Spotlight – Elizabeth Boleyn

Name: Elizabeth Boleyn (nee Howard)

Title/s: Lady Boleyn / Lady Rochford / Countess of Wiltshire & Ormond

Birth / Death: c.1480 – 3 April 1538

Spouse: Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire & Ormond c.1477-1539

Children: Mary Stafford c.1499-1543 / Anne Boleyn c.1501-1536 / George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford c.1504-1536

Parents: Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk 1443-1524 & Elizabeth Tilney c.1444-1497

Siblings: Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk 1473-1554 / Edward Howard c.1476-1513 / Edmund Howard c.1478-1539 / John Howard c.1482-1503 / Henry Howard / Charles Howard c.1483-1512 / Henry Howard the Younger / Richard Howard c.1487-1517 / Muriel Grey, Viscountess Lisle 1486-1512 (full siblings) / William Howard, 1st Baron Howard c.1510-1573 / Thomas Howard 1511-1537 / Richard Howard ?-1517 / Dorothy Stanley, Countess of Derby c.1511-? / Anne de Vere, Countess of Oxford 1518-1558 / Catherine Daubeney, Countess of Bridgewater c.1499-1548 / Elizabeth Radclyffe, Countess of Sussex c.1500-1534

Noble Connections: Her father, brother and nephew were successive Dukes of Norfolk. Her daughter, Anne Boleyn, was Queen of England as the wife of Henry VIII. Her grand-daughter became Elizabeth I. Her husband was made Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond, and her son became Viscount Rochford. She was a direct descendent of Edward I.

Events of their Lifetime: Disappearance of the Princes in the Tower and accession of Richard III 1483 / Battle of Bosworth Field 1485 / Marriage of Katherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur 1501 / Death of Prince Arthur 1502 / Accession of Henry VIII 1509 / Birth of Mary I 1516 / Marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and birth of Elizabeth I 1533 / Execution of Anne Boleyn 1536 / Marriage of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour 1536 / Birth of Edward VI 1537

Controversy: There are rumours going back to her lifetime that Elizabeth was in fact a mistress of Henry VIII before either of her daughters were. This seems unlikely, but the rumours still persist.

Works of Fiction:

  • Harper, Karen, The Last Boleyn (2006)
  • Purdy, Emily, The Boleyn Bride (2014)

Portrayals on Screen:

  • Katharine Blake, Anne of the Thousand Days, 1969, directed by Charles Jarrott
  • Jane Gurnett, The Other Boleyn Girl, 2003, directed by Philippa Lowthorpe
  • Julia O’Toole, Where Thunder Reigns, 2016, directed by Graham Pitt
  • Kristin Scott Thomas, The Other Boleyn Girl, 2008, directed by Justin Chadwick

Further Reading:

  • Hutchinson, Robert, House of Treason: the Rise and Fall of a Tudor Dynasty (2009)
  • Loades, David, The Boleyns: the Rise and Fall of a Tudor Family (2012)
  • Norton, Elizabeth, The Boleyn Women: the Tudor Femme Fatales Who Changed English History (2013)


None surviving

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