Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Henry VIII ruled England from 1509-1547, producing some of the most identifiable and enduring figures and events in English history. This was largely due to the king’s skill at image manipulation and communication. This thesis focuses specifically on the period from 1509-1536, during which the whims of the king led to the rise and fall of two queens, the destruction of three ministers, and arguably the most significant religious and political controversies of the sixteenth century. It was the age of humanism, reformation, and the birth of modern political theory and practice. In the midst of this upheaval, the crown used primitive forms of public relations theory to justify the king’s divorce from his first wife Catherine of Aragon in favor of his mistress, to break with Catholicism, and to establish supremacy of the newly created Church of England. Henry would have five other wives throughout his reign, but none is more notorious than Anne Boleyn. She was at the heart of the conflict in this period. This thesis examines the rise and fall of Queen Anne as an example of Henry VIII’s use of systematic image communication to destroy those who threatened his image as king. This work argues that the fall of Anne Boleyn was a crisis in gender relations that facilitated a larger-scale public relations crisis. It was this public relations crisis that fundamentally threatened Henry’s honor and authority, ultimately leading to Boleyn’s undoing. This thesis will use Boleyn as a framework for understanding Henry VIII’s championing of his honor and authority above all and his use of public relations to communicate this right to the throne of England.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Stater, Victor



Included in

History Commons