Tudor Ennui

14 October 2011

I never ever thought I would say this but I am officially Bored With The Tudors. I’ve reached saturation point and can’t take any more. And I’m blaming you, The Tudors, The Other Boleyn Girl and Wolf Hall.

This is a sad state of affairs though as I’ve been as obsessed as anyone about the Tudors since I was a very little girl. My grandparents discouraged me from reading children’s books when I was growing up and instead provided me with a bookcase full of Dickens, Austen and wonderful, fascinating history books and my interest was fuelled by trips to the Tower of London and the ghost stories of my grandfather who had done guard duty there in the 1950s. Somewhere, I still have a picture of Anne Boleyn done by me in lurid felt tip pen at the age of five and I remember floating about Hever Castle in a state of romantic bliss at age seven, fancying that I could see the sad shade of poor Anne in every dusty, mote filled corner.

I even insisted upon going to primary school dressed up as Anne Boleyn. There’s photographic evidence of this which I’m not sure whether to share with you all or not.

The interest continued well past university – I even, unusually, did Early Modern History at A Level so I could spend two years studying the Tudors against a backdrop of the Italian Wars and French iniquity.

I probably even bemoaned the fact that there just weren’t enough books available to sate my interest in ghastly Henry, his wan faced mother, pack of wives and russet haired children with their pale, bulging foreheads.

No more. I’ve had enough. It’s over. I’m sorry, Henry, it’s not me, IT’S YOU. You just became too popular and then, gradually, too boring. I’m sick to the back teeth of endless covers of pallid women in French hoods simpering out of windows. I’ve had enough of tiresome barrel scraping biographies of peripheral figures from the Tudor court, full of ‘perhaps’ and ‘maybe’ and rehashing the same old story over again while pretending to offer something fresh and new, while really offering nothing more than a monumental and somewhat discombobulating sense of both boredom and also irritation.

The worst thing is that as the interest in the Tudors continues to run on and on, the actual quality of writing about it is on a definite downward spiral. There’s still good books coming out every so often (nods to Jane Holland and Susan Higginbotham amongst others that I know produce great work) but the vast majority that I have encountered lately are lazy, lurid, bandwagon hopping trash and I retain just enough memories of loving the Tudors to think this is a terrible shame.

I’ll probably get flamed for saying this – I recently vowed never to mention the Tudors on my blog again as every time I do I get personally flamed by mad self appointed experts, mostly from America I’m sad to report, who think they are descended from Lady Jane Grey or that Anne Boleyn would be their best friend if they could only work out how to time travel and refuse to accept the slightest criticism of their heroes. I posted some pictures ages ago from a Hampton Court exhibition of unusual portraits of Henry’s wives and STILL get nasty comments from snotty sorts haranguing me (not the curators of the exhibition itself although I note they never return when I point out their error) for choosing unflattering portraits of their idols.

This is, now I come to think of it, another reason that I’ve had enough of the Tudors as I tend to avoid anything that provokes such bizarre levels of fanaticism, whether it be political, The Help or the collected works, such as they are, of Justin Bieber.

So, don’t hate me, Tudor fanatics, just, you know, give me a break. Can’t we talk about the English Civil War instead or the early Hanoverians or maybe even Bourbon Restoration monarchy? There’s SO MUCH HISTORY out there if you could only see beyond the sixteenth century. Hell, we could even take a trip outside European history once in a while although I’ll admit to being on very shaky ground there.

What do you think? Bored with the Tudors or just as interested as ever and loving all the extra books and films about them?

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