Henry VIII's sexual appetites, his six wives, and especially his passion for black-eyed Anne Boleyn have always had an inordinate fascination for historians of the English Reformation and not without cause -- the ""great matter"" of the King's divorce agitated theologians and diplomats from one end of Europe to the other. But in this spirited biography of ""Queen Anne Lack-Head,"" Bruce keeps both politics and theology to a bare minimum to concentrate on the brittle glamour of Anne's personality and her obsessive determination to marry the King -- come what may. Bruce believably reconstructs the fuss and furor surrounding Henry's six-year infatuation with Anne, including the intricate court maneuverings which led to the fall of Cardinal Wolsey and the rise of Thomas Cromwell. Anne herself emerges as an incessant schemer but one whose political judgment was both naive and dangerously egocentric; and though Bruce credits her with Wolsey's banishment it is doubtful if her ascendancy over the politically shrewd Henry was ever quite so absolute. Like most students of Henry's love life, Bruce believes that the adultery charges against Anne were trumped up -- the King had her beheaded simply because he was weary of her nagging and her inability to produce a male offspring. On the whole, Anne does not come across as a very attractive personality despite the fact that her reckless courage and gaiety never failed her. But Bruce does succeed in convincing you that Anne fully understood the hazards of her position and in fact had strong and defiant premonition of her grisly fate. A readable and balanced portrait of the courtesan who split asunder Christendom.