The Power of the Word ‘No’

When I first learned about the history of King Henry VIII and his many wives, I was a junior in High School. Completely uninterested in my western civilization class, I found the stories of people who had died hundreds of years before us to be dull. As I matured and eventually took an interest in academics, I still found myself taking courses in the field of western history and sociology. A celebrity of her day, Anne Boleyn changed the country of England forever. She was fierce and her power over Henry was underestimated for the time.

The word ‘no’ yielded that power. On one side, she herself could not take no for an answer. Her ambition repeatedly overruled society’s conventions of the era. She was intelligent and kept current of not only poetry and dressmaking, but politics, philosophy and language. On the other side, she took the characteristic of her own arguable weakness of refusing the word and used it as bait to reel in the King of England.  By simply denying his advances, she was the reason for England’s political uproar of the era. All due to that two letter word.

Her landmark in history and the tragic outcome of her story has always left me in awe. Whenever I have read textbooks, watched documentaries or films about her story, I can’t help but feel moved. Aesthetically, Anne was an inspiration for her time. She had the other ladies at court green with envy for her keen fashion sense and style. It was her personality however, that was what had people in the palm of her hand. She was educated, charismatic and understood the politics of not just England, but all of Europe.

Her story has motivated me for times when I feel powerless. At other times her story has taught me to be cautious when in situations where I feel I have no control. She was a remarkable woman. So if you are taking a history course (or any course for that matter!) and don’t find it to be that interesting, stick to it, you never know where inspiration will find you.

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