroke. Despite being a member of the Council, he doesn't really take his responsibilities seriously, but carries out certain discreet tasks for the King.
George and his father closely follow Henry's attempts to make himself Head of the Church of England, and attempt to affect the outcome; in episode 2.01 they arrange a poisoning attempt against Bishop John Fisher (which fails, though it is never officially traced back to them) and George later suggests they try the same against Queen Catherine of Aragon. George is delighted, however, when his sister Anne is finally crowned Queen of England in episode 2.03. In the next episode, when he reveals to Anne that Henry has taken Lady Eleanor Luke as his mistress, she tells him to get rid of her. George forces Lady Eleanor to leave court permanently under allegations of stealing some of Anne's jewels, which he planted in her room. He is also shown working with Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer and Secretary/Chancellor Thomas Cromwell to help further the Reformation, which (despite his self-indulgence) George seems to believe in more than his father does. In episode 2.04 George is appointed Lord Warden of the Cinq-Ports, a powerful position that gives him responsibility for some of the Crown's finances.
George marries in the second half this season, however he is shown to be brutal and unpleasant towards his new wife, raping her forcefully on their wedding night and then collapsing in his bed, drunk. George seems to be bisexual, having carnal relationships with the musician Mark Smeaton as well as several other ladies at court. As a lord, George acts as Mark's patron, since the Boleyn family are known for promoting the arts; he also patronizes the poet Thomas Wyatt, Anne's former betrothed, though he soon becomes annoyed by Wyatt's literary satires. George's wife Jane is hurt by George's infidelities and appalled by his homosexual relationship with Smeaton, but George is completely indifferent to her, not even bothering to deny it.
In later episodes George again pressures- and to some extent, bullies- Anne on behalf of their father to please the King (despite the fact that she is now Queen and outranks him), realizing the Boleyn family is in danger of losing power. However, he also shows concern for his sister and helps soothe her wracked nerves. Unfortunately, this sibling affection (as well as their frequent conversations alone) is noticed by Anne's handmaidens, and later reinterpreted as a basis for incest between them. Despite Thomas Boleyn being as harsh towards his son as his daughters, George continues to follow his lead in their efforts to keep their power.
When King Henry is injured and knocked unconscious for some time in episode 2.08, George privately muses it would not be so bad for the Boleyns if Henry died; as Thomas Boleyn is now Lord Protector, he would be de facto King of England until Anne's daughter Elizabeth was old enough to be crowned. When Henry wakes, however, the Boleyns are left in a dangerous position, as Anne miscarries her child near the end of the episode. George and his father desperately try to gain accords with figures such as their former ally Thomas Cromwell and the Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, but they are rebuffed, as their imminent loss of power is clear to most of the court.
In episode 2.09, George Boleyn is arrested on suspicion of having had relations with his sister (an accusation that he is astonished to hear) and interrogated, along with several others. Shocked and horrified, George truthfully denies the accusations, but Mark Smeaton has already confessed to the adultery charges (though he was innocent and only did so after being brutally tortured for hours). When George's wife, Jane Rochford, is questioned by Cromwell, she gets her revenge on George by saying she does believe he comitted incest with Anne.
Despite the accusation being rediculous, George's father Thomas Boleyn is quick to support it and dissasociate himself from his children to preserve his own skin, leaving both of them abandoned and sentenced to death. Thomas Boleyn is stripped of all titles except his Earldom and is banished permanently from court. George is brought to the scaffold at the end of episode 2.09, before a jeering crowd; after a few final words, he is beheaded as Anne watches from her room in the Tower, wailing with grief.
- "Just imagine: the King of England, writing to my little sister, promising to be her servant! (pause) You're not in love with him, are you?"
- (To Thomas Wyatt) "I read one of your satires about life here at court. If I were you, I'd be more careful about poking fun at people who have the power to hurt you- just friendly advice."
- "If you could read Greek, Master Smeaton, you would know that even the Gods have trouble with their wives!"
- "I say to you, trust in God... and not in the vanities of this world! For, if I had done so, I should still be alive... as you are now." (George's final words to a jeering crowd at his beheading)
Background of the real George Boleyn Edit
George Boleyn was born in 1504 to Sir Thomas Boleyn and Lady Elizabeth Howard at Bickling Hall, Norfolk, he was the youngest child (in the show he is older than Anne), not much is known about his childhood and is unknown if he was educated in France like his sisters, but he spoke French fluently. He studied at the University of Oxford and in 1524, he was appointed a gentleman of the privy chamber to King Henry VIII. Later that year he married Jane Parker and the couple were given 20 pounds a year to live on. The marriage wasn't an unhappy, despite modern belief. George was said to be intelligent and handsome and a good poet. There's no evidence to suggest that he was bisexual, unlike the series, the idea that George was bisexual comes from a theory from Retha Warnicke's book, which isn't backed up by any contemporary source. Unlike the series, George and his father didn't pimp out Mary and Anne to the King. In 1525, King Henry VIII started courting Anne and the Boleyn Family's wealth increased and in 1530, George became Viscount Rochford. In 1536, Henry grew tired of Anne and charged her with adultery and incest. George was executed on May 17, 1536 at Tower Hill.
- George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier & Diplomat by Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway