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Snapshots in History: May 2: Remembering Boleyn, Catherine the Great, and Da Vinci

May 3, 2013 | John P. | Comments (0)

For our May 2 snapshots in history, let us remember Anne Boleyn, Catherine the Great, and Leonardo Da Vinci. Anne Boleyn (circa 1501 – May 19, 1536) was the second wife of King Henry VIII of England and the mother of Queen Elizabeth l of England. Much has been written about Anne Boleyn and the Boleyn family, both non-fiction and fiction. On May 2, 1536, after having failed to provide a male heir to Henry VIII, she was arrested on charges of adultery, incest, treason, and witchcraft and executed by beheading after having been found guilty on questionable grounds. Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:


The creation of Anne Boleyn a new look at England's most notorious queen

The creation of Anne Boleyn: a new look at England's most notorious queen / Susan Bordo, 2013. Book. Non-Fiction.

Humanities academic Bordo attempted to correct what she regarded as a historically, unfair portrayal of Anne Boleyn. The author presented Boleyn as someone ahead of her time in feminist guise but drew criticism from some reviewers for judging contemporary historians by today’s standards rather than within their time context. Bordo analyzed fictionalized works about Anne Boleyn and took exception in some instances to historically inaccurate accounts. 


At the mercy of the queen a novel of Anne Boleyn

At the mercy of the queen: a novel of Anne Boleyn [1st ed.] / Anne Clinard Barnhill, 2012. Book. Fiction.

If you like Tudor fiction, then consider this debut novel in which the reader follows 15-year old Lady Margaret “Madge” Shelton, cousin of Anne Boleyn, as a lady-in-waiting and member of court. Following miscarriages and failing to give Henry VIII a son, Anne Boleyn lines up Lady Margaret as a mistress for Henry to offset the allure of Jane Seymour. However, Lady Margaret has secretly married the illegitimate son of the Duke of Suffolk and is conflicted over betraying her husband in order to protect her cousin Anne’s position as Queen of England. 


The Queen's Promise

The queen’s promise / Lyn Andrews, 2012. Book. Fiction.

This time, the reader finds that Anne Boleyn has captivated Henry Percy, the future Earl of Northumberland, who proposes marriage. Anne agrees but she has caught the eye of King Henry VIII who wishes to make Anne his queen and produce a male heir. Henry Percy’s feelings for Anne have not diminished and a lifetime of duty and service is not necessarily a suitable replacement. 


The Boleyns the rise & fall of a Tudor family

The Boleyns: the rise & fall of a Tudor family / D.M. Loades, 2011. Book. Non-Fiction.

Tudor historian David Loades examined the Boleyn family and its infamous members. Sir Edward Boleyn had served as London’s Lord Mayor. His grandson, Sir Thomas Boleyn, inherited the title with wealth and bore three children: Anne (who married Henry VIII, bore a daughter Elizabeth who became Queen Elizabeth I); Mary (who also appeared in the royal court, married William Carey and had a son named Henry Carey who became Lord Hunsdon); and, brother George Boleyn (Lord Rochfort, who had no children). 



Catherine II, Empress of Russia, or Yekaterina Alexeevna, was best known as Catherine the Great (May 2, 1729 to November 17, 1796). Born in Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia on May 2, 1729 as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, the longest-serving female leader in Russia began her reign on July 9, 1762 in the aftermath of a coup d'état and the assassination of her husband, Peter III. During her rule, Russia’s territorial reach expanded, including to Alaska in North America. She continued administrative reform and modernization in a manner akin to that of Peter the Great. Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:


The Winter Palace

The Winter Palace [a novel of Catherine the Great] / Eva Stachniak, 2011. Book. Fiction.

If you like historical fiction, then join the scene in the Imperial Russian court in this novel by Canadian author Stachniak where you meet Barbara, a servant who will become a spy, and Sophia, a Germany duchess destined to become Catherine the Great, who both must navigate changing allegiances.

Also available in Large Print, Audiobook CD, and Talking Book (Restricted to PRINT DISABLED patrons) formats. 


Catherine the Great portrait of a woman

Catherine the Great: portrait of a woman [1st ed.] / Robert K. Massie, 2011. Book. Non-Fiction.

Massie's biography will appeal to readers interested in learning about Catherine II, Empress of Russia, who was born Sophie Friederike August's von Anhalt-Zerbst, a young Germany princess. Follow Catherine life through her marriage to Peter III, her coming to power in 1762 and ruling until 1796, her support of the Enlightenment and its ideas as a means of modernizing Russia, and her following of world events such as the American Revolution. Massie also delves into Catherine's personal friendships and love affairs.

Also available in Large Print, eBook, and eAudiobook formats. 



Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452 to May 2, 1519 – Old Style or Julian Calendar) has been dubbed an Italian Renaissance polymath (or alternatively, a Renaissance man) with extraordinary facility in a wide variety of areas, viz.: painting, sculpting, architecture, music, mathematics, engineering, anatomy, geology, cartography, botany, writing, and inventing. Naturally, Leonardo is arguably one of the best painters of all time, well-known for the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Dying on May 2, 1519, there is some question whether King Francis I of France, in fact, held Leonardo’s head in his arms as he died.  Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:


Leonardo and the Last Supper

Leonardo and the last supper / Ross King, 2012. Book. Non-Fiction.

King set the context in which Leonardo da Vinci was able to paint one of his best known works within three years with the backdrop of war with and invasion by France's Charles XIII. Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, commissioned the painting of The Last Supper. The author analyzed Leonardo's painting techniques, and some characteristics of the painting such as the placement of the apostles and their hands. King also delved into Leonardo life, including his interactions with his patrons, some of whom regarded him as unreliable.

Also available in eBook format.  



Leonardo / Milena Magnano, 2012. Book. Non-Fiction.

Readers can still access and appreciate Leonardo's existing works in this book but the author also wanted to show the different sides of Leonardo da Vinci, namely: painter, architect, engineer, naturalist, and scientist.


Stealing Mona Lisa a mystery

Stealing Mona Lisa: a mystery / Carson Morton, 2011. Book. Fiction.

This debut novel built upon the true 1911 theft from the Louvre of the Mona Lisa, one of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous works.

Also available in Large Print format.


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