From Hilary Mantel’s bestselling novels to a Showtime series, Anne Boleyn haunts us still. But why?

Putting to rest the rumors of the third nipple (probably just a mole) and the sixth finger (a vestigial fingernail, but that’s what comes of generations of marrying cousins), Bordo’s larger goal is to ask: Why does Anne get to people the way she does? How could this woman have captured the heart of a king to such an extent that he would tear his kingdom apart to have her, alienating the pope and half the leaders in Europe, casting aside his wife and daughter, waiting six long years to marry a nonroyal who wouldn’t bring him any money, prestige, or diplomatic agreements? And what happened to their marriage? How could Henry have actually murdered her?