Who Was … George Boleyn, 2nd Viscount Rochford?

Name: George Boleyn

Title/s: 2nd Viscount Rochford

Birth: c.1503

Death: 17 May 1536 on Tower Hill, London, England

Burial: Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London, England

Spouse: Jane Parker, Viscountess Rochford c.1505-1542

Children: None

Parents: Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire c.1477-1539 & Elizabeth Howard c.1480-1538

Siblings: Mary Stafford c.1499-1543 / Thomas Boleyn c.1500 / Anne Boleyn c.1501-1536 / Henry Boleyn c.1502

Noble Connections: As the brother of Anne Boleyn, George was brother-in-law to Henry VIII and uncle to Elizabeth I. His father-in-law was Lord Morley, and his sister, Mary, was also a mistress to Henry VIII. His uncle on his mother’s side was Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk.

Controversy: There has been plenty of controversy raised over George Boleyn, but the most controversial is the idea that he had sex with his sister, Anne, and committed incest. Anne and George were both convicted of incest and were executed as a result. There have also been rumours, fuelled largely by TV show ‘The Tudors’, that George was in fact homosexual, but there is no evidence.

Works of Fiction:

  • Laura Andersen, The Boleyn King (2013)
  • Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl (2001)
  • Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (2009)
  • Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies (2012)

Portrayals on Screen:

  • Padraic Delaney, The Tudors, 2007-2008, 16 episodes
  • Michael Johnson, Anne of the Thousand Days, 1969, directed by Charles Jarrott
  • Steven Mackintosh, The Other Boleyn Girl, 2003, directed by Philippa Lowthorpe
  • Jonathan Newth, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, 1970, 1 episode
  • Jim Sturgess, The Other Boleyn Girl, 2008, directed by Justin Chadwick

Further Reading:

  • David Loades, The Boleyns: The Rise and Fall of a Tudor Family (2011)
  • Lauren Mackay, Among the Wolves of Court: The Untold Story of Thomas and George Boleyn (2018)
  • Claire Ridgeway, George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat (2014)
  • Claire Ridgeway & Edmond Bapst, Two Gentleman Poets at the Court of Henry VIII: George Boleyn and Henry Howard (2013)
Possible Sketch of George Boleyn by Hans Holbein
Possible Sketch of George Boleyn by Hans Holbein

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