Study Guide

The Other Boleyn Girl Marriage

By Philippa Gregory

Marriage

We still hear about political battles over the sanctity of marriage. These politicians want to return marriage to how it was originally intended: between a man and a woman…a man who is only marrying the woman to sleep with her, get her family's money and power, and have kids who they'll hire someone else to raise.

Yeah, marriage in 16th-century England isn't about love: it's about sex and power. And pretty often just power.

Now, marriage at this time is still an unbreakable contract (to death—or decapitation—do us part)—at least until Henry VIII decides to assume ultimate power and pretty much invents divorce. In The Other Boleyn Girl, we see that moment when Henry redefines traditional marriage as a contract between a man and a woman until death—or until it's politically expedient to drop your hubby.

Questions About Marriage

  1. Why is love never a factor in marriage at this time? Why do people get married?
  2. How is the institution of marriage different in 16th-century England than it is today?
  3. Why does Mary's first husband not mind that she is having an affair with the king? Why does no one mind that the king is having an affair? Is marriage not taken seriously in 16th-century England?

Chew on This

Mary was married at twelve years old, showing us what a vastly different world it was back then. She is still a young girl when she is married, and she is accustomed to being obedient to older men.

It's a modern idea that Mary wants to marry for love. She is an exception to the rule, and her marriage can be considered non-traditional for the time as a result.