Monthly Archives: June 2011

May 29, 1533: A Happier Trip to the Tower

Contributed by Natalie Sweet

Today in 1533, Anne Boleyn made her way from Greenwich  to the Tower. Eustache Chapuys, ever the eyes and ears of the Tudor court, wrote to Charles V that,

“The Duke left two hours after I had returned, so that neither he nor his company, among which is the brother of the Lady, have delayed one day to see the triumph in which the Lady has today come from Greenwich to the Tower. She was accompanied by several bishops and lords, and innumerable people, in the form that other queens have been accustomed to be received ; and, whatever regret the King may have shown at the taking of the Queen’s barge, the Lady has made use of it in this triumph, and appropriated it to herself. God grant she may content herself with the said barge and the jewels and husband of the Queen, without attempting anything, as I have heretofore written, against the persons of the Queen and Princess. The said triumph consisted entirely in the multitude of those who took part in it, but all the people showed themselves as sorry as though it had been a funeral. I am told their indignation increases daily, and that they live in hope your Majesty will interfere. On Saturday the Lady will pass all through London and go to the King’s lodging, and on Sunday to Westminster, where the ceremony of the coronation will take place. London, 29 May 1533.” (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII)

Of this account, there has been some question as to Anne’s appropriation of Katherine of Aragon’s barge (in the above letter, the “Queen” is Katherine of Aragon – Chapuys would never call Anne the Queen while Katherine lived). Why would Anne take a second-hand barge? Some point out that it is Anne’s enemy, Chapuys, who reports this information. In the very same letter, he admitted to Charles that he had a “little dissembled with the Duke about the treatment of the said ladies, in accordance with your Majesty’s commands.” Even by Chapuys’s own admission, he lied (as directed) when it suited his goal of helping Katherine.

There are many reasons, however, to believe that Anne did indeed use the Queen’s barge. For one, as the new Queen, she would see it as being rightfully hers. As Chapuys mentions above, she received the Queen’s jewels, and all of the honors of state that went with her new title. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, this was a way to remind those watching (whether they were noble or peasant) that she now occupied Katherine’s former position. She wore the Queen’s jewels, she rode in the Queen’s barge…to the common people, this would show that yes, indeed she is now Queen, and not just an impostor showered with fake gifts of authority. She took possession of those old items that marked her as legitimate.

A Victorian depiction of Anne’s “marriage procession” (which, as we know, Anne and Henry were married in private!)

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Preparations Fit for a Queen

Contributed by Natalie Sweet

Of Anne’s coronation, we have numerous accounts. Two come from her enemies – Eustache Chapuys and an unidentified witness (whose account found its way into the letters and papers of Brussels) provide scathing commentary and give voice to the supposedly hostile crowds that Anne encountered. Thomas Cranmer and one of the King’s justices, Sir John Spillman, also described the days events, and we have surviving pamphlets that include Nicholas Udall’s verses composed in Anne’s honor.  Several years later, the Tudor chronicler, Edward Hall, would provide his own take on the events.

To begin our examination of the records of Anne’s coronation, however, we will first begin with requested favors, costs, and logistics. Numerous persons contacted Thomas Cromwell for the honor of being allowed to create the trappings for the various ceremonies. Robert Tomlynson, the Alderman of Our Lady’s Guild in Boston, wrote that he “endeavoured since to provide such wild fowl as I could get in these parts, i.e. six cranes, six bitterns, and three dozen godwits” for a present to be prepared for the King to present in honor of the Queen’s coronation. Stephan Vaughn wrote to Cromwell with hopes for his wife, saying, “I am informed that the Queen intends to have a silkwoman to trim and furnish her Grace with such things as she shall wear. If you will recommend my wife to the place you will bind us both. You know what she can do. I suppose no woman can better trim her Grace.”

Nothing speaks as much to the pomp and cost of the festivities, however, as the plans described in the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII:

Coronation Of Anne Boleyn.

The order in proceeding from the Tower to Westminster.

The King’s messengers to ride foremost with their boxes, to stay when that time is, and to go when that time is, as they see the followers do pause.

The strangers that ride, and the Ambassadors’ servants. Item, next the trumpets, the gentlemen ushers, the chaplains having no dignity, the squires for the Body, with pursuivants two and two on each side. The knights and challenger and defender with steryng horses. The aldermen of London. The great chaplains of dignity. Heralds, two and two on each side. The knights of the Bath, the “barenettes” [and abbots]. (fn. 3) The knights of the Garter, being no lords. The two Chief Judges and Master of the Rolls. Then all the Lords and Barons in order after their estates. The Bishops. The Earls and Ambassadors. The comptroller of Household. The treasurer of Household. The steward of Household. Two kings-of-arms. The King’s chamberlain. The Lord Privy Seal. The Lord Admiral of England. The Great Chamberlain of England. The Archbishops and Ambassadors. The two esquires of honor, with robes of estate rolled and worn baldric wise about their necks, with caps of estate representing the duke of Normandy and the duke of Aquitain. The Lord Mayor and Garter. The Marshal, the Constable, the Treasurer, the Chancellor. The Serjeants-of-arms on both sides. Her Chancellor bareheaded. The Queen’s grace. The Lord Chamberlain. The Master of the Horse leading a spare horse. Seven ladies in crimson velvet. Two chariots ; two ladies in the first, and four in the second, all of the greatest estates. Seven ladies in the same suit, their horses trapped to the pastron. The third chariot, wherein were six ladies with crimson velvet. The fourth chariot, with eight ladies in crimson velvet. Thirty gentlewomen, all in velvet and silk of the liveries of their ladies. The captain of the Guard. The King’s guard in their rich coats.

“The appointment what number of officers and servitors that shall attend upon the Queen’s grace, the Bishop and the ladies sitting at the Queen’s board in the Great Hall at Westminster, the day of the coronation, as followeth :—

Carvers : Lord Montague for the Queen. Sir Edw. Seymour for the Bishop. Thos. Arundell for the ladies at the board.

Cupbearers : Lord William Howard for the Queen. Lord Clynton for the Bishop. Lord Audeley’s son and heir for the board.

Sewers : Sir Edw. Nevill for the Queen. Percival Harte for the Bishop. Richard Verney for the board. Chief pantry, 1. Chief butler, 1. Chief sewer, 1. Almoners, 7. Servitors, knights, and gentlemen for three messes, 60. Sewers, 8. Servitors, 80. Yeomen, 16.

Knights of the Bath : Marquis of Dorset, earl of Derby, lords Clifford, Fitzwater, Hastings, Mountegle, and Vaux ; Mr. Parker, lord Morley’s son ; Mr. Wynsor, lord Winsor’s son ; John Mordant, lord Mordant’s son ; Fras. Weston, Thos. Arundell, Mr. Corbet, Mr. Wyndham, John Barkeley, John Huddelston, Ric. Verney of Penley, Thos. Ponynges, Hen. Savile, John Germayne, Rob. Whitneye of Gloucestershire, Geo. Fitzwilliams, John Tyndall.

Knights and gentlemen to be servitors : Sir John St. John, Sir Michael Fisher, Sir Thos. Rotheram, Sir Geo. Somerset, Sir Wm. Essex, Sir Antony Hungerford, Sir Ric. Graundfeild, Sir John Hamond, Sir Robt. Painton, Sir Giles Alington, Sir Thos. Elyot, Sir Rafe Langford, Sir John Fulford, Sir Thos. Darcy, Sir John Villers, Sir John Markham, Sir John Beryn, Sir Nic. Stirley, Sir Thos. Straung, Sir Fras. Lovell, Sir Edw. Chamberlen, Sir Adrian Fortescue, Sir Water Stoner, Sir Wm. Barentyne, Sir Wm. Newman, Sir Arthur Hopton, Sir Edm. Beningfeild, Sir Ant. Wingfeild, Sir Geo. Frogmerton, Sir John Russell of Worster, Sir Geo. Darcy, Sir Wm. Pickering, Sir Thos. Cornvell, Sir John Bridges, Sir Wm. Hussey, Sir Edw. Wotton, Sir Wm. Hault, Sir John Skott, Sir Ric. Clementes, Sir Wm. Kempe, Sir Edw. Cobham, Sir Wm. Fynch, Sir John Thymbleby, Sir Rob. Hussey, Sir Chr. Willughbie, Sir Wm. Skipwith, Sir Wm. Askice, (fn. 4) Sir Jeffrey Poole, Sir Jas. Worsley, Sir Thos. Lysley, Sir John Talbot, Sir John Gifford, Sir Wm. Basset, Sir Ph. Dracote, Sir Henry Longe, Sir Ant. Lutterell, Sir John Sainctlowe, Sir Roger Copley, Sir Wm. Pellam, Sir Wm. Goring, Sir Walter Hungerford, John Hersley, George Lyne, Ric. Philips,—Yorke, Ric. Dodham, Rafe Mannering, John Seintler, Clement Harleston, John Turell, Humfrey Ferres, Geo. Grissley, Wm. Drurye, Wm. Cope, John St. John, Edm. Tame, Ric. Lygon, Leonard Poole, John Arnold, John Arden, Wm. Stafford, Chas. Herbert of Troy, Sir Wm. Paunder, Young Wingfeild, Holcrofte, Skipwith, Diar, Young Barkeley.

Sewers : Roger Banbricke, Antony Isley, Edm. Browne, John Cheyne, Wm. Morgan, Davy Morgan, Hen. Seymer, William Jones.

Yeomen ushers and yeomen appointed to attend upon the Queen at her Coronation : John Lane, Laurence Sendell, Robt. Griffith, Thos. Marshall, John Brygden, Davyd Philips, John Geffrey, Wm. Avenell, Ric. Ryder, Wm. Sendre, Hugh Troblefeild, John Ashton, John Smith, senior, John Robertes, John Perce, Antony Saunders, Walter Wagham, Thos. Coxe, Ric. Stone, Thos. Hawkins, Wm. Bond, Robt. Whitbrowe, Hugh Lewis, Thos. Gethens, Ric. Gilmyn, Rob. Gibbes, Ric. Rawneshaw, John Bromfeld, Robt. Langden, John Holcomb, Robt. Owen, Griffith ap Morice, Walter Menours, Wm. Jones, Robt. Mortoun, Edm. Stoner, John Gethens, Edw. Philips, John Wympe, Ric. Clerke, John Holland, John Alcock, Ric. Gilling, John Evanse, Lyonell Martyn, Fras. Coket, John Brathwet, John Cox, John Knotford, John Belson, John Byrte, John Node, Moris Apenevet, Michael Whiting, John Stevens, Hugh David, Lewis ap Watkyn, John Cowper, Edw. Johnson, Ric. Fowler, John Grymith, Symond Symmes, Robert Stonhouse, Edw. Aprichard, Hen. Holden. Ibid., f. 50 b. ii. Officers appointed to attend on the Queen and the Bishop sitting at the Queen’s board end, on the day of her coronation.

John Hancote, Thos. Berram, Roger Gerers, John Massye, John Colby, John Person Edw. Dickey, Ric. Estoune, Wm. Lawry, George Banckes, Thos. Massy, Ralfe Ball, John Gounter, Ric. Baker, John Thomas, Thos. Norton, Wm. Germaine, Thos. Toby, Richard Faice, Geo. Hodson. John Williams, Adam Holland, Robt. Bird, Robt. Gibson, Wm. Batty, Hugh Norres, Thos. Calfe, Wm. Paye.

Carvers : The earl of [Essex or] Rutland for the Queen ; Sir Edm. (Edward) Seymour for the Archbishop.

Cupbearers : Lord Derby for the Queen ; Sir John Dudley for the Archbishop.

Sewers : The earl of Sussex for the Queen ; Sir Thos. Arundell for the Archbishop.

Panters : Viscount Lisle, chief panter ; John Apricharde ; John Gislym.

[Butlers] : Earl of Arundell, chief butler ; Ric. Hill, Edm. Harvye. [Ewers] : Sir Henry [Thomas] Wyat, Jeffrey Villers, Henry Atkinson. Chief almoners for the Queen : Lord Bray, Sir Wm. Gascoyne. Almoners : Henry Wells, Thos. Mason. Edmond Pekham, cofferer. William Thynne. Thos. Hatclife, Edw. Weldon, for the Bishop, and the said Bishop to be served covered. Surveyors at the dressers : Thos. Weldon for the Queen ; Thos. Holden for the Bishop. Michael Wentworth, Henry Bricket, to see that nothing be embezzled.

Servitors from the dressers : For the Queen : Sir — Parker, Sir John St. John, Sir William Wynsor, Sir John Mordaunt, Sir Fras. Weston, Sir John Gifforte, Sir John Barkeley, Sir John Huddleston. Sir Ric. Verney, Sir Thos. Poninges, Sir Hen. Savell, Sir John Germayne, Sir Robt. Whetney, Sir Geo. Fitzwilliams, Sir John Tyndall, Sir Michael Fisher, Sir Tho. Rotheram, Sir Geo. Somerset, Sir Wm. Essex, Sir Antony Hungerford, Sir Ric. Graundfeild, Sir John Shamond, (fn. 5) Sir Robt. Paynton, Sir Walter Stoner. For the Archbishop : Sir Thos. Elyot, Sir Rafe Langford, Sir John Fulford, Sir Thos. Dar[c]y. Sir John Villers, Sir John Markham, Sir John Berryn, Sir Nic. Stirley, Sir Thos. Straung, Sir Fras. Lovell, Sir Edw. Chamberlen, Sir Adryan Fortescue, Sir Hen. Longe, Sir Wm. Barington, Sir Wm. Newman, Sir Arthur Hopton, Sir Edw. Beningfeild, Sir Antony Wingfield, Sir Geo. Frogmerton, (fn. 6) Sir John Russell of Worcestershire, Sir George Dar[c]y, Sir Wm. Pickering, Sir Thos. Cornwall, Sir John Bridges.

Waferers : Rob. Leigh for the Queen and the Bishop. He must bring his wafers for both services to the Queen’s cupboard, to be set (fn. 7) from thence by the sewers. Confectionery : Cutbert Blakden (fn. 8) for the Queen and Bishop, with similar orders.

Kitchen : For the Queen and Bishop : John Plume, Edw. Wilkinson, Ric. Currey, John Armstrong, Robt. Plume, child, Thos. Galepy, fryer.

Larder : Lord Burgenye, John Dale, Jas. Mitchell.

Sausery : John Richardson for the Queen and Bishop, remaining in the house.

Pastry : John Cuncle, Elister Shainc. Boilers : John White, [John Tayler].

Scullery : Wm. Richarde for the Queen ; Wm. Rawlyns for the Bishop, and to be served with gilt plate.

Marshals : Ric. Rede for the Queen ; Edw. Vaux for the Bishop ; Jesper Terrell ; John Stevens. Richard Chace to be supervisor that every man give his due attendance that shall wait in the hall beneath the bar.

[Lord Chamberlain : John earl of Oxford to give the King water.

The towel : Allen Asplonge, or his heirs, to give the Queen the towel before dinner.

The Queen’s Champion : —.]

Officers appointed to attend on the Lords Spiritual and Temporal at the middle board on the right hand of the Queen. The first board to be 11 yards in length, and to be served with three services of a like fare, and 30 services of another fare.

Sewers : John Barney at the board, John Banbricke at the dresser. Panters : Thos. Bend, Ric. Holbroke, Ric. Madoxe, John Stoddard, Wm. Dennys, Pierce Barly. Buttery and cellar : Bryan Aunsley, William Abbot, Ric. Weckly, John Aman. Ewris : Allyn Matthew, Thos. Christmas, Robt. Clynton.

Almoners : Thos. Oldnall, Wm. Blakeden, Hugh Williams.

[Conveyers] : Thos. Child, Thos. Hinde, Wm. Berman. Surveyors at the dressers : Thos. Hall, Wm. Thynne. John Lane, to see that the yeomen give due attendance. [Servitors from the dresser] : Richard Gilmyn, Robt. Griffith, Thos. Marshall, John Brogden, David Phillip, John Geffrey, Wm. Avenell, Ric. Ryder, Robt. Gibes, Wm. Semerre, Hugh Troblefeild, John Ashton, John Smith the elder, John Robertes, John Perce, Antony Perce, Antony Saunders, Walter Vaughan, Thos. Coxe, Ric. Stone, Thos. Hawkins, Wm. Bonde. Robt. Whitbrowe, Hugh Lewis, Thos. Githens. Waferers : Robt. Lystar. Confectionery : John Amnesleye. Kitchen : Wm. Bolton, Robt. Forster, John Floy (fn. 9) , John Laurence, John Baker, child, Wm. Botte, (fn. 10) fryer. Larder : John Dale, Jas. Michell. Saulsery : John Richard, Symond Dudley. Pastry : John Connicle, Robt. Dauson, Ric. Byre. Boiler : John White. Scullery : Wm. Rice, Wm. Rawlins, Thos. Coke, child, John Worall, (fn. 11) conducte.

Marshals : Thos. Ward, Hen. Hokars. Huisshers : John Gilman, Thos. Myles.

Officers to attend upon Duchesses and other ladies at the middle board on the left hand of the Queen ; the first board 8 yards long. To be served with 3 services of like fare, 3 of another fare, and 30 of another fare.

Sewers : John Bonam, Ric. Sterkey.

Pantry : Thos. Skasley, John Markham, John Coxe, Thos. Hall. Conveyors of the bread to the panters : Richard Boxham, Geo. Forman. Buttery and cellar : Wm. Morrant, Ric. Lee, Ric. Parker, Thos. Trewth. (fn. 12)

[Ewers] : Geo. Fitzgeffrey, John Morgan, John Dixe. [Almoners] : John Stanbanck, Edw. Garret, Thos. Inde, Thos. Walker, Geo. Bond, Wm. Kedle, Thos. Turner. Surveyor at the dresser without, Thos. Hatcliffe ; at the dresser within, Thos. Horden. John Powes to see that the yeomen give due attendance. Servitors from the dresser : Ric. Rainshawe, John Kinge, John Wellet, John Aprice, Ric. Saidell, Wm. Tolley, John Strymyn, Rafe Tykill, Thos. Jones, John Sydnam, Leonard Barowes, John Dorset, Thos. Lewis, Jas. (fn. 13) Stanley, John Tompson, John Smothen, Edw. Deckey, Ric. Eston, Wm. Laury, Geo. Bankes, Thos. Massie, Rafe Baiely, John Gaunter. Wafe[…] Robt. Lyster. Confectioner : John Amnesley. Kitchen : John Dale, George Benson, Rafe Iswell, Wm. Maie, Philip Yarow, child, Ric. Rede, fryer. Larder : Thos. English. Boiler : John Tailour. Saulsery : John Richard, John Ringros. Pastry : Elize Shaunce, Wm. Andreson, conducte. Scullery : Wm. Wells, John Awmorer, conduct, Silvester Glossope.

Marshals : Nic. Sainctes, (fn. 14) Thos. Braken. Huishers : John Towe, Nic. Ashfeild.

Officers to attend upon the Barons of the Cinque Ports, at the side board on the Queen’s right hand, next the wall. The first board to be 8 yards long, and to be served with 3 services of like fare, and 30 services of another fare.

Sewers : Ant. Isley, John Cheyne. Panters : Wm. Cowper, John Bartlet, John Whitstall, Wm. Sotherne, conveyers of bread. Buttery and cellar : John Burnell, Robt. Gardener, Matthew Hanmer, Thos. Stanbridge. (fn. 15) Ewry : Edw. Myller, (fn. 16) Thos. Colbeck, Robt. Maxton. (fn. 17) Almoners : Willm. Cressell, Wm. Breredge, Ric. Valentyne, Thos. Reding, and John Downslowe ; John Davie and Robt. Rendon, (fn. 18) conveyers.

Surveyors at the dressers : Edw. Welden, Jas. Sutton. Servitors from the dresser : Laurence Serle, overseer, John Bromfeld, Robt. Lamdon, John Holcombe, Robt. Owen, Griffith Myres, Wm. Jones, Rob. Orton, Edm. Stone, John Githons, Edw. Philips, John Umpe, Ric. Clerke, John Holland, John Alcocke, Ric. Gilling, John Evans, Lymerell Martyn, Fras. Socket, (fn. 19) John Brewet, John Coxe, John Knotfort, John Bilson, (fn. 20) John Birte. Waferer : Robt. Lyster. Confectionery : John Amnsley. Kitchen : Laurence Thexted, Ric. Townsend, Roger Brosse, John Coke, Rafe Hogan, child, Wm. More, fryer. Larder : Hen. Groves. (fn. 21) Boiler : John Tailour. Saulserie : John Richardson, Matthew White. Pastry : Matthew White, child, Roger Brynge, conducte. Scullery : Wm. Phillip, Wm. Hamhider. Marshal : Ric. Wales. Huishers : John Fisher, Jas. Aleasley.

Officers to attend upon the Mayor of London, sitting at the board next the wall on the left hand of the Queen. The first board to be 9 yards long, and to be served with 5 services of like fare, and 30 of another.

Sewers : Edw. Browne, Wm. Jones. Panters : Thos. Pulfort, Hugh Mynours, John Tryce, Robt. Hylston. Buttery and cellar : Thos. Mynours, Wm. Corffale, caker, John Throughgood, Wm. Agre. Ewry : Edw. Bird, Geo. Smert, Wm. Cheke. Almoners : John Fisher, John Rowland, Wm. Blike, Wm. Willkinson, and Hen. Hungreford ; Adam Faulcet, Hen. Wilkinson, conveyers of bread.

Surveyors at the dressers : John Mery, Robt. Pagman. Servitors from the dresser : Henry Bird to superintend, John Wode, Moris Apdenevet, Michael Whiting, John Stevens, Hugh David, Lewis ap Watkin, John West, John Burton, Robert Fleminge, Edw. Clayton, Lewis Appowell, John Cowper, Edw. Johnson, Ric. Fuller, John Treveth, Simmosune Symes, Robt. Stonehouse, Hen. Holden, John Hancocke, Thos. Boram, Roger Meres, John Massye, John Colby. Waferers : Robt. Lyster, John Amnsley. Kitchen : William Snowball, John Sterne, John Crane, John Mathew, Thos. Borrey, child, Peter Child, fryer. Larder : Ric. Mathewe. Boilers : John White, John Tailour. Saulsery : John Richardson, Thos. Nash. Pastry : Thos. Dover, (fn. 22) Ric. Wilkinson. Scullery : Thos. More, Robt. Cellye. Marshals : Thos. Greves, Wm. Bellingham. Huisshers : Thos. Croftes, Wm. Bate.

The hall must be served with plate, as spoons, salts, pots, and bowls.

The Queen’s Lord Chamberlain and Vice-chamberlain and two gentlemen must attend upon the Queen.

Officers appointed for serving the waste. Panter : Wm. Wilkinson. Clerk : Jas. Harington. Cook : John Hautcliffe. Larderer : John Dauson. Cooks for the “Worchouses” : John Birket, Ric. Parker, John Stevens, John Johnson, Steven God, Wm. Whitfeild.

Noblemen admitted to do service according to the tenure of their lands, and for the trial of their fees and profits unto the morrow of St. John Baptist’s Day : Earl of Arundel, chief butler ; Viscount of Lisle, chief panter ; earl of Oxford, chief chamberlain ; Sir Hen. Wyat, chief ewre ; earl of Shrewsbury to support the Queen’s right arm and bear the sceptre ; sixteen Barons of the Cinque Ports to bear the canopy over her ; lord Burgeine, chief larderer ; Sir Giles Alington to bear the first cup to the Queen ; earl of Sussex, chief sewer ; the Mayor of London to bear a cup of gold to the Queen at her void.

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The Coronation of Anne Boleyn: A Sharp Contrast to May 19th, 1536

Contributed by Natalie Sweet

Perhaps nothing places the events of May 19th, 1536, in such a harsh light as the celebrations that had taken place in honor of Anne’s coronation. By all accounts, Henry spared no expense to honor his new Queen. Pageants were held, and a grand procession was planned. Anne’s ladies wore scarlet, the streets were bedecked in the color of crimson, and wine flowed from a fountain. Three years later, a scarlet-crimson of a different kind would touch the earth.

Was a sudden downfall something Anne should have expected, or at the very least, have been concerned about?  On May 23rd, 1533, Thomas Cranmer declared the marriage between Henry and Katherine of Aragon as null and void. Henry might have behaved abominably to Katherine and convinced himself of the illegitimacy of their marriage, but this was the same man who had hotly pursued Anne for years. Not only this, but Anne carried his child, a child she had every reason to hope was a boy.

And speaking of her pregnancy, the coronation celebration was as much, if not more, of a celebration of Anne’s pregnancy as it was of Anne herself. The Queen’s duty was to bear children, and there was no doubt that Anne was very heavily pregnant, as almost all of the accounts relate. With this in mind, I would like to take the time to consider what it must have been like to have been so pregnant, on the 1st of June, and to have withstood the days of festivities that Anne experienced. I use “withstood” purposefully: at this time, Anne would have been in her second trimester, generally the “good” time of the pregnancy. The first trimester sickness has usually passed by this time (unless, one is unlucky and it lasts the entire pregnancy), and the third trimester bloating is yet to come. Having worked with Susan this time last year on this project, and having been in my own second trimester, I at that time imagined there was a certain amount of misery in the day’s festivities. To put it into perspective: I love shopping (probably at an unhealthy level!), and had decided to go with my mother on an outdoor outlet shopping adventure at the beginning of June. I was very excited about it, and thought myself perfectly capable of handling the day. Even with driving to certain stores, however, I was exhausted and swollen by the day’s events. The heat, which seems to intensify when one is pregnant, was terrible in my capris and t-shirt, and it was a coolish June day. Now imagine Anne wearing her purple velvet. Never mind riding in a litter; smiling at everyone, whether they acted pleased to greet her or not, would be taxing on even the most indulgent, over-heated pregnant lady.

Likewise, no matter how well the pregnancy progresses in the second trimester, there is still the slight nagging worry that something might go wrong. Compound this worry with the thought that your husband absolutely relies on you to deliver of a healthy, preferably male, child and see where that takes your mind.

In the week that follows, we will examine various aspects of Anne’s coronation. We will look at accounts from both Anne’s friends and enemies in an attempt to contrast the celebration that Anne’s reign began with, and the dismal events that ushered her out.

The Noble Tryumphaunt Coronacyon of Quene Anne – Wyfe unto the Noble Kynge Henry the VIII, printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1533

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A Note to Cromwell, dated May 23, 1536

Henry may have wished that the memory of Anne could be erased with her execution, but her earthly actions lived on. Particularly, the new reformed religious community that Anne had been a part of worried about the after-effects of her execution. In this letter to Thomas Cromwell, we can read the Bishop of Salisbury’s concerns for what would happen now that Anne was dead. Like Thomas Cranmer, he, too, expressed his shock at being “exceedingly deceived” by Anne:

“I beseech you, Sir, in vis[ceribus] Jesu Christi, that ye will now be no less diligent [in setting] forth the honour of God and his Holy Word, than [when] the late Queen was alive, and often incit[ed you thereto]. Leave not off for God’s sake, though she [by her misconduct have] sore slaundered the same. And by the lo . . . . . . . . . . she hath exceedingly deceived me, for . . . . . . . . . . . the great day, Sir, I would have thoug[ht] . . . . . . that vice that she was found fawt[y of had not the like] in Christendom.”

One wonders how many expressed their shock of Anne’s “deception” to both Cromwell and Henry in the days following her execution. What would have been either man’s reaction? Did either doubt her guilt before the swordsman’s blade sliced the air, or were they thoroughly convinced of her guilt throughout the accusation process? And finally, can we take statements like the Bishop of Salisbury’s as a method to save one’s own skin in Henry’s court, or can it be viewed as a passive-aggressive attempt to place blame on Cromwell and the King?

Image featuring King Henry VIII, Thomas Cranmer, Thomas Cromwell, John Fisher, Pope Clement VII. Henry is represented as “triumphing” over the Catholic faith in England.

Unknown artist, print, possibly 17th century © National Portrait Gallery, London

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The Tudors’ Anne: A Magic Collaboration Between Writer and Actress

 When I spoke with Michael Hirst in March 2011, he admitted that when he wrote the first season of The Tudors, he wasn’t all that interested in Anne Boleyn.  “I didn’t even know if we’d be picked up for a second season at that point, and Anne was one of many people swimming in the ether. Wolsey and More—and of course Henry–were the more dominant figures.” His ultimate goal was to introduce television viewers to the tumultuous events behind the English Reformation.  But he knew that history-as-entertainment was “a giant leap” for most viewers, and wasn’t afraid to make use of the sexier side of the story.  He picked Natalie Dormer for the role of Anne largely because of the chemistry between her and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, slated to play Henry. His choice ultimately led him to a reconsideration of Anne, her role in history, and his hopes for the legacy of the series.

When I met with Natalie Dormer in June 2010, we talked about many things.  I was extremely lucky to meet Natalie after her contract with Showtime was over, and she felt free to cease acting as a spokesperson for the show, and to speak her mind.  For over an hour and half, we shared our love of Anne and her story, lamented how it had been misrepresented both in Anne’s time and our own, discussed Tudor history, and reflected on the struggle of Anne, women actors, and young women today to escape the limitations and expectations placed on them.  She admitted that she often felt “compromised” by the way Anne’s character was written for the first season.

“I lost so many hours of sleep, and actually shed tears during my portrayal of her, trying to inject historical truth into the script, trying to do right by this woman that I had read so much about. It was a constant struggle, because the original script had that tendency to polarize women into saint and whore. It wasn’t deliberate, but it was there. I tried to fight that wherever I could, and because Michael Hirst and I were friends, and he had respect for my knowledge of history, I did manage to accomplish a bit. It was both inspiring and depressing when I got letters from young women, saying that it was so fascinating to watch me play a two-dimensional characterization of such a strong, powerful, clever and yet beautiful woman.  The fact that it was so unusual for them to have an inspiring portrait of a spirited, strong, young woman–that’s devastating to me. But young women, it seems, picked up on my efforts, and that is a massive complement.  And says a lot about the intelligence of that audience. Young girls struggling to find their identity, find their place, in this supposedly post-feminist era understood what I was doing”.

But not everyone responded in such a gratifying way.  Hirst and I talked at length about the long legacy of negative stereotypes of Anne, and the tendency of fiction-writers and some historians to simply re-cycle them.   Some critics, Hirst reported, dismissed The Tudors’ Anne as “your typically manipulative, scheming bitch.  That surprised me because I hadn’t written it that way—I didn’t think Anne was a manipulative bitch, but a lively, complex woman–but they couldn’t get out of this system of thought we’ve talked about.  Some of this criticism hurt Natalie very much.”

In my interview with her, Natalie recalled that disappointment, and spoke passionately about her desire that audiences, when the series got to Anne’s fall, would empathize with her:

It happened very shortly after she miscarried, remember. To miscarry is traumatic for any woman, even in this day and age.  And to be in that physical and mental state, having just miscarried, and be incarcerated in the Tower! If only she’d had that child! It’s horrific to confront how much transpired because of terrible timing, and how different it could have been.  It’s one of the most dramatic “ifs” of history. And it’s why it’s such a compelling, sympathetic story.  But I knew by the time we’d finished the first season that we hadn’t achieved it. That audiences would have no sympathy for her, because the way she’d been written, she would be regarded as the other woman, the third wheel, that femme fatale, that bitch.  Who had it coming to her. “ 

During a dinner with Michael Hirst, who was still writing the second season, she shared her frustration and begged him “to do it right in the second half. We were good friendsHe listened to me because he knew I knew my history.  And you know, he’s a brilliant man.  So he listened. And I remember saying to him: `Throw everything you’ve got at me.  Promise me you’ll do that. I can do it.  The politics, the religion, the personal stuff, throw everything you’ve got at me.  I can take it.’”

Hirst took her by her word, and the result was a major change in the Anne Boleyn of the second season. Still sexy, but brainy, politically engaged and astute, a loving mother, and a committed reformist. No longer was Anne simply a character “in the ether.” Rehabilitating her image became part of his motivation in writing the script: “I wanted to show that she was a human being, a young woman placed in a really difficult and awful situation, manipulated by her father, the king, and circumstances, but that she was also feisty and interesting and had a point of view and tried to use her powers to advance what she believed in. And I wanted people to live with her, to live through her. To see her.”

The execution scene was especially important to Natalie: “By the end of the season, when I’m standing on that scaffold,” she told Michael, “I hope you write it the way it should be.  And I want the effect of that scene to remain with viewers for the length of the series. I want the audience to be standing with her on that scaffold.  I want those who have judged her harshly to change their allegiance so they actually love her and empathize with her.”  The experience of actually filming the scene, for the actress, was “incredibly harrowing.  As I was saying the lines, I got the feeling I was saying good-bye to a character.  And of course, there was my tremendous sympathy for the historical figure of Anne.   I was a real crucible of emotions for those few days. And when it was over I grieved for her.”

Hirst, too, recalls the heightened emotions of shooting that scene: “That was an amazing day.  Extraordinary day. After, I went in to congratulate her.  She was weeping and saying, `She’s with me Michael.  She’s with me.’” And with thousands of fans, who still write Natalie letters, describing the impact that the scene had on them.

As you watch it now—probably not for the first time—I hope it will resonate for you, not only as the powerful, wrenching end of Anne’s life, but as the artistic culmination of a real-life relationship between another brave, challenging woman and a man who, unlike Henry, was willing to listen.

Natalie Dormer portraying Anne at her execution in The Tudors.

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May 18th, 1536: Anne’s Final Sunset

I’m sure that the sad and grim events that transpired today are well-known to followers of this page. Expecting to die on the 18th, Anne took the sacrament at 2 a.m., and by now all who were in contact with her must have been convinced of her innocence. Even her old enemy Chapuys was impressed by the fact that Anne, before and after receiving the Sacrament, affirmed to those who had charge of her “on damnation of her soul, that she had never offended with her body against the King.”  In the 16th century, to speak anything other than the truth at such a time would be to invite the utter condemnation of God. Anne had nothing to gain and her salvation to lose by lying.  She was prepared, “and no person ever showed greater willingness” to die.  Yet, cruelly, the execution was delayed twice.  In the hours that passed between the morning of the 18th and the 19th Anne said many things that have inscribed themselves powerfully in our collective “memory” of her story.  Undoubtedly the most famous: When being assured by Kingston that “there would be no pain, it was so subtle” Anne replied, “I have heard say the executioner is very good, and I have a little neck.”  And then, according to Kingston, “she put her hand around [her neck], laughing heartily.”  Kingston interpreted this to mean that Anne had “much joy and pleasure in death.”  This has always struck me as a strange interpretation. What do you think?


A later depiction of Anne at prayer, “the last sunset of Anne’s earthly life.”

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May 17th, 1536: In tribute to George Boleyn, Henry Norris, Mark Smeaton, William Brereton, and Francis Weston

Who list his wealth and ease retain,

Himself let him unknown contain.

Press not too fast in at that gate

Where the return stands by disdain,

For sure, circa Regna tonat.


The high mountains are blasted oft

When the low valley is mild and soft.

Fortune with Health stands at debate.

The fall is grievous from aloft.

And sure, circa Regna tonat.


These bloody days have broken my heart.

My lust, my youth did them depart,

And blind desire of estate.

Who hastes to climb seeks to revert.

Of truth, circa Regna tonat.


The bell tower showed me such sight

That in my head sticks day and night.

There did I learn out of a grate,

For all favour, glory, or might,

That yet circa Regna tonat.


By proof, I say, there did I learn:

Wit helpeth not defence too yerne,

Of innocency to plead or prate.

Bear low, therefore, give God the stern,

For sure, circa Regna tonat.

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May 16, 1536: Adding Agony to Injustice

Ravens at the Tower

The sentences themselves were a gross injustice.  But two “smaller” yet horrible cruelties were visited this day on Anne and the men with whom she was condemned.

On this day in 1536, Henry signed all the death warrants.  But although the men were due to die the next day, they were left in suspense as to the method of their execution, which normally was commuted for royals and nobles from hanging (to be followed by drawing and quartering) to beheading.  As late as after dinner on the 16th, Kingston was begging Cromwell to let him know how they were to die, but word didn’t come until much later, possibly the following morning.  George and the other nobles thus spent many unnecessarily agonizing hours anticipating the more excruciating, humiliating death.  In the end, all of them-even Smeaton—met death by beheading.  But Henry was apparently too occupied cavorting with Jane to spare them any torment.

Also on May 16th, Cranmer saw Anne, with something other than spiritual comfort in mind.   Cromwell had been working to find a way to annul the marriage and bastardize Elizabeth.  Two likely “impediments” to the lawfulness of the marriage were a possible precontract with Percy and the “consanguinity” of the King’s affair with Mary Boleyn.  Percy denied the precontract, so Cranmer was sent to get Anne to admit that she knew of the relationship with Mary when she married Henry.  Weir speculates—accurately, I believe—that Cranmer may have suggested to Anne that if she admitted to the impediment, the King might spare her death.  The evidence for this is that after he left, Kingston reports that Anne was “more cheerful” and told Kingston that she was “in hope of life” in a nunnery.  Instead, the only “mercy” Henry had planned was her death by a French swordsman, who was already on his way.

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May 13, 1536: Why bother with justice when “the appearance of justice” will do?

What was once the location of the Great Hall.

What was once the location of the Great Hall.

On this day in 1536, preparations were made for the trials of Anne and her brother. The grand juries were commanded to furnish the indictments, and Constable Kingston received a precept from Norfolk ordering him to bring the prisoners to trial on Monday, May 15th. Norfolk also sent a precept to Ralph Felmingham, sergeant-of-arms, to summon at least twenty-seven “peers of the Queen and Lord Rochford, by whom the truth can be better made to appear.” While these official legal steps were being taken, physical preparations

were also begun to make the King’s Hall in The Tower amenable to two thousand spectators, with benches lining the walls and a high platform for the interrogator and the condemned, so that all could see. “The King was determined,” Alison Weir writes, “that justice would be seen to be done” and was sure of the judicial strength of the evidence. “This was not to be quite the farcical trial that some historians have claimed it to be,” she writes.

Yet, for Henry the outcome was such a foregone conclusion that on the same day that these preparations were being made, he ordered Anne’s household dissolved, and her servants discharged. The next day, May 14th, he sent for Jane Seymour to “come within a mile of his lodgings” so that she would be near at hand when Anne was condemned.

We at “The Creation of Anne Boleyn” admire Weir’s scholarship, but think that if any trial deserves the designation of “farce,” this one was it! The only missing ingredient was humor.  This farce was not a comedy, but a deadly business.


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May 12, 1536: The Trial of Mark Smeaton, Henry Norris, Francis Weston and William Brereton

By: Natalie Sweet

Events moved rapidly in the week before May 19th. Arthur Plantagenet, Lord Lisle, heard from his agent, John Hussee that,

“Today Mr. Norrys, Weston, Bryerton, and Markes have been arraigned, and are judged to be drawn, hanged, and quartered. They shall die tomorrow or Monday. Anne the queen, and her brother, shall be arraigned in the Tower, some think tomorrow, but on Monday at furthest, and that they will suffer there immediately “for divers considerations, which are not yet known.” Mr. Payge and Mr. W[y]at are in the Tower, but it is thought without danger of life, though Mr. Payge is banished the King’s court for ever.” (Letters and Papers)

The accused men faced a prejudiced jury who was well aware of the verdict Henry wanted, and Tudor law did not aid defendants. Justice at this time was more subjective, more informal, and could not be separated from morality. Juries operated based on their own knowledge. There was no effort to keep them from gossip. In fact, questions were put to juries about their knowledge of the case, and the more they “knew,” the more fit they were considered for service.

The trial itself would have been very speedy – any crime, from petty theft to grand larceny to murder, would only take thirty minutes at the most. Most important in any Tudor trial was the assessment of character – if a person was found to be acting outside of their proper place, they were considered to be gravely in the wrong. There was no such thing as a defense lawyer – the “victim” was both the defense and collector of evidence. At any time when a king or queen had a vested interest in a case, they would be favored. This was true even in cases where there was just an ordinary judge and jury – judges were always appointed by the monarch and they could be fired at will. In other words, they were agents of the monarch. Challenges to this approach to law would not occur until the early Stuart period, when Edward Coke called for judicial review.

Three of the men – Norris, Brereton, and Weston – pleaded “not guilty.” Smeaton, likely under torture, “pleaded guilty of violation and carnal knowledge of the Queen, and put himself in the King’s mercy” (Letters and Papers). The result: “the jury return a verdict of Guilty, and that they have no lands, goods, or chattels”  and that the said men were to be executed (Letters and Papers).

Anne’s anguish at hearing this verdict must have been great. She could not know if Henry would spare her life, but she knew how drastically the verdict would affect the families of these men, who would not only lose their husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers, but their livelihood as well. Finally, she knew she stood judged as an adulteress – the only question that remained was what punishment would be handed down to her.

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Filed under Life in 16th century England, May 19th, 1536 Feature